Deal with both sides of the equation to find an alternate solution-part1
By G. Amare
Tigrai Online April 26, 2020
This piece is intended to provide some clarifications to Assa Yohannes. However, it is by no means a dialogue between me and the others who shared ideas regarding the topic, originated by Girmay T. Giorgis, Entitled, ‘Appeal to Counter Separation of Tigray.’
First of all, many thanks to Assa Yohannes for providing constructive critiques and his thoughtful analysis of the subject matter. I also respect his position to stand by Girmay’s idea of “Appeal to Counter Separation of Tigray.” Although, I haven’t clearly taken any position, whether in favor or against, except that I asked Girmay to present his argument by dealing with both the causes and effects of the situation to help identify the pros and cons of the matter, Assa Yohannes inferred that I am inclined to towards supporting the idea of Separation of Tigrai. For now, I am personally suggesting a cost-effective analysis to be carried out, pros and cons to be identified and thoroughly discussed. So, I am not in favor of any intention that suppresses or prevents any idea from being discussed, by bringing it to the table. I consider free discussion to be citizens’ democratic right. It is up to the Tigrai people to ultimately choose from available options and decide whichever and whatever is cost-effective (I will try to describe it later in part 2 of my piece) to Tigrai’s future destiny.
With this in mind, let's get back to my clarifications and start by revisiting some of the issues that Assa Yohannes eloquently and articulately described. You said,
“...if we are to be honest and truthful to ourselves, there is a leeside of the mountain. In fact, no region in Ethiopia has been affected by corrupted governance of EPRDF as severely as Tigray.”
I totally agree with your statement that everyone of us, Tegarus, should be honest and truthful. Every one of us must be transparent and honest to place ourselves not on the leeside but on the windward side and be ready to put our personal greed and motives aside. In my view, honesty and truthfulness start with our talent and ability to demonstrate consistent personal integrity and dignity to do a balanced analysis of a situation and without any bias or blind support or opposition to TPLF or anyone else for that matter. I believe offering both a blind support and blind opposition to be counterproductive. If anyone is thinking that they are helping their party/group by offering a blind support, I ask everyone including myself to recalibrate our thinking. It should occur to our mind that we are serving as a blockade for the parties we support or sympathize with, preventing them from seeing and reviewing their weakness and accordingly making corrective measures. The same holds to a blind opposition.
I know TPLF has done huge damage to or has committed immeasurable scandals, breaking its promise to the people of Tigrai, by immersing itself in various forms of corruptions including nepotism, cronyism and parochialism. However, despite all TPLF’s wrongdoings, when I compare the pre-1991 and the post-1991 Tigrai, honestly speaking, there is a relative peace, relatively better social services (health, education, transportation), and elevated political consciousness in the post-1991 Tigrai. Are these up to the level of expectation of the people? Absolutely not! Should we give credit to TPLF in this aspect? I say, we should! Should we openly criticize and condemn TPLF’s wrongdoings? Absolutely yes, we should! All I am saying is we need to be objective and balanced when making our judgements. And we should stop labeling anyone as TPLF supporter versus opponent when they express their point of view as far as they lend their unbiased ideas and balanced views; and as long as they intend to provide analysis of a situation based on facts and by giving constructive criticisms, irrespective of their association to any party. It is their right to support or be an opponent party with a competitive, democratic, and progressive political agenda.
The other issues, Assa Yohannes, raised was about the hardships that the Irobs are facing. I am afraid I would be able to comment on this matter but only to say I am sorry to hear all those painful stories and the situations that Irobs are in. Taking the historical importance and tremendous contributions that they have made during the 17 years of armed struggle, every community and in every corner of Tigrai should deserve to earn respect, need to be listened to, and their burning issues and resentments be addressed with special recognition and attention. No one shouldn’t have the right to deny, for example, Irobs’ right to honor whoever their heroes are. If it is the desire of the Irobs to honor Dr. Tesfay Debessay and Negusse Awala, I am not sure why this should be the concern of TPLF and why this should be seen as a ‘political sin to raise even the names of those martyrs’ as you said. But this is not the only case. I am sure you know better than me about the fact that honoring and paying tribute to Emperor Yohannes the 4th has been an unwilling situation to TPLF. Ras Mengesha Syoum was not allowed to visit Tigria until a few years ago. Why? No one knows for sure except if you want to speculate that TPLF may still have the fear to face competition for power? So, is it fair and square to say TPLF is the enemy of itself? This kind of purposeless mentality should go away if any of us has the wish for Tigrai to be the epicenter of democratization, good governance, economic development, and source political maturity, civilized discourse, and innovation and progresses.
