Ethiopia: The imperative for Ethiopians dealing with Eritrea
By Neamin Zeleke
There is a fundamental change in our thinking process. There is a shift of attitude among Ethiopians. A positive and essential change. Fuzziness of thought is giving way to clear thinking. A state of being in a limbo and inaction are succumbing to decision and a resolve for action. Vacillation and lack of confidence are clearing way to faith in oneself and confidence in the ability to change an utterly unacceptable life under an ethnocentric and brutal dictatorship. Confidence and faith that no one else but only Ethiopians can liberate our country from the fascistic and ethnocentric dictatorship of the minority Tigrean elite. Confidence that we are able and willing to do it by forging alliances with who ever accepts our need and willing to work with us towards our national salvation. Ethiopia’s national salvation could only be a reality if Ethiopian patriotic and democratic forces have a base, and outside support to wage their multi-pronged struggle. The requisite is for a sovereign country to become a trusted ally of Ethiopian opposition forces and provide them all around support.
Such is the defining moment in the making indeed. A surge of a critical mass of Ethiopians who are yearning for freedom and wiling to do whatever it takes. Ethiopians are saying “give me death or give me liberty.” No more tribal dictatorship! The people of Ethiopia are coming to the final and unequivocal resolve. Our people are saying we must, once and for all, take the destiny of this generation and that of Ethiopia’s posterity into our hands. A paradigm shift is taking place, a shift towards the view that in order to liberate Ethiopia from the anti-Ethiopia ruling Tigrayan mafia, Ethiopians need to make a strategic alliance with the State of Eritrea. The Rubicon has been crossed.
Ethiopians abroad and at home recognize that the quest for peaceful struggle is hopelessly dwindling. Whatever little political space there was for peaceful forms of struggle in the country have been blocked by the TPLF regime to essentially cripple Ethiopian opposition groups from gaining any meaningful support from the Ethiopian people. The regime has devised numerous machinations to prevent a repeat of the 2005 phenomena from unfolding again.
Serfdom or Liberty
Tigrayan minority dictatorship has made it clear time and again that it will never heed the call and the demand for our freedom, the quest for real and genuine multi-party democracy, and the thirst for justice and yearning for the rule of law by the people of Ethiopia. It would not listen to our demand for equality and doing away with the domination of a single and minority ethnic elite in all spheres and aspects of the Ethiopian state, economy, military, etc. Meles Zenawi’s Gestapo known as Agazi, Federal Police and the other death squads of the ruling Tigrean mafia committed all that carnage against our people during the 2005 election. Millions endured humiliation and tens of thousands were crushed by the brutality unleashed against them. The old and young, women and children alike were rounded up by the tens of thousands to be taken to the concentration camps in Dedesa, Birr Shelko, and Ziway. Savage and sub-human treatment were meted out against unarmed, peaceful protesters and those who watched on the sidelines. The entire massacre in the hundreds, the inhuman torture and imprisonment of tens of thousands of Ethiopians by the TPLF regime was with one and sole objective of ensuring the continuation of its illegitimate rule.
As well known at various times during its tenure, the TPLF has unleashed its atrocities against the Amhara; it has committed atrocities against the Oromo people. It has committed genocide against our people in the Ogden region, and crimes against humanity against our people in Gamebela. Thousands of people from southern parts of Ethiopia were killed at various times due to the TPLF’s deliberate fanning of ethnic differences to divide and rule. In the name of constitution and “constitutional order” it has instituted a political system where there is a rule of the “jungle”, as Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam once dubbed the reality in Ethiopia, in contradistinction to the rule of law. Each and every article of the so-called constitution has been violated by the regime itself. Essentially a constitution is a social contact between the governed and the governors. And that social contract has been breached time and again none other than by its own author, the TPLF. To begin with, the so-called constitution was designed in such a way that a single and minority ethnic elite under the leadership of the TPLF and a group of satellite organizations and feeble individuals from other ethnic groups would be able to control every aspect of life. Much that has been made public in words and writings vividly and in no uncertain terms prove the unprecedented and hitherto unseen drive of minority Tigrean elite for domination of Ethiopia and the concomitant relegation of all other ethnic groups to a second class citizen status. Any threat to such domination by minority ethnic elite under the TPLF leadership is labeled a crime against the “constitutional order” and the “constitution”.
