An Open Letter to the Honorable United States Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken
From its inception, all the way to its demise, politics of hate has been the driving mantra for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in Ethiopia.
The core of its doctrine, written forty-five years ago clearly outlines the organizations point of view on the then current situation in Ethiopia. It then presents a set of crisp objectives for its armed struggle. In this manifesto, under paragraph three of “About Current Situation”, it passes a direct judgment on the Amhara people as oppressors and dehumanizers.
The prelude to the “Solution” paragraph then goes on to highlight, “As an example, under Weyane’s time, the Anti-Amhara democratic armed struggle will never be forgotten”. Weyane is a term used for past and present Tigraian revolutionaries.
It then closes the loop under the “Objective and It’s Work” section by stating, “Tigray people’s national struggle is Anti-Amhara oppression, Anti-Imperialism and Anti-Monarch Capitalism”. This handwritten authentic manifesto can be found on the internet for any interested party to verify.
The Anti-Amhara objective of TPLF’s manifesto is almost too extreme to believe had it not been for the effective, yet highly detrimental implementation of a series of Anti-Semitic policies. Chief among them are three Anti Amhara policies that stand out the most. First, is the current constitution of Ethiopia.
The Amhara’s were not represented during the drafting of the constitution. At the time the Amhara’s were mostly distasteful of ethnic politics and saw themselves first and foremost as Ethiopians. They fought alongside the then highly secretive TPLF simply under the assumption that nothing could be worse than the then ruthless communist Derg regime. TPLF’s late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is on record trying to convince a late Professor Mesfin Woldemariam that Amhara exists as an ethnic entity (a 1991 Interview). The late Prime Minister goes on to correctly imply that without the support of the Amhara’s, they would not have been able to control such a large swath of Amhara land. Expressing TPLF’s own contradiction and guilt, he goes back and forth claiming that they believe the Amhara’s rights and interest are represented while at the same time stating twice that there was no organization representing the Amhara people. The Professor, squirming at the prospect of Ethiopia being segregated by ethnicity goes on to say that states have historically been defined by non-ethnic regions. His only recollection of ethnic states is what is drawn by old Italian colonizers with sinister designs. A variation of which was punitively implemented by TPLF. Ironically, the map shows areas TPLF annexed from Amhara territories. It also shows Amhara territories TPLF gave away to other ethnic states. This is a second Anti-Amhara policy that we will come back to later.
The current constitution of Ethiopia, spear headed by TPLF converted Ethiopia into an Ethnocratic state. TPLF used different mechanisms to control these ethnic “kilils” or fenced states. The narration for remapping Ethiopia into ethnic states was theoretically over the top. Ethnicities will get their own budget, a chance to forward their own ethnic nationality, teach in their own language and advance their own culture. “Ownership” of an ethnic state was given to certain “majority” ethnicities. In some cases some of the most populous ethnicities in an ethnic state was denied ownership of the ethnic state (Benishangul-Gumuz is an example of this). Of course, the silliness of defining nine or so ethnic states in a country that has more than seventy ethnicities is irrational by itself. The result however, was the effective disenfranchisement of a minority ethnic group in a majority ethnic state. A constitutionally doctored relegation to a second class citizen.
The plot was dubiously sinister and out right Anti-Amhara. A 2007 census taken during the reign of TPLF shows 4.1 million Amhara’s living outside their own ethnic state. This makes the magnitude of the disenfranchisement almost the same size as the entire population of Tigrayans (4.48 million at the time, 93% of whom live in Tigray). Even citizens of Addis Abeba to this day never got a chance to be ruled by their choice of elected Mayor. The city was and still is being administered by a Vice-Mayoral position, appointed by Prime Ministers. The Amhara’s are by far the largest number of minorities living in a majority ethnic state.
The second Anti-Amhara policy is the annexation of previously Amhara inhabited non-ethnic states into other non-Amhara ethnic states. And then ethnic cleansing the Amhara’s and demographically changing the composition of the land. In order to have an outlet to Sudan and to gain fertile land, TPLF annexed areas such as Welkait, Tegede, Telemet and Raya Alamata. It is interesting to compare the 1936 “Africa Orientale Italiana” map shown below to what is the present day map of the Amhara state. To the locals, to this day, Tekeze River is as clear of a boundary between Amhara and Tigray as the Ohio River is to Indiana and Kentucky. This river is also shown on the 1936 Italian map. On a different note, a notable Professor, Dr. Dagnachew Assefa pointed out one time that an Amhara king crossed the Tekeze river to attack one of the great Tigraian Ethiopian Emperors, King Yohannes IV. After King Yohannes defeated the Amhara king, he instructed the defeated soldiers that he had forgiven them, but they must go back and cross the Tekeze River before dawn the following morning.
It is further to be noted that the Amhara land that hugs the Blue Nile River on the west, including Metekel was carved out and ownership was handed to a newly invented ethnic state Beninshangul-Gumuz. Five ethnic groups were given ownership of the state. The largest ethnic group in the state, the Amhara’s and the Agew people were denied ownership of the state. These people were instantly disenfranchised. Over the past year alone hundreds of Amhara and Agews have been killed in gruesome ways and hundreds of thousands have been uprooted from their ancestral land. Poor but able farmers are packed in internal refugee camps reduced to beggars with broken families unable to claim or tend their fields. No western attention for them. Additional Amhara land has also been carved out and given away to the east and south east side.
The third Anti-Amhara policy of TPLF was to turn the largest ethnic group of the country, the Oromo’s against the Amhara. TPLF banded together with extremists of the Oromo people and narrated false, unsubstantiated and unproven stories that targeted the Amhara people. The worst of these narrations is the erection of a monument with a hand holding a castrated woman’s breast in a city center in Arusi (The Anole monument is still standing today). They preached to the Oromo youths this is what the Amhara did to your mothers, wives and sisters. This heinous narration was then inserted in Oromo school curriculum. Now, there is a generation of Oromo youth who has grown up learning hate over the past twenty seven years. The result is a never ending silent killing and cleansing of the Amhara people in the Oromia region.
