Tuesday, April 16, 2024
HomeOpinionColonel Biniam Tewelde Reclaiming Welkait, Tegede, and Setit for TPLF

Colonel Biniam Tewelde Reclaiming Welkait, Tegede, and Setit for TPLF

Colonel Biniyam _ TPLF _ Tigray
Colonel Binyam (From social media)

BY LJ Demissie

Author’s Note: I watched an interview with Colonel Biniam Tewelde on the TBS TV YouTube Channel. Prior to the TPLF’s lightning attack on the Ethiopian National Defense Forces Northern Command, I was unfamiliar with Biniam. However, the premeditated slaughter of the Northern Command forces by the TPLF has since drawn me to his YouTube videos. 

His journey of self-discovery, quest for knowledge, pursuit of truth, willingness to face reality, and open-mindedness are apparent in his content. The tragedy is further compounded by the fact that the attacked force had been a positive influence in the Tigray communities, building schools, aiding in agriculture and harvest, and protecting the Tigray people from the Eritrean army for two decades. This adds a layer of complexity to the event, making it even more poignant. 

The following is my paraphrases and analysis of excerpts from Biniam’s Amharic interview. The analysis reveals several aspects of his mindset and, by extension, the mindset of the TPLF leadership. I am open to corrections on any paraphrasing.

Plea for Peace

Biniam, having participated in the TPLF-initiated war, advocates against war, understanding its destructive nature. He urges Tigrayans and all Ethiopians to reject war, vowing not to partake in others’ conflicts. He believes that cooperation with PM Abiy Ahmed, not dwelling on the past, is key to healing the present situation.

Biniam recognizes Tigray’s high unemployment but emphasizes the strategic importance of the “Western Tigray” issue for the TPLF leadership. This region, a valuable farmland and potential access point to Sudan, is crucial for the TPLF’s secession plan. Despite Tigray’s high unemployment, the Tigrayan people have limited influence over this issue. Biniam advocates for a constitutional and peaceful resolution to the “Western Tigray” issue, favoring the return of the area under TPLF control. He references the Ethiopian constitution and the Ethiopia-Tigray peace agreement, also known as the Pretoria Agreement. He also notes the TPLF’s failure to implement the constitution during its rule. Corrections on any paraphrasing of his statements are welcomed.

Analysis of Plea for Peace

He acknowledged that the TPLF never enforced the constitution, yet proposed resolving the ‘Western Tigray’ issue constitutionally as part of the Pretoria Peace Agreement. His peace advocacy is linked with his stance on the land dispute resolution, advocating for the return of the Amhara land of Welkait, Tegede, and Setit to the TPLF. As outlined in the TPLF’s first manifesto and echoed by its social media activists, the broader goal is Tigray’s secession from Ethiopia. The subsequent agenda is to end Ethiopia, establish Greater Tigray, and resurrect the Axumite Empire. 

In my view, to safeguard their citizens, the Amhara shouldn’t surrender their ancestral land — Welkait, Tegede, and Setit — to the TPLF. They were forced by TPLF leaders to speak only Tigrigna, abandoning their native languages, including Amharic. Even young students from these regions were penalized for accidentally speaking their native language, causing considerable distress in these communities.

Call for Reconciliation

He advocates for reconciliation and emphasizes the need for a paradigm shift by both the federal government and TPLF leaders to coexist. He believes that existing Ethiopian narratives have failed, necessitating new theories that align more closely with reality and guide them towards truth. These new theories should fundamentally differ from the old ones. 

