37 years of the TPLF and the footprints of Meles
By Tesfay Atsbeha and Kahsay Berhe February 2012
On 19 February 2012, the official 37th birthday of the TPLF, many people in Tigray have to think of their loved ones as martyrs as every year; it is a day for remembering the loss of about 60 000 young women and men; as well as thousands of civilians killed in the country side and urban centres by the TPLF and the Derg respectively. The only act of paying respect to the martyrs would have been the prevalence of justice, the rule of law and democracy for all Ethiopians. But this is not the case and therefore the day is a day of sorrow for the overwhelming majority of oppressed and hungry Ethiopians.
For a few oppressors and exploiters as well as their supporters it is a day of celebrating their gains and luxuries. There is also the macabre situation of the sad being forced to celebrate their losses.
There are special events which transcend regimes and ethnic membership, like the victory of Adwa, which are celebrated by Ethiopians, but the birth of the TPLF will never be one of them. The celebration of this particular event is unlikely to outlive Meles. We Ethiopians, as many other people all over the world, do not have a tradition of celebrating events which do not have a positive meaning for posterity. We do not celebrate victories per se. No victory of Tewodros over Ras Ali, Dejatch Wondyerad etc. no victory of Yohannes over emperor Teklegiorgis, no victory of Menilik over king Teklehaimanot is celebrated by Ethiopians and therefore no victory of the TPLF over the Derg which ended up in the tyranny of Meles will be celebrated by Ethiopians in the future.
When it comes to principles, Ethiopians celebrate and pay respect only to those historical figures who selflessly struggled against invaders and for the dignity of the people, no matter whether such figures were victorious or not. Patriots like Abune Petros and Zeray Deres who sacrificed their lives for a genuine cause are as much respected as the patriots who victoriously defended the independence of Ethiopia. As we are living at a stage of the development of the world at which the struggle for (at least formal) independence is a thing of the past, Ethiopians have been struggling for democracy since almost four decades. The TPLF under Meles and his clique has proved itself without any reasonable doubt so far that it is not only anti-democratic but also extreme ethnic nationalist by obeying the orders of Meles to the disadvantage of more than 94% Ethiopians. We say “so far” by probably hoping against hope and taking into consideration that some members of the TPLF who have not committed crimes can still get rid of the criminals and help facilitate the transition to democracy in Ethiopia; because although it is very late it is not too late.
Meles has been paying lip service to the martyrs, hiding his own atrocities and talking about those of the Derg to present himself as a liberator and benefactor of the people. In actual fact, Meles has by his evil deeds played a decisive role in destroying the possibility for the martyred and living members of the TPLF to have a positive history all over Ethiopia.
Whenever the anniversary is followed by fake elections, Meles uses the occasion to disseminate lies, hatred and fear. On the 30th anniversary of the TPLF in 2005 before the fake parliamentary election, Meles told the people of Tigray not to worry about the enemies, because we (meaning the TPLF and the people of Tigray) have knocked out the teeth (in the sense of defeating and disarming them) of the enemies. He was referring to the legal and peaceful opposition and maliciously equating the opposition with the deposed military regime (the Derg) without mentioning the regime by name. By telling the people to consider the opposition parties like CUD as enemies, Meles was conveying the distorted message that the multi-ethnic Ethiopian organizations have to be associated with the Derg, chauvinism and Interhamwe.
On the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the TPLF which was again about three months before the fake election of 2010, Meles with his boundless rudeness could not behave even like a simple disciplined Ethiopian citizen, let alone like a prime minister. He portrayed Tigrayans who were in the opposition as a cover used by the enemy of the people of Tigray to cheat the people of Tigray, insulted them as chaff, dirt etc.. and agitated the people to be angry at them. Then, he hypocritically advised the people not to physically attack members of the opposition, not because they don’t deserve it, but because the opposition would use it for mud slinging. The speech of Meles was a green light for his tugs to attack the opposition, which they did. Aregawi Gebreyohannes from the opposition Arena was stabbed to death. We don’t mind if Meles considers any Ethiopian multi-ethnic organisation as his enemy. However, the claim that such organizations are the enemies of the people of Tigray by falsely associating them with the Derg is an act of irresponsibility and evilness.
