Dear Abay Woldu and Members of the TPLF Central Committee,
I am writing this to you on behalf of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), a social justice movement of diverse Ethiopians; but foremost, I am writing to you as a fellow member of our Ethiopian family, of which you are also members. When family members are in conflict, is it not the responsibility of family members, especially the elders or those who care deeply about the well being of the entire family, to make every attempt to solve the problem? Is it not far better to honestly address these deep conflicts since we share an identity, a land and a future?
The purpose of this letter is to invite the Chairman of the TPLF, members of the TPLF Central Committee, and our Tigrayan brothers and sisters to enter into a process where we would start talking to each other rather than about each other; ultimately leading to a national reconciliation effort. Also, I want to be careful to distinguish between the TPLF and the people of Tigray. I am addressing those in power, not the people of Tigray in general, who are often unfairly lumped together with the TPLF.
I am not writing this letter out of hatred, but out of love because there is so much bitterness and generalized resentment towards our Tigrayan brothers and sisters because they are so closely associated by ethnicity to the ethnic policies of the TPLF. Because of this, we are stuck in an impossible situation. In 2009 I sent a similar open letter when the purpose was to confront the elephant in the room—an ethnic apartheid system of the TPLF—that no one wanted to talk about.
This is a follow-up to that letter. As I stated then, I am not an expert, but just a simple human being, seeking to contribute to the betterment of our society; not only for me or for my descendents, but also for yours and that of other Ethiopians. I am not here to say what you want to hear, but the truth. I would rather say what I believe is true and be isolated, or say it and be found wrong, then to hold back, pretending that things are better than they are in reality when it could lead some into dire consequences. I do not expect you to agree with everything I say, but I do hope we might find some common ground.
We are Ethiopians by virtue of being born in the country now called Ethiopia. Some in the Diaspora might also call themselves Ethiopians because they are growing up in a family with roots, ethnicity and culture based in Ethiopia. Regardless, nobody has a choice of which parents one will have, to which ethnic group one will belong or in which country one will be born in; it is only the choice of God.
Within the universe, our planet earth is filled with living beings. We are separated not only by natural obstacles of oceans, continents, mountains and land; but within continents, we are also divided into countries whose boundaries have often been manmade. Within this structure, we are people often divided by our differences.
In Ethiopia we have over eighty different ethnic groups, most with their own language, culture, and unique characteristics. In fact, the Ethiopian Constitution of today calls them “nations and nationalities.” This model of government was supposed to give equality among Ethiopia’s diverse groups; however, in truth, most Ethiopians find themselves abandoned. The sense of belonging necessary in a healthy family does not exist for many of our people. Instead, the TPLF/EPRDF government of the people has become the government created to serve the interests of the favorite child—the Tigrayan and the TPLF; majority of the people are left out.
Some are battling to become the new “favorite child” by seeking to exchange positions with the TPLF, whereas others simply want to “sever relations” as they have given up on ever being included as a true Ethiopian. The latter position is not without some merit, for few expect you to give up the power, privilege and perks that you have taken for yourselves. It is a difficult thing to do; however, the TPLF’s present position of using lies, corruption and the barrel of the gun to protect self interest, is not only wrong, but it sets you up for trouble at the hands of those whose legal, social and moral laws you have violated.
Ethiopians are not ignorant of the ways you in the TPLF have maligned justice in your favor—manipulating the courts, suppressing rights, controlling the economy, propagating false information, dominating all sectors of society and stacking your own people in all positions of power, including within key institutions, the military and security forces.
How are other Ethiopians to survive in such an inhospitable home? Resistance is rising and eventually you the TPLF members will be forced to deal with it in one way or another. Will you wait until the last moment when it might be too late or will you take the moral high road now to reconciliation, the restoration of justice and meaningful reforms? If you take this road, do not take it as another manipulative tactic in line with the same system or policies you have used to run the country; but instead, because it is the right thing to do.
Following God-given universal laws and principles are protections for people and nations; where they are followed, peace ensues!
