Isayas Afeworki, TPLF and Ethiopians
By Eyassu Lebenu
I must confess, before I decided to write the article I had a little conversation with myself about why I should deal with this complex and elusive subject matter when too many people have too many opinions and perceptions, factual or otherwise. I also questioned myself if I really am entitled and rightful person to engage with this task. After contemplating the question for sometime I came to agreement with myself that as an Ethiopian I have every right to engage myself in any endeavor that concerns the nation. In so doing, based on my personal, educational and career experiences I will put forward the little I know to right the wrong, correct the incorrect and uncover the covert to create concrete evidence that would be the basis for rational decision and action. This article is forwarded with that in mind and with no sense of authority but rather deepest humility for being able to share my insights and findings with my fellow citizens.
Some might find it improper to include the Eritrean leader in the matter of Ethiopian affairs since it is exclusively Ethiopians only. However, we have to realize that as much as internal dynamics and forces shape and direct the political reality in Ethiopia it is also relevant to understand the impact and role of other interest groups. Specially, a country that has been one part of the Ethiopian territory until as recently as two decades ago there are many issues that are still unsettled and unresolved. Besides, new ones has also been created following the independence of Eritrea. So, addressing issues that relates to Eritrea would be pertinent in understanding the Ethiopian reality and the future of the region at large. But, I would like to remind all that it is not the intention of this writer to give opinion or evaluation about the Eritrean leader and his domestic and international policies. I have neither the will nor the right to do so. My attempt is just looking the region holistically with an attempt to deal with the realities in Ethiopia.
This piece has no intention of lionizing one and demonizing others. What it attempts to address simply is the relationship and dynamics between the three entities so as to examine issues of friendship; cooperation; enmity; betrayal; deception and naivety with the hope of shedding light on the basic destructive and constructive underpinning factors. Why I put TPLF and Ethiopians as separate entities on the subject is due to my understanding of their difference of opinion on many issues and policies, including the difference on matters as big as what Ethiopian interest really is. That is what made it so difficult for me to put them in one category or regard them as the same entity. As much as there are differences of opinion between TPLF and Isayas Afeworki, there is the same level of differences between TPLF and Ethiopians despite they are in one politically defined area called Ethiopia.
We are a rational being who should have the capabilities to decipher facts from fiction to make an informed decision based on reasoning and analysis. That is exactly why I took the liberty to address the subject that had in fact been inexplicable for me for a long time. As much as it is true that my point of view and explanations create positive reaction from some it is also expected to create some non-smiley faces in some quarters. No matter what the effect, however, the beauty of freedom of expression is all about saying what you believe is right and put it in the open for everybody to see and judge. This is a beautiful and healthy discourse that no human being should be restricted from exercising anywhere, including Ethiopia and Eritrea. And for me personally, being able to speak loud what I have inside with no fear of retribution from any authority means a lot. And truly, that is my American Dream nothing more can substitute. Specially, when you know people are jailed, tortured and abused for exercising this right you feel more convinced of its importance and that drives you to do more.
This article underscores one fundamental principle, not all that we see and hear is what it is until we make our own investigation and careful observation that would help us reach the truth by refuting politically motivated and patronizing information of others. Specially, in politics where politicians are mostly concerned about how to achieve their goal while being less concerned what means they use it is imperative to find our own truth rather than being treated as buffoons who take all make believes than the facts on the ground. All sorts of tactics are put in place by politicians just so they accomplish their personal or group agenda disregarding moral, societal and even legal boundaries. What this article meant to achieve is one thing, to address the subject matter in a different light in an attempt to uncover the facts and erase the delusions created by politicians. In doing so, I attempt to investigate the dead past and explain the paralyzed present so as to breath life on the future by recommending some ideas and direction for actions that would hopefully be used to redeem the nation and the region.
The Ethiopians delusion; identifying the source
For a person like me who did not pass the age of fourteen when TPLF became a government it is easy to be co-opted growing up with the lies and deceptions propagated through the two state controlled Medias, ETV and Ethiopian radio. On top of that, the entire time TPLF has been ruling the nation for the last twenty-three years it has also been effective in institutionalizing and well organizing the Communication Ministry. Under the propaganda Chief Bereket Simon the ministry has been tirelessly working like a beast deluding and deceiving Ethiopians in an attempt to protect TPLF’s interest while betraying that of the nation. Bereket’s repeated denial of Meles’s death; his denial of the election 2005 loss; his denial of the crossing of the Ethiopian troops in to Somalia; his adamant claim that Badme was awarded to Ethiopia in the Algiers peace agreement when the reality is otherwise are some of his many landmark accomplishments.
