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A riposte to Major Dawit’s odious remarks on Tigraians and Woyane

By Berhane Kahsay
Tigrai Online, Ethiopian News, May 24, 2016

Major Dawit Woldegiorgis and Tigrai people


Major Dawit Wolde- Giorgis held various posts including the Commissioner of Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) under the repressive military regime that was discarded in May 1991. He was also a close confident of Mengistu Hailemariam who responsible for the deaths of nearly 500,000 people during his 17 years of reign of terror. In 1985, Major Dawit abandon the regime as a result of power struggle, and claimed asylum in the US while on tour to solicit fund for famine victims.

During his tenure as Commissioner of RRC, Major Dawit authorised the forced transfer of nearly 100,000 Tigraians to Southern and Western regions of the country, and thousands of these died of malaria and sleeping sickness because of poor sanitation and inadequate health care in the resettlement areas. The international community severely censured RRC for its callous action and, for embezzling foreign aid and allocating it in a blatantly discriminatory manner.

Major Dawit’s strategy was to use food aid to destroy the TPLF by luring the people, who fully supported the liberation movement, to the areas that came under the control of the Derg. Relentless efforts failed to deliver the desired outcome, and the formidable and resourceful organisation, extinguished the military regime and its entire structures in seventeen years. To achieve this hard fought victory, 70,000 Tigrians perished and thousands more were forced into exile. Ethiopian is now in a league of its own and the socio-economic transformation of the last few decades is set to be elevated into new heights by the end of GTP 2 which came into operation recently.

The same man who abhorred democracy and the rule of law during his stint as a high-ranking member of the brutal military regime is now using various platforms to lectures us on the virtues of these ideals 42 years after he deserted the Derg. Recently, Major Dawit gave an interview to ESAT on various issues pertaining to the current political situation in Ethiopia and during the liberation struggles in Tigray and Eritrea. He believes that the country is now ethnically fragmented and hovering on the verge of collapse. And he went on further and said that the present federal system has been designed to economically benefit the Tigraian people which he refers to as 6% of the population, and that, the media and the army are also under their control.

We have heard this many times before but various statistics released by the government and others indicate that in terms of economic prosperity, local and foreign investments--- Oromia, Amhara and SNNP are way ahead of Tigray. For instance-- around 120 foreign and local flower companies are operating in Ethiopia today. Out of these 73 are FDI, 11 joint ventures and the rest are locals. These investments are by and large in Oromia region and to bring in more investors and to facilitate movement of goods produced in the region and elsewhere, Adama Expressway has been constructed with an outlay of 10.3 billion Birr.

Amhara region is next in the Horticultural business and according to Daniel Tereffe of the Horticulture Investment Project branch in Bahir- Dar, the investment in this area alone is expected to bring in 4.1 billion Birr per annum. To attract more businesses to the region, a direct cargo flight from Bahir-Dar airport has been in operation for some time now and they believe that this will correct the imbalance that exists at present in terms of investment flow to Oromia region.    .   

Leaving the lies aside, Tigrai is indeed lagging behind but thanks to EFFORT’s funds that it accumulated during the armed struggle, a number of factories have been established in various parts of Tigray creating thousands of job opportunities. Alleging that a minority is controlling the Ethiopian economy is simply a fabrication that has repeatedly been employed to gain political mileage and to create animosity between the Tigrean people, who sacrificed the most to usher the current system, and the rest of Ethiopians.

As to the army, in 2011, Defence Minister, Siraj Fegesa, presented a report to  House of Representatives in relation to the ethnic composition of the Ethiopian Army and a portion of it is listed below: Amhara( 30,343); Oromo (25,205); SNNP (22,842); and Tigray 39,896 (1996/97) and 18,500(2011). And the so called army Generals are simply guarding (wardia) the nation from external enemies so that the kind of investments that are taking place in Amhara, Oromia, SNNP and others to a lesser extent can continue an abated.            

Major Dawit went on and claimed that apart from Ethiopia, there are no other countries in the world/Africa that have separatist movements and Woyane is blamed for this. This man whose hands are soaked with Tigrian blood is so disingenuous, he would twist hard facts to tarnish the good standing of the TPLF that has done wonders to positively alter the image of Ethiopia.

