An open note to Ms. Tsedale Lemma (Abebe Gellaw)

Editor’s note : Editor of Addis Standard Tsedale Lemma published an opinion piece on The New York Times on Wednesday. It is about the existing situation in Ethiopia. Many Ethiopians on social media tend to think that her article is misleading. The following article is from Journalist and activist Abebe Gellaw. He published it on his facebook page on Wednesday.

Abebe Gellaw
November 12, 2020

I hope this open note finds you in good health. I initially wanted to drop you a private message. Having second thoughts, I changed my plan given the circumstances. This is because the matters I want to raise are in the public sphere already in the form of an article you just published in the New York Times, “What’s Happening in Ethiopia Is a Tragedy.”

While I appreciate your effort to inform the international community on current developments in our country, the article reads more like a TPLF propaganda pamphlet than a piece written by someone who claims to be a well-informed journalist. In sum, you claimed that only one person was to take the blame for the current escalations and whatever has gone wrong in the last two years.

You wrote: “Mr. Abiy overreached. His first cardinal mistake was to sideline the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, for decades the most powerful political force in the country, in the peace he brokered between Ethiopia and Eritrea. By pushing the Tigrayan leadership aside as he sealed his signature achievement, Mr. Abiy made clear the limits to his talk of unity.”

You are entitled to your opinion, but not to your own fact. If what you are saying is true, the TPLF is a victim of Mr. Abiy’s machinations. Far from it, we the people of Ethiopia, have been victims of TPLF’s misrule, domination, exploitation, discrimination, gross human rights violations, and massive corruption, to say the least, for nearly three decades. Even if this glaring fact is the very reason why we needed a radical change in the first place, you claimed that the TPLF was sidelined. Contrary to your claims, TPLF has been throwing every spanner at its disposal to undermine and reverse the reform and wreak havoc across Ethiopia in its futile bid to retake the power and privilege it has lost.

You presented the TPLF as a blameless victim and portrayed the Prime Minister as guilty of waging a war of “overreaction” and acting more like “a commander in chief than a prime minister.” What else did you expect him to be when the army under his command came under attack by enemy forces? The tragedy is that the enemy did not come from afar. It came from your fictional victim called the TPLF, a formidable terrorist group whose history is checkered with betrayal, brutality, destruction and greed. Did you expect the Prime Minister to kneel down under the feet of the TPLF and beg for mercy on behalf of the army and the nation? It seems downright naïve to make such a preposterous claim.

In case you do not know, you need to be informed that the Prime Minister is the commander in chief, not TPLF’s private chef, as they would have liked him to be just like his predecessor. While Mr. Abiy made his own share of missteps in the last two years, his achievements and failures need to be weighed in light of the enormous challenges he has faced from powerful adversaries such as the TPLF.

In conclusion, please stop misinforming the international community at this critical juncture in our history ostensibly because your political idols like Jawar Muhammed have fallen into their own traps. No matter how angry and frustrated you could be, going to great lengths to distort and misrepresent the facts on the ground is a shameful disservice to journalism.

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