By Gemechu Aba Biya
“Let it be known the war will not be fought in Tigrai. It will be fought everywhere”. Aigaforum, Nov1, 2020.
“If Eritrea intervenes, other countries will invade Ethiopia, and Ethiopia will become another Libya, Syria, or Yemen. I guarantee it.” Mesfin Seyoum, Nov 1, 2020. (Translation mine).
“Tigray will be the burial place of our enemies.” Deberestion Gebremichael, Nov 2, 2020.
Ever since the TPLF lost power unexpectedly two years ago, it has been plotting to launch a war against Ethiopia. After a long preparation, the TPLF started its war on November 3 by attacking the military bases of the Northern Command in Mekele and in Humera and by invading the region of Amhara.
The TPLF’s motivation for the war is to create instability to come to power again, or if that does not materialize, to declare an independent Tigray that incorporates fertile land from the Amhara region. If the TPLF’s conflict is with the federal government, why did it invade the region of Amhara, other than to have a larger Tigray after independence?
The TPLF’s provocative war has created an excellent opportunity for the federal government to destroy this terrorist organization once and for all. This opportunity should not be wasted. The TPLF should be dismantled, disarmed, and banned. Ethiopians have been too patient with the TPLF’s voracious looting, barbaric crimes, and genocidal acts for more than 27 years.
Now that the TPLF has started the war, there should not be any negotiations to save the TPLF from annihilation. The job must be finished; the TPLF must be uprooted from Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia. It should not be given the chance to reorganize itself. A wounded beast is a dangerous beast.
When it was in power, the TPLF warned us that unless it stays in power for ever, Ethiopia would become another Rwanda. What it meant was, if it were to be forced out of power, it would slaughter the Amharas. Its “predictions” have come true. It has organized the recent killings of Amharas in Benishangul, Gura Ferda, and Western Wollega. In Wollega, Amnesty International reports that at least 54 innocent Amharas, men, women, and children were massacred by the agents of the TPLF on November 1.
As long as the TPLF remains intact, the killings, looting, and instability will continue. There will never be peace in Ethiopia if this barbaric organization continues to freely roam throughout Ethiopia. And the TPLF will never be defeated as long as the Tigrayan people provide it a sanctuary.
It has been stated that the people of Tigray have been suppressed by the TPLF. Well, now is their opportunity to side with their brothers and sisters in the rest of Ethiopia to annihilate this Prince of Darkness, this cancer of Ethiopian body politic.
Some people have argued that the Tigrayan people have been unable to liberate themselves from the shackles of the TPLF because the TPLF is too dictatorial in Tigray. The absence of resistance to the TPLF, the argument goes, should not be interpreted as support for the TPLF; rather it should be taken as compelling evidence of the TPLF’s tyranny over the Tigrayan people.
I am not convinced that dictatorship explains the acquiescence of some Tigrayans to the TPLF rule in Tigray. If dictatorship results in long-term subservience, dictators would have ruled forever; in reality, tyranny creates resistance, and resistance produces freedom. The most despotic governments, from the Apartheid regime in South Africa to the military juntas in South America, have all been overthrown by the downtrodden.
The oppressed always overthrow the oppressors, except in Tigray so far. Now, the Tigrayan people have a golden opportunity to get rid of their oppressor. We will see in the next few weeks where the Tigrayan people stand, with the TPLF or their brothers and sisters in the rest of Ethiopia.
Placation and TPLF Rule in Tigray
There is no question that the TPLF controls the Tigrayan people from the Kebeles to villages, to Woredas, to towns, to cities though its network of cadres, informers, and spies. Through this network, the TPLF has been able to harass, intimidate, and imprison its opponents. This does not, however, explain the near absence of opposition to the TPLF in Tigray. The TPLF’s despotism in Tigray is no worse than it was in the rest of Ethiopia, especially in Oromia and Amhara regions. The TPLF used precisely the same authoritarian weapons and much more in the rest of Ethiopia to stay in power.
In fact, there are reasons to believe the TPLF’s dictatorship has been less harsh in Tigray than it was elsewhere. There has been no government massacre of demonstrators in Tigray, as happened in the Oromia in 2015 and in Amhara in 2016. I have not heard of a single Tigrayan that has been blinded, castrated, maimed, his finger nails drilled, his genitals electrocuted, his eyes poked, his teeth knocked out, or otherwise physically deformed by the TPLF torturers as were Amhara, Oromo, Gurage, and other political prisoners during the TPLF’s rule of terror for 27 years.
Placation rather than repression explains the lack of sustained opposition to the TPLF in Tigray. It has been argued that the Tigrayan people have not benefited from the TPLF’s 27 years of dictatorship, but the fact is some Tigrayans have benefited under the TPLF regime. To stay in power, the TPLF practiced bribery and control in Tigray, oppression and cruelty in Oromia and Amhara regions, and ethnic divisiveness and conflict everywhere.
Under the TPLF rule, its supporters have accumulated wealth because of its preferential treatment of TPLF members and supporters in the allocation of credit, loans, land, and privatization of state-owned enterprises. A Reuters reporter says,…” the area [sic Tigray] is wealthier and more influential than many other, larger regions..”
No, the streets of Mekele are not paved with gold, but the TPLF has delivered the goods to a section of the Tigrayan society. It has shared with them the wealth it has looted from the rest of Ethiopia. The TPLF believes that it enjoys considerable support from the people of Tigray, as Sebhat Nega stated once, “Tigray is the TPLF and the TPLF is Tigray” . Because of this belief, the TPLF is prepared to sacrifice thousands of “martyrs” to return to power or to break up Ethiopia before declaring independence.
In the weeks to come, we will see where the loyalty of the Tigrayan people lies, with the Prince of Darkness or with their brothers and sisters in the rest of Ethiopia. The choice for the Tigrayan people could not be any clearer, the terrorist TPLF or Ethiopia. I am confident, unless I am proven wrong, that the people of Tigray will demonstrate their legendary Ethiopian patriotism by supporting the struggle to dismantle this anti-Ethiopian criminal organization. This is the time for the Tigrayan people to shine.