Where are the True Tigres? By Gemechu Ababiya
It is worrisome that the people of Tigre have yet to join the struggle for justice, freedom, and equality in Ethiopia. They have stood on the sidelines when the peaceful Oromo and Amhara demonstrators are being killed by the regime. Some people have suggested that the Tigres are silent because they are more oppressed by the TPLF regime than any other ethnic group in Ethiopia. If that is really the case, then the Tigres have all the reasons to rebel against oppression in solidarity with the Oromos and Amharas.
But I don’t buy the argument that the Tigres are more oppressed. The regime is not an equal opportunity oppressor or benefactor. It is highly “home biased” in its oppression and dispensation of economic benefits. Political control, tribal politics, and material benefits explain the indifference of the Tigres towards the slaughter of the Oromos and Amharas.
No doubt, the Tigres are administratively, politically, and ideologically controlled by the TPLF regime. The ideological control of the TPLF over many Tigres is exemplified by the crazed Tigre woman who recently posted her tirade against the Oromos and Amharas on YouTube. She was spewing out the hatred that her Woyane masters, Abay Tsehaye and his ilk, drilled into her little brain. Sadly, the TPLF has created a substantial number of diehard devotees, individuals like her, who are ready to insult, demonize, and murder peaceful protestors. The TPLF has garnered a lot of support among numerous Tigres through its political control, ideological domination, and economic bribery. One should not underestimate the support the TPLF enjoys from countless Tigres, especially among the Tigres in the Diaspora.
Since the regime follows the tribal politics of divide and rule, it has not victimized the Tigres as much as the other ethnic groups. The Tigres have not been stigmatized as an ethnic group; instead, they have been elevated “as the golden” people. They have not been evicted from their farms en masse as an ethnic group; instead, many Tigres have been settled in the fertile lands belonging to the Amharas, the Afars, and the people of Gambella. The Tigres have not been discriminated against as an ethnic group; on the contrary, they have been the main beneficiaries of the apartheid system. So, the claim that the Tigres are more oppressed is factually wrong.
The TPLF identifies ideologically with the Tigres (it does not call itself the Gurage Liberation Front for a reason). Remember “General” Samosa has said, “The TPLF is the Tigres and the Tigres are the TPLF”. The Tigres also relate to the TPLF as a Tigre organization, and many echo the “General’s” assertion.
No, I am not suggesting that the regime represents the people of Tigre because political representation flows from a democratic election. When people vote for a political party, the party can legitimately claim to represent them. Since there has never been a free and fair election in Tigre or elsewhere in Ethiopia, the TPLF cannot claim to represent the Tigres.
As a result of more than 40 years of TPLF control, many Tigres sympathize, identify, and commiserate with the Woyane regime. For these Tigres, opposing the TPLF is betraying their tribe. Tribal loyalty supersedes inter-ethnic solidarity. We should not overlook this reality.
The material benefits that the Tigres have enjoyed over the past 25 years from the apartheid system created by the TPLF has corrupted their strategic alliance with the rest of the Ethiopian people. The TPLF regime has transferred an enormous amount of wealth from the rest of Ethiopia, mostly from Oromia, to the Tigres. Whose resources are being used to modernize Tigre; to build the best public hospitals, universities, clinics, and schools in Ethiopia? Who is paying for the modern high-rises, the boulevards, the second largest international airport in Mekele? Who owns the largest 100 companies in Ethiopia (excepting the Sheik)? Who owns the tallest 10 buildings in Addis Ababa/Finfine (excepting the Sheik)?
Why is it the birth right of only the uneducated or semi-educated, incompetent, and corrupt Tigres to be appointed Patriarchs of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, ministers of Foreign Affairs, “generals” and chiefs of staff of the army, heads of the security forces, chairpersons of the boards of the Bank of Ethiopia and the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, managers of state-owned enterprises, and to hold other privileged positions? Who transforms overnight from being a penniless vagrant wondering the streets of Mekele to becoming a multi-millionaire residing in the upscale neighborhood of Bole? Who is grabbing land throughout Ethiopia?
On the other hand, how many Oromos or Amharas have taken Tigre land? None. How many Oromo, Amhara, Gurage, Afar, Somali, or Wolayta business people operate in Mekele? None. Need I continue? What we have witnessed in Ethiopia over the last 25 years is the crudest form of tribal wealth expropriation, organized robbery by the Woyane state. Oppressed by the Woyane rulers, robbed of their wealth by the Woyane invaders, brutalized by the Woyane killers, and tired of carrying the Woyane Tigres on their backs, the Ethiopian people are final saying enough is enough: leave us alone and go back to your killil.
Under Haile Selassie’s regime, the privileged Amhara students and intellectuals, the children of the neftagnas, fought against their “own” government. They led the Ethiopian student movement; they championed the rights of the Oromo farmer under the slogan “land to the tiller”; they raised the “national question” of the oppressed nationalities to bring about equality. And they paid dearly for advancing the common cause of freedom, justice, and equality.
So far, the privileged Tigre students and intellectuals have either acquiesced in or supported the killings of peaceful demonstrators. Why are they unable to see beyond the tribal perimeter defined by the TPLF? Why can’t they liberate themselves from the TPLF’s ideological shackle? Where are the true Tigres, the followers of Brihane Meskel Reda, Tesfay Debassy, or Ras Mengasha Seyoum? Your silence is deafening. Whether you participate or not, the march for freedom, justice, and equality continues, but history will judge you, and judge you harshly.
Gemechu Ababiya is a politically independent Oromo Ethiopian