What happened during the Derg regime’s red terror project was indiscriminate. Many Ethiopians from all parts, had been massacred and inhumanly thrown on streets and families disallowed to bury their remains: fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and what have you. And lately, if I am not mistaken, in 1990 of the Dergs' time when TPLF was getting closer to take power, many Tegarus were identified and enlisted to be killed. You may know it but let me share with you a firsthand information that I have. In Debrezeit (now named as Bishoftu), three innocent Tegarus, one, the owner of Asseb grocery; the second, the owner of Chilalo Hotel (not if the names still exist) and the third a senior high school teacher had been imprisoned, at no time killed, before even their imprisonment was heard by their families and friends, and their remaining was found by villagers, in their farm land, at the vicinity of Debrezeit. This happened only because they were Tegarus. So, Tegarus had suffered back then and are still the subject of all kinds of sustained damages: psychological, physical, economic, political, social etc.
You correctly said, “I either wrongly or correctly smell the scent of these concerns, distrust and doubts. I believe that we will not be the only Tegaru who have the aroma of that same scent. I am not saying that there should or should not be separation. I am rather saying that I share those doubts, concerns and distrust of Ato Girmay T. Giorgis that a free nation of Tigray as it is now and as it has been for years will bring…”
And again, I concur with you and equally share the concerns that yourself have and Girmay, as well. Maybe, where we differ is I have asked Girmay to present his argument by fairly analyzing the facts on the ground by looking at both sides of the equation-the cause and the effect. In other words, in order to answer why Tegarus, irrespective of their number, are raising the question and contemplating with the idea of separation of Tigrai, it would not be adequate to only see one side of the equation (effect) and expect to get a good outcome without dealing with the other side of the equation (the cause).
Allow to allude by bringing the concept behind the metaphor of the ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ intervention. There were communities, settled in a downstream village who had been the victims of floods falling from the upstream, every rainy season. The flood had always resulted in continuous displacements and sustained damages on their lives and properties-huts, farm, and domestic animals and subjected them to incur huge resettlement costs within the same site. The communities were not thoughtful enough to consider any option until they end up losing many lives and all their properties. At the end of the day, they came up with a plan and course of action to divert the flow of the flood at the upstream level and prevent it from causing sustained damages. Thereafter, the downstream communities had started to live a peaceful life: no displacement and no damage to their lives and properties. I presume this to be relevant to our case. Unless there is a plan to reduce the damage (effect) by appropriately addressing the risk factor (cause), Tigrai will continue to suffer from sustained damages of various types: psychological, physical, economic, political, social etc..
I can’t agree more with your description of the ‘ardent and zealous members of TPLF who are standing by those who want to destroy Tegray’! I am afraid adding any information to your statement would serve a spoiling purpose. You eloquently and clearly stated the feeling that I have and always clouding up my mind. Allow to include as it is so readers could digest and re-digest it again and again.
[‘I do not know whether every Tigarway sees it in that way. However, I find it very hurting when I see some of the old leaders and members of TPLF standing by those who block roads to Tigray. It is very hurting and heart breaking to listen to some ardent and zealous members of TPLF who have contributed at least as much as other members of TPLF so that TPLF may stand where it is standing now, giving interviews as externals. It is very hurting to see some of those who were key actors and members of TPLF and the government of Tigray in their time standing by those who want to destroy Tegray and pointing their fingers at the current Regional Government of Tigray. It is very disappointing to see some of those who were key actors and members of TPLF and the government of Tigray in their time standing by those who want to destroy Tegray and trying to wash their hands as if nothing has happened during their time. It is very disappointing to read, watch and hear how some Tegaru are being marginalized, harassed and insulted as traitors and messengers of Anti-Tegaru. And so on!’]
