An Appeal letter to Diaspora Ethiopian Tigreans! By Ghirmay Ghezahagn
Dear Ethiopian Tegaru Diaspora Members who are coming for Tigray Festival to eqelle! We residents of Tigray would like to bring our concern to your attention. This is an appeal posted by Save Adina on FB and we find it relevant to send it to websites to be published. When we heard our sisters/brothers are coming home, we are highly motivated to herald Save Adna’s message to them believing that they are not coming home for vacation only. Hence, we hope this call will get to every Ethiopian Tigaru’s address!
IMPORTANT: መልእኽቲ ንተሳተፍቲ ፌስቲቫል ዲያስፖራ ተጋሩ ኣብ መቐለ
A message to Diaspora Tegaru who will be participating in the upcoming Festival: Here I am forwarding six fundamental questions which I assume are detrimental to our survival as a community of nations and must be addressed during your festival in Meqelle.
Dear participants: The paramount issues I would like to bring to your attention are as follows. I hope you will not undermine these important issues and leave it unchallenged. You might not understand how important raising these issues is to the people of Tigray in particular and Ethiopia in General.
Challenging the officials by discussing the issues with them might mean a lot to our people and country. Over here, our people have no any chance to meet the appropriate authorities let alone share their concerns with them. And even if they get a chance to meet them somewhere by any coincidence, no official is ready to listen to their concerns. Our officials are becoming the untouchables. No ear is given to the cry of our people.
Now, we are told that fellow Diaspora Tigaru are coming home to take part in a festival celebration which will be held in Meqelle. Your coming home is great and we are ready to embrace and welcome you. But, at the same time we would like to remind you to take the challenges you will be facing into account. Ahead of your arrival to the festival, Prepare yourself well, collect and equip yourself with all the information that the people are facing, make your analyses and submit to the officials in writing and discuss the problems with them. If needed have courage to challenge with the issues listed below in addition to your own findings. They don’t listen to us doesn’t mean they don’t listen to you. Most of the time, our officials are ready to listen to those of you who are coming from abroad. Hence, the probability of influencing them is more likely to you than to us who are residing here in Ethiopia.
Besides, please share this message also to all those whom it may concern (esp participants) before the event. The people of Tigray want see these 6 fundamental questions of existence addressed and solved sooner than later.
1. Development issues:
A. A significant part of the population of Tigray still lives under the mercy of food aid. Close to one million people are getting their daily bread by the mercy of safety net. When will we be food self-sufficient? Our officials are claiming the state’s produce of 75 million quintals (30 % of the national crop production of 250 million) while the truth in the ground says otherwise. Why all these lies? Why cooking data miles apart from the truth? This is something that needs great attention. Please check these cooked data with the reality on the ground! Neither the state of Tigray nor Mother Ethiopia will develop by doctoring data!
B. What foot prints did the GTP leave in Tigray? Why did the officials in Tigray state wanted Tigray be out of the industry zone? while TPLF was talking for years now “industry is the future of Tigray”? What happened to the 18 factories they were telling us for years to construct (the 2 biggest being a PVC company in Maymekden) in cooperation with EFFORT and partners? How about the multibillion projects the Defense’s Engineering wing was said to establish like the steel factory and others? How come it fails to open just one while it has opened plenty in other places? How about the railway? How come the state fails to score a single success? Why couldn’t we see just one GTP plan get realized in the state? Just one! The GTP plan in Tigray is 100 % failure. What happen? What does planning mean if not realized?
C. The SAERT irrigation project was massively moving until it was stopped by a unilateral order of Ato Meles Zenawi through Tekleweyni Asefa. According to the master plan of the SAERT, Tigray was to be food self-sufficient by 2008 by installing 500 micro and medium sized dams for irrigation. Was there any discussion among our irrigation experts as to why it was necessary to fold the project? If that project was disapproved by the concerned experts what was done with allocated budget? Where did it gone? If there was any alternative project what for project was that? Where and what is the status of the project today? What scientifically proven and adaptable, sound projects, technologies have you put in place to replace it? Can we have a copy of the expert’s conclusion? Was replacing the project with “‘ሆረየ’ and ባንኪ ማይ” done in consultation with concerned experts? Does the state government understand why it is failed?
D. What happened to project Golgol Raya, Abergele Animal husbandary and similar projects?
E. The most educated, capable and experienced Tigrians are unwelcome here. They now prefer to work outside of Tigray. Why is it so and when will this out-migration end? Because of this, Tigray remains inefficiency of all the states to run the bureaucracy in Tigray state. Why? Why every year the regional budget is returned to the federal government unused; 2003 E.C- 40%; 2004- 36 %, 2005- 29 % while there are massive problems remaining unsolved? How much of the budget reported as used is put in work? In a state with such a pervasive corruption how much money is reported embezzled or improperly stolen in the state and what action did the administration took to mitigate it?
