TPLF is fighting for relevance by recycling the scrapped secessionist agenda. As a proud man of Tigrayan heritage, I’d like to remind the world that Tigray is not TPLF.
Opinion by Yoseph Berhane
My parents were born in Tigray. I was born in Assela and grew up in Nazareth, present day Adama. I first visited Tigray in 1998 when I was 22 years old. Afterwards I worked in Tigray for 8 years from 2001 to 2009. My first daughter was born in Mekele.
More than 4 million Tigreans live in rural areas without access to road, electricity and water. I have been to 26 of the 34 districts of Tigray and I have always admired their resilience in the face of both natural and man-made adversities. The natural adversaries includes severe drought, shortage of rain and dilapidated land. The major man-made adversary is TPLF that has a spy cell in each household.
Despite all these adversities, the people of Tigray work hard and pray to God. In some of the Woredas I traveled, many people do not even eat three times a day. Yet they thank God whenever they go to bed. They are very proud of their Ethiopian identity. Go to every church in Tigray and you will see the Ethiopian flag without the TPLF posted emblem. TPLF has tried so many times to force Tigreans to use the flag with its emblem but has horribly failed. That is why TPLF hates the Ethiopian Church, black Africa’s first church that originated from present day Tigray. Many Tigreans stay silent and live in fear because everyone knows the almost half a century of TPLF brutality.The image of TPLF’s holy trinity, in rural Tigray
This week, current leader of TPLF, Debretsion Gebremichael said Tigreans are contemplating of succeeding from Ethiopia, in an interview with Reporter, owned and edited by a TPLF rebel veteran. But a proud man of Tigrean heritage, I know that Tigreans do not negotiate when it comes to Ethiopia and the Ethiopian flag. Tigreans do not flinch for a second to die for the two.
During WWII, British newspaper, the Guardian reported about the Tigre people being the center of the anti-fascist resistance in Ethiopia.
Speaking of the flag, to this day the TPLF flag is not accepted as the flag of Tigray by millions of Tigreans. For the last 40 years, the hard line Marxist rebel has brutally silenced the voice of 5 million people. The TPLF flag is waved as a flag of Tigray without consulting the very people that professed to liberate them from the so-called Amhara elites.
In 1975, TPLF mentioned how the people of Tigray were deliberately made to suffer economically by Amhara elites and how that led to unemployment, prostitution and migration, which in turn brought self-negligence to the Tigrean community and made them the politically separated and susceptible group in Ethiopia.
TPLF have been operating in Tigray for the last 44 years. Tigreans are migrating in all directions, as they cannot live in their land. We talk about the plight of Eritrean refugees. Yet nobody talks about Tigreans who are scattered everywhere. There are more than 200,000 Tigrean refugees. Many Tigreans continue to languish in various prisons in Tigray waiting for Ethiopians to help them be free.
The very problem that led TPLF to be a rebel group is happening on Tigreans again. The Amhara elites are fighting with TPLF and Tigreans are suffering, dying and migrating! TPLF is not willing to come to the table and discuss about what to do with the issue of Wolkait, Tsegede and Raya. Instead, they are preparing the people for an impending war. Tigreans do not need another war! The people of Tigray are tired of war and they want to live in peace with the people of Wolo, Gonder and Eritrea.
One will never find a Tigrean that has not sacrificed for the TPLF instigated armed struggle. Tens of thousands of Tigreans lost their lives. Many hoped that they would finally live in peace with the rest of Ethiopians. But what happened now is beyond everybody’s imagination and expectation. The struggle was never meant for this. Let alone doing something in Tigray, TPLF has destroyed what was there before they came to power.
For the last three years many Tigreans including myself have been using Facebook, Tweeter, blogs, vlogs, TV and radio stations trying to remind other Ethiopians the fact that the TPLF and the people of Tigray are not the same. As Nebiyu Sihul Mikael said a major fault line is a tendency, particularly strong among the political elites in Addis Ababa to equate TPLF and the Tigray people.
Nebiyu noted how this tactical and theoretical misstep has been the main reason for TPLF’s survival. He further noted how PM Abiy’ Ahmeds squeeze on Tigray is allowing TPLF to regenerate its popular support, effectively exonerating the party of its failures and trespasses.Tigreans mourning the dead in a boat accident in the Red Sea
Progressive Tigreans need to educate other Ethiopians about their community especially in today’s highly divided and polarized Ethiopia. Tigreans never discriminate a person based on ethnicity or religion. That’s Un-Tigrean! Tigreans die for truth, justice and freedom. The great of people of Tigray hate injustice, violence and discrimination. Yet, they are attacked in some parts of Ethiopia for crimes TPLF thugs committed. The people of Tigray have not benefited from the TPLF’s 27 years rule in Ethiopia.
To the contrary, Tigray has been a victim of the authoritarian rule more than any other parts of Ethiopia. Even before the 2005 elections where there was a little opening in Addis Ababa, there were no newspapers or free associations in Tigray. When free press was declared in early 1990s in Ethiopia, it never appended in Tigray. TPLF do not want anyone to do something in Tigray. They are only concerned about their need and reputation.
As Lidetu Ayalew said on Tigray Governance Forum, there are three kinds of Tigreans. The first ones are die-hard TPLF members. The second ones are those who support TPLF because they know the outcome of dissent. The third ones, as in the words of Lidetu are those who hate TPLF more so than any other Ethiopians. Their number is in millions. PM Abiy once said, “They were on the streets of Mekelle insulting me. I love that. That is democracy.” One can guess which ones were insulting him.
The media in Ethiopia is shockingly neglectful in its coverage of the TPLF authoritarian rule in Tigray. Ethiopian journalists and social media activists do not spare a mention to the terror occurring in Tigray. The terror is very real. TPLF is by far the worst Tigreans have ever seen. Without action, Tigreans will continue to suffer under the rule of TPLF.
How shall we work things out? It has now become clear that the federal government will not have a change of policy to get Tigreans on board. The only better way to facilitate positive reforms in Tigray is to force TPLF to hand over power to the people in the region. Very soon young people in Tigray as the young people in Oromia, Amhara and other regions did will rise and surge throughout Tigray. We need to solve the mutual mistrust and fear between Tigreans and the Amhara. As Yohannes Woldemariam said, it poses a grave challenge to a future democratic and united Ethiopia.
We urge the federal government to engage with Tigrean activists who are working for peace and justice to prevail in Tigray. Accusing us of inciting violence and misinformation is counterproductive. Tigre Media Network is a voice for the deliberately silenced Tigreans in Tigray and everywhere who are fighting to defeat TPLF that has held them hostage for the last 44 years.
Follow the writer and others @tigremedianet, they post untold stories of Tigray, the last remaining prison in Ethiopia.