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Victimized in their own Motherland

Admas Seged, PhD

10–10–2016

Prelude


            It was shocking to hear and watch through multiple media outlets Tigreans, in their own country, being harassed, bitten, and killed in cities of the Amhara Regional State of Ethiopia. From their hideouts in Asmara, Eritrea, the Birhanu Nega and Co. group, a declared terrorist organization, called Ginbot-7, built underground network of flash-mob hooligans and unleashed genocidal rampages during the months of July and August 2016 against Tigreans, who lived for generations in their own Motherland, Ethiopia’s Amhara Regional State. For the mere fact that they were Tigreans, hundreds were mobbed and massacred; their properties were ransacked and torched; and more than 8,000 of them, including mothers and their children, were forced to escape to neighboring North Sudan.

            By carrying out these atrocities, Ginbot-7 and its sustainers: Shaébia, Egypt, and some other Arab countries, had wished for tragic civil wars throughout Ethiopia, immersing the country into a quagmire of a failed state, like the tragedies of Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and, subsequently, to grab political power. Thanks to the far sightedness of the Ethiopian people and strength of the Federal security apparatus, the deliberate provocations of the enemies of Ethiopia were crashed. The underground mob network of terror they built was destroyed; most of the terrorists were captured by the Ethiopian security forces; and those hiding in potholes in the Amhara State and those who escaped to their Eritrean hideouts are being pursued still by the security forces of Ethiopia.

Specific Cases worth Exploring Immeasurable Sacrifices

The mob-lynching crimes against Tigreans in their own country must be condemned in strongest terms possible. These historical tragedies will be recorded in history books. They are ultimate betrayals of the Tigreans-patriotic magnanimity. Bearing the burden of leading role responsibilities, the people of Tigrai sacrificed nearly hundred thousand of their young daughters and sons, the Tegadelti heroines and heroes, during the 17-year bitter struggle to free all Ethiopia’s nations, nationalities, and peoples from the savagery of the Derg-military junta. The final victory, of course, was scored in collaboration with other progressive Ethiopian forces, as we all know. Mengstu Haile Mariam’s Marxist-Leninist junta not only massacred about a million Ethiopians, it also destroyed Ethiopia’s social, economic, institutional, legal, and political infrastructures. Ethiopia was absolutely ruined. What did Tigrai get for bearing the heavy burden of responsibilities to reconstruct the Modern Ethiopian State? Give your own verdict relative to what happened to Tigreans in the Amhara State.

Questionable Governance

Where was the Government of the Amhara Regional State, while Gondar, Bahir-Dar, and their environs were burning? This Government was fully aware of the simmering fire of social unrest that was ominously starting to burn in the Metema area, where unruly chauvinist elements threatened the lives of Tigreans and ransacked and destroyed their properties. Was the Amhara Government an accomplice or simply it was an inept human entity or an incapacitated, failed government? Clearly, a governance system in a state of weakness is bound to go down to fragility from where it goes down the drain to the state of absolute failure (e.g., Somalia, S. Sudan, and Yemen). Precautionary measures before weakness sets in are acts of an effective government. The Amhara Government should be given an F (= failed grade) by all measures of good governance.

History Repeated Itself

The current betrayal of the Amhara chauvinist elements is a reminder of the historic betrayal of Menelik II, who sabotaged Yohannes IV’s military strategies to fight foreign invaders. Emperor Yohannes demonstrated his patriotism, leadership skills, and military prowess against all Ethiopia’s enemies of his time. For example, the Ethiopian forces, under the command of the renowned African General, Raési Alula Aba-Nega, routed well-equipped Egyptians, led by European and American mercenaries, in the following battlefields: (i) in 1875 at Gundet; (ii) in 1876 at Guraé; (iii) in 1880 at Senhit; and (iv) in 1887 at Aylet. Again, in that year (1887), just after Aylet), Alula Aba-Nega scored a decisive victory over Italian invaders at Dogali. The Italians called their humiliating defeat at this historic battlefield as “The Dogali Massacre[1].

