PART I – Introduction
PART II – TPLF: Human Rights Crisis (1977-1979)
PART III – The Rise of Meles, More Purges and Liquidations
PART IV – The Struggle for Ethiopian Sovereignty and the Reign of Meles
PART I iopia is for the first time in her history under the control of a tyrant who started with an open anti Ethiopian program. All Ethiopian rulers before Meles, including Colonel Mengistu, whatever mistakes they might have made, were committed to the cause of Ethiopia.
The ruling group has started to be known as the “Palace Group”. This group can also be called “The Meles- Sebhat Group” because Meles and Sebhat are its decisive protagonists, whereas the rest are their followers. It smacks of a clan with at least five of its members Meles, Mulugeta Alemseged, Sebhat Nega along with his sister Kidusan Nega and her husband Tsegay Berhe, etc… Are connected by blood and marriage. The other group cannot be named after individuals. Its members have neither follower-leader nor known blood connections. The dissident group is no doubt patriotic, but it has failed to articulate its Ethiopian position and implement it while it was in power for the last ten years.
The issues which are of cardinal importance for Ethiopia and on which the groups have real or alleged differences can be divided into two main categories: The question of national sovereignty and the system of exercising power.
We are convinced that differences on ideology, the practice of democracy, corruption, nepotism or power struggle did not lead to the division of the leadership of the TPLF. If we take ideology as an example, it is only a means of rallying supporters, defending interests, attaining certain goals or justifying certain measures. It would otherwise be naive to assume that any one of the groups would have a religious belief in any ideology. Many of the cadres who are trained and conditioned to imitate like domestic animals and not to think independently may believe in one or another ideology.
Meles has used the Stalinist organizational structure and centralism as well as the security apparatus to purge the dissident group and contain opposition. Tigrayans in the Diaspora who were otherwise at variance with their Ethiopian compatriots in giving blind support to the TPLF Regime are reaching unanimous decisions for the reversal of the drastic measures taken by Meles against the dissidents. This is a clear indication that Ethiopians at home and particularly Tigrayans would have done likewise, if they were as free from fear as their compatriots abroad.
The dissident group is raising the slogan of People’s Democracy which it never implemented. For that matter, this form of democracy has never worked anywhere else. Both the measure taken by Meles and the slogan of the victims has their origin in the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray, or in the now defunct ideology of the Party of Labor of Albania. Corruption and nepotism could have been dealt with easily and individually unless these practices were promoted by Meles himself. The power structure within the TPLF has already been stabilized since the early 1980s. It was suicidal to oppose Stalin or Colonel Mengistu after they had consolidated their absolute power. The same situation applies in the case of Meles and the dissidents know this from their collaboration.
At this point of time it is not clear whether any of the factions is prepared for real democratization and for an end to corruption. Democratization would mean the transfer of political power from the TPLF/EPRDF to the people, the release of all political prisoners, the lift of all restrictions on political parties and trade union activities and above all the call for a nation-wide dialogue that includes all political organizations including those banned by the Meles regime and the formation of a transitional government of national reconciliation. Therefore, to call for a democratic resolution is tantamount to supporting the traitors against those who are ousted. The Meles-Sebhat clique has amply demonstrated its anti-Ethiopian nature since 1976. It must be removed from the political scene and replaced by a government of the choice of the Ethiopian people before it causes irreparable damage on the nation.
Similarly, the struggle against corruption would mean controlling and auditing the small and big TPLF firms as well as firms owned by other political groups. It would also mean the right and power of the people to investigate wealth amassed under suspicious circumstances by relatives, friends and allies of state and party officials. Only the issue of sovereignty seems to be the point of difference between the factions and at the same time the common issue for the dissident group.
The dissidents obviously risked to differ with Meles, when the fate of Ethiopia and their personal dignity were at stake and Ethiopians were humiliated during the beginning of the war. Meles gave in, not because he commanded a minority but because he was aware of his weak position which is uniquely alien to the Ethiopian tradition of self-defense. He practically made a tactical retreat to prepare for a strategic offensive against his rivals. The dissidents seem to have been emboldened by their undeniable role in defending Ethiopian sovereignty to confront Meles and his followers. Whereas on the one hand their peaceful approach is laudable, the dissidents’ accusation could have meant the loss of absolute power for Meles. Therefore the peaceful approach was so naive that it had to logically lead to Meles resorting to administrative measures to incriminate, isolate and destroy the dissidents. On the other hand, Meles has chosen to stand above the constitutional law of the country to expel elected parliamentarians in order to stay in power.
In the first place, liquidation purges and incriminations are like a culture in the TPLF. Differences of opinion have never been tolerated. With the purging of Abay, all members but one who started the armed struggle and who are still alive have been purged. It is a system in which the people of Tigray are organized from above several times according to their profession, sex, age, in the form of law making, judicial and administrative committees (the committees were organized as imitations of the soviets), cadres, militias, as the members of the TPLF and the MLLT. This system facilitates control and mobilization from above. It is a system of mutual suspicion, fear, absolute obedience and loss of self confidence and initiative. This system of absolute intellectual and physical control is spreading all over Ethiopia like an epidemic. It is a system which chocks people and instills fear; which puts loyalty to the tyrant above knowledge, experience and ability and retards development. Individuals appointed before they are declared to be elected by the people. The electors are executing orders from the government as an euphemism for the tyrant, when they cast their votes. The elected know that they have no chance of candidacy without the permission of the same tyrant. Hence the result, the elected owe their mandate to him and he can deprive them of it. They have to be loyal to him and not to the electors.
We are former members and dissidents of the TPLF. We will deal with the major crises in the history of the TPLF, in order to show the individual and collective positions and practices of the main protagonists of the present groups on the two issues to interested readers. The crises in the TPLF involving the system or national sovereignty were as follows:
The question of national sovereignty
Since it has its roots in the first issue of the program of the TPLF, we will begin with the present crisis. The question of Ethiopian national sovereignty takes us back to the 1976 manifesto of the TPLF. The aim of the TPLF according to the manifesto was to establish a democratic republic of Tigray. It was clearly an anti-Ethiopian manifesto.
When it started the armed struggle, the self-appointed leadership of the TPLF, excluding other founding members wrote a declaration which stated that the Front would dissolve itself and join an organization at a higher level, if such an organization came into being. The “higher level” was understood to mean at the level of the whole of Ethiopia, but its authors did not elaborate their role in the formation of that would be organization. Although the formation of a Tigrayans Front preferred ethnic consciousness to that of Ethiopia ness, there was no reflection of any secessionist tendencies in the Front at the time, when the declaration was written.
An emotional feeling of being Ethiopian is anchored in the psychological make up of Tigrayans. But something alien to that make up appeared in the TPLF, when it was joined by Meles Zenawi and Sebhat Nega. Meles, who belonged to the group which was supposed to be trained by the EPLF had been scared by the sound of a remote gunfire and fled from Asmara without informing his friends. He joined the TPLF after some months in 1975, after giving some unbelievable excuses.
The leadership made some changes in the beginning of 1976 within itself. Sebhat became the chairman and Meles a deputy member of the CC and an assistant to Abay Tsehaye, who was the head of the political committee of the organization. Both Meles and Sebhat aggravated the undemocratic practice in the TPLF not only by excluding the rank-and-file-members but also members of the leadership, like Aregawi Berhe (the military commander of the Front at that time) etc. They dissuaded Abay Tsehaye to collaborate with them and wrote the anti-Ethiopian and infamous manifesto of the TPLF with the aim of forming the republic of Tigray and supporting the independence of Eritrea.
They sent Seyoum Mesfin like an errand boy to publish and distribute the manifesto in the Sudan. Abay, who enjoyed high regard for his decent character and who was influential as the head of the political committee of the TPLF was to prove to be a marionette in the hands of Meles with terrible consequences for members of the TPLF, the people of Tigray and later the people of Ethiopia.
The reaction of the members of the TPLF was confused, when they simultaneously heard the news about the manifesto and the fact that it was opposed by the EPLF. Kahsay remembers Asfaha Hagos, one of the founding leaders asking him if anyone had ever mentioned the word secession the previous year. They could not dismiss the criticism of the EPLF as a fabrication because they were confronted by a manifesto which was supposed to be theirs. But the opponents of secession and the authors of the manifesto in the leadership joined hands after some outbreaks of initial emotions and created the impression that all were responsible for the manifesto. The names of the authors of the secessionist manifesto were not known to none- CC members of the TPLF for more than 10 years, until Aregawi Berhe disclosed them after he was forced to leave the TPLF and MLLT by Meles, The problem caused by the first program did not develop into a crisis.
Although the members of the CC had hidden their differences on national sovereignty, the cadres of Meles, like Addisalem Baliema (for instance in a discussion on 6.6.1988 in Cologne) were agitating for a referendum for the people of Tigray till the eve of the ascent of the EPRDF to power. Since the relative military strength of the TPLF convinced him that he can control the whole of Ethiopia, Meles seems to have at least postponed the secession of Tigray.
However, Ethiopia is for the first time in her history under the control of a tyrant who started with an open anti Ethiopian program. All Ethiopian rulers before Meles, including colonel Mengistu, whatever mistakes they might have made, were committed to the cause of Ethiopia. The erosion of Ethiopian sovereignty did not begin with the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In 1991, Ethiopia lost access to international waters. The MLLT/TPLF leadership lied to the people that Assab would remain free for Ethiopia. The Afar people who raised this question were silenced by force or many Ethiopians are languishing in prisons because they raised the interests of the nation. At the same time the clique in power was demolishing the Ethiopian defence establishment and arming its neighbour. And despite such grave differences in the Politburo, Meles lied to the Ethiopian people that the leadership of the EPRDF spoke as if they were reading from the same book.
Crises in the TPLF
The democratic and human rights crises from 1977 to 1979.
The TPLF had experienced some major internal crises prior to the current one in its history. The assertion that the TPLF had democratically solved previous crises, whereas Meles has resorted to undemocratic measures in the present crisis does not correspond to the truth and leads to the confusion of the root-cause of the present crisis. Surveying the crises can enrich our knowledge of the character of the TPLF, if and only if our analysis is based on facts. For us, as eyewitnesses of the events, the solutions to the real, imagined or fabricated crises show an identical pattern of behavior of their protagonists. The so called solutions in all the cases ended up producing incriminated victims, intimidated, uncritical and opportunist members and the corresponding aggravation of tyranny.
All the past crises including the current one have the following common factors:
They were produced from above and could have been avoided,
Meles was directly or indirectly the main or part of the cause for all the crises,
Their solutions involved anti democratic methods and victimized members,
All enhanced the power of Meles and the opportunist behavior of the members in the organization.
Political power in the TPLF was relatively evenly distributed amongst five members of the CC:
(Abay Tsehaye head of the political committee, Aregawi Berhe head of the military committee, Sebhat Nega chairman of the TPLF, Gidey Zeratsion deputy chairman of the organization and to a lesser extent, Seyoum Mesfin, head of the foreign relations committee) and three deputy members (Meles Zenawi, Seye Abraha and Atakelti Qetsela) till 1979.
Atsbeha Dagnew who was the only deputy member of the CC prior to the three mentioned above was demoted and later executed by Meles. The deputy members were appointed by the five CC in 1976 and acted as full members until their position was formalized during the TPLF Congress held in 1979.
Rank-and-file-members of the TPLF, as a result of the power distribution and collective leadership amongst the CC, had a room of maneuver to relatively freely express their opinions within the organization. At that time the Sebhat-Meles clique was confined to clandestine preparations to control the leadership. The democratic atmosphere, which held up to late 1977, despite random and arbitrary killings and imprisonment of simple members by the leadership, was totally abolished following the 1977-1979 crisis (branded Hinfishfish- literally chaos and later interpreted as factionalism) in the Organization.
Since the crisis, as an administrative measure, and not as a root cause was the excuse for unleashing the undemocratic process, it would be of interest to briefly shade some light into it. It all started with a barrage of questions. The two main disturbing questions for the leadership were:
Why eight youngsters (some put the number at twelve) who fell into the trap of the leadership that they would be allowed to go home if they wanted to and openly said so, were executed? The youngsters could not bear the hardship like constant mobility, hunger, lice etc. They were collected, as if they were to be sent home after a political education and executed.
Why Meles was not punished for cowardice according to the law of the TPLF, for not fulfilling his duty during a military operation at Adwa in 1977 where a fighter called Tekle Gebre Yohannes (Sherifo) was martyred and his body left behind? These questions were followed by demands for the formation of an inquiry commission to deal with the grievances of the fighters. The leadership, although it recognized the legality of the demands within the Front, ignored the demands for the formation of the commission and refused to discuss the grievances at the level of the whole organization.
As the crisis was simmering further, the leadership started preparations to call the first congress of the Front. Accordingly, Abay Tsehaye started consulting with commanders and commissars. Abay briefed the participants on the plan of the CC to hold the first congress of the TPLF and asked opinions about the situation of the fighters. The participants tried to convince him of the need for the formation of an inquiry commission to ward off some doubts of the fighters that members of the leadership were committing crimes.
Abay declared that the formation of a commission to deal with the grievances of the fighters would have been possible, had the initiative to call for a congress been taken by the rank-and-file fighters. His answer was so illogical that it meant that the CC, because it took the initiative to call a congress had the privilege to deny the fighters their right to formally present their case. Several veteran members of the Front who heard that Abay was blocking the formation of the inquiry commission did not hesitate to say that what Abay said did not originate from him and that it was all the work of Meles. Most of them did not dare raise the complaints openly, but they explained why Meles should be interested in hindering the formation of the inquiry commission. They also claimed that Meles was aggravating the contradiction between the TPLF and the EPRP by propagating narrow nationalist ideas.
It was obvious that Meles would not like an inquiry commission but it was not convincing that he alone could decide on whether the commission should be formed or not, because he did not have an absolute power at that time. The other members of the leadership had also something to hide or they did not like an inquiry commission out of solidarity with Meles. Every individual full or deputy CC member of the TPLF had the power to pass a death sentence without consulting others. Victims had no right of appeal. As long as they did not expose the person who committed massacre on the youngsters, all members of the leadership decided to defend a criminal at the cost of justice and democracy.
The massacre could have been committed by any one of the leaders according to the practice of the Front. But since the victims were sent to the base, where the prison was located and the political committee in turn controlled the prison, Abay and Meles who headed the committee were the most likely culprits. Abay was under the permanent influence of Meles on many issues. Abay behaved like a gentleman and was respected. He was not rough, but he was being manipulated and used as a mouthpiece by his extremely rough assistant. Opinions and decisions forwarded by Abay or in his alleged interest seemed to get acceptance by other CC members. Meles was collecting power into the hands of Abay and depositing it for himself.
In the course of the preparations for the congress a military committee had to be elected. In the mean time complaints against the CC were taking more momentum. The discussions on the grievances influenced the out come of the elections for the military committee, in such a way that rank-and-file members were democratically elected to the committee while some heads departments were not accepted as representatives by the rank-and-file-members of their units. The leadership drew a lesson never to allow free elections take place.
The meeting of the military committee was chaired by Tewolde W/Mariam (He was not in the CC, but he came to the meeting as a representative of the leadership). The issue of the grievances was excluded from the agenda from the very beginning, even before some delegates arrived. Therefore the tension within the delegates manifested itself either in being fully supportive of or being critical to the leadership, leading into the division of the delegates into two groups, with some exceptions. The arguments revolved around the following points:
Whether or not the members of the CC should be accepted en block in the Congress without competition. Among those who were for a new start in an open competition were Aberra Manka (later imprisoned and executed), Teshome Gudo (he escaped before he was imprisoned and he lives in USA.) Ayele /Hayelom (He escaped after he was released from prison. He lives in the USA), Abadi (He committed suicide resisting imprisonment) etc. Those who were for the acceptance of the same old leadership were grouped around Arkebe Enquay, then a unit commissar, later promoted to the CC. A compromise was reached to accept one third of the old leadership without competition.
Whether members of the TPLF were to have equal votes or not. According to the supporters of the leadership the CC was to decide the number of delegates that every unit was supposed to send. The criterion of representation was to be according to the quality (it was called Tsereyet which means purity) of the members. Apart from the normalization of inequality, this system of representation enabled the leadership to manipulate the election of delegates. The other group rejected the idea.
How the Preparatory Committee was to be controlled to prevent it from being manipulated by the members of the CC. The Committee was supposed to collect ideas from all members for an agenda, lead discussions on the agenda and supervise the election of delegates for the congress. The fear at the meeting was that, the committee, if controlled by the leadership would be an instrument of the latter. It would manipulate the discussions and elections of delegates as well as inform the CC on members with differing ideas, who would be dealt with as dissenters. Since no agreement could be reached on how to control the committee, Tewolde helped settle the issue by appealing to the delegates to have confidence in each other as comrades. The meeting of the military committee concluded its mission with the election of the Preparatory Committee.
The TPLF had faced a catastrophic situation when the Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU) launched an offensive in March 1977. The EDU had overrun a garrison of the government at Humera. It was much better armed (with automatic guns, rocket launchers etc.) and had an overwhelming number of troops compared with the TPLF. The TPLF fighters were much more disciplined and dedicated but not in a position to confront the EDU forces in a conventional fighting. The EDU made a surprise attack on a unit of the TPLF at Shiraro and almost annihilated it and then marched forward and inflicted heavy losses on other units of the TPLF, to the extent that some TPLF units lost most of their combatants including their commanders and commissars.
The actual and feared losses caused mass desertions in the TPLF. Since the overwhelming majority of the TPLF fighters were either peasants or students with only rudimentary training and no experience of fighting, it was not surprising that they run for their life, when many of their comrades fell in combat. Some TPLF Militiamen went over to the EDU and many fighters went to areas held by the Dergue.
However, this situation posed only a temporary threat to the existence of the TPLF for almost two months, between March and May 1977, and came to an end, when the EDU attacked well-armed and entrenched troops of the Dergue at Endaselassie. EDU fighters suffered heavy losses and fled in disarray. The TPLF stabilized itself with the fighters who did not desert it and overcame the EDU in a protracted war till the first quarter of 1978.
The TPLF had become much stronger and experienced after its final victory over the EDU. It had collected many automatic weapons from deserting militias of the Dergue and had ejected the EPRP from Tigray between February and May 1978, while also fighting against the Dergue at the same time. The morale of its members was very high.
Despite the favorable situation, the leadership of the TPLF disseminated the information that those who claimed to have grievances during the previous year were regional-lists who were out to destroy the organization by eroding confidence in the leadership. Although the mass desertions were mainly caused by the war with EDU, the leadership tried to associate the desertions with those who expressed grievances. Although the TPLF had no serious problems in 1978, the leadership launched a planned harassment of the members.
The Preparatory committee for the congress, on the orders of the CC went out of its way and started to call meetings with the aim of exposing those members who had expressed grievances. When the leadership launched a campaign to expose the fighters who claimed to have grievances and sent the preparatory committee for this purpose, it practically wreaked havoc amongst the fighters. Some believed what they were told in the campaign and were gripped by the fear that the front was threatened in its existence; others rightly saw a desperate intrigue to curtail their rights and defend the culprits to pave the way for their unchallenged election.
Many from those who saw an intrigue tried to leave the Front whenever they saw any possibility. Still others feared that someone would simply implicate them for some thing they did not remember. Therefore exposing someone for every small talk became tantamount to defending the front for some and an expression of loyalty as a sign of innocence for others. Many fighters who were exposed as having said anything inconvenient about the leadership were sent to prison and never seen thereafter. Since anybody who asked about the whereabouts of the victims was considered as their accomplice nobody asked this question. Nor was the leadership prepared to give any information on such issues.
As a result of this campaign followed by liquidation it became a Tradition in the TPLF not to ask inconvenient questions from down upward, not to talk of opposition. The suspects were during and after the campaign students or “opportunist petty bourgeois” as they were called in the Front.
This manipulated Participation of the fighters has officially gone as a democratic participation into the history of the TPLF. A democratic solution would have been an open discussion at an organizational level without intimidation and misuse of administrative measures as well as the formation of an inquiry commission to investigate the criminal malpractice of arbitrary killings. The undemocratic solution instilled fear into the minds of the fighters through naked force, arbitrary measures and exaggerated misinformation.
The reaction to the crisis led to the psychological conditioning of the fighters not to express their own opinion, to monotonously repeat what has already been said from above and to generally mistrust each other, which has been cemented by Stalinist centralism. The official explanation for the passiveness and uncritical behavior of the non-CC members is that they worship the leadership and cannot imagine that the leadership can make mistakes. This is of course only meant to aggrandize the leaders. The undemocratic measures taken to solve the stage-managed crisis produced two results: 1) the non-CC members of the TPLF became uncritical towards the leadership, passive and opportunist. 2) Meles, a deputy member of the CC was formally elected to a full membership in the first Congress of the TPLF, held in 1979. These two results have been reinforcing each other up to the present situation.
The Rise of Meles, More purges, and Liquidations.
Once the non-CC members of the TPLF were deprived of their rights to express their opinion, Meles concentrated himself on the internal struggle for power within the leadership of the TPLF. He has murdered two of them (Atsbeha Dagnew and Teklu Hawaz) and purged 13 others including the latest ten so far.
We concluded Part Two of our article with the observation that the brutal measures taken by the CC of the TPLF in 1978 to deal with the stage-managed crisis wrongly known as factionalism forced non CC members of the TPLF to political passiveness and enhanced the power of Meles, thus paving the way for the present tyranny. Internally, the TPLF leadership recognizes the passiveness that followed the crisis. However, the CC used to cover up the actual cause, which is fear of repression, by trying to attribute the passiveness to some sort of worship i.e. the alleged belief of the fighters that the leadership does not make mistakes.
