By Keffyalew Gebremedhin*, The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) regime is a monster of terrible proportions, protected by powerful foreign governments that pander to it to benefit from its services as their foot soldier in Somalia and else where, and also for the returns on investments their investors make in the country at this difficult time in the global economy.
Nevertheless, this has neither covered its ugly image nor washed off its hands, soaked as they are in the blood of innocent Ethiopians.
On December11, 2015, Freedom House reminded the international community that nothing in the militaristic actions of its politics could be considered legal or constitutional. The Freedom Hose’s focus was on the regime’s shoot to kill policies and actions early on in response to the Oromia revolt that resumed after early 2014 in November 2015; to update that observation now one might need to add the Gondar protests, security forces shooting directly on the people.
Speaking to the Oromia protests, the Freedom House explained that the TPLF, which aimed “to forcibly stop protests in Oromia should remember peaceful assembly is guaranteed by Ethiopia’s constitution…Firing live bullets to disburse peaceful protesters violates this right. The government of Ethiopia should conduct an inquiry into these police killings and bring those responsible to justice.”
Unfortunately, the main limitation the TPLF suffers from is its inability to learn from its mistakes, or listen to the advice of friends. For instance, in Gondar protest it is clear that it had not taken any lessons from consequences and impact of its brutal scorched earth attacks and repression in Oromia that once again combusted, ended up giving birth to the flame of the continuing Oromo Protests, and deepening of Oromo consciousness and resistance.
It so happens that there is no response so far for an independent investigation into what actually happened in Oromia between November 2015 and April 2016. Lawless and as a monster that lives and thrives through treachery and deceit, recently the Front claimed having conducted such investigation by a notorious Russia-educated TPLF member Addisu Gebre-Egziabher.
In his capacity as vice-chairman of TPLF-created and TPLF-run Ethiopia’s National Election Board, Addisu Gebre-Egziabher is known by Ethiopians as the person, who orchestrated the heist of the popular vote of May 24, 2015 election. At the end of the election, he was appointed chairman of the TPLF-established Human Rights Council, from where he claimed to have conducted the investigation. Not surprisingly, true to the nature of the TPLF, he ended up exonerating the TPLF assassins, by his admission, after the killing of over 400 Oromo Ethiopians. This death is now continuing on a daily basis in Oromia, most of the region under a lock down by TPLF security.
It is no surprise, therefore, in a statement before the United States Congress, House Foreign Affairs Committee, on July 12, 2016, Mark P. Lagon, President of Freedom House, had to mention Ethiopia 15 times. Therein he rightly portrayed the TPLF regime and the state it runs as rogue, when it comes to its disrespect of fundamental human rights of the Ethiopian people. He thus pointed out to the members of the congressional committee:
“Ethiopia is a prime example [with its “anti-terrorism laws, blasphemy or insult laws and laws governing the registration and foreign funding of non-governmental organizations to effectively muzzle civil society and stamp out dissent]. Viewed as a key partner in the war on terror, its harsh repression of dissent raises questions about its long-term viability as an effective partner in this mission. The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) just marked its 25th year in power. In the most recent parliamentary elections held last year, the EPRDF announced a 100 percent victory belying credibility, having allegedly “won” every single seat in parliament and the regional councils.
Two laws – the Charities and Societies Proclamation, which restricts local civil society organizations’ access to foreign funding, and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which allows the detention of suspects for up to four months without charge – have been used to imprison journalists and bloggers, opposition leaders, and civil society activists. They are designed to quash all dissent. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly documented torture in Ethiopia’s prisons. As Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, have long been targets of arbitrary detention, repression, and displacement. In November 2015, the EPRDF decided to expand the boundaries of the capital at the expense of farmers and communities living in the surrounding areas of the Oromia region. This decision was made without adequate consultation with affected communities and sparked widespread protests resulting in the arrests of tens of thousands, including “students, teachers, musicians, opposition politicians, health workers, and people who provided assistance or shelter to fleeing students.” At least 400 have been killed by Ethiopian security forces; an unknown number remain in detention; and torture continues to be reported. Protests like these break out because citizens have no other ways to engage in the political system or express discontent, which increases instability.”
When we turn to what is happening now in Gondar, the regime’s reference through its spokesperson Getachew Reda that led him in November 2015 to the stupidity of likening Oromos to satan/devil may, after all – come to think of it – makes some sense, although the origin is his distortion of the original Germanic such saying to express once incapacity to dismiss the evil spirit it has summoned.