Is it not the case that the so called liberation movements came into being as a direct result of blatant subjugations based on ethnicity starting from Menelik and ending in 1991? Do we have to remind Major Dawit the unspeakable atrocities committed against the Oromo and other Ethiopians by successive Amhara rulers? Faulting Woyane, which saved the country from dissolution, for the proliferation of rebel organisations is simply a barefaced lie.

For Major Dawit’s benefit and to expose his dishonesties, it is pertinent to cite ethnically built separatist movements in Africa---- Kabyle in Algeria; Western Sahara in Morocco; Caprivi in Namibia; Igbo, Ljaw, Ogoni and Yoruba in Nigeria to name but a few. The former member of the vicious military regime has the audacity to tell us that to overcome division and foster unity/’’Ethiopiawinet’’, Amharic has to be spoken in all the regions and that all children should be thought in this language. This man is really outdated and never learns from past mistakes.

Amharic was the lingua franca until the advent of ‘’Woyane’’ but it did not prevent the formation of various insurgents. What brings people together is respect for one another; embracing varying cultures and diversities; equal opportunities for all; maintaining and nurturing mosaic traditions and values; retaining and developing all languages; one economy; equitable distribution of wealth; and negating narrow nationalism and chauvinism. The presence of these essential elements in Ethiopia today has resulted in the marginalisation of separatist movements such as the OLF and ONLF which have now become tools for foreign enemies.

Of course, from time to time remnants of the OLF will attempt to give the impression that they are still alive, but the organisation has been effectively rejected by the Oromo people and it was for this reason only that it has fractured into several impotent parts. The recent unrest in the region was primarily directed at the regional government and its inept and corrupt officials. ONLF has also lost the support of the Ethio-Somalis and is no longer in a position to disrupt economic activities in the region which was completely neglected by previous successive regimes.                    

Under ‘Woyane’ Ethiopia has done very well and this has been confirmed by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF. Reputable publications such as The Economist and global television stations including CNBC Africa and CNN have also made extensive reports on the impressive economic performance of the Horn nation. But Major Dawit is in a state of denial and even goes out of his way to tell Ethiopians not to be fooled by the magnificent tower blocs and social housing developments in various parts of the nation in addition to the massive infrastructure developments and introduction of light-railway transport.

This surely is an insult to their intelligence but the former ESEPA head in Eritrea is not the slightest bit perturbed by his shameful and irresponsible efforts to discredit the most successful organisation in the history of the country. In any case, ‘Woyane’ is fully cognizant of the fact that economic hardship that came about as a result of 100 years of neglect cannot be fixed overnight but there is definitely a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

It is interesting to note that the previous member of the murderous military junta has now become a born again proponent of democracy. Only few decades ago he was part and parcel of a government that denied basic human rights and killed innocent citizens with impunity. Major Dawit routinely speaks about pluralism, respect for human rights and the rule of law on ESAT television, which is owned by the Eritrean dictator who has been viciously suppressing his own people for the last 25 years. Is it sincere for someone who is sponsored by a tyrant to talk about the virtues of democracy? Definitely not!

But in his quest for power, Major Dawit is prepared to say and do anything in order to materialise his near impossible wishes of removing ‘Woyane’. In 2009, he wrote an article titled The way forward for Ethiopia and Eritrea’’, that appeared on various extremist websites and in it he stated ’’ I believe that not relating with the Eritrean government is a misguided position.’’ Lack of support at home and desperation for power has left Major Dawit with no choice but to rely on the Eritrean leader to carry him all the way to Menelik Palace. But can Shabiya’s army that was effectively rendered useless during the border conflict of 1998 attain this?  We shall see! 

It is indeed incomprehensible that Esayass is associating with the former Derg official who commanded soldiers during the liberation struggle that pillage villages, poisoned water wells and indiscriminately massacred innocent people including pregnant women. But what many Ethiopians would like to ask Major Dawit is the need to ‘’relate’’ to the Eritrean tyrant who has been relentlessly working to fracture their country by financing separatist movements such as the OLF and ONLF? It appears that the former Derg official is so blinded by his hate for ‘Woyane’ and hunger for power, he has lost his ability to reason and make a rational decision.