While Emperor Yohannes was fighting all these wars, however, Menelik was making secret deals with the Italians and other enemies of Ethiopia to either undermine or kill Emperor Yohannes IV. Shortly after the Dogali debacle, the Italians agreed in a secret treaty to supply Menelik with 5,000 Remington rifles and money; and to recognize him as a sovereign power in return for his promise to assist Italy’s colonial expansion. Subsequently, between 1885 and 1895, a total of 189,000 weapons were delivered to Menelik. Emperor Yohannes IV died on Mar. 12, 1889 at Metema, in today’s Amhara Killil, while defending his beloved country against the Mahdists of Mahdi Mohammed Ahmed of Sudan. How and why Emperor Yohannes IV died remains a historic mystery. Who fired the fateful bullet and what part of his body was hit remains a mystery? Many writers believe that Menelik’s agents under the auspices the Italians killed Emperor Yohannes, the King of Kings.  

The degree of betrayal and greed of Menelik for political power at any cost (including the sale and dismemberment of Ethiopia) revealed his idiotic mentality and greed for political power at any cost. As if he was to live for eternity, immediately after the death of Yohannes IV, just in less than two months, on May 2, 1889, Menelik signed the Treaty of Wuchale; claimed the Ethiopian Imperial Throne; and sold Ethiopia’s Red Sea frontier, Bahri-Negash (dismembered the Motherland). Then, the buyers, the Italians, named Bahri Negash Eritrea. This was the greatest betrayal in Ethiopia’s history from which the present chauvinist Amhara and Oromo extremists must learn; and beware of the consequences. Betraying own Motherland for political expediency will backfire at them. Ethiopians have learned more than enough lessons of subjugation and poverty from the evil deeds of Menelik, Haile Selassie, and Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Self-serving chauvinist elements of the Amhara and Oromo ethnicity, who have become messengers of Ethiopia’s enemies, cannot block Ethiopia’s pathways to a complete renaissance under the modern Federal Democratic Republic governance system. This is a unique governance model, which uniquely fits to Ethiopia’s sociocultural, economic, and political fabric. This governance model has started to respond to the preferences, the expectations, and the aspirations of Ethiopians, despite the human-induced governance challenges. Yes, a lot of clean-up (administrative purge) remains to be done to foster good governance.  

Failure to Play a Proactive Governance Role

Tigray’s Regional Government indecisiveness during crises and peaceful times reveals complete lack of possession of the set of skills to govern effectively and efficiently. It was possible to avoid the above tragedies Tigreans had to go through, if this Regional Government had taken actions against the ominous signs emanated from the Amhara Regional State sometime in April and May (2016). During that period, in the Metema area, properties of Tigreans were destroyed and their lives were threatened. The victims pleaded to all administrative and security agencies of the Amhara State for help. Because they were denied justice, they took a long and expensive journey to Addis Ababa to plea for justice. The world heard via Aiga Forum that they were received by the Minister of Federal Affairs, Mr. Kasa Teklebirhan, and other authorities. To the knowledge of many of us, the case of these poor households did not receive a just resolution. Knowing well the difficulties these Tigrean victims were going through, what measure did the Regional Government of Tigrai take? None! Thus, the case what I have called the Metema Fiasco remains in limbo. This means that the Gondar and Bahir-Dar tragedies did not come out of the blue. There were enough ominous signs that required immediate and decisive political actions. It is the indecisiveness of the Regional Government of Tigrai that disheartened Tigreans most. This is a government that violated the social contract it entered to serve citizens to the fullest possible.

Strategic Patience and Perseverance Paid-off

In contrast to the failure of their government to play proactive roles, the people of Tigray’s patience, farsightedness, and perseverance are admirable. They did not rise up in anger instantaneously to retaliate. Their history teaches us all that they know very well when to hit back and when not to do so. The people of Tigrai understood very well that the above highlighted tragedies in the Amhara region were provocations of the extremists who wished for nationwide social upheavals and eventual downfall of the current government. The doomsayers (disaster wishers), who are the narrow minded chauvinist Amhara and Oromo ethnic extremists, failed miserably thanks to the Tigrean culture of bravery and cool headedness.