In a nut shell, this brutal dictatorship has strangled the Ethiopian people for the past eighteen years and bleeding us dry. It is this reality which proves time and again that such an evil force will not relinquish power unless forced to do so by a force through a determined, steadfast, and bitter struggle waged on all fronts by our people using all the available and necessary means.
The people of Ethiopia from all ethnic groups have crossed the threshold where any human being can carry abuse, total humiliation, deprivation, and being reduced to sub-human beings, second class citizens a la apartheid South Africa. There is now fundamental recognition that is permeating across a broad spectrum of Ethiopians that the source of all ills, all malaise, and our national agony is none other than the TPLF mafia holding the levers of state power. And that dictators rarely give up state power unless forced through a bitter struggle.
Freedom can not be realized without a sacrifice that is needed from each every one of us. Liberty can never materialize without fighting for it. And dictators will not give up unless we fight for our rights. And as Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, aptly observed two centuries ago, the tree of liberty has to be watered with the blood of tyrants in order for it to blossom. Today, the Ethiopian people are not only demanding for their liberty but willing to fight and make all kinds of sacrifice for it. We are at cross roads; we either choose freedom or accept and leave in serfdom.
No Permanent Enemy
If Ethiopians are serious about our freedom, rule of law, genuine democracy; if we care for our liberty from tyranny, we must think of outside “the box”. We must think on our own terms and stand on our grounds regardless of what our arch enemies define as to who Ethiopia’s enemies are and who is not. The TPLF regime, Ethiopia’s arch nemesis and internal cancer that is eating away our national fabric, must not be allowed to dictate and set the agenda as regard to who is for Ethiopia and who is against Ethiopia, as it has no moral grounds whatsoever, nor historical track record to tell us so. If allying with Eritrea is found useful, rational, necessary and sustainable — after examining all the hard facts and looking at all the strategic advantages and disadvantages of doing so — then it should be done on these criteria alone. Least of all, not because the Tigrayan dictatorship and its mouthpieces abroad dictate to us and attempt to bombard us shamelessly as to who should be our allay and who should not. There is no doubt in the mind of any sane Ethiopian that Ethiopia’s national interest has never been one and the same with that of the TPLF’s interest and agenda. It never was and nor will it ever be.
It is then imperative for Ethiopians to deal with Eritrea towards strategic steps, in the long term interest of the two peoples. Understandably, for many of our fellow Ethiopians this may leave a bitter taste. But we can not continue to live and relive in the past. We have to move forward and look towards the future, although no single soul would dare question the fact that Ethiopia and the people of Ethiopia lost much when Eritrea became an independent state. So did the people of Eritrea. They too lost. That is then, but we are here now. For the sake of both Ethiopians and Eritreans, we should be able to put all agendas on the table. The loses, in all their manifestations that attended the separation of the two countries, could be worked out for a mutually advantageous gain for the two countries and their peoples’ future peace and development, be it economic, security, and maritime matters central to both countries — an issue extensively addressed by the President of Eritrea during his recent interview. We Ethiopians should be bold enough to start honest dialogue along this line.
Lord Palmerson, the often quoted British statesman, aptly said that nations do not have permanent friends or enemies, but permanent interests. The central question then becomes, if Woyane allied itself with EPLF to promote its strategic interest, why can’t the current Ethiopian opposition do the same? The President of Eritrea asked the same question in his recent interview with Elias Kifle and Sileshi Tilahun. But the differences between what the TPLF stood for then and what the Ethiopain patriotic and democratic forces stand for now is like that of light and darkness. Moreover, the President of Eritrea has made it public that his country has no intention of working against Ethiopia’s unity. What we expect is for him to live up to his public pronouncements.
Hence, the people of Ethiopia have to see the incontrovertible reality eye to eye. We have to come to terms with the unfolding reality. The cruel reality, the undeniable fact, the incontestable truth that has come out loud and clear. Ethiopia’s current agony and the excruciating pain our people have been forced to endure each and every day have their immediate, clear and present causes not with Eritrea, but the TPLF-led minority regime that claims to represent less the 6% of the population strangulating and suffocating a nation and 80 million Ethiopians.