Being subject to such well-organized and institutionalized machinery of fabrication would obviously sway peoples’ understanding to the wrong direction. The media institutions in Ethiopia that are obviously the mouthpiece of the ruling elite, are the kind of media that speak about ‘a speck in others eyes when they have a log in their own’ by demonizing those that pose a threat to absolute monopoly of power by TPLF. In the name of ‘destroying the constitutional system’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘corruption’ those who are regarded politically challenging have been thrown to jail through heinous well orchestrated media campaign that tirelessly charge them on phony accusations. This type of strategy conducted in media monopolized state by the government could ultimately make people believe it as true since that is the only thing they hear with no other options available. So, the negative and monster picture we have in mind about Isayas Afeworki as being anti-Ethiopia and warmonger could be the making of politicians so as to hide their own guilt than being right. This is the scenario I believe has to be re-examined using a different glass other than the one prescribed by TPLF.
Earlier, I pointed out that politics involves more tricks and fabrication than true and honest means and strategies. However, when the frequency and longevity of deception and fabrication goes to the level of Mr. Bereket it really begs the question whether it is a matter of politics or character. I am obliged to believe the latter. How come a human being constantly engage in deliberate misinformation and lies until his old age? It is self-deprecating for a sane person to engage in such acts and it is disrespectful to all Ethiopians in general to whom all the lies were disseminated for as long as more than two decades. It is in fact true that respecting others begins from respecting oneself. Since Bereket has no self-respect his disrespect of the entire Ethiopian people would not mean anything at all. Because, after all that disrespect is a common trait of Tigray Liberators to Ethiopia and Ethiopians that I can substantiate with a thousand examples attesting to that very fact.
But, for now, allow me to mention just one. The obvious fact that the TPLF government still has the name Tigray Liberation while it is a representative and government of other ethnic groups, disregarding the disguise name EPRDF, comes out of arrogance and disrespects to the nation nothing more can explain. At the time and day Eritrean People Liberation Front/EPLF/ has become Peoples’ Front for Democracy and Justice /PFDJ/ the TPLF insistence to stick to its old agenda of liberation of Tigray ignites the question whether that is still a plan postponed but never abandoned. In Ethiopia other than the TPLF there are no parties with the title of liberation, either they are called Democratic Movements or Organizations.
The TPLF’s determination of keeping their Dedebit name even after twenty-three years since they took over Menelik’s palace cannot be explained in any other manner, except saying that the party still is not willing to live with other Ethiopian people being one of the many colors of the nation in unity, equality and mutual respect. It seems that Tigray Liberators who knows that their powers in Addis is hanging on a tiny thread, definitely plans and wishes to establish the Republic when their hegemony is no more assured. If that does not explain the why, nothing will.
When it comes to the perception of Ethiopians to the Eritrean regime there is a sense of mistrust and negative perception that is rooted in the secession or independence of the one time Ethiopian territory and its associated effect of making Ethiopia a land locked nation. Besides, since the Badme incident the way the Eritrean leader Isayas Afeworki was/is portrayed in the Ethiopian media as evil and ‘insane’ who leaves no stone unturned to distract the ‘development’ and ‘democracy’ in Ethiopia, by that they mean to dispossess TPLF’s power, has strengthened that negative perception. It is not the attempt of this article to defend and argue in a favorable light about the Eritrean leader. But I very much hope every one to have an all rounded observation by having historical perceptive and equally making an inward looking mindset towards Tigray Liberators. Because, I deeply believe most of us are victims to the TPLF propaganda driven by the Che Bellew tactics, meant to create and drive people by emotions and excitement, while the facts are on the contrary. I have devoted the next part dealing with this broader subject matter. But before that, let me conclude this section by saying the following on Bereket Simon.
One time on face book I read about a man called Samuel Zemichael (is it even his name?) who claimed to be a Dr./ Engineer, when he is not, and he is world visionaries association founder, when there is no such thing at all, and Obama is his boss. He fooled everyone from high to low places in Ethiopia for a long time until he was finally exposed. Latter, I think he was apprehended and taken to jail. That is good. But the question is why is it a crime when citizens commit such acts and it is politics for people like Bereket, who is committing similar but monumental level deceptive acts on the national level for the last twenty-three years? I know you would say to me, do not be naïve Mr. Lebenu you know exactly why. Sure I do, since in Ethiopia being in power gives immunity they are above the law and not only have they had a pass to delude but also steal, torture, kill and jail. Let me put it in this analogy, Samuel has stolen the egg and he deserve to face justice but paying salary to the one who steal the chicken alive by calling him a Minister while he is no better than Mr. Zemichael is not only hypocrisy it is a sheer embarrassment.
Isayas Afeworki and TPLF
When I think about this subject matter I always find it puzzling to understand why, Isayas Afeworki is so much anti-TPLF while they have done and served to him like loyal dogs by sacrificing Ethiopian interest from the guerrilla years to independence. TPLF has helped Isayas sending its troops to save Nakfa in 1982 from the Ethiopian government/ Derg/ Red Star campaign and has killed Ethiopians for the Eritrean cause; after the fall of the Derg regime in 1991 Meles and his cronies have facilitated the referendum of Eritrea and subsequent formation of the new nation and its immediate recognition even before other countries; TPLF has allowed Eritrea to have inviolable right over Asab with no regard to Ethiopian interest and disregarding the call of Ethiopian intellectuals for such action; why the Eritrean leader was aggressive enough to invade Ethiopian territory by violating international border while TPLF has been babysitting him for a long time by betraying Ethiopian interest. These were some of the services willingly provided to Isayas by TPLF and yet Isayas went to war and still is at war footing with TPLF. Based on all these scenarios I gave TPLF the benefit of the doubt that it was indeed the victim of the Eritrean belligerence and arrogance and I was supportive of TPLF when it comes to Isayas Afeworki. But not anymore.
