Kasahun Wodemariam 31

Reject the Effort to Resurrect TPLF

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Executive Summary

Soon after the despotic Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) lost federal power, TPLF’s leadership retreated to Tigray region and became increasingly belligerent against the Federal Government. Acting like a leader of a sovereign nation, TPLF intensified military buildup and carried out a surprise attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) based in Tigray region. The Federal Government deployed the federal army to counter the security threats posed by the treasonous TPLF, as any responsible government would under similar circumstances. The responses of the US Federal Government to the South Carolina militia attack on the US Army at Fort Sumter in 1861 and to the insurrection on January 6, 2021, on Capitol Hill, are cases in point. In either case, nobody questions the legitimacy or constitutionality of the response by the US government.

Ethiopians had expected that the US would apply the same standard with respect to TPLF’s attack on the military base in Tigray until they heard the recent statements by top US diplomats on Ethiopia’s internal affairs. Ethiopians found particularly troubling and concerning that the diplomats singled out and demanded the withdrawal of Amhara Regional Special Force from what the diplomats wrongly believe to be part of the Tigray region. In the first place, the territories named in the diplomats’ statements have never been part of Tigray until they were forcibly annexed by TPLF, which committed untold heinous crimes against the local population during its occupation. Second, the Amhara Special Force was drawn into the conflict in self-defense as the Amhara regional state bordering the annexed territories was attacked by TPLF forces. Third, the statements by the US diplomats inadvertently legitimize TPLF’s annexation of the territories and give the impression that the US is siding with one region of Ethiopia against another. This stance is injurious to the long and amicable relationship between the United States and Ethiopia. Fourth, the statements undermine the constitutional rights and obligations of the Federal Government to deploy forces for law enforcement and national security in consultation with and approval of legitimate regional state governments. Lastly, the statements by the diplomats defy settled norms relating to the conduct of international relations and the paramount importance of respecting the sovereignty of a state to promote and preserve international peace and security.

Indisputably, TPLF committed treason, war crimes, and crimes against humanity both in and out of power. TPLF should by no means be defended. Unbiased inquiry into allegations of atrocities should be conducted not only in Tigray but also in Oromo and Benishangul-Gumuz regions. By the same token, blind evasions of historical facts of the annexed territories and absolving TPLF of its criminal record are equivalent to a moral treason. We call on the new US administration to reassess its position and strongly support Ethiopia's freedom from ethnic tyranny of any kind. We appeal to the world to stand with united and stable Ethiopia that will play a significant role in the emerging political and economic affairs of the African continent.

Reject the Effort to Resurrect TPLF

Over the past few years, Ethiopia has caught the attention of the international community for the following reasons: (1) The country had one of the fastest, albeit unshared, economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa; (2) it has been constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the largest in Africa with the potential to substantially meet Ethiopia’s energy demands; (3) the unyielding political stand and struggle of Ethiopians, both at home and in the Diaspora, forced the despotic and genocidal Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) to relinquish its federal power to a newly reorganized government; and (4) the newly installed Prime Minister implemented the United Nations decision on the disputed territory between Ethiopia and Eritrea, ending the decade old hostilities and border disputes between them. This was lauded by the international community at the dismay of TPLF.

Claiming to be the representative of the people of Tigray, TPLF ruled Ethiopia for 27 years with unwavering support from its international sponsors. Learning from colonialists' formula of divide and rule, TPLF ruled the country it hated by crafting and implementing a disuniting ethnic-based constitution and federal structure. TPLF knew that there was no surer way to inflict lasting damage on the fabric of the country than by breaking it up into ethnic Bantustans. During its reign, TPLF committed monumental crimes against all Ethiopians who advocated for unity, justice, and democracy.

Soon after TPLF lost its monopoly of power, its leadership retreated to Tigray region and increasingly became belligerent against the Ethiopian Government. Violating its own constitution, TPLF illegally held a regional parliamentary election and declared that the Federal Government is illegitimate. Moreover, using Tigray as a fortress, it acted like a sovereign nation and intensified its sponsoring and financing of the massacre and displacements of countless civilians in different parts of the country.

As Ethiopians looked forward in the interest of peace, TPLF, true to its nature, went full steam ahead with building a military power comparable to a national defense force. Concurrently, it mounted a propaganda campaign against the unity of the country and the Federal Government while drumming up cries of war against the Amhara regional state. The culmination of TPLF’s bellicosity came on the night of November 3, 2020 when it carried out a surprise attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) based in Tigray. The TPLF forces gruesomely and barbarically massacred yet undisclosed number of soldiers mainly of Amhara ethnicity. The Federal Government deployed the federal army to counter this treasonous act and the impending national security threats. Ideally, averting the war would have been the best option. However, the belligerence, intransigency and criminal act of TPLF and its refusal of mediation made that option impossible.

Any government, including the United States Government, would have acted in the same way under similar circumstances. There is indeed a stunning similarity between the TPLF attack on the military base in Tigray and the South Carolina militia attack on the US Army at Fort Sumter in 1861, which eventually led to the start of the American Civil War. Moreover, just two months ago, the United States mobilized its Army to quell the insurrection on January 6, 2021, on Capitol Hill, and still actively going after the most prominent culprits. In either case, nobody questions the legitimacy or constitutionality of the response by the US government. Ethiopians demand that the USA apply the same standard with respect to TPLF’s attack on the military base in Tigray.

Upon retreat, TPLF forces deliberately bulldozed the airplane runways in Mekele and Axum, destroyed bridges, powerlines, telephone lines, and water lines; and they looted essential medical supplies and foodstuffs. The TPLF’s destruction of public assets and utilities is, in effect, an act of terrorism. It is an assault not only on the people of Tigray who have become the immediate victims, as reports of acute shortage of basic necessities clearly show, but also on the entire population of Ethiopia.