God does not play favorites and instructs us to do the same. We are to give justice to the great and small alike and to those within our own groups and those outside them. When we despise, dehumanize, disenfranchise, demean, or dispossess others, such violations carry consequences that come back to bite us. When we Ethiopians, individually and collectively uphold the unique identity, inherent value and endowed rights given to each human being by God, we reap the benefits. When we do not, we must live with the fall out. How will you handle the fall out that has been accumulating over the last two decades or more of your power?
In Ethiopia today, we have focused on the tiny parts of our identity as human beings and used it to justify actions against other members of Ethiopian society because we fail to see the image of God in our neighbor—those of another ethnicity. The whole reason the SMNE was created was to more closely realign with the viewpoint God has about “others.” For example, does God care about someone who does not look like us, someone who does not speak “our language,” someone who practices a different religion, someone who comes from a competitive ethnic, political or socio-economic group who could challenge your own position, or someone who comes from a marginalized, discriminated- against minority group who does not seem to matter?
We can say our diversity is beautiful and can display it on billboards, but we must go beyond appearances to assume our God-given responsibility to love, value and give justice to our neighbor. This is the bigger responsibility. We must be reminded that a body does not function as well if even a small part of it is missing or hurting. Are you feeling the pain or worried about the infection that has spread through the body of Ethiopians because of the ethnic policies of the TPLF?
Ethnic Federalism is a toxic combination of the worst parts of the ideologies of tribalism, feudalism and Marxism
The TPLF/ERPDF has adopted a model of ethnic federalism, claiming it validates the diverse groups of Ethiopians and their desire for self-determination; however, in practice, it is nothing new, but instead is a recycling of some of the worst components of tribalism, feudalism and Marxism.
tribalism—justifying one tribe (Tigrayan) to take all in an apartheid model based on the African model of “one tribe take all” or “it is our turn to eat”;
feudalism—justifying one elite group or clan as being rightly entitled—chosen—to rule, dominate and profit off of the backs of others who are treated as less human, not “the golden people,” and therefore, less deserving; and,
Marxism—justifying the harsh repression of any—including other Tigrayans—who challenge the regime’s pretense that the TPLF is concerned about the “masses” unlike under feudalism; however, in practice, it is a ruse to gain control by claiming to stand up for the poor. It is a deceptive tactic meant to divide large sections of our people from others and to gain control of the masses, most of whom are too poor, too uneducated and too busy just surviving to challenge your authority.
One of Marxism’s inherent strategies is to purposely divide the people. This is unconscionable. How many Ethiopians have become “enemies of each other”, preoccupied with new or ancient conflicts as part of this manipulation of the “masses” for your own benefit. This is possibly one of the most evil components of the present system; for instance, pitting groups like the Amhara and the Oromo against each other in ways unseen before, all because you are afraid of what might happen if they unite, is wrong.
What happens to the countless Ethiopians who are half Oromo and half Amhara or in other combinations of both or others? Perpetual incitement of conflict between and among them has been your survival technique. What kind of conflicted hostilities within each person are incited by your ethnic-hatred policies?
You (the TPLF) are also attacking the very people who are strategic to the future of the country because they are a present threat to your rule. These are intellectuals, people with power and influence, political, religious, civic or economic leaders, or anyone who challenges the lies, deceptions and false world created by the TPLF. They are targeted as scapegoats. They come in every ethnicity.
Equally wrong are the lies. Some are obvious; others are more subtle. Marxism is an ideology of deception and “bait and switch” tactics where one thing is purposely presented as good or real, so people unknowingly accept it; but in practice, it is destructive, untruthful and undermines the well being of the people. An example of this is setting up people of diverse ethnicity in positions of power while in effect, giving them no power to act. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and many others like him are examples of this attempt to deceive. This is morally outrageous and must stop if there is to be peace for all in Ethiopia.
The TPLF could have been different! You had a chance and did not use it for the common good!
The formation of the TPLF was incited by the egregious mistreatment, marginalization and exclusion of Tigrayans at the hands of the Derg, causing you to go to the bush to fight. When you came to power you had a choice. You could have been different from the feudal rulers of the past and the Derg, opening up Ethiopia to a more just, fair and good government that could have helped all Ethiopians to prosper—instead of only selfishly thinking of yourselves and some within your ethnic group. Claims of great economic advancements only indicate the great wealth accumulated by a few while Ethiopia remains on the bottom of nearly every index of well being, affecting the majority.
