By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory
Ethiopia’s dangerously-evolving situation
The reality obtaining in Ethiopia right at this moment is that no individual, whether a parent, neighbour, a brother, or cousin, or unrelated citizen would be indifferent or unaffected by stories of security forces entering universities, dormitories too, at any time — as is repeatedly happening these days in the two largest regions of the country in terms of size and populations — eventually beating and killing students.
This is not a fiction. It has been happening in Ethiopian universities, mostly in Amhara and Oromia Regions.
To make it worse, harmless Oromo civilians numbering 16 in Eastern Hararghe in the town of Chelenko were massacred by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s (TPLF) Agazi and Somali Region’s notorious Liyu Police on December 12, 2017, mostly women and children.
The justification for this massacre of unarmed civilians could be interpreted as yet another height of the TPLF regime’s political arrogance of it can do anything it wants — confirming the absence of rule of law and official accountability in the country. Otherwise, why should government soldiers kill people because they protested the Liyu Police’s shooting of an innocent individual by the name Ahimaddinn Ahimad Asaasaa; he died on the way to the hospital, according to the news report.
Putting it briefly, Ethiopians have lacked an alternative way of handling this problem. And it has been a long while since citizens have had enough of the injustice being perpetrated throughout the country. This has forced them to decide to climb onto the present dangerous paths. Because of the repression they are being subjected even in this situation to the ensuing confrontations wit the security forces. Even in being killed, they are made to feel helpless and at fault. This sense of citizens’s despondency is forcing into question the nation’s continued existence.
People have tried quietly for a quarter century all the possibilities with the traditional Ethiopian restraint and humility and in the interest of togetherness of citizens. And yet nothing seems to work!
Therefore, the choice the TPLF greed and tunnel mentality has put before the Ethiopian people is either the path of its unquestioned dominion, i.e., the subjugation of all others and robbery by the Front’s mafiosi and their continued suffering in prisons and the tortures in there, among others, a place where prisoners’ nails of the hands and feet are pulled out by Tigrinya-speaking torturers, or being shot by the many TPLF security — in sum — extermination.
In Woldiya, when the TPLF soccer team was chasing their counterparts, team supporters and the town’s residents, non-Tigreans were under the gaze of the Agazi ready to shoot in the event the attackers — the First Sons and Daughters — needed official support and defence. This dishonour in a nation of inequalities has continued in universities across the country, including in Adidgrat, Axum, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Shambu, Ambo, Jimma, etc.
Whose nation is it?
In the circumstances, while the TPLF continues its political deceits and reform acrobatics, in a little over two years now all those that have refused to yield to the humiliation by honorless torturers have continued with their solemn decision and choice harkening back to the glory of “liberty or death!” Hence this has given rise to the ongoing Ethiopian struggle against the TPLF disease called ‘ethnicities’, with the motto “No to slavery!”, “No to the TPLF brigands!” and “No to Tigrean First Sons and Daughters!” and loyalty to the indivisibility of the Ethiopian state and people!
Let me remind readers a Tom Malinowski quote from December 17/2016 on the Voice of America (VOA).
On completing his visit to Ethiopia and as part of the outgoing US Administration, the US Assistant Secretary of State aptly told his interviewer in December 2016 likening the Ethiopian situation and the dilemma it is facing “to a boiling pot”.
If Mr. Malinowski were to witness the current killings by the security forces in university campuses and dormitories, as well as the lynching of non-Tigrayans by Tigrean students and Adigrat and Axum residents, the rising anger across the nation like a mighty tempest, people not being afraid any longer even of live bullets as they strive to defend with rage what is their own, most of all their human dignity, he would have compared Ethiopia’s present turmoil to hell like none other, instead of “a boiling pot.”
With all sincerity, I entreat all non-Ethiopian readers to blame the TPLF — not the long-suffering Ethiopian people, who have found themselves overworked.
What is the essence of sharing citizenship, when the army, police and intelligence operatives and even the TPLF-run national media line up to protect the First Sons and Daughters, while beating and shooting the others and scoffing at the dead bodies of other Ethiopians?
