The Radical Diaspora Politicians and their Media Outlets’ Subversive Targeting Tigrayans: Illusion or reality? Part II
By Selam Yiheyis (PhD), Canada
Tigrai Online, Ethiopian News, April 8, 2016
3. Alienating the Tigrayans: Anti-thesis of Political Reforms and Regime Change
Responsible media, whether private or under state control, should basically act as watchdog to protect public interest against malpractice and create public awareness. Nevertheless, this is not the case with the dispora media, Diaspora politicians and their surrogate opposition at home. Nor is the TPLF/EPRDF a party of angels that always runs after pleasing the Tigrayans alone. It seems to me that the media’s infamous design of fomenting malice campaign aimed at isolating the Tigrayan community commenced during the Derg. That design was hastily inherited by the opposition, who aggressively propagated it both during and in the aftermath of the 2005 election campaigns. The opposition had briefly rekindled hopes of genuine political contest that set euphoria by the mainstream Ethiopian society. Considerable Tigrayans were contemplating to lay their lots with the opposition.
Nevertheless, the euphoria of early success brought forth a nasty verbal violence that labelled all the Tigraynas with the TPLF, and hence, threatening to repulse them back to their places of origin. Adem Bedru started this generic tone of repulsing the Tigrayans; then others kept on entertaining it to the extent that private media owned it for good without serious scrutiny. The then hardly prepared emotive opposition tried to externalize their leadership deficits by threatening against an ethnic group. That tone had drawn the Tigrayans more into the TPLF because of the opposition’s prejudices and wrong maths that the Tigrayan demographically lesser and would not matter in terms of adding value to their overall votes. Then surprising landslide victory came in favour of the opposition in Addis Ababa. Hailu Shawel openly declared “even we have won in Teclehaimanot Area, which was predominantly inhabited by the Tigrayans!” That approach carried a hidden text of “us versus them”, signaling political prematurity of the CUD leader. Its implication was far more annoying; it sounds like the opposition were sending the impression that the Tigrayans were not theirs! Why not? The underlying message is they are Others! That mediocre approach cost the opposition a lot in terms of losing their public credibility as the Ethiopian community had spoken in action. Unfortunately, the Diaspora and some former members of the 2005 disgruntled opposition politicians lived with this saga and sin. They thought the unthinkable: it is inconceivable for Ethiopia without Tigray and for Ethiopians without Tigrayans. I strongly argue that this infantile approach to politics shows how the diapora media and politicians remained more of nihilists responsible for integrating Ethiopia and Ethiopians much more than the government whom they blame for promoting dissension through ethnic based political organization and regions. Where lies the political dynamism of the Diaspora and its media to claim Ethiopia’s political future if they kept up on war of attrition by disowning the Tigrayans? How would they consider themselves as a visible political alternative for tomorrow’s Ethiopia? Are they learning lessons from the USA current election that Donald Trump is losing his early tempo of success because of his emotional bravado by alienating of certain social groups?
Likewise, this writer firmly believes that alienating the masses of Tigrayans won’t materialize political reforms and regime change in Ethiopia. Most political changes that involved the Tigrayans stood much higher chances of success. There are some outstanding concerns that need clarity. Do the Regional states and their respective ruling parties, governments and functionaries conducted rigorous self assessments? No! Did they ever take merciless action against corrupted, nepotistic and unethical officials for strangling justice, delaying development and embezzling public finance? No! Are people demanding justice and a redress to their grievances? Yes! Are there revolutionary situation in Oromia and other regions? Short of putting pressures and protest against the incumbent government, I don’t think so. Why not? This is because:
Revolutions do occur in situations where any road towards reform seems blocked (though they do not always occur). Or to look at it from the other side: Legitimacy of a revolutionary movement requires a state of near total disillusionment among the wider population with the ruling authority and prevailing power structures (Turok, 1980: 13). There can be no revolution except where the previous regime, whether by its weakness or by its viciousness, has lost the right to rule (Dunn, 1989: 246).
In the Ethiopian case, the government has not yet lost the right to its rule. It has openly and courageously apologized for the mess ups and this will possibly neutralize the conflict on the ground and will help it to gather momentum to tame its leadership deficiencies. Even if there would have been a revolution, I don’t see any concrete reason as to why the Tigrayans or even the TPLF should be solely held accountable for the malfunctions in other regions and overwhelming federal government executives that operates through largely fair share of power across diverse ethnic representation. Do we need to fix political problems through vicious cycle of violence? No!
