By: Zerihun Nega
It seems prudent that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) continuous torture, killing, ethnic cleansing, incarceration, blocking of the free press, jailing journalists and political activists, has reached a point where it is irreversible. All the peaceful ways of struggle for freedom in Ethiopia are closed. The recent attacks on the Unity for Democracy party (UDJ), Blue Party, All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP), imprisonment of the peaceful zone-9 bloggers and many others are manifestations of the totalitarianism of the TPLF junta that has controlled Ethiopia for the last two decades. The political, economy and military control by a TPLF ethnic minority, the unprecedented increase in human rights violations against the Ethiopian people, especially of the youth, have made them choose an ultimate choice for the struggle for freedom.
What inspired me to write this piece is the recent publication by Asress on zehabesha website, my former classmate and friend at AAU, has not only made me think about the trauma we had commonly faced in the aftermath of the flawed 2005 national election but also sparked an amazing evidence about TPLF’s evil activities against the northern Ethiopian people. As precisely described in Asress’s note, TPLF favors camels to Ethiopian people. They used to feed Lentils to their camels in front of hungry people. I have never seen such cruelty and heinous crime against humanity. What makes the story more critical is the same people who have done such crimes on those people are now making them as shields for any ignominious political fate.
One of the critical turning points in the TPLF irreversible politics that has brought paramount importance in the Ethiopian politics. One can never forget what happened to AAU university students in the 2005 election turmoil. In the eve of the election, the tension in Addis was unimaginable. After the results are out, we went for protest against the stealing of our votes for Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD). Out of the 23 seats in Addis, TPLF led EPRDF sustained only one. And the same was the trend across the major cities in the country. The declaration of woyane’s claim of winning the election posed questions on our mind “where is my vote?” Because of this we have been taken to Senedafa prison. One of the trauma that is in my mind is when Shibre Desalegn was killed. She was killed because she was peacefully protesting against the students’ imprisonment. The driver of the track, that carried the students to Sendafa prison center, deliberately drives over her- and killed her. Another important phenomenon that Asress’s note reminds me is the torture at the prison by the TPLF cadres. They made us kneel down on the sharp rocks and forced us to walk by our knees. Do you remember some of us were bleeding because the sharp rocks penetrated our skins. They even didn’t allow us eat food. One can imagine a dry loaf of bread for 24 hours without water. This all happened in June 2005.
In November 2005, I was preparing for visiting my uncle in Kirkos before the TPLF cadres stormed our dormitory and forced us to go to jail for doing nothing. The hard hit on my nose by the AK-47’s buttstock, that has broken my front teeth and my nose, still remains as an ache. Starting from that day on, I believed that staying in Ethiopia is facilitating my demise. Hence, I started looking for any form of exit out of Ethiopia. Luckily, I found a master degree admission in Germany. I thank God for sparing my life. Imagine what happened to the 197 people shot indiscriminately and killed by TPLF soldiers. I could be one of them. Nebiyu, who was a 14 years old kid, could be one of the next Kitaw Ejigu. One can imagine how a mother feels when she got her son killed for going to school. This all happened under the order of the late prime minister.
Even after the demise of the evil ethnic cleansing architect aka the late prime minister, I was very optimistic things may change. Surprisingly, what I found was the opposite. The TPLF junta has increased the torture, killing and dictatorship against the Ethiopian people. What happened to me in September 2014 is a manifestation of the dictatorship in Ethiopia. It was on the eve of the 2007 Ethiopian New Year. I wanted to book a bus to where my family lives. The company is owned by one of the many TPLF companies. There was an army of people waiting for the booking. Out of the line of people, one beautiful girl from Bale Goba asked me “ when will Ethiopian public service be efficient? “, I soon replied- when the whole broken system, which is full of corruption, mismanagement, injustice, unfairness and hate politics, is eradicated out of Ethiopia. Then suddenly two civil people came closer to us. They asked me to go with them. One of them showed me his Cadre ID which actually says- security. After a little walk, he brought out his pistol and said “if you don’t zip your mouth, I will zip it for you forever with this”, he said. And the other one said: “or if your prefer, I can slay you like a ship with this”- showing me a sharp knife and pair of scissors”. What happened to me that day is the day to day death threat for millions of Ethiopians by TPLF soldiers.
TPLF is leading the country into an era of darkness. A country with a broken justice system, a rubber stamp parliament, a military that doesn’t stand for the people, a press controlled by dictators is soon or later be a failed state. The Ethiopian people are aware of this. And TPLF’s hopeless measures are indications that the struggle for saving this country from a free fall is at its climax. The Ethiopian youth is now more politically active than before. Thanks for independent medias like the Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and other social medias, Ethiopians are now aware of the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Amhara by evicting them from their lands, the indiscriminate killing of the Annuak, the unprecedented torture of the Ogaden people, the day light shooting of peaceful Oromo students protesters. Ethiopians are now aware that out of the 63 generals in the military, 61 are from an ethnic minority. Ethiopians are aware of the desperate acts of gross human rights violations of the TPLF regime. Ethiopians are aware of the imprisonment of journalists such as Eskinder Nega, Riot Alemu, Temesgen Desalegn and many others for expressing their views. Ethiopians are aware of the monopolization of the economy by TPLF owned Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT). While TPLF knows the Ethiopian youth is aware of what is going on in their country, they are taking desperate steps. The recent illegal arrest and extradition of Andargachew Tsige (the secretary general of Ginbot 7 for freedom and justice) from Yemen to Ethiopia, which is against the Vienna Convention. Because Andargachew Tsige is a British citizen and both Yemen and Ethiopia are the signatories of the Vienna Convention on Consular relations which means that citizens of another country cannot be extradited at will but must go through a process of first notifying authorities of the citizen’s own country through their embassy so a visit can be arranged first.
All these injustice made by the TPLF have bred an Ethiopian youth that wants to struggle for their freedom and for freedom of their people. The recent defection of two MI-35 air force pilots with their helicopter to Eritrea, Hailemedhin Abera’s decision to reroute the Ethiopian airline to Switzerland and asked asylum in Geneva and other air force pilots that defect to Kenya are some of the symptoms of the Ethiopian youths’ determination to fight for freedom in Ethiopia. Upon observing all the options, the ultimate choice is becoming member and/or supporter of the Arbegnoch-Ginbot-7 for democracy and justice. Fellow Ethiopians at home and in the Diaspora have shown strong interest to rise up in unison against this brutal regime and fight for freedom of all political prisoners, journalists and Ethiopian people who are inhumanly suffering in Ethiopia. We, the Arbegnoch-Ginbot 7 youth, are well aware of the fact that change doesn’t come to us but we have to make changes. May God bless this passion and determination of the Ethiopian youth to do what is right in the struggle for all citizens in Ethiopia.