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What is the basis of “peace and reconciliation” for Tigray and Amhara regions?

Is Tigray sensible?

Wolkait - Ethiopia
Abebe Geremew

November 18,2017

For peace and reconciliation to have a meaning and take roots,the very issue that necessitated it has to be resolved to the satisfaction of the party that is wronged. Doing so needs to take into account the principle of justice. It is extremely hard ,if not impossible, for “peace and reconciliation” to happen while condemning people to live with injustice.

As we speak, the regime orchestrated Amara- Tigray peace and reconciliation conference in Gonder, a region that has suffered a lot as a result of TPLF belligerence with noticeable support from people in Tigray. Question is, is it wise for the leadership in Tigray to initiate while identity,political and economic issues for which hundreds and thousands of people from Gonder and other areas in the region paid for in life, among other forms including economic, are not addressed? Perhaps the question explains why there is a resentment towards the insincere and nominal “peace and reconciliation” effort.

The manner in which it is done rather suggests unquenchable thirst for gains in propaganda on the part of Tigray than restoring things to normalcy by getting to the root causes of the conflict. TPLF had to use party members,members of military and supporters to make it appear like residents from both regions took the initiative to organize the conference but everyone knows that is not the case. Besides,eyewitness accounts from Gonder say that “elders and religious fathers” from Tigray were escorted by security personnel on grounds of security concern.

Worse, while it is the greed,belligerence and expansionist policy of TPLF leaders, in fact with support from people Tigray, which led to the incorporation of Wolkait to Tigray that caused the conflict, TPLF elites, both in Tigray and in the federal government in Addis Ababa, propagate that the conflict between people in the two region is caused by “chauvinists and anti-peace forces.” Of course, it has to be remembered that the harbingers of ethnic politics in Ethiopia are TPLF and Wolkait had simply regional identity as part of Gonder for many many centuries until TPLF imposed Tigray identity on it.

The people of wolkait elected representative to assert their identity and to resist imposition of Tigray identity on them but the regime killed some of them. Some are in jail. The whereabouts of others are not known.

In the mean time, TPLF changed demographic composition in Wolqaite through massive settlement of people from Tigray region. It is also a fact that Amhara people from wolqaite are dispossessed their land holdings while TPLF settlers were given land. Residents of the region knows this fact. One of the representatives of Wolkait question, colonel Demeke Zewdu, is a living witness and he called Tigray repression in Wolkait an “apartheid.” When a protest broke out last year to protest the situation, TPLF, using Hailemariam Desalegne, militarized the region and hundreds of civilians were killed with snipers. The young man in the picture was a tour guide in Bahir Dar but participated in a peaceful protest in Bahir Dar last year holding a placard that says “I will never forget wolkait” and he was killed!

TPLF enmity goes far deeper. It is now public that the TPLF manifesto released at the time of its formation is 1977 stipulates that Amhara is the enemy of Tigray. Of course, the manifesto was propagated in Tigray to inculcate people with hate towards Amhara.

Wolkait is still forcefully part of Tigray. No security officer appeared before law to be held accountable for all the killings. Representatives of Wolkaite identity question still languish in prison.

That explains why residents in Gonder and beyond resented TPLF’s nominal orchestration of “peace and reconciliation.” The real issue is not addressed. And there is no way for the conference to be a success for that reason.

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