Isayas Afeworki was the Godfather of TPLF. Or TPLF was the brainchild of Isayas Afeworki. Or you can even say he was worshiped by the TPLF as a God, since they got none as Marxists. He has been the one who initiated the creation of TPLF and logistically and politically enabling them to mobilize the Tigrean peasants in an effort to establish a joint force to with stand then Ethiopian regime/Derg. Throughout the armed struggle period TPLF had a hierarchical relationship with its ally in Eritrea and it had in fact continued in the post ‘liberation’ period until the Badme incident. That is due to the fact that the elites in TPLF were far more inferior to the Eritreans in terms of education as well as consciousness that is attributable to the fact that they had less experience in the struggle unlike EPLF. The late Prime Minister Meles statement,‘conversing with Isayas Afeworki for an hour is worth reading a thousand books’ speaks with a high tone about the general disparity that existed in terms of capacity between the two liberators, EPLF and TPLF.
The idea that suggests TPLF actions and decisions after the removal of the Derg were meant to help Eritrea/Isayas is a wrong understanding of the reality that I myself fell for. Rather all this TPLF moves were made with the intention in mind to protect TPLF power and its sole supreme existence in the Ethiopian polity that was considered a far-fetched reality to many. Since TPLF has always been subservient to Isayas and his smart elites it was not easy to extricate itself from the inferiority complex it has always embodied as an individual and party through the struggle era. So, enabling Eritrea gain its independence as soon and easily as possible was meant to push Isayas and his people in to their new nation and allow TPLF the luxury of ruling a big nation as historic and grand as Ethiopia. Because, with the presence of an international border between the two nations Isayas can have no right to be involved in what is happening in Ethiopia. And neither can he challenge the exclusive TPLF power in Ethiopia by violating an international border.
So, establishing the new nation as urgently as possible and recognize its existence was meant to protect the interest of TPLF’s sole heir status in the Ethiopian throne that even its masters in Eritrea were envious of. It is my uncontested belief that following the removal of Mengistu had Isayas Afeworki abandoned his secession agenda and demanded accommodation under a united Ethiopia, TPLF would be the first one opposed to the idea before anybody. The late PM of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi decision to write the book ‘the Eritrean Struggle, from where to where’ speaks all the intentions of TPLF when it comes to Eritrea that it will be an independent state even if Isayas Afeworki demanded accommodation in a united Ethiopia. Because, Tigray liberators knew it too well that an environment that involves Isayas and the Eritreans would not allow them to do what ever they like. Since Isayas’s forces were technically advanced and well armed any hope of TPLF absolute power shall not be assured in the new Ethiopia had he been allowed to be involved.
In the conduct of the referendum TPLF not only rushed the process to be done urgently, it did not even care to follow international procedure. Because, their agenda was to create a clear legal division between them and their Godfather. Let us take South Sudan for example. Even if South Sudanese have fought for the independence of their region like the Eitreans, they were not allowed to immediately conduct referendum to decide on their fate. They were given five years time to taste the sense of being separate in their section as a country to make a rational decision during the referendum. That was exactly what they did and ultimately decided on being a country than a region with in the Sudan. Such international procedure was not conducted to allow the Eritrean people have the feel of being separate and the pros and cons of their decision. Since TPLF was hoping by crossing its fingers for Eritrea to go, such procedure did not bother them at all as a government of Ethiopia. Even today and as long as TPLF is in power in Ethiopia it will not allow any form of association with Eritrea. Because, that fear and sense of inferiority still pervades in their system.
It is imperative to understand one unavoidable general fact. No one is stupid and ignorant on everything. When one is bad at something he/she could be brilliant on something else. So, although TPLF recognized its weakness in comparison to the Eritrean elites they are very good at knowing their limitation and devising ways by which they cope with Mr. Afeworki. So, TPLF ‘s decision to make the referendum was not as a service to Eritrea. It was a tactical move meant to extricate itself from the subservient position it had in the struggle period and to reduce and avoid the leverage and power of Isayas in the post Mengistu Ethiopia. Beyond enabling the unjust referendum process conducted and the subsequent recognition of the new nation its willingness to betray Ethiopia’s legal rights of access to the sea were motivated not to safeguard Eritrean interest but its own.
