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What are our concerns as Tigreans?

Ethioobserver staff Tesfamariam Hishe


The features of democracy are freedom, dissent, tolerance, justice, due process, and fairness. These features are both moral/ethical and political. In moral/ethical terms, they function as lodestars of action. The citizens in a democratic society are seen as the ultimate source of political authority. Members of the government, by contrast, are seen as servants of the people, and are selected and elected to serve the people’s interests. Democratic systems developed to protect and enhance the freedom of the people. However, for the system to function properly, citizens must engage freely. I could go on narrating the virtues of democracy but the focus of my article is on Tigrai, in particular Enderta region, where things stand upside down and persistently people deprived to elect their representatives. TPLF made free speech and free association illegal so as to eliminate all opposition to its rule, and values that foster freedom of expression and association.

May I remind my esteemed readers in the words of a man who survived Nazi prison camps and atrocities as follows?: “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist; then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist; then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist; then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew; then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.”  The person I quoted in this  article was Martin Niemöller, a victim of Nazi Germany.

The political environment created so far has contributed to all forms of dissentions and contradictions among the populace, thus the Government itself is fully responsible for the creation of the chaotic political processes prevailing now in Ethiopia in general and Tigrai in particular. Arrest, intimidation, illegal detention, false accusation and killings were/are not the answers for the crises in Tigrai or elsewhere in Ethiopia, as these were/are the facts on the ground. However, even those living abroad do not dare to say or utter a word for the respect of the constitutional rights of our citizens. If you deviate in any account against the policies taken by the leadership, filled with holier-than-thou mentality, then the so-called supporters or members disingenuously attack or tarnish your name just for standing firm and advocating the democratic and constitutional rights of the people. We know this tactic has been on the play since many years and this act cannot continue as we have a generation of youth enlightened to take these issues to the highest level possible.

The population of Tigrai and Ethiopia is composed of 70% under the age of 30. What the old guards do not understand is that, a remedy for social and political movements done some decades ago are not automatically applicable at this age of social media information and technology. The stagnant and dormant mind unable to catch up with the current situation has to leave way for a new and dynamic leadership, capable of implementing an all round changes for the benefit of all. Cosmetic changes of renewal, deep renewal, total appraisal and compensation by the same TPLF group members and cadres is not serious and just a recipe for buying time. It is non-inclusive and non-participatory alienating the people whose prime question is democracy, rule of law and engagement in the social, economic and political spheres of the region. If you attempt to ask or organize yourself, then the old guard incarcerates and tortures you or else threatens and harasses you by using derogatory and abusive words such as “banda”, “mercenary”, “anti-people”, “weed”, “thorn”, whatever comes to their mouth.

Desperate power mongers with unbridled tongues with secretive links are not amenable to any changes due to their lack of democratic traditions and culture. Case in point was the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia and the ruling by the Commission. Wasn’t it the Ethiopian foreign minister who stated that we won the war and the ruling and urged the people to celebrate, while others immediately found out that this person should be impeached due to his utter deceit. Is it not enough to say no more to deceit, to unaccountable, to nontransparent and undemocratic organization? People seem to be focused on fear that will result in a vacuum of leadership.

“The only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” (FDR's First Inaugural). Our concern should not be driven by imagined fear but by deep respect for the rule of law by those in power and implement the Constitution of the country without any delay..  Yes, we stand for the interest of our people, recognize the arduous path they passed through to liberate us from the worst military regime and the atrocious dislocation, dismemberment, murder and confiscation of their hard-won properties in various parts of Ethiopia recently. But this does not mean we as people have to keep quiet when the same policy of oppression is going on by the same people who are at the helm. Wasn’t be enough when our investors and intellectuals were chased out from Tigrai because of the heavy taxes levied on them or intimidation and harassment? Weren’t this leadership and its collaborators who used to send back millions of Federal money ( the best among the schools) because it could not use them properly but at the same time begging the people to build schools (through TDA) and contribute to the regions coffers? At the same time you have a city with a half a million people without the most fundamental of all, that is water but lying to the world that they have covered 90% of water coverage.

