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Senay Tewolde 11-17-21

The Tigray conflict which has exposed the epitome of human evil has been the daily talk of the world for a year, and it begs a question how we got here. For a moment, I would like to pause to divulge answering this critical and complex question and try to warm-up readers with a glimpse of an overall picture.


Legend aside, though king Tedros tried hard but for all intents and purposes, failed and king Yohannes the 4th, succeeded in forming a loosely federated Ethiopia with regional kings recognizing him as king of kings, it was king Menelik who effectively managed to shape the present Ethiopia in 1899. The methodology he went about it was very harsh and gruesome, and I have opted to differ and leave it to historians.


As if the mayhem during his usurpation to the throne was not enough, Menelik continued the repression and marginalization of the nations and nationalities in the Ethiopia he created. The repression and domination of Tigray particularly was unbearable, and I shall focus on how Tigray was repressed and marginalized by Menelik and other leaders who subsequently ruled Ethiopia until 1991.


For starters, Menelik compromised the territorial integrity of Tigray and ceded the greater part of its land to the Italians in exchange of few thousands of lire and ammunitions on March 1st, 1896, thus the birth of a new country, Eritrea. Mind you, this was after the humiliating defeat of the invader, Italy at Adwa, Tigray. Not only did Menelik partitioned Tigray between himself and Italy, but he also ordered his troops that came with him from the south to loot everything before they leave Tigray, and loot, they did. Menelik was not satisfied with such cruel and treasonous acts. He incorporated the fertile lands of western Tigray to the Amhara province of Gonder.


Then came Haile Selassie, who “cleverly modernized” the absolute domination and impoverishment of the Tigray people. Who would forget the bombing of Tigray villages and cities including the capital city, Mekele, by the British Royal Airforce at the invitation of Haile Selassie in 1943? Fifty-four bombs were dropped at a market day in Mekele in a single day to crush the 1st Woyane. At the risk of deviating from my subject, I would like to remind The United Kingdom (UK) that it is not too late to compensate Tigray for the bombings it carried throughout Southern Tigray in support of Haile Selassie.

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After the popular revolt of the 1st Woyane was temporarily arrested with the support of the UK, Haile Selassie annexed a big chunk of the southern parts of Tigray to yet another Amhara province of Wollo, then administered by his son, Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen. Another reminder how the Amhara ruling class was determined to permanently impoverish and dominate the people of Tigray. It is no secret that the Amhara leaders speak in the open, saying “the way to defeat Tigrayans is not by guns but by starvation”.


The motto of one language, one culture, one religion by the parasitic Amhara ruling class was so appalling to the marginalized nations and nationalities of Ethiopia. That coupled with the famine that took the lives of over a million people in Tigray and Wollo ignited a popular unrest, which eventually led to the removal of Haile Selassie after almost half-century in power.


Unfortunate for Ethiopia, a military junta led by Mengistu took power and perpetrated fascistic massacres and indiscriminate arrests and tortures of Tigrayans all over Ethiopia. By the way, the narcissist Abiy Ahmed Ali, a child then, must have heard the word “junta” that he is frequently using it to address the elected government of Tigray. I assure you Abiy Ahmed Ali doesn’t know how to pronounce the word “junta” let alone the true meaning of it.


Let me get back to my subject. Following the textbook of his predecessor, Haile Selassie, fascist Mengistu bombed numerous villages and towns in Tigray. Of course, the Howzen massacre of 1988 at a marketplace stands tall. Here, it is worth mentioning that Mengistu got the help of over 3000 Cubans and hundreds of Russian officers and military experts to back up his war against Tigray and other liberation movements.


It was the cumulation of the afore mentioned and other oppressive measures against the people of Tigray that resulted the birth of the TPLF in 1975. The objective condition on the ground enabled the TPLF to get the full backing of the people of Tigray and successfully dismantled the fascist military junta, also known as the DERGUE, after 17 years of bitter armed struggle.


If I may, let me remind everyone how the TPLF and its compatriots under the EPRDF umbrella transformed Ethiopia in 27 years. For too long, famine and Ethiopia were synonyms words. The TPLF/EPRDF has effectively erased the synonymy of the two. Life expectancy increased by 20 years. Schools including universities mushroomed exponentially. The infrastructure built throughout Ethiopia is beyond words. I need not to write about the once in a lifetime project, the GERD. If I must, it is about those expansionists who hide themselves behind the curtain, Ethiopia, that marched in thousands all over the world in opposition to the GERD. Some even appealed to Egypt to bomb it. This is in addition to the round-the-clock petition against Dr. Tedros Adhanom to lead the WHO. So much for Ethiopia and Ethiopianism!