The TPLF became the clone of the Marxist regime of Mengistu Hailemariam; imposing the same harsh treatment on the people of Ethiopia that drove you to battle against them. This time you were in charge and your promises of change were not kept; instead, with the power of a TPLF-run army, you proceeded to divest Ethiopians of the national resources and assets of the country, redistributing the benefits into your own pockets as well as into the pockets of your family members and patronage networks—mostly Tigrayans.
If people resisted, as was done in places like Gambella, the Ogaden, Afar, Oromia, Benishangul, the Amhara region and the city of Addis Ababa; the army under your control made sure you eliminated either the people themselves or forced them into submission in one way or another. This included human rights atrocities, imprisonment, terrorizing people to flee to other countries and intimidating others to remain silent; yet, the TPLF pretends none of this is happening. Even your self-revered model of ethnic federalism, is only subterfuge meant to convince “nations and nationalities” that they could enjoy a significant degree of self-determination and equal footing with others when in truth Ethiopians in every region, often to the Kebele level, are micro-managed from the TPLF central committee level.
After those of you in the TPLF have led the country for 23 years, others now have the same grievances against you that you still claim against the Derg and take out on the people of Amhara. It is another reason why the SMNE was formed. What you are doing is wrong and it is no surprise that people have reached the tipping point where they have had enough. You had the chance to unify the Ethiopian people and change the direction of the country, but what you created in its place is morally wrong and has created a scenario for self-destruction. How can you deal with the mounting resistance without honestly facing up to what you have created?
Fear of the truth has become an irrational obsession for you. An Ethiopia based on fantasy of “nations and nationalities” has been created. The fact that those who tell the truth end up in prison reveals the degree of guilt and shame the TPLF feels when forced to face the truth. It can eat away at the soul. Some may have hardened their consciences, but for many others, running away from the truth is a way to avoid facing the facts. The success of a few has come at the expense of compromising what one knows to be right.
For example, although most people know how the TPLF manipulate the news so as to build yourselves up and undermine the opposition; an example of it recently came out that you even hiring persons to attack articles and comments made on the web that are critical of the TPLF while “anonymous” others are paid to write comments to pump up the image of the regime. Unless you can earn the respect of most people by doing the right thing, no amount of cover up or image-making will placate the grievances of the people.
Only genuine change will give all of us hope for a better future; a pretense of reforms will not work!
The status quo is not sustainable and will end. When it does, you and your descendents will be the ones to pay the higher price if the country falls into chaos. None of us wants to see this happen. Instead, the purpose of this letter is to help you realize what must be done to avoid it.
The mastermind of these policies was former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who is now deceased. He deserted the TPLF, leaving you to hold the ticking bomb in your own hands. What will you do with it? You are only 6% of the population with an entire system in play that is based on unfair practice. Do not pretend this is not a crisis. Go to the example of Rwanda in regards to what happens when one group controls everything. The situation in Ethiopia is far worse now, especially minus the cunning tactics and deceptions of your former leader.
In Rwanda, what happened there did not start in 1994, but began years before with a series of mass atrocities and killings related to reversals of ethnic-based power, greed and ethnic- apartheid domination of others. Warning signs were present but ignored before the worst happened. Rwandans are still trying to heal the deep wounds they inflicted on each other and to rebuild their nation, twenty years later, but there was so much damage, so much mistrust and so much shed blood that the challenges still are significant. Reconciliation is their solution now, and it is bringing healing, but it should have come before it ever happened, when the warning signs were everywhere!
Many are now saying Ethiopia will be the next Rwanda. Even Meles and the TPLF Central Committee used this as a trumped up reason to charge the CUD leaders with attempted genocide of Tigrayans in 2005 when the warning signs were already present. In doing this, you exploited your own people, knowing very well that this was not the intention of the CUD, but that it could be used as a cover up of your own naked aggression against any opposition to your rule. This is a dangerous tactic used to clamp down on your opponents; however, today, the situation has become far more serious as more people fear an explosion of ethnic-based violence.
