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Home Opinion TPLF, the Untold Stories of an Ethno-Racist Organization

TPLF, the Untold Stories of an Ethno-Racist Organization

An Open Letter to the Honorable United States Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken

TPLF _ Untold story

Geneme Kawe, 
(genemekawe@gmail.com)

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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2 COMMENTS

  1. Lies
    Tplf didn’t take Amhara lands
    It returned lands taken by hailesilase from Tigray to Tigray. There is no proof the land belongs to Amhara and even derg census data shows the land being inhibited by Tigrayans.
    The border of tigrayans isn’t welakit but metema Yohannes, even Humera and its etymology is tigregna, Luke tselemt and rays azebo.
    Tplf’s manifesto which you point out to doesn’t exist. It was named manifesto 68 because it was the first of it’s kind and was only a proposal made without the knowledge of the then tplf leaders, and made by MLLT and the original copy still didn’t say Amharau are the enemy, it said we are fighting against emperialism and Amhara supermacy, of language, history, and cultural oppression
    The copy you point out to is a fake. First of all it is written in Amharic not in tigregna and it isn’t a translation by any means. Second it doesn’t mention the source it got it from, stop spreading lies and half truths.
    Amharay forces are committing ethnic cleansing and genocidal massacres in western Tigray and they should be pulled out.

  2. We don’t expect truth from TPLF family. First of all, you have to know that Amharic was and is the official language of the country for centuries. It is the major language spoken by almost 90% of the population. That is why it is written in Amharic. As a matter of fact we have no problem with the language. We want to have as many languages as possible to be official. Language is a means of communication. I wish everybody speaks many languages.
    Please try to be honest and realistic if you have faith.
    Read the books written by true and honest foreign historians and learn the true history of Ethiopia.

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