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The Radical Diaspora Politicians and their Media Outlets’ Subversive Targeting Tigrayans: Illusion or reality?

By Selam Yiheyis (PhD), Canada
Tigrai Online, Ethiopian News, April 8, 2016



This article reveals the political ironies underlying contemporary Ethiopia where Tigrayans, who bore the brunt of sacrifices during successive regimes and the rogue Sahebiya invasion, are also targeted by the Diaspora media hate campaign. This author fears lies spread over years might lead to misperceptions which would haunt the rational minds of sensible Ethiopians. The central message here is that Tigrayans, who are proud of their past history, civilization, culture and values and Ethiopian identity had never yielded into successive forces of reaction, and will keep vigilant against bullying. The article starts with the roles of the media, proceeds with the Diaspora media’s perverted imagery of the Tigrayans and end up questioning the links between Oromo protests and targeting the Tigrayans.

1. Diaspora Media’s Perverted Imagery of the Tigrayans

The word ‘media’ is derived from the word ‘medium’, signifying mode or carrier. It is intended to reach and address a large target group or audience. Today’s media is expected to play an outstanding role in creating and shaping of public opinion and strengthening of society.
Media is the sword arm of democracy, social cohesion and development that sustain nation building and fight ignorance, poverty, and corruption. At the same time, if not responsibly utilized the same tool can be perverted in the service of terrorists. It is, indeed, disturbing the cyber forum has become the major recruiting ground for extremist terrorists of all kinds (from political to religious radicals). Recent studies are reiterating the symbiotic relationship between terrorism and media. The thread of radicals and terrorist actions over the years, intertwined with increasing media coverage, suggest the huge risks in our future as terrorists are becoming their own media generators.

This challenge is increasingly becoming more formidable in the realms of Diaspora Ethiopian politics than ever before. The fact that scholars in the Diaspora and technicians are developing media outlets, including social media is a good stride. Nevertheless, the choice rests absolutely upon each one of us as to what purpose we employing the social media for. There are very critical issues and questions that should concern all of us more in common beyond our diverse group, ethnic, social class, religious, political identities or personal ego. Here are some of crucial questions of concern: Should we destroy our nation’s image and development endeavours of our society simply because we have big or small differences with the incumbent government?  Do we have a shared vision and mission as Diaspora with each other and with our compatriots at home? How long are we going to entangle ourselves with inherited partisan politics of the student movements of the 1970s and settling old scores with no end in sight? What are our strategic national interests that we have to prioritize regardless of any kind of internal differences? Do we feel contented with divide and target approach against our respective ethnic or religious communities?

 The Ethiopian extremist dispaora intellectuals (cum politicians) and their amateur media hosts are increasingly abusing the media to stock ethnic mistrust, protracted conflicts and terror in Ethiopia. And this writer is mystified with these type of divisive media warfare bent on systematically targeting on one-on-one basis. I wonder Why Radical Diaspora Politicians and their Subversive Media Outlets holistically Target the Tigrayans? How long can the Tigrayans bear this wanton psychological harassment? I questioned the dreadful silence of the disapora and national media, scholars, and civic societies and the government on the Tigrayans issue as an emergent problematic in Ethiopian politics. For quite long, all groups have ignored it as something trash not worthy of our time and our attention. Yet, the problem has lingered indefinitely.

