Amhara and Tigray regional states trade accusations over identity question

Amhara Region-  Tigray region
Tigray regional state logo

borkena
October 25,2018

Amhara and Tigray regional states seem to be close to conflict over identity questions in two regions (Wolkait and Raya) that are included to Tigray regional state under the existing federal arrangement.

In a statement issued today, Tigray regional state demands Amhara regional state to apologize for what it says is “meddling in the internal affairs of Tigray regional state” which it sees as violation of the constitution. It came a day after the latter issued a statement calling for Tigray region to adhere to the constitution to resolve the identity questions of people in Alamata (Raya region) and Wolkait region rather than trying to suppress it by force mentioning the killings in Alamata town (and Tigray regional state had admitted that residents are killed but denies that the figure is five.)

Amhara regional state statement also pointed out in its statement yesterday youth from Wolkait were displaced to Gonder claiming that they are being attacked by Tigray security forces after demanding identity questions. It went on to argue that security condition in one region could affect another region.

In fact, Amhara and Tigray regional states do share what ethno-nationalist politicians call “border.” Besides the two regions “within Tigray” that are demanding identity question claiming that they do not want imposed Tigray identity are not in central or north Tigray where Amhara and Tigray regional states do not share “border.”

Wolkait and Raya, where Tigray regional state deployed regional special commandos to stifle the identity question, were never parts of Tigray until Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) took power in Addis Ababa after the collapse of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam’s government in 1991. Wolkait was in Gonder and Raya in Wollo, both ethnic Amhara regions. And the identity questions that have been simmering in these regions, as reported in the past, assert that their identity belongs to Amhara, not Tigray.

Dressing in Raya traditional cloth in a political event in Tigray (the picture is circulating on social media), Debretison Gebremichael, Tigray regional state president, wanted to send a political message Raya is Tigray, as has TPLF claimed for the past 27 years.
In the mean time, Tigray regional state is intensifying repression in Raya. A report by ESAT says security forces arrested at least 200 people in Raya Waja and Raya Qobo, and this is just days after at least five residents of Alamata were killed.

Agizew Hidaru, one of the coordinators of Raya identity question, spoke to VOA Amharic that youth in Raya region are fleeing towns in Raya as attack is being intensified. Alamata looks like deserted and it is only security forces that are roaming in the town.

Asked about what the demands of the youth are, the coordinator said, ” the demand is that we are Raya; not Tigreans. We have been included in Tigray region only in the last 27 years without our consent and we have been struggling against it.”

The situation has caused a concern for the rest of Ethiopians and political parties alike so much so that they are calling for the Federal government to step in to protect civilians.

Blue party, one of the opposition parities in the country, has called for the Ethiopian government today to resolve the identity questions of Wolkaite and Raya urgently.



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