In the end we saw, notwithstanding the heavy attack by the heavily-armed ‘Tigrai only’ TPLF’s Agazi commando group and the latest spying technology, Oromos fierceness of Oromo resistance, which still is continuing in less degree, persistently and daily fighting ethnic discrimination, denial of freedoms, denial of opportunities, and the continuing land grab by TPLF members and their agents in Oromia, as is the case else where in Ethiopia.
It is in response to ethnic discrimination by the TPLF, its mismanagement of a poor nation’s resources, the exclusive privileges, theft by their members, the consequent arrogance of power and the fast spreading inequality in Ethiopia that the nation is increasingly rising against. The protests are coming unexpectedly, like a Tsunami and one by one, as it happens just less than six months after the Front’s ignominious election of May 24, 2015. It shamefully claimed bagging 100 percent of the electoral victory.
It is the satan of those evils, that is today rocking TPLF-ruled Ethiopia, which the spirit of the regime’s electoral victory has spiced up, and about which spokesperson Getachew Reda misspoke.
That Satan first possessed Oromia, with its youth, farmers, parents, newly-weds and the people in general rose up. That same spirit of resistance has now started in earnest to get into the people of Ethiopia – one ethnic group at a time, until all Oromos, Amharas, non-TPLF Tigreans, Wolqaiytes, Surmas, Gambellans, Afars, Gurages, Sidanchos, Gamos, Konsos, then one region at a time, etc., – as all Ethiopians rise up to end TPLF’s brutality, the most heinous of all repressive forces in whole wide world.
Therefore, no matter the size of forces and weaponry the regime is now arraying against the people of Gondar, the spirit of resistance is on the same continuum. The regime would eventually have to retreat, perhaps collapse leaving Ethiopia to its people to lead their lives in peace.
For now, unfortunately, this does not appear eminent from the regime’s point of view, especially when one reads Getachew Reda’s Thursday statement on Fana broadcast.
Again he appeared on the television window to spray his lies, misrepresentations and contradictions, displaying his usual weaknesses in propaganda. He seems to believe that every time he repeated his lies with studied lines to every story, one cannot help feeling sorry for him. For instance, Thursday, he reiterated what he had said months ago about Oromia protests – that the TPLF has now restored calm in Gondar, in collaboration with the people of Gondar. He seemed to forget that the people rose against the TPLF, while the Front people focussed on protecting coded message exchanges to primarily protect their TPLFite Tigreans in Gondar, rich with illegally acquired businesses.
It did not take long, before the truth came out. The people of Gondar announced through the social media and ESAT that they are fighting the regime they see as the enemy. Armed as they are, they have made their demands known, parts of which are reportedly fulfilled:
(a) lands TPLF stole from Gondar be returned to the people;
(b) the people of Wolqaiyt are Amhara, not Tigreans and their constitutional rights be recognized; and,
(c) those the TPLF has kidnapped from Gondar must all be set free.
The people were in the towns thoroughfare and streets, continually shouting TPLF is a thief; they would “not be governed by a tribalist regime!”
And yet still forced by people’s power to lick its wounds, the TPLF in its statement yesterday announced that it would hunt those that have fired weapons at TPLF abductors, dispatched by Mekelle from taking members of the Wolqaiyte group as prisoners. The Wolqaiyte seek recognition of their right to determine their identity as Amharas, not Tigreans. They also want an end to TPLF’s feudal territorial expansionism and the return of their lands.
The TPLF spokesperson accuses them of blocking the abductors from taking the wanted persons. (“በማሰሪያ ትእዛዝ ላይ ተሞርክዞ የቀረበላቸውን ጥያቄ አሻፈረኝ በማለት በፖሊሶች ላይ የጥይት እሩምታ በማውረድ ለሰላማዊ ሰዎች እና ለፖሊሶች ህይወት ማለፍ ተጠያቂ የሆኑበት ሁኔታ ተፈጥሯልም” –
As usual, the TPLF spokesperson accused ‘Gondares’ of firing at security forces, while using children as human shields. (“በትናንትናው እለት ህፃናትን እንደ ጋሻ በመጠቀም እና ተኩስ በመክፈት በጸጥታ ሀይሎች ላይ ጉዳት ሲያደርሱ መቆየታቸውንም” ተናግረዋል”).
Recall that all Oromo Protesters have been accused of being at the service of the separatist Oromo Liberation Movement (OLF), the never acknowledging the evils and cruelties the TPLF has been committing in Oromia through its misgovernance of the country.
