John Andrew Holmes, a 20th century American physician and writer best known for wisdom in small doses, once said, “ There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting up people.” Many of you have done just that when you donated your hard-earned money to the GoFundMeaccount created on behalf of Haleka Mieti Meles Beyene Alem (Tatek). After all transaction fees paid by donors, 50,448.00 Ethiopian Birr has been wired to the beneficiary (Tatek). During my phone conversation with him on February 26, 2018, he asked me to convey his heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in the fundraising campaign, and he said that he was going to put the money as down payment to towards the purchase of a house.
Tatek’s case is by no means the exception; rather, it is a norm among the former fighters of the TPLF that toppled the brutal regime known as the Derg. The road to victory was not easy for it took the lives of more than 60,000 martyrs. The families of these martyrs have not received any meaningful compensation, if any, and still languish in abject poverty. To add insult to injury, these very people are being blamed for leading a lavish life style at the expense of their Ethiopian compatriots under the utterly baseless “Hulum neger wede-Tigray” mantra. This type of unsubstantiated claimis nothing new to most of us who have been following the political discourse of the Ethiopian state for the last 26 years, and we had largely assumed such assertions as the propaganda ploy of the few extremist adversaries of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
However,it seems that the extremists have achieved an illusion of truth by repeating the lie often and big enough. The ugly side of their propaganda is clearly manifested in the recent wave of protests in Ethiopia targeting property, and, at times, lives of people who hailed from Tigray. The people of Tigray don’tdeserve this, to say the least. Needless to say, Tigray is the heart of Ethiopia, and home to more than six million people who have been the cornerstone and defenders of the sovereignty of Ethiopia for millennia. Our celebrated 3000 year history of the Ethiopian civilization is written in the mountains of Tigray, and the Tigrean Ethiopians, together with other Ethiopians, have been the custodians of that proud history. There is no Ethiopia without Tigray, and its people. Even questioning the contribution of the Tigray people to the unity of Ethiopia is tantamount to outright treachery on the part of the extremists.
In closing, I would like to thank everyone who participated in the GoFundMe campaign for Tegadalay Tatek. While mainly the TPLF party is responsible for helping the former fighters such as Tatek and their families, I believe we, too, have a moral obligation to help them in any way possible. Hence, I call on the government of the Tigray state, the TPLF and individual citizens to support our heroes and heroines who sacrificed a lot for us to realize today’s Ethiopia.
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