By Petros Tesfagiorgis 07-24-18
On November 27, 2006 Metro’s (London daily paper wrote “Ethiopia, one of the world’s poorest and most sickly lands, has long been a byword for starvation and poverty”. Today such definition does not apply. Today Ethiopia is transformed. It is not something that dropped from the sky but under the administration of TPLF/EPRDF the development of Ethiopia has been significant. For the first time the whole of Ethiopia is united by amazing network of roads and railways.The farmers especially in the coffee growing areas are getting rich. The price of their produce is protected because the farmers, hitherto neglected, had an extensive help from the government. Banks and other forms of modern facilities (infrastructures) were built throughout Ethiopia. The farmers can transport their produce to markets easily. The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi managed to build the millennium dam – the pride of Ethiopia- overcoming many obstacles not to get it built.
Ethiopia is fastest growing economyin Africa as a result Ethiopia was taken seriously by the developed countries.PM Meles Zenawi was hailed as Africa’s leading Statesman. Under his leadership TPLF/EPRDF’s priority was to end poverty in Ethiopia. Meles was part of the initiative “To make poverty history in Africa” together with Mbeki of South Africa and United Kingdom Prime Ministers Tony Blair and his successor Gordon Brown.”
Today all these achievements are ignored. Instead we are witnessing a witch-hunt against the people of Tigray and its vanguard TPLF. I think it is excessive, destructive and unjust.The perpetrators are abusing the olive branch of peace handed to them by the PM Abiy Ahmed who invited them to come home and participatepeacefully in the social and political life of the country, adopting the weapon of peace, re-conciliation and accepting ethnic diversity. Instead they are sowing the seeds of hate and conflict.
The perpetrators of this witch-hunt are those Amhara chauvinists who were beneficiaries during successive rule of the feudal Amhara ruling classes such as Gunbot 7 and, remnants of the Military Junta “the Dergue”. They are supported by a section of the Oromo movement. The Amhara ex-ruling class felt that their privilege of having monopoly of power for years at the expense of all other nationalities is gone. Consumed by hate they are campaigning hard to defame TPLFand separate them from their base, the people of Tigray. It is because the TPLF played a leading role in ending the feudal repression which is whatthe Ethiopian university students fought for in late sixties and early seventies.
The centralized system along the line of Amhara supremacy will lead the country into conflict. The ruling class Amhara will not get their way as the Oromos the most oppressed people over the years will seek the upper hand and push for supremacy of Oromo Language and take up the administration of Addis Ababa which they claim. Their alliance with the Amhara is going to be short lived- and it is based to minimize the influence of the more experienced and principled TPLF.
Let us face the truth. The Ethiopian Feudal Empire was built on the total power of the Amhara ruling class over the other nationalities. These system gave rise to economic stagnation, famine, ignorance and obviously instability. The Ethiopian revolution started by the progressive Haile Selassie University student union in late sixties. Because they were extremely concerned of the poverty and lack of development that prevailed in Ethiopia. Besides Ethiopia had the reputation of being a prison of nationalities.
Why do the hate mongers think that the Ethiopian University students rose up to expose the system?Why do they think that people particularly the Oromo people have risen up in rebellion? There were many movements in Ethiopia? The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP), MEISON, Sidama Liberation Movement, Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). Besides there were the two Eritrean movements ELF and EPLF.The answer is that extreme repression breads resistance. They rose up to build their life in freedom.
It has to be clear that I am not referring to all Amhara the majority of whom were poor. Many Amhara university students, even from the “Neftegna” families have joined the struggled for change. I had many friends because I was also a student during that exciting revolutionary period. It is those who lost out when Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown by the Military junta in 1974 who are bitter. Many of them migrated to the USA and these are the group who want to re-claim the past. Over the years they made money and they sent their children to universities and thanks to their diligence and hard work they have high educational achievements. They have a lot of resources,had they played a positive role their contribution to the social and economic rehabilitation of Ethiopia could have been substantial. Unfortunately they are living in the past.
Yes, the TPLF leaders are not angels and made a lot of mistakes. Above all, like all those who came to power through armed struggle, they felt it is their right to stay in power for a long time. So is Museveni of Uganda but he is nowhere near what Meles did to develop Ethiopia- there is minimal development in Uganda to day. PM Meles had a plan that the fighters who held high government offices, including himself, will retire in subsequent elections.
In spite of that it is right that the oppositionexpose thefailures of TPLF/EPRDF. However, unlike any other regimes in Africa, TPLF/EPRDF admitted their failures and apologized to the Ethiopian people. Corruption is chronic in Ethiopia in all ethnic groups which the hate mongers would not bother to raise.It is a fact that PM Meles have started to combat it. The underlying reason to weaken TPLF is to end federalism and install Amhara supremacy instead of ethnic equality. Today things have changed, the days of kings are over. In fact because of their sheer number, it is the Oromo who are going to have an upper hand in Ethiopia. They started to claim the Admiration of Addis Ababa and to use the language Oromia.
Under the system of federalism allthe people who have been marginalized during Amhara feudal rule have become assertive and have tasted the freedom of self-rule.They have their own schools and universities. Would they accept centralized rule.Did the hate mongers consider their activities could end up destabilising and become an obstacle to the fast growing economy?