Nothing would surprise us any more if other scandals may come in the future. The internal political infighting within the old or call it new EPRDF structure is, I see it of two thieves quarrelling of who gains more and this should hinder us we as Tegarus to demand for the best interest of our people. If Ethiopia exists or not because of the numerous problems, what matters for us is that we have a solid base of a democratic system with choices to be made among competitive parties. No one has given TPLF a monopoly to represent every Tigrawai for years and decades. Even in politics, there are time-tested norms and values that are immutable and cannot be changed or overlooked at the whims and esoteric sentiments of some leaders. We all must adhere to ascertain the standard that must exist by which we can formulate our laws and follow the objectives. What has developed during and under Sebhat Nega’s and co-gangs  dirty politics is a dynasty of Kushet, a very dangerous and divisive measures leading to corruption, alienation, displacement and suspicion among our people. Do you now remember the people, who advocate the dislocation of Enderta people were labeled as localists? If there is anyone who can be defined as localist more than any pone is Sebhat Nega himself. Who does forget his first question in hiring people if they are from that locality or attended the same school or the staffing of all major functions in the country or Tigrai from village to regional level? There is a Tigrigna saying; naybaelas lhamta (Accusing mother in-law instead of her fault).

The peaceful and hard-working people of Enderta are victimized by illegal and drastic demographic massive displacements wherein they are removed by force from their ancestral homes and farmland to be replaced by individuals from other parts of Tigrai often individuals who have some form of blood connections with Sebhat Nega and members of his support-group.

In one of his rantings and foul remarks, Sebhat Nega said, “we will remove those poor Enderta people from their precious land and gentrify with our clans in Didigta, Egrihareba, Quiha.” Most Tigreans who heard such outrageous and insulting remarks from an octogenarian were appalled and devastated especially the people from Enderta and in particular the young from the Enderta area were totally incensed and rightfully angry that Sebhat and the TPLF leadership betrayed the trust of the people to live in their ancestral land. They have incessantly appealed for justice but have fallen  on deaf ears. This is exactly what happened on the Addis Ababa master plan, when thousands of Oromos were to be evicted with petty cash as compensation. And we know what happened as result of this disastrous and unwise political decision.

In the case of Enderta, there were no public debates or serious professional studies made to justify such drastic demographic movements and nationalization of land. The Tigrai Kilil administration has not issued any legal instruments or court orders to remove people from their land. What we witness before our own eyes is a drastic breach of the rule of law in a community that had followed respectfully law and order. This form of lawlessness by any political leader and their supporters will lead to disorder and rebellion. Ones such civil disorder unfolds due to the removal and replacements of people illegally, it is impossible to contain or control such upheavals by any form of force. Take for the example the Maida debri and Serwat confiscation of land, spearheaded by Addis Alem Balema, which used to feed the city of Mekelle with its enormous surplus of grains and other agricultural products, are now a desolate building structure, while the peasant owners are wallowing now in the city of Mekelle losing all their cattle and money an ending up as beggars.

I must emphasize that that Sebhat and his associates should realize that they couldn’t contribute anything through this form of demographic displacement, but would cause enormous problems, major disruptions of social life, and more suffering of our innocent people. Above all his name after passing away, which we do all, will be remembered as the most evil person who organized the impoverishment of the people and land. There was no iota of evidence to justify the removal of people from their homes and land and their replacement by corrupted groups from elsewhere. Such efforts also violate the 1995 Ethiopian Constitution, International law and norms, and also violates basic Biblical and Quoranic fundamental values.  The bribery and corruption as part of family members or connections, both to moral and factual behaviors have eaten deep into the whole fabric of our society and these must be stopped if we are to have future confidence among Teagrus..

People have now to act and say stop to the madness of dislocating of our people by giving away to selected members of those who are near the ruling class and their accomplices. Tigrai needs a well-educated, tolerant society with professionals that are not corrupt and have the ability to work with the people, solve problems of social, economic and political nature, show their full engagement, give the due process of law, apply all the democratic values, fight corruption at all stages and modernize all administrative organs. At the same time the old guard is a hinder to development as its interference in everyday life is an obstacle to the vibrant and hardworking youth.  They have to know that their time has come to an end and no one should listen to their diatribe. I also want to say that the courageous Nebyou Suhul Michael and his colleagues should be released and get treatments for their injuries; otherwise there can be consequences for ignoring people’s voice.

 

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