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Lilay: Tigray can't afford to live in the past; it has a bright future to take care of

Lilay: Tigray can't afford to live in the past; it has a bright future to take care of

Yohannes Aberra, PhD 08-23-20

The biggest problem that is messing up politics in Ethiopia and leaving the Country without a functioning compass is the obsession with excessive glorification of the past and at the same time the unhelpful act of scratching of old wounds that does not solve our current problems, but only aggravate them. We find ourselves on the eve of an election in Tigray, the only Regional State in Ethiopia which stood out above all others in bold defense of the Constitutional provisions for regular elections. The last thing the people of the Regional State would tolerate is putting stumbling blocks on their path as they march towards a democratic future.

We know Lilay is the son of that great leader, who emerged from the ordinary populace to be a leader of the people who rose against oppression. Blata Hailemariam made his own glorious history; and Lilay was expected to do better; but he didn't: " የእሳት ልጅ አመድ" We all know there was a disappointing betrayal which turned the Weyane rebellion into a disaster. Dejat Gebrehiwot did not betray the rebellion just out of hate for Enderta or with the intention to benefit the people of Adwa. He did it out of purely personal greed. What benefit would the people of Adwa get from the crushing of the rebellion? Nothing! Lilay is repeating what Dejat Gebrehiwot did and Enderta is not going to benefit from that.

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I can see from his talks that Lilay was a key member of the security department of TPLF. It is well known worldwide that even in mature democracies what the parliament does and what security departments do are in many cases diametric opposites. Parliaments live in the comfort of democracy and rule of law, while security departments are always dealing with threats of covert conspiracies and sophisticated insurgencies that people and even parliaments are not aware of. Parliaments run states; security departments protect them from harm. It is unfortunate that innocent people could be harmed in the process, which is a necessary evil. TPLF was trying to survive by protecting itself. Tragedies have happened in the process. In an armed struggle, the right hand may not trust the left hand.

Working in a security department as an agent is different from working in a ministry as a clerk. There are sensitive secrets that must be protected under a vow of secret service. Unless otherwise one was a spy for another body secrets are not revealed even when the agent is fired from the security department. What Lilay was engaged in this week is just a betrayal of the vow of secret service. This is the same as betraying yourself! There were hundreds of former members who had their serious differences with TPLF leaders but suffered death and imprisonment under the Derg for not revealing the list of names of TPLF operatives working in the towns of Tigray; this includes me and my brother. When one joins an organization and enters into a vow to serve it and protect its secrets; it becomes a serious matter. You may fight against the leaders but not against your own vows.

The fact that TPLF leadership has turned into a 'kinship club' is a customary sign of weakness of guerilla leaders during peacetime. Yes, peacetime has killed the flaming sense of sacrifice in the former gallant fighters. They plunged into the "sugar in the absence of insulin to control its healthy level". But, do we have to sit on a mountain of blame and shame and see our future slip away from our hands?

It is OK to set up civil societies as long as they are for the benefits of societies. However, if the mission of the organizations is to pit one against the other they would be mafia organizations pure and simple. Enderta and Raya demand their rights to be protected like any other zones in Tigray, which are having their own problems too, including Adwa of course. Enderta and Raya are no more no less Tigreans than the rest of Tigray. Mekelle is the core of Tigray and so is Enderta by extension as the immediate hinterland of the Capital of the Regional State. Expansion of Mekelle into the fertile farmlands of Enderta has triggered land grabbing and displacement in the outskirts of the Metropolis. It is the same problem farming communities around Addis Ababa, Hawassa, Adama, etc. are facing. There are blessings and curses when farming societies are located near expanding urban phenomena. This is a question for administrative justice not for fanning political fire. Unlike the pre-TPLF years Mekelle residents are drawn from all over Tigray. This is a blessing for my dear home town. It has never been as much a center of a much larger region as it is now. The job opportunities for the farming families of Enderta in the fast growing City has to be positively taken into account. What if the entire people of Enderta become city residents as long as they are gainfully employed?

The role of the Civil Society led by Lilay should be to engage in constructive negotiations with the City and Regional authorities about the justice in the expansion. Neither Raya nor Enderta are of different Ethnic origin from the rest. I don't need to tell Lilay and his group, that have unjustified claims to represent Enderta and Raya that Enderta and Rays are Tigreans, PERIOD! Whatever grievances they have on the administration (we know they have a lot of it) they have to put it strongly enough on the authorities not by separating as regional state or joining Afar. The latter is a childish proposition because what obligations do Afars have to accept the two Zones into their region if they fail to be with their own? Who assured Enderta and Raya that Lilay (Enderta) will be a better president for "the Enderta-Raya Regional state" than Dr. Debretsion, a "non-Enderta". The Enderta people love in return any leader who loves and respects them. There are Adwans who insult them, there also Adwans who love them. This is just individual feeling. There are Gondares who belittle and insult Welloyes; there are also Gonderies who love and marry Welloyes. Such things are not a big deal enough for hasty generalizations.

The journalist who interviewed Lilay caught him lying about the cause of death of Hayelom. TPLF had nothing to do with the death of its hero. Unfortunately, Hayelom should not have been so careless about his own safety. It was a big loss for Ethiopia on the eve of the Badme-war. It was a disaster for poor Lilay, who tried to impress and please the anti-TPLF front that no one can believe him about the rest of what he said.



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