The non-CC members were simply turned to slave-like creatures and treated likewise. These slave-like creatures, who heroically struggle against those whom they consider to be their enemies can in small groups or individually be purged, isolated, imprisoned, tortured or liquidated by the TPLF leadership without any institutional or legal possibility of defence or appeal, The CC members can commit any sort of crime without transparency, accountability and with impunity. Therefore the purging and incrimination of the 12-2 dissenters by Meles is in line with the tradition of the TPLF in its aggravated form. Meles is doing what he used to do during the armed struggle i. -e. intrigues, arbitrary measures, false accusations and purges by using the Stalinist organizational structure under the present situation, a situation under which the maltreatment of the victims cannot be hidden from the public simply because the victims are well known due to their participation in the government.
The campaign which was launched to silence and destroy critical members in 1978 followed by brutal administrative measures proved to be a turning point in the organization in that it made criticism, the expression of grievances and opposition from down upwards a taboo. Ironically, many members of the CC did not seem to realize that they, by taking a united stand to suppress the freedom of expression of the non-CC members were at the same time creating a situation under which they would be the next victims. The logic is very simple: Either there is a system, which accommodates differences of opinion, or no differences are permitted and therefore a single person prevails over all others. Since the TPLF leadership practically opted for the second alternative as of 1978, the question of who prevails had to be decided in an internal power struggle with nasty intrigues, purges and liquidation as we are trying to show as follows.
The preparation for the formation of a party
Meles’ instruments for the power struggle were the MLLT with the cadre school and Abay Tsehaye along with the political committee.
Since the founders of the TPLF and most of the student members of the Front were socialist oriented, the wish to form a leftist party had a consensus amongst the active members of the TPLF. Therefore the delegates in the first congress of the TPLF in 1979 (1971 Eth.C) principally agreed that the necessary preparations to form a socialist-oriented party be made within the TPLF. Soon after, the CC of the TPLF delegated the responsibility to make the preparations for the formation of the party to Meles Zenawi. Therefore Meles got the golden opportunity to avoid his nightmare i.e. the danger of physical participation in the civil war. He had the whole time to engage himself in the collection of quotations and empress other CC members who had no time for reading. He had the possibility to disseminate his point of view as a teacher of cadres and above all the possibility to train and organize his loyal cadres as his own troop for the struggle for power within the organization.
An article in the constitution of the MLLT makes the previously unwritten but applied law clear that only Meles had as an individual the monopoly to disseminate his anachronistic views in the form of political education to his cadres by stating the following: “any member who wants to disseminate a new idea has to get a permission from the Central Committee to do so”. (MLLT constitution. in Tigrinya July 1985, p 9). There was no discussion on the introduction of such an article in the TPLF but some members of the EPDM like Getatchew (Yared Tibebu) opposed the concept that members were required to get permission to express a new idea. Tamrat Layne argued for the introduction of the article and prevailed with the intervention of Meles.
This, according to experience means taking care not to express any new idea or an idea that opposes an existing one. If one member does not share one’s idea with another individual, one would not get a feedback, if one shares the idea without a permission from the CC, it would be seen as factionalism because it is against the Stalinist centralism. If one applies for permission to express one’s idea, one cannot be sure that the idea in the application would not be distorted by the self- proclaimed leader for one reason or another and used to incriminate the applicant. And finally, if one is harassed, imprisoned or even liquidated for entertaining a certain idea, nobody except the perpetrator would, due to the total absence of transparency, know what happened and why.
Meles practically formed an organisation within the TPLF under the cover of the preparation for the formation of a party. He included all veteran members of the TPLF in a grouping of a so called “vanguard elements” of the TPLF, which was the forerunner of the MLLT to avoid dissent amongst the veterans, before the position of his cadres was consolidated. He simply prepared a list of names and read it out for all to hear during the congress of the TPLF in 1983. He later became the head of the ideology and propaganda activities of the organisation under the cover of which he gave key positions to his own cadres.
The mystification of the MLLT and power struggle
The CC of the TPLF tried to avoid the emergence of a personality cult from among its ranks and claimed to exercise a collective leadership. This exercise was the logical outcome of the fact that the founders of the Front were at a more or less similar educational level as well as degree of experience in the struggle. They were in one clique before the crystallisation of their differences and had to agree to be equal in front of their subordinate new comers.
No member was supposed to write his/her name in connection with an article or any writing so that some may not be more known than others, thus leading to the development of a cult. Differences of opinion within the CC were kept so secret to non-CC members, that the expression of any basic critical opinion of non-CC members was blocked. Since the members of the CC stood en block, as if they were reading from the same book (according to Meles reiterated this Phrase even as a head of government, Addis Zemen July 1998), there was no room of manoeuvre for the opinion of the rank-and-file-members, lest they be branded sectarians and be dealt with correspondingly as counter-revolutionaries, anti people etc. Conformity and discipline became therefore synonymous. Consequently the choice of agenda and discussions were rituals of top-down-indoctrination which had to be accepted.
One of the consequences of the above system of leadership was that decisions and explanations of the CC members were attributed to that of the Front as a whole. As individual opinions of the CC members were hidden, so were also their responsibilities. Concrete individuals became abstract in the name of the Front. The Front was personified and thus mystified. If something went wrong or was simply declared to be wrong, there was somebody to blame for being allegedly against the Front and not for opposing a certain idea or action from a certain member of the CC, because in the final analysis the CC was the Front until the power struggle within the CC could no more be kept secret.
Although the process of differentiation within the CC of the TPLF was not openly discussed by non CC-Members, it became gradually evident in the distribution of power. The four committees, the political, military, economic and foreign committees were first led each by a politburo member. The five initial CC members (Abay, Aregawi, Gidey, Sebhat and Seyoum) had become Politburo members after the first congress in 1979, as if they wanted to move away from the new CC members. Since none of the five could impose his view on any other, they had a phase of collective leadership. Meles as the deputy of Abay, the political head of the Front, sought a loophole and followed the strategy of curbing the power of the other politburo members and subordinating them to the political committee under Abay, because on the one hand Abay was respected as a person and on the other hand politics was supposed to lead all other activities. But the concept of subordinating all other activities to politics was misused to such an extent that it became structural.
After some time, Seyoum, who was the head of the foreign relations committee and the weakest of the five, partly owing to his detachment from the field became the first victim. He was subordinated to the political committee. Seyoum practically became less important, whereas Meles was gaining more power indirectly behind Abay. Interestingly, it was Meles who, breaking the show of solidarity amongst the members of the CC, spoke about the need of curbing the power of Seyoum. Seyoum had on the advice of Professor Richard Greenfield changed the concept of a united front of the TPLF. The change put the U.S.A. as an enemy of the Ethiopian people parallel with the Soviet Union. Meles on hearing of the change said: (in the presence of one of the authors) “the TPLF had no need of a Sabe”. Usman Salih Sabe was responsible for the foreign relations of the EPLF and said to be growing independent of the EPLF leadership in the field. Seyoum accepted his demotion and appeared to be so eager to adjust himself to the wishes of Meles at all costs that his demotion seemed not to have taken place at all. Therefore Seyoum’s recent interview in Demtis Weyane (TPLF radio) is a manifestation of his continuous servile allegiance towards Meles, even to the extent of repeating the latter’s ugly expressions.
The strategy of Meles in the power struggle that politics were to lead the military was again used against Aregawi, who was the head of the military committee to be subordinated to the political committee, as if the structure were more decisive than the political concept. Therefore Meles used first Abay and the political committee to win influence and then the MLLT, as a second instrument. Since he could not use only the MLLT to get rid of his seniors in the hierarchy, he won the tacit support of Abbay Tsehaye and the active co-operation of Sebhat Nega, the chairman of the TPLF then, to launch his intrigues to destroy Aregawi Berhe, and Gidey Zeratsion, the deputy chairman of the TPLF.
There were two incidents, which led to a personal animosity between Meles and Aregawi. Firstly, Aregawi had ordered imposed on Meles physical punishment such as carrying water, cooking and push ups for failing to discharge his duty during the exchange of fire in a military operation at Adwa in 1977. He had participated as a deputy commander next to Aregawi in the operation; it means that Aregawi confirmed the validity of the accusation of cowardice against Meles, which was an embarrassment for the latter in front of fighters trimmed to be selfless.
Secondly. Aregawi wrote a letter to Sebhat reminding him of some factional activities by Meles. Sebhat secretly showed the letter to Meles instead of expressing his agreement or disagreement with Aregawi’s suggestion. Meles and Co. prepared for the final coup against Aregawi. Gidey who was approached in the course of the preparation and did not agree to become an accomplice became the next target.
When the founding congress of the MLLT took place in July 1985, the power struggle within the leadership of the TPLF was openly known only to the CC members and the cadres prepared by Meles. As a result of this system of destructive secrecy, differences of opinion, which both perpetrators and victims claim to have had, were not openly discussed before and during the congress. The protagonists were elected to the CC of the MLLT in the tradition of the TPLF (the old leadership, those appointed by it as deputies, those suggested by it as candidates and those for whose candidacy the members of the election gremium made up of CC members demonstratively raise their hands, get elected).
After the congress, a meeting of the members of CC of the MLLT and TPLF took place. Aregawi and Gidey were demoted, isolated, harassed and they had to accept political tutors just to humiliate them till they were forced to leave Tigray altogether. Even private letters of Gidey were read in some units and used for ridiculing and cracking jocks. Once a small group picked by Meles and co reached decisions, the remaining members of the TPLF had to hear the decisions with corresponding explanations. Aregawi and Gidey did not have basic differences even with Meles. It was simply a power struggle that ended up the phase of the collective leadership.
There was a stage-managed podium discussion between Gidey and Meles, in which the participants either applauded Meles or had to keep quiet. Meles demagogically portrayed Gidey as “a gangrene of the organisation. And as an infected limb must be amputated to save the life of a person, Gidey must be amputated to save the organisation”. Meles declared: “Gidey is not a political animal” and ordered the latter to get out of the meeting. Abay Tsehaye, who was nominally the General Secretary of the MLLT, expressed his pride that there were people like Meles who defended the line of the organisation. Abay’s reverence for Meles could not be overlooked and this showed that he had given up his role in the political leadership of the TPLF/MLLT.
The thesis of amputation from Meles says a lot about the taboo of having different opinions in the organisation. Amputation in this connection is the justification for liquidation, purges and isolations. If a member is declared to be gangrene or an unwanted person by Meles, he is automatically an outcast. Such a person, if not killed is all of a sudden an alien amongst his/her former friends, because the former friends do not want to be associated with the outcast out of fear. Meles Bezabeh had to commit suicide after such a dirty experience that made him an outcast.
Here is an example of what happens to those who do not respect this rule of getting rid of an outcast: Teklu Hawaz, a member of the CC of the TPLF, who did not agree with the measures taken against Aregawi and Gidey was sent to a military operation near Adigrat and arrested on the way. Addisalem Balema, the most loyal cadres of Meles who (after receiving an English language course in London) later became the Ethiopian Ambassador first to Italy and then to the People’s Republic of china, explained in 1988, in London that: “Fighters who chat with Aregawi always reported what Aregawi told them, but Teklu who was seen with Aregawi more often than any other person, did not report. Therefore he was sent to a battle with Samora and arrested because he was suspected of planning to escape. And he was suspected because he looked absent-minded”. Teklu was murdered. There are several versions as to how and when he was liquidated, but there is no doubt that he was sent to the battle as part of the plan to murder him.
An interesting aspect of the mystification of the TPLF is, how Meles tried to transfer the mystification of the TPLF to the MLLT. He had to dismantle the myth around the TPLF in order to discredit the leaders of the TPLF he wanted to get rid of. Therefore, he wrote that the TPLF were not only not showing any progress, that it were not even only stagnating at what it had achieved but rather deteriorating and loosing the level it had reached. He declared the TPLF to be on the brink of collapse, a phrase, which he always employs to justify liquidation and purges, or amputations in his own words as in 1978 so also in 1985 and now in 2001.
Meles described what he called the basic mistakes of the TPLF in Leninist polemical categories as “empiricism” and “pragmatism”. The point of the mystification is not whether the TPLF had committed mistakes or not. It is rather the claim that the mistakes were corrected not because some individuals perceived certain mistakes, but because the MLLT came into being and corrected the mistakes of the TPLF, as if the MLLT had a certain magical power to do so. Accordingly, the TPLF was declared to have made the mistake of pragmatism by for instance, concealing its Marxist nature out of sheer opportunism, in order to get money from the West, thereby hiding its Marxist program and identity to its Marxist-Leninist strategic allies and hence missing the opportunity to start and cement its relationship with its strategic allies (a report to the Congress of the TPLF and MLLT in Tigrigna, 1989).
Meles suddenly started counting the mistakes of the TPLF and called them pragmatic on the eve of the formation of the MLLT. He then picked some members for reproach. But none of the reproached, like Seyoum and Asfeha was working in opposition to the guidelines of the leadership as a whole in which Meles was a key part. As no one was running one’s own policy the reproached were taken by surprise and could neither defend a pragmatic approach for which they were supposed to be responsible nor themselves. It could on the surface appear that Meles stood for textbook Leninism but he was simply using it to attack others in the power struggle. This can clearly be seen in the contradiction between calling relations with imperialists opportunist (pragmatic) but ordering and driving around 200,000 peasants* to the Sudan (13,000 died on the route) so that the TPLF could get aid from those characterised as class enemies. Every argument used against pragmatism was reversed after the Meles group prevailed in the power struggle.
Pursuant to the above change of policy before it was again changed, extremely small and pro Albanian ML-Parties all over the world and the Labour Party of Albania were contacted as a correction of this alleged opportunistic mistake. TPLF members responsible for foreign relations were reprimanded for not doing so much earlier. Asfeha (Mulugeta) Hagos, a member of the CC of the TPLF, in the department of foreign affairs left the Front and sought asylum in Norway. Asfeha complained about his isolation. When he was supposed to organise the invitation of the ML Parties to the founding congress of the MLLT, he complained that he did not himself take part in any discussion about the MLLT.
Many of the victims of Meles had similar grievances, but we did not exchange them as we were not open to each other, because we had gone through a nasty period of recriminations and were witness to imprisonment and killings. We were used to repeating what was already said, in order to be on the safe side. This atmosphere of keeping quiet on serious matters had the effect that we who devoted our full-time for political activities and even our lives were forced to avoid unauthorised political discussions. We were at ease only when we talked about issues, which did not involve political risks, like battles, journeys, hardships, hunger, thirst etc. We were conditioned to mutually suspect each other, which made it easy for Meles to disseminate his ideas through his robot-like cadres with an official blessing and with little challenge.
The TPLF was also said by Meles to be on the brink of collapse due to “empiricist” mistakes, because it, according to Meles, depended on its own practical experience instead of adopting scientific theories. The theory was supposed to have been discovered due to the formation of the MLLT, which was destined to lead the TPLF, which it allegedly saved from collapse. On the surface, the TPLF was being discredited to make place for the MLLT. But it was part of the leadership of the TPLF, which was practically being discredited, while the other part, which was controlled by Meles was taking the credit for “saving” the TPLF. Culprits had to be found for the imagined threat of collapse and “amputated” (in the words of Meles) Meles concentrated himself primarily on the struggle for power against those who took him for a friend within the TPLF, but his victims were not aware of this fact till it was too late! The former CC members of the TPLF and later victims of Meles behaved like a child who understands that fire hurts, only after making a personal experience!
The Struggle for Ethiopian Sovereignty and the reign of Meles.
We have been writing about the TPLF, dealing only with two cardinal issues: the issue of democracy and that of national sovereignty. Although we have not yet finished publicising some parts of the series of our articles, we would like to present the sketch of the conclusion we want to arrive at. We tried to show that the dictatorial measures of purging taken by Meles against the ten (twelve minus two) top representatives of the TPLF at a stroke are neither new nor unique in the Front, by giving similar examples in the history of the TPLF.
Although the TPLF leadership has a tradition of liquidating, Purging, incarcerating and harassing its members the sheer number and the leading positions of the ten victims showed the nature of the TPLF in a dramatic way. It was not only the tyranny of Meles which manifested itself but also the inherent undemocratic nature of the TPLF. Meles did what he did because he knew that the slave-like members of the TPLF would accept whatever orders he gives them. Such members who live in fear of repression, who betray each other overnight and behave according to orders from above do not act with their own conscience. Although only a few cadres are likely to support Meles, the remaining members of the TPLF simply behave likewise, because they are conditioned to do so by bitter repressive experiences and a structural control mechanism. The EPRDF is only a physical enlargement of the TPLF. Therefore, the cadres, the party and government officials (with the exception of some individuals, like the former President Negasso), the army commanders (with some exceptions like General Tsadkan etc), and the judges as the beneficiaries and apologists or instruments of this undemocratic system are putting Meles’ orders into practice.
Similarly, we mentioned the anti-Ethiopian manifesto of the TPLF (which declared the aim of the TPLF to be the independence of Tigray) while dealing with the issue of sovereignty to show that, what Tewolde and Co. opposed as an anti-Ethiopian position of the Meles clique during the war with Eritrea did not come all of a sudden. Meles and Sebhat, as the main protagonists as well as Abay and Seyoum as their followers had at least by the time they wrote the manifesto for the independence of Tigray from Ethiopia decided that Ethiopia is not their country. Once they reached this decision, they could not and did not, as a logical consequence, have a vision for Ethiopia. The TPLF army became so strong that Ethiopia fell into the hands the Meles clique, a clique that had no program for a sustainable economic development, the long-term interests and borders of Ethiopia.
We have, on the basis of the facts we have been disclosing reached some conclusions accompanied with corresponding proposals:
The policy of Revolutionary Democracy, as applied in Ethiopia is a system of Stalinist repression and control, the violation of human and democratic rights, a divide-and-rule policy on the basis of ethnicity, the erosion of Ethiopian sovereignty (like the act of reviving defunct colonial treaties), servility to foreign powers, the cheap manipulation of constitutional laws to serve personal interests and revenge (like the denial of the right to bail hastily prepared and retroactively directed against Siye etc. and the decree to control the activities of ex-presidents directed against Dr. Negasso). Therefore the Tewolde group has to clarify whether it distances itself from the Stalinist revolutionary democracy of Meles or not and contribute to transparency and enlightenment on the practice of the TPLF. It has furthermore to clarify its position as to whether it accepts the need for a conference for peace and reconciliation with all Ethiopian opposition forces or not. The TPLF has always been undemocratic and harmful to Ethiopia. Notwithstanding the noble intention of tens of thousands of TPLF fighters who sacrificed their lives and whom we remember with respect, the TPLF has always been under the control of murderers. And no matter what positive roles the Front has played, the leadership has established such an undemocratic and an anti Ethiopian regime, that it has rendered the heavy sacrifices of its own members and the people useless. The TPLF grew to become militarily the strongest organisation in Ethiopia with heavy sacrifices paid by tens of thousands of men and women, it grew on our blood, sweat and efforts and on the financial and material support of many more Tigrayans.
The Meles clique, who determined the policy of the TPLF, has become the victor. This clique has never been willing to resolve internal or external conflicts peacefully, without resort to intrigues and/or bloodshed. The military wing of the leadership, which was always successful militarily has become the vanquished, because it was bogged down in an enslaving centralism, that it subordinated itself to Meles in the organisational structure and failed due to its tradition of destructive secrecy to expose Meles in front of the Ethiopian people including the army before it was too late. Many Ethiopians waited with zest for the course of action of the “pro sovereignty” wing of the TPLF during the war, but Meles was prepared for his private war and undeservedly reversed the situation to his advantage. A closer look at the organisation reveals that the TPLF is like a private company of Meles. It is, as one of its former members put it, “a killing machine”. All the sacrifices paid to remove an Ethiopian murderer were in vain, because the struggle ended up with the tyranny of an anti-Ethiopian murderer. The reign of Meles is like a humiliating blackout for a generation of Ethiopians in the history of the country. Despite our suffering in the struggle and in spite of our good intentions, we, by contributing to the fact that the traitorous clique headed by Meles came to power, did harm to the people of Ethiopia. We have, as a result, a feeling of guiltiness and shame.
The Tewolde/Siye group has also in this case to reappraise the goals of the Meles clique and the means used by it to control the TPLF which explains why the TPLF does not have a democratic tradition and that the anti-Ethiopian elements held key positions in the leadership of the TPLF from early on. The Tewolde/Siye group was still in power when the Algiers Agreement was reached on the basis of defunct and unjust colonial treaties, which deny Ethiopia an access to the sea. The dissidents revealed their concern for Ethiopia`s sovereignty in their recent article because, they say, Meles Zenawi did not try to make the best out of the so-called 1990, 1902 and 1908 treaties. They call on the Ethiopian people to share their concern. In actual fact, it is they who had one way or the other contributed to the erosion of Ethiopia’s sovereignty who must pledge to share the concern of the people. Sovereignty should not depend on treaties overtaken by history. Therefore it is high time that the group realises, that the question of sovereignty is not only a matter of gaining or losing a few square kilometres. The Imposition of fake solutions on the people can only exacerbate the problem
Now, Ethiopia is at a critical juncture in her history, at which her basic interest is at stake, because our country is under the reign of her enemies. The Struggle for Ethiopian Sovereignty and the reign of Meles are inseparably intertwined. Therefore Ethiopians have to wake up, wake up soon, bury their differences, stand as one person and rise up to get rid of Meles and preserve their sovereignty.
The Rise of an Eritrean Clique from the Womb of TPLF (the document exposes:
(a) How Eritreans (Shaebia) managed to infiltrate Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after Meles Zenawi spent in 1975-1976 almost a year in Asmara, Eritrea, under the direct help of Isayas Afwerki and other Shaebia leaders. The time was when the new Derg military took over, and Ethiopian troops fought streets battles in Asmara.
(b) How Meles almost a year later joined TPLF, and the dispatch by Isayas Afwerki’s of Eritean rebels such as Mussie and Yemane Kidane (Jamaica) to TPLF, and how Jamaica joined TPLF under the orders of Isayas Afwerki, with Jamaica’s mission to closely monitor TPLF activities and report findings to Isayas.
