By Tadesse Insermu — Jawar, a relatively new arrival to the cyber world politicking, has recently posted yet another interesting analysis under the title “Tigrean Nationalism: From Revolutionary Force to Weapon of Repression.” This essay was posted on ethioforum.org/wp/ and oromoindex.com simultaneously some time mid last week. The timing and entry point he earlier used to join the cyber crowd, though may not have caused to raise our eye brows has surely made him someone to be observed with big interest as we go along. It is with this rudimentary impression about him that I read the aforementioned essay he had posted.
I would say that I truly enjoyed reading it. The source of that enjoyment is not that I necessarily concur with all that he said, but rather the lucid manner in which he presented all what he had to say. Besides, through this piece of writing, he has already contributed a lot to the on-going political discourse by providing us with a much broader setting within which we can appreciate the fragmented and piece meal aspects of that transformation he had reflected in the title of his essay.
Through this same piece of writing, he has also managed to clearly show how the present Ethiopian government disproportionally favors one region, how this entity is currently engaged in pillaging the country’s resources, what sort of wicked tactics it is using and most importantly arrived at a persuasive conclusion that calls for the need to remove the incumbent regime. He wrote,” The longer this regime remains in power, the higher the stakes and the more dangerous the outcome will be.” I could say no better than this other than reinforcing it by stating that is truly so.
Having said this much about the significance and overall contributions of this essay, I will directly proceed to reflect on some of the issues that I believe deserve further scrutiny.
Jawar wrote,” This situation of permanent threat and insecurity faced by the Tigrean peasants and elite in all sectors has showed Meles Zenawi to prevent the possibility of loyalty shift amongst his ethnic support base. Predictably, his opponents have been playing their part of the game by waging anti-Tigrean rhetoric. During the 2005 election, for instance, certain opposition figures and supporters made insensitive accusations and remarks against Tigreans, which helped Meles to declare the possibility of Interhmwee –genocide like campaign against Tigreans.”
This is completely a wrong assertion. Whoever has been tracking the political processes in the country would realize that the interhmwee factor has long been made to hover over the political climate of the country as one of Woyanne’s scare tactics. Actually, Prime Minister Meles was the one who for the first time intentionally injected this issue of Interhamwee into the country’s political domain. Three years prior to the 2005 election, the Prime Minister stunned the nation by drawing a parallel between situations in the country with that of genocide in Rwanda during the discussion he held with the Addis Ababa University community. Some enraged participants of that meeting tried in vain to persuade him abandon entertaining such extreme views by showing him how mistaken he was in drawing that parallel. What was most surprising was not that he raised the issue but how he preferred to conclude the discussion on this particular topic. The Prime Minister said, “You have every right to believe that our situation is qualitatively different from that of Rwanda and there is no possibility for such similar things to happen here. As for me, I am not convinced.”
Some dismissed his stated ‘concern’ as being out of step with the reality while some others were truly disturbed by the manner he tried to conclude this topic. No one suspected then that he was actually blackmailing the country. His subsequent actions clearly showed that he deliberately depicted Rwanda like situation to be in the horizon in order for him to implement those misguided policies that Jawar had skillfully articulated. His concluding remark actually was like saying “You silently swallow what I got in the store for you or this country will turn to Rwanda like situation”. It is now clear that even those so called “insensitive accusations” alleged to have been made by opposition groups were not made by the oppositions as such but by those infiltrators whose mission presumably had been to deliberately hurl those “insensitive accusations” so that the Prime Minister would instantly use that as an excuse to butcher peaceful election protestors. This being the case, trying to now shift the blame onto the oppositions is like “Yeabayen ikek Wodimaye lekek.” Of course, this is not to mean that oppositions have never played into woyanne’s traps in the past or to claim that they would totally be immune from that in the future. However, on this particular incident, the role of the opposition is grossly mischaracterized and misrepresented in the essay.
Jawar wrote, “TPLF’s excessive favoritism of the Tigray region is systematically ‘exposed’ to the opposition and to the general public. TPLF’s own homemade satellite parties (PDOs) were created to debate and defend the disproportional growth of the Tigray region. Public debate was deliberately orchestrated to expose the level of disparity to the rest of the country in an effort to make the issue a major topic of discussion amongst the general public. In other words, the ruling party was framing the agenda for the opposition.”
