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Duplicity of Leaders and the Perversion of “Unity” and “Freedom”

Duplicity of Leaders and the Perversion of “Unity” and “Freedom”

Aynalem Sebhatu 02-12-21

Abiy Ahmed’s genocidal war in Tigray is a threat for any Tigrayan wherever he/she might be living, and it is an existential one. It is destroying the social fabric, historical and cultural heritage of Tigray. It is taking a toll at national unity as well as fueling the secessionist feeling of Tigrayans.

What is transpiring in the genocidal war in Tigray is hard to imagine. Ethiopians have turned their back to Tigray and this historic betrayal is unbearable. The duplicity of religious leaders, elders and so called “concerned” Ethiopians who are running around claiming that they are raising funds for Tigray, is much more excruciating.  Forget about caring for the starving children, they do not have any sense of citizenship to condemn the daily atrocities of the Eritrean army. The more one thinks about it, the more puzzling it gets, and no word captures the depth of despair one goes through in trying to explain it. How do they not see about their leader of the country inviting a foreign army to kill, loot and rape his own citizens while the Ethiopian army standing by and watching?   A foreign army well known for its possession of sadistic behavior of killing and hurting its own people at that. Do Abiy Ahmed, Isaias Afewerki and the Amhara extremists derive sadistic pleasure from it? Apparently, they all do.

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Leaders of the governing party, Prosperity Party, Amhara extremists and their media outlets warned that the TPLF’s ideas—specifically on the constitution, ethnic federalism, developmental state economic policy—are destabilizing Ethiopian unity. Therefore, in their world outlook, TPLF and the people of Tigray deserve extermination by waging a genocidal war. Instead finding a political solution via political dialogue, finding a good rationale for waging a war has become the primary occupation of the political elites of Ethiopia nowadays. When they could not find one, they became sophisticated in inventing and innovating their political “alternative realities.”

Abiy Ahmed, in his opinion piece wrote, “Operations undertaken by the Ethiopian federal government have freed the Tigrayan people from decades of misrule by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).” The fact of the matter is Abiy Ahmed has removed the democratically elected government of Tigray and the governing party, the TPLF, by waging an all-out war on Tigray and installed his interim government.

Abiy continues, “The hopes stem from the removal – for good – of the corrupt and dictatorial TPLF. Ethiopians can now imagine a future based not on ethnic chauvinism, but on unity, equality, freedom, and democracy. Moreover, the source of ethnic division that had poisoned inter-state relations across the Horn of Africa has now been overcome.” (Project Syndicate, Feb. 6th, 2021).

Bolstered by such kind of comments, Isaias Afewerki and the Amhara political elites have joined Abiy Ahmed against what they regard as political contamination of the Horn of Africa by the TPLF.  Hence, their battle to wage against the TPLF and the people of Tigray as being a justified war.

Abiy’s imagination of the future of Ethiopia is clearly based on his perversion of “unity, equality, freedom, and democracy.” In the first place, Abiy Ahmed and these words are fundamentally incompatible. Secondly, it appears that his conception of these words rests on a radically different “alternative facts” base from what is commonly understood these words mean in definition and practice. His definitional ploy and his lip service for such words are at the center of the genesis of his genocidal wars against Tigray and Oromia.  This makes quite possible for freedom and oppression to walk arm in arm by simply defining TPLF’s or OLF’s ideas or political stands as subversive ones, one beyond the protection of democratic principles and one beyond political dialogue.  Abiy is clinging to an illusion of the political correctness of one party (Prosperity Party) by eliminating any other party outside Abiy Ahmed’s political construct. The result is violence, division, distrust, demonization and a false sense of national unity among its citizens.   

The real question is: does Abiy wrote these words with his oblivious disregard to what these words mean to the peoples of Tigray and Oromo who are suffering from his genocidal war?  Of course, he is displaying his devious and irritatingly manipulating characteristics here. By now, it is understood that his words do not mean anything and deception and lies are part of his daily doses of political ritual.  His deeds speak much louder than his pronouncements of these words. For example, the imprisonment of thousands of Oromos and Tigrayans speaks much more than Abiy’s hollow understanding of freedom.  Hence, his conceptions of “unity, equality, freedom, and democracy “have  a strong aura of an Orwellian twist and shameful perversion of these words.

Political opponents of Abiy, more diverse in their political thinking, consider his shallow historical understanding of Ethiopia as a major impediment for not giving enough recognition to the historic power relationship among the ethnic groups of the country.  Yes, Abiy saw the importance of ethnicity for his bid for power and in his consolidation of power. But he did not come to terms with the past ethnic power relationships and he often dismisses away the concerns of ethnic groups in the country. In some ways, it is a conflict over some of the most explosive issues in the country, including the self-rule of federal regional states, national identity and the sharing of power at the federal level. In a country where the federal government bureaucracy is dominated by the Amhara, the stakes are very high.

Abiy Ahmed, once he came to power, had totally lost his interest in the federalist form of governing the country. Contrary to the main principle of federalist approach of self-rule, he consciously dismantled the self-governance of federal regional states by force. In effect centralizing power and running the federal states from Addis Ababa. All this is done with political courtship of the Amhara political elites who have the desire to run the country as a unitary state again. 

To the federalist forces, the reversal of the self-rules of federal regional states by coercive means revealed something else: the Amhara political elites are incapable of confronting the ethnic conflicts in fair and constitutional way, especially at time when the Amhara extremists are driven by settler colonialist policy supported by violent youth movement, the Fano.  The settler colonial policy and its enforcement by the Fano is currently displaying in western and southern Tigray. Thousands of people have been butchered, looted, raped and expelled from the occupied lands by the Amhara regional government. The irony is that the Amhara media outlets and affiliated social media always point a finger at other ethnic groups as the perpetrator of ethnic conflicts and killings.   

While I would never assert that any Ethiopian could approach the war in Tigray in a spirit of complete objectivity, I just am requesting any Ethiopian to show, at minimum, some appraisal of the nature of Ethiopian citizenship without ethnic and religious bias. Despite Lidetu Ayalew’s concerns (in his recent interviews) for the consequences of the war on Tigray, the public’s support remained significant in Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Gondor, Dessie and other urban areas. In general, most citizens are unbelievably unawake regarding the conflicts raging in the country and their current attitude towards those for whom Abiy Ahmed consider political allies, such as Isaias Afewerki, is shameful at best. Ethiopians should take the warning bells of Lidetu Ayalew seriously and recognize that Isaias Afewerki’s sword shows no mercy to anyone nor it cares whose blood it sheds.

I find the lack of attention to the genocidal war in Tigray to be a stunned picture of Ethiopians with their heads in the sand. Because it is always easier to look away and deny.  What is even shameful is that church and politics are so woven together in minds of like Abiy Ahmed and the Amhara political elites, the traditional utterance of “amen” at the end of prayer in a church seems to be replaced by “Junta” and “Shane.” The ever-present danger of such political indoctrination is that the country could become a "colony". In a colony, all members think increasingly alike on increasingly narrow issues. That is a recipe for a disaster in the making for the future existence of the country.

Tigray will Prevail!

Eternal glory to our martyrs!


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