The same calculation lies with the question of Asab and Ethiopia’s access to the sea rights that TPLF failed to demand when Eritrea secede. As I pointed out, TPLF was not willing to engage in contradiction with the Eritrean regime that it had been able to keep in its own tiny nation while it enjoys the lucrative lands of the Amhara, Oromo, Sidama and so many others. So, protecting Ethiopian interest does not overweigh protecting TPLF’s interest at all and that is all we see in terms of the TPLF actions with regards to Eritrea. When Mr. Herman Cohen, the former US Assistant Secretary for Africa, suggested that Ethiopia can claim access to the sea right during the Eritrean referendum it was not Isayas Afeworki who contested that demand. It is none other than the late PM and his cronies who still spin the nation in their liking than in the interest of the people. The late prime minister’s argument that ports are commodities that money can buy was just an ordinary statement that does not hold water at all. And I am certain he knows better how much access to the sea is important to economic development and national sovereignty. I know Zenawi is not here to defend his words but I believe his cronies will, not for me but to themselves.
The billions of dollars Ethiopia pays the tiny nation Djibouti every year could have been saved if we had our own outlet and the money could have been used to build thousands hospitals, thousands schools and colleges, thousands social services and so many more. Let me explain the importance of access to the sea right in terms of national security or sovereignty. When the Italians invaded Ethiopia for the second time in 1935 the French who were colonials of the tiny nation of Djibouti agreed with Mussolini to restrict Ethiopian import of weapons from outside. Bare foot warriors who have all the courage and the will to fight in defense of the country were greatly weakened by the absence of ammunition as a result of the conspiracy and we all know the outcome of that reality.
That is the kind of environment any land locked nation faces when they have no right, access to the sea right. Keeping aside the late PM rhetoric if we rationally look at the matter there is no reason why history will not repeat itself in the 21st century. The fact that the Djibouti ports are managed and run by Arab companies from Dubai they could impose arbitrarily high rates for the service they give to Ethiopia just so they twist the government’s hand to do something. The Grand Renaissance Dam and the altercation that it caused with Egypt will be seen how it is going to play out with respect to Ethiopia’s use of a port service controlled by another Arab country. That is why I consider access to the sea right is more important than a mere argument of export-import benefits. It has so much to do with national security and the sovereignty of the nation. While our future is in the hands of others it is really hard to comprehend how we shall be assured of sustainable peace and development in the country.
I would like to remind readers that I am not saying that TPLF should take over Asab or anything that comes close to look like so. My attempt was to make a point that relating the most vital and decisive issue like access to the sea simply as a channel of exporting flower and importing fertilizer is wrong. I am certain, when I say the following I am voicing the idea and thought of millions. It is not about the fact that Ethiopia is a landlocked nation in TPLF watch. It is about doing nothing about it when so many were calling for this same action. Had TPLF had tried that could have at least mean something to the satisfaction of so many people. However, to rationalize the betrayal of this kind of national interest with some elementary logic would not convince anybody unless we are obliged to accept it through coercion like the one we were obliged to dress up in black and pay our respect when he passed away.
Let me add the Badme conflict in the same line of argument as it is indeed same old drama TPLF tirelessly engaged itself in. Although it is a fact that Isayas forces had invaded the area there is good enough explanation for that. As many people agree the war was not about the land. The war was a conflict of interest between the two liberators. The realization of the Eritrean that their interest and role in Ethiopia is no more assured and their economic benefits are not protected they resorted to invading the Badme region. The denial of the TPLF regime at that time about the invasion and its reluctance to go to war and its ultimate decision to give up the area in the Algiers agreement following thousands of young Ethiopians perished is a testimony of TPLF policy driven by conveneience and expediency.
Had it not been to the pressure and call for action by some TPLF members, Seye Abreha and Co., who were latter busted during the split of the party, the late Meles and his gang was not determined for action. Because, it is in interest of minority groups in any societies who have control of power to avoid war which otherwise creates militarization that is danger to the minority rule and continuity of its hegemony. If badme was in Gondar the war might not even have taken place and Badme would have been another Asab for the sake of convenience. Nonetheless, the fact that the area is found in Tigray where the elites came from it was not easy to let Isayas get away with it. The ultimate decision to surrender the area in the Algiers peace agreement was not a result of Eritrean diplomatic effort. When the environment is created for the Meles faction to have full absolute power following the removal of the Seye Abreha group they gave away the area as they have intended before the war and with no regard to the hundred of thousands lives and resources lost.
So, my cynicism and the cynicism of other fellow Ethiopians about Isayas as a person and the Eritrean forces as anti-Ethiopian has to be judged and evaluated on the basis of the aforementioned points so as to redress the situation. We could be deceived for sometime but to allow ourselves for more than twenty three years is too much. With our analysis and investigation in a rational way we have to be able to throw out the garbage dumped on us. It is only then we would have the truth and facts necessary to refute the misinformation and propagation disseminated by the TPLF regime and create an informed citizen that embodies a changed attitude and impassioned action that would be instrumental to bring the imminent revolution in minority dominated nation. Because, after all, revolutions are conceived with the realization of the truth and the need for righteousness by obliterating corrupt and decayed political systems and their elements.