F. Don’t you think the data that explains the growth and prosperity in Tigray is exaggerated? What we see in the data is totally different with the fact we see on the ground! How do we explain this incoherence? Despite the numbers in the state’s data, our people remains still the poorer and marginalized. Year after year government owned media tells us billions of seedlings are planted, so many land is irrigated, thousands of farmers are made millionaire,…etc. is that true? If yes, where are they? Please, try to visit the cites if mentioned and take your own observation.
A research, which was funded by the regional government, conducted by DR. Z of mekele university (full name hidden for security reasons) three years back revealed very shocking result, showing the massive poverty level in Tigray (52 % living under poverty line). This research publication was rejected by the state government as the research finding contradicted the official statements and data (less than 30 %). Why hide the truth? True, there are very few people close to the system, close to EFFORT who are multimillionaires now, but the majority of our people still remains very poor. When will this end?
G. After 23 years in power, water shortage in almost all towns in Tigray remains unsolved. Mekelle and Shire are hit the hardest and the problem is getting even worse. Why is the state government not giving the needed attention and solve the problem? Year after year, we were hearing hundreds of millions are allocated, and yet, we didn’t see anything being done. Nothing! Why? There are evidences of massive corruption (in billions) in the Tigray water Enterprise. The previous manager, Eng. Getachew, (Haleka’s nephew), embezzled 120 million birr; and he was sneaked out through Bole and after being triad in abstention , sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment; and yet, he is walking free in the streets of Japan. Why no effort was made to bring him home? Similarly, the succeeding manager, a close person to the palace by blood, said to have embezzled millions, is recently promoted to lead EPRDF bureau let alone to 3 be brought to justice. Why? The health service delivery, electricity, and other services too are very poor. Why?
H. The bureaucracy in Tigray remains the most ineffective, incapable and deterring. Tigray is becoming the symbol of failure. They may start a thing and it never gets to completion; 8 years on, the stadium remains with only 25 % completion while Bahirdar finalizes it in just three years, and Hawassa’s is nearing completion; so does Adama and others. Welkayt sugar factory is at only 12% while the plan was to complete it by October 2013, and there are reports that it is almost stopped as no budget is allocated to go further; Almost none of the plans in GTP is put into place, e.t.c. practically, there was no, and there still is no project in Tigray in the past 10 years with fair accomplishment. This is all because the well-educated and capable have no place! Till when are we going to be symbol for failure and incapability?
I. From what is being heard the state is planning to upgrade 10 health centers to a level of
primary hospitals. What does this mean? Do the 10 health centers really qualify to be upgraded to the level of Hospital? How come the Tigray state fail to build hospitals that fulfill the standard of a Hospital? In fact, there was no hospital built by the regional government in the past five years while some regions opened up to 40. Why? Health center is built with a capacity to serve 15,000-25,000 and a primary hospital- up to 100,000. How can a setup built for 15-25,000 people serve 100,000? Is it just about changing name? Why?
J. An Italian investor had introduced a Silkworm that devastated the huge cactus (በለስ) plantation in Tigray. Now, People and animals eating it are getting sick. Realizing, the damage he caused, the Italian so called investor has left the country. Why did things turn out this way? Why the government did neglect the role of the educated? Shouldn’t the Tigray state government have consulted professionals before giving licenses for this project’s environmental impact?
K. Who owns EFFORT? Why our people are denied any information about this conglomerate? What are our people benefitting from EFFORT? Why EFFORT has never been audited? Why the people have never heard the audit report? Why are most of the EFFORT companies going bankrupt, let alone to grow? Where is the profit going to? Why EFFORT denies private sector involvement in manufacturing in Tigray? Why EFFORT sells its products at far higher price in Tigray than elsewhere (Ex. Mesebo Cement)? What is the future of EFFORT?
2. Democratization and people’s participation in civil life:
A. When is TPLF leadership going to tolerate dissent, any critical but constructive opposition in Tigray? Why is it anybody with alternative ideas seen as a threat, as an enemy? Why the opposition in Tigray is subject to imprisonment, torture, loss of livelihood and all forms of mistreatment? Why do you name anybody with different idea all the bad names in the world? Why do you need to kill all minds? Isn’t it killing, destroying a nation?
B. Tegaru are currently living in an atmosphere of fear and suspicion? No one trusts anyone in Tigray. The social cohesion of our people is disrupted with mistrust. Literally talking, Tigray is a police state. When will the regime stop this widespread phobia?
C. Why are you always fearful of the media, civic societies, and professional organizations?
D. In a research conducted by a professor from mekele university found out that Tigray has the lowest transparency in governance. There are many talks of how some of the previous TPLF CC members were ousted/pressurized to voluntarily resign, and it was presented as if everything went smooth. What is this all secrecy?
E. More than 6 thousand houses in Mekele, many more tens of thousands in Alamata, Korem, Mekoni, Maichew, Shire, Wukro are demolished overnight. Why do they have to commit such crimes while they could have prevented their construction (if they indeed are illegal)?