Similarly, Getachew Reda repeated the same theme for Gondar Protesters, which is a protest on the same continuum as the Oromos. The Gondar protesters, he accused them of sawing discord and chaos, using the ethnic question of the Wolqaiytes and others as a cover (“የግለሰቦቹ ተግባር እናራምደዋለን ከሚሉት ወይም የህብረተሰቡ ጥያቄ ነው የሚሉትን እንቅስቃሴን እንደ ሽፋን ተጠቅመው የሁከት እና የግርግር ስራ ሲሰሩ እንደነበረ አስታውቀዋል።”)
Further, he lambasted the supporters of the Gondar protests, including those the people supported and rallied behind, of aiming to benefit from the confusion created. (“ይህን ተግባር በማስፋፋትም ደጋፊዎቻችን ናቸው በሚሉት ጥቂት ሰዎች አማካኝነት የጠላት አላማ ለማሳካት የሚያስችሉ በተለያዩ አካባቢዎች ግርግር እና ሁከት ለመፍጠር ጥረት አድርገዋልም ብለዋል።”) All of them have been working hard to spread the tension and stand off between the people and TPLF-run state to reach other localities, with their incitement of ethnic conflict. (“እንዲሁም ችግሩ በሌሎች አካባቢዎች እንዲዛመት እና ሁከቱ እንዲባባስ የሚያስችል ስራ ለመስራት መሞከራቸውን አንስተዋል። በተለይም በሌሎች አካባቢ ተወላጆች ላይ የብሄር ትንኮሳ በማድረግ ጉዳዩ ሌላ መልክ እንዲይዝ እና ሁከቱ ወደ ለየለት ብጥብጥ እንዲሸጋገር የሚያስችል ተግባራትን ሲፈጽሙ እንደቆዩም አቶ ጌታቸው አብራርተዋል።”)
In a tone and content borrowed from a distant era, Nero in particular, while claiming that the security forces in cooperation with the public have pacified Gondar, Getachew Reda said that the goal of the trouble-makers could not be successfully realized. (“ህዝቡ ከጸጥታ ሀይሎች ጋር በመሆን በሰራው ስራ እንዲሁም የክልሉ የጸጥታ ሀይል ከፌደራል ፖሊስ ጋር በመሆን በሰሩት ስራ የጥፋት ሀይሎቹ ፍላጎት በሚፈልጉት ደረጃ ስኬታማ ሊሆን እልቻለም።”
As evidence of the regime’s success, the spokesperson indicated return of normalcy has returned, because of which students could quietly sit for their matriculation. (“በዛሬው እለትም ሁከቱ እንዳይባባስ ከአካባቢው ህብረተሰብ ጋር በመሆን ነዋሪው በተረጋጋ መልኩ የእለት ተእለት ተግባሩን እንዲከውን እና በዛሬው እለት የተጠናቀቀውን የከፍተኛ ትምህርት መግቢያ ፈተና ያለምንም ችግር ተማሪዎች እንዲፈተኑ መደረጉንም አንስተዋል።”)
Lies beget lies and the usual Getachew Reda contradictions. Therefore, the spokesperson in the same breadth could not help admitting the spread of the conflict to outlying areas of Gondar. He also acknowledged that the objective of the anti-TPLF forces was somewhat realized, some people killed (it is understood pro-TPLF business persons) and properties damaged (TPLF businesses). (“እንዲሁም ከጎንደር ወጣ ባሉ አካባቢዎች በተለይም በአንድ አካባቢ ላይ ይህን ሁከት ለማስፋፋት ባደረጉት ጥረት በሰው እና በንብረት ጉዳት ደርሷል ያሉት አቶ ጌታቸው፥ እነዚህን በቁጥጥር ስር ለማዋል የሚያስችል ስራዎች መሰራታቸውንም ጠቁመዋል።…በተፈጠረው ሁከት ሳቢያ በሰላማዊ ዜጎች እና የንግድ ቤቶች ላይ ጉዳት የደረሰ ሲሆን፥ የፌደራል እና የክልሉ የፀጥታ ሀይሎች ተጨማሪ ጉዳት ከመድረሱ በፊት ሁኔታውን በቁጥጥር ስር ማዋላቸውንም ገልጿል።”)
In Oromia, in the early days of the popular protests, Getachew Reda was stuck on the TPLF regime killing only five Oromos. In the same manner, in Gondar too, quoting the TPLF anti-terrorism task force, he said Thursday that five innocent citizens have been killed by ‘random fire’. (“ከትናንት በስቲያ እና ትናንት በሁከት ፈጣሪዎች አማካኝነት በተፈጠረው ሁከት እና ግርግር ሳቢያ፥ አምስት ንፁሃን ዜጎች በተባራሪ ጥይት ህይወታቸው ማለፉን የብሄራዊ መረጃና ደህንነት አገልግሎት እና የፌደራል ፖሊስ የጋራ ፀረ ሽብር ግብረ ሀይል ለፋና ብሮድካስቲንግ ኮርፖሬት በላከው መግለጫ ላይ መግለፁ ይታወቃል።”)
The question is why would citizens fire toward the people? This is a lie, the Getachew Reda usual cock and bull story!