I hope this is not the case, but the fear does not come without basis, just like smoke does not come without something burning. People see the difference. I hear about it frequently when Ethiopians from the Diaspora return from visiting Ethiopia. These people describe their shock at witnessing the increase in the level of anger many Ethiopians hold towards the TPLF. They express great concern for the country and for their families unless a solution can be found.
Tensions are simmering on the surface. In fact, as soon as someone steps foot in the country many have described being hit head on with the obvious disparity between how people are treated based on ethnicity and political affiliation. First of all, they see that most custom agents in the airport are from the Tigrayan ethnic group (another way to control who and what comes into the country).
For example, one Ethiopian man was attempting to enter the country with electronic equipment for his family and the customs agent was going to charge him an exorbitant amount to bring it into the country. He told the customs agent he could not afford it and was told that the items would then be confiscated. Finally the man, who had been speaking in Amharic, changed languages and began to speak in the Tigrayan language. The agent’s response was to ask him why he did not tell him from the beginning he was Tigrayan. A supervisor—who also had become involved—then told him to put his things in his bag and to leave. He was not charged anything. The truth was that he was not Tigrayan, but because he had grown up among them, he spoke the language fluently. How often is this kind of injustice happening? No wonder people are angry and are claiming there are two sets of laws in the country, one for Tigrayans and the other for everyone else!
Many Ethiopians, including myself, have a vested interest in finding a peaceful, civil and legal alternative to another Rwanda or to the unacceptable explosion of violence, killing, and destruction we have witnessed in neighboring countries like South Sudan. It is nearly impossible to find help for the hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees now. They could be you next time. Such a result would be tragic and all efforts should be made to avoid such a devastating outcome for any members of our Ethiopian family.
In our country, we have repeatedly failed to do this— Mengistu failed, Meles failed, and the TPLF /EPRDF are failing. If the TPLF does nothing now, we will all fail together—once again. Reconciliation is the answer, but with it must come acknowledgement of the truth, meaningful reforms and the restoration of justice. Without change, the TPLF will pass on a legacy of consequences to others, most of whom are innocent bystanders or future generations. Show us your willingness to come to the table. Release the political prisoners, journalists, human rights activists, religious leaders and opposition leaders. Stop charging everyone who disagrees with you as a terrorist. You cannot hold on indefinitely to power by using force. Show humility. Show signs of openness to bring change. Be honest. Speak the truth, not lies. Take actions that are not deceptive, but which will build up trust between the people.
This is a golden opportunity; do not miss it this time!
Ethiopia has been under dictatorship for over 60 years. Have not our people suffered enough from the deep wounds of bloodshed, pain, hardship and loss? Many hearts are wounded, some living in hopelessness and despair; others whose hearts are hardened with anger, hatred, bitterness, resentment and the thirst for more blood or more booty.
Let us pause to take strength and to gain new understanding from our Almighty God, who many ignored or forgot about over these decades of Marxist-Leninist leanings. How might we the people find healing and restoration of our God-given humanity, honoring that of our neighbor’s as well as remembering who we are. We have fallen, but if we can admit it, cannot God help us to rise up as new people, loving our neighbors as ourselves?
Human selfishness has played out as government policy to the maximum and it has become a curse we should not pass on to future generations. Sharing is part of God’s plan for human beings and some of the best examples of it working successfully are found within tribal groups where everyone contributed and people willingly shared with those in need.
It did not mean forced redistribution of goods, but the best combination of hard work, love, caring, cooperation and generosity. This is the best part of “tribalism” that could be carried out by individuals in the family of Ethiopia. It requires one to one integrity, kindness, justice, respect and generosity. This is the kind of Ethiopia I want to live in and to pass on to my and your descendents. How about you? The truth cannot be denied. You had a golden opportunity to reach out to others, even to those previously in the Derg, but you did not take it. Now many feel the same about you.