The remnants of TPLF have engaged in misinformation and disinformation campaign to mislead the international community about the situation in Tigray. They have been successful so far to the point that some politicians in the United States and EU member states have begun to echo TPLF’s narratives. The reasons why TPLF and its cronies were able to convince some US and EU politicians, based entirely on fabricated stories and exaggerated claims, may be attributed to the following. (1) TPLF, during it reign, was hard at work to embed its cadres in IGOs, NGOs, and in the Western news media. 2) The Party had drained the Ethiopian treasury to hire lobbyists to win favor from EU and US governments. 3) Some investors may have vested interests in bringing back the corrupt regime.

It is apt to recall that since the beginning of the 2016 campaign for the presidency in the United States, voters had to endure a barrage of misinformation from foreign sources intent on discrediting the Democratic Party candidates’ credibility and electability. At a time when the source of information is difficult to verify, it is incumbent upon those in leadership position to resist the temptation of taking news and information at face value. Cases in point are the ill-informed, provocative, unconstructive, and dangerous statements by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

It is particularly troubling and provocative for the US top diplomats to single out and demand the withdrawal of Amhara Regional Special Force from what they wrongly considered to be part of the Tigray region. First, it should be recognized that the territories named in their statements including Welkait, Tegedie, Telemt, and Raya have never been part of Tigray in the recorded history of the country. The historical fact is that TPLF forcibly annexed these territories, inhabited by the Amhara people, in order to give the Tigray region access to Sudan and massive fertile land, considered essential for creating TPLF’s Plan B of creating an independent country.

During TPLF’s three decades of occupation of these territories, it committed heinous crimes, including genocide and ethnic cleansing. An estimated half a million people of Amhara ethnicity were displaced from their ancestral lands; in their place and consistent with TPLF’s Plan B, hundreds of thousands of people from proper Tigray region were resettled. The recent massacre at Maikadra by TPLF’s killing squad and its retreating forces is a sequel of years of atrocities in the annexed territories.

Second, the Amhara Special Force was drawn into the conflict in self-defense as the Amhara regional state bordering the annexed territories was attacked by TPLF forces. Third, the statements by the US diplomats inadvertently legitimize TPLF’s annexation of the territories and give the impression that the US is siding with one region of Ethiopia against another. This stance is injurious to the long and amicable relationship between the United States and Ethiopia. Lastly, the statements undermine the constitutional rights and obligations of the Federal Government to deploy forces for law enforcement and national security in consultation with and approval of legitimate regional state governments.

In view of all these, many Ethiopians took the statements by the US diplomats as provocative, prejudicial, and injurious to the long and amicable relationship between the United States and Ethiopia, which, in effect, legitimize TPLF’s forceful annexation of these territories. The statements also defy settled norms relating to the conduct of international relations and the paramount importance of respecting the sovereignty of a state to promote and preserve international peace and security.

The assertions made by the US diplomats, moreover, exhibit insensitivity and disregard to the will of the people expressed in multiple, self-initiated, public rallies staged in the liberated territories. The statements from the US diplomats only echoed the wishes of the criminal TPLF and the misinformation campaign of its agents who are disguised as employees of NGOs, international organizations and Western media. Siding with TPLF without any credible evidence and objective assessment of events on the ground is complacency to genocide of innocent Ethiopians of non-Tigray ethnicity, giving the impression that their suffering is somehow unworthy of attention and compassion.

Indeed, any human right violations and atrocities committed on civilians should be condemned in no uncertain terms wherever and by whomever they are perpetrated. Demanding unbiased investigations by component bodies into the alleged human right violations and war crimes is fitting and reasonable; and this is to be expected from those who care for humanity. But one wonders why such a call is scarcely made, if at all, with the same intensity and urgency from the same high ranking officials in response to the all too frequent reports of ethnic cleansing and gruesome killings targeting Amhara and Orthodox Christians in Oromo and Benishangul-Gumuz regions. We think that such total absence of attention to their plight is attributed to the fact that they do not have lobbyists and journalists on their payroll, as TPLF has had during and after its reign.

The United States is home to a large number of Ethiopians, with estimates varying from 400,000 to 700,000. The Ethiopian diaspora of all backgrounds actively participate in the political, economic, and cultural life of their adopted home. In the 2020 elections, galvanized by the provocative suggestion of the former president that Egypt should blow up the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, they voted Democrat as never seen before. This may have played a pivotal role in closely contested Presidential and senatorial elections, including the Senate reruns in Georgia that shifted the balance of power toward the Democrats. Sadly, the new US Democratic administration is aggressively moving to resurrect the defeated terrorist organization, TPLF. Ethiopians are, consequently, taking to the streets of Washington D.C., New York, and many European cities to express their disbelief, frustrations, and dismay.

In summary, TPLF committed treason, war crimes, and crimes against humanity both in and out of power. TPLF should by no means be defended; it should rather be condemned and listed as a terrorist group. The effort by the United States and some major European powers to resurrect a tyrant regime adds insults to the injury of the millions of victims of TPLF; and this is unacceptable to Ethiopians. Unbiased inquiry into allegations of human right violations, crimes against humanity, and genocide should be conducted not only in Tigray but also in Oromo and Benishangul-Gumuz regions. By the same token, blind evasions of historical facts of the annexed territories and absolving TPLF of its criminal record are equivalent to a moral treason. We request earnestly that the international community stand with Ethiopia, not with a rebel group that is dead bent to break up the country. We call on the new US administration to reassess its position and strongly support Ethiopia's freedom from ethnic tyranny of any kind. We appeal to the world to stand with united and stable Ethiopia that will play a significant role in the emerging political and economic affairs of the African continent.

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