(c) How Meles became the head of cadre school of TPLF, brainwashed TPLF cadres with Shaebia propaganda, and paved his way to grabbing power through political intrigues and murders that spanned 18 years. Today TPLF members in Ethiopia are filled with sorrow that their organization was annexed by Eritrean agents who lived inside TPLF. As a result, the TPLF members, whether in the Ethiopian Army or in TPLF as officials, members and cadre positions have awakened from their long sleep. The Eritrean agents who never had any meaningful role in their long, arduous struggle, will never remain in power, and go on tearing Ethiopia. There is a new-found sense of awareness that may soon materialize in action to bring back TPLF to its formidable organizational strength. The promise is they will bring back TPLF – by bringing the Eritrean agents now controlling state power in Ethiopia to justice!
We urge Ethiopian independent media (whether web sites or radio stations) to translate and broadcast this historical document in Amharic, Oromiffa, Tigrinya and other languages so that the Ethiopian people would have a better insight into the bitter truth that the Prime Minister and his closest Eritrean-linked individuals are the disguised missionaries of death and destruction dispatched to Ethiopia by one of Ethiopia’s deadly enemies, Eritrea.
“Information is Power” – so goes today’s catchword, and this information is presented so as all concerned would make informed decisions. The Ethiopian patriots have spent hundreds of working hours to research and present this material to enhance the struggle of Ethiopians for a better life. It looks at last the TPLF members are realizing that the man who thought was their leader was their worst enemy who did everything to destroy not only Tigray or TPLF, but also our country Ethiopia, who is now tied at the stake to be a pariah nation surrounded by tiny, and yet hostile nations. -Ed.
The Formation of TPLF and the Defection of Meles in Eritrea
It was in January 1975 when the first TPLF combatants (Siye, Abay and Awalom) set out to an EPLF training camp in Eritrea when they were forced to make their stay in Asmara. At that time, the new Derg government troops on the one hand and EPLF and ELF on the other were caught up in streets battles in the city of Asmara.
The situation got worse when the TPLF combatants arrived in Asmara because the Derg was conducting a house-to-house searches for any infiltrators. The measure was catch and kill. The TPLF combatants had taken shelter in one Tigrian woman’s hotel. But as the condition got worse, the owner of the hotel scared for her life and ordered the TPLF combatants leave the place immediately. They left. Meanwhile, Meles Zenawi (Wedi-Asmera) was spending time with his Eritrean friends and had no problem of food and lodging problems. He had enough necessities for himself. The others were hidden, had no food, water or light. For days, they survived on tomatoes only, no bread no injera.
Given the tense situation and the grim consequences they would face if they were caught by the Derg, the TPLF combatants decided that they should break through the Derg security and go for training. They sent their decision to Meles Zenawi so that he would join them. Instead, Meles said he was not ready to take the risk and would stay behind in Asmara. They tried to get him out of the city with them but Meles resisted strongly, and even warned that he wouldn’t like to be seen with any Tigrian.
Without Meles, all the TPLF combatants (Seye, Abay, Awalom, Aregawi, and Agazi) crossed the Derg’s security checkpoints and reached their destination: a training camp. In another direction, Yohannes Gebremedhin (guerre de nom Walta, the brother of slain security minister Kinfe Gebremedhin), Atsbaha Dagnew, and Shewit joined their comrades at the EPLF training camp. However, the traitor Meles at the most critical time abandoned the heroes of Tigray who founded TPLF, and chose to stay behind in Asmara with his EPLF comrades.
He lived in Asmara or somewhere in Eritrea with EPLF for almost a year and joined TPLF sometime in mid-1976. By the time Meles joined TPLF, the heroes had finished their training, moved to Tigrai and founded TPLF and strengthened their struggle in Tigrai. After a thorough debate, the TPLF combatants allowed Meles to join the struggle. They made a mistake to allow the defector to join TPLF. They allowed him without any serious reflection on his defection and suspicion of his contact with EPLF.
It was at that time that the mission of the agent began. During his one-year stay with Shaebia, Meles had finalized his training how to control all future activities of Tigrians and their organization – TPLF. Moreover, when Shaebia sent its combatant by the name of Mussie to TPLF, the contact was performed through Meles, and other Tigrian-Eritreans who were living in Eritrea.
The other Tigrian combatants – Siye, Awalom, Agazi, Dagnew, Yohannes, Ahferom, Kelebet, Seyoum and others numbering about 20 finished their training and headed toward Tigrai, there was another Shaebia combatant, Yemane Kidane (a.k.a. Jamaica) who was directly assigned by Isayas Afwerki. Jamaica himself was openly saying his duty in TPLF was to “follow up all the TPLF movement and to report to EPLF,” and was doing that as if he believed in the just struggle of the TPLF and liked to stay with it.” When I was a TPLF combatant, I myself asked Jamaica on two different occasions why as an Eritrean chose to join TPLF instead of ELF or EPLF. His response was the same: “I was sent by Isayas to check on the ins and outs of TPLF movement and report to EPLF.”
When the sudden split of TPLF surfaced in March last year, however, TPLF couldn’t but take millions by surprise. Unexpectedly, it was said, a storm of sharp differences wrecked the TPLF leadership. Are the differences a sudden turn of events or the climax and final eruption of a political volcano that had been lying low beneath the surface for 18 years?
Though this and other similar questions should have been answered by any one of the TPLF leaders, this writer would also like to acknowledge that he had an opportunity to build very close ties with TPLF leaders for quite a considerable period of time during the pre- and post-1991 TPLF era right until TPLF’s downfall under the conspiracy of a class of Eritrean last year, and believes he has adequate experience to identify the ground-breaking political intrigues that squeezed the authentic Ethiopian blood and flesh out of TPLF – leaving it in the hands of authentic Eritrean agents who shed tears of blood when Ethiopian Defense Forces tore through Shaebia trenches and advanced toward the Eritrean capital to punish the criminals once and for all.
The genesis of the current crisis that struck open the hard-nut TPLF in two mortal groups could well be traced back to 1982 – i.e. eight years after TPLF was born in the wilderness of western Tigrai. Before presenting the secret plot that was conceived in 1982, however, let me introduce readers to the brief history of the formation of TPLF.
The first Congress of TPLF was conducted in 1978-’79. The Congress formally elected:
a) Sebhat Nega – Chairman
b) Aregawi Berhe – Vice Chairman and Chief of the Military Command
c) Giday Zerazion – Deputy Secretary
d) Abay Tsehaye – Second Deputy Secretary
e) Seyoum Mesfin – Secretary of Foreign Affairs
f) Tewolde Woldemariam – Chief of Regional Organization
g) Gebru Asrat – Chief of Internal administration
h) Siye Abraha – Deputy Army Commander and other TPLF central committee members led the organization from 1978 till 1983.
Second Regular Congress – 1983
After reviewing TPLF accomplishments, the congress once again elected the following as TPLF leaders: a) Giday Zerazion – Chairman, TPLF
b) Aregawi Berhe – Vice Chair and Army Commander
c) Sebhat Nega – Deputry Secretary
d) The rest held their previous positions, while alternate central committee member and political instructor of TPLF cadres, Meles Zenawi, was promoted to full central committee membership.
In an organization that was overflowing with renowned army commanders who were feared and respected even by their enemies, Meles Zenawi and Sebhat Nega.
It was here at the Second TPLF Congress of 1983 the major criminal plot was conceived, and after 18 grueling years of secrecy, burst to the fore in March last year. Though Meles was a junior, militarily insignificant but an ardent political cadre for Eritrean independence even prior to joining the central committee, no one had taken him for his Eritrean passion seriously when he made it to the central committee of TPLF.
In spite of Meles’ persuasion, however, the political stand of TPLF on the question of Eritrea was stated as: “TPLF takes the question of Eritrea as the right of the Eritrean people for a just solution to their problem. However, there is no historical prerogative for TPLF to preoccupy itself with the Question of Eritrea and its resolutions.”
Meles, however, continued to propagate for Eritrean independence, and occasionally was heard lamenting and accusing the organization: “The TPLF stand on Eritrea lacks clarity and is no different than even opposing the Question of Eritrea altogether.” Subsequently, using his new leverage as a central committee member, Meles embarked on weaving the threads of his conspiracy secretly.
As a central committee member, Meles quickly established warm ties with the top individuals of the TPLF leadership. He cemented bonds with Sebhat Nega, who was both former chairman of the organization and had blood relations with. Sebhat Nega was a weak, self-centered individual, and Meles was capable of using Sebhat as his partner to advance his evil plans for the future.
The coordinated plot unveiled its first stage this way. One day Sebhat Nega said he found a letter signed by Aregawi Berhe and Giday Zerazion, and the letter read:
“Political cadre instructor and Central Committee member Meles Zenawi and Deputy Politburo Secretary Abay Tsehaye are spreading malicious ideas with a hidden agenda to destroy TPLF. The politburo believes such a dangerous move should be nipped in the bud, and this should be done by putting the two culprits to death.”
Sebhat said he found the letter that bears “death punishments” in the office of Giday Zerazion, and he said he had in private warned Meles and Abay Tsehaye. To lend credibility to the political drama, Meles was groomed to act in a very disappointed and shocked manner, like conveying to others the message “how can I deserve this!”
One of those who were supposedly to be killed – in Sebhat Nega’s plot – was Abay Tsehaye who believed Sebhat and Meles Zenawi’s hearsay without an iota of doubt. In this case, the group with the hidden agenda grew to three.
With the three being the main activists, the second stage of the highly coordinated conspiracy was launched. The “information” was secretly shared with the rest of the Central Committee members with the exception of Giday and Aregawi. Subsequently, an insidious smear campaign against the TPLF Chairman (Giday) and the Military Chief (Aregawi) was launched without letup. The majority of the cc members were made sure they were convinced, and since the remaining were molded by Meles Zenawi, there was no problem at all that the Sebhat-Meles scandal would fail from hitting its target.
Once they protagonists made sure that most central committee members are on their side, a third regular congress, which normally convenes every four years, was brought forward by two years, and Giday and Aregawi – though ranking officials of the rebel organization – were taken by surprise when they were informed that the third regular congress would be held shortly. Giday and Aregawi were seen baffled as they were not sure about what was going on behind them within the seemingly stable organization. Apparently, the two (Aregawi and Giday) had asked all members of the Central Committee why a regular Congress was needed two years ahead of the four-year-term.
Their questions were expected, but an official response organized by Meles Zenawi was already on the table. Meles Zenawi’s official response included the following points that he said dictated for the untimely convention of the TPLF Congress:
a) Since we’ve been a clandestine Marxist-Leninist organization and there is a need to go public that we are one of such;
b) Since a trend of being self-centered and “pragmatist” (Meles inserted the English jargon “pragmatist” while speaking in Tigrinya) is setting in the life of comrades and such dangerous trend is threatening the noble ideals many comrades sacrificed their lives for;
c) Since some of us are guiding ourselves by the assumption that “no one cares for the organization better than I do,” and this “imperialist” view need to be corrected;
d) Since our political stand with those political groups around us is not distinct, and there is a need to be transparent and make our political stance clear;
e) Those problems cited above were created because our organization has no party of its own, and the need to found a party that would guide us into the future.
Meles Zenawi also addressed the question that came from the two: “Why was such an agenda hidden from us.” Meles said there was nothing secret about taking such a necessary action. He said the call for an early convention of the Congress was necessitated by prevailing circumstances that, if ignored, would endanger the survival of TPLF. “It should be made clear,” Meles added, “that these are plans I am announcing to everyone of you for the first time.”
Though the Congress started and a heated debated was conducted, the plot the Meles side had woven was so pervasive that counter-arguments coming from the Aregawi Berhe side failed to get any support. Most members have been pervaded by the anti-Aregawi and anti-Giday Zerazion smear campaign Sebhat Nega and Meles and their backers have been conducting secretly for a considerable period of time.
Since most members had no idea of what was going on, they decided to stick to what looked the ‘majority’ and this deprived Giday and Aregawi – though instilled with clear political views – of support and were rendered an easy prey to the political onslaught of the Sebhat-Meles group. They stood without any one supporting them. The congress decided for their removal. The accusations Meles poured on Aregawi and Giday served as a solid foundation for the latter’s smooth removal on the one hand, and ensuring Meles’ ascendancy to power, on the other. All the while, there was an individual by the name of Teklu Hawaz who was speaking out against the hidden agenda of the Meles-Sebhat side. Teklu was a brave and brilliant person who stood up and strongly warned that the Meles strategy was a secret design aimed at grabbing power and there was no dictating environment that would make the Congress accept all the changes Meles was propagating as a necessity for the survival of TPLF. But Teklu was one voice and his vehement opposition and ridicule to Meles Zenawi only landed him in jail. Later, a statement was issued saying that Teklu Hawaz was killed while trying to escape. The story of Teklu Hawaz ended there.
Once the powerful men of TPLF were successfully removed thanks to the conspiracy of Meles and Sebhat Nega, the Question of Eritrea for the first time started to dominate all agendas and TPLF issued its clear stand on Eritrea. Meles has been seriously opposing TPLF for lacking a clear stand on Eritrea. But after the purges and the fall of TPLF into his hands, he realized a condition conducive to creating a policy favoring Eritrea was in the offing. Accordingly, the Congress ended by electing the following into the TPLF leadership:
1. Meles Zenawi – Secretary General, Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray (MLLT)
2. Abay Tsehaye – Deputy MLLT Secretary General
3. Siye Abraha – Commander of the Army
4. Tewolde Woldemariam – Political Commissariat
5. Seyoum Mesfin – Secretary of Foreign Affairs
6. Gebru Asrat – Chief Administrator
7. Sebhat Nega – Chief Social Services
8. Kinfe Gebremedhin – Chief of Security
July 1985: the Rise of Meles opposed by Eritrea’s Shaebia
At the 2nd TPLF Congress, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (a.k.a. Shaebia) had expected that the Question of Eritrea would be adopted as TPLF’s principal objective, i.e. fighting for the secession of Eritrea. However, the question received little more than a scant attention and EPLF was resentful of TPLF, particularly the Chairman Giday Zerazion and Aregawi Berhe, the two leaders who were fired at the 3rd Congress that catapulted Meles Zenawi from an obscure and junior political cadre into the first top of the TPLF leadership.
At the 3rd Congress, TPLF adopted the Question of Eritrea as its Number One agenda. It was an outright victory for Shaebia. However, Shaebia issued a statement opposing the dismissal of Aregawi and Giday Zerazion. Such Eritrean condemnation of TPLF which had “elected” the profoundly pro-Eritrea political activist and mentor Meles Zenawi created the impression among the disgruntled members of TPLF central committee members that Aregawi and Giday had closer ties with the Eritrean group without their knowledge. In reality though the opposite was true. EPLF was rest assured that the fall of TPLF into Meles Zenawi’s hands was a certainty that EPLF had its own Eritrean replica in the name of TPLF.
It was a design that most TPLF fighters helped change their attitude and trust Meles as their “Ethiopian” leader because Eritrea’s Shaebia has depicted him as Eritrea’s enemy in through a statement the Eritrean rebel group issued in “support” of the avowedly anti-Eritrean TPLF leaders Aregawi Berhe and Giday Zerazion. Once the latter two were purged, TPLF hoisted high the “Eritrean Cause” as its banner. Meles Zenawi’s motto became a warning to all: “Those who are able, let them march forward (with Meles); those who can’t, let them try to catch up (with Meles); the resenting elements, let them face the sword!” (the word “resenting” was a metaphor used for those who were opposed to the new leader – Meles Zenawi – and must be eliminated by the Stalinist sword Meles owned in the name of TPLF).
Thereafter, TPLF fighters and the people who live in TPLF-controlled areas of northern Ethiopia lived chanting one slogan like a national anthem: “MLLT trenches are unassailable!” The MLLT “anthem” was echoed down the years until Meles ascended to power in May 1991, and all of a sudden, MLLT disappeared like a rush.
Leaving the issue of MLLT here, let me take you to occurrences that surfaced in connenction with the independence of Eritrea in 1991. Without any preconditions, TPLF or EPRDF took the Eritrean issue as a just cause and both gave an outright and overwhelming support for the accession of the former Ethiopian province of Eritrea to a sovereign independent nation.
According to EPRDF:
“Since we have passed through war, we know what war looks like. When we say this, it should be made clear that there is war to crush justice, and there is war to defend justice. Therefore, in the war that is waged to take away justice, there is nothing to gain except destruction. Outside of this, there are groups that say they know what is best for the people and nothing should be decided outside of their decision. We say to them: Good luck!”
Meles Zenawi openly declared that there is nothing to be done than to support the secession of Eritrea in its entirety. Therefore, Meles deployed Ethiopian resources and gave his full time for conduct of the Eritrean Referendum. Once the TPLF-EPLF organized “Referendum” was held, Meles finalized his second chapter of conspiracy and entered another one.
The conspiracies being woven by Meles Zenawi broadened in their dimension and became more complex. His successful midwifery of Eritrea’s independence engendered another set of problems. Eritrea was born as an independent nation. But where is the economy that would set Meles Zenawi’s cherished child on its feet? Before Eritrea’s problems come to the fore and attract the attention of all, particularly of Ethiopians, Meles designed a set of strategies. Here it should be emphasized – despite the bluff of Eritreans who paint their province as a treasure trove to this day – that Eritrea had nothing to rely for its existence as a free country. Therefore, Meles’ matter of urgency was not to defend the over 130,000 Ethiopians that were thrown out of Eritrea but how to give Eritrea an unbridled power to plunder Ethiopian resources.
1. Meles and Isayas during their frequent meetings at the Menelik Palace jointly crafted a policy that gives government support to Eritreans in Ethiopia to conduct businesses so that in turn they would become the solid ground for the economic growth of Eritrea. Such policy set Eritreans on a broad daylight looting spree that wrecked the businesses of Ethiopians as well as the livelihood of Ethiopian tax payers.
2. The above situation was later given a legal cover as Ethiopia and Eritrea entered into official agreements of co-operating each other politically, militarily and economically. Such agreements were signed in 1992/93. The “accords” were single-handedly offered to Eritrea by Meles Zenawi on behalf of the “Government and People of Ethiopia.”
Subsequently, politburo members of TPLF forwarded their opinions stressing that since EPLF was an anti-democratic group, we are opposed to such “bilateral agreements.” Their objections were presented:
a) In 1995 when Eritrea invaded the Yemeni Hanish islands on the Red Sea, Meles handed over MI helicopter gunships, MiG-21 fighter jets, tanks and radar to Eritrea in compliance with the military agreement Meles entered into with Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea.
b) Yemen has been one of the Arab financiers of EPLF during the pre-1991 Eritrean armed struggle. If Eritrea invaded Yemen, its long-time benefactor, argued the adversaries of Meles Zenawi, there is no reason why Eritrea would not invade Ethiopia and use the arms and ammunition it took from Ethiopia to invade Ethiopia. In this regard, the most notable speaker who vehemently opposed Meles Zenawi was the assassinated TPLF army general – Hayelom Araia. Siye, Gebru Asrat and Woizerit Aregash Adane were also in the forefront of opposing Meles Zenawi.
After this, things were being pushed secretly on the part of Meles as he continued to face rising opposition from the ranks of TPLF leadership. Therefore, relying on the continued information and intelligence services from Meles Zenawi, Sebhat Nega and Bereket Simon, Eritrea’s Shaebia used the following tactics to launch an armed attack on Ethiopia:
1. To train a huge army of Eritrea under the pretext of mobilizing young Eritreans for “development” purposes.
2. On the part of Meles: to advance an idea that there is no threat of war from any side and the Ethiopian army should be greatly reduced and the rest weakened.
3. On the part of Eritrea: To deploy the “development” soldiers into war in Tigray and destroy whatever economic establishment existed in that region.
4. On the part of Ethiopia (Meles): To advance the idea among the TPLF/EPRDF leadership that Eritrea’s aggression against Ethiopia should be resolved by peaceful means and there was no need to resort to a military solution.
5. By entering into negotiations with the U.N., Shaebia would then reclaim as Eritrean properties those establishments the invader had planned to take away from Tigray.
6. To destroy those TPLF officials who from time to time have stepped up their opposition to Shaebia. And to destroy them, deceptively legal covers were needed, and these covers that have been the mainstay of Meles Zenawi were to eliminate his critics by using “corruption” and “abuse of government power.” Once the Ethiopian side of TPLF is surgically cut out by the political scissors of Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afwerki, what is left would be, to work together without showing peace signs either from Addis or Asmara.
The Ethiopian army was reduced to a level where it can no longer defend the country from foreign invasion. Despite facts, Eritrean war threats were dismissed as “baseless” allegations by Meles Zenawi. Eritrean army helicopters cluster-bombed Ayder school children in Mekelle, leaving over 50 children and parents dead. Photo shows sobbing mothers who lost their kids to the Eritrean bombing raid. Four years later today, after the tragic massacre, and a war that consumed tens of thousands of lives, Meles and Isayas are still in power – and trading “hostile” words at each other, while both working intimately in defense of their “power” and Eritrea in their own respective ways. To assume the two countries would be free from the threats of war and famine would be naive as these two groups thrive by creating environments of fear, war and destruction.
The 1976 TPLF Manifesto
TPLF’s “Republic of Greater Tigray”
“The Republic of Greater Tigray”
The Tigray People Liberation Front, TPLF had published their organization’s manifesto in February 1976, the booklet was printed in Sudan. The TPLF manifesto, clearly defined who a Tigryan is, the land that the TPLF considers as Tigray, and the final destination of the TPLF. The following comprises some important contents of the manifesto.
a) A Tigryan is defined as anybody that speaks the language of Tigrigna including those who live outside Tigray, the Kunamas, the Sahos, the Afar and the Taltal, the Agew, and the Welkait.
b) The geographic boundaries of Tigray extend to the borders of the Sudan including the lands of Humera and Welkait from the region of Begemidir in Ethiopia, the land defined by Alewuha which extends down to the regions of Wollo and including Alamata, Ashengie, and Kobo, and Eritrean Kunama, the Saho and Afar lands including Assab.