[‘Have we ever been benefited from such divisions, harassments and intimidations of Tegaru by Tegaru in the past? Never! Rather, all these brought about the threat we are facing right now. Thus, my personal advice to every Tigraway is to sweep all the dirt under the mat now. It is not because they are not necessary or they do not need to be addressed and resolved. It is simply because, as I believe, Tegaru are out of options during these external threats for except uniting around what they have, as it is and as they have it to defend Tigray. I believe that we have all seen in our lifetime, in such a short history, how many lives of Tigray have been paid and how much Tigray and Tegaru have been paid back. This is not a secret. We can look at the current situation of some beginners of TPLF in 1967 E.C (1974 G. C) and the very first heads of the Regional Government of Tigray. Personally, all what I can learn from the words of those individuals is not love of Tigray and proud Tegaru but thirst for power, rage, retaliation and revenge. Some of them have gone as far as betraying Tigray in hope of retaliation. They do never seem to be mindful at all about their contribution to see Tigray and Tegaru as they are today. The problem is not that this has happened in TPLF once or twice. It has been an ongoing friction.’]
Assa Yohannes, honestly speaking, I lack information to say without doubt that TPLF is in favor of the idea that promotes separation of Tigrai. Quite the contrary, I have heard Aboy Sebhat Nega, the most senior and the then TPLF dominant figure, trashing and lambasting the idea. He even has insinuated those who are venturing the idea of separating Tigrai as outlawed bandits and accomplice of a third-party agenda. In addition, from what I have been following on different mass media, many TPLF senior members and leaders have been very busy hosting conferences and discussion forums, jointly with many representatives of various Nations and Nationalities of Ethiopia with hope to save, advocate and protect the Federal constitution and Ethiopia’s current language based federal arrangement. Taking their (TPLF members) words at face value, I am not sure if TPLF favors such an idea- Separation of Tigrai and how my piece is relevant and beneficial to only TPLF supporters.
The main message of my article was that let all ideas be available on the table for open discussion including the idea of contemplating Tigrai’s separation. In this regard, I have asked Girmay to present both sides of the equation by doing a research employing systematically designed tools and provide analysis of the situation to support his conclusion that the contemplation of separating Tigrai is the urge and an isolated case of only those a few Tigrai activists and scholars. In addition, the emphasis of my article was to leave for the people of Tigrai to make the ultimate decision after being well informed about all the pros and cons of available alternate options.
As you are very well aware, the Ethiopian politics now is toxic as it had been in the past. There is a non-stop discourse by some self-centered elite politicians who are intoxicated with and engaged in hate politics and working 24/7, focused on disparaging and obliterating TPLF. To these individuals the panacea to all problems occurring in Ethiopia is only and only to wipe out TPLF from the surface of the earth. Of course, their ultimate goal is to weaken and subjugate the people of Tigrai.
So, in my view, the question of separation of Tigrai is an ‘effect’ which is manifesting as a result of purposeful driving causes against the people of Tigrai which include but not limited to assault, discriminatory actions, inflicting harms, conspiracy, genocide provoking propagandas, and unquestionable intention to subjugate and oppress. My suggestion to Girmay was that dealing only with the “effect” will not necessarily bring a solution and thus, both sides of the equation need to be researched, discussed, analyzed and addressed. Otherwise, the obvious fact is that if person X exerts a force on person Y, then it is expected for Y to react on X. For Y not to react, then X should stop acting. Shortly put, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (Newton’s third law).
I also have all kinds of concerns. As I clearly have described in my past piece, the issue of separating Tigray has never occurred to my mind. That is why I asked everyone to do their best in questing for the truth and serious consideration and reconsideration of the subject matter is important and essential; and identification and deep analysis of all pros and cons are critical and beneficial to make informed decisions. In other words, the concern and pains that Girmay and yourself are alluded to are equally shared by many of us because we found the idea to be hard to chew and digest at present because we lack concrete evidence to justify. There is no scientific data to prove or discredit either the null hypothesis (Tigrai should be separated) or alternative hypothesis (Tigrai should not be separated/keep the status quo). Even though I don’t discourage the idea from being discussed and have an open mind for making it available on the table as an option for discussion, the emphasis I made in my piece was not on the issue of Tigrai Separation. My article rather emphasized the importance and relevance of establishing “Cause-Effect” relationships. I believe that there are many independent variables (causes) that have an effect on the dependent variable (the effect).
Stay tuned for Part 2