Let alone a revolution, TPLF does not want a single bullet shot in Ethiopia. That is not because TPLF believes in peace. Rather, TPLF perfectly understands whenever there is a social quest for freedom and liberty it assumes it would challenge its control of power. So, before people begin to stand for their rights blocking all the avenues that truth reach the public has been the policy of the Tigray liberators since a while back. The ‘anti-terrorism’ and the NGO and CSO laws are purely made with that only agenda in mind. The jailing of journalists, bloggers, peaceful oppositions, activists and others is the practical outcome of those laws made by TPLF. For a party that suffers from inferiority complex because of its minority status and the middle school level of its generals, security establishment and its cadres limiting and curbing of the exercise of peoples’ freedom of speech and the press that would create an informed and conscious citizen is taken as an effective preventive mechanism rather than dealing with the repercussions.
Let me conclude this section by adding this unrelated subject but clearly shows the inferiority complex TPLF elites embodies and its evil strategies that will not exempt to scarify whatever it takes to demonize and belittle others when it seems to contradict its policy and political views. In 2012 when the new African Union building was completed in Addis Ababa it was needed to erect a statue for the leading person who was instrumental to the creation of the predecessor of AU, Organization of African Unity/OAU.
As we all know the statue that was finally decided to be erected was Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to the surprise of not only Ethiopians but even other African leaders and observers, since the honor was expected to be for Emperor Hailesselassie of Ethiopia. On this subject the late Chairman Meles stated that ‘it is only Nkrumah who is remembered whenever we talk about pan Africanism.’ Imagine the level of betrayal TPLF commits that goes to the level of stripping the honor of one of its citizen and gives to someone else. I love and adore Mr. Nkrumah and his determined call for the United States of Africa can never be undermined by anyone. However, the ‘father of Africa’ title has always been to Emperor Haillesselassie given by not Ethiopians but other African people and governments for his countless contributions that cannot be covered with this article. If miraculously Mr. Nkrumah awakes from his eternal sleep and informed of this, I am sure he would be stunned with this insanity.
Before the light of independence came to Africa, at the time Africa was languishing in the darkness of colonialism Emperor Hailessellasie was a lone star shining in world forums demanding and calling for the independence and rights of Africans. He was the one and only person who brought the Casablanca and Monrovia group to come to one table through the tiresome diplomatic effort of Ketema Yefru. Besides, the Emperors willingness to provide the building for the service of the newly formed organization and supporting decolonization and anti-Apartheid as well as mediating warring factions were some of his many Pan African achievements. That is a fact TPLF can deny but humanity will always remember, but the betrayal deliberately committed against fellow citizen on his own soil begs the question whether TPLF really considers itself Ethiopian. And the opinion of some people that suggests TPLF’s actions and policies are anti-Ethiopian and therefore it is not Ethiopian should not be undermined considering such betrayals.
To the TPLF mind, however, accepting such realities that testifies the great achievements of former Ethiopians is against its political orientation. It is only TPLF that have the power and anointment to make history but no one else and to recognize others is considered to diminish its own. This is a typical character of a person who feels inferior to others and this is a reflection of TPLF’s inferiority complex that has been witnessed in many other settings and ways. To other Ethiopians executing such despicable agendas and policies of TPLF while knowing what it really meant to achieve is equally despicable. Unlike those genuine Ethiopians who exiled themselves than being associated with the government treasonous acts there are others guided by personal benefits and egocentrism who continue to serve and sustain the regime and its atrocities.
To see non-TPLF people who consider themselves ‘educated’ but engage themselves in the execution of such actions is more troubling than those who made the decision. Since I have dealt with this kind of people in my previous article I will not say too much. However, I found it relevant to mention one person with this kind of character in light with the subject matter, Haileselassie or Nkrumah. Ambassador Konjit Sinegiorgis, director of African Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of TPLF, who has been in the institution for as long as the building itself is the one who implement and execute the dirty and heinous decisions of TPLF with no sense of self respect and guilty mind. Obviously, since the process of selecting the Father of Africa requires debate, discussion and lobbying she is the one who was supposed to engage with the task. However, so as to please her TPLF masters who have no interest of making the emperor what he really deserves she kept her mouth shut and who knows may be she had given her voice to someone else to show her unambiguous loyalty and allegiance to TPLF so as to make her last days on earth ‘fulfilled and accomplished’.
The Outcomes of ‘TPLF before Ethiopia’ Policy
Some might not be well convinced with the betrayal and anti-Ethiopian action and decision taken by the TPLF government until they see the intended consequence and outcomes of these policies mentioned in the previous part. This really is an important part since it gives a holistic picture about who TPLF has been and what it was the intended outcomes for pursuing a policy that centered on the protection of its interest as a priority. It has been twenty- three years since TPLF became the real and uncontested power holder at the centre of Ethiopian political landscape. As a result, TPLF has been able to have the right to make whatever decision it likes in Ethiopia and on behalf of Ethiopia, anywhere and anytime. Let me put the outcomes of TPLF’s systematic actions that isolated Isayas Afeworki by deluding Ethiopians to stand behind it and using them as a human shield for the Eritrean bullets so it can carry on its agenda.