Thus, I strongly believe the major problem at hand within the current Ethiopian politics is that different regions and their executives have lost the gut to expose, bring to court, punish and implement due process of law verdicts on highly corrupt officials. Members of EPRDF coalition parties are conducting nominal assessment and evaluation and have bent on treating the symptoms rather than the root causes and key actors of corruption within their upper echelons. Radical approach to address their internal problems has yet to come. That is why the complex web of corruption networks has turned viral threatening government survival. As the Primer Hailemariam has reiterated, the major actors in corruption and bad governance are none but the heavily entrenched, extremely powerful and influential state functionaries who keep on singing the same political song during the day. Yet, the same group resort to leading and hiding their own cunning corruption networks after office hours.
The struggle is becoming more complex and irksome game for the crawling government to control the aggressive government thieves. The corrupt actors have now created a stubborn shell with an almost pathological tenacity to hold in check and bring to court. In fact, to the contrary, they are hell bent on shaking the government’s foundation, as recently witnessed in Oromia riots to maintain their hold in helms of power and influence. It should be clearly known that this parasitic beneficiary group belong to a supra- ethnic, supra-religious and supra-regional company fundamentally bound by a shared economic interests that transcends any political or party affiliation. It would not be a witch hunt to claim that some members of the opposition could be part of this elite economic interest group. This group has created a very dangerous mafia government with in an official government. Abay Tsehaye’s analysis seems to be right in that like the thieves in Mercato, the corrupted groups (some politically others morally) are hell bent on diverting people’s (and government’s) attention from chasing them. This elite group is partly externalizing its worst sins to those poor Tigrayans who are hardly benefitting from the status quo. This is inspite of the fact that scholarly studies have confirmed that, compared to all other Ethiopian regions, Tigray is in its worst shape in its levels of poverty. And yet, it is more ironic that the spoiled elite from all Ethiopian regions, who kept on ransacking government budgets and public funds throughout, are undermining people’s intelligence. And the Diaspora media and their hosts are par taking with this spoiled elite in fabricating and disseminating holistic allegations on Tigrayans, which can be best expressed in Gobbel’s words: It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.
Contrary to the fabricated stories that allege the entire corruption and bad governance in Ethiopia to the Tigrayans, I argue, Diaspora politicians and their noisy media are hitting their nail on the wrong head. In relation to this, suffice to quote the Diaspora’s favourite political stratagem and god father, Professor Mesfin, who has lately witnessed: “...በስርዓቱ የተጠቀሙ የትግራይ ሰዎች በጣም ጥቂት መሆናቸውን ገልጸው ከመሰከሩ በሁዋላ፡... ሁሉንም የትግራይ ተወላጆች መክሰስ ትልቅ ስህተት መሆኑንና... እንዲያውም ብዙ የትግራይ ተወላጆች በአዲስ አበባ ለማኞች ሆነው እንደሚኖሩ፡ አንዳንዶቹ ሲለምኑ በማንነታቸው እየተሰደቡ የሚሳቀቁና የሚሰቃዩ መሆናቸው ይገልጻሉ፡፡”(ethiopiazare.com). Thus, prejudices have gone so wild and toxic to the extent of degrading the entire Tigrayans dignity in the streets of Addis Ababa. The Tigrayans bitterly resent such an agonizing experience at a time when they were misrepresented by the Diaspora media outlets for looting public resources. And the more the Tigrayans are unfairly socially and structurally isolated and cornered, the more other ethnic groups will suffer similar spillover effects. And the Tigrayans are people with higher self esteem, dignity and independence. They have the ability, the will and the stamina to be easily mobilized to defend their honour if political developments deteriorated in any way. The collective security system put in place within Federal Ethiopia has so far kept the Tigrayans and the rest of ethnic groups feel at home because they trusted the institutional structure and constitutional law and order to defend the citizenry. Any unforeseeable violation of this state order that target the Tigrayans will not liberate the Oromos, or the Amharas or other Ethiopian ethnic groups regardless of their population size! High demographic size is nothing without cause!