C) The final goal of the TPLF is to secede from Ethiopia as an independent “Republic of Greater Tigray” by liberating the lands and peoples of Tigray.
This being the manifesto of TPLF in 1976, the question is how much of this program is implemented so far?
The implementation of the manifesto had two important stages classified as a first stage of re-demarcating Ethiopian internal boundaries and a second stage of acquiring Tigryan lands from Eritrea and secede as an independent nation. Accordingly, the following important events took place;
• After TPLF succeeded in holding power in Ethiopia, they have been working hard to change the internal regional administrations of Ethiopia at large and of Tigray in particular. As a result, they have imposed dictation on the Ethiopian parliament and succeeded in redefining the borders of different nationalities within Ethiopia. The boundaries of Tigray were defined exactly according to what was registered in their manifesto. They did this by annexing the lands of Welkait Humera up to the borders of Sudan from Begemidir province and Wollo’s Raya including Ashengie Alamata and Kobo. In order to justify the demarcation, they had to give up something in return and the lands closer to the Taltal and Afar regions of Ethiopia in eastern Tigray were temporarily sacrificed until the second stage of the project takes place. This important re-demarcation of Ethiopian internal boundaries resulted in the successful completion of the first stage of forming “Greater Tigray” later to be converged into the “Republic of Tigray” after the second stage is completed.
• After completing the annexation of “Tigryan” lands from the provinces of Begemidir and Wollo, they moved ahead to compIete the annexation of portions of Eritrea to finalize the objectives of the manifesto in practice as the second stage of their project. Zalambessa is the closest one can get to the Eritrean Saho region and Adimurug in Bada. Obviously the temporarily sacrificed eastern Tigray region would now be simultaneously acquired in this second stage of the project since there would be no organized force that could stop the Weyanes inside Ethiopia. By claiming these lands and forcibly annexing them, the manifested “Democratic Republic of Tigray” would be practically reaIized and then of course cessation from Ethiopia would follow.
• AccompIishing the dream inside Ethiopia was easily performed by simply dictating terms in the parliament since TPLF administrates Ethiopia, while means to finish returning the port of Assab would be accomplished by the Ethiopian army, financed and supported by the Ethiopian economic and human resources. Patriotic Ethiopians are expected to side with TPLF in hope of probable return of Assab to Ethiopia, while the truth is that the port city, if recaptured, would not be Ethiopian but of the would be new nation of “Greater Tigray”. This is so because the second stage of the project would have been completed at this point, making it the right time for the TPLF to secede. If there is anything that might delay the declaration of the republic after this, it would have been the time required to consolidate their control of Eritrean portions by sheer force, further using and exploiting innocent and patriotic Ethiopian peoples expectations and support. This support would again be betrayed in the final stages of the creation of the republic.
• While the imaginary manifested program is completed this way, the economic ploy had another direction. This direction was focused at transporting capital and material as much as possible from the rest of Ethiopia to Tigray for future use when the “Republic” is established. This would require for TPLF staying in power in Ethiopia until the plan is well implemented. The implementation of this economic program is crystal clear for any body who has recently traveled to Tigray. The TPLF/Weyane regime has been heavily investing Ethiopian capital in Tigray such that the region and the city of Mekele are the fastest growing in the country. Mekele is infested with so many new buildings which have no immediate contribution to the Tigryan economy. These are empty high rises ready to be used in the future when the republic which would include Assab is fully established. Besides the fact that numerous buildings have been built in Tigray at the expense of the Ethiopian economy, the following are few indicatives to that effect as to how much has so far been done in last 15 years of their power.
A• An international airport in Mekele with no immediate importance in terms of accommodating international guests and travelers since the city has yet to grow both financially and infrastructurally. Being this the fact, however, the erection of this new and expensive airport was based on two objectives. The short term objective is to help the TPLF’s war efforts against Eritrea by bombarding the same into submission without having to worry about air distance using the Ethiopian air force from Tigray. The long term objective was to move the entire Ethiopian air force to Mekele and convert it to the air force of the republic, and at the same time to use the international airport for civil aviation of the Republic of Greater Tigray after declaring independence from Ethiopia. Two more international airports have been completed in Tigray, again with no immediate importance in terms of accommodating international travelers.
B• Three colleges in Mekele namely Engineering, Medical, and Business. These colleges are complete in terms of infrastructure for future use when the republic is established.
C• The Cement, Textile, Electricity Dam, Marble, and Pharmaceutical factories in Tigray which costed hundreds of millions/billions of clean Ethiopian money. The port of Massawa was used to sneak materials inside Tigray in the name of “Ethiopian imported goods”, and used exclusively for Tigray without the knowledge of government offices in Addis Ababa.
D• The multiple high rising office buildings empty for now but to be soon filled by the Weyane bureaucrats in independent Tigray.
E• The luxury residential homes and spacious buildings such as those known by “Debri Hills” in the out skirts of Mekele for possible embassy offices and residence of diplomats.
D• Refer to the extensive list of companies owned by TPLF with the majority having their head office in Tigray.
Politically and Strategically
The above being few of the massive investment of Ethiopian economy in Tigray, their political and strategic plans were made to be effective when the group of top TPLF leaders moved their offices from Addis Abeba to Mekele. The movement coincided with the completion of the first stage of implementing the manifesto so they can closely monitor and design the implementation of the second stage of the project. In the process, they have been effectively preparing a “strong army” from within Tigray. The same TPLF group (the TPLF Coalition Committee) dictates terms on the entire Ethiopian issues. The central government of Ethiopia listens to the central committee of the TPLF residing in Tigray which has been working under the confusing philosophical banner of the “Marxist Leninist League of Tigray”. This group is instrumental in the process of completing the second stage and the frame work for the future government of the “Republic of Greater Tigray”.
After controlling Assab and other planned lands at the expense of Ethiopian human and material resources, the TPLF group would only then complete the goals of their impractical manifesto fully. As easy as it seemed to them, they will finally move towards seceding from Ethiopia as an independent nation, leaving Ethiopia in confusion, uncertainty, and extreme danger of ethnic conflict, and Eritrea under a government that can be easily controlled by their authority. Some experts say they had planned to leave Ethiopia without a central government for Ethiopian major ethnic groups such as the Amharas and the Oromos to figure it out, and for them, gaining time to consolidate their “Republic”. At this point, the dream “the Republic of Greater Tigray” would have been put in practice and Tigray would secede from Ethiopia with Assab. In their plan Assab would be Tigryan and never Ethiopian.
We encourage all Ethiopians to prove the validity of the contents in this article by requesting the manifesto from other political organizations. This dangerous manifesto has been revealed by the TPLF leaders in February 1976 during the initial stages of the organization. It is important for every Ethiopian to be informed about this issue and also raise the level of awareness and know what exactly is going on in our beloved country. Insecure and completely disorganized Ethiopia would be the result of this crazy manifesto if implemented. Materially, the north eastern Ethiopia including the entire Afar and Taltal regions and the already taken portions of Wollo and Begemidir, and politically, a chaotic and uncertain future that can lead to any thing one can possibly imagine are the results of the TPLF/Weyane’s manifesto for Ethiopia. It is important to point the fact that the Tigryan people are as victims of this plot as any other Ethiopian. The responsibility of this mess is directed towards few fascist TPLF leaders who recklessly and selfishly betrayed their own people’s struggle of 17 years. They forgot the bitter struggle in the past and became the same type of chauvinists and oppressors they fought against in the past.
TPLF’s Tigrayan tightrope
In March 2001, a faction within the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) — the dominant party within the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) — attempted to unseat the party leader, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. At the time of writing, Meles has seen off the attack, but the incident shows just how vulnerable he is, and his current ascendance is still not guaranteed. A permanent solution to the dissension within the TPLF has yet to be found.
The split within the TPLF is not new, having first surfaced in the early 1990s, not long after the TPLF came to power. At heart, the split is ideological between the so-called ‘moderates’ and ‘hardliners’ within the party. During the long years of armed struggle against the Dergue regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam, the party was staunchly communist, and admired the political and economic policies of the Albanian model. By the time the TPLF over-threw the Dergue regime in 1991, how-ever, the international context had changed dramatically. Socialism was in retreat everywhere, free market economics had become the accepted orthodoxy, and the newly installed government in Addis Ababa had little choice but to accept the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank conditionalities of market liberalisation and privatisation.
Meles, who ascended to power within the TPLF, embraced such policies with alacrity, and implemented them with a vigour that won him praise from the Bretton Woods institutions. But he was unable to assert his authority fully within the party, and ideological differences remained. Meles’s solution in the early 1990s was to banish the hardliners to Tigray, the political base of the party. Once in Tigray, the party militants continued to organise around a programme of ‘Greater Tigray’, and were often publicly critical of what they saw as a ‘weakening’ of the party’s ideology. They were also opposed to the perceived closeness of the ruling élite in Addis Ababa and Asmara, and of what they saw as a ‘selling out’ of the TPLF leadership to Eritrean demands. It was the activities of the TPLF hardliners in Tigray (including the publication of a map that incorporated parts of Eritrea into a Greater Tigray) that were partly responsible for the series of skirmishes in 1998 and that culminated in the all-out war with Eritrea.
When the war broke out in early May 1998, Prime Minister Meles and some of the so-called ‘moderates’ around him (most notably Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin) appeared to prevaricate, and seemed reluctant to escalate to all-out war. It is also known that, at the time, Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki was trying desperately to contact Meles to resolve the crisis. President Isayas was certain that, given the high levels of trust that existed between the two leaders, a full-scale war could be warded off. It was thus that, at a TPLF central committee meeting held in May 1998, Meles came under vociferous criticism from members of his own party. A war council was established, and Meles disappeared from view for a number of days, with rumours abounding in Addis Ababa that he had been placed under arrest.
In May 1998, Meles managed to ward off the challenge to his leadership, but at a price: he was forced into accepting the position of the more militant factions, and declare all-out war against Eritrea. Since then, many have believed that Meles has merely been biding his time before once again asserting his authority and independence from this faction. By mid-March 2001, he calculated that the time had come.
The militants had become increasingly critical of the Ethiopian government’s economic policies. The war with Eritrea had placed severe strain on the Ethiopian economy, and this, combined with the drought and the withdrawal of donor assistance as a result of the war, revealed the Ethiopian economy’s continuing structural weaknesses. The government responded by increasing the pace of economic liberalisation and, as a result, Ethiopia has been able to negotiate a new aid package with the IMF, involving US $112 million over three years.
Meles calculated that the time was ripe at the Central Committee meeting held in March. When he had banished the militants back to Tigray in the mid-1990s, many of them used their control of the provincial political apparatus to enrich themselves, in some case awarding themselves and their families state contracts. The war with Eritrea also provided them with further opportunities at self-enrichment, as they tied up transport and provisioning contracts.
Thus, when the Central Committee meeting was opened, Meles had placed on the agenda the issues of corruption and undemocratic tendencies, a clear reference to the militants who had grouped themselves under the informal leadership of the former Defence Minister Siye Abraha (who had himself been named as a possible replacement leader for Meles in May 1998). The militant group objected, but Meles was able to retain the support of the majority of the Central Committee, though narrowly: 15 members of the committee supported Meles, while 12 members opposed him. Meles was able to prevail largely because he retained the support of key TPLF members such as Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, Internal Affairs Minister Kinfe Gebremedhin and Sebhat Nega, TPLF founding leader.
Meles may have prevailed for now, but the situation has not been resolved. Meles’s strategy in the early 1990s to deal with the problem of factionalism and ideological divergence within the party, was to banish the problem to Tigray, with ultimately disastrous consequences. The split has not only revealed Meles’s vulnerable position within the TPLF, it also threatens to weaken the overall status of the TPLF in the EPRDF. Already at a press conference to announce the expulsion of the dissident members from the party, Meles was seen flanked by non-TPLF members of the ERPDF. The question now is how even his supporters within the TPLF will react to the possibility of a weakening of the TPLF’s hegemony. If Meles is to secure his position in the EPRDF at the expense of the TPLF, he may still be vulnerable. But to deal with the militant elements in the TPLF will require ruthless action on his part, and it is not known whether he has the stomach for this. — FL
• Political Program
Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) ideology is based on the paradigm of ‘revolutionary democracy’. The concept of this ideology is based on a hybrid of ‘African style Nazism’, Leninism (Stalinism), Maoism, and Enver Hoxa’s Albanian Communism. In the words of Aregawi Berhe, a one time chairman of the Front, “The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) at its inception, was grounded in an ethno-nationalist consciousness generated by the cumulative grievances of Tigrayans against successive central governments of Ethiopia. An association of Tigrayan elites, the urban-based Tigrayan National Organization (TNO), prepared the groundwork for the formation of the TPLF. The TPLF, for its part, utilized class and ethno-nationalist ideologies to mobilize Tigrayans until it ousted the Mengistu government in 1991.
For instance in an interview given by the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, he himself has claimed that he feels proud to emanate from “the people of Tigray who have been tasted by fire like gold. While he mentions the remaining citizens of Ethiopia mere “cherke” – which literally means as weak as a piece of cloth.
After taking power in May 1991 TPLF tried to make some cover up of its original ideology by claiming that it has accepted western democracy. However as Kostas Loukeris observed:
“TPLF/EPRDF, during the period of its transformation from a regional revolutionary movement into a country-wide power holder, also managed to adapt its political vocabulary to the fashionable lingo of democracy and free-markets. At the same time though it never abandoned either its organizational structure of a Marxist-Leninist party or its fundamentally anti-imperialist orientation and state-led economic practice.
The ownership of land, according to the Article 40 of the constitution is government-owned.
Article 40 : The Right to Property
3. The right to ownership of rural and urban land, as well as of all natural resources, is exclusively vested in the State and in the peoples of Ethiopia. Land is a common property of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia and shall not be subject to sale or to other means of exchange.
TPLF has a vision of creating an independent Tigray Republic that is separate from Ethiopia right from its inception in 1975. Though TPLF tried to play down its original claim when it gained strength, TPLF never abandoned this vision as it is engraved it in no other document than the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Article 39 of this document states that:
Article 39: Rights of Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples
Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession.
Based on this article of the Constitution and the official stand of TPLF about the history of Ethiopia, which TPLF claims to be 100 years, it is imperative to look into what number of nations, nationalities and peoples will emerge in this period. Considering 100 years to encompass three consecutive generations, taking only two nations/nationalities/peoples as a sample, and a taking a person’s genealogy from both a father and a mother, let us project how many separate entities will emerge. Based on TPLF’s pure-race policy and applying the principles of combinatorics, after the first 30 years 3 separate entities will emerge, after 60 years 15 separate entities will emerge, by the 90th year 105 distinct nations/nationalities/peoples will emerge. When such numerical calculations are applied to more realistic figures about the different nations/nationalities/peoples in Ethiopia it gives hitherto unseen figures.
According to different studies there are about 80 to 90 nations/nationalities/peoples in Ethiopia. So considering that a person’s genealogy is the person’s heritage and right that cannot be denied, the exact number of nations/nationalities/peoples will be a minimum of 3160 after a single generation (30 years), and after 60 years it will be 4 991 220, and after 90 years it will emerge to be more than twelve billion (12 456 136 048 590) – actually an incredible figure. So the idea of self determination based on the concept of TPLF’s pure-race policy will have to encompass all these realities. If somebody was born from an Oromo mother and a Tigriyan father no body can deny this person to have a separate identity from both his mother’s side and his father’s side. In addition the delineation of the federal states is said to be based on language as a milestone. There are more than 80 languages spoken in Ethiopia today, but there are only 9 federal states.
The leadership of TPLF is composed entirely of Tigriyans, mostly from the town and locality of Adwa. Current members of the Polit Bureau are:
Mr. Meles Zenawi, Chairman
Mr. Seyoum Mesfin, Vice Chairman
Mr. Arkebe Equbay, polit bureau member
Mr. Abay Tsehaye, polit bureau member
Mr. Abadi Zemo, polit bureau member
Mr. Abay Woldu, polit bureau member
Mr. Haleka Tsegay Berhe, polit bureau member
Mr. Sibhat Nega, polit bureau member
Mr. Tewodros Hagos, polit bureau member
Dr. Tedros Adhanom, polit bureau member
Refer to the full list of the TPLF Central Committee Members.
• Track Record
TPLF has tried to create a collation with parties that have been created by itself during the armed struggle. This umbrella organization is known as the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) that was established in 1987. Members of the front are: the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the Amhara Nation Democratic Movement (ANDM), the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), and the Southern Ethiopia People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM). The chairman of EPRDF is no other than Mr. Meles Zenawi himself.
TPLF policy towards political plurality in Ethiopia is characterized by deception, creating fictitious opposition parties on opposition parties that pose real challenge for TPLF, and divisive approaches in handling conflicts with political opponents of any kind.
TPLF in Brief taken from TPLF vs Kinijit article by Amoraw Wubneh
TPLF Unseen Brutal Power (Coalition Committee)
To govern a country and keep order to ensure peace and stability for the people of the given country or state, there must be different legal systems which are transparent and accountable for the benefit of the people. All these institutions must be legalized and made known to the people according to the constitution of the country. The duties and responsibilities of these institutions should be published and made accessible to the people through different channels including the media – whether state-owned or private – such as television, radio, newspapers and magazines as much as and as soon as possible so that the governed people can know the task of each government body.
To make clear the institutions which are important for the government to ensure the security of the people i.e. internal stability and national sovereignty, the following bodies and state agencies must be established and continually strengthened:-
• National Defence Force
• Professional Police Force
• National Security (Intelligence) Force
In this century everyone knows that any government (whether democratic or undemocratic) has these forces and their duties and responsibilities must be clearly stated in the constitution.
The main tasks of each are:-
• National Defence Force – to defend the national sovereignty from external invasion or aggression.
• Professional Police Force – to prevent crime and unlawful actions.
• National Security (Intelligence) Force – to secure internal and external national security i.e. to prevent spying or government attacks, internally or externally.
All the above forces are essential to any government and nationally or internationally, a government is allowed to have such national forces to safeguard the nation against internal and external enemies.
But equally critical for their proper functioning, all these armed and paramilitary forces must be free from any kind of political party or pressure groups. In each force the officers, from the highest ranked to the lowest, must be loyal and remain accountable to the people. They must listen to the voice of the people. When the people suffer due to poor governance, these officers must be sensitive enough to feel and suffer with the people. When the people become happy, they in turn become happy too and enjoy with the people who pay their salaries. They must ensure that they are a part of the people and at the same time they are the servants of the people.
The cadres of citizens recruited into these uniformed services must be well trained and conscious enough to understand the national and global affairs at least in their own profession.
They should not represent any particular ethnic group and must be free from any kind of animosity or harbour any deep hatred, race, colour, religion and political ambitions. This is the general feature of these forces under a free and democratic society.
When we observe the TPLF structure of these forces what will come through will be a different and deliberately conspired, unseen but brutal system which has been structured to intimidate anyone regarded to be unsympathetic to the TPLF course.
Members of the coalition committee.
This coalition committee is not known by the people and civil government ministries such as, Ministry of Education, Health, Agriculture, Finance and so on. The ministers of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF members neither participate in the meetings of these coalition committees nor know what has been discussed unless they are from the armed forces and the masterminds of the TPLF/EPRDF political affairs and its general activities.
To get an idea of just how the TPLF has kept the Ethiopian populace under continued subjugation, it is important to understand the structure it has put in place in the name of governance.
The top brains who mastermind the activities of the secretive Coalition Committee comprise:-
• The Prime Minister – Tigre
• The Minister of Defence (Chief of staff ) -Tigre
• The Commander of Police – Tigre
• The Head of National Intelligence – Tigre
• The Commander of Special Police Force – Tigre
• TPLF political wing – Tigre
Note: the common denominator in terms of ethnicity.
Member offices of this sub-committee whose personnel are charged with executing orders decreed by the Coalition Committee are:-
• EPRDF/TPLF political department
• The so-called National Intelligence Office
• The so-called National Defence Force
• The so-called Police Force
• Special Police Force i.e. independent of the regular police force and the most loyal one to the rulers compared with the regular police force.
• The so-called Civil Administration
The criteria to become a member of the coalition’s sub-committee.
Persons who are supposed to be the members of this committee should be.-
• Most secretive.
• Loyal to the ruling clique.
• They should be opportunists to be controlled by their personal needs.
• They must be poor in academics and lack other professional skills.
• They must be narrow-minded, lip-service nationalists with inferiority complex.
The structure of the coalition committee.
The structure of this committee is from the council of ministers to the local (kebele).
That is: -
• The coalition committee of central government. The chairman is Ato Meles Zenawi.
• The coalition committee of the regional (federal) government. The chairman is the head of TPLF/EPRDF political affairs of the federal state.
• The coalition committee of the zone. The chairman is the TPLF/EPRDF political head or sometimes the head of National Intelligence.
• The coalition committee of the district or woreda. The chairman is the political head of the TPLF/EPRDF or the head of intelligence.
• The coalition committee of the kebele. The chairman is the head of political affairs of the TPLF/EPRDF or sometimes the chairman of the kebele.
Depending on this structure each member of the coalition committee has a duty to exchange information from kebele upwards on a 24-hour basis. It does not matter whether the information is false, reasonable or not. All the informer is after, is to satisfy their master and to get their salary – not a difficult mission in a country where the poverty level is high.
The impact of these frequently relayed information based on rumours and half truths is unbelievable killings, kidnappings, harassments and warning to the lucky ones. In most of the instances their “crime” will revolve around their nationality or ethnic origin, political background and social and economic activities.
