Minority ethnic domination of the military in Ethiopia: The central issue that has eluded candor national debate – By Neamin Zeleke

May 27th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

Several Ethiopian scholars and political commentators alike have argued in the past that the TPLF regime in Ethiopia has been promoting the domination of a minority ethnic elite, (more…)

Several Ethiopian scholars and political commentators alike have argued in the past that the TPLF regime in Ethiopia has been promoting the domination of a minority ethnic elite, i.e., the Tigreans, in all spheres of the nation’s life — economy, military, intelligence and security services, foreign affairs, etc. Much has been said and many have commented upon the blatant nature of the drive to ensure the domination of Tigrayan elites who claim to represent only 6% of close to 80 million Ethiopians.

Dr. Berhanu Balcha, a member of the Network of Ethiopian Scholars in Scandinavia (NES), wrote an article under the title “Minority domination and Ethnic Federalism.” In the article published by many of the Ethiopain Websites, Dr. Berhanu aptly argued:

…according to the principles of its own ideology of fair and equal representation of ethic groups, the TPLF, which represents the Tigray province with its 6 percent of the Ethiopian population, should have assumed a minority role, if its intention has not been a minority ethnic hegemony via ethnic federalism. Because it has operated contrary to the rule of its own game, the TPLF is operating as an instrument of coercion and domination rather than equality and freedom.”

He continues:

…as a result, the ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia has been characterized by economic monopoly, militaristic domination, and brutal suppression of the rights of the majority of the Ethiopian people, by the TPLF. In a nutshell, the ethnic federal project in Ethiopia has become a device for the implementation and protection of the hegemonic position of the tiny minority Tigrayan elites who have been aiming to have a dominant control of resources that the Ethiopian state controls and generates…”

In the name of a ridiculous notion of “organizational solidarity,” almost all of the ethnically drawn regions under the TPLF ethnic federal arrangement are controlled by Tigrayans running the show. In fact, the pattern has been dubbed in Amharic as “tako”. There are Amharas, Oromos, Southern, and individuals from the plethora of ethnic groups of Ethiopia holding formal positions, yet the real decision makers, movers, and shakers are Tigrayans deemed loyal to the ruling party, the Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne).

It is important to note what is written in a recent statement released by AFAR MOVEMENT (AM) – QAFAR UGUGUMO. The statement mentions a UN Report 2002 that indicates that about 98% of directorial, managerial, adviser, technician and engineering positions in the State of Afar are all occupied by non-Afar speaking people. The statement discloses quoting an ex-cabinet member of the Afar state that “All advisers and expertise are all Tigreans.”

So much for the so-called “equality of nations and nationalities” under the TPLF ethnic federal arrangement that purports to ensure the devolution of power and self-government to the ethnically drawn regions.

Ginbot 7′s latest statement provides a comprehensive list of the key and commanding positions held by Tigrayns in the military. By any stretch of imagination, it is not possible that 6% of the population have the unique capacity to command and control 95% of the command posts in the military. It is not possible by any kind of qualitative measurement for promotion — merit, experience, education and other criteria — that a single and minority ethnic group would have what it takes to hold 57 out of the 61 key and mission critical positions within the national military. Nothing can be further from the truth; the only thing that they have is their ethnicity and political loyalty to be able to totally dominate the military in such grossly disproportional ratio. This is the penultimate and most central point that comes out very loud and clear indeed.

If one is curious enough to examine the military composition during both Emperor HaileSelassie and the Derg regimes, dubbed as “Amhara ” regimes by the TPLF, it is extremely doubtful such a blatant phenomena where 95 percent of the command posts in the military of both regimes were held by Amharas. In fact, the best and ablest, and also the most powerful generals hailed from all ethnic groups of Ethiopia. Gen. Mulugeta Buli, Gen. Jagama Kelo, Gen. Aman Andom, Maj. General Demissie Bulto, Maj. General Regassa Jima, Gen. Woldeselassie Berka, Maj. General Merid Negussie, Gen. Tesfaye HabteMariam, Gen. Teferi Benti and scores of others who come from various ethnic backgrounds come to mind.