In a sort of prophetic tone, Mr. Malinowski predicted his sense of the evolving Ethiopian situation as follows:
“[W]e are very deeply concerned that the current crisis may inhibit Ethiopia’s ability to reach those goals and because we know, we know Ethiopian history. We know what a true crisis in this country would look like and how much harm it could potentially do, not just to the people of this country, but to the region.”
Ethiopia & Ethiopians beyond protests
Ethiopia, presumed to be one of the few stable African states has now started showing to the world how much ethnic strife has torn its underbelly. To date, the beating has been quietly absorbed because of its long history of statehood and systematic and openly violent muzzling by the TPLF.
Those that have assumed the levers of power could not appreciate there is a limit to how much the nation’s suspension could stand the stress of ethnic discrimination against the majority and ethnic privilege for about five percent of the country — Tigreans. Through political deceit and force, they have seized the ballot box, parliamentary seats, leadership of the nation’s two main religions, its diplomacy, intelligence and defence apparatus and unearned control of the economy.
In the latter case, all that TPLF happens claims to own because it had it used to own in London some assets is largely a fiction, all hodgepodge. It is Sara Vaughan became, who became the hired hand to write their made for affect in her Rethinking business and politics in Ethiopia: The role of EFFORT, the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray in August 2011, with editorial freedom totally surrendered to Abadi Zemo and Getaneh Kassa of EFFORT, especially as she put it in her Note on the research!
What could these people write or edit from within the Ethiopian embassy in London about the Front’s ill-gained wealth by the former guerrilla fighters that entered Addis Abeba each with the shirt on their backs? It is partly this ethnically (in name) owned money that has been the behind TPLF’s drive to hang onto power until it is dead dry, despite such strong public hatred and rejection of them!
Ethnic conflict in the Ethiopia the TPLF has taken the liberty to remodel, against the will and interests of the people to suit its long-term needs for power, has become our country’s reality since 1991. At the moment, despite this has taken turns to the worst. Deluded by TPLF’s empty promises of democracy and freedom, Ethiopians are now divided and yet are tired of becoming helpless preys to the Front’s mafiosi.
That is the Amharas and Oromos strength in their present struggle, which has become TPLF’s headache.
Citizens know for sure one thing: they have been deluded in all sorts of way:s for this long, their lives, homes, lands and businesses. With the people’s resources, the TPLF mafia heads have prospered, while most Ethiopians have become poorer, no different from sharecroppers to the TPLF — especially along ethnic basis.
This system the TPLF introduced has come to be known as ethnic federalism. It’s anathema for most African countries since independence. They have been prohibiting registration of political parties whose organising idea is either ethnicity or religion.
Growing up in Ethiopia, I recall being taught at home it was rude or improper to ask a person his/her ethnic origin. Today, citizens are required by law to put it on identity card. Dictator Meles Zenawi sought it to control the people. Educated Ethiopians hate and oppose the regime, many have chosen to leave the country.
Of course, since it is the work of the unthinking TPLF, which is focussed on controlling citizens, in Somali Region ethnicity on a card recently became death trap for Oromos, when the mentally-unstable and notorious killer chief of the regional state ordered expulsion of Oromos.
The Liyu Police asked for the identity cards of the expellee and on seeing the Oromo identity, some are attacked or shot at, because of which many people suffered injuries, while a significant number had died.
Now the Oromia Region is becoming the standard-bearer, after denouncing the policy and official mentioning of ethnic identity on a citizen’s identity card.
One thing uniquely devious about the TPLF is its daring to go against the will of the people and experimenting on frowned upon ideas and getting citizens to reject them. When this happens, in a country where choice in the TPLF world is unthinkable and a sin. This has constantly resulted in people getting imprisoned for years or losing their jobs or lives.
Which country in its right mind would ignore the persistent demands of its university students throughout the country and instead resorts to the use of live bullets against future educated manpower and inheritors of their nation. None, save the TPLF or President Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, whom the United Nations has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate for crimes against humanity.
Latest news from around the Ethiopian universities by mid-December show that several students in Amhara and Oromia Regions have continued their protests. Efforts to return them to class has failed, because of the huge trust gap between the TPLF regime and citizens — students and partents.
