Ethiopia: A Defining Moment for the People of Tigray

Ethiopian Tigray Region

05 December 2010,

Amanuel Biedemariam

For a while many Tigrayans, some openly and some behind the curtains, have been ripping some benefits from the tyrannical Meles regime unashamedly, boldly and with impunity. They are benefiting at the expense of all Ethiopian ethnic groups in many ways in the name of Tigray. Why this issue warrants an attention is the fact that they are benefiting more than any ethnic group; while claiming to be Ethiopians. But most importantly, they are doing it at the expense of the people in the region be it Ethiopians, Somalis, Eritreans or The Sudanese and in many ways.   

It is ironic that the genocidal tyrant Meles Zenawi repeatedly cried Interhamwe when the Voice of America broadcasted reports that he didn’t like. While that rant was an effort to rebuff pressures from his Western masters; in reality, the resentment, which is building up on Tigrayans continues. It is, therefore, possible for the majority of Ethiopians to lash out in ways that are unpredictable and downright genocidal. That is the brutal truth. It is recent history that unexpected events led to the most horrific genocide of our time in Rwanda when the Hutus’ killed 800,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsis’ in a short period of time. While there is no history of enmity amongst the various ethnic nationalities of Ethiopia at the level of Hutus’ and Tutsis; they have not lived a harmonious coexistence either. It is also worth noting that what caused the genocide in Rwanda could not have been expected to create such a historic holocaust in Africa. The genocide was sparked by the death of the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down.

The question then is now-that a sizable number of Ethiopians resent Tigrayans, what can Tigrayans do to change that resentment?

The resentment stems from the fact that Tigrayans are in power with full control of the economy, military, information, political and everything else in between. To deny that, is to deny reality. Ethiopia, since 1991, has been and is still being controlled by an ethnic minority clique from Tigray. The amount of monies, material wealth and the resources under the control of these Tigrayans is simply put, insane. They have gotten extremely rich simply by the sheer advantage of occupying the Menelik Palace provides. It accords them unchecked diplomatic prowess and political cover from any PR attacks around the world. In addition, control of the military gives them almost impenetrable power-base from which to control the nation and its agendas regionally and internationally.
In fact, prior to the election of 2010 that brought a nominal reshuffle of the cabinet, on June of 2009, Gunbot 7 and other major Ethiopian organizations released a list of names in Senior Command Posts in the Ethiopian army. And listed General SamoraYunus, Chief of Staff, Lt. General Tadesse Worede Training Department, Lt. General Geazi Abera Logistics Department, Brg. General Gebredela Military Intelligence Department, Lt. General GebreEgziabiher Operations Department, Lt. General Berhane Negash, Engineering Department, and Brg. General Mola Haile Mariam air force are all from Tigray. Throughout the entire army, 98% of the core-leadership groups are Tigrayans. They also exposed the systemic domination of Ethiopia in all sectors of the government including agriculture, transportation and all other government ventures.

This is the reality of Ethiopia today and many have written about it ad-nauseam and Ethiopians know that is the case. However, they are unable to do anything about it. In 2005, the election they thought could bring change, served as tragic transitional point in Ethiopian history. It defined a new Ethiopia with uncertain future and direction. It destroyed the vision Ethiopians have had for their country – at least temporarily. It generated unnecessary suspicion on each other and a period of unease. Unfortunately, that has not changed one-bit since 2005. In fact, the tension is building up with Ethiopians wondering; if the Tigrayans truly believe that they can go on like this indefinitely. It is a political and societal conundrum for Ethiopians who are vehemently incensed about the ruling clique yet, always cognizant that their words and actions could likely ignite unnecessary tension with Tigrayans. They were afraid that Tigrayans could be forced into a bunker mentality if they believed they are ganged up on.
According to Human Rights Watch,

Ethiopia is a de facto one-party state masquerading as a democracy. Its ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), permeates the state and goes to great lengths to ensure citizens’ political loyalty. In parliamentary elections in May 2010, the EPRDF won 99.6% of the seats. In local elections in 2008 it won more than 99%

Moreover, there is a definite resentment because Ethiopians are-not convinced the Tigrayans, ruling the country by force, are Ethiopian nationalists. Because before they came to power in 1991, they fought for the rights of the people of Tigray -with the idea of creating Greater Tigray (Abbay Tigray) in mind. This is documented on their Tigray-manifesto of 1976. In fact, Ethiopians are convinced the idea behind article 39 is a ploy designed to give the clique and in effect the people of Tigray the possibility of seceding from Ethiopia if they choose.
Article 39 gives all Ethnic groups in Ethiopia a “Right” to be break away from the union. It states”

