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By Bruke Lemma, Ph.D.
“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.” – Christopher Hitchens
“I know now that one of the characteristics of evil is its desire to confuse.” – M. Scott Peck
TPLF’s cruel and inhuman massacres and slaughtering of thousands of innocent civilians: women, children and the elderly and others in both Afar and Amhara regions including in Mai-Kadra have been well-documented and independently verified and confirmed by a number of international organisations and media outlets. Moreover, there are also recent reports of the terrorist group’s instigation of hunger and starvations in the more than four million people that the group has been holding hostage in the Amhara region.
In particular, the conditions in Semen Wello, an area the group has been occupying for more than two months, are said to be very critical. Over 500,000 people have been dislocated due to the TPLF’s invasion and occupation of the area and have been suffering from acute hunger and starvations. However, these critical emergency situations have been generally ignored; and, consequently, the victims there have been receiving very little or no assistance at all by way of emergency food aid and other measures to alleviate their sufferings.
Similar conditions in the Tigray region, in contrast, have been and continue to receive very wide coverage and extensive publicity by various aid agencies and other international bodies. That disparity, in part, is due to the TPLF who has been cynically using these situations to continually attack Abiy Ahmed’s government – among other things, by manipulating and propagandising real, exaggerated and completely fabricated issues and shortcomings. Curiously, the fact that the TPLF itself instigated these things in Tigray region in the first place, by secretly planning and then starting the devastating civil war, without any provocations at all, gets quickly glossed over – that is, when the international media even bothers to mention it at all.
In any case, while the primary responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of the more than four million Amharas being held hostages now rests with the TPLF, however, Abiy Ahmed and his administration cannot escape responsibility by simply blaming the TPLF – as such, among other things, their excessive focus on sectional interests rather than that of the country as a whole, as well as their other myriad mistakes and blunders were, at least in part, what made it possible for the TPLF to plan, prepare and commit the massive crimes against humanity and war crimes that it continues to commit in the Amhara, Afar and in the Tigray regions.
In general, to correct their serious mistakes and to be able to deal effectively with the vast number of difficult problems that Ethiopia and its people are facing including the destructive civil war instigated by the TPLF and to arrive at workable solutions for all – Abiy Ahmed and his administration need to deeply examine themselves and to make fundamental shifts in their thinking and approaches, among other things. However, while that is the hope – there is no guarantee that they would do any of these things. Sometimes, as Schopenhauer wrote, “hope is to confuse the desire that something should occur with the probability that it will.”
Still, it might be possible to increase that probability by speaking out openly about these mistakes and blunders, including those that paved the way for the tragedies that we are witnessing now – after all, as Gandhi said, “Truth never damages a cause that is just.” And this cause is nothing other than the struggle for an Ethiopia in which all its citizens are able to live in peace, security and with equality under the law and with the right to live in any part of the country without facing any discriminations.
“The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.” – Aristotle
That aside, one would be deluded to believe that those who are accustomed to doing the wrong things, would suddenly change and then start doing the right things of their own accord – they must be forced by external circumstances. In any case, for a long time Ethiopians yearned for leadership in a better mould than the mindless and abominable thuggery the TPLF dominated EPRDF subjected them to for almost three decades. And when Abiy Ahmed came to power about three years ago, they thought they were going to get the leadership that they have been longing for finally – and for a little while, he did not disappoint.
However, soon after, Abiy Ahmed’s leadership morphed into what ‘leadership’ was under the TPLF. Of course, EPRDF was rechristened and given the name Prosperity Party (PP); the dominance of the TPLF was replaced by that of the Prime Minister’s ODP; and, complete government capture and control by the Tigray ethno-nationalist elites who used and abused the name of Tigray masses was replaced by that of Oromo ethno-nationalist elites who now use and abuse the name of the Oromo masses.
“Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel.” – Che Guevara
What’s more, TPLF long perpetuated the myth of historical oppression of the Tigray people by the Amharas which it used as a justification for its ruthless oppressions and cruel treatments of them when it was in power. The same myth – though this time the oppression of Oromo people by the Amharas — was also used by Abiy Ahmed and ODP as a justification for inflicting great pain and sufferings on them. Accordingly, for most of the last three years or so, Abiy Ahmed and his ODP/PP almost total focus was the continual invention of new and improved methods for humiliating, disempowering and marginalising the Amhara people.
In that, the TPLF was completely left in peace to plan, to train and to equip massive force for starting a war and to take revenge for being deposed and losing the highly lucrative central power that netted them more than thirty billion dollars through their ruthless robbing of the country. At the same time, the Amhara officials were repeatedly given public dressing downs, hectored and bullied for using some of their budget for training a very modest special force in order to defend themselves against the very real threat posed by the TPLF. They were denied even the simplest of weapons and equipment for their special force – and its recruits were given only wood cut-outs and rusty old guns for training.
In contrast, lavish special budgets, state of the art weapons and equipment as well as extensive facilities were and continue to be provided to a much larger special force than Amhara special force – operating in Abiy Ahmed’s ODP controlled Oromo region. In spite of all the resources continuing to be poured on it, this special force, however, has proven itself to be less than useless. In that, among other things, the OLF, a terrorist group operating in the region, has been and continues to commit multiple massacres and brutal killings and dislocations of thousands of Amharas and others without any appreciable challenge from this force.
In any case, after systematically sabotaging their efforts and consistently making it impossible for the Amharas to prepare and to defend themselves, millions of them were made to fall in the hands of an organisation that long nurtured genocidal intent towards them. The TPLF, in its almost three decades of extremely rigid and punitive and cruel rule – or rather, misrule – of Ethiopia, was responsible for massive human right abuses including the torturing of prisoners, recurrent murders and extrajudicial executions, untold number of disappearances and more.