Yes, I understand their opposition to the dam and the candidacy of Dr. Adhanom to head the World Health Organization is puzzling and hard to comprehend for the sane. Nevertheless, it is real, and it is a good barometer to gauge how the Amhara elite led expansionists hate and despise Tigrayans. Simply put, their hatred has no boundary. Their “justification” for such madness is an unsubstantiated story they have been pushing hard since the inception of the TPLF that it has labelled the people of Amhara as the enemies of Tigray in its manifesto. To date, there is no meaningful and formal response from the TPLF or its supporters to such an absurd and false story. I have read the manifesto and it is an utter lie.


Their venomous behavior and a make-believe fabricated hate-speeches brought Abiy Ahmed Ali to power in 2018. I didn’t forget the Queero movement from Oromia that truly played a major role in bringing Abiy Ahmed Ali to power, but it was the Amhara elites who worked hard for decades to overthrow the government of the TPLF/EPRDF, and I can’t take away that credit from them. They were passionately determined, because they can’t stand the federal arrangement that took away their “God-given right” to lead Ethiopia.


Fast forward, what the 2019 Noble Peace Prize laureate, Abiy Ahmed Ali did and continues to do against the Tigray people is beyond anyone’s stretch of imagination. In this regard, I am not writing history. It is out there for everyone to see. The bombings of marketplaces and residential buildings have surpassed that of Haile Selassie and Mengistu. True, both leaders have invited foreign forces to bomb Tigray, but Abiy Ahmed Ali’s war is fundamentally different in its size, scope, and his mission is to wipeout Tigrayans from the face of the earth. To that end, he invited a sworn enemy, Eritrea, which in 1988 invaded Ethiopia and rejected all pleas from the international community to withdraw. After two years of refusal, it suffered a humiliating defeat by the TPLF/EPRDF led government of Ethiopia. Surprisingly, it is this enemy with vengeance that Abiy Ahmed Ali allowed to enter to Tigray to massacre, rape the young and the old, loot, destroy universities, hospitals, and infrastructure throughout Tigray.


Obviously, Abiy Ahmed Ali is at the helms and bears full responsibility. But let it be clear that the masterminds of all the mess in Ethiopia, the war against Tigray, and the invitation of Eritrea was none other than the Amhara elites including their religious leaders and there shall be no ambiguity on this fact. To think otherwise, is simply naïve. Suffice it to say that Abiy Ahmed Ali “perfected” the war by bringing Somali soldiers, Drones from Emirates, Iran, Turkey, and China.


However brief and incomplete, I have tried to to answer how we got here. But it would be a disservice to my readers if I didn’t try to point out whether there was some shared responsibility on the part of the TPLF and the Tigray elites at large that contributed to where we are. I believe there was and here is why. Not sure whether the words “arrogance and naivete” go together. I leave that to students of sociology and psychology, but TPLF for a lack of a better word, has been arrogant and naïve. Arrogant, because it has never been defeated in all wars that I know of. Naïve, because it never reacts until it is poked in the eye. I should mention here that the TPLF never lost a war, because for all I know, all the wars that the TPLF was engaged, except one incident that I am not well equipped with enough information to side with or against the TPLF, have been defensive, counter-offensive and people’s cause in nature. And history has unmistakably taught us that no power can permanently defeat peoples’ wars against oppression and self-determination. Now, let me show how the Tigray elites contributed to the episode where we are. The answer is simple. Tigray elites and the people of Tigray by and large, are humble, respectful, trustful and by most accounts, have limitless love and faith to their neighbors, friends, and countrymen. Once they befriended and trusted someone, there is no turning point. It is like driving a one-way in the highway, until that someone stabs them from the back or the front, for that matter. Don’t get me wrong! By no means am I suggesting that there are not few bad apples in the Tigray camp. I was using generality, not specificity! It goes without saying that there are few good Amhara elites as well. Anyways, it is my hope that the TPLF and the people of Tigray have learned their lesson.


Conclusion: To elaborate all the betrayals, atrocities, man made starvations, and crimes against the people of Tigray for the last 130 years is beyond my limited knowledge. It surely requires a hard work by historians. But I know for fact that Tigrayans have done everything in their power to defend, build, and transform Ethiopia. They have played a significant role in the arrangement of forming a federated Ethiopia so that all nations and nationalities can exercise self-rule. Use and enrich their respective languages, create a sense of equality and belonging in that country, Ethiopia. But Tigrayans were rewarded with betrayal, conspiracy, and war of extermination.


Therefore, Tigrayans are left with no option but separation. The separation may have two paths. The first and the best for all is a peaceful separation with a peaceful referendum. The second option which won’t be pleasant is to use force and implement the separation. Using force, however, doesn’t mean the avoidance of the principles of referendum. By the way, many Ethiopian politicians including leaders like Mengistu have proudly and loudly told Tigrayans that Tigray is a poor region with no sources to feed itself. So, Tigrayans are asking Ethiopian leaders and politicians to cooperate with them to undo the burden on Ethiopia. It is that simple.





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