The right to self-determination up to secession of nation, nationality and peoples may be exercised: where, the demand for secession is approved by a two thirds (2/3rds) majority of the legislature of the nation; where, the Federal Government within three years upon receipt of the decision of the legislature of the nation, nationality or people demanding secession, organizes a referendum for the nation, nationality or people demanding secession; where, the demand for secession is supported by a simple majority vote in the referendum and where, the Federal Government transfers power to the parliament of the nation, nationality or people which has opted for secession

Under this arrangement the TPLF clique could claim, they respect the rights of all ethnic groups while giving themselves opportunities to become independent at any given time legally at a time of their choosing. To emphasize its meaning, one can look at a statement that articulates; “If the demand for secession is approved by a two thirds (2/3rds) majority of the legislature of the nation, any ethnic group can secede.” That means, Meles can order the handpicked rubber stamp parliament to vote for secession and Tigray will become independent. This is a clear example on how Ethiopia can break apart.

Furthermore, the Tigrayan minority clique stands-out for their history and propensity for merciless brutality. They have committed genocides in Gambella, Ogaden and Somalia. Countless have lost lives in Southern part of Ethiopia and everywhere in the country. Their human rights records are atrocious by all standards. The sense of instability and insecurities that permeate throughout every aspect of Ethiopian life is palpable. That is now compounded by massive land-leasing program they have embarked on displacing millions under the guise of development. They have created an environment that is full of pressure and can explode in uncontrollable ways difficult to contain once unleashed.
The Tigrayan minority clique has reached a point of hubris that is unparalleled. Leading up to the sham election of 2010, The Human Rights Watch documented some instances of the withholding of donor-funded food aid from families with malnourished, hungry children on the basis of political affiliation. On November 29 William Davison of Bloomberg reported the Ethiopian government has relocated about 150,000 people in the eastern Somali region in the past five months. The VOA and others reported; Meles Zenawi is forcibly uprooting million Ethiopians in the Gambela, Afar, Ogaden, and Benishangul regions from their land. This is consistent with the story The BBC reported accusing the TPLF of using Aid funds for arms. In simple terms the crimes of the Tigrayn clique is beyond redemption. They are getting their way by using every dirty trick under their sleeves to the detriment of the people of Ethiopia and the region. In Ogaden they quarantined the entire population and isolated Ogadenis from the rest of the world denying them access to everything. Under the guise of fighting terrorism and development they are destroying lives and a way of life of millions of people of Ethiopians everywhere.

Moreover, everything the Meles led minority clique from Tigray tried have failed. Regardless of how rosy they claim things are or will be; it is a time proven that everything they utter is a lie. After the sham elections of 2010, the regime effectively rendered itself illegitimate. Even if it falsely certified itself with a rubberstamp parliament and 96% victory; what it did is tell the world how belligerent it has gotten. It showed that Meles Zenawi is playing a different game. On the recent reshuffle of his cabinet Meles tried to defuse blame of his failures by throwing his former partners under the bus (ala Aboy Sbhat) to extend his reign. And to show diversity he brought-in individuals that have no popular support, constituencies and represent no viable party. As a result, Ethiopia will not enjoy leadership continuity when the regime falls. Ethiopia would have to start all over again in the least predictable way as it did during the last two transitions.

.The Key:

Whereas the country is governed by a rogue and illegitimate despot…Whereas the country is being divvied-up torn to pieces and given away to multinationals…Whereas the country that is rich and full of promise is rendered to abject poverty with no hope for change …Whereas all hope for continuity through a consensus have disappeared and the nation is dominated by a handful rich-elite…Whereas the nation is divided ethnically creating a perfect template for disintegration….Whereas citizens of a nation are rendered helpless and hopeless… Whereas citizens have decided that change is possible only through the barrel of a gun…Whereas the illegitimate government have lost all political capital in the region…Whereas there exists no good-will or intent by the ruling clique…Whereas there exists no trust or confidence on the ruling mafia clique…Whereas the minority genocidal regime is totally convinced that peace does not serve its best interest…Whereas the clique have decided to impose its hegemonic agendas with the nations on the region wantonly…Whereas it has become clear that the mischief by the clique will only worsen…Whereas it is proven that no ethics or humanitarian logic binds the clique to the people of Africa and the region…Whereas it is established that compromise, the rule of law, fair play and do-good for goodness-sake amounts to mean crime on their dictionary.
It is high time for the average Tigrayan to be asked where they stand on these matters.