1. Keeping aside EPRDF, which is like a Halloween disguise that fools nobody but itself, we know the Ethiopian policy and strategies are the policy and strategies of TPLF rather than the common interest of all so called member parties. Let alone influencing and standing in the way of what TPLF wanted, their very existence lies at the mercy of TPLF. As a result of the Tigray Liberators ability to Isolate Eritrea to its internationally recognized boundaries they have been able to break its inferiority status in terms of capability, size, psychology and resource by using the blessings of autocracy they imposed on the Ethiopian people and the successful delusion.
2. The Tigray liberators have managed to be the ‘invincible’ by enabling themselves to control more than ninety percent of the military establishment higher rank positions in Ethiopia. Than the Derg and Hailesselassie regime, TPLF clearly represents the superiority and preference of its own party members by excluding other Ethiopians.
3. Take a birds eye view of the general reality in Ethiopia by looking at the TPLF domination in one government organization, the Ethiopian Embassy in Yemen. there are ten diplomats including those security and military personnel. Here are the names and their party, Amb. Hassan Abdella – Afar, Kahsay Desta-TPLF, Col. Endalkchew Gebrekidan-TPLF, Col. Abreha Aregai-TPLF, Birhanemeskel Kehisen-TPLF, Techane Bekele-OPDO, Samuel Timotiwos- Sidama, Dinberu Alemu-Gurage, Abrar Muktar- Silte, Amdenichael Admasu-Amhara. You make the percentage and calculations how ethnic and party composition disparity is clearly visible making hard to even call it Ethiopian Embassy.
4. Lucrative institutions in Ethiopia are mostly controlled by people from the TPLF and those that have connection with them through family and ethnic affiliation. The Ethiopian Airlines, Customs Authority, Ethiopian Embassies abroad, Transportation companies and Construction sector are predominantly controlled by TPLF members and its network of people.
5. The Intelligence and Security service as well as the Immigration Authorities higher officials and rank and file are members of the TPLF. The Anti-Hijackers in Ethiopia are hundred percent comprised of members of the Tigray Liberators.
6. In TPLF Ethiopia it does not matter what position a non-TPLF person holds he/she shall be directly or indirectly under the order and supervision of the TPLF member working beneath him. A non-TPLF Minister is led by a TPLF vice minister or advisors, a non-TPLF Ambassador is virtually under the TPLF Counselor, a non-TPLF general (if there is one) is under the command of a TPLF member Colonel or Major. That is the out come of TPLF policy of party before country.
7. In the country where people have chronic housing problem you would not find a TPLF member who does not have at least one house. In most cases, they have two and more. Since they are the ones, who sustains and defends the regime with blind eyes and blind mind by jailing, detaining, killing Ethiopians and implementing the twisted agendas their lavish condition could be well deserve, for them. In addition, with the lucrative business activities they build another one on the land they obtain easy while the rest of the population is crying for years to get one. Public land that belongs to the people provided as a gift to the TPLF cadres for their role of sustaining autocracy. As a result, public land that would worth Billions of birr if it was legally transferred to the people and used to alleviate the housing, transportation and public services that are in a very dismal condition in the country is given for cadres for free and based on ethnic profiling.
As much as the policies and actions adopted and pursued by TPLF are a disregard and disrespect to the Ethiopian interest and people all its action and policies with regards to Eritrea emanates from this same agenda of protecting its own interest. That is why as long as there is a minority group that prioritize its interest before anything else there will not be peace at home and with our neighbor who have all the feel like home except a boundary line that politicians marked but absent in peoples mind. So, it is our decision to be or not to be! We have to be a people who would pursue the truth so as to form an informed opinion instrumental to a determined and concrete action. We are not dead, we are living creatures who should have the urge to say no to the shameless lies and blunders tirelessly dumped and spitted on us by the TPLF. To be able to annihilate the system that has long been unwilling to reform and rework its institution with the intention of creating all inclusive and just society we have to start by calling a spade is a spade and we have to have the courage to call a friend is a friend.
Tigray people and the Tigray Liberators
Before I decided to put this section as part of the article I was thinking to put it as a side note. However, I felt the weight of the topic being equally relevant as much as the others in terms of history and current reality. It is a fact that the TPLF is created by people from Tigray with logistical and other support from Isayas Afeworki. Today, those one-time guerrilla fighters have become a government ruling a nation of eighty million people since the last twenty-three years. The members of TPLF have are the engines of the system running the military, security, economic, political and social policies through out Ethiopia. As much as the thanks for their good deeds goes to them the blames and opposition should be theirs as well with no association with the Tigray people. Because, the people has nothing to do with how TPLF is running the country and the blunders it committed in their name. Keeping aside the rhetoric that suggests all Tigrayans have benefited from the system it is relevant to realize and understand their situation with a fair and reasonable mind set. As much as it is wrong to the Tigray Liberators to categorically call the Amharas Neftegnas it will also be wrong for us to regard all Tigraways as TPLF in the same misguided, destructive and irresponsible accusations.
