by Yimer Muhe
No other era in Ethiopian history has witnessed the atrocity that matches that of TPLF in the last 27 years. By all accounts, it should surpass by miles the devastation caused by the Italian invasion of the country that witnessed the use of mustard gas from the sky. If one has to pick comparable periods in modern times with what happened in Ethiopia in the last 27 years, definitely the Killing Fields of Cambodia, the Nazi Concentration Camps at Dachau and Auschwitz, and the Rwandan Massacres would come to one’s mind. In quantitative terms, TPLF’s crimes against its own people might not be comparable with what happened in the Nazi Concentration Camps and the Killing Fields of Cambodia, but qualitatively, they are no less horrendous and appalling. The fact that TPLF’s raw barbarism happened in this day and age is all the more alarming. Rest assured, what we saw in “Yefitih Siqoqa” is nothing compared to what will be unfolding as we move on.
Hacking the legs of a young man several times and pulling his closing wounds with pincers, running a pen or pencil through detainees’ nostrils, gang-rapping women inmates and leaving them with fatherless children, unplugging glucose from very sick inmates, and shipping them back to prison in their helpless states, hanging inmates upside down for months and bringing them down only for meals and bathrooms, sodomizing young men, and refusing proper treatment and administering harmful medications on purpose, etc. are crimes committed by people we call our own. The question is are we really theirs? Do they share our sense of belongingness to them, the same culture, same land and history? Haven’t they already disowned us and proven it over the last 27 years? Ethiopia is crying for explanation.
I am sure Stephen King and other famous horror story writers would have a field day for their next book if they get their hands on the compilation of the torture stories of our people in the last 27 years. Hollywood producers would pay the asking price to buy the scripts related to the torture chambers of Ma-ikelawi, Kilnto, Zuwai, TPLF’s underground prisons, and the private prisons scattered throughout the country. Whatever our views of our history of the last several centuries, there is nothing we can be proud of in the last 50 years, but a lot more to be ashamed of in the last 27 years of TPLF dictatorship. We used to hear of such horrendous crimes being committed elsewhere in other lands: Somalia (Al-Shabaab), Afghanistan (Taliban), Bosnia, Rwanda, etc. We used to think of ourselves as peerless, stoic, untarnished and proud. Thanks to TPLF, all that is in the past. TPLF has decimated our very unique and distinguishing identifiers, and images of ourselves as Ethiopians. Why? Ethiopia is crying for answers!
TPLF and its army of cadres might be responsible for the catastrophic 27 years: the egregious human rights violations, the absence of rule of law, and the killing fields from Moyale to Samara and from Woldia to Gambela; however, we all are condemned to own it as part of our history. Whether we like it or not, it is going to be our shared legacy to future generations despite the fact that each and every torture, murder, rape, land grabbing and plundering was single handedly carried out by TPLF and its henchmen. Regardless of how hard we will try to explain to the future generations why these heinous crimes were committed under our watch, our time will stand out as the bloodiest and the most horrifying of all. It will stand out as the most perplexing mainly due to the senseless and apocalyptic ethnic card TPLF used to sow discord among the people, and impose itself over the rest, in a country shared by over 80 ethnic groups. Whichever way we take a look at it, and slice it and dice it, TPLF is nothing but a very deadly plague of our time.
If we try to explain away the tragedy that Ethiopians suffered under TPLF in terms of only its leaders’ greediness, parochialism, and a sense of alleged marginalization, we could not be more wrong. Historians, Sociologists, Politicians, Economists, Religious Leaders, Freudian Psychoanalysts and scholars in other disciplines owe it to their country to converge their thoughts to come up with a credible explanation why TPLF leaders, their army of cadres, and the pseudo elites that gave them cover all this time were hell-bent on destroying Ethiopia as a country, its people and the peaceful coexistence that they cherished for so long. The scholars have to dig deep into the psychological make-up of the TPLF leaders and their cohorts to find out why they have been so mentally detached, numbed and remorseless to the sufferings they caused, the blood they spilled, and the lives they destroyed. The scholars have to solve the riddle for the present as well as future generations. They have to figure out a way how to narrate in our history books about the mother who was forced at gunpoint to sit on the corpse of her slain son and cry for her loss; about the young pregnant mother who was summarily executed only because she stood her ground not to be raped; the young man in Bahir Dar who was thrown out from a second floor and ran over by a truck on purpose; and the infant who was shot dead on the back of his mother, etc. The scholars should prove that it was TPLF’s inherent wickedness that hurt us more than the dogma of Revolutionary Democracy and Developmental State it embraced. No doubt, our history of the last 27 years is going to read like a horror story unlike any other, and a lot scarier and more chilling than “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday The 13th” combined. There is something ghastly sickening about TPLF and Ethiopia is crying for answers!
TPLF’s clinging to power by any means necessary – maiming, killing, harassing, intimidating, stealing ballots and jailing real and perceived opponents under the most horrible conditions were meant to assure the continuity of its dictatorship to rape the country at will. However, scholars have to look into low self-esteem as one of the prime suspects and propelling forces for the devastation TPLF committed and must be exhaustively explored from various angles. Manically controlling and dominating everything: the economy, the politics, the state security apparatus, the Federal Police, the Special Forces and the Defense, should be analyzed to prove that TPLF as a group was suffering from inferiority complex and paranoia. Here the idea is not to give excuses for what TPLF has done, but to prove its leaders were never mentally fit to run a nation and that they are a bunch of ruthless, ignoramus and unscrupulous freaks with no moral compass whose only goal was to destroy the country.
Not to mean others were denied the opportunity, even torture was an exclusive domain of TPLF like everything else. The myriad stories of torture that are coming out, and the gruesome ways TPLF carried it out defy imagination. Victims are saying insults hurled at them by their torturers are more lethal, scarring, and more lasting than the physical ones. Ma-ikelawi, Kality, Klinto and the other prisons were hell on earth, to say the least, and TPLF – “Hell’s Gatekeeper”. The scale and frequency of the tortures are indicative that TPLF torturers were not only enjoying their job, but also addicted to it. Now, all that is taken away from them, they must be suffering from withdrawal, just like a drug junky, since they are denied their daily fix holed up in Mekele. Is there any other humanly possible explanation to pulling, and bleeding with a pincer the healing wounds of a young man other than getting a kick out of it? To think that TPLF might also have been using torture as a ritual to initiate new members before inducting them into its most privileged inner circle should not be farfetched. Otherwise, how else can we explain why some TPLF officials were moonlighting as torturers by night? Ethiopia is crying for answers!
Thanks to the heroic sacrifices of Kero, Fano, Zerma, the Ethiopian Muslims Peaceful Movement, the once exiled Ethiopian Orthodox Church, other religious denominations, the unrelenting efforts of Diaspora and big media names such as ESAT and OMN, the online media, bloggers, and the activism in social media in general, the political landscape in Ethiopia is cleared off the bigoted TPLF whose end is in sight. Under the popular Dr. Abiy Ahmed administration, the maniacs of TPLF are being hunted down one at a time. Only when the sword of justice is allowed to fall on the remorseless TPLF aka “Hell’s Gatekeeper” to the full extent of the law, that Ethiopia’s deep wounds would start healing, the rifts closing. Then, we would be able to say those who sacrificed themselves didn’t die in vain. May be after justice is served, Ethiopia’s quest for answers may not linger anymore.