As they say, taking high moral ground pays-off more than retaliatory immediate reactions. Thus, Tigrean patriotism remains intact; Ethiopia is in peace (business as usual); and the wishes of all Ethiopia’s enemies, such as Ginbot-7, Shaébia, and some of the Arab countries – particularly Egypt’s – were dashed; and their next moves are being monitored closely. The Egyptians are advised to re-read and learn lessons from the humiliating defeats their forefathers were subjected to at the battlefields of: Gundet, Guraé, Senhit, and Aylet in the hands of Raési Alula Aba-Nega (highlighted above).

Historic Solidarity Messages

All Tigreans are grateful to the peoples and governments of Afar, Dredawa, Harrari, and Somali for their generous financial donations in support of the internally displaced Tigreans and for their well-expressed unwavering solidarity with the people of Tigrai.

Peaceful States: Some Indicators of Good Governance

For the civil liberties (social, economic, legal, political, and egalitarian) all Ethiopians are enjoying in their respective administrative territories, expressing appreciation and admiration to the following regional governments and peoples is warranted: Afar, Benishangul/Gumuz, Gambela, Harrari, and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples. There should not be any doubt that through such dedication to mutual respect and cooperation peace and prosperity will reign throughout the Ethiopian landscape.

Compassion and Compatriotism

Last, but not least, the people of Tigrai are grateful to the ordinary Amhara people (the masses) for putting the dead Tigraians to rest; for sheltering those who escaped the mob-lynching in safe places; and for helping those who were able to escape to North Sudan. These acts of compassion and compatriotism will go to history books and be used for reconciliation, harmony, and peaceful coexistence.

Way Forward: a Grassroots Revolution

      Its own frequent statements reveal that the EPRDF remains immersed in a dangerous quagmire of corruption. This governance failure violates all the cardinal rules of an effective political governance system (EPGS). Guiding principles EPGS include the following – among possible others: (i) personal dedication to serve own people with honesty, personal integrity, and professionalism; (ii) deliberative and participatory decision making, involving all stakeholders; (iii) horizontally and vertically integrated, coherent, policies implemented through effective institutional configurations; (iv) devolution of power to local community-based development organizations; (v) gender equity in sharing decision-making power; (vi) effectiveness and efficiency in allocating scarce resources; (vii) strategic vision for the long-run socioeconomic and political outlook; (viii) accountability (ability to demonstrate and explain one’s actions); (ix) transparency (free flow of information) in all operational and managerial activities; (x) responsiveness to society’s preferences, aspirations, and expectations; (xi) equity in rights, obligations, benefits, and costs; and (xii) primacy of the rule-of-law. These, and others one might suggest, are cardinal rules. Collectively, they form a sacrosanct code of an EPGS.

Is the EPRDF Government ready to implement these and their supplementing rules? By coincidence, while I was closing this piece, the Government declared national state of emergency (NSE) throughout Ethiopia for a 6-month period. This is a serious declaration in EPRDF’s history. After hearing on EBC (Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation) PM Hailemariam Desalegn declaring the NSE, yes is my answer to the question, because, in my view, the following and much more conditions for an EPGS can be met under an NSE: (i) the Declaration empowers the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to take sweeping authoritative measures to ensure EPGS; (ii) certain public and private organizations will be off-limit (no entry); (iii) meetings, gatherings, and rallies will be banned; (iv) political purge is inevitable; (v) security agencies will not need the conventional authorization from a judge to search individuals and homes; (vi) the Cabinet is authorized to draft a decree, which goes to the Parliament immediately after the approval of the President, for Yes or No vote to be implemented within a short-time, depending on the cases expediency; and (vii) the Constitutional Court will be stripped its main functional powers for the period of the NSE. One only hopes for the success of the NSE in forging pathways to true grassroots revolution and thereby to genuine sustainable development.

Long Live Democratically United, Prosperous, and Peaceful Ethiopia!

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