The Tigray people are double victims of TPLF political decisions and actions more than other Ethiopians are. One, they are oppressed like any Ethiopian and on top of that the Elites are using their name while conducting its atrocities at the national scale that led to a wrong categorical blame and at times hatred by other ethnic groups. In my personal travels to Tigray I have seen the lives of the ordinary people first hand. Moreover, I have the opportunity to listen to their stories. As a fellow from Arat kilo I was stranger for certain things in the country. So, it was there I saw two things for the first time in my life, Camels and Humans, humans who pull lorry like donkeys. I am not talking about the kind of lorry we know in Addis. I am talking about the kind of lorry that sometimes makes me feel for the animal because of its size and inconvenience. I have also been able to witness the relatively better condition of the people who have family with in the TPLF circles and the sad realities of those who do not have.
The lavish life of the TPLF elites and their connected family members and accomplices should not lead us to the general categorized conclusion that suggests they are all beneficial and like-minded. That is not only wrong it creates destruction to the change we aspire in the country and it strengthens the polarization of societies even more than ever. If we are willing to look the most organized and leading opposition to the TPLF today it is the Tigray Peoples’ Democratic Movement/ TPDM/. Besides, it would be undermining the determination of people like Abreha Belay and so many others who would follow his footsteps calling for justice and freedom like their fellow Ethiopian brothers and sisters.
We have to be reminded of one important reality with respect to this matter. As much as the Derg/Soldiers been able to hijack the revolution of the student movement and the civil society the sacrifice and death of countless sons and daughters of Tigray for the cause of freedom and justice has also been hijacked by the TPLF elites. Once TPLF has been able to reach the helm of power on the blood of tens of thousands of Tegadalay and Tegadelti its promise of democracy, freedom of expression, justice, rule of law, peace and development has not only been unattained it has rather added other ills to societal norm and peaceful coexistence by planting the seed of ethnicism. While all that TPLF represent is the time of the Derg era its ethnic agenda makes it even worse than the former regime since its ethnic policies and politics make the nation susceptible to collapse and disintegration. So, the second hijacking of the Ethiopian revolution by some elites who put their agenda over the nation can only be said one thing ‘old wine in a different bottle’. And the blame for that should not be transferred to the Tigray people whatsoever since most of its policies are contradictory to theirs as well as it is with other Ethiopians.
But the question we all ask and hope to find answer for is, why do the Tigrayan elite in TPLF to whom liberty and dignity so many Amharas, Oromos, Welaytas, Gurages and many others died and bled for in the Adwa battle against colonials work for the detriment of the nation? Why is it division over unity, hatred over brotherhood and sisterhood, enmity over love is preferred and engage in the game of undermining and belittling others being self promoting and conducting centered politics and policies? If there is anything in Ethiopia that endangers the peace and stability necessary to create a developed society, it would be none other than the divisive and misguided policies of TPLF itself.
TPLF has an opportunity to reform and redesign its policies and strategies to own the future and to avoid the imminent social quest for change that potentially could cause a collateral damage on the nation beyond itself. It is a lesson TPLF understands too well that oppressed and marginalized people by politics and from economics will definitely shall rise when the situation is ripe. The silence that seems peaceful will give birth to a movement unstoppable. However, before that movement grows legs and starts to kick allowing democratic and civil liberties in the nation would be a wise and ingenious decision that would redeem it from being a prisoner of its future. That is the plight and dream all Ethiopians has long been denied of, making it difficult to them to call their country home and leading them to look for it somewhere else. But, when the darkness is filled with the light those who fled free spirited Ethiopians shall return to propel the nation to be what it could be.
Healing the Past and Moving Forward,
Isayas Afeworki and the Eritrean people have fought for the cause they believed in. Tens of thousands have perished due to lack of tolerance and a room for peaceful resolution of differences. Since the early years of the Derg regime until the Badme war the then Ethiopians and today’s Ethiopians and Eritreans have paid a big price, in lives and resources. As much as the Eritreans pay their respect for their martyrs allow me to pay mine to those Ethiopians who knows no politics but sacrificed their lives for one thing they know, Ethiopian unity and sovereignty. The blood they bled, the tears they shed and the life they paid was not for Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam. It was a price paid for an idea far bigger and far priceless than anything for any human, the defense of ones nation and sovereignty, that I will be honored to have myself. So, since those people have no respect by the TPLF government in Ethiopia, who even took part in killing them, I personally pay them my deepest regard and respect for those who perished in the sands, bushes, rivers and deserts of Afabet to Kerkebet; Nakfa to Tselot; Keren to Massawa; Algena to Elabered and Akordat to Asmara.
Those Ethiopians who never get back to their Moms, Dads, wives, sons and daughters still have people who miss and remember them dearly. The heinous regime, however, sitting in Addis Ababa to call them ‘Derg soldiers’ and celebrate Ginbot 20 with dance and laughter makes it sad to any rational being. In the United States, for example, the triumph of the Unionists over the Confederates, in the civil war, is not celebrated as a holiday. Doing so would mean an insult to the people of the south whose families had taken part in the war. Rather they have a Memorial Day by which all are given a proper respect. This is among the thousand reasons why TPLF will never be at peace with all Ethiopians. It is like a brother killing his own brother and dancing for being the lone owner of the house, how sad and condescending!