Do not think I did not have the same choice as yours for revenge. People who I knew were killed in Gambella by your TPLF security forces for having a different opinion; however, I chose forgiveness and reconciliation, because I want a different kind of Ethiopia than the heartless one we have today. That is why I reached out to your former leader, Meles, to the Tigrayans as well as to other Ethiopians, addressing them all directly in my previous letter. At that time, I pointed out the huge disparity between the development, opportunity and resources available to the people of Tigray. Since then, I received several different kinds of reactions from Tigrayans to the general position that Tigrayans have disproportionately benefited from TPLF rule.
Here are some samples of those varied positions:
Not all Tigrayans have equally benefitted despite being of the same ethnicity as the TPLF; many remain poor and need the same help as many other Ethiopians.
This position is true. We have erred in using collective generalizations about this region when in fact; many of the people remain poor. We are grateful that the poor within the Tigray region have found greater self-sufficiency and realize that some large projects in other regions have benefited those populations as well. The concern is that those efforts have often not been fairly distributed, often fostering resentment. For example, in 2000 when I attempted to begin a development agency in Gambella, I received strong pressure to instead locate it in Tigray, saying the need was greater there. Of course, I refused, but had I not known, I could have been influenced. This does not mean that there are no longer poor Tigrayans who need help, both now and in the future.
In a recent article written by an Ethiopian man, he told the story about a beggar in Addis Ababa who had been asked by a man on the street as to which region of the country he had come from. He initially said the Amhara region, but because of his accent, the man questioned him further. The beggar finally revealed he was from Tigray, but said he had not wanted to admit it because few would accept the fact that some Tigrayans were poor. Instead of helping him, people would sarcastically tell him to go to Menelik Palace if he needed a handout.
We know that many other Tigrayans are left out of receiving the perks of TPLF rule, some because of moral objections to the ethnic-apartheid policies or other actions of the TPLF; others because they are not from the right group, from the right place, like Adwa, or are simply not important to those in power. This is often not recognized. The TPLF is also known for giving preferential treatment to members of their own families and to those coming from the same clans. Many others are being left out, regardless of ethnicity or TPLF affiliation.
The TPLF overthrew the Derg so we deserve the rewards of that!
The second response I received was a rather defensive admission from a Tigrayan, who told me that yes, Tigrayans did have more development, opportunities and advantages than others [at least in his case], but that they deserved it because they had been the ones to fight for it. Really? What about all the other groups involved in bringing down the Derg? Do people really believe the Tigrayans did it all by themselves? The TPLF and the EPLF both played major roles, but others also contributed. What about the Oromo Liberation Front, the Ogaden Liberation Front, the Gambella Liberation Movement, the Sidamo Liberation Movement, the Benishangul Liberation Movement, the Afar Liberation Movement and many more? Regardless, how can one small region of Ethiopia, claim Ethiopia for themselves? You can run your company that way and hire whomever you want, but you cannot run a country that way! Yet, the TPLF are not the only ones believing in this ideology. How many others would willingly step into your shoes and make Tigrayans, and all other Ethiopians but themselves, suffer?
The Amhara did it to us. If we were not in power, someone else would do the same!
This argument as a reason to continue to oppress others is morally indefensible. Become part of the solution. What is wrong in God’s eyes does not change simply because you are doing it or because someone else has done it to you in the past or would do it to you in the future if they got the chance. This is a rationalization meant to justify the continued mistreatment of one’s neighbor. This kind of self-centered thinking has been an intergenerational evil that has brought a legacy of great suffering and hardship to our people. Is this who we are as Ethiopians? Is this what we want to pass on to the next generation? In years to come, how will Tigrayans be remembered?
Will other Ethiopians finally rise up to claim their equal rights as Ethiopians, with Tigrayans possibly bearing the serious consequences of these years of hegemony; or, will Tigrayans rise up to do what is right and be remembered for being part of a movement to better love one’s neighbor as oneself—putting humanity before ethnicity or other distinctions?
To become a better people and a better, we all must have the strength, courage and humility to face one’s own conscience and to forgive each other. Jesus gave up power to come to earth as a servant. Right now, Tigrayans, many who are part of a religious background, understand this, but how might you live it out? It is not by acting as gatekeepers to truth, justice, freedom, inclusion and opportunity for those outside one’s own ethnicity. Each of us should examine oneself as to how we might bring about a better Ethiopia for all, not only for ourselves or our ethnic group.