At the same time, the students refusal is a result of networks. For instance, ethnic discrimination and violent killings and beatings based on ethnicity especially against Amharas and Oromos by Tigreans, including by residents of Adigrat and Axum, have forced standing in solidarity by other university students, which are demanding the TPLF to pack up and go.
No doubt the TPLF has overstayed. Like any African ex-‘liberation front’, the Front bosses have been used to the comforts of power and newly-gained wealth, most of it stolen from the nation’s coiffeurs and some of it ill-gained through theft of the people’s lands and businesses. Therefore, they are determined to kill as many people as possible.
By so doing the TPLF leaders hope to regain lost authority. I can’t say legitimacy, and even the discussion cannot arise — since the TPLF has never had an iota of it n its sojourn in power shy of its 27th-year.
This brave Ethiopia would not retreat
With the many sacrifices especially Ethiopian youth and farmers have paid, there is twinkle of hope on the Ethiopian firmaments.
Ethiopia has changed. So far, students, farmers and workers have shown solidarity, including some from the army and intelligence who share the secrets of the state badly wanting it gone.
In areas like Ambo, we recently witnessed some in the regional police protecting the students against the killer Agazi; at one point there was social media report fire was exchanged between the two early this week. Ambo being the heart of the Oromo protests of 2014-2016, the situation remains tense.
By the last count early this week, the total number of universities where education has stopped and students are protesting has reached 17, which represents about 60 percent of the nation’s universities.
By all indications, the manner the TPLF is regurgitating its usual senseless reform fictions nobody buys anymore time. TPLF’s new boss Debretsion Gebremichael approached the nation today December 16, 2017 with a new sales pitch: Tigreans in anyway benefiting or exploiting TPLF’s name would be prosecuted “በህወሓት እና በትግራይ ህዝብ ስም የሚቆምሩ እና በጥፋታቸው ልክም በህግ ያልተቀጡ ግለሰቦች መኖራቸው የችግሩ ሌላ ምንጭ ነው”
I could not resist the temptation of reacting on twitter to the above-badly designed part propaganda and part a strategy, as follows:
The point he misses here is that the longer time is wasted with the regime counting its bullets, its lack of seriousness in the face of citizens’ determination to see the regime’s back, there is the danger of this volatile and violent situation moving out of hand and the consequential bloodletting.
Of all statements to date by the United States Government, its December 13 pronouncement is simple but effective — assuming that it is prepared to pursue realisation of such measures to stop Ethiopia from lurching down the precipice. If not, in addition to fighting terrorism in Somalia, it has to work to stabilise the collapsing dominoes in the Horn of Africa, as far as Kenya and Uganda and even further down.
Oromia Region seems to lead the nation in a better direction. Regarding the Chelenko massacre, the Oromia leadershiphas put the blame for the deaths of 15 citizens, murdered by Agazi and Liyu Police, on the prime minister in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Today, the TPLF regime has reacted by expressing readinessto investigate how those people were killed and to hold those responsible.
In all this, my fear is the possibility the may try to subvert the investigation, while the giving the appearance of acting. I say this because there is the expectation that the United States may choose to act to save Ethiopia from disintegration. Incidentally, the US request and Oromia leadership’s demand are one and the same.
Conclusion: New TPLF boss in search of enemies
Still troubling development is Debretsion’s search for newer enemies. Anyone who has read fully the Fana interview Debretsion Gebremichael, the new TPLF Chairman, is wagging his trigger-happy finger against all citizens.
With TPLF being known bloodthirsty, perhaps he may prove true to his June 2016 Facebook warning about being ready to destroy the whole of Africa, much less 30mil Amharas, as can be seen hereunder:
Who does he have in mind as his target? God save Ethiopia, he really looks ready to shed bloods of citizens! I hope I am wrong, I fear, but in its folly, TPLF still thinks it can get away with its shenanigans of reforms and more use of state violence!
Days since he has assumed TPLF’s leadership, Debretsion has been only threats and finger wagging, instead of political solutions to problems his party has authored in this past quarter century!