The officials who gave the permit for their construction are equally responsible. None of
them are investigated to this date. Why? The saddest is the destruction of a green area
called GEREB BUBU in Mekelle by the TPLF officials and their cronies. Around 40 members of the central committee and famous merchants had illegally seized the area kept green for years. They distributed the area allocated by the municipality for fauna and flora amongst themselves at a lease rate of 1 birr 32 cents, which is a rate 100 times smaller than the current lease rate, and the construction is still under way. People call it “Aparthaid Mender”.
Why all the boldness?
3. Education and investment:
A. **In the same research and similar research by another professor of Mekele university showed:
a. Tigray has the highest drop-out rate from all levels of education (elementary, high school, university) in Ethiopia. Even Afar and Somalia are better than Tigray. How do they intend to improve the situation?
b. Tigray is the least in terms of quality of education and every year, more Tigreans fail in the national exams than anywhere in the country. In 2003 e.c, Tigray was the least in terms of the percentage of tenth grade students passing the national exam. It continues unimproved since then. In 2005 E.C tenth grade national exams, only 28 % made it while the country average was 35 %. Why all this disparity? Where are we heading to?
c. Tigray attracts the lowest level investment, and the lowest investment per capita in Ethiopia. The lowest! The regime in Tigray chooses the specific areas investors could involve. They are usually Hotels, other service givers, and they don’t want investors to get involved in manufacturing and other heavy industries. This is exclusively kept for the shadowy conglomerate EFFORT. Why?
d. Tigray produces the highest number of street children in Ethiopia, and Tigray has the highest infant mortality rate. Why? Where is the 20 years of lie and empty propaganda?
B. Crucial institutions of education like MIT and Kelamino are currently being shut down or nearing closure. Why? Why is MIT being shut down and being transferred to MU? The MIT which was established by the hard work of Araya Zerihun and many other dedicated Tegarus to train the best engineers, technologist for the nation, was initially tried to turn it to cadre and spy school, and when the students resist, you are shutting it down! Why? Don’t you have any plans for the future of the people?
• Where is all the EFFORT money going to?
What are our people getting from EFFORT? Why is it not audited? Why the people are kept blind about it? Whom is it enriching, who is making use of the money, the profit? There are numerous rumors of corruption in EFFORT where even a guard owns G+6 and they remain unquestioned let alone to return the money they rob. Why?
Corruption has become the normal working system of the region, and officials, when they are caught; they are never questioned, never made to return the money let alone to pass through any legal process. They say they are made to change working place and assigned with a bigger promotion, bigger power, as long as they are “loyal” to the party. Why? 5
People in Mekelle call a certain area in the town “Musna Mender” because people (officials) with just 5000 birr salary own G+4, G+5, cars, and every other luxury. How come this happen? Ethiopia ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in the world now. There are reports of billions of dollars of capital flights. The situation is even worse in Tigray. The system is corrupt head to toe and there is no political will to fight corruption in Tigray. A politician can loot as
much as he intends, and he goes away unquestioned as long as he is politically “loyal”.
5. Why wanting to harm our unity? Why destroying Tigray’s centuries old history?
It’s painful to say it, but true, the internal unity of the people of Tigray has been hurt due to the wrongful acts and non-inclusive system of T.P.L.F where almost the whole system seems controlled by people from one locality, and many others felt alienated. The unwise and venomous intentional and unintentional wording of some officials is never to be mentioned here. Why some of the big officials are so myopic, narrow, and so divisive? Why is this all? You also seem to be apathetic to the history of Tigray before 1983. You destroyed the palace of Ras Araya Dimtsu in Aynalem and built on top of it what is today MIT. This is 20 years ago when land was abundant. You destroyed hundreds of years old historical Hidmos in Mekelle against the advice of UNESCO people; You are destroying Endaraesi, built by Ras Gugsa, along with its hundreds of years old big trees; you Destroyed the prison where Operation Agazi was undertook; You prevented the erection of monument for Yohannes in Mekelle; you renamed a school built by the local people and named after Ras Alula to Meles; Yohaness palace is losing its originality; they are painting it with white lime and it looks like a villa house built just yesterday, e.t.c…there are a lot more similar stories throughout Tigray. You want to portray the Tigray of thousands of years of magnificent history as just 23 or 39 years old! Why? Why?
6. Why resistance and unwillingness to create new visionary, capable educated leaders?
The current regime in Tigray, TPLF, has no any intention of creating new capable, visionary leaders, and is apparently academia phobic. A people who failed to produce good leaders are doomed to fail. This is a very critical issue. Why the most capable, educated and visionaries are pushed aside and all appointments based on mere loyalty and locality? Now, the bureaucracy and all the political appoints are held by ill-educated fake degree holders, the incapable, and the visionless corrupts who are phobic of the educated and most capable as they consider them as possible threat, how are we going to create new capable leaders of tomorrow? Why can’t you think beyond your big bellies for the generations to come? Is that you don’t want or simply you can’t? Does TPLF really have any vision for the people 20, 50 years from now? Do you really care for the generations to come, for the future of the people and the land? We are left leaderless!