Here, the reader should be cognizant that we are not talking about the rebel army the TPLF was back in the days when it was in the Dedebit desert, but 18 years later and right now — and claiming to rule Ethiopia, telling us that there is a national “Ethiopian Army,” or the so-called “Ethiopian Defense Forces”! Only the tribalist regime and its mindless mouthpieces abroad would have the shameless audacity to argue to the contrary — that what we have in Ethiopia is an equal and proportional representation of the major and minor ethnic groups in the military. Therefore, they have been claiming “equality among nations and nationalities hitherto absent…” assured and ascertained, as they deafen us with their endless mantra, day in and day out.

But the facts and figures in the table below and many hitherto scattered data speak otherwise. Thus vindicating what has been known for so many years, i.e., the grossly blatant and far reaching drive for ethnic hegemony of a minority Tigrayan elites over the rest of the Ethiopian people. Of course, for those who are quick to show a handful of non Tigrayans with rank of a Lt. General, Brg. General, etc, yes there are coteries of yes men from other ethnic groups all around the Tigrayans. The nominal and feeble so-called generals, the likes of Kassa Deme, Bacha Debele, and others from Amhara, Oromo, and other ethnic groups — who have lost or do not have any sense of self respect — do exist. They go through the motion of sheepishly scavenging crumbs from their masters table. These puppets do not wield any real power in addition to the often encountered humiliation of being scolded by not only Tigreans with much lower ranks, as many have exposed, including the latest by Tesfaye Gerbeab’s “The Journalist’s Memoir” who laid bare the extent of this phenomena.

Ginbot 7′s latest statement recounts the thousands of high ranking officers, line officers, NCOs and privates from Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups purged by the TPLF mafia in the thousands in recent years. In effect, an ethnic cleansing within the military enclave. On a related story, the purge carried out by the Tigrayan gang is characterized by inhuman torture and suffering the victims are subjected to. Tesfaye Gebreab, in his rent article about Ginbot, mentions the brutality of a woman torturer named Col. Biraa, a former TPLF commissar and now in charge of prison, where military officers are held incommunicado and tortured, some until they are disabled for life. For the latest purges and repression carried out against officers and privates alike in the military one can also refer to a recent report by Finote Democracy [pdf].

Captain Teshome Tenkolu’s story, one of the ablest air force pilots and trainers subjected to inhuman torture is a yet another case among perhaps the untold thousands of others subjected to cruelty and inhumanity carried out by the Tigrayan mafia within the military establishment. The stories told about Capt. Teshome and his late friend, Maj. Daniel say much about the brutal and inhuman ways used by the tribal mafia regime and its henchmen to punish members of the armed forces suspected of any “wrongdoing”. Both were forced to spend two years in underground dungeon under extremely gruesome conditions, forced to sleep and live literally on human remains until they were released after being told by the shameless Woyanne that their country needs them to fight their war with Eritrea — to save their skin in that war with Eritrea which consumed 70,000 Ethiopian lives with no relevance whatsoever for Ethiopia.

The two were asked to return to the air force as pilots. It gave Capt. Teshome the chance to escape to Eritrea with an air force plane. He is now living in Canada. While his friend Maj. Daniel who stayed behind was less fortunate. Several years later, just barely two years ago, he was found dead in Ethiopia under extremely dubious circumstances. Who else could have killed him except the usual suspect, now that he has done his “service,” he could be disposed off.

According to Capt. Teshome’s account of the extreme suffering and inhuman conditions he was forced to endure, the captors who took him from his office at the air force base were Tigrayan officers (former TPLF cadres mentioned by name); the interrogators torturing him, for reasons that he has yet find out even today, were also Tigrayans. It is yet another story of the judge, the jury, the police, were all being played out by individuals belonging to the same ethnic group — Tigrayans — at the service of the TPLF mafia. The full story of Capt. Teshome could be found here.