Deniers of TPLF preferential treatment towards themselves, their ethnic group and/or their region
The third group is made up of people who want to deny any preferential treatment in its entirety. Look at the striking disparities between the regions and come to your own conclusions.
the favored destination of international development projects,
the headquarters of EFFORT—the business conglomerate of most all the leading Ethiopian corporations—which, according to a WikiLeaks report, was financed in whole or in part by the misappropriation of international funds and physical assets meant for the people of Ethiopia, left in the TPLF account following the overthrow of the Derg; furthermore, businesses within EFFORT, including businesses privately owned by regime power holders or their crony networks, consistently receive preferential treatment from the TPLF regime,
the headquarters of the Ethiopian armed forces and the Ethiopian air force; 96% of the top military positions are held by Tigrayans;
the region with more hospitals and universities than any other region in the country, despite being only 6% of the population;
home to the only Institute for Technology in the country; reportedly, to be accepted in this school, one must be full-blooded Tigrayan, a member of the TPLF in good standing and able to speak Tigrinya, Oromo, Amharic and English; only alumni of this school are eligible to act as gatekeepers to what appears in the TPLF-approved media with no comparable schools existing in other regions or open to members of other ethnicities;
the regional home of most all the top ministers within the government and people of power in the country; and,
one of four regions—Tigray, Amhara, Southern Nations and Oromia—permitted entry as members of the larger EPRDF Central Committee; representatives from the other five regions are all excluded.
Is the TPLF/EPRDF an ethnic-based-apartheid government?
To answer this question, just look at Ethiopia’s major institutions, especially those with the greatest power and reach. See the link and then decide for yourself if they are politically and ethnically neutral. Look at the Ministry of Federal Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT), the Ethiopian Federal Police, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the Ministry of Revenue and Customs Authority and the Ethiopian Radio and News Agency.
There are also others that are important, as well as those within civil society, but by looking at these key institutions, you will easily see that they all are heavily monopolized by people of Tigrayan ethnicity and TPLF party affiliation. Where someone of different ethnicity and/or party holds a top position, like in the case of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, you will often find that those second in line, hold the real power.
Strong, effective and independent institutions are fundamental to a well-functioning, free and stable society. In this case, these institutions are led by individuals with the competence, experience, character and a commitment to its mission and goals; however, under authoritarian regimes, these key institutions are led by regime cronies whose loyalty to the power-holders and their prolonged existence are primary, with the usual results being favoritism, injustice, oppression, exploitation, corruption, incompetence and increasing public discontent.
Under ethnic-based apartheid regimes, those in positions of control are predominantly from one ethnic group and/or one ethnic-based political party. They must spout unreserved loyalty to the regime’s political views and goals and if they do, such adherence is rewarded with top appointments, impunity, power, opportunity and other perks—as long as one rigorously complies with the ruling party’s agenda. Judge for yourself whether or not the TPLF/EPRDF is an ethnic-based apartheid government. You must see the link or attached addendum for a listing of some of Ethiopia’s key institutions, who leads them, their ethnicity and their political affiliation: http://www.solidaritymovement.org/downloads/140731-leaders-key-institutions-in-Ethiopia.pdf
This is like the head of a house who refuses to feed the family; keeping everything for himself or herself. This kind of selfishness is a perversion of what family or tribalism, in its best form, was meant to be. I am not begging you to do it, but if do not enter into a process leading to the transformation of this government into one where no one is excluded because of ethnicity, gender, religion, region, or the color of their skin—putting humanity before ethnicity or any other differences—it will eventually be taken from you. But if we all are not careful, some other group will attempt to steal the power and put on your hat as the new ethnic-based apartheid TPLF/EPRDF. That would be the worst scenario for you, but certainly no better than what we have now. If you do not want that to happen, you must be part of a comprehensive solution.
Imagine if all these comparable institutions in the US, UK, Canada or other free countries were controlled and led by one ethnic group, one political party and one region of the country? No wonders Ethiopians are calling the TPLF/EPRDF regime an ethnic apartheid. Such a system cannot last forever and becomes the potential source of destabilization and conflict.