Sodomy, rape and other sexual assaults were rampant and very much the norm in the numerous official and unofficial prisons and dungeons where the TPLF used to keep its prisoners. Interestingly, a group whose human right abuses of the prisoners it holds frequently involved sexual humiliations and sexual violence – has been extremely energetic and busy now throwing around allegations of similar crimes by others; unsurprisingly, most, if not all, of these allegations were found to be totally baseless.
In any case, while anyone and everyone who opposed or simply suspected of opposing the TPLF was subjected to a litany of horrific human right abuses – some of its harshest and cruellest treatments were reserved to those from the Amhara ethnic group, especially to those who were from the ancestral lands of the Amhara including Welkait, Setit-Humera, and Tsegede and Raya. These are areas that when TPLF came to power in 1991 simply annexed and incorporated into the Tigray region as per its long-held plan; and, ‘legalising’ its annexation in the Ethiopian ‘Constitution’ that it enacted in 1994.
In that so called Constitution, along with enshrining ethnic federalism, that protects and perpetuates its hold and unilateral control of the country, through the creation and promotion of conflicts and rivalries among and between the country’s various ethnic groups – TPLF also inserted an article, article 39, that facilitates a ‘legal’ exit for it, should things become too difficult for it; or, after the group has stolen enough for it to secede and create Tigray as a separate country. And for that and more, the TPLF needed the Amhara lands that it annexed.
It dealt with the problem of people who were living in these annexed lands through ruthless persecutions, terrorisation and brutalisation – to ‘encourage’ as many of the Amhara as possible to leave these areas. And those who resisted TPLF’s ethnic cleansing efforts and were in any way vocal about their mistreatments, were murdered, disappeared or tortured and made to languish in the numerous official and unofficial prisons and dungeons for years or even decades.
In any case, a document was recently released by the Ethiopian government that shows TPLF’s explicit schemes and plans to create chaos and to dismantle the country, among other things. However, there isn’t much that is new there – as such, TPLF never cared for Ethiopia or had any real commitment to the country and the wellbeing of its people including those in the Tigray region. TPLF, recently accurately labelled as an opportunistic group by the USAID representative in Ethiopia, only set out to ruthlessly exploit the country, accumulate as much wealth and resources as possible for use by its elites – and exploit the country, it did, amassing more than 30 billion dollars; equivalent to the country’s entire foreign debt.
Still, all things come to an end, eventually; and, TPLF’s licence to shamelessly and ruthlessly rob the poor of Ethiopia and accumulate wealth ended in 2018 – but the group has been unable to reconcile itself with that reality. Therefore, it set out to destroy the country using anything and everything it possibly could – its narcissism is such that if it couldn’t have it, then no one else could. In general, anyone with any appreciation of TPLF’s pervasive shamelessness, extreme greed, deceitfulness and wickedness cannot be surprised by their detailed plans to unleash extreme pains and sufferings and destructions upon millions of Ethiopian poor.
Despite that, however, Abiy Ahmed believed that he could reason with and mollify them and so on before the war – among other things, blinded by his wishful thought. In that, it is ironic that the Prime Minister continually gets falsely credited with starting the war by the international media – which is manifestly untrue. He was begging the TPLF till the very last minute, promising the group the heavens and the earth and more – all the Prime Minister wanted from them in return was for TPLF to leave him alone, for the group and its members to go to Mekelle and enjoy their ill-gotten wealth in peace – however, TPLF had other plans.
And the Prime Minister too, had his own plans; among other things, accelerating and expanding state capture and control by his handpicked Oromo ethno-nationalist elites – while bamboozling and confusing the rest of the Ethiopians with lofty rhetoric about Ethiopia’s greatness and its potential and so on and so forth; very much in the tradition of the TPLF, minus the lofty rhetoric, of course. In that, as the TPLF before them, Abiy Ahmed and his ODP also concluded that the Amhara, as one of the largest ethnic groups in the country, would be an impediment to the realisation of their ambitions.
“When one with honeyed words but evil mind Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.” – Euripides
Therefore, undermining and incapacitating the Amharas psychologically and materially has always been a top priority for both these groups – in that, neither of them have ever been prepared to entertain. demand for equal treatment, for equal share of resources and so on. Humiliations, terrorisations, brutalisation are pre-emptive strikes on the Amhara to stop them from considering these things – and their Amhara lackeys would never raise any objections; on the contrary, they are even more enthusiastic about inflicting the pains and suffering on their own ethnic group – to get extra credits from their masters from the old EPRDF, and now PP.
Interestingly, these two groups now detest each other, mostly, it is a question of power, otherwise, they are very much the same ideologically; of course, there is also this thing what they call, “narcissism of small differences.” In any case, the both loath Amhara, and would use anything and everything against them, to keep them in check – underdevelopment, malnourishment, man made famines, generating conflicts between them – no problem, they have done it many times over, they would continue to do it! It would have been a great gift for Abiy Ahmed and his ODP if the TPLF initially attacked the Amhara – they would have done nothing; and watched things unfold, while making bombastic statements about ‘both sides’ and so on and so forth.
Well, that didn’t come to pass, despite their fervent hopes and wishes; instead, the TPLF attacked the Northern Command of the ENDF – leaving Abiy Ahmed with no other choice except to respond to the attack. Thus, as a result of wishful thinking, greed and wickedness – Abiy Ahmed failed to prepare the country to effectively counter TPLF’s attack. Catastrophically, the failure to secure the northern command meant TPLF was able to grab a massive number of advanced weapons and equipment for the TPLF. Still, despite all that, the country managed to win the war, and Ethiopians everywhere celebrated – unfortunately, the victory was very short-lived.
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