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Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s Organized Plunder Funds Ethiopia’s Destabilization

Corruption _ Ethiopia

Aklog Birara
July 16, 2020

I have always thought that a poor, aid dependent and least developed nation such as Ethiopia cannot eradicate poverty without good and accountable governance. A lead component of good governance is the elimination of graft, corruption and illicit outflow of funds. It is inevitable that poor and repressive governance leads to corruption and squanders investment resources. Corruption breeds insecurity, instability and inequality.

For almost three decades, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRD) regime inflicted huge pain and suffering on Ethiopian citizens, fused party, state and government into one and plundered the Ethiopian economy. 

I should like to underscore one fundamental principle that guides this commentary: Where there is state capture by ethnic elites and their allies, corruption is pervasive and debilitating.  Where there is no accountability in governance to mitigate excess theft, graft, commission and corruption, illicit outflow of capital is inevitable. 

Why is fighting corruption important? Corruption is theft and diversion of resources from public hands to private and group hands. Corruption undermines social justice, creates insecurity and deepens instability. It erodes public trust in public officials and in institutions. It diverts capital and diminishes investments that serve the common good. It enriches a few people who are connected to political power. It creates a toxic environment among citizens and engenders income inequality. It contributes to instability. It forces citizens to migrate in search of opportunities. This is why social scientists agree that “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The TPLF will long be remembered as an ethnic political party that captured the entire state and government; stole tens of billions of dollars from the Ethiopian poor; and siphoned off these billions and hid them in foreign banks, invested them in firms and institutions under extended family, unknown and non-traceable names. Hundreds of millions of dollars in investments have been made in real estate in the United States and companies in Hong Kong and Gulf nations. 

The purpose of this commentary is to argue that tens of billions of dollars stolen by the TPLF from the Ethiopian poor over three decades of crushing and inhumane governance have been taken out of Ethiopia. The billions of dollars in precious assets that would have financed the equivalent of at least 10 Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dams were snatched away from the Ethiopian poor and hidden in numerous nations across the globe. 

In order to steal, you organize, plan and execute systematically so that you are not traced. Corruption requires systematic planning and organization. State theft, graft, corruption and illicit outflow of funds perpetrated by the TPLF and its vast network of beneficiaries were planned and implemented carefully and systematically keeping into account future unexpected developments and scenarios, including change in government. This is among the lead reasons why Ethiopian embassies and consulates were staffed by TPLF trusted cadres and beneficiaries. Do not forget that Ethiopian embassies were dominated by Tigreans and supporters and inaccessible to the rest of Ethiopians. Embassies did not serve Ethiopia; but the TPLF and its cronies. 

The weaponization of money

Today, many Ethiopians witnessing pain and agony within the country ask me if it would be prudent to change the Birr in order to deny the TPLF and its allies a vital tool in inflicting pain and destruction. Ethiopia is awash with huge quantities of Birr that are literally weaponized by those who possess and deploy it to propagate and to finance hate, killings and destruction across Ethiopia, most notably in Oromia. 

Why Changing the Birr Might not be Effective. 

Ethiopia is going through one of the most trying times in its long and distinguished history. As of July 13, 2020, the exact number of innocent civilians, including children murdered, hacked, stoned or clubbed to death following the deliberate premeditated assassination of the young Ethiopian artist Hachalu Hundesa is sill unknown. It is in the hundreds. Most were pre-identified and massacred on the basis of their ethnic and religious affiliation. Hachalu was an Oromo national who believed in his Ethiopian identity. He belonged to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faith. More important, he was a remarkable artist and a promising bridge in an ethnically polarized society. Such targeted killings of pro-Ethiopians are normalized in Ethiopia. 

Continue reading the article in PDF format HERE

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  1. TPLF elites were not only who stole billions of public money, but also the entire EPRDF officials including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) who were part of organised thieves that squandered billions of public fund to enrich themselves, their family, friends and associates.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was a member of ODP since 1991. His party was within the coalition of EPRDF and Abiy was a minister during Hailemariam Desalegn goverment.

    Therefore, Dr Aklog Birara article is half baked and one sided whilst the current PP officials were part of the corrupt ruling EPRDF. Abiy and PP elites are corrupt as TPLF and EPRDF elites.

    What is the motive for Transparency International to criticise one party but not the rest?

  2. It’s not a thesis, it is an established fact that TPLF plundered Ethiopia and repressed Ethiopians. No one knows more about TPLF and corruption than some of us whose families paid the ultimate price under the brutality of those thugs.While our gossipy self-declared ombudsmans in the Diaspora were busy schmoozing and taking selfies while Abiy visited the states others were sharing tears with their surviving relatives and recently released uncles and aunts. Let us give praise that TPLF is no longer in power.

    For those of us who believe in the permanence and longevity of Ethiopia unencumbered by the poisonous ethnic politics that is the cancer and the global Ethiopia, which you are also a member as someone who no longer carries Ethiopian passport but remains attached to our motherland through the unbreakable umbilical cord. (BTW Ethiopia should allow dual citizenship). TPLF killed my family and imprisoned and impoverished my relatives. The painful part is so did the Derg under whose watch over millions of Ethiopian perished. We can not forget the past. But we don’t have to repeat it. So It’s now up to the justice system to take care of its course. We can seek revenge and go down the eye-to-eye route and crash their skull, mutilate them, steal their property and impoverish their children and relatives and continue the vicious cycle. That’s an option. Any person who claims to struggle against the monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you look far enough into a deep bottomless chasm of an abyss, the darkness will stare back at you.

