By: Hayet Gomida
I read the book thoroughly in some cases repetitively to grasp every bit of information on it. There is no doubt; it is well-written book which adds a lot to our knowledge of the past how the country went through the bad days. Mr. Gebru is a fighter who gave his whole precious life for the peoples’ cause. He is a selfless and never tried to accumulate wealth for his personal benefit. He is courageous to come forward to the public for judgment by admitting mistakes done in the past. He criticizes himself at center and blamed the organization who loves for the blunders and mistakes done during and after the struggle. This is a book that every citizen has to read and have fresh discussion on the issues.
Mr. Gebru deserves appreciation for making us opens our eyes to see the past and talk the future of the country we love much. I believe this is the high time to start the discussion how TPLF as organization led the revolution to victory and beyond. There is no doubt in my mind and mind of most Tigreans that there was a just cause to carry a gun and fought against the monarchy; merciless group of the military junta. The people paid a huge scarification for unity and democratic change in the country. Gebru’s book main themes are democracy and severity in Ethiopia. However, the book also presented a detailed history of TPLF and conflict resolution within and with other organizations like EDU and EPRP. Some of us were a firsthand witness when our comrades died with the slogan “Victory to people…” This was their goal when they stepped on Russian made ground bombs to clear the way to fighters to enter enemy garrison. Nevertheless, the leadership of TPLF then and now did not keep the principle these fallen heroes scarified for. It is hard for me to believe the current TPLF leadership is the one we know during 60s, 70s, and 80s fighting for justice and equality. In this article I will try to discuss the issue of severity and hoping this would provoke civilized discussion to reach a consensus.
Eritrean question was one of the issues demanded solutions during the student movement for political change in the last few years of the emperor. Many organizations like EPRP, TPLF and others, latter came with their prospective to solve the Eritrean national question. TPLF recognized the question as the colonial case and accepted secession as mere solution. It might not be wrong to have such stand during those days when the dominant ideology was communism. However, the question is “was that the only and genuine solution when we see it retrospectively? The book unequivocally showed us it was wrong when Eritrean problem were labeled as colonial case and secession as a solution. Gebru is not the first high ranked official to acknowledge the mistake made in addressing the Eritrean question. General Abebe T. Kahsay in his LLM thesis “Ethiopia’s Sovereign Right of Access to the Sea under International Law” admitted the arrogance of TPLF central committee to decide against Ethiopian access to sea. As we all know some hard core supporter of the Eritrean secession evoke the 1900, 1902, and 1908 treaties with Italy to justify their argument. These folks ignore the 1952 UN general assembly decision while trying to give life to already voided treaties. I believe we (Ethiopia) need to have a strong consensus on issues like this. Some people argue that it is too late making Ethiopia regain its access to sea. We know that Italy forcefully took all Ethiopian coastal are to isolate the country from the rest of the world. However, it was a brave struggle of Ethiopian, with leadership of Emperor Hailesliase, restored sovereignty the country. History can repeat itself if we are one in this issue and fight for it. My fellow Ethiopians we need to give priorities to our national interest before everything else. Ethiopia is a strong country at least in our vicinity and we are only 40 kilometers away from the sea. Our unity is important and do not allow a very weak country like Eritrea to decide in our fate.
The book, also, gave detailed accounts of activities within EPDRF during Eritrean invasion of Ethiopian land, Bademe. It clear informed the public each and every moment of the discussion made among the central committee to reverse the war. There are some leaders, including the late prime minister, reluctant to reverse the Eritrean aggression. This is, definitely, disturbing to see a leader of a country hesitating to reverse aggression and consider himself peace loving. That senseless war was a result of the failed policy of EPRDF when handling the Eritrean issue. As long as we pursue the same and same policy, ignoring Ethiopian interest, war is inevitable sooner or later.
Ethiopians are sad when decision for Eritrean independence was made without any consideration of their input. This grievance is grown day by day and strengthens to include moderate Eritreans. Many TPLF fighters purged from the party for the mere fact that they have different stand in Eritrean question. Most of these fighters now live around the world to witness their ordeal. After down fall of the Derg regime, TPLF continues to force Ethiopians accept their solution on Eritrea as a final ( Non-questionable) decision. I heard and read some Eritrean media outlet criticized Gebru as war monger. In my opinion it is the failed policy of the government, which failed to give acceptable solution for both parties, led the region into war. We must come into our senses to give Ethiopia and its people access to sea; otherwise it is a matter of time to see the war again. Even now, after the death of the previous prime minister we see a slight change of policy on the part of Ethiopian government to wards Eritrea. This only grows by the time to accommodate public opinion and sooner or later Ethiopia will regain its place in history again. My fellow Ethiopians we have to converge rather than diverge on issues like this. Diverse ideas are an asset in politics; however we have to show our enemies that we are united in a matter of Ethiopian national interest. Come forward with your idea with open mind and discuss this issue to reach a better consensus for our country.
By: Hayet Gomida