The role and objectives of the coalition committee.
• To spy on innocent people without basic principles of information gathering, mostly based on personal conflicts.
• To harass individuals suspected to be members or supporters of opposition parties and groups which are active and passive resistances.
• To infiltrate the opposition political organizations and/or neutralize the same members of the opposition and if possible convert such a supporter or member into the ruling TPLF/EPRDF by using a lot of money.
• To intimidate famous intellectuals, active businessmen that they must contribute money towards the TPLF/EPRDF sponsored the so-called development associations and not to support the opposition.
• To facilitate the way or the system of TPLF’S/EPRDF’s divide and rule system of governance.
• To kidnap and eliminate prominent and dedicated politicians.
• To recruit and plant their own agents, for example, in trade unions, professional associations, in different activities of social sections such as schools, teachers associations, universities and other institutions.
• To weaken and kill the private media through kidnapping and intimidating journalists.
• To control the economic sector of the whole country.
The immediate motive of the committee/tactics according to TPLF/EPRDF Dream.
Even the least informed of Ethiopians know that TPLF/EPRDF has its own agenda from its birth in 1974, that is, to develop and prosper one province Tigray by looting material from the rest of the country and manipulating human resources. To achieve this, TPLF/EPRDF established a type of network to confuse Ethiopians and the international community in a sea of confusion. The masterminds conspire how to create tension amongst different Ethiopian nations and nationalities so that these nations and nationalities do not get time and think about what the TPLF has been doing against Ethiopia’s interest and how to promote the TPLF’s interest in all fields such as economic, politics, social and cultural promotions.
The long term motive of the committee/strategy according to TPLF/EPRDF Dream.
The long term objective of TPLF/EPRDF leading committee is to facilitate TPLF for the regional power in politics, economy and militarily (to be found geo-political influential of the Horn of Africa) and to sow the hostility between Ethiopian people and then to create permanent conflicts among Ethiopians themselves and between them and the neighbouring countries.
The conspiracy of TPLF not to licence independant private media (Radio & TV) through coalition committee
Part Two of the TPLF-drafted and adopted constitution of 1994 titled “Democratic Rights”, Article 29 headed Rights of Thought, Opinion and _Expression, states:
1. Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone has the right to freedom of _expression without any interference. This right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through media of his choice.
3. Freedom of press and other mass media and freedom of artistic creativity is guaranteed. Freedom of the press shall specifically include the following elements:
(a) prohibition of any form of censorship.
(b) Access to information of public interest
In the interest of free flow of information, ideas and opinions which are essential to the functioning of democratic order, the press shall, as an institution, enjoy legal protection to ensure its operationally independent and its capacity to entertain diverse opinions.
Any media financed by or under the control of the state shall be operated in a manner ensuring its capacity to entertain diversity in the_expression of opinion.
But in another clever ploy, the TPLF have allowed private newspapers to be published and distributed only in the Ethiopian capital, that is, Addis Ababa where foreign ambassadors and diplomats reside. This is meant to deceive the international community and to be seen to be dedicated to democracy. Clear evidence of this deceitful nature is the repeated harassment and detention of the publishers of these private newspapers. Unknown to the diplomatic community resident and mostly operating in Addis Ababa and its immediate environs, these private newspapers are not distributed elsewhere in the country. Indeed to be seen with a copy of any of these newspapers miles from Addis Ababa is to invite questioning and possible action by members of the TPLF coalition committee.
Why would a ruling clique be wary of a greater media reach by private enterprises?
This is because more than 85% of the population are in the country’s rural area and do not have the freedom of finding out what is going on in the country’s political, economic and social activities. This is the population that the TPLF has promised to give all round development and better standards of living. Needless to add, the promise remains in vain.
Because of this reason, the TPLF must use this deliberately structured coalition committee to play an important role to:
• Identification of serious and critical private newspapers
• Identification of critical publishers and their reporters
• Writers and readers, especially the places outside Addis Ababa. If one is found with these newspapers they are harassed and taken to custody.
Why then has the TPLF put this article in its constitution and has not issued permits for those seeking to have independant private radio and television stations, some of them for as many as 12 years? This is because if private TV and radio stations are allowed, it will be tantamount to political suicide for the TPLF. The views of prominent oppositions will be broadcast all over the country and it would not be long before the TPLF be exposed to the 85% rural population.
Most Ethiopians are not able to read but they are alert and keen to listen especially to radio which presently is their only source of information – albeit TPLF propaganda. It is only the TPLF that has the government radio and the only TV channel.
Against this background, isn’t it a big joke to talk about democracy, freedom of _expression and opinion in the absence of the means through which to express divergent views?
The Role of the Coalition Committee during Election Period.
According to the TPLF drafted and adopted Constitution in 1994, Chapter 6 on Federal Houses, Article 54 titled Members of the House of Peoples’ Representatives:
7. Members of the House of Peoples’ Representatives shall be elected by the people for a term of five years on the basis of universal suffrage and by direct, free and fair elections held by secret ballot.
Members of the House are representatives of the Ethiopian people as a Whole.
They are governed by:
(a) The Constitution;
(b) The will of the people; and
(c) Their conscience.
Of the above, nothing is further from common sense than the last expectation from the cadre of the so-called peoples’ representatives elected under the TPLF. Despite being surrounded by evidence of injustice, slanted development and many other self-inflicted social ills, these representatives do not seem troubled by their conscience and have been reduced to mere rubber stamps for policies geared to benefit one part of the country – this again being contradictory to (b) above.
Everyone says the election must be free and fair and I believe so but the question is how?
It is very clear that TPLF is a minority ethnic group, that is drawn from a population of about 3 (three) million people from Ethiopia’s total population of 70 million. Oromo, Amhara and Ogaden are the first three majorities in the country. When one sees the members of this Coalition Committee and executive power members it is TPLF that occupies the political, economic, administrative powers, diplomatic powers and military powers.
It has been stretching from Central to local (Kebele) from urban to rural. When we come to the urban dwellers, the majority are employees of the government. The employer is TPLF ruling government. The companies, all economic and social sectors have been controlled by TPLF. The urban dwellers are under TPLF leadership and they are or must be expected to be loyal to the ruling TPLF with the whole family. When it comes to politics, no one is allowed to be active opposition and maintain his job working in the government office. This way the TPLF is able to monitor the activities of men folk. But to ensure that they have control over the whole family, the urban dwellers are further organized in two other categories:
• Women Association
• Youth Association
These two groups are controlled by TPLF affiliated appointees from Kebele upwards. The main purpose is to make it easy to reach them as fast as possible mostly to propagate TPLF agenda and influence their voting pattern in favour of TPLF. This is easily achieved through propaganda of job opportunities as a majority of both the youth and the women are unemployed.
This structure helps TPLF to access the active opposition members and start to intimidate them with their families, wives, children. In many instances some religious leaders within the Kebele or close friends are sent to active or aspiring political leaders to dissuade them from these ambitions or ask them to resign completely from the political game.
These active members of opposition will be told to stop if they are not willing they will be fired from their jobs or other illegal action will be taken against these candidates and they are told point blank they are the ones to take the responsibility. The intimidation continues at the place of residence and wherever TPLF members think better.
In rural areas it is very simple for TPLF to tell the people to give their votes to TPLF if they want their farmland. As everyone knows more than 85% of the Ethiopian people depend on land and this land is now the property of TPLF.
During the election period TPLF cadres are deployed to tell the peasants to support TPLF and TPLF toys like the Oromo political organization OPDO the so-called representative of the first majority of Ethiopian population; Amhara political movement ANDM the so-called the representative of the second majority of Ethiopian people. This movement ANDM is the first born of TPLF and gave the Wolkait Tegede and Humera of Gonder Rayana Kobo and other fertile land of Wollo to TPLF.
If the farmer along with his family do not want to give his vote to TPLF leading group, he will be deprived of his land and taken to prison. It is a ploy that has worked very well because TPLF knows that peasants do not have any option rather than their land. Their land is the only option to survive.
All members of the coalition committee are armed even the civilian administration group is armed during election period. A very intimidating scenario during an election.
• ANDM is the first born of TPLF
• OPDO is the second born of TPLF, The family name EPRDF
• SEDF is the third born of TPLF
On this TPLF aims to get vote from Oromo people through OPDO, from Amhara people through ANDM, from Southern Ethiopia people through SEDF and Tigray is its own property.
Refer to (TPLF’s so-called Ethiopian Regional States).
From the setup above, it can be seen how the TPLF has worked out its grassroots structure to suposedly ensure successive victories in the election. The TPLF presence is felt everywhere not only in election time but in all circumstances of everyday life, especially for the ordinary Ethiopian.
During the election period in addition to the coalition committee, a new temporary committee is formed by the name of electoral committee. This committee is structured from location (kebele) to the region, that is, kebele electoral committee, district electoral committee, zone electoral committee and region electoral committee. The surprise element in the formation of these committees is not their actual roles but what is surprising is that all the members of these newly formed committees should be active and deceptive members of TPLF leading EPRDF. This committee is given a seminar by the ruling party’s electoral board before the election time. The seminar targets to portray an image of a democratic electoral process but in actual fact the aim is how to deceive the Ethiopian people, democratic governments and the international community in general. Opposition and independent candidates are free to lodge any complaints with the electoral board but in practice, the electoral board has already been instructed how to handle such complaints. The board pretends to take action but in actual fact ignores these complaints as soon as they are filed by the opposition and independent candidates. During the entire election period, the ruling clique will take any opportunity to tell everyone that the electoral committee is independent and free of any political influence.
The Role of Members of the Coalition Committee Under TPLF Leadership.
• The so-called Ethiopian defense force
It has been explained the legal duty and responsibility of the national defense force but, under the TPLF leadership, the defense force is defending the palace and the chair of the tyrant leaders of the group and ruling the law by their automatic weapons. The so-called regular armed force has different tasks to violate the constitution and other ordinary laws. Examples, the armed force moves in different places such as the capital city Addis Ababa and in the regional major towns to kill and harass the civilians, women and children and students in addition to the special police force and the regular police force. They are not bound by the constitution and other laws, but they are bound by the force and weapons.
In general it is the instrument of the wicked TPLF group.
N.B This directly concerns the leaders of the National Army.
• National security force under TPLF leadership
It is not to protect the national interest and national security, but to keep and guard the individual’s interest with their chair and elongate the subversive regime of TPLF. It is the eyes and ears of the same TPLF leaders. And to spy the innocent people, workers, trade unions, teacher, and students in different levels for the benefit of their masters and to impose bitter burdens on Ethiopian people.
• Special police force
The force is composed of personnel from the army, intelligence and regular police who are selected based on their loyalty to the ruling regime primarily to monitor any movement they perceive to be against or opposed to the TPLF/EPRDF and they are allowed to take any measure that they think best serves and protests the interests of the ruling group. Most members of this force have little regard for human rights and legal acts. If some of the members of this special force decline to take action when expected, the lucky ones are dismissed from their job but those unfortunate end up in detention. This Gestapo-style of keeping everyone fearful is equally true for the defence force and other security agencies.
• The role of the civil administration under TPLF/EPRDF regime
The structure of the civil administration under this regime is from kebele to the central government. The most visible roles of the current civil administration are mainly:-
• To facilitate the needs of the TPLF/EPRDF officials, for example, housing.
• To collect taxes from the people and the business community in an illegal and unjust way.
They study who is the active businessman or woman in their kebele, district zone and region that is not loyal to the TPLF and conspire to takeover the business, enterprise or company; shop or even a kiosk. Once they have hatched such a conspiracy, the TPLF agents impose an arbitrary rent increase on the business premises or levy additional taxes sometimes more than double the original sum so that business person will fail in his/her business. In some cases the targeted business person is hauled to a TPLF/EPRDF camp as a way of intimidating them to give up the business.
• To declare the TPLF/EPRDF policy and impose confused economic policies and to loot the properties of innocent people through declarations.
• To prohibit the right to free movement and engagement in economic activities in any parts of the region.
• Dismissal from jobs, denial and revocation of trading licences, actions meant to benefit or favour TPLF-owned businesses.
• Illegal appropriation of farmers’ produce at low price.
• Tax exemption to regime loyalists and TPLF-owned businesses.
• Railroading the business competition to put an end to their business activities and more.
Let me cite one application of a declaration. In 1997 the Addis Ababa city administrative region implemented a declaration which was planned by TPLF/EPRDF executive committee. It was executed by city president Ato Teffera Walwa and Ato Negussie Asgalitew, the secretary of economic affairs of the city who by the time of compiling this work had fallen out of favour and been discarded by the TPLF as have many other people who thought they stood to gain by acquiescing to TPLF policies.
The declaration involved privately-owned business concerns. The offices or business organizations from buildings to small shops, government houses, which were nationalized during previous Derg regime. People who rented these houses from the government and had the housed licenced in their names, rented out these houses to third party in accordance with the Ethiopian civil law and with a defined agreement. But the declaration dismissed the law and agreement and took over all these business organizations as well as the license. The city administrators then rented these houses hiking the rent by more than half of the previous amount and gave them to TPLF supporters and contributors. But as the rent was high, the TPLF supporters were advised to appeal to TPLF to reduce the rent and this was done. By this Addis Ababa city’s declaration several businessmen with their whole families became victims of the economic sabotage of TPLF/EPRDF regime. It is a typical example of driving one citizen to poverty at the expense of raising the economic status on another undeserving citizen.
During the implementation of this unlawful declaration the businessmen were trying not to give in and not to be looted their properties and licenses without any legal procedures and compensations but the rulers forced them out and looted their property by means of the Gun Rules the Law. This is yet again in blatant violation of Article 17 (1) and (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see appendix). And how contradictory could it be constitutionally?
It is another clever way of deceiving the international community, donor agencies and everyone else. The very first section of Article 40 Chapter Three of the constitution states:
“Every Ethiopian citizen has the right to ownership of property. Unless prescribed otherwise by law on account of public interest, this right shall include the right to acquire, to use and, in a manner compatible with the rights of other citizens, to dispose of such property by sale or bequest or to transfer it otherwise.”
Violation of Economic Rights Under TPLF Regime.
Everyone knows that for a gun to serve as a gun it needs ammunition. Knowing this, TPLF leaders continue their economic sabotage to feed their guns, a policy that has over the years triggered the violation of economic rights of other Ethiopians.
As made evident in the preceding topics, the final goal of the TPLF is to make Tigray Province powerful in all the fields and possibly become an economic hub in the Horn of Africa. Towards this goal different operational institutions have been established by TPLF. This chapter will elaborate the way in which TPLF established different associations, organizations enterprises, banks and insurance companies to control all activities of the economic sector of the country.
It is very clear that TPLF had been standing to illiminate the sentiment of Ethiopians by denying their political rights. The odd nature of TPLF is that it had been striving to bring the superiority of one ethnic group and all rounded struggle to implement and impose this like apartheid system on Ethiopians.
The motto of TPLF is “What is ours is ours! What is yours is negotiable.” Depending on this motto they took their Tigray as number one region as their own and then they took the rest of the country even without negotiations – not that there should be any negotiations anyway!
The GREATER TIGRAY and TPLF’S DREAM.
TPLF had been performing its homework to realize Tigray’s superiority and turn the region into a super power of the Horn of Africa. In the last 14 years, Tigray has become the center of huge industries that range from engineering plants and drug manufacturing to cement and textile factories. These include Afincolour Textile Factory and Mekele Mosob Factory, cement factory and Mesfin Engineering, Adigrt of Addis drug factory are some examples.
In the field of mining, agriculture and commerce a lot of money has been invested in Tigray. Shoa Emnebend, Mibuot Agricultural, Mekonization and Sun Construction Company, Trans EthiopiaTransport, Wogugen Bank, Africa Insurance operating all over the country as the economic source and power of TPLF.
In the field of electricity, water supply, health, education, road and dam construction etc, TPLF has been trying to do its best in any avenue to realize its dream about Tigray.
Federal states, regional state humanitarian organizations, non-governmental organizations, investors inside the country and out of the country were being propagated and presided by TPLF officials to enhance Tigray’s development.
This TPLF’S Tigray development strategy has long term and short term objectives and well-studied strategy. It is being implemented carefully.
Nowadays TPLF has given more of their time for the development of manpower (human resource). This is to have well-qualified and skillful Tigrians and to put the cornerstone for dynamic economic development of Tigray.
TPLF strategists think that if they hold the economic power of the whole country they can control all activities of the entire Ethiopian people and create a huge number of opportunities intellectually which can be easily controlled and managed according to the will of TPLF ruling clique.
It has almost succeeded and other Ethiopian regions remain in economic crisis and continuous tribal conflicts whose origins may be lost to the local people but which properly analysed can be linked to the deliberate and well calculated disproportionate distribution of national resources.
What does the Constitution say about the development of Ethiopia?
This is what Article 43 of the Constitution says:
The People of Ethiopia as a whole, and each Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia in particular have right to improved living standards and to sustainable development.
Nationals have the right to participate in national development and in particular, to be consulted with respect to policies and projects affecting their community.
All international agreements and relations concluded, established or conducted by the State shall protect and ensure Ethiopia’s right to sustainable development.
The basis aim of development activities shall be to enhance the capacity of citizens for development and to meet their basic needs.
The Main Sources of Tigray Development.
The development of Tigray has highly been encouraged and speeded-up by following institutions:-
• Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigrai (EFFORT)
• Tigray Development Association (TDA)
• Relief Society of Tigrai (REST)
• Dedebit Bank
• Tigrai Regional State
• The Federal Government
• NGOs and individuals
• Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigrai (EFFORT) is the leading and playing a major role in various sectors. This organization is tremendously involved in industry, mining, agriculture, transport, construction, real estate, financial sector, bank and insurance, consultancy, advocacy and printing. By and large it (EFFORT) is running huge companies. Among the basic objectives of this organization are creating opportunities for investment in Tigrai, concentrating their attention indirectly on Tigrai Regional State and by shifting the already allocated budget for different regional states to the Tigrai’s Regional State using their state power.
Moreover, resources have been grabbed constantly from other regional states to the Tigrai Regional State using state power. EFFORT has a big vision to enhance the development of “Great Tigrai” by robbing and the already gotten loan, which was taken in the name of Ethiopian people, directly being used in promoting Tigrai. The organization’s board of directors and executives are the key members of TPLF (i.e. Central Committee and executives of TPLF). Nowadays this organization owns more than 20 huge companies, which at large, are worth about five billion Birr (a paid-in capital of more than five billion).
• The second motor institution for the development of Tigrai is the Tigrai Development Association (TDA). This organization has largely been participating in education, health, construction transport and communication, water and lighting etc. The organization strives to give the region priority. For the last ten years TDA has been alarmingly operating a very big infrastructure and diverting the development in one direction besides producing qualified human resource, however the said manpower have been wagging their tails for TPLF.
The organization has been given due responsibility to implement and to show dominancy as far as development and power is concerned.
• The third one is Relief Society of Tigrai (REST). It has no direct connection with business and has been merely participating in relief activities and well known and experienced on it. It was founded by TPLF due to the famine, which occurred in 1984/85. By then, TPLF got recognition by the international community through REST. In addition REST was starting from Sudan and facilitating the way to create massive fleeing of Tigrai’s people to Sudan so as to expose the tyranny of the then regime as well as introducing the TPLF to the international community. The main objective of this organization is providing food and other materials for those who were affected by drought. The aid has been collected in the name of deprived Tigrai’s people. The distribution is undertaken both in rural and urban areas. At this time, this organizations working under the pretext of creating food for work program but those who are being helped in different direction are largely TPLF militants, henchmen, members and their families. Even though the already donated aid is not as adequate as for their contribution.
The association has opened infrastructures like irrigation system, transportation, aforrestation and community service buildings etc. At large the association has played a great role in these sectors. In some parts of developed countries, the association has opened offices in America and Europe so as to get in touch with worldwide donor organizations. However, the association is not controlled over by the Federal Danger Prevention and Preparedness Commission, instead even the association has the power to influence the Federal Commission to give priority to Tigrai Region. Conversely, in Tigrai Region, supply of the donation has been given for governmental loyalists and paid in advance.
• The fourth one is the Dedebit Bank. The bank has been opened to serve farmers and residents of urban areas. The bank givens loan to poor people with a minimum interest. Moreover, it provides loan for self-help (self-sustenance) projects so as to give encouragement to enhance the development of the zone and saving culture. The bank has been founded by the following shareholders:-
• Tigrai Regional State
• Tigrai Youth and Women Association
The above mentioned associations are politically linked or conjugated to the TPLF.
• The fifth one, the one which has brought a deep-rooted development vision for Tigrai is Tigrai Regional State. The Regional State has shown a very surprising development and dramatic change in infrastructure such as providing better education, health, pure water, transportation, electricity and communication. Nonetheless, all these have been funded not only by the governmental zone but also have been hugely backed by the Federal Government by allocation of special budget which is highly done based on political support. Apart from other regional states, the TRS (Tigrai Regional State) is not influenced and maneuvered in policy making and implementation of developmental policy and strategy, efficient use of budget besides, it inspires the people for development in order to lay basic reliable administration.
TRS is not limited to administrating the regional state or looking into the direction but also for the TRS dominancy on others economically and politically as well. Amazingly, it is the number one beneficiary. The future Tigrai Republic is primarily based under the responsibility of the present rulers of Tigrai Regional State.
• The sixth one which speeds up Tigrai’s development through a ‘special back-up’ is the Federal Government. Astonishingly, the Federal Government has been a key for the development of Tigrai by doing basic infrastructures. However, all have been done by stealing from the rest of the country and from loans gotten from the international community Tigrai owns two international airports, wide coverage of electricity supply, one university and five standard colleges and many other institutions which have been fully funded by the Federal Government. Moreover by getting big sums of loans from the government’s commercial banks they have been building many factories. In order to enable the region with sustainable adequate electric power supply the Federal Government is building a multimillion hydro-electric project called “Tekeze Hydroelectric” in TRS. In addition, to facilitate the import/export trade to the region, they are on the way to construct a railroad which crosses the region to the Sudanese port called Port Sudan. In general, the Federal Government has been practicing bias and unfair allocation of resources by putting conditions which favours their hidden interests.