It is time to ask, are you with the people of Ethiopia and the region seeking a peaceful coexistence? Do you accept these war mongers as your leaders and embrace them as is? Do you believe the people of Ethiopia are happy with the minority clique from Tigray? Are you proud on how the clique is handling Ethiopia? Do you think the people of Oromo, Ogaden, Gambella or Amhara are happy with the way they are being treated? Do you believe fair election, which is inclusive has taken place to satisfy the people of Ethiopia? Do you believe Ethiopia is headed on the right direction? How long do you think the TPLF clique can hold-on to power without the support of Ethiopians? The questions are endless.

Ethiopia is at crossroads. More than any time in its history, Ethiopia finds itself at a delicate stage. During the commemoration of the 2005 Ethiopian election in DC, Dr. Gregory Stanton, President of Genocide Watch warned the people of Tigray; ultimately the people of Tigray will end up paying the price for the crimes the genocidal Meles regime is perpetrating.

He stated

 My job is to identify trends that could cause genocides and what I am witnessing in Ethiopia is a great deal of concern for the people of Tigray because the regime is committing these crimes on their names.

That is the truth whether one chooses to accept it or not. Because, the origin of the leaders in Menelik Palace is Tigray; the people of Tigray fought alongside the ruling clique for the rights of the people of Tigray. Therefore, rightly or wrongly the perception exists the criminals in Menelik palace are representatives of the people of Tigray. That is the prevailing belief. The question is then; what can the people of Tigray do?

Concluding Remarks:

To quote Gandhi, “An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.” There is also a saying in Tigrigna “you can lace poison with honey but the taste inside will never change.”

So the moment of truth is here. Ethiopians all over the world are coming together and the momentum is building up against the thugs in Menelik Palace. In this and other future endeavors, Eritreans have embraced Ethiopians and vice-versa to charge ahead. The failed regime is on the defensive all over Ethiopia with his morally defeated soldiers on the run in Ogaden, Gambella, South and Central Ethiopia and most significantly; TPDM is chasing his soldiers in Tigray. Moreover, all these groups are coming together and putting the criminal regime on the defensive more and more.

Moreover, all of what the regime tried to achieve was based on mischief and trickery but all that is come to an end. The alliance that he set up with Yemen, Djibouti, and Sudan in order to strangulate Eritrea failed. He is now the odd man out. What he calculated with Eritrea failed completely and now Eritrea is poised and on the right track. The no-war no-peace agenda he set up ended up isolating Ethiopians from their natural trading partners all around. Eritreans didn’t fail as he expected instead they are vibrant and flourishing. In all, what he banked-on was the misery of Eritreans but he forgot that Eritreans are resilient. It was a big mistake to bet against the people of Eritrea. He was dismissive and believed he can strangulate Eritreans economically so he shut all doors by telling Eritrea, “let them quench the thirst of their camels from the waters of the Red Sea” when he abandoned Eritrean ports. Eritrean camels are drinking water from the dams in every corner. Eritrea is not the isolated nation he was hoping it to be. To the contrary, it is flourishing in every way be it in sports, diplomacy, agriculture, mining and in all aspects Eritreans are on the move.

As a result, the warmongering and hate mongering mouthpieces at Aigaforum are not saying Eritrea is poor any more. They are saying Eritrea is becoming rich! Therefore it is going to hurt us what is Ethiopia to do? They are going crazy, completely at a loss for any sane strategy hence, they are calling Eritreans “Egyptian-army” that are coming to hurt us. These people are no-more in the realm of sanity they are delusional to the point of pity.

Therefore, the choice is clear. In this defining moment; do the people of Tigray want to be with the people of the region and coexist in peace or will they believe on the hegemonic agenda of Meles? Do they want partnership or hate? Meles like the past leaders will crumble and crumble badly. So the choice is clear: Meles or the people of the region in peace. The people of Tigray need to denounce the criminal regime and stand with the people of the region openly-soon for the sake of their own people. One more thing to ponder; it is certain at the end, the world will side with the people of Ethiopia and the region. So should the people of Tigray.

This case is not a concern for Ethiopians only; it concerns all peace loving people in the world. It is obviously a great concern for Eritrea and the region because it directly impacts our securities and that means we will do what it takes to ensure peace. Hence, let the rising momentum engulf these criminals for good. The people of Eritrea are peace loving and their interest is peace and prosperity of the people in the region.

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