Tigreans are not “Silent”, but chauvinists chose not to hear them
By Hanesey Kedusey
Tigrai Online, June 1, 2015
Chauvinists say the people of Tigrai are silent, on the contrary the people of Tigrai are speaking loud and clear, but their voice is falling on deaf ears.
Silence is consent, silence is an answer, etc. such expressions are guessed explanations by people who are puzzled by the lack of response to a particular state of affairs from an expected source. In my particular subject here the second guessed explanation is an intelligent one. Several writers on the web are blaming and sometimes threatening Tigreans for being silent about the TPLF or EPRDF. Tigreans are expected to join the opposition and help, even take a leading role in overthrowing the ruling coalition. Entire Tigrean people, particularly Tigrean intellectuals are being branded as collaborators and are being warned about a possible retaliation after “liberation”. Such blames or warnings have been repeated several times that silence about them is no more necessary.
It is hard to understand why such blames and warnings are coming. It is puzzling why Tigrean intellectuals, who are the most blamed, are expected to fight the TPLF/EPRDF. The key question is for whom? For those who have turned their weapons away from the struggle for a better democracy for all Ethiopians to a war of hate against Tigreans and their leaders? Haven’t the Tigreans fought and died and maimed for democracy? Aren’t they always ready to fight for democracy and justice for all any time whenever it becomes necessary? Haven’t they done this for entire centuries? Haven’t they lost hundreds of thousands of people and degraded their resource base while others were either siding with enemies of democracy or remained insensitive? Today tens of millions of people in Ethiopia are enjoying their liberty soaked in Tigrean blood. The sad thing is that many do not seem to be grateful. Some have even turned against their liberators. The Derg devoured entire Shewan nobility in one night. Surprisingly, many renowned Shewan intellectuals are more supportive of the Derg than the TPLF.
The main reason Tigreans, particularly their educated elite, are being targeted as “collaborators” is because those in the pinnacles of political power are Tigreans and the Tigreans almost invariably are supporting them. Silence on the part of Tigreans is considered as treason, a hate of Ethiopia. Who is setting the standards? Who is judging who is democratic and Ethiopian and who is not? On what ground is the support of the Amahra intellectuals of previous regimes justified whereas the support of Tigreans for the TPLF/EPRDF criminalized? The current “Tigrean Government“ is being accused of having an army with mostly Tigrean generals, a bureaucracy dominated by Tigreans, top most political positions occupied by Tigreans, and the economy “suffocated” by Tigrean investment. Many of those who are blaming the government for a narrow ethnic power base is those who are at the same time praising Haileslassie’s government for his “brave” generals and “talented” ministers who were predominantly Shewan. I am not in favor of a regime that does not diversify its ethnic power base; but historical processes may by themselves create the situation which may be hard to avoid. This imbalance requires time and patience and a slow and steady political process to correct. It is not corrected by irrational anger, ethnocentric jealousies, and showering insults on entire people. Against all odds against them, coming from former TPLF fighters who were demobilized for the sake of a better ethnic assortment in the army, EPRDF is at least trying. Did the Shewan rule of Haileselassie try any of this? What was the Deg made of? An Ethnically balanced leadership In Ethiopia historically, attempt to accommodate ethnic diversity has come only from the Tigrean side: by King of Kings Yohannes IV and by the TPLF. It is unfortunate that beneficiaries have become the first to blame the two. Minilik would have never become king of Ethiopia had Yohannes IV not given him the autonomy. After he came to the throne he eliminated Yohannes’ system of regional autonomy until the TPLF came to power. Ethiopia had to wait for an entire century until another Tigrean comes to power to accommodate ethnic diversity.
There is an unmistakable lack of trust from the Tigrean side. Little is being done to reassure Tigreans that those who hate the current regime could be essentially Tigrean-friendly. Tigreans are being threatened, harassed and marginalized as they have always been. Tigreans suffered discrimination, killing, maiming, and marginalization during the imperial regimes based in central Ethiopia, They have been brutalized by the Derg regime. Even now, during the TPLF/EPRDF, while the Tigreans are assumed to be the “ruling ethnic group” they have in fact become the most marginalized. This is the greatest irony of the century. The difference between the Tigrean predicament in the previous two regimes and this one is that the source of marginalization of course does not come from the TPLF but from opposition politicians, from opinion leaders and/or intellectuals who stand for various personal or group interests against the TPLF rule, even many times from the non-Tigrean members and sympathizers of the EPRDF. Admittedly, the latter is the most intractable of all sources of harassment and marginalization against Tigreans. The difficulty for Tigreans to deal with the “friendly-fire” from the non-Tigrean EPRDF is that the TPLF leadership at all levels is seemingly reluctant to help the embattled Tigreans by adversities coming from its “own comrades-in-arms” at all levels. Two cases in point are: Minister Genet Zewde’s ill-treatment of the Tigrean vice minister Dr. Teklehaimanot (who was a better fit for the position than she was) tolerated by P.M. Meles Zenawi; and the failure of Addis Ababa University top officials to punish a case of discrimination on a certain Tigrean Dr. Tsegay Berhe who was unlawfully rejected as “unwanted TPLF cadre” in a vacancy screening by a fellow academic. There are innumerable complaints by Tigrean students, teachers, coming from higher institutions of learning throughout Ethiopia, Tigrean employees in the civil service, private sector and NGOs about favoritism, preferential treatment, partiality, bias, discrimination, prejudice, one-sidedness which excludes Tigreans.
Tigrean silence is the deepest of all because those that are asking them to fight alongside them against the TPLF are those who are at the same time insulting, relegating, sidelining, and disregarding them. The excessively abusive words by the renegade Afework Gebreyesus on Tigreans and the heroic Yohannes IV, the ugly satires of Professor Mesfin Woldemariam on Tigreans and their King, and the treasonous statement spoken by Professor Shibiru Tedla, who with impunity praised the Mahdists of Sudan for Killing Yohannes IV are some examples. The latter is a close friend of the well known Tigrean Dr. TewoldeBirhan GebreEgziabher! These are just a few of the Amhara intellectuals who are almost worshipped and their nasty words taken as absolute truth by their unquestioning blindfolded mass of followers. Are the Tigrean intellectuals and all the rest expected to join arms with these rascals and fight a “common enemy”, the TPLF? This should be the best joke of the 21st century. One for the road: “If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive”.