The sustained malice propaganda campaign and anti-Tigrayan discourses via VOA Amharic, Ethiomedia, and E(ri)SAT for over a decade, seem to gather momentum as it has gone wild to push Tigray and Tigrayans  further to the edges. None of the media outlets seem to have perfectly felt the agony of misinforming the public as do the actual targets. The crisis of Tigrayan misrepresentation went so rampant that considerable Ethiopians and the Diaspora’s mindset seem to be poisoned by the dissolute Diaspora media propaganda. One indicator is that people from several ethnic groups have now made it habitual, if not ritual to snub the Tigrayans as “the significant Other”. They are deeply engaged in systematic mobilization of most, if not all Ethiopians, in a subtle conspiracy against this misrepresented Other ethnic group. Ironically, this increasing trend at inciting all against the Tigrayans continued even when the Tigrayans are pressing the government so hard by demanding for a robust system change to check corruption and bad governance. Foreigners, who picked biased information from biased sources, including the shallow Diasporas media, have now begun to imitate and funnel the same anti-Tigrayans sentiments. It has now crossed the limits and is already stinking abroad and at home. As the traditional adage has it, “when a lie is too much vibrated and disseminated, it tends to cling to fact.” It is high time that this hype should be deconstructed and strongly denounced. Tigrayans and the rest of Ethiopians should equally protest against smear propaganda of exclusion and bullying. I am 100 % sure this verbal violence won’t intimidate the Tigrayans but my sensible fear is that this growing allegation may trigger the Tigrayans reaction in kind leading to unwarranted cycle of social conflicts. Because, it is simple logic: every action breeds reaction. Tigrayans will never compromise their freedom, dignity, and fundamental rights for survival!  They have never ever given up in the past; and they won’t give up now because they are on the correct side of history! They have made immense sacrifices for their country, which in the course; have acquired all the necessary knowledge, skills and cause to keep them alive! Neither they are fugitive nor provocative; but will opt to be proactive! Whether acknowledged or not, they are renowned for a history of accommodation, constructive dialogue and shared nation building. They stand tall and firm from the point of political maturity, vision, solidarity, and shared destiny based on the golden principles of peaceful mutual coexistence. As a community, they have no any hidden agendas whatsoever from the Ethiopian people. They are dynamic and not as static as their detractors would like to envisage them!

2. Why Radical Diaspora Opposition’s perverted Campaign targeted the Tigrayans?

No specific rationale exists as to why Tigrayans could be specific targets of Diaspora heinous agitprop beyond prejudices. Because the immediate issue that called for series of public protests in contemporary Ethiopia favouring change was a mix of economic, social and political frustrations emanating from bad governance, corruption and growing social inequalities. These are part of systemic problems the EPRDF primer has publicly acknowledged as his government’s responsibility. The Diasporas often propagated idea that the current government is a Tigrayan government, however, does not hold water. Let alone now after 25 years in power through federal system, TPLF could not have even crossed the Tekeze, Bashilo and Tilare rivers to control the Amahara region without obtaining the consent and/or alliances from an Amhara based political organization, as the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement ( what later became the Amahara National Democratic Movement). Neither would it have managed to cross the Abay River to Oromia in the absence of Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO).

The issue at hand now is: Are the Tigrayans responsible for problems of good governance and corruption in different Ethiopian regional states? Categorically No; they are solely responsible for Tigray and for particular positions within the Federal government so long as they have individually (not collectively!) failed much like any other elite from other ethnic groups represented in similar positions of power. And it is an established fact (not withstanding unfounded noisy allegations, prejudices and hasty generalizations) because all other regions are being governed by local people speaking the region’s official language and sharing the people’s culture and psychological makeup. Are people dissatisfied with the federal and regional power systems? Yes, the Tigryanas are even more disillusioned with corruption and bad governance; but callous politicians and extremist “distance politics” leaders trying to scapegoat on Tigrayans are increasingly distorting the reality of Ethiopian body politics and one of externalizing their “distance political leadership” deficits on any strong and proud Ethiopian communities. And that will not fix the problem. As anywhere else from amongst Ethiopian ethnic entrepreneurs, there could be individual Tigrayans who may be held accountable for their own excesses; but that does not mean the Tigrayans as a whole are responsible for such individuals, as other ethnic groups are not responsible for crimes perpetrated by individual members of their communities. Part II will try to begin by giving an introduction as to how blaming the Tigrayans had incidentally started and how it continued to this days.

Continue to Part II


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