The minority ethnic domination has far reaching implications for Ethiopia’s future peace and harmony that must exist among the various ethnic groups, including the people of Tigray region. Such facts and figures must come out to show the world the bankruptcy and total recklessness of the TPLF regime and the cabal controlling it.

Below one can find partial list of the names, positions, and ethnic compositions that exist in the current so-called national military in Ethiopia. For a full list of names by rank, ethnic composition and key positions held, one can check the six page report in Amharic release here.

Senior Command Posts mof the Ministery of Defense

1. Chief of Staff, General, Samora Yunus, Tigre
2. Training Department, Lt. General Tadesse Worede, Tigre
3. Logistics Department, Lt. General Geazi Abera, Tigre
4. Military Intelligence Department, Brg. General Gebredela, Tigre
5. Operations Department, Lt. General Gebre Egziabiher, Tigre
6. Engineering Department, Lt. General Berhane Negash, Tigre
7. Air force, Brg. General Mola Haile Mariam, Tigre

Heads of the four commands

1. Central Command, Lt. General AbebawTadesse, Agew
2. Northern Command, Lt. General Seare Mekonnen, Tigre
3. South Eastern Command, Maj. General Abraha W. Gabriel, Tigre
4. Western Command, Brg. General Siyoum Hagos, Tigre

Division Commands

1. 31st Division Commander, Colonel Tsegaye Marx, Tigre
2. 33rd Division Commander, Colonel Kidane, Tigre
3. 35th Division Commander, Colonel Misganaw Alemu, Tigre
4. 24th Division Commander, Colonel Work Aieynu, Tigre
5. 22nd Division Commander, Colonel Dikul, Tigre
6. 14th Division Commander, Colonel Woedi Antieru, Tigre
7. 21st Divison Commander, Colonel Gueshi Gebre, Tigre
8. 11th Division Commander, Colonel Workidu, Tigre
9. 25th Division Commander, Colonel Tesfai Sahel, Tigre
10. 20th Division Commander, Colonel, Teklai Klashin, Tigre
11. 8th Mechanized Division, Colonel Jemal Mohamed, Tigre
12. 4th Mechanized Division, Colonel Hintsaw Giorgis, Tigre

  1. ተግባር ጠፋ
    | #1

    መተኮስ ነው እንጅ አጭር ሱሪ ታጥቆ
    መገኝት ነውእንጅ በተግባር እልቆ
    ማውርት ምን ያደርጋል ከሀገር እርቆ
    አማራ ኦሮሞ ጉራጊ እየተባባልን
    መታነቂያ ገመድ እኛው ነው የፈትልን
    ሲ ፈልግ እንዲሰቅል ሲፈልግ እንዲአስረን
    ወሪ ምን ይሰራል ክ18 አመት በላይ
    እስኪ ተግባራችን ድፍረታችን ይታይ
    እስኪ መጀመሪያ ውደደኝ ልውደድህ
    ያጠፋነው ካለ ይቀር በል ልበልህ
    እንደ ኢትዮጵያዊ እንደ ውንድም እየኝ
    የሀገር ምናብ በህሳብ ይታየኝ

    ሁሉ ነገር ከዚያ በውሃላ ነው
    ለጠላት ትቢቱ ፍርህት የሚሆነው

  2. አንዳይናማው
    | #2

    It took you 18+years to know meles. That’s too bad. meles is honest in everything he does. He told you that he doesn’t recognize Ethiopia we know. He told us that he would build new ethiopia_based on the will of all…(?). To do that he must use his “galant” soldiers. What is “wrong” with that? There’s nothing wrong with that if you accept his policy.
    There’s something wrong with so called politicians (ethiopian).