EPRDF has built more than 40 universities.In his speech the previous Prime Minster Haile Mariam Desalegn who made history by resigning from his post – mentioned in one of his talks that there are 29 million graduates. However Ethiopia is not an industrialized nation, the infant economy cannot absorb them and so it gave rise to massive unemployment. Those young graduates became prone to the well-funded disinformation broadcasted by ESAT and they have been on the streets clashing with the police and security people. They feel they have the right to destroy life and properties. The campaign is promoting mob culture and lawlessness. They are being used as a weapon to get rid of the de-centralized (federal) political system. They will not succeed because the level of consciousness of the marginalized people has risen. More ever, they tasted what it means to have a sayin economic and social policies that shapes their life.
When the junta was defeated in Shire (Tigray) the army evacuated from their last garrison Mekele and you know what Mengustu Haile Mariam said “We don’t bother if we evacuate Tigray, they have nothing excepta floor mill”. He spoke the truth and highlighted the mind-set of the Amhara ruling class. He revealed that Tigray was completely neglected, the famine of 1972 which claimed the life of more than 2 million people was in Tigray, Wollo and Lasta. All these sowed seeds of rebellion that gave rise to the beginning of Tigray armed struggle to end famine and oppression in Tigray.
The rise of TPLF:The Military Junta defeated the EPRP, Meison and Sidama Liberation movement. The leaders, Berhane Meskel Redda of EPRP and Haile Fida of Meison were both captured and executed. OLF and ONLF survived but were weakened. It is the combined forces of EPLF and TPLF that defeated the Junta and entered the Capital Addis Ababa triumphant. They have sacrificed a lot. So inevitably the main force within EPRDF is TPLF. The Amhara Supremacist have found it unacceptable and started opposing TPLF. Their motive is to revive the outdated Amhara ruling class ideology and power they have lost. They are blind not to realize that all the fight of all liberation movements was to get rid of that repressive ideology (system) and for equality.
Today believing that the TPLF is side-lined, the Oromos, because of their sheer number (40%) of the Ethiopia population, feel they are the power of the country and Make Oromifa as national language. They will claim the administration of Addis Ababa and change its name into Finfinnee. On the other hand The Goal of Gunbot 7 & Derge remnants is to re-instate one centralized government with one language, dominated by Amhara.Eventually they will clash because they have different goals. Their alliance can only be temporary.
It is true that TPLF/EPRDF has done lots of mistakes. They were not angels. But they have achieved a lot, they laid down the ground work for economic and social take off. They admitted their failures and were in heated debate among themselves identifying their short comings tocorrect them. They experienced serious divisions, to the extent that some of them were critical of PM Abiy. But at last the reformist gained the upper hand. Among them were Dr Debretsion Ghebremichael, chairman of TPLF, Abraham Tekeste TPLF executive committee and Arkebe Ogbai advisor to the Prime Minister. The reformists group expressed their willingness to embrace change and support PM Abiy.
The hate mongers have forged an unholy alliance with the Eritrean regime. In his speech of accepting the peace call from PM Abiy, Isaias Afeworkisaid“game over” with TPLF. He expressed he would have no problem to work with Abiy once TPLF is side-lined. This is scandalousbecause the people of Eritrea don’t want this. It is against their interest. Eritreans havealways close relationship with the people of Tigray. Theyshare thevalue of freedom and justice.Many Tigrean fighters died in Sahel, EPLF base area, and foiled the Junta’s red-star campaign aimed to destroy the EPLF. Likewise the EPLF went as far as Addis Ababa to oust the Junta. The relationship with other Ethiopian movement who fought against national oppression was good but like the OLF they were far away geographically to make coordinated assault on the Junta. However there was one brilliant coordinated operation with OLF – in which the EPLF crossed the Sudan went to the South and helped OLF to attack an Ethiopian army Garrison and managed to destroyed it. Colonel Mengustu was mad and he made a talk of desperation obviously he was counting the days of his demise.
For Eritreans,Tigray was the bridge and the link to reach out to the rest of Ethiopia.They are people destined to share the same fate good or bad.
Eritrean regime’s strategy to make friend with AA Abiy at the expense of TPLF is divisive and wrong. Not in our name (Eritreans name), it is his personal decision. In this and in other issues the people of Eritrea have no voice. Isaias has subjected the Eritrean people to gross human rights violations. During the rally in Addis Ababa organised in support of the prime minister a bomb was exploded. The Ambassador of Eritrea in Italy Fitzehazsion Petros said it is the work of TPLF.The regime in Eritrea is experienced in miss-informing people.This is a form of interfering in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. PM Abiy Ahmed has to watch out. He must understand the pains and suffering the entire Eritrean people are undergoing.
PM Abiy Ahmed made giant leaps into the realm of peace and re-conciliation. He garnered a lot of support from Ethiopians, Eritreans and people in the Horn. However, he should not be complacent of all these divisive campaigns against the people of Tigray and its vanguard the TPLF.
We Eritreans wish a strong united and prosperous Ethiopia at peace with itself and its neighbours. For the sake of united and prosperous Ethiopia the hate-mongers must stop campaigning against Tigray.
Let there be justice for the people of Tigray and its vanguard TPLF.
The Amharic word “Neftegna” is referred to the Amhara land lords who appropriated the land of the Oromo’s and reduced them to mere tenants.