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Our Dilemma as Tigreans and which way forward

By Bereket Kiros
Tigrai Online, July 19, 2019

The 22nd June assassinations represent the biggest challenge and hard to swallow for Ethiopians in general and Tigreans in particular. The year-old government, which allegedly has undertaken sweeping reforms with dubious and treacherous governance under one-man show, Tigreans as well the Ethiopian populace, are losing faith in the PM’s ability to lead. Although the PM with a great deal of mischief and corrupt arrangement behind the scenes was elected to represent the EPRDF, he as ex-secret agent without any appraisal from the sister parties (the EPRDF is known to meticulously work out its work in gimgema) started demolishing the whole apparatus of the military and security network and thereby exposing the whole country where it is now. Thus, the expectations for basic needs and security of the people and country are far from fulfilled and many people are now asking whether there will ever be a united Ethiopia under the current PM.

It is not the economic hardship that is undermining the PM but his credibility to lead the country mature enough to address the more than three million Ethiopians who are displaced in ethnic strife, the numerous ethnic clashes between and inside the various regions, the blockade of federal roads by disgruntled brigands, the slackening of state control in important sectors, the appointment of key positions to persons without merits, dismissal of a range of experienced military, security and civil servants and interference within the regional governments in direct breach of the Constitution, etc. No wonder then, though very regrettable and sad to lose the great heroes and sons of Ethiopia in the name of High ranking officials Gen Seare Mekonnen, Gen Gezai Abera and the regional governor of Amhara Dr. Ambachew Mekonnen and his associates in a mafia-like assassination. A vicious circle has taken hold in Ethiopia, where the government is further crippled and less able to act and the have citizens lost confidence in the PM and the institutions. Massive criminal acts, political violence and deterioration of the security and economy are central problems for the existence of Ethiopia. Accolades from various pundits in the world aside praising the PM of his reforms in earthquake style, Ethiopians really are worried where this country’s destiny is going to be from day to day.

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We concerned Tigreans have no resentment on the Amhara people nor fall into the trap of the forces of destruction. Financiers like Egypt, Saudi and their stooges want to unleash ethnic warfare and civil war in Ethiopia. We don’t understand why Tigreans have to be targeted for such assault campaign and propaganda. The sheer belligerency of the verbal assault and bigotry against the Tigreans is unprecedented in its incivility and savagery both in workplaces and public. The Tigrean people have throughout their history shown that their collective willpower of survival is their bravery of resistance in the struggle to get rid of the dangers of extermination through resettlement and starvation and colonial powers. No current or earlier watchdogs, no human rights groups and no government of dignity were up to condemn the scorched earth policy and killing squads of those mercenaries, who targeted and are targeting people of Tigray origin. It is the persistent bashing by the chauvinists who claim to be the sole defenders of Ethiopia as manifested their ugly venom towards Tigreans. Above all if they know, although they tried several times to appropriate the whole culture and history, Ethiopia without Tigray is a dead end.

We are faced with this scrupulous silly and obstinate political culture whacking on our ethnic identity. These same people have claimed to oppose any racial bigotry, but are real perpetuators of such bias tone and propaganda. This is a very dangerous route knowing the historical facts of the Jewish people in Europe, the ex-Yugoslavia, Rwanda, etc. and no one except the ill-wishers are to be satisfied. We stand to lose in a devastation never seen in history due to the various ethnicities, demographic and geographic locations. Do we remember in one of the TYV footages of the President Morsi and his allies, one of the adviser’s recommendations was to create ethnic rivalry leading to civil war in order to preserve the flow of the Nile to Egypt. Thus, regardless of our ethnic background and heritage, it is necessary to focus and uphold on issues and agendas of peace, development and democracy without compromising the core and essential values of our citizens and Ethiopia. So far such pattern of name calling and bashing of Tigreans with unsubstantial rumors has been trademarks in some self-appointed camps, Facebook and YouTube. In some parts of Amhara, Tigrean properties and lives were ransacked, demolished, killed and assaulted as recently as the final of the premier league in Ethiopia.