• The seventh one. Due to the substantial assistance given the TPLF and EPRDF regime many non-governmental organizations are currently working on different developmental activities. These NGOs are actively involved in road construction and improving health and educational facilities. These efforts have a clear impact on improving the lives of Tigrians.
To sum up Tigrians living in Ethiopia and abroad as well as Tigrians who live in different regions organize themselves and work day and night for the development of their region by;
• The Regions infrastructures both on individual and group level.
• Investing huge amounts of money
• Financing self-help projects
• Tigrians who are found in different government posts exercise their power to force NGOs and investors to invest their money in the region.
• They use their power and influence to search for markets for those companies based in Tigray as a way to assist the development of the region.
The Financial Source OF Tigrai Development.
Within the last Fourteen years, the Tigrai Regional State has developed at an alarming pace in sharp contrast to the rest of the country. Could it be really have happened with only the effort of the regional state or perhaps there is something behind the curtain? To have a critical and logical reason let us examine the financial sources of each and every development agencies in the region.
• ENDOWMENT FUND FOR THE REHABILITATION OF TIGRAI (EFFORT)
The ruling TPLF has an outfit called EFFORT, formally a non-governmental charity organization, but in actual fact the coordinating center for the ruling front business empire.
• TIGRAI DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (TDA)
The main financial services of TDA are from:-
• The obligation imposed on local people to contribute
• The Agency’s income generating activities
• The Ethiopian people at large especially from investors and employees of good organizations.
• The Ethiopians in Diaspora
• NGOs and different governments
In general the main source of TDA’s Treasury is mainly from the Ethiopians at large especially from funds and donations collected on behalf of the nation. Contributions and aid as well as support from governments and philanthropic organizations. This attests that TDA is mainly subsidized directly or indirectly by the general public’s money and aid contributed for the public.
• RELIEF SOCIETY OF TIGRAI (REST)
Financial, food, clothing and material source of REST are charitable donors and governments. In 1994/95 , REST had happened to come across with opportunities of collaborating and working closely with donor charitable organization and governments in combating starvation following draught . This event has boosted REST even more popularity capability than FGAC.
• DEDEBIT BANK
The initial source of income for this Bank ,are TRG ,Tigrian Youth Association, and Tigrian Women Association.The fact that there sources are not worth capable persistently fund this Bank as they have little access to raise funds within Tigrai, indicates that Dedebit Bank relies on the general public’s financial resources. Furthermore, though these associations seem to have founded with different, all the integral part of TPLF.
• TIGRAY REGIONAL GOVERNMENT (TRG)
Collects limited amount of taxes locally (within Tigray Region). Therefore, its regular and capital expenditures (expenses) are financed from the federal government budget. Pursuant to the domination and manipulation of TPLF in the federal government, as a master political machinery, the distribution of annual federal budget peculiarly favours Tigray Region, discriminating against others. TPLF normally applies such unfair distribution of budget, professional manpower and projects to promote and benefit TR in a special manner.
• THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
The source of income for the Federal Government is obviously, the general public fund and donations and loans for the nation (whole nation). But, as aforesaid, the federal government’s institutions and offices are operated and maneuvered by TPLF cadre appointees so in all developmental projects and research programs, the Tigray Region is well treated and prioritized. Hence, the total amount of funds allocated by the federal government to Tigray Region is incomparable with other discriminated regions and sometimes appears embarrassing. Such system of daylight robbery reveals how the TPLF is immoral and irresponsible.
• HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATIONS
Even though the financial income of humanitarian organizations is not from the Ethiopian people, it is brought to improve the lives and enhance the development of the Ethiopian people but TPLF directly or indirectly influences and provides it to Tigrai by using its power.
• TIGRIONS INDIGENOUS
TPLF had been propagating and providing Tigrai indigenous inside and outside of the country to contribute money for only Tigrai Region in different avenues.
To cite only a few of what the TPLF owns:
• Wogage Bank (with EFFORT as the major shareholder)
• Dedebit Credit and Savings (with REST as its major shareholder)
• Addis Consultancy
• Addis Engineering Consultancy (EFFORT being the major shareholder)
• Addis Pharmaceutical Production (with EFFORT as the major shareholder)
• Africa Insurance S.C.
• Almeda Textile Manufacturing S.C
• Hiwot Agricultral Mechanization S.C
• Meskerem Investment S.C.
• Tesfa Livestock S.C.
• Behane Building Construction PLC
• Beruh Chemical S.C.
• Dasalegn Veterinary Drug & Inputs Supply PLC
• Dilot Brewery PLC
• Experience Ethiopia Travel PLC
• Express Transit Service Enterprise PLC
• Ezana Mining Development PLC
• Fana Democracy Publishing PLC
• Global Auto and Spaceports Sales Company
• Guna Trading House (and Guna Construction and Guna Distribution)
• Hi-tech Park PLC S.C.3
• Mega-Net Corporation with
1 Mega Creative Arts Centre
2 Mega Distribution Enterprise
3 Mega Studio Enterprise
4 Mega Printing Enterprise
5 Mega Transit Service
6 Kuraz Publishing Agency
7 Fana Radio
8 Shala Advertising Enterprise
• Mesfin Industrial Engineering S.C.
• Rahwa Sheep and Goat Export S.C.
• Segem Construction S.C.
• Selam Bus Line S.C.
• Sheba Tannery Factory S.C
• Star Pharmaceutical and Medical Supply S.C.
• Sur Construction S.C
• Mesobo Building Materials Production S.C.
• Trans-Ethiopia S.C.
• Abrehet Mechanization
• Savings and Loans Investment
• Global Trading
• Brana Printing
• Awash Construction
• Lalibela Construction
• Satco Construction
• Abeba Trading
• Latwan Company
• Ambosel Trading Works Organization
• Tikut Abay Transport
• Africa Thransport Company
• Zeleke Agriculture Mechanization
• Doshin Brewery
• Tiret Investment
• Tigray Development Association *TDA
• Relief and Rehabilitation for Tigray (REST)
What the TPLF has been trying to do is hold a false façade to Ethiopians and the international community by giving some business organizations names of other Ethiopian communities who are the members of TPLF leading EPRDF.
The nominal ones are:
• Amhara Development Association
• Wolo Atona and Gum Investment
• Loan investment office of Amhara region.
• Dinsho Trading House
• Dinsho Milk Production Organization.
• Dinsho Loan Investment.
• Wondo Trading Organization.
• Wondo Loan Investment.
From these economic enterprises any one can understand how the ruling TPLF has controlled all economic sectors by violating the economic rights of the majority Ethiopian people.
The ruling clique is involved in the international market as a business organization by using its executive power in the government policy-making process.
Another clear example of lop-sided regional development can be seen in how the TPLF has tapped a natural resource of one region to directly benefit their home region Tigray. This is the hydroelectric power stations found in Wellega and Gojjam regions in the west of Ethiopia. While these areas remain without electric power, the TPLF found the resources to tap this energy over hundreds of miles to Tigray not only to help operate the many factories set up overnight but also as part of its rural electrification programme for one region.
Ethiopians in exile speak out.
A very great number of Ethiopians have been running out , leaving their beloved but long suffering country. Top scientists, university lecturers, university students, well trained, dedicated and experienced professionals are leaving the country. If one wants to make a research about Ethiopians in exile and in the Diaspora, he can find from street cleaner up to nuclear physics and space technology. Top university instructors and social scientists are found in different universities and research institutes. From Africa to the USA, Europe, Canada, the Middle East, Australia and all over the world.
These top and brainy sons and daughters of Ethiopia are always in a dream wishing to come back home but the gate is closed, the gun at the door spelling out the dire consequences of making such a decision. In the history of this once great country, no one could have foretold that a time would come when such a big number of people would keep emigrating. Political, economic and social refugees leaving the country through different borders to neighbouring states among them the Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea and even to Somalia which has had no stability since the ouster of President Siad Barre.
In a survey conducted by the author, a general pattern emerged in response to the identical questions put to different Ethiopians living in exile.
• Why are more and more Ethiopians emigrating or seeking political asylum?
• Are the reasons political, economic or prompted by social circumstances?
• Of Ethiopians emigrating or seeking political asylum why is it the cream from the intellectuals, university, college, high school and other institutions of learning?
• What is the future of Ethiopia given this brain drain?
• What hardships, did most of these people experience as they sought to settle in a different country?
• What hope do they have for Ethiopia’s future?
This is what formed the basis of the questions posed during the survey. The questions and a summary of the responses are reproduced below:
• THE QUESTIONNAIRE
• Why are many Ethiopians migrating?
(a) Because of political problems?
(b) Because of economic problems?
(c) Because of social problems?
Elaborate each, based on your experience.
• Many students from the university, college, high school and other educational institutions and well known intellectuals as well as skilled and experienced professionals have been emigrating and requesting for political asylum.
(d) If unchecked what does this exodus portend for the future of Ethiopia?
(e) Do you see this as a brain drain? Share your knowledge and if you have a model country in mind share this with your readers.
• Many leading and high ranking officials of the TPLF and members of parliament have also been leaving the country and defecting from the political establishment altogether. What do you read in this development?
• From your personal experience, explain in brief how you arrived in the country from where you are now responding to this questionnaire.
From your new environment and in reflecting back, do you have new and progressive ideas that can contribute to finding a solution to the unfavourable status in Ethiopia?
(f) Political ideas
(g) Economic ideas
(h) Any more ideas outside these two areas
NB: In case part your response to this questionnaire is based on some books, please remember to attribute that comment to the source, that is, the author(s).
Thank you for taking the time to respond to this questionnaire.
• RESPONSES TO THE QUESTIONAIRE
• Response to Question 1:
The political environment determines nearly all other facets of a nation and its people. Once a country’s political environment has been spoiled, all aspects of the nation will deteriorate one after another, including economic and social environment. Today in Ethiopia, one’s right to practice democratic rights and enjoy human rights are repeatedly violated mainly because the ruling regime has chosen to practise ethnic democracy. Apart from the political problem, the basic problem which is driving many Ethiopians in to exile is the economy of the country. Many of our people are starving and dying in their own land. This does not mean in any way that the people migrating are living well in their new countries of residence whether this is in the industrialized world eg Canada, Europe. If there is peace, democracy and good governance people would not think about migration. Young people especially would not have good reasons for fleeing their country in droves and very few people in their mature age want to start a new life away from their home. There are no new job creations and even the existing job market is steadily declining. Very few people migrate due to social problems otherwise why do those holding high political offices in the ruling regime leave their country? It is because of lack of political freedoms to speak, to assemble.
• Response to Question 2:
If things keep going the way they have been over these past several decades, the country stands to lose everything. Indeed the very existence of Ethiopia as a proud nation with a historical legacy worth emulating is in jeopardy. The development of a country is largely dependent on its resources. Among these resources human resource is the most basic especially the educated and skilled group who form the core of element in the process of development of Ethiopia. The exodus of this cadre of human resource does not augur well for the development of Ethiopia. With the exception of very few developing countries, it is a brain drain no country can ill-afford. In the case of Ethiopia because this brain drain is taking place against many odds, one can not even speak of an economic spin off in terms of any hard currency sent back home to relatives or friends by those in exile.
• Response to Question 3:
The people holding high government or political offices under TPLF who defect or end up quitting and leaving the country can be put in two categories: those who are disillusioned by the TPLF leadership and those who expected to personally benefit from identifying themselves with the TPLF. However, in either category these politicians and government officials do not do so because they have any sympathy for the suffering of the common man under TPLF leadership. They are essentially motivated by power and wealth and when they are unable to realize this, they go into exile. But the people of Ethiopia know better than to be deceived by such political exigency. For all practical purposes, unless such people denounce the government they once so loyally served, they remain part and parcel of that government wherever they are.
• Response to Question 4:
It is intolerable conditions and a sense of hopelessness that drove many out of the country. And despite not knowing what lay ahead, for many of us, getting away would be a start. It was a difficult decision and the routes of getting out the country were even more difficult. Many lost relatives and friends along the way as people not using any map or conventional means of travel ended up victims of hunger and starvation, wild animals, bandits and other unexpected natural obstacles.
• Response to Question 5:
The beginning point is for us all Ethiopians to have reconciliation. It would be a great start to have peace between us before we stand together for the united development of our country. We must abandon political parties that are based on ethnicity and instead embrace a political culture founded on sound ideology as long as such ideology is geared towards the development of the country and establishment of democratic institutions. Above all things, the role of individuals in power should be limited so that the abuse of power does not exist.
Economically, Ethiopia is blessed with natural resources and is also the source of the blue Nile which generates power and feeds the Sudan and Egypt – quite in contrast to the benefits that Ethiopians get from the same source. What the country needs is to develop the working culture of its citizens. The government should let individual investors to play a big role in the country’s economy. The government on its part should only provide an enabling environment and not be involved in the business sector. Ethiopians in the Diaspora have the potential to play a significant role in transforming our economy to a better stage. The government should take the initiative to invite Ethiopians in the Diaspora to be interested in the development of their country, not in words but in action.
Sebhat Nega of TPLF rings a wake-up call for Ethiopians
“This is not a blunt admission but a proud assertion. Sebhat Nega says that all Eritrean groups put together would not match the sacrifice TPLF paid for the independence of Eritrea. When Shabia was considering sharing power with the Derg and betray the independence of Eritrea, it was TPLF that served as the beacon of freedom for the Eritrean people without giving any chance to the “enemy” to sabotage Eritrea’s quest for freedom from “colonial rule”. Sebhat Nega said, even if Eritrea comes under any attack by any invading force today, EPRDF would join the Eritrean people right now and fight off the enemy.
Well said, Sebhat.
But how do we take your message as Ethiopians? Well, I think we have to respect the right of TPLF officials to live as Eritrean freedom fighters till they die. But the catch is here: TPLF cannot be an Ethiopian because it has declared itself that it is more Eritrean than the ordinary Eritreans themselves. It cannot be an Eritrean either because it doesn’t have the recognition and mandate of the Eritrean people. Nor is TPLF fighting for the healthy interest of the suffering Eritrean people and their peaceful co-existence with their neighbors. What is TPLF then? It is a mercenary class that is neither Ethiopian nor Eritrean. It is a mercenary that thrives by perpetuating an environment of hate and conflict within Ethiopia and outside with the neighbors. It is a wishful thinking TPLF would bow to the demand of the Ethiopian people and leave power in any foreseeable future. I hope Ethiomedia translates the speech in various languages so that Ethiopians – despite the passage of 16 years – would wake up to the long overdue reality: the reality of being ruled by a mercenary class. TPLF/EPRDF is inadvertently calling on all Ethiopian opposition parties and civic groups to unite under a common platform that would help free the country from the occupying mercenary class. Talk of the fancy word ‘democracy’ would come later in post-TPLF era.” – Zelalem Atakilti.
* * * * * *
The interview was conducted in connection with the 16th anniversary of the victory of EPRDF on May 28, 2007. A Woyane Reporter proceeds: Our questions would revolve around Eritrea, and the solidarity of the struggle of the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea. So my first question is how do you explain TPLF’s stand on the question of Eritrea from the beginning to the present time?
Sebhat Nega: That the question of Eritrea has been a democratic and just one was a hot topic and a subject of intense discussion among university students [in pre-1974 Ethiopia]. The issue of ‘nations and nationalities’ was also one of the many political questions being discussed at length.
Some of them used to say the Question of Eritrea should be seen in the light of the question of other nations and nationalities in Ethiopia.
Eritrean students at [Haile-Selassie I University] were split in two: one group supporting that Eritrea’s question is no different from any other “nation and nationalities” in the country. On the part of Tigrian students, there were different groups under various names. The larger group of all these was the “Association of Progressive Tigrians” (Mahber Ghesghestee Tegaru). This group had a wider and deeper appreciation of the challenges in the country. Members used to discuss time and again, asking themselves: “Which one is a more pressing problem: resolving the problem of nations and nationalities or the class struggle issue?”
The group had a mature understanding that the issue of class struggle could be solved if the issue of the right of nations and nationalities is resolved first. This group [which includes Sebhat] considered that the “Eritrean question” was no ordinary question, and shouldn’t be seen in light of the question of nations and nationalities of Ethiopia. The Eritrea question was born out of colonialism. The interest of the Eritrean people has also been an interest for independence. Since the Eritrean question reflects the interest of the Eritrean people, it was a just and democratic one.
This was the stand we took after conducting scientific explanations. Given the serious political situation in the country, to take such a stand on Eritrea was indeed very tough. It would bring ostracization by the rest. But we didn’t want to gamble on the truth that the Eritrean question was a colonial question, a just demand of the Eritrean people for independence.
Therefore, we took the right stand on Eritrea. Not only that. An arduous struggle was conducted to establish as fact that the question of Eritrea was a democratic one. There was a strong opposition to this approach. There was an opposition even among Eritreans; there were Eritreans who did not accept the ‘independence’ issue of Eritrea. We campaigned heavily so as to persuade the doubting Eritreans. We wrote extensively about Eritrea, and its legitimate demand for independence. Since the issue was very difficult, we exerted tremendous efforts within and outside of the country and more than any other Eritrean political organization that Eritrea must break away from Ethiopia – and achieve independence.
Therefore, the Eritrean issue is what we have paid for dearly, what we have campaigned for vigorously, what we have exerted tremendous efforts for, that made it our solid policy. We’ve written extensively. We’ve lectured extensively. We have left no stone unturned to isolate the question of Eritrea from any Ethiopian problems. The question of Ethiopia’s nations and nationalities was easy, simple to understand because most were affected by it. The question of Eritrea was different. It was different to understand it; it was difficult to make others understand it. For TPLF, which was struggling to stand on its feet on an Ethiopian soil, to promote such decisive policy on Eritrea was very difficult. In doing so, we convinced the Ethiopian people. Wherever we moved (as TPLF rebels), to persuade the society to accept Eritrea as a colonial question, was the most challenging of all political problems that TPLF set out to accomplish. Nothing comes closer to the price we paid to promote the Eritrean question as a just demand for independence.
WOYANE RADIO – There is a widespread resentment in the society that TPLF wrote, campaigned, took a firm stand, in short, TPLF fought for Eritrean independence more than any other Eritrean group to the extent that TPLF looked like an Eritrean organization. What was the motive, the cause, and eventual goal of taking such a huge risk? Second, at a time when TPLF was fighting for the independence of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki’s EPLF was swaying to work with the Derg government. EPLF had mediation talks with the Derg. How do you see that?
Sebhat Nega – We achieved political maturity long before the start of the armed struggle. If you ask who created TPLF it is the political conditions in Tigray that created it. It was a response, a reaction to the conditions in Tigray. We internalized the demand of the people for democratic governance long before the start of the armed struggle. Therefore, the democratic behavior, the democratic culture was already created when TPLF was launched. And democracy has no borders. If you have a democratic platform for your people, you don’t deny democracy to other people. Therefore, the overriding need for the reign of democratic governance was one of the reasons that paved the way for the struggle waged to resolve the Eritrean question in a just and democratic manner.
Therefore, TPLF was an organization that had an excellent understanding of the Eritrean question, the conditions of the Eritrean people. TPLF didn’t take the Eritrean demand as an ordinary question of independence alone. Eritrean groups, on the other hand, took the Eritrean question as the question of independence alone. They focused only on how to achieve independence. They never thought about post-independence Eritrea. Therefore, their program was only of ‘independence.’ On the other hand, TPLF was worrying about whether the Eritrean rebel groups – ELF (Jebha) and EPLF (Shaebia) – had any thoughts about post- independence Eritrean conditions. They had nothing. For this reason, TPLF was reminding them of the challenges awaiting them after they break-away. To persuade such a group with a fragmented view of independence was difficult. In fact, we never believed that the Eritrean group would – beyond its mercenary program – go and fight for independence to the end. And apparently, ELF gave in; knelt down. Close to the final hours, they had started talking to the Derg, before it abandoned the struggle wholly.
Shaebia (EPLF) was also showing signs of compromising on the independence of the Eritrean people. The power-sharing deal EPLF held with the Derg in an East German city and under the mediation of the East German government was evidence of Shaebia kneeling down to Derg. There were also other EPLF-Derg talks after the defection of Dawit Wolde-Giorgis.* Shaebia was also trying to give in to Derg during the foiled 1989 army generals coup led by General Bulti in Asmara and Generals Fanta [Belai] and Merid Negussie in Addis Ababa. The plan was to replace Mengistu with somebody else, and Shaebia would get its share. After the coup, Shaebia sent a message to us [TPLF]. Shaebia told us to make a swift decision and welcome a delegate of the coup leaders that was coming to meet with us via Adi Quala, Eritrea.
Our response was clear: TPLF knows no compromise with the Derg. The goal of our struggle is to bring about a total change of the system. TPLF might have considered negotiation had the coup been led by soldiers other than high-ranking army officers. Even at that level, we never believed a coup would change the system. Therefore, we turned down Shaebia’s request to accept the plea of the coup. Our decision was – much to the dismay of Shaebia – announced on our Radio. Therefore, that was another occasion Shaebia had also considered a power-sharing arrangement with the Derg. The danger of this deal was not only aimed at sabotaging the interest of the Eritrean people for independence. It was also a move aimed at destroying the aspirations of the Ethiopian people for a democratic governance.