To avoid this kind of disaster from happening, we believe those with the greatest responsibility to prevent it are members of the central committee themselves, secondly, the Tigrayan people surrounding them, thirdly, other Ethiopians from the four groups that make up the EPRDF—the Tigrayan, the Amhara, the Oromo and Southerners—and the people of Ethiopia as a whole.
Some Tigrayans organizations like Gasha For Ethiopians are already speaking out and Tigrayans individuals like Gebremedhin Araya, who was formerly a part of the TPLF. He came to the realization that the TPLF had become a threat to everyone and has been urging the TPLF to change directions. Another person is Asegede Gebreselassie, an older man who had been forcefully speaking the truth at great cost. He was arrested, beaten and even his children were arrested. Abraha Desta, a courageous younger man and a professor, has been pointing out what is going wrong, challenging Tigrayans to come out and say, “Not in my name!” He is now arrested. This is a shame! Who is responsible for this? What if more in the TPLF Central Committee, their friends, family members and others around them came out and demanded it to all stop? When the majority is silent, it is not easy to speak out without consequence; yet, he has done so. Many others have done so also.
I am convinced there are many more from the Tigrayan community who are morally opposed to the ethnic apartheid system where one group dominates over others, but may be afraid to come out and say it. Some may also be afraid of who might replace the TPLF, which is all the more reason for Tigrayans to come out for the sake of all of us. Take responsibility for being a solution to the problem.
Also I encourage more Ethiopians of different ethnicity to come out to embrace these Tigrayans who want something better for their children. Start talking to each other instead of about each other. Starting a dialogue about how to create a better Ethiopia where we respect the God-given value of all our people. The security and well being of all of our Ethiopian family should be valued as that of our own, not only because it is the moral thing to do, but because it is a God-given principle that will best ensure the survival and well being of our society.
If the TPLF Central Committee do not correct the injustices and the situation explodes into violence, they will be found accountable and will be judged in this life and the next life. South Africans in power heeded the warnings, Rwandans did not. No decision is a decision. You in the TPLF Central Committee can choose to ignore the warning signs, but you cannot claim you did not know. Everyone knows. This letter and other information like it will be evidence that you were warned and did nothing. What will you do?
To our Tigrayan brothers and sisters who morally object to the TPLF ideology and actions
To succeed, the approach will require deep, transformational change that will be substantially different from the TPLF/EPRDF approach over the last 23 years. The title TPLF uses the Tigrayan name. Speak out and demand change. It is time to say, “Not in my name!”
It is time to speak the truth so it can be dealt with rather than hidden. How can we defuse the ticking bomb if we pretend it does not exist? How can we build a stronger family if we do not admit the truth and simply blame someone else for our own wrongs? Will it help us if we refuse to listen, get angry, walk away, refuse to correct our own actions and attitudes, harden our hearts, refuse to forgive or compromise our values? Ethiopia’s “my tribe first” ideology has been a curse to the living and will undermine our future if we do not change and incorporate it into our law and its application.
I encourage those of you within the Tigrayan community who do not support the tyranny, which is the constant companion of the “one-tribe-take all” worldview, to become catalysts for transformational change, reconciliation and meaningful reforms within your families, clans, religious groups, civic organizations, educational institutions and communities, to the best of your ability. Become part of the solution for no one, including the Tigray, will be free until all are free.
For the TPLF and other ethnic-based movements to be set free, it starts with truth. The TPLF can take every material thing given to Ethiopians for yourselves and still remain hollow and empty. Real freedom is soul freedom. Nothing else will satisfy. This message is not only for you, but also for me and others in our family of Ethiopians.
May God give us the courage as people to boldly face the truth and then to choose rightly—loving God and neighbor as ourselves. Let us extinguish that ethnic hatred-ticking bomb with the true diffuser—with love, humility, honesty, forgiveness, justice and civility. Only then will Ethiopia avoid self-destruction and arise to a new and better Ethiopia for all its people.
Sincerely your brother,
Executive Director of the SMNE
910- 17th St. NW, Suite 419.
Washington, DC 20006 USA
The letter has been CCed to top ruling party officials in Ethiopia, US, EU and many other governments and international organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others.