TPLF’s calculation was cruel yet simple. As a minority ethnic group, if it could ensure the two largest ethnic groups are always at loggerheads, it can maintain its grip on power indefinitely. The irony is that the repugnancy towards TPLF overflowed so much that, it was a choreographed maneuver of a high stakes political chess game that brought the Oromo and Amhara together to unseat TPLF from its power in 2018.
The net result of these policies has been appalling and cruelly effective. Comparison of a census taken in 1994 and 2007 has brought to the surface a key riddle. The whereabouts of about two to three million Amhara is still unaccounted for. Both censuses were taken during the reigns of TPLF. The gap between the projected Amhara population and the actual count was two to three million short. How many were disappeared or ethnically cleansed? How many chose to re-classify themselves caught on the wrong side of the ethnic boundary? How many migrated away? To what extent has involuntary vaccination of infertility drugs been administered to the Amhara region? Yes, there is a disheartening interview of young women in their twenties drinking holy water till they throw up, praying hard and hoping churches just to bear a single child. There was one who thankfully had one child prior to her vaccination and nothing since then. They talk about their town being devoid of children. This is an interview taken in July of 2013. This topic alone is an area for some serious investigation.
There have also been additional policies of TPLF that have allowed it to dominate the economy at the expense of others. TPLF companies under the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray were notorious for their unfair advantage over the private sector. Their sheer size and number dwarfed other private sector companies.
In the context of Eritrea TPLF has been pivotal in making sure Eritrea gained its independence. TPLF members themselves have confessed they have at times fought for Eritrea’s independence harder than Eritreans have. In a way, TPLF traded its dominance over Ethiopia with the Independence of Eritrea. During the struggle for Eritrea’s independence, there were opportunities for an alternative arrangement besides outright independence. This was against TPLF’s liking. It would have meant for TPLF to relegate its ideologies and power arrangement to the demands of Eritrea.
TPLF’s untenable cruel policies have regretfully brought misery to the people of Tigray. TPLF had posed itself as the sole guardian of the Tigray People. Choice of political parties was not an option for the people of Tigray. Early on, other Tigraian individuals and political parties with differing ideologies were among the first to be purged and cannibalized. One can argue, today, TPLF has left the people of Tigray with an identity crisis. Instead of looking far towards westerners to apply pressure onto their neighbors with an unclear end game for Tigray, they should focus on making peace directly with the locals on the ground. Those who supported TPLF should repent, accept the mistakes, take responsibility and positively work towards healing the wounds.
Outsiders need to be extra cautious of propaganda coming out of supporters of TPLF. In some cases, the villains are posturing as victims. During the early times of its struggle, TPLF has effectively goaded the communist Derg regime into bombing a market in broad daylight. All the while having the camera’s waiting ready to record the carnage. Even during the current war, it has notoriously used churches to stockpile weapons and even worse fire from their doorstep with the aim of drawing retaliatory fire onto the church. There is a credible video of this with local Tigrayans explaining the strategy. Obviously any war crime by any party needs to be brought to justice. One has to dig a bit deeper to find the truth though.
It is unfortunate that even the office of honored US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is duped into urging troops from the Amhara region to withdraw from Tigray. While not intended, the urging of the Amhara people to withdraw from land annexed by TPLF is a perfect fuel to the fire. To ask ethnically cleansed Amhara’s from Welkait and relatives of the 600 plus Amhara’s slaughtered by the Samri forces of TPLF in Mai Kadra to hand over their land back to Tigray leaders is to ask for more war. Mr. Secretary of State, with sincere and utmost respect, you have it wrong here. TPLF forcibly annexed land of the Amhara people thirty plus years ago. These regions have been the epicenter of decades of atrocities committed by TPLF. At a minimum, the urging should clarify and be limited to the pre-TPLF map of Tigray. Multiple previous regimes have a consistent map of Tigray.
Mr. Secretary during the 1998 / 2000 Ethio-Eritrean war, TPLF called for arms to defend the territory of Ethiopia. The Amhara’s, together with the rest of Ethiopia rose to the occasion to defend Tigray’s northern border against Eritrea. They did their duties and many died. They did not say Tigray has annexed my land and I will not go to defend your boundaries against Eritrea. All those soldiers died for nothing! TPLF ended up agreeing to an arbitration that ended up making the war irrelevant. These soldiers of the northern command built schools and chased locusts in times of peace. TPLF lit the fire where they slept after calling them for a feast to thank them for their help in harvesting crops. Ethiopian politics is too complex for the natives let alone outsiders. So I plead to you that you verify your information from factual sources. While not implying as a source, some media outlets have been vulnerable to inaccurate information.
Ethiopia is certainly in need of friends. A good advice would be for those who are willing to help the country to simply follow the flag. The true Ethiopians, that believe in all men and women are created equal are the ones that wave the Green, Yellow and Red flag with no emblem at the center. A flag that has been raised for centuries. Those who wave any other flag from within Ethiopia are either ethnocentric at best or down right ethno racist at worst.
While the war in Tigray is undoubtedly getting the lion’s share of the media’s attention, the grave concern for Ethiopia remains the evils embedded in the constitution. The constitution together with resulting ethnic states and TPLF’s past indoctrination is regretfully setting Ethiopia to be the next epicenter for genocide. Bodies are being lifted by excavators and dumped into mass grave in Metekel in broad daylight. Nobody is being taken to court. No conviction is heard. To top it off, the silence of the western media is deafening. If not genocide, starvation may be stoking the country one more time.
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