Based on these facts, we had written that Shaebia is a treasonous group and can betray the struggle of the Eritrean people any time. In principle, we recognized Shaebia was a strong national force, but its treacherous behavior deprives it the credibility of being reliable and trustworthy. It was not. The coup had also a huge political danger for Ethiopia. The Ethiopian people were never fond of General X or General Y. Our struggle was to create the equality based on unity of the people. On the Eritrean side, meanwhile, there was a book written by Eritreans which said the struggle of the Eritrean people for independence would never be successful because the struggle for independence is not a just demand. The cover of the book depicts an AK-47 rifle placed up side down. However, we (TPLF) published about 200 or 300 books and reversed the position of the AK-47 rifle from the bottom up. The book was titled: “The struggle of the Eritrean people would never be placed up side down.”
Therefore, in all fairness, all Eritrean groups wouldn’t add up to the efficiency, clear policy stands and the huge sacrifice paid by TPLF to anchor the independence of Eritrea.
We were suspicious that EPLF would betray the Eritrean struggle for independence. Meles said – given the wavering stand of EPLF – that we may face the danger of betrayal on the part of EPLF. It is at that time that Meles wrote the book: “The Eritrean struggle: From where to where?”The book became a thorn in the flesh of Shaebia but a source of courage for the Eritrean people. Everybody knows this. Shaebia members know it. The enemy knows it.
This doesn’t mean Shaebia didn’t fight for Eritrean independence. Afterall, Shaebia was a strong national force, i.e. militarily. It was a well-organized group with a strong army. Politically speaking, however, we never ruled out that Shaebia was a weak, submissive force that could one day give in to the enemy. We’ve stated this time and again. We were fearful that Shaebia would surrender but that fear was dispelled because we took measures that would block Shaebia from surrendering to the enemy. Despite showing signs of surrender, however, Shaebia managed to finish the journey to independence. All said, even at the present time, there is no force on Earth that would fight for the independence of Eritrea more than the EPRDF-led government of Ethiopia. Our firm principle on the independence of Eritrea is not what we withdraw when we feel angry, and endorse when we feel good about Eritrea. On our part, we believe the people of Eritrea know very well – except a few members of the Shaebia leadership – that the EPRDF-led government of Ethiopia is the one and only force that would defend the independence of Eritrea. In short, the Eritrean people are very well aware of the fact that no force matches the power of the EPRDF-led government to defend and support the independence of Eritrea.
“Suppose let’s say Eritrea comes under invasion by an outside force. I’ve no doubt the EPRDF government would, along with the Eritrean people, fight against the enemy of Eritrea,” Sebhat concluded.
TPLF violation of National Sovereignty
TPLF Act of Treason
On grasping of state power, the TPLF/EPRDF government sold out national sovereignty and the interests of the people to external forces, committing thereby a treason unprecedented in the history of the nation. It countenanced the breakaway of Eritrea with full knowledge and awareness that such a move was detrimental to the interest of Ethiopia. At a time when no elected government capable of defending the interest of the people was in place and that only a provisional administration was in power, the Meles government wrote to the UN and the OAU notifying them of Ethiopia’s acceptance of Eritrean breakaway. Furthermore, it was the Ethiopian government which sponsored the referendum in Addis by providing Eritreans the physical facilities they needed.
The Eritrean referendum was timed, with the connivance of the Eritreans, to take place at a time when a real representative government elected by the people was not in place. The referendum took place when all the democratic fora for voicing considered views were closed and without the specific mandate of the people of Ethiopia. The referendum took place before such issues as the border demarcation, the question of sea port ownership and the status of Ethiopians in Eritrea and that of Eritreans in Ethiopia were duly addressed. As expected, the border issue came to the fore with Eritreans demanding urgent settlement. In the talk to seek settlement the two sides agreed on a secret talk at party commission level in disregard of the need to address the issue at government level.
Every time the port issue was addressed the TPLF/EPRDF officials were eager to point out that Ethiopia lost nothing by becoming a landlocked country. The TPLF/EPRDF guys thought that whoever talked about the port was talking not in the interest of sovereignty and national interest but rathes in the interest of the “Nefteññas” (a pejorative word to designate Amharas) The fact of the matter is however, that landlocked countries are less attractive for direct foreign investment than maritime ones, attracting only 34% of the latter. The TPLF/EPRDF move on this issue is eminently one of treason. The wrong policy pursued by the government and the dangerous step it had taken has led to the violation of the rights and freedom of citizens. The decision has led to the arrogant invasion by EPLF and the payment of immense sacrifice in material cost and human life. It has led to the violation of the national sovereignty and to the loss of Ethiopia’s national territory. Aware of TPLF/EPRDF’s indifference to Ethiopia’s national interest, EPLF inundated the Ethiopian market with contraband goods. It engaged in the export of Ethiopia’s major foreign currency earners: Sesame, coffee hides and skins. This is a government which negotiated foreign credit for Eritrea and undertook to service the debt from the Ethiopian exchequer. Ethiopian banks advanced a credit of Br. 1.2 billion for the reconstruction of Eritrea which had never cared to pay it back. Another credit of Br. 50 million Birr said to be the savings of Eritrean in Ethiopia was also credited to Eritrea. Proclamation 51/1985 provided that Ethiopia should withdraw a credit of Br. 18 million and the hundred thousand from the International development Association which it did. The credit was given without any agreement being signed between the provisional government of Eritrea and the Transitional Government of Ethiopia. Furthermore, the Ethiopian Government met all the expenses needed to rehabilitate the Assab Refinery, expand the harbour, spare parts, chemicals insurance etc.
Ethiopia’s crude oil import is refined at Assab is partly sold for Eritrea in birr. The Eritrean government trading enterprise, The Red Sea Trading, with a branch office in Addis was granted the right to rip off the Ethiopian economy with impunity through contraband trade, distribution of fake Birr notes and black market foreign currency exchange. With the approval of the Ethiopian authorities, the Eritrean ambassador to Ethiopia set up the so-called Horn of Africa Bank with which to finance its rip off of Ethiopian of the Ethiopian Economy at the expense of the Ethiopian businessmen. Any view voiced against the Eritrean exploitation of Ethiopia was immediately dismissed by the TPLF officials because to their logic, it was not Ethiopia but rather Eritrean which was losing! The favourable conditions which the TPLF created for EPLF helped Eritrea accumulate the resource it need to underpin its ambition of becoming the regional super power and finance the war which it was to launch against Ethiopia.
The subservient relationship which this government chose to maintain with Eritrea, beyond flinging the door open for Eritrea’s ruthless pillage of Ethiopian resources, virtually resulted in TPLF’s sell out of the Ethiopia national sovereignty. EPLF had set up a huge security net work in Ethiopia and kidnapped Ethiopian it thought had collaborated against it during the war against Ethiopia. Its victims are still unaccounted for. At times it kidnapped and killed its victims with impunity. With time, pressure was being brought to bear on the government to whip Eritreans into line. Rather than complying with the law of their host country, Eritrea reacted defiantly by publishing a map of Eritrea which had incorporated parts of Ethiopia.
It resented against Ethiopian decision to issue a new Birr bank notes, coming as it did precisely at a time when Eritrea itself had decided to issue its own currency the Naqfa. Ethiopians residing in Asmara, Massawa and Assab were told they could only enjoy limited freedom. Often times, they were arrested on charges hooliganism. In the run up for the war tension began to build on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border. Provocation was widespread to force Ethiopians into starting the war. Border communities in Tigray and Afar warned without success that Eritrea was preparing for war. The Ethiopian independent press warned that war was inevitable but were dismissed as war mongers. It was at this time of heightened tension that the Ethiopian Minister of Defence assured parliament that the Ethiopian forces are well equipped and prepared to face any enemy. Which, as we can see later, were not.
Despite Eritrea’s full swing preparation for the impending war, the Ethiopian authorities followed policies supportive of the Eritrean effort. One of the courses of action worth citing is the training of Eritrean pilots at Debre-Zeit base. This flung the door open for Eritrean intelligence to have full acess to sensitive areas. The defence industrial plants built up by the Derg were prematurely scrapped. The regular army which the nation had built up in the course of 50 years was disbanded in favour of TPLF’s ragtag army. The Eritrean government began to mass troops with no corresponding Ethiopian forces in the area. Taking full advantage of the vacuum, the Eritrean forces literally marched into Ethiopia. It was a most humiliating experience for the TPLF people who had to confess that they were caught by surprise.
The Ethiopian people’s response to the Eritrean invasion was quick and resolute. People across was question about the readiness and resolve of the people to reverse the invader but the challenge was a formidable one. Owing to government’s negligence, the enemy force had occupied strategic areas and dug in. This has forced Ethiopia pay dearly to dislodge the enemy forces. In the two year war it had to pay a sacrifice no less heavy than the 30 years was it had to pay. Nearly 70,000 citizens sacrificed their dear lives, hundreds of thousands were displaced and Property worth billions of Birr was destroyed. Finally Ethiopia scored a brilliant victory over the enemy and reasserted its sovereignty. But again the TPLF/EPRDF government treacherous treason cast shadow on that brilliant victory.
Just after the victory the Ethiopian forces moved into a second operation designed to annihilate once and for all the Eritrea forces. But in less than 24 hours, the Prime Minister unilaterally ordered a stop of the operation. Just days before Ethiopia scored a strategic victory which could definitively rid Ethiopia of any concern from Eritrea, a treason committed by its leadership deprived it of the victory. The Algiers accord signed in the wake of the greatest victory constituted a sell out of the Ethiopia’s national interest.
The Algiers accord was-signed on the basis of colonial agreements which had outlived their relevance. Not only did that mean a sell out of our national interest but also a serious danger to our own future as a nation. The legal basis of the accord were the 1900, 1902 and 1908 Italian-Ethiopian agreements. But these agreements were not signed between equals. Ethiopia signed the agreement under pressure from Italy and other Western countries. Ethiopia signed the accord coercively and an agreement signed under such circumstance is invalid, according the practice of international law. After the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, Italy incorporated Eritrea into Ethiopia to create its East African Empire. The agreements were thereby rendered null and void. Furthermore, the UN sponsored Federation arrangement under which Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia has again rendered the agreements null and void. There was an understanding among the Western powers, including Italy, prior to the federal union, that in the event Eritrea opted for an independent nationhood, Ethiopia’s right of access to the Red Sea would be respected.
The acceptance by Ethiopia of the colonial agreements as the basis of the Algiers accord can be said to have wrought more damage to Ethiopia than did the Eritrean invasion of Ethiopian territory. What made the damage even more painful is the fact that the culprit is none other than the Ethiopian government itself which deemed it fit to regard the vanquished party with the victory it had lost in the battle field. One could assume that the decision may have been based on new elements which emerged following the break up of the federation. But then this could have been made mention of in the accord. Had the accord been based on the 1964 Cairo agreement which endorsed colonial boundary as final and irrevocable, then the port of Assab would not have been part of Eritrea, as the lost colonial master — the Derg had the Eritrean border else where. As the victor of the war, Ethiopia had an excellent opportunity to propose terms it thought could best protect its interests. Proposal could be forwarded by which the border issue could be started a new for discussion. But for all the numerous historical, legal and diplomatic evidences that could very well substantiate its arguments, Ethiopia was made a victim of injustice since its own government failed to demonstrate any concern about national sovereignty.
Source: Taken from the CUDP 2005 Manifesto
Related topics: Facts about TPLF (15 sections)
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ETHIOPIA FACTS ABOUT TPLF TPLF CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
TPLF Central Committee Members
List of Central Committee members of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF)
01. Meles Zenawi (Chairman)
02. Seyoum Mesfin (Deputy Chairman)
03. Arkebe Equbay (Executive Committee member)
04. Roman Gebre-Selassie
05. Abay Tsehaye (Executive Committee member)
06. Dr.Tedros Adhanom (Executive Committee memeber)
07. Abay Woldu (Executive Committee member)
08. Dr.Adhana Haile
09. Abay Nebso
10. Dr.Adissalem Balema
11. Gobezay Wolde-Aregay
12. Kiros Bitew
13. Netsanet Asfaw
14. Abadi Zemu (Executive Committee member)
15. Tewodros Hagos (Executive Committee member)
16. Beyene Mekuru
17. Getachew Belay
18. Zeray Asgedom
19. Meseret Gebre-Mariam
20. Tsegaye Berhe (Executive Committee member)
21. Debre-Tsion Gebre-Michael
22. Mengisteab Gebre-Kidan
23. Mulugeta Alemseged
24. Berhane Gebre-Kirstos
25. Getachew Assefa
26. Kidusan Nega
27. Dr.Wolde-Rufael Alemayehu
28. Shewaye Tikue
29. Gidey Gebre-Yohannes
30. Azeb Mesfin
31. Teklewoyni Assefa
32. Mengistu Yitbarek
33. Fetlework Gebre-Egziabher
34. Ambassador Tewolde Gebru
35. Niguse Gebre
36. Sibhat Nega
37. Desta Bezabih
38. Mikiele Abrha
39. Tirfu Kidane-Mariam
40. Kiros Hagos
41. Shishay Habte-Selassie
42. Berhane Kidane-Mariam
43. Dr.Haile-Michael Abera
44. Aster Amare
45. Dr.Gebreab Barnabas
TPLF Companies established between the years 1992-1997 Ethiopian Calendar.
Business that made their start up investment public.
01• Almedan Garment Factory Est: 1995, Capital: 660,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Abadi Zemu
02• Addis Engineering Consultancy Est: 1995, Capital: 10,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Addis Ababa, Chairman of the Board: Arkebe Ekubay
03• Addis Pharmaceuticals Production Est: 1995, Capital: 53,000,000 Birr , H.quarter: Addis Ababa, Chairman of the Board: Abadi Zemu
04• Africa Insurance Axion Association Est: 1995, Capital: 30,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Addis Ababa, Chairman of the Board: Yohannes Ekubay
05• Almeda Textile Factory Est: 1995, Capital: 180,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Abadi Zemu
06• Mesob Cement Factory Est: 1995, Capital: 240,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Abadi Zemu
07• Mesfin Industrial Company Est: 1995, Capital: 500,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Arkebe Ekubay
08• Sur Construction Est: 1995, Capital: 150,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Addis Ababa, Chairman of the Board: Arkebe Ekubay
09• Trans Ethiopia Est: 1995, Capital: 100,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Shimelis Kinde
10• Tesfa Livestock Est: 1995, Capital: 20,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Yohannes Kidane
11• Star Pharmaceuticals Est: 1995, Capital: 25,000,000 Birr , H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Arkebe Ekubay
12• Selam Busline Est: 1995, Capital: 10,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Tilma
13• Sheba Tannery Factory Axion Association Est: 1995, Capital: 40,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Wukro, Chairman of the Board: Abadi Zemu
14• Segel Construction Est: 1995, Capital: 10,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Araya Zerihun
15• Rahwa Yebegina Fiyel Export Est: 1995, Capital: 25,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Yassin Abdurahman
16• Meskerem Investment Est: 1995, Capital: 40,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Axum, Chairman of the Board: Tewodros Ayes Tesfaye
17• Mega Net Corp Est: 1993, Capital: 10,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Alemseged Gebreamlak
18• Hiwot Agriculture Mechanization Est: 1995, Capital: 25,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Yohannes Kidane
19• Hitech Park Axion Association. Est: 1996, Capital: 10,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Shimelis Kinde
20• Tana Trading House Axion Association Est: 1994, Capital: 50,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Addis Ababa, Chairman of the Board: Sibhat Nega
21• Global Auto Sparepart Est: 1992, Capital: 26,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Addis Ababa, Chairman of the Board: Teklebirhan Habtu
22• Fana Democracy plc.
Est: 1995, Capital: 6,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Addis Ababa, Chairman of the Board: Negash Sahle
23• Ezana Mining Development Est: 1995, Capital: 55,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Addis Ababa, Chairman of the Board: Tewodros H. Berhe
24• Express Transit Est: 1995, Capital: 10,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Addis Ababa, Chairman of the Board: G/selassie Gidey
25• Experience Ethiopia Travel Est: 1995, Capital: 26,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Tony Hiki
26• Ethio Rental Axion Association. Est: 1995, Capital: 10,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Atkilit Kiros
27• Dedebit Saving & Loan Est: 1997, Capital: 60,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Atkilit Kiros
28• Dilate Brewery Est: 1995, Capital: 15,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Kahsay TewoldeTedla
29• Dessalegn Caterinary Est: 1995, Capital: 15,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Dr, Maru Erdaw
30• Berhe Chemical Axion Association. Est: 1995, Capital: 25,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Abadi Zemu
31• Addis Consultancy House Est: 1995, Capital: 10,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Mekele, Chairman of the Board: Sibhat Nega
32• Birhane Building Construction Est: 1995, Capital: 10,000,000 Birr, H.quarter: Addis Ababa, Chairman of the Board: Bereket Mazengiya
Businesses that didn’t make their start up investment public.
33• Zeleke Agricultural Mechanization PLC
34• Tikur Abbay Transport
35• Ambassel Commerce
36• Dashen Beer Factory
37• Amhara Meleso MaquaQuam
38• Biftu Dinsho
39• Oromia Credit Bank
40• Wendo Trading
41• Tikal Agri Tigrai
42• Trans Ethiopia
43• Almeda PLC
44• Sebhat Nega PLC
45• Sor Construction
46• Mesfin Industrial Engineering
47• Saba Emnebered
48• Berhan Building Construction
49• Africa Insurance
50• Hiwaat Afrp Mechanization
51• Meskerem Investment
52• Tesfa Animal Develpmnet
53• Dinsho Share Company
54• Express Ethio Travel Service
55• Addis Transport
56• Guna Trade Services
57• Almeda Textile
58• Tigrai Tagai Association
59• Tigrai Development PLC
60• Addis Intl. Trading
61• Star Pharmaceutical Importers
62• Adwa Flour Factory
63• Radio Fana
64• Shala Advertisement
65• Wegagen Bank
66• Computer Networking Technology
67• Izana Minerals
68• Martha Poultry
69• Walta Industry
70• Guna Coffee Exporters
71• Sheba Leather Trading
72• Brook Chemical Share Compnay
73• Hightech Park
74• National Electromechanical
75• Express Transit Services
This list is two years old and doesn’t account new business that were established since then.
TPLF Crime Family, (One family ruling party) The Meles crime family
01• Meles Zenawi
Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) chairman, TPLF Politburo chairman, Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) chairman, and Prime Minister.
02• Azeb Mesfin
(Meles Zenawi’s wife)
former head of Mega Enterprises, currently a member of parliament and chairperson of the Social Affairs Committee.
03• Sebhat Nega
TPLF Politburo member, Meles Zenawi’s personal advisor, behind the scene controls the Endowment Fund For Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), an NGO in name, but a TPLF business conglomerate in realty, controlling some of the largest industries in the country
04• Kidusan Nega
(Sebhat Nega’s sister)
Mekele Mayor and TPLF Central Committee member.
05• Tsegay Berhe
(Kidusan Nega’s husband)
Tigray Killil president and TPLF Politburo member
06• Aberash Nega (Sebhat Nega’s sister)
Ran for Addis Ababa City Council in May election (with her two cousins) but not elected.
07• Arkebe Okubay
(whose sister is the wife of TPLF Central Committee member Adis Alem Balema)
a member of the TPLF Politburo, an advisor to Meles Zenawi, and former Mayor of Addis Ababa
08• Berhane Gebre Kristos
(brother of Arkebe Okubay’s wife Nigist Gebre Kristos)
TPLF Central Committee member, former Ambassador to the USA and current Ambassador to Brussels, Belgium.
09• Tirufat Kidane Mariam (Abay Woldu’s wife) Meles Zenawi’s justice and security chief, and TPLF Central Committee member.
10• Abay Woldu (Turufat Kidane Mariam’s husband) a TPLF Politburo member
11• Mulugeta Alemseged Meles Zenawi’s nearest family member, Meles Zenawi’s security chief and personal body guard
12• General Berhane Negas Meles Zenawi’s palace security chief and the Godfather of Meles Zenawi’s daughter
TPLF Proposed Bill
Foreign media and observers to be banned from Ethiopia ’s future elections.
A bill introduced by the ruling party TPLF/EPRDF aims to bar foreign observers and foreign media from the country’s elections unless and otherwise specifically invited by the government.
The bill also makes it illegal for domestic journalists to state their opinions regarding Election Day outcomes until an official result has been made available.
Under this bill, all types of Election Projections are strictly prohibited and perpetrators could be fined, or spend up to a year in Jail. The bill is almost certainly guaranteed to be law since TPLF/EPRDF sponsored bills in Ethiopia’s parliament have never failed to pass in the past.
After this bill passes, it will be final and not subject to either administrative or judicial review.
Most see this bill as a disturbing continuation of the government’s trend in taking Ethiopia towards total one-party despotism.
TPLF’S PLAN TO PUT AUTOPSY DEPT’S UNDER POLICE
TPLF’s plan to put autopsy departments under the Police Commission.
An Extremely Alarming Development in Ethiopia
“Pathological findings are almost always accurate but they come too late” goes a joke cracked by those who mistakenly equate the wide field of pathology having multiple sub branches with that of only autopsy. For an Ethiopian Minister of Health, this is no more a joke but what a pathologist is all about.
According to Reporter’s account (Amharic version 10/07/07) the Autopsy Department that is currently found under Menelik Hospital will soon be put under the administration of Police Commission.
The two reasons given are
1) The Minister of Health could not see the link between the fields of medicine in which his Ministry is engaged and the usual activity associated with the practice of autopsy.
2) There are no Ethiopian professionals that are trained in this area.
If we are to follow the Minister’s line of reasoning, then the next department in line to soon leave Ministry of Health will be obstetrics and gynecology, for the simple reason that a Minister that finds difficulty in establishing a link between medicine and the deceased may have same difficulty in seeing a link between medicine and the unborn. The truth behind putting the autopsy department under Police Commission, however, is like putting the Department of respiratory systems under the direct management of Tobacco Monopoly so that it can effectively cover up the link between smoking and respiratory diseases.
Let us explain how?