Now, since there is no election, an election cannot be a motive for Meles to abuse the occasion to harass people. The regime is currently preoccupied with prosecuting and terrorizing patriotic and peaceful journalists as well as opposition leaders by using its own distorted interpretation of terror. It is also distorting history by denying emperor Haileselassie’s rightful place in the formation of the OAU and therefore in paving the way for the formation of the AU. It is also continuing with the double digit growth rate of the economy which is rather a double digit growth rate of its lies. The evil performances of Meles on the issues pertaining to the interpretation of terror, the denial that emperor Haileselassie belongs to those who deserve a statue as well as the lie of a double digit growth of the Ethiopian GDP will be the footprints of the TPLF with the limelight taken by Meles.
As we are writing this article in connection with the 37th anniversary of the TPLF, we will make a short review of the footprints of the TPLF in the course of 37 years and thereby concentrate ourselves on the less known aspects of the history of the organization. We hope readers can compare and contrast our presentation with what they know about the regime and make their own judgment about our characterization of the TPLF.
It would only be an anomaly, if tyrants came to power in a democratic society or organization. As Professor Messay Kebede wrote somewhere that the TPLF is as much the creation of Meles, as Meles is the creation of the TPLF, Meles has absolute power, because the members of the TPLF were and are - as many Ethiopians - vulnerable to tyranny. The underdevelopment of our country is mainly caused by submission to the tyranny of a single individual who suppresses ideas, drives the educated out of the country (brain drain) and blocks correction of wrong policies. Why do evil individuals come to power in Ethiopia? Why has not our moral standard been strong enough to deter criminals from being our masters? Is our enlightenment so low or not so wide spread enough that our society can be manipulated by bad people? Could it also be that there are many Ethiopians who appreciate any victory by evil means, as long as it is a victory, like doping to succeed in a sport competition?
In respect to the last question, an innocent Ethiopian said something surprising. It is important to mention that the gentleman is innocent as this would apply to many innocent people. In a heated discussion about the atrocities of Mengistu Hailemariam, the murder of the 60 ex-officials and that of General Teferi Banti and others were cited. When the phrase: “They wanted us for lunch, but we made them a breakfast.”, which is supposed to have been said by Mengistu was mentioned, the gentleman who was actively participating suddenly said: “but he is also a man (ginko wend new)”. It was shocking. Mengistu was actually a coward and a power monger who murdered his compatriots and told a lie that he did it in self-defence or in defence of the revolution. If people appreciate the success of crime and the successful criminal, it is a sign of the lack of moral virtues and encourages criminals who should be condemned. Of all criminals a criminal politician is the worst, because such a criminal, like Meles, can commit several acts of crime simultaneously and rule by (criminal) force.
The TPLF is not principally made up of progressive elements who consciously struggled for democratic and human rights. Such rights have never been respected in the organization itself. Conversely, although the TPLF never needed Meles and it would have been much better off without him and therefore without his anti-Ethiopian views and activities, serial mass murders, lies, deceptions, ethnic divisions, corruption etc. the TPLF behaves as if it were created to fulfil the wishes of Meles. The Front has so far really been devoid of any freedom, tolerance and any differences of ideas short of enmity, as if all members of the organisation were produced with a programme to act like a private army of Meles. Meles has cultivated such an undemocratic, unpatriotic, servile and irresponsible behaviour in the TPLF that this behaviour has also been extended to the other members of the EPRDF and its sympathisers. In this sense, Meles has also partially re-created the TPLF as an organisation of servants who in turn treat their subordinates and the people as servants. This system of Meles was already in place during the armed struggle, during which the “freedom fighters” could not even defend themselves and their peers against arbitrary killings and physical beatings within the organization. The history of the members of the TPLF which could have been associated with the promotion of democratic and human rights has been turned by Meles to a history of a tool of terror, repression and corruption.
It was a (feudal) tradition for civil servants including the armed forces and dignitaries until Emperor Haileselassie to portray themselves and even boast as the servants (ashker) of the emperor of their respective time. Since the reign of the military regime, the servants do not call themselves “servants”, but they are more servile and less free than their predecessors. It seems that the 1974 revolution has abolished some words of servility, like ashker and replaced them with words like “comrade” without any change in the content. In the meantime, the culture of treason, serial mass murders, lies, deception, ethnicity, fear, hatred and corruption has become an integral part of the system of Meles as we will show some of it chronologically.