TPLF-Tigray People Dichotomy and Unity: Technicality versus Practicality
Dr. Yohannes Aberra Ayele 12-23-18
It does not require the brain of a genius to understand that a party is not equal to people. This is so simple a logic that using this simple “technicality” as a big finding in the midst of complex Machiavellian politics can only be considered as naive. The question is why are the people of Tigray, except for a few opposition party leaders, not opposed to the assertion that TPLF and Tigray People are one and the same? Is it because the millions are too rock-headed to comprehend that “people are eternal while parties are transitory”? The answer lies not in the literacy level but in the difference between the technicality of the opposition and the practicality of the millions of Tigreans.
When the enemy becomes so Machiavellian in the sense that truth is twisted in favor of “the end justifies the means”: When as ever before the other side thinks that the TPLF fish can be caught by destroying or demoralizing or starving or intimidating the sea of people it is swimming in; when the nationalism of Tigreans is considered to be toxic while that of others is blessed as divine; when Tigreans in all walks of life, including those in government institutions, are shunned as alien, informal courts being in session everywhere passing sentences on ordinary Tigreans as criminals; when a former leader of the EPRDF poses for a photo with Colonel Menigistu who is sentenced to death in absentia for the mass murder of tens of thousands of Ethiopian youth; when red-carpet reception is made for former Derg-criminals while the government and supporters are engaged in a witch hunt to arrest Getachew Assefa, who despite his faults has made Ethiopia an island of peace when the fire of terrorism raged all around us; when the noise of territorial claim is loudest on the Amhara-Tigray side while little is heard about Selale, Wello-Afar, and Metekel; While the stench of double standards fills the Ethiopian air, while deceit, falsehood, fabrication, and rudeness have become a norm how could the people of Tigray be engaged in the philosophy of rational thinking and reject TPLF as unfriendly?
This does not at all mean that TPLF has been good enough for the people it has been leading. There has been a clear betrayal of trust of the martyrs wishes that the people of Tigray will have plenty of alternatives democratic leadership, TPLF leaders who were alive by the end of the struggle will spend their life time delivering the people of Tigray from ages-old poverty, and TPLF members and their associates will never engage in any activity that may tarnish the good image of Tigray. Ironically, when tens of thousands of Tigreans perished to bring about participatory democracy to their land and to Ethiopia as well, opposition parties in other regions were working with relative ease while no one was allowed to utter a word against TPLF let alone establish an opposition party without facing severe consequences. TPLF seemed to care much more about its image in other regions and in Addis Ababa rather than in Tigray. It is true that TPLF considers the people of Tigray as a fortress to jump back into when the going gets tougher. This is the most despicable thing one can do on its own people who paid so much.
The point I am trying to make here is that the campaign to separate TPLF from the people is not intended to save the people of Tigray from an oppressor. It is a political strategy to defeat the TPLF by alienating it from its mass base. So the objective is not for the good of the people of Tigray but to end once and for all any threat to the power in the center from northern Ethiopia. This is unmistakable for the people of Tigray because it has happened so many times in the history of Ethiopia by a combination of carrot and stick methods. Unfortunately, the people of Tigray have never been helped to trust the center. Ordinary Ethiopians and politicians alike have always been carelessly busy eroding the trust of the people of Tigray. After persistently inculcating negative feelings in the minds of Tigreans by people from all the “other” side, how on earth are the people of Tigray expected to surrender the only leadership it possesses however bad it is? History has documented the tragedy in Tigray after the death of its beleaguered King. Etege Taitu said “Sadly, Tigreans are slaughtering each other”. I hope this is not what the “other” side wants to see repeated.
Any people need leadership. They prefer tyrants to no leadership at all. When the “other’ side, with all its history of wrongdoing is engaged in rallying support from inside and outside the country, even angels will never risk to remain without strong leadership. Now it is not a question of whether TPLF is good or bad. That is not an urgent matter for the people of Tigray. With the right leadership and the right institutions there will be time for judgment. I am not saying any member of TPLF who is suspected of crime should not be arrested and tried. This is not a subject for political analysis. This is about jurisprudence, which has nothing to do with people. An individual steals or kills with his/her pair of hands, not with the hands of the people. Therefore, the crime is the responsibility of the individual. However, when the arms of jurisprudence are twisted to serve personal or group vendetta the science of law turns into dirty politics. Sadly, the game will be played accordingly on the threatened side too. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
What surprises me most is that the TPLF-People dichotomy is more vigorously tooted by the Tigrean opposition, notably by Ato Abraha Desta, Dr. Aregawi Berhe, Generals Tsadkan and Abebe, than the “other” side. These are heavy weight scholars and I cannot imagine that they are not getting the point. Abraha is saying “the worst enemy of the people of Tigray is TPLF”. Well and good if it really is! For scholars like him such conclusions are never reached without sufficient evidence. In the developed world no one jumps into such crazy conclusions without a poll. If the conclusion is based on the feelings reflected in the Arena meetings it is an unrepresentative sample; because Arena membership is not the whole people of Tigray. Dr. Aregawi Berhe displayed no decency when rudely insulting his own former comrades in arms as robbers, power mongers, and drunkards. Even our illiterate forefathers respect one another before killing each other. He could have continued the struggle regardless of difficulties instead of sneaking out into prosperous Europe and a PhD while his intelligent university friends were spending their precious youth in the mountains. I don’t think the TPLF he built is different after he was gone from what it was when he was leading it. “People living in glass houses should not be the first to throw stones”. I don’t think Dr. Aregawi can disentangle himself from what was happening in the early years of the TPLF when he was the supreme leader. When you point your index finger at someone three of your own fingers are pointing at you. This holds true for Generals Tsadkan and Abebe, and Ato Seye Abraha and Ato Gebru Asrat.
When ten years after EPRDF victory TPLF spilt into two halves the issue was not about the lack of good governance or poverty eradication in Tigray. It was about Eritrea. All of you supported the liberation of Eritrea; you worked for it and many under your commands died for it. Later on, with your power base shifted to the center you were busy tracing your fully Tigrean or Fully Ethiopian ancestry to help you put the blame for favoritism towards Eritrea by the “half-cast” Meles Zenawi (RIP). Now Isaias Afeworki is squarely here all that “half-cast” hodge-podge has become meaningless. So, it fair play to see the blame on TPLF coming from those never involved. It can only be interpreted as power mongering. Absolutely sure about Arena’s ascent to power in the next election without having any hint about for whom the people of Tigray are going to cast most of the ballots, Ato Abraha Desta was talking in an interview about the amnesty he was going to give to the TPLF leadership.
Everyone seems to be talking to themselves rather than to the people. The worst thing politicians can entertain in their heads is considering the people as a herd of livestock to be driven by a single loud cry. Learn to respect the people if you are to be respected. If the people of Tigray have become too poor to challenge authority because of their dependence on authority hand-outs politicians have to curse themselves rather than ran to the people just for ballots to get them to Addis Ababa. The opposition seems to lack a compass, is scattered and ambitious for power in the center. None of them are talking about what path to sustainable development they have in their purses for Tigray. They are busy blaming and cursing one another. The problem of Tigray is the problem of sustainable development. Arm-chair philosophizing in TV studios barely mentions poverty and how to deal with it.