  3. ሰላማለው
    | #3

    ግንቦት ሰባት መናገር በሚገባው መነገር በአለበት ቃል ይህን ጉዳይ ስላስቀመጡት በጣም ተደስሻለው:: ወያኔ ይንድ ዘር የበላይነትን ለማምጣት በርትቶ እንደሚሰራ እያወኩ እንኳ አቀራረቡ ስሜትን ሰቶኛል:: ሁሌ ለወያኔ ሽንጡን ገትሮ የሚከራከር የትግርይ ጓደኛዪ ግንቦት ሰባት ራዲዮን ካዳመጠ በኋላ እዛች አገር ላይ ምን እየተደረገ ነው? ይህን ያህል የከፋ አይመስልኝም ነበር እንዴት በዚህ መንገድ እንዳላየው ነው የተገረመው:: ከጀናራሎቹ ውስጥ እራሱ እንዴ ሁላችንም የትግራይ ልጆች ነን እንዴ ብሎ የሚጠይቅ መኖሩ አይቀርም:: የነመለስ ስግብግብነት ደረጃ ምን ያህል ደደብ እንደሆኑ ነው የሚያሳየው:: ግንቦት ሰባትም ሌሎችም በዚሁ መንፈስ ሌሎችም ጉዳዮች ላይ ያሉ ቅጥ ያጡ አድሎዎች አሳማኝ በሆነ ማረጋገጫ በአለው መንገድ መቅረብ አለበት:: እያንዳንዱ የህንጻ በአለቤቶች እስከ ፎቶው ማንነታቸው መገለጽ አለበት:: የህን አቅርቦ ብቻ መቆም የለበትም እዚህ ጽሁፍ ላይ እንደቀረበው የሀይላስላሴ የመንግስቱም የጦሩን ሁኒታ በሂወት ያሉ ስለሚኖሩ በአንጻራዊ ማቅረብ አለባቸው:: ከማል ገልቹንና ሌሎችም ሊናገሩ የሚገባቸው ጊዝ አሁን ነው::

  4. gedamu
    | #4

    well Tigray woyane is have completing their work to destory ethiopia and we still stil talk peaceful strugle & demonstration ዎነ የለለው ተዎለድ ማፊሪያ

  5. abbyca
    | #5

    I wonder what we are waiting for from this evil woyane? All i can say is why those who believe the so called peaceful struggle doesn’t give up? it’s enough woyane closed every hope we have for peace, why not we fight with them? please all Ethiopian put all our problem behind for once before it’s too late we still have a time to defeat them. woyane wish to lock down one ethnic at a time. Ginbot 7 should talk to all opposition including OFDM. not only going Europe but also has to call all opposition to join the war struggle with woyane. then we will see who is going to win people or woyane? you know the answer.

  6. Anonymous
    | #6

    18 አመት ሲገርፈው አብሮ ያስገርፍ የነበረ ሁሉ ከእንቅልፉ መንቃቱ ደግ ቢሆንም በትግሬን አትንኩ ስም የሚያጭበረብሩን ያሳዝነኛል:: ለ18ቱ አመት የመከራ ገፈቱን ሲቀምሱ የነበረን ገፍትሮ ለመጣል የተደረገው ሙከራ ስህተት መሆኑንን ከተገነዘባችሁ መልካም ነው:: ለወደፊቱም እከሌን ደገፍክ እያሉ መደንፋትን አቁሞ ዋናው ተቆጣጣሪ ላይ ማተኮር:: እንዲያው እነዚህ ራሳቸውን ልሂቃን ያሉ ሰዎች ስሙ ትንሽ አይበዛባቸውም::

  7. JIGSA
    | #7

    no matter what the TPLF leader and his group think or do there is no doubt in my mind z ethiopian people will privail.the ethiopian people right is violated and depraived basic human right for the last 18years by ethinc based mafia gangs of TPLF.THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE MUST SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.the opposition right now shall stand firm and say no to the brutal regime of TPLF leader melesse zenawi and his group.this ruthless tugs who are sucking the ethiopians blood will never understand peaceful transfer of office.the only language they understand is killing any one who oppose their evil agenda like they did in previous election in ethiopia.the ethiopian people struggle for dimocracy will privail

  8. ውአው
    | #8

    ዪህ ብቻ ነው የሚታያችሂሁ? አገሩ ሁሉ የዎያነ ከሆነ እኮ 19 አመት አለፈ.. እስኪ ደግሞ ፋብሪካዉና ሆተሉ ሁሉ የማን እንደሆነ ዝርዝሩን አሳዩን