This is one of the most absurd claims made by Jawar. Had this been written by someone else, I would have readily interpreted it as some sort of a calculated preemptive propaganda strike. But, as it is written by Jawar, who himself has gone to a great length to expose Woyanne’s despicable ‘ethno-racist’ policies; I chose to focus on straightening the facts alone for now.
To start with, why Woyanne needs to ‘systematically expose’ its policy of ‘excessive favoritism towards Tigray region’ to peoples of other regions in the first place? Isn’t this a naked policy that is being implemented through massacres, tortures, mass incarcerations and denial of people’s rights? Isn’t this the main factor behind putting the army under the command of officers coming from that very region?
Up until now, Woyanne has been trying to derail the focus of the people from this issue of ‘excessive favoritism’ to that of concocted distracting issues such as deliberately inciting clashes between peoples of diverse origins here and there. Even such sacred domains like religious diversities were not spared from being used to serve this purpose. Through such manipulations, it so far has managed to ‘divide and rule’ and, of course, was able to frame the agenda for oppositions and the wider public. Until recently, this has been the dominant scenario. But, not this time. For the first time, during Woyanne’s reign, the oppositions have successfully managed to proactively frame the agenda for the upcoming national election. An agenda that will enable us to set all distracting issues aside and focus on this policy of ‘excessive favoritism’ that aggressively is being implemented through Woyanne owned business companies. This is going to be the major issue to be addressed. All the rest are derivatives or extensions of this misguided policy.
If free press is being suppressed or the army is put under the exclusive command of persons coming from one region or peoples of other regions are subjected to continuous harassment and persecution or private businesses owned by peoples of other regions are being driven out of their legal businesses, all these are happening because of this policy. Woyanne will never ever frame such agenda item for oppositions as claimed by Jawar “to make the issue a major topic of discussion amongst the general public”. Rather, this is the issue it tries hard to avoid from getting tractions with the people. This is the issue it tries to get it sidelined, blurred and eventually fade away from the focus of the general public. However, this time, no degree of somersaulting, propaganda manipulations or proliferation of other distractions can relegate this aside as a back burner issue. That is basically why I consider the validity of Jawar’s claim on this particular issue as way, way, way out of the line.
A simple common sense tells me that Woyanne may not leave a single stone unturned to get this issue off the country’s political table right now. What I am not so sure is whether or not that attempt descends to include even the ‘merkato lebotch’ tactics. The merkato thieves are notorious for their avoidance of hot pursuit by rushing from the crime scene in different directions themselves shouting ‘leba!’,’leba!’. If what Jawar claims as ‘systematically exposes the favoritism’ is like that of ‘merkato lebotch’ deceptive maneuver, I don’t know. If that is the case, then we may be compelled to emulate from those police officers who deal with those thieves. The officers usually discard the shouts and concentrate on tracking the foot print. We too may need to focus on tracking the foot print.
Jawar has rightly assessed the current state of the country’s armed forces and arrived at the following alarming conclusion; “Today, the military is on the verge of implosion. In the past three years alone, there have been numerous unreported mutinies, and the regime has purged or grounded all Oromo and Amhara high ranking officers.” This is so when we scrutinize things only in light of the live ones. Even this gloomy picture doesn’t fully depict the abyss into which the country has now sunk. One needs to add Woyanne’s policy towards the deceased to get a better insight into what it really is.
Just to cite a single example, let me touch upon Major General Mulugeta Buli’s case. The late Major General Mulugeta Buli was one of the country’s renowned high ranking officers having an Oromo origin. Prior to joining the Imperial army, he had served his country by courageously resisting the invading Italian fascists by joining his fellow compatriots. In the wake of the Emperor’s return from exile, he was assigned to serve in the country’s armed forces where he served until the time of his death, year 1960. He was one of the Emperor’s notable officials killed during the aborted coup of Neway brothers. After his death, the Emperor posthumously honored him for his patriotic contributions by naming Holeta Military Training Center after him. This honor was respected by Derg regime too. After few years in power, for the reason not known to Ethiopian people until this moment, Woyanne erased his name and replaced it by the name of one of its Generals. Even the remains of the deceased could not escape from that disease of “ethno-racist” policy. Such a political group that acutely is suffering from self-inflicted political gangrene is the one that tries to sell itself now as the most ‘stable government’ in the horn region. For those who are ready to listen, we all have spoken clear and loud. The judgment is theirs. The only appeal we have for our allies is “TO HELP US BUILD OUR CAPACITY TO HOLD BEST ELECTION AND NOT HOW TO BEST MANAGE ELECTION CRISIS” Amen!