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Ethiopians outraged by monument to notorious Italian war criminal

KAREN JUANITA CARRILLO Special to the AmNews | 6/13/2013, 2:01 p.m.

"Many Black Americans viewed the United States' official statement of neutrality in 1935 as a tacit endorsement of Mussolini's regime that was motivated by racial prejudice. People like Joseph Johnson were left with the impression that the United States 'will not help Ethiopia because she is Black. She won't do no more for Ethiopia than she will do to stop mob rule in the South.' Thus, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia complicated Black America's relationship both to the African Diaspora and to U.S. democracy."

Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, who chairs the Global Alliance for Justice: The Ethiopian Cause and who is the grandson of the former Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, is the main signatory for the open letter to Italy's president, calling for the destruction of the Graziani monument:

"Italy must immediately act to halt a handful of right-wing extremists from ruining Italy's international reputation and credibility. No park or memorial should be named in honor of Rodolfo Graziani, and those who perpetuate it should be stopped from doing so. If someone were to paint a portrait of Mussolini on the side of the Coliseum, wouldn't it be a national imperative to reverse that? We expect such action now to reverse the opening of the Rodolfo Graziani Park and Memorial, which occurred on August 11."

The letter continues, "Ethiopians and Italians around the world join the international community in proclaiming: 'Never Again!' to genocide, and we expect immediate action by the Italian government to reverse this disgraceful attempt to celebrate hatred and racism which violates Italy's own Law No. 205/1993 prohibiting the dissemination of ideas based on superiority or racial and ethnic discrimination."