As far as deaths on the TPLF side is concerned,Getachew Reda did not disclose any number of fatalities, though while admitting some deaths; he simply noted that there were casualties from the security forces. (“ከዚህም በተጨማሪ ከፌደራል እና ከክልሉ የፀጥታ ሀይሎች ተጨማሪ ጉዳት መድረሱንም ነው ግብረ ሃይሉ በመግለጫው የጠቆመው።”
On its part, ESAT Thursday reported that nine federal police and a person in military uniform were killed.
A worrying point mentioned in yesterday’s statement is the cryptic indication by the anti-terrorism task force, which implicitly signals that something was afoot from the TPLF security. While the language is not clear, it is implied that its security forces would take further “effective and legal action against those that have secretly infiltrated Gondar from their staging ground in Eritrea to disrupt public peace and order”. Surely, the reference to the truth is simply self-serving to the interests of the Front, whose typical characteristic is the lack of principles, moral attitude and respect for laws.
Then, what is the anti-terrorism task force saying? Certainly, the reference to Eritrea is another name of the insurgent sort of ‘liberation force’ – Arbengoch Ginbot 7, headed by the economist Prof. Berhanu Nega, which operates from Eritrea, although these days it repeatedly points out that it is inside every part of Ethiopia.
What is up in TPLF’s sleeves? Is it to initiate TPLF terrorism? TPLF abduction of citizens? Secret killings by its brutal Agazi and the commandos? It is understood that such heinous actions for which the TPLF has a horrific record, may be seen especially in Gondar, where popular uprisings have been observed, such as in Tsegede district, Soroqa and Qurbi and western Tsegede district, Dansha and the surrounding localities in Tigray? (በመግለጫው በቁጥጥር ስር የዋሉት ግለሰቦች ኤርትራ ውስጥ መሽገው ከሚገኙ የፀረ ሰላምና አሸባሪ ሀይሎች ጋር ቀጥተኛ ግንኙነት በመፍጠርና መመሪያ በመቀበል በአማራ ክልል ሰሜን ጎንደር ዞን ጠገዴ ወረዳ ሶሮቃና ቁርቢ አካባቢ እንዲሁም ትግራይ ክልል ምዕራባዊ ዞን ፀገዴ ወረዳ ደንሻና አካባቢው ሲንቀሳቀሱ የነበሩ መሆናቸውን ነው የተጠቀሰው።)
Wednesday, Berhanu Nega called upon all Ethiopians to unite and rise up in solidarity with Gondar, to ensure the freedom of all Ethiopians struggling against TPLF repression and oppression. The social media show that many have been pleased with his the accent of his message resting on the unity of all Ethiopians.
We all need to be clear about one thing. The present challenge against the TPLF is mighty, a dividend of its evil and opportunistic nature. The diagnosis of its problem shows that it is suffering from total popular rejection. It would not gain at all by starting now war against the Ethiopian people, be it in Gondar, Tigray, Amhara, Afar, SNNPR, etc. It ought to learn from the Oromo Protests, where it eliminated over 400 Oromo Ethiopians, the state is not likely to be a winner popular hatred and despise drowning it on a daily basis!
As a corrupt, racist and dishonest group, the TPLF’s aim to prevail over the people by arms is one more sign of its inability to digest the long lessons of history!
* The writer is blogger on The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO). He is not affiliated with any organized political group, at home or abroad. He shows strong sympathy to all sorts of Ethiopian activism that signal better vision than the present robbers in power. His heart is closer to those articulating individual freedoms, equality of citizens, democracy as the sole direction for Ethiopia and accountability of those in power, independence of the legislative and the judiciary in particular. He has been condemning Ethiopia’s lurch along the divisive path of ethnic politics, which has made TPLF’s prevalence in these past 25 years.