  9. እውነቱ
    | #9

    ትዝታህ ባልክፋ ነገርግን ወይ ተልክህ አልያም ያልገባህ ነሀ ሌላ ምንም አልልም

  10. እውነቱ
    | #10

    አስተያየቲ ለአስመራወ ተማሪ የነበረ ትዝታ መልስ ነበር page error

  11. mateos
    | #11

    As long as Legesse Z, Seyoum Mesfin, and their boss Bereket Simon are not eradicated from the face of Ethiopia and Ethiopian people the misery of this beautiful country and the whole region will continue to exprience sufferage, humuliation, desperation, hate, ignorance, backwardness, ethnic tension, religious conflict, mental slavery, and children trafficking for many generations to come. As of today the good weyanes are only the dead ones!

  12. አንበሴ
    | #12

    ሃገራችን ኢትዮጵያ ከአሁን በኋላ የምትፈልገው: ጀግና የሚወለድበትን እንጂ ሁሉም ነገር በትግሬ አምባገነኖች ስር መሆኑ ከጅማሬው ጀምሮ በአይናችን አይተነዋል:: በህዝባዊነት የሚያደራጅ የፍትህ የነጻነትና የዲሞክራሲያዊ ሁሉን አቀፍ የሁሉም ብሔረስብ ኢትዮጵያዊያን ንቅናቄ ባለመኖሩ የወያኔዎች ትእቢት ጨምሮ ህዝባችንን በግፍ በመግደልና በማሰር 19 አመት ሆናቸው:: እነሆ! መፍትሔው የግንቦት7 የፍትህ የነጻነትና የዲሞክራሲ ንቅናቄ ኢትዮጵያውያን እነዚህን የሃገር አጥፊዎች በጽኑ መታገል ጀምሯል:: እርስዎስ በሚችሉት ሁሉ ለመሰለፍ ቆርጠው ተነስተዋል?

  13. darewos
    | #13

    naw ethiopia is talakwa tigeray honaleshe neger gene belgochua mesewatenet ethiopian nesa tewetaleshe///

  14. Teklu
    | #14

    President Bush during 9-11 once said to the world, “You are with us or against us”. I think it is time for Tigrians to make up their mind and join their brothers and Sisters Ethiopians for Democracy. The time is now. Ethiopians dream for democracy and equal right is now dashed and a major ethnic crises is around the corner. Meles Zenawis rule by force in the name of Tigrians already created hate among people of different ethnic in ethiopian. What ever happen, It will be the beneficial of the current regime and all Tigrian responsibility for any mess created by Woyane as long as you are silent. Please think tomorrow. We are all ethiopians and most of all a children of god created equal.

  15. Ras Abegz
    | #15

    Who cares about minority or majority as long as these ethiopian generals are protecting the country.Beside all ethiopians know the tigres are best fighters.

    Look what the tigres did to eplf during the war.They destroy eritrea within 10 days of major fighting.Not only eplf but the tigre destroyed olf,onlf and somalia within weeks.

    As an opposition i dont have a problem about the tigre generals as long as they keep ethiopia safe.Just pray these generals don’t decide to pack up and go back to tigre living us in war we can’t come out..

    So stop crying about tigre generals or tigre people every day,instead fight for democracy as united oppositions…If the tigres live ethiopia will be gone….

  16. Teddy
    | #16

    for all of us that i belive that we have to united ourselfe to tell wayane mafeya, end of their dectater on the ethiopian people and they know that what they are doing after 2005 election. what a shame to meles and his puppet group that they don’t have any place to go like mengetu,previous presdent of ethiopia.world has change and it is time of globalization, but shame to recist meles that his mind never change. let me tell you meles follwers and puppet, if i were you i wiil better hang my self. death to wayane and meles.

  17. selam
    | #17

    Agazzzi will pay the price.


  18. MusicBox
    | #18

    Interesting. But what sign on novelties of the news?

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