    Or we can choose a different path of justice, accountability and democracy as the new generation has, to turn the page and build a legal justice system with durability as the main objective. The certain manner to corrupt the new leaders is to feed them to hold on a bigger pedestal those who think alike than those who think differently. So forget the politicians and name only attorneys. They are there to scheme only for their own ego at our expense. They think they own Ethiopia and that they control just about all of the news and the information you get to hear. What’s the difference between the TPLF and Derg cadres and them? They spend our dollars Jetting to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They don’t believe in independent media. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. They are horrified by real journalists who may expose phony and corruption, bribe and kickbacks, backdoor dealings. Why? Fear. Fear corrupts those who dishonor truth, fear of the cancers of power-worship that adulterate and bastardize those who are victims to it. There could be no question that the TPLF is indeed the most fraudulent and corrupt institution in the history of Ethiopia. We have the same problem. Do we have to have the same solution?

    And durability means accepting our differences of opinion, approach , life experiences and keeping ethnicity and religion out of it so we can forge the ability to a new way that will withstand wear, pressure, or damage. Thanksgiving dinner in our house is a collection of nations and nationalities of Ethiopia. I am a proud Ethiopian. I am oromo and Amhara. I am Orthodox Christian but I have muslim cousins and Tigrayans and Gurage in-laws. We don’t all have to sing the same music in order to be united. That’s also the key message of the philosophy of Medemer, which basically urges us to create synergy among each of us while we keep and celebrate our individual uniqueness and diversity. What we need is common sense, common honesty and common decency. !

    Ethiopia shall survive!

  3. Wow…your story is so much like my neighbors that I grew up with I saw their life upended head over heels. Can’t profess to know how you feel but can only imagine. Neighbors’ father was a civil servant all is life very educated guy two masters degrees and the nicest person that you could ever meet. But he happened to be from a different ethnic group and got in trouble with powerful TPLF people at his work most likely because he had brains and was too morally grounded, which turned out to be his undoing. The rest is history as they say and too hard to remember. The magnitude of injustice lives on the shoulders of the living and discounting and dismissing that part is the cruelest of our present quagmire. Hope we can change someday sooner than later.

  4. Dr Aklog Birara writing is biased and lacks impartiality. Transparency International is not transparent enough as Dr Aklog Birara intensely underscored Amharas’ being a victim of repression. If you cannot see Amhara history of ethnic repression, you are missing the main principle of impartiality and your writing will inflame political violence even further now because of your divisive and biased analysis.

    For the sake of transparency, impartiality and fairness, why haven’t you put the former EPRDF (ODP, ADP and SNNP) and PP elites, their family and associates on the same footing onto the public domain as you have done to TPLF? You are right; TPLF high ranking officials have enriched themselves and their family as well as their ethnic allies. Ethiopians, generation after generation, have been experiencing corruption in their lives since Menelik. Menelik confiscated huge lands from Oromo people and other ethnic groups and handed over to his Amhara elites. Haileselassie looted billions of Dollars into Swiss banks. Derg officials including Mengistu Hailemariam looted billions of Birrs. It is not secret to the Ethiopian people. The former EPRDF (TPLF, ODP, ADP and SNNP) and the reinvented PP are all corrupt, and they have been fleecing and squandering public monies for their own lifestyle while the Ethiopian people are living in utter poverty. As a result, Ethiopian people have been condemned to utter poverty by EPRD and PP rooted corruption that has led to ethnic violence, inequality, and political crises at present in Ethiopia.

    Furthermore, in 2016, Amhara archaists and extremists started ethnic violence, killing and displacement (ethnic cleansing) against Tigrayeans in Gondar. Kemant and Agew ethnic groups in Amhara region have been the victims of Amhara extremists of ethnic violence, killing and displacement (ethnic cleansing) from their home. It is very disappointing to see an independent international agency and Dr Aklog Birara support the people who started the ethnic violence in Gondar and the Ethnic violence has been expanding to other Amhara, Somali, Oromia regions. The innocent Amharas, Tigrayeans, Kemant, Oromo Christians, Gurage, Sidama, Gedao and other ethnic groups’ lives do not matter. Every Ethiopian life matters!

    Dr Aklog Birara please see the following links to see the facts before you can say that the Amharas activists were victimised and imprisoned by the ruling party TPLF/EPRDF. The Amharas had marginalised the entire ethnic groups in Ethiopia during Menelik, Haileslassie, the Derg, EPRDF and now by PP party. Not only TPLF, but also all former and present governments are all guilty of repression based on ethnicity. Ethiopian politics is entrenched into ethnicity and tribalism.

    Aby Ahmed’s government and Amhara elites do not want to see devolve regional governments and federal system, but they are trying to revive the repressive unitary system of government. If Prime Minister Abiy truly believes in democracy, why doesn’t he put his Medemer dogma (unitary system of government) and federal system of government onto referendum so that all Ethnic groups can decide on the ballot box peacefully whether to choose federal or Medemer (unitary) system of government without spilling bloodshed.

    Your writing, Dr Aklog Birara, should have been better if you included the comrades of TPLF i.e. Oromo Democratic party(ODP), Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) and Southern Nations and Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) who were part of ruling EPRDF coalition which was renamed now Prosperity Party (PP). Most of them are still in position in the present Abiy government and the PP elites are corrupt as TPLF. Corruption was widespread during the entire EPRD administration and to this present day. Prime Minister Abiy has been a minister in Hailemariam Desalegn government and has been part of the corrupt elites of TPLF, ODP, ADP and SNNP. Excluding ODP, ADP and SNNP corrupt elites and write about TPLF corruption only shows that you are biased and imperial in your writing.

    Ethnic violence and killing against Tigrayeans living in Gondar started in 2016.

    Ethnic violence and killing against Kemant in Gondar

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Wikipedia


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