Some people have no shame at all. Major Dawit never misses an opportunity to indict ‘Woyane’ for the creation of independent Eritrea. In his chat with ESAT as well as in his article of 2009, Major Dawit claims that it was Meles who pushed for Eritrean independence when Esayass was happy to settle for federation or confederation with Ethiopia. And the reason for this according to Major Dawit was to prevent Esayass, who was far more capable than Meles, from becoming the President of Ethiopia. Major Dawit also said that comparing the two, Esayass was far more ‘awaki’ and atleko ye miaseb’ individual than the former Premier of Ethiopia. What would the hundreds and thousands Eritreans who are abandoning their homeland as a result of intense repression think of his comments? How about the mothers of hundreds of Eritreans who are sinking to the bottom of the sea before reaching their destinations? And residents of Addis who are criss-crossing the AU capital in the brandy new light-rail trains for the first time in their history?      

There is no point in tackling this point as it is better to leave it to the Eritreans, who fought for 30 years to gain their independence, to respond to this outlandish assertion. But what can be stated with absolute certainty is that Meles was infinitely better than Esayass who would not have made it to the pre- 2000 central committee of the TPLF. Major Dawit’s opinion on Meles stems from the fact that the great leader happens to hail from the home of Deki-Alula. But the one fact that Major Dawit forgot to mention was that nobody can come close to Esayass in terms of killing his comrades as well as locking them up in freight containers except of course Mengistu Haile Mariam.

His dislike for anything Tigrai knows no bounds and invariably goes the extra mile to depreciate their monumental achievements including the defence of their country from foreign enemies. In his article, he mentioned that Ras Alula the great African Commander would not have won his numerous battles with alien invaders without the support of Eritreans which he claims were the bulk of his troops. He continued further and said, ’ Eritrean patriots have always been at the forefront of the wars fought to preserve the independence and unity of Ethiopia.’’

His disrespect and slur against the Tigrians went on when he said ’’ ….Eritreans are straightforward and consistent in their words and deeds….’’ The fascist killer is not only implying that the Tigraian people are deceitful and untrustworthy but also questioning their leadership and steadfastness against external invaders. Major Dawit and his associates would not shy away from honouring King Menelik at every opportunity but when it comes to Emperor Yohannes and Ras Alula who prevented Eritrea from falling into the hands of the Italians are not given the respect they rightly deserve. During his chat with ESAT, Major Dawit publically threaten Tigraians with retributions once ‘Woyane’ is removed from power. Obviously, he is referring to Amhara elite because other Ethiopians who have benefited from the current system do not harbour any ill-feelings towards the Tigrian people. But one thing that should be crystal clear to this man and his likes is that, the people he despises with passion can defend themselves and in case he has forgotten, they more or less single-handedly crushed the Derg’s army totalling 500,000 in a short space of time.

In any case this is to be expected from a desperate person who was happy to serve a government that was busy killing innocent people until his departure in 1985. Superfluously praising Eritreans to get at Tigraians is simply a futile and forlorn act. It is also completely a waste of time attempting to wither away the support the TPLF receives from its constituency and to dived the people by claiming that the organisation is  ’’ a dictatorship of a few Tigrean elite people from Adwa, Axum and Shire.’’ This man repeats the same old story that has been tried and failed previously and this clearly indicates that the ex- ESEPA is completely devoid of any original ideas that he can present to the Ethiopian people as an alternative.

Major Dawit indicated in his letter that he was in Eritrea during the federation on a ‘security mission watching the Eritrean Assembly when they were voting.’’ He went on and said ’’I was there celebrating with the Eritreans long awaited unity with Eritrea with the mother land. It was an unforgettable moment.’’ Not long after this, an armed struggle that lasted for 30 years was initiated resulting in the creation of the state of Eritrea. An individual who was party to the annulment of a working federation where there was a fledgling democracy coupled with his membership of a brutal regime that precipitated the deaths of over 1,00,000,000 people during the 1985 famine cannot speak about democracy, human rights and the rule of law now.

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