This kind of bravado has been emboldened by many so called opposition groups in the Diaspora playing dirty role in creating wedges among the innocent people of Ethiopia, far away living in harm’s way from any danger for themselves and their families. Michael Raynor, the US ambassador to Ethiopia said recently in a meeting with medical doctors in Tikur Anbessa “Unfortunately, some of those harmful voices come from the U.S.-based diaspora: people who, from the comfort and safety of the United States, incite hatred and violence on the ground in Ethiopia”. Yes, this is what is taking place of un proportionate freedom of speech in the US and elsewhere with people with low regard for the rule of law under the name of freedom. It is a supreme irony that those who say that they struggle against oppression and persecution are fueling a campaign of hate and ethnic cleansing from the comforts and privilege of democracy abroad. We think it is better that we see the immediate danger and rectify now when we have the opportunity to do so. Otherwise the bigots and their sympathizers, who incite ethnic discord, might take us to irremediable path of violence and genocide among the different ethnicities.

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As the old saying goes the more things change, the more they remain the same. We are not surprised at all to read many highly charged tribal tone and demented idea to evolve to such petty low level standard. What has changed since has less to do with the basic structure of our society than the language we use to justify it. All is easier said than done, of course in the self-proclaimed bashers change will not come easy for them. The failure to acknowledge the humanity and dignity of all Ethiopians regardless of ethnicities has exposed the tribal system with the one feeling more Ethiopian than he or she is. If we can agree what is needed now, at this critical juncture, it is no need tinkering on tribal background. The PM’s sweet talks have not lead to stop the killing of many Ethiopians and Tigreans take the burden for no purpose. Numerous are the horrendous experience and trauma of those who made it to Tigray. Maimed, properties looted and burned, beaten and tortured, killed with machete and knives into pieces (as the case of a family in Illibabor after 37 years, who came under the derg’s sefera program), in places like Bahrdar, Gonder, Shinfa, etc. should not be forgotten. Those of you who have viewed Ethiopia from a comfortable distance may throw stones in every direction to create rift among the people but the consequences are calamitous. The level of discussions on different websites and YouTube is degenerating too low and rigorous measures must be taken to save Ethiopia, if it can be saved at this juncture. Enough is enough brothers/sisters and let’s work together for the common good and open a dialog on things that matter for our Tigrai. We should be able to champion the ideals of democracy, peace and ethnic equality. No Ethiopian shall ever be persecuted because of ethnicity, gender or religion. This should be more obvious to our fellow Ethiopians.

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History repeats itself first as tragedy and second as farce in connection to the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte as written by Marx. We should not let the forces of destruction to repeat their warmongering to their historical instincts. More importantly, silence in the face of this brewing storm is consequentially tragic. We have a special responsibility to acknowledge our dilemma as Tigreans in order to move the debate forward of our future as a people. Ethiopia is a country based on the free will of its citizens comprising of different respectful and mosaic of ethnicities in union. If the Ethiopia of today does not respect the culture, language and rights of its people, then it is no use to act more Ethiopian than others are. Respect rather than war mongering and ethnic smear, unity rather than divisiveness, peace rather than clan/tribal conflicts, development rather than regression and democracy rather than one man rule, should be the main aspiration of all. However, if push comes to shove, there should be an exit strategy in a family of nations and nationalities as empowered by the Constitution. No one should be considered as a second citizen and no one could stand anymore.

In the meantime, we would like to end our thoughts by applauding the Tigray Region Administrative officials for taking the bold move in recognizing its challenges and shortcomings and calling a spade for a spade in matters of the current developments, where a killer was considered a comrade-in-arms. The leadership should also urgently develop a strategy to include all its citizens in good faith, release all political prisoners, restore justice, eliminate corruption and stand on the side of history.

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