There is one powerful story I would like to share in connection with Fascist Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 as it has some resonance. After Emperor Haile Silassie was compelled to migrate to Europe, as a political refugee, he lamented that his great trust upon the collective security principle of the League of Nations was dashed. Then, he appealed to the conscience of world leaders’ summit meeting in Geneva in May 1936. There, he spoke a prophetic speech stressing the imminent dangers of appeasement and that the threats of Fascism and Nazism would continue hovering over Europe and the world in the years to come. He called for concerted action and to raise the high moral and security standards to openly face Fascist Italy in such powerful words: “Us today, You tomorrow!” Though European leaders had then played down his warning and kept on appeasing Hitler (who grabbed Austria and Czech) and Mussolini (grabbed Ethiopia), the Emperor’s prophecy became imminent after Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
In the same way, it is high time that all peace-loving Ethiopians should strongly confront the recurring threats against the Tigrayans as it would have grave consequences for the whole nation. Dissolute intellectuals in the Diaspora and their media outlets should be aware that they are only spraying fuel onto wild fire that would consume anybody on its way, including their own dearest ones as well. The message is crystal clear: Grow up politically; and don’t mess up with fire that you can’t control later! That is morally unethical, socially toxic and politically horrendous! Everything has its own limits! Stop your hateful agitprop against the fearless and blameless Tigrayans! Least, as usual, the Tigrayans clearly know how to defend their rights. They are neither villains nor victims; but confident agents of their own liberation! Tigrayans will never bow down to the Diaspora media’s baseless allegation. The extremist Diaspora par timing politicians and their desperate sponsor, Shaebiya, were not any new enemies to the Tigrayans. They are same old, defeated and bankrupt enemies!
Advocates of Ethiopian political renaissance should envision revitalizing the system of governance and power transition only through democratic, peaceful, participatory and constitutional means as the country cannot afford violent political transition any more. Any radical Diasporas and their aggressive media hosts should refrain from meddling in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. Any rupture in regional or central government institutions may not necessarily call for the capture of state power by the naïve distant elite long waiting to settle old political feud and wish to replace the hub of power. If one cares to learn from recent history, suffice to draw substantial lessons from the political chaos that occurred to the Middle East and the Horn of African nations (Somalia, Southern Sudan, and Kenya) and Rwanda, from the Great Lakes region. Ethnic violence leading to a political vacuum was not known to liberating specific ethnic groups in isolation; in fact it could even be a harbinger of a vicious cycle of violence and quagmire with no end in sight. Yet, any rationale Ethiopians have the moral burden to challenge the trumpeting radical media outlets and narcotic social media hell bent on preaching hate and pushing the youth to an infantile zero sum game politics. Ethiopians should count on reason and evidences (than emotion). They should engage with each other more thoroughly and learn from the historical failures of Fascist and Nazist campaigns gambling with ethnic fault lines and strike on a one-on one basis. By rejecting parochialism, the Tigrayans, on their part, should reassert their resilience, believe in their legitimate causes and resolve to further rally rationale Ethiopians to their side based on shared Grand National values of solidarity, peace and tranquility. They should sustain fighting corruption so as to refine democracy and development, on the one hand, and foil Diaspora scare tactics of isolating them, on the other.
While Diaspora intellectuals and their media outlets purport to advocate democracy for other ethnic groups, it is strange that they tend to point their index fingers against poor Tigrayans. Their underlying intent may possibly be to alienate the TPLF from the Tigrayans by intimidating the Tigrayans; but this is an even wicked strategy that has the least potential for success. This dangerous framework bent on alienating, marginalizing, and disempowering the Tigrayans would be counterproductive. That approach which dismally failed earlier should be denounced. Its ultimate result would possibly be one of cementing the alliances between the TPLF and the Tigrayans across the board (irrespective of internal political differences). I have no ion of doubt that the Tigrayans will prevail as a dignified force to reckon and further boast their sense of community to consolidate their identity. They will sustain their cherished freedom and ethnic integrity through blood and iron! Because, to share Canadian Prime Minsiter Justin Trudu’s statement, it is 2016! When identities, as basic as gender, religions and culture are solemnly recognized across the world, you cannot mess up with such a huge universal force as ethnic identities! Globally, the 21st century is an era of ethnic revival and resurgence. Ethnic identities increasingly saw unprecedented revival even in areas, like Europe, where the nation-state had long submerged many of them. Ethnic prejudices cannot take any political force, media or civic organization anywhere but to its disgrace. Thus, any self proclaiming political force and media outlets should clearly come terms with the high morale ground of such a resolute community, as the Tigrayans, or any other Ethiopian ethnic group for that matter! In the end, embracing ethnic identity would further revitalize political renaissance.
God Bless Ethiopia and its Unity in diversity! Amen!