Ethiopia is among the very few states that have a holiday to celebrate the coming to power of its government. Most of them celebrate their day of decolonization, unification or the day they created a foundation for a better future. This pattern by which regimes regard themselves self-important by making the day they came to power a holiday while they are the same as the previous dictator is just a drama. A drama whereby the new elites are the actors and the people are the audience while the palace, the media or parliament hall is used as a stage. Nothing more can really define it other than a Drama, it is not even comedy or romantic, it is a Tragedy. We have seen two so far, one titled Ethiopia Tikdem on Meskerem Hulet and the other is TPLF Tikdem on Ginbot haya. Some might say Mr. Lebenu what do you do when you or your party become a government, I would simply say, we already have enough to celebrate, the triumph over the European colonial, Adwa-1896, that no other black nation had ever been able to achieve!
I apologize I went a little off topic. So, the Eritrean Leader who took the people from guerrilla struggle until independence has been a victim of character assassination by the Tigray liberators. He is charged day and night as being war monger and working hard to destabilize Ethiopia with opposition like Ginbot 7; Tigray People Democratic Movement/TPDM/ and others. If I am not mistaken on the Ethiopian TV that I hardly watch I have seen news whereby TPLF government is organizing Eritrean opposition in Ethiopia to fight the Eritrean regime. I really could not grasp the logic behind such gimmicks. Or does it mean TPLF has the right to do so but not Isayas? How low grade politics is that. Ethiopians have every right to seek help from all sources in such a way it does not compromise the national interest of Ethiopia as TPLF does. And Isayas Afeworki’s record should be measured in comparison to the crimes TPLF committed on Ethiopia from the guerrilla years until today. And the betrayal of Ethiopian national interests made ever since TPLF came to power were not a making of anyone but its own, for its own convenience, lust for power and the hegemony of minority.
Not today, since the guerrilla years there was a tendency by Isayas Afeworki side to negotiate and find common ground with the Mengistu regime so people can live together in peace. However, the latter’s preference of fight over dialogue that golden opportunity passed and what followed from there is nothing but the beginning of a wrong ride in a wrong direction with no end in sight to this very day. But one of the agenda of the failed 1989 coup leaders was addressing this issue. When Gen. Fanta Belay was asked before he was executed by Mengistu why he conducted the coup d’etat, he was bold enough to voice his concern saying ‘this war has to end, the country is bleeding. there should be a chance for negotiation, they /Eritreans/ have agreed if we agree’ (see, http://youtu.be/GDjRkfq-toM) On an interview on ESAT Major Dawit Woldegiorgis has also confirmed that same statement about the will of the Eritreans for peaceful settlement of conflict and the need for working relationship that would satisfy both sides.
Ethiopia and Eritrea are meant to be together. Disregarding the superficial differences of politics that is really of personality of the politicians and their egocentric interest than anything else, the two people have no separate future individually. As much as Eritrea needs Ethiopia, the latter needs Eritrea as well. That is not because we speak the same language, eat same food, worship same God, have the same looks, use the same letters or dance to the same lyrics and melodies. Our geo-political environment will always push us to come to one direction to be that unique people who is the making of thousands of years rather than defined by colonial poison and the arbitrary and uninformed decisions of past and present leaders including Mengistu, Isayas and Meles/or his living cronies/.
It is indeed true the late PM Meles was right about Isayas Afeworki. He really got a brilliant mind, broad-minded mind and a mind that is not corrupted with ethnic philosophy and ethnic based lunacy. The Tigray liberators who have shown us that their minority interest of greed and lust for power precedes that of the nation’s interest will continue until the Ethiopian rage and sense of thirst for justice unleashes to obliterate TPLF, its blunders and betrayals. Yes, cooperation with Isayas would be the last best hope we have in the face of TPLF’s unbearable oppression and disrespect that Ethiopians tolerated for too long. The rage instilled in the hearts of broad and far sighted Oromos, Amharas, Tigraways, Gurages, Welaytas and eighty more others shall unleash one day if there is no will for political reform and no room for accommodation of all as equal. A new day will break and sanity prevails, cooperation and peaceful co-existence between brothers at home and brothers across the Mereb River shall be assured. It is all about time until every Ethiopian differentiates the wolf from the sheep and the friend from the foe.
I conclude with the words of Bealu Girma from his book ‘Oromay’. He said, through one of his characters, ‘world history is the history of organized people’. It is not just true, it is very true. Organized people will not only have advantage and superiority over unorganized ones but that is the only way people anywhere will triumph over oppression, injustice and tyranny. So, the question every one should ask is not do I believe in or stand for justice and freedom. The question is what have I done for the realization of these rights by getting organized or by joining the organized.
But, we all have to be aware and assured of this, one calf is disturbing the river making it hard for the herd to orderly and caringly drink. But, when the calf is taken off the herd for good then the river would be calm and silent and all the herd shall equally enjoy the river with no place for greed and with no need for mistrust.