While various opposition political groups are distracted by their own internal priorities, Woyane seems to be busy elaborating its strategy of containment should the like of public protest that erupted in the aftermath of the last election occur once again in Ethiopia,. possibly in conjunction with the upcoming elections at Zonal and Woreda level. By the way, the outcome of this forthcoming election at local levels is believed to be a main determinant of the outcome of the national election to be held on 2010. In what appears to be a major component of that elaboration, Woyanne is now intending, as mentioned above, to place the autopsy department found within Menelik hospital under the direct management of Police Commission
The heroic role played by hospital sources in exposing the heartless massacre of innocent civilians by Woyane thugs during the previous public protest is still fresh in our memory. These sources, as we all remember, not only brought the magnitude of the slaughter to the attention of the general public but also the vicious pattern in which it was perpetrated. Besides, these same sources are presumed to have played a significant role in furnishing first hand information to the Inquiry Commission so that the entire world is able to see the real Woyanne that is hidden under the guise of demagogue and take it for what it actually is. This source is the one that Woyane intends to silence through this measure now.
It is an open secret that there always existed a tense relationship between Woyane law enforcement cadres and Ethiopian pathologists working in this mentioned unit rendering service to the entire country, a relation that is mainly characterized by a lot of arm twisting and bullying as these cadres are usually the main culprits in most of the cases.
This relation reached its worst stage when a courageous pathologist and a man of the highest professional integrity by the name Dr. Feleke Bojia was gunned down in broad day light by a member of the armed forces by the name Corporal Haile Woldetsadik on 24th of August 1999. On this mentioned date, while Dr. Feleke was about to enter his second office located at Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute, the culprit who was in his full military attire and had been waiting for him in the compound inside a vehicle bearing a tag of defense forces, sprayed him with a volley of bullets from AK-47 combat riffle. The victim who miraculously survived six bullet wounds to his body is now compelled to lead an asylee life in one of the European countries.
This is a kind of situation that deterred Ethiopian pathologists from rendering their professional service to their country and this same situation is the one that the current Minster of Health is trying to tell us that there are no Ethiopians trained in the area.
If need be, we can name sufficient number of Ethiopian pathologists currently working in different unrelated capacities within less than one kilometer radius of the Minister’s office. Besides, the main reason behind this intended move could easily be understood by seeing the mismatch that exists between the stated problems and the recommended solution. It is simply ridiculous to state the problem as lack of trained manpower and recommend a kind of solution that only deals with the change of hands in administering entities. The Minister could be loyal to the politics he pursues but surely is a disgrace to his profession in this case.
In fact, this unit is one of the areas where Woyane does not want to see Ethiopian professionals around and prefer to man it with hired expatriates. Right now, this unit is solely staffed by Cubans. So, as shown here in above, the reason behind the proposed measure is not in anyway related to the lame excuses given by the Minister but rather an ignominious preparation to cover up yet another round of butchery they seem to be fond of repeating.
It is really an alarming development as it is outside the wish and expectations of our people at this particular time especially when seen in juxtaposition with the conciliatory tone reflected by the Prime Minister during the speech he delivered on the occasion of the Millennium celebration. This is a time when our people hope to see political rapprochement among various political groupings so that the derailed democratization processes in the country could be reset on the right track once again and not to mislead the public and try to improve one’s capacity in concealing one’s intended heinous deeds from the rest of the world.
Therefore, we believe that this development needs to be seriously noted by the wider public in general and opposition political forces in particular and by the international community as well. For the record, we would also like to publicly request the parliamentarians to intervene in this matter and try to block it from happening.
TPLF’S CONFIDENTIAL DOCUMENT
TPLF’s Confidential Document
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1211 31/03/2007
According to information obtained in Addis Ababa by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has written a 22 page document entitled Tigray in the new Millenium calling for a strengthening of the construction of a Tigray Regional State which is in a position to “survive on its own means if necessary”.
This text was approved by Seyoum Mesfin, Abay Tsehaye and Sebhat Nega and is now circulating in the executive circles of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, hard core of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front in power in Addis Ababa) as a confidential document.
According to our sources, it lists the various infrastructure projects already completed in Tigray, laying special emphasis on the Tekezie hydro-electric dam for its role in the electrification of the country, calls for the expansion of other sectors of activity in this region in the North of Ethiopia and praises the close relations between the Tigray Regional State and China.
This text also considers that the Tigrayan Diaspora abroad should be “educated and mobilised to invest” in this regional state. Finally, it stresses the need to establish close relations with certain Eritrean opponents. This theoretical assemblage is similar to the thesis in favour of creating an independent state, coupling Ethiopian Tigrayans and Christian Eritreans from the high plateaux. The idea of such a Tigray-Tigrigni State was favoured two decades ago by certain Ethiopian Tigrayan and Eritrean nationalists.
TPLF COMMON FEATURES WITH APARTHEID SYSTEM
TPLF Common Features with Apartheid System in S. Africa
• Historical Retrogress or Historical Irony?
Society may hope, sometimes probably against hope, that modernisation would generate common social values and norms, which in turn help to create harmony and co-operation among groups and states, guaranteeing peace and development at national and international levels. This is the premise for the assumption many people that the demise of authoritarian and totalitarian systems of rule, whatever shape and colour, monarchical despots or ultra nationalist regimes, nazism, fascism, or communism, would usher a new era of universal democratic governance based on popular consent, respect for human rights and the rule of law. For freedom and peace loving people the world over, specially Africans, the overthrow of the obnoxious apartheid regime in South Africa, was meant to be a historical turning point, “the end of history”, to borrow Fukuyama’s jargon, in the sense that the evil system of rule has been thrown into a dustbin, not to raise its ugly face, once and for all.
But what has been going on in Ethiopia for the last fifteen years is a vivid reminiscent of the now defunct apartheid rule in South Africa, despite its democratic facade. Empirical observation and close scrutiny of the ideology, policies and behavior of the two regimes proves beyond any reasonable doubt that, they are inherently one and the same, albeit differences in name.
The crimes being committed by the TPLF regime against the Ethiopian people corroborates that history has not made itself redundant with the death of apartheid as a state policy. In other words, what we are witnessing is history repeating itself, with the perpetuation of an evil system and criminal activity, under different name and shade, at different place and time.
Whether historical retrogression or historical irony, more than a decade after the demise of Stalinism and the triumph of democracy in most of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe, and the coming to power of majority rule in South Africa, a self declared seudo-democratic, ultra-nationalist, proto-fascist regime reigns in Ethiopia, committing the most atrocious human rights violations against the defenceless Ethiopian people. The apartheid system in South Africa and the ethnocentric regime in Ethiopia, the former dead and the later alive, have had many fundamental common features and practices of historical parallel.
The reporter of the widely read Daily Telegraph newspaper, Mr David Blair, concluded that the closest similarity or parallel one could draw with the current fascistic rule in Ethiopia, is the defunct apartheid system in South Africa. According to this reporter, the prevailing situation in Ethiopia is far worse than what was in apartheid South Africa.
In 1948, when the racist nationalist party introduced the abhorrent system of apartheid, which means “separate development” in Africanner language, it sought to segregate the various racial and ethnic groups in to their respective “homelands, known as the Bantustans. To the white supremacists the mixing of the two races, blacks and whites, was an immoral act that should not be allowed to take place by nature or nurture. They argued that, “a natural hierarchy existed between different races, and the mixing up of two such alien elements as whites and blacks ….results in racial miscegenation, moral deterioration….. and clashes, and too many other forms of social evils”. So, apartheid, as an ideology based on race and culture, believed that ….” in terms of culture and civilisation, the duty of the native was not to become a black European, but to become a better native with ideals and a culture of his own”.
The underlying motive of the policy of ‘separate development’ was none other than maintaining the dominance of the minority white settlers over the majority black natives. The policy condemned the black majority to servitude as they had no right to rule even the so called ‘homelands. The whites controlled the reigns of state power enjoying all round support from political pundits in West European metropolis and multinational corporations which controlled the economy. With sheer arrogance and blind faith in their racial superiority, the white supremacists disfranchised and alienated the blacks from every aspect of the political, economic, social, and cultural life of the country. The economy, mining and industry, commerce, banking and service as well as fertile land, was in the hands of the whites and trans-national corporations.
The state apparatus, including the legislative, executive and judiciary, and all key posts in the administration, military, security and police were reserved for the ‘God Chosen’ whites, and the black majority had no say in the affairs of the country. Any social interaction between the two races was criminalised as blacks were considered not only uncivilised, but also sub-humans.
As third class citizens, the only right black South Africans had was to work as slaves and daily labourers in the factories, mining and agricultural fields owned by whites for nominal pay or daily ration to keep them alive to continue working for their masters. Movement outside of domicile required carrying a permit pass, and residence was restricted to the homelands, and even those working for the whites were not allowed to live in the area where they work. The white minority regime perpetrated all sorts of crimes and atrocities, including torture of prisoners, extra-judicial killings, and manipulation of social divisions and tensions. Innocent people who protested against the gross violation of their civil and human rights were indiscriminately massacred in the streets of cities and towns such as Sweto, Johansburg and Sharpevelle.
Human rights activist such as Steve Bicko were murdered and thousands were made to suffer in the torture chambers and prison cells of the brutal racist regime. Many South Africans fled their country to avoid persecution and death. Opposition political organisations like ANC, and the Communist Party of South Africa were banned and their leaders such as Nelson Mandela, imprisoned, to crush the popular national liberation movement.
When its futile attempt of arresting the popular struggle failed and the resistance intensified, the apartheid regime brought trumped up charges against the nationalist leaders, accusing them of treason, one of collusion with the “red menace”, a reference to communist subversion. Of course, the aim was to deny leadership to the movement. And, one of the defendants accused of conspiracy and treason against the state was none other than the charismatic Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress, ( ANC ). Mandela and his comrades were put on trial at what is known as the “Rivonia Trial” of 1964, facing a serious charge of treason that carried the death penalty. The charismatic and indefatigable Mandela faced the kangaroo court manned by white racist judges, unshakable determination and unwavering commitment to his cause.
He told the court boldly and firmly stating that;
“During my life time, I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the Africa people. I have fought against white domination, and, I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal that I hope to live for and achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
As expected, to no ones surprise, the court sentenced Mandela, along with his co-defendants, to life imprisonment, condemning him to spend 27 years of his precious adult life behind bars, in the infamous Robben Islands prison, confined to a cell which was not big enough to enable him stretch his leg. Recalling his sad experience in his prison cell, Mandela once said, “when I lay down, I could feel the wall with my feet and my head grazed the concrete at the other side. The width was about six feet. I was 46 years old, a political prisoner with a life sentence, and that small cramped space was to be my home for I know no how long”.
The historical parallel between the now dead apartheid system of rule in South Africa, and the ethnic policy of the TPLF on the verge of death, though sad, is interesting. Since their usurpation of state power, Meles and his cronies have been implementing the policies and practices of the white supremacists in Ethiopia using “cut and paste”. Beyond the propaganda cliché of ethnic federalism, ostensibly embellished as ” Self -determination of nations, nationalities and peoples”, When scratched deeper, TPLF`s ethnic policy is inherently racist identical to the policy of bantustanisation and balkanisation, pursued by the white racists to divide and rule. Behind the façade of self-determination, the stark reality remains that its motive is ensuring the supremacy of the TPLF in every aspect of the Ethiopian social fabric.
The white racists drew a colour bar to materialise their policy of balkanisation, while the tribo-phile TPLF diehards employ language as the main benchmark to implement their policy of tribal segregation. In actual fact, there is no a fundamental difference between ‘separate development’, and the ethnocentric administrative structure, “Kilil” as executed by Woyanes.
Ethnic policy, disguised under the principle of self-determination, is a version of the policy of ‘separate development’ in South Africa, which is consciously devised and nurtured by the TPLF with the strategy of divide and rule so as to ensure its political and economic supremacy ad-infinitum. The underlying motive, in both cases, has, of course, been securing and maintaining the supremacy of the minority over the majority. As the white were having the supremacy in apartheid South Africa, we are witnessing an absolute dominance of the TPLF in Ethiopia. TPLF is the engine, the driving force, the power and final arbiter of the policies that are devised, planned and executed in Ethiopia, and all is geared to serve its selfish interests.
It controls the key economic resources and infrastructure, including manufacturing, distribution, commercial, financial and service sectors-transport, bank, major hotels -and above all land, media outlets, including press, and electronic media ( radio, television, internet access ) printing and distribution. Government beaurocracy and administrative institutions, including the key cabinet posts such as defence, Foreign Office, security, police, and information are the domains of the TPLF cadres and a few opportunists who are willing collaborators, popularly known as ‘bandas’. The so called regional governments are front organisations that are controlled by TPLF vicroys.By any standard, TPLF rules Ethiopia, and TPLF means Meles Zenawi and his gang of seven lieutenants, “fitawuraris”,
• Siyoum Mesfin,
• Sebhat Nega,
• Abbay Tsehay,
• Berekt Simon,
• Alemseged Abbay,
• Arkebe Equbay and
• General Samora Yunus.
This is the closed knit of narrow nationalists which wields the real state power in Ethiopia. The rest is mutatis-mutandis.
There is no denying the fact that the TPLF, in collaboration of with its surrogate organisations, the ‘teletafis” Monopolises the socio-political life of the country, and has succeeded in promoting its narrow interests, while alienating and dehumanising millions of citizens. Paranoid by Its own sin and greed, it has committed and continues to do so, the most despicable human rights violations, murdering its political opponents, and massacring peacefully demonstrating innocent civilians, and detaining tens of thousands of innocent citizens for showing dissent.
Tens of thousands of innocent citizens have been dismissed from their jobs. Meles has banned political parties from functioning in the country with impunity just like his counter parts in apartheid South Africa. The magnitude and nature of the crime being committed by the murderous TPLF regime has no parallel in the long history of the country.
Post election political developments have shown the true nature of the TPLF. A political drama, TPLF type, has been performed, in a manner and fashion the white racists did in South Africa against Mandela and his comrades. The TPLF gang of seven, the masters of deceit and fabrication, rigged election results, and unashamedly declared themselves winners. When challenged, they concocted and brought up charges against the leaders of he main opposition party, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party,( kinijit ) and illegally incarcerated its leaders, members and supporters as well as journalist and leaders of civic organisations.
The CUDP leaders are accused of treason and genocide and put on trial. This melodramatic kangaroo court legal proceeding might be intended to frighten and subdue the opposition to accept the whims and wishes of the TPLF Bothas. But assuming that the quest for democratic and human rights will wane in the face of incarceration of political leaders is being short sighted for simple reason that the struggle is not CUDP V TPLF, as the TPLF cadres try to portray it. The struggle is a popular movement to regain inalienable human and democratic rights which have been denied by the fascist TPLF regime.
As political developments in South Africa and else where clearly showed, any legitimate struggle waged for political, economic and human rights cannot be arrested indefinitely. There might be ups and downs or the gravity of the sacrifices may be high, but, no conscious human being accepts servitude, oppression and exploitation eternally. The British colonialists had once said that the “sun never sets in their empire”. But it did set in the face of popular revolt who fought back to regain their independence and dignity. The apartheid regime had savagely tried to liquidate the national liberation struggle but to no avail. It tried hard, but never succeeded in breaking the stilled spirit and determination of the South African people and their freedom fighters. A policy of pariah state isolated and condemned, and an evil system labelled as “crime against humanity”, by the international community, apartheid was doomed to failure. At last, the white supremacists were forced to swallow the bitter truth by accepting majority rule and national reconciliation, and South Africa became a democratic state with the transfer of power to the majority in a free and fair elections.
Ethiopia under the TPLF is neither revolutionary, nor federal or democratic. Aside from the propaganda ploy, Ethiopia is the fiefdom of TPLF and Ethiopians are its serfs. There is no rule of law and respect for human rights. As the white minority regime used force to maintain its supremacy, the TPLF ethnocracy rules using excessive force to keep itself in power.
It propagates that It is the source of the solution and saviour of the nation. As the white racist Botha claimed to have descended from the `God chosen’ Afrikanners, the TPLF guru, Meles Zenawi, has audaciously and boastfully declared that he feels proud to be a descendent of the “golden Tigreans”, unlike the rest of us, “riffraff” Ethiopians.
The regime is bent on continuing its dictatorial rule with brute force. In such a situation, the Ethiopian people have no other alternative, but pursuing the struggle with full determination and commitment, to liberate themselves from the shackles of an evil system, TPLF ethnocracy. The way forward is building ones organisational capacity, and waging a co-ordinated multifaceted struggle, politically, diplomatically and propaganda wise, so as to regain our freedom and dignity as people and nation.
If history is a lesson for us all, the ethnocentric Tigrean nationalists, the opposition and the Ethiopian people at large, that lesson must be uphold dearly by all the players. The only viable, sensible peaceful solution to the current political impasse in Ethiopia is for the incumbent to release all political prisoners and resuming political dialogue with all the stakeholders, as South Africa did. Without dialogue with the inclusion of all the stakeholders leading to national reconciliation, healing the wounds of the nation is hardly possible .
Without accepting the principle of one man one vote, which is a basis for democratic governance, the problem persists to haunt us all. The South Africans looked to Ethiopia for support and inspiration during their struggle for national liberation, and we should look to them to do away with the malaise of ethnic dictatorship the consequences of which might be grave and regrettable. TPLF diehards are advised to come to their senses and accept the wish of the great majority of the Ethiopian people, which is the only guarantee to bring about lasting peace and stability in our beloved country, Ethiopia.
COMPARISON OF FASCISM and TPLF IDEOLOGY
Fascism has been defined in various ways at various times. Some scholars don’t even consider fascism as a standalone ideology. These scholars point out that fascism selects elements and rejects certain aspects of every major ideology. These elements vary wildly in terms of coherence, appeal, sources and policy. Thus from conservatism, it borrows reverence for authority but rejects the slow pace of change. It has no respect for religious leaders or traditional elites. From liberalism, it incorporates the idea of social Darwinism to the extreme, to the point of exterminating the weak (remember what happened to the Anuak and to the people of wolkait and tegede as well as Tselemt). Yet it rejects individualism and insists on a racial or national community (Tigray first). From Marxism it incorporates a great deal including single party system and control of all aspects of social, cultural, economic and political life (the concept of EPDRF is an attempt to control other groups by TPLF). The ideal society under fascism is then one that is based on race or nationality.
Most scholars agree that fascism exhibits the following characteristics.
• Historically fascism did not come to power in “normal” times and is not voted into power.
This point needs no explanation. TPLF came to power by force at a time when the Ethiopian people were discouraged by the dictatorial administration of the Derg.
• Fascism’s mass social basis comes disproportionately from the lower middle- class (shop-keepers, artisans, small farmers…). Fascist movements gain their mass following as a reaction to earlier successes of socialist and labour party movements. Historically fascism also tried to attract and hold middle-class support by using the myth of race and/or empire to harness middle-class fears and resentment.
In the case of Ethiopia, EPRP enjoyed substantial support from the labour movement and to some extent it also obtained some support from the peasantry in areas where it operated extensively before TPLF came into the picture. TPLF, after successfully pushing out EPRP from Tigray, established itself as the new Marxist-Leninist (the Albanian type) movement in Tigray. TPLF built on the successes of EPRP and, it also played the race card to obtain mass support. Once it came to power by force, it abandoned its Marxist ideology (although it sometimes seemed like it still displays Marxist tendencies) and liberation movement. What followed is a dominance of a Tigrean group in the economic and political arena. This policy was especially important to keep its traditional support base intact. To avoid confronting its ideological inconsistencies and irrationalism, it disallowed opposing political expressions. Just like traditional fascism, race and ethnicity became very important. The struggle against the “neftegnas” (a loaded word for the Amhara) became the organizing and mobilizing principle. To obtain additional support from other ethnic minorities TPLF/EPDRF propounded that the “neftegnas” are the root of all the problems, not just for Tigray but for the whole of Ethiopia. This strategy seemed to have worked in the past although it is currently disappearing rapidly among the major ethnic groups.
• The early core of dedicated followers consisted mainly of alienated individuals and failed members of the lower middle class. Collectively, the group may also have experienced some form inferiority complex.
• For the unorganized, mainly the young and unskilled, fascism creates a sense of community.
During the struggle for freedom, the promise of liberation to bring about a prosperous independent Tigray became so important to the unemployed youth they volunteered to sacrifice their life for the cause. In some instance coercion was also used to recruit new fighter members. It also gave them a shelter from the harsh reality outside by creating belongingness.
• Fascism practices total-authoritarianism, as opposed to communist totalitarianism. Fascist ideology becomes a religion to its followers. The individual member is totally bound by the fascist dogma. This is accomplished by monopolizing the mass media and use of terror and coercion.
This is also obvious. Currently any independent media is not tolerated in Ethiopia. Only the government has complete control over the mass media. New technologies in communication technologies (e.g. plasma TV) are employed to propagate the official line. It is not hard in any TPLF forums, to see individuals who cannot see the light. The members follow the party line as divinely inspired therefore they do not think independently. Conformity to the party line is strictly enforced. That’s why you see identical opinion from TPLF members on all forums. They never question their party’s policy but always echo the party line.
• Acceptance of irrational ideological premise combined with unqualified obedience toward the party are the tests of the determination of the fascist subject/activist. Thus simple obedience would not do: active allegiance and an internalization of the official ideology were needed. The ideal fascist thus corresponds to the notion of the “eager robot” – completely obedient in matters of ideological formulation but entirely self-sacrificing and resourceful in bringing the ideology to life and carrying out the commands of its leaders.
TPLF members follow the party line as divinely inspired therefore they do not think independently. Conformity to the party line is strictly enforced. That’s why you see identical opinion from TPLF members on many forums. They never question their party’s policy but always echo the party line as a parrot. They carry out their assignments because the leader’s command is considered to be always right.
The Verdict: Guilty as charged, TPLF is a neo-fascist organization.