ENOUGH IS ENOUGH ! – By Girma Kassa
Atrocities in the South Eastern part of Ethiopia have expanded exponentially. Hundreds of civilians have died in the fighting. People from more than 250 villages have been forced to flee the violence. More than 1.8 Million Ethiopians from Ogaden are at a serious risk of a humanitarian disaster.
I will primarily hold responsible the TPLF regime for all these atrocities. As a government the regime should have given priority to the safety and well-being of citizens. They should have gone extra miles to bringing rebel groups to dialog and peace. Instead they have continued relying of their gun.
Women were raped; villages were burned down to ground. What has been happening in Ogaden is genocide, a crime against humanity.
“The situation is calm now. The government has completely destroyed the ONLF” said a regional TPLF cadre. The question that must be asked and will surely be asked, tough, is not whether the situation is calm or not but how it has become “calm”. (Of course why wouldn’t they, at least temporarily, calm the situation when they completely and barbarically flatten villages and burn them to ground?)
The atrocities did not come only from TPLF security forces. As reported by Jason McClure of the Newsweek, the government is not the only source of fear. The ONLF steals food and forces people to fight by killing those who refuse. Elders in the regional capital, Jijiga, blame the ONLF for assassinations and regular grenade attacks in town. “They slaughter livestock, burn farmland and make people miserable,” says a 50-year-old elder, Salub Abdallah Mohammed complaining against the ONLF.
These are the results of unnecessary war. There are no good buddies in a war. All parties kill, all parties are agents of destruction and all must be condemned.
That is why Ethiopians in the Ogaden are tired of all groups who want to impose their will on them, by force. They are tired of living in fear. They are tired of smelling gun powders and hearing explosives. Yes, they want to be liberated; but liberated from the traumatization caused by both the TPLF and the ONLF. What they want is for the ONLF and TPLF to leave them alone.
“We are in trouble. We are caught between the Ethiopian government and the ONLF … between two guns.” says another 30 year man from Degahabur, to express that both the ONLF and the TPLF are the two sources of their problem.
“I hate them both: – the government and the ONLF. They should take their fighting far into the desert and continue with it until they are both gone. Then we can stop being frightened” says a young man who has come to visit his sister at Gode Hospital. The man referred this crazy and dirty civil war that his happening in Ogaden as “their fighting”. It is not a war for and by the people. It is not the people’s war. It is a war by a group who calls itself a “liberator” against another group who calls itself a “protector”. It is a war that has nothing to do with the well-being of civilians.
Some argue in support of the ONLF and justify some of its actions. If people are dying in hundreds, fleeing their villages in hundred of thousands, who would the ONLF liberate at the end? Serpents, scorpion’s mountains and trees of Ogaden…!
The armed struggle that the ONF has been waging has not helped. In fact it has made the whole situation worse. The ONLF has given tools and excuses for the bloody TPLF to unleash its tyranny on the population.
“It’s a cat-and-mouse game” says Abdi Rahman Mahdi, a rebel spokesman, referring to the guerrilla tactics of the ONLF. Come on ! This is not a game. This is innocent Ethiopians losing their lives and shedding their blood in hundreds. This is children and elders fleeing their villages in tens of thousands. When are we going to have some sense of humanty ???
The ONLF, if it believes in bringing solution with the barrel of the gun, it could have liberated villages and kept them safe from falling back again in the hand of the TPLF security forces, instead of melting back within the population. But it couldn’t. Its’ cut and run strategies have exposed the people for more reprisals from the part of TPLF security forces. That is wrong and that must stop.
I think, since the ONLF does not have the capability and the support to mount a full scale war that can push out the TPLF, it better come up to its sense and humanity , and start a new “fight” , on a new front, with new weapons. This new fight will not be only the ONLF’s fight, but it will also be the fight of the people. It will be owned by the people. It is a fight that can be joined by children, elders, women, men, nomads, urbanites …It is a fight that does not involve the killing of another Ethiopian. It is a fight that does not need explosives. It is a fight that is fought with new weapons, called love, forgiveness, and brotherhood.
“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of start … Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”, once said Dr Martin Luther King. It is time for the ONLF to say “no” to hate and say “yes” to love. It is time for the ONLF to do the right thing for the people of Ogaden. It is the time for a new beginning and new strategies.
Let the ONLF renounce violence and join the peaceful and non-violent campaign Kinijit and others have already launched. Let the empowerment and mobilization of the people living in Gode, Jijiga, Kebri Dehar, Jinakson, Dega habur, Welwel and all over Ethiopia be intensified. Let us all confront the TPLF with the tools that it does not have and the tactics it is not familiar with. Let us commemorates the blood of martyrs, our fellow brothers and sisters that have fallen all over Ethiopia, by committing ourselves to not kill another Ethiopian again. George Eliot once wrote:” The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice”. The choice is ours.
Some may call me weak and outright dismiss my call for peace as a defeat and humiliation. “How dare you question the ONLF ? “ some may ask ? Some websites may refuse to post this article.
However, I believe it is like giving the TPLF leaders a big blow on their face. It is like denying them the justification to kill. That is how I see it. I see it as wisdom and courage. I do not see it as a defeat or humiliation. (by the way even if it is a humiliation, as long as it can save the life of one Ethiopian, I would rather be humiliated than to see another Ethiopian die for nothing.)
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, my fellow Ethiopians. NO MORE BLOODSHED! As Mahtama Gandhi said:”An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind”. Do we want to be blind and live in darkness?