Insights on Call for Reconciliation

  1. Dismissal of Ethiopian History: The TPLF leader, the late Meles Zenawi who also served as the Ethiopian Prime Minister, publicly dismissed the Ethiopians’ claim of a history spanning over 3,000 years. He asserted that Ethiopian history is only about 100 years old, dating back to when Emperor Menelik II consolidated his Ethiopian empire.
  2. Undermining National Pride: Meles consistently articulated that the pride associated with being Ethiopian was excessive. He advocated for the deflation of this national pride, and instead, the promotion of ethnic and tribal pride. He went as far as to declare the Tigryains as the ‘golden’ ethnic group, implicitly suggesting that other Ethiopian ethnic groups were not. This fueled the feelings of Tigryains superiority. These statements reveal a potent and dangerous intent to weaken the Ethiopian national identity, a strategy to divide and rule. This led to divisions within the country, making it easier for conflicts to arise. The TPLF sow seeds of discord and mistrust among different ethnic groups that will take generations to heal.
  3. Rebuilding Ethiopia: The TPLF aimed to reconstruct Ethiopia, its people and economy according to the TPLF’s vision. This vision was based on the TPLF’s concept of ‘Language based Ethnic Federalism’ to divide and rule.
  4. However, this approach failed because it was rejected by Ethiopians, except for the Tigrayans who were brainwashed by the TPLF. 
  5. Civil War: The failure to rebuild Ethiopia in the TPLF’s vision led the TPLF’s leaders to trigger a civil war with the vow to dismantle Ethiopia. This war lasted for two years. Eventually, the TPLF agreed to peace talks, leading to its surrender.
  6. Human Cost: The war exacted a significant human toll. Some reports suggest that approximately one million Tigray people perished in the war due to the TPLF’s use of a human wave war strategy. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian government consistently downplayed its casualty numbers.

On Past Regimes

Biniam expressed that the Ethiopian society doesn’t know what to ask; its focus is primarily on what it despises. This sentiment was the driving force behind our bravery during the Italian invasion. Those who ascended to power with the promise of change ended up instigating crises. When the Derg regime came into power, it vilified Haile Selassie, and we all supported the Derg at that time. Similarly, when the TPLF was in power, it identified Ginbot-7 and ONG as its enemies and aimed to eliminate them. 

He said, ‘During the TPLF’s thirty-year reign, we failed to establish a democratic system. However, we endeavored to develop the economy and achieved some progress. We did not develop the regions. We established the economic base of the country in Addis Ababa. We left all that wealth behind and retreated to Tigray. Anyone who controls that wealth could use it to execute their mission. I was not proud of our attempts to enhance public conscientious objectivity (ህሊናዊ ንቃት) and improve the educational system. 

Critique of Reflection on Past Regimes

  1. Society’s Knowledge: Biniam’s assertion that Ethiopian society doesn’t know what to ask is baseless and derogatory. His claim also shows his contradiction. He admits the TPLF leaders’ failure to build a democratic system, yet blames society for not knowing what to ask. This inconsistency further undermines his argument. It seems to be an attempt to obscure the oppressive nature of himself and, by extension, the TPLF. Society members, who manage their lives, interact socially, attend schools, and places of worship, and have survived for millennia, certainly know what they want and need
  2. Leaders’ Unwillingness: The issue isn’t society’s lack of knowledge, but rather the leaders’ unwillingness to listen and empower the people. They choose instead to maintain power and exploit societal resources. For instance, the TPLF’s warlords stayed in power by rigging elections. According to DW, “Official election results have confirmed that practically 100 percent of the vote in the June 2015 election went to the ruling [the TPLF led] EPRDF party. Opposition groups alleged the government had used authoritarian tactics to guarantee their repeat victory.” Furthermore, according to New Business Ethiopia, “close to USD 26 billion left Ethiopia as illicit financial flows over ten years (2004-2013)”.
  3. Economic Focus Over Democracy: Biniam admits that they failed to establish a democratic system during the TPLF’s thirty-year reign. However, they take pride in their efforts to develop the economy. This is a fact; the TPLF prioritize economic development over democratic governance.
  4. Centralization of Wealth: He said we made the economic base of the country established in Addis Ababa, implying a centralization of wealth and resources. This shows a neglect of regional development and a potential cause of economic disparity. By the way, Ethiopia’s economic development has always been centered in Addis Ababa. This shows that Biniam statement is partially false.
  5. Possession and Abandonment of Wealth: His statement about leaving the wealth behind in Addis Ababa and retreating to Tigray suggests a sense of ownership over the wealth. This is a disregard for the collective nature of national wealth, which should ideally benefit all citizens.
  6. Instrumental View of Wealth: His remark that anyone who controls the wealth could use it to execute their mission indicates an instrumental view of wealth. This exposes about the TPLF’s intentions and their use of national resources for their own ends.
  7. Lack of Pride in Educational Efforts: He expresses a lack of pride in the TPLF’s attempts to enhance public conscientious objectivity and improve the educational system. This is a recognition of the TPLF’s shortcomings in these areas.

Ethiopian History: He stated that the Ethiopian narrative of unity, shared history, interwoven factors and inter-ethnic marriages are myths (አፈ ታሪክ). He believed these myths have been debunked, as evidenced by the ongoing wars in Tigray, Amhara, and Oromia regions. These conflicts reveal the different psychological makeups, interests, and levels of conscientious objectivity (ህሊናዊ ንቃት) among the various ethnic groups. intertwined.

Analysis of Ethiopian History: While respecting Biniam’s view of, including Ethiopian unity as myths, I see them as facts. The Adowa and Ogaden Wars, involving militias from nearly all ethnic groups, are victories for all Ethiopians, documented in various history books and the Adwa Museum. Current conflicts in Tigray, Amhara, and Oromia reflect the interests of self-nominated ethnic representatives, not psychological differences among ethnic groups. To explain, the TPLF, founded by seven students, has held Tigray hostage for nearly 50 years due to their restrictive policies, a fact likely agreed upon by Biniam.

Orthodox Church: He criticized the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for failing to stand with the Tigrayan people during the war initiated by the TPLF. He argued that the behaviors of the Church’s leaders and priests during the war have proven them to be insincere. He suggested that reliance on the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for societal coexistence is no longer viable.

Insight on the Orthodox Church: Post TPLF’s retreat to Tigray, various Ethiopian representatives made numerous peace appeals to TPLF leaders over two years, which were consistently rejected. As per the Ethiopian government, the TPLF hindered the Northern Command’s withdrawal, escalating to a Blitzkrieg attack on the Command. Surviving soldiers reported some Tigray Orthodox Church priests’ involvement as spies in the attack, suggesting a possible betrayal by Tigray Orthodox Church leaders. The late TPLF spokesperson, Sekoture Getachew, admitted to initiating the attack, providing further insight into the conflict’s dynamics.

Social Interaction (መሀበራዊ መስተጋብር): He observed that what has held Ethiopia together so far are religious myths, narrations, and social interactions (መሀበራዊ መስተጋብር). However, he pointed out that these elements have been exposed as myths and inadequate during the past five years, a period marked by widespread violence and violations of Ethiopia’s sovereignty. He called for the establishment of a new governmental system and the development of new narratives that align more closely with objective reality.

Review of Social Interaction (መሀበራዊ መስተጋብር): Biniam perceives the Orthodox Church as a lie and fake, suggesting a deep dissatisfaction with its doctrines or teachings. His criticism extends beyond the Church’s non-intervention in the war to a fundamental disagreement with its authenticity. If his issue is with the leaders, advocating for change is an option. If it’s with the faith itself, he has the freedom to leave. Personally, despite my disappointment with the divisive actions of TPLF-appointed Church leaders, my commitment to the Church remains. My faith is rooted in the Bible, not the Church or its leaders, and I uphold its traditions and culture.

The writer, LJDemissie, who received assistance from AI technology developed by OpenAI, can be reached at LJDemissie@yahoo.com or on Twitter at @LJDEmissie.

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com

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5 COMMENTS

  1. What good will come out with aany argument with the tplf – it knows only the lnguage which er showed it in the straight shooting of seyoum mesfun and somebody tsehaye. A gangster knows only the gun.

    • You might be right. I was surprised that my article took a completely different direction than planned. It ended up being a testament to his contradictory mindset.

  2. Biniam is a Tplf colonel. Biniam does sound remorseful. Biniam’s remorse is mainly because of the fact that Tplf’s several brutal activities paid off in total disaster. Tplf colonel Biniam’s emergence now is one attempt to don a pacifist cover to the same old ends! That’s why he could admit mistakes and, at the same time, declare Wolqayit a Tplf territory. These are irredeemably corrupt incorrigible liars.

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