The legacy of TPLF/EPRDF: Massacre after massacre by the state terrorism in Ethiopia.
By Dandana Bafkane, April 11, 2018
The TPLF/EPRDF regime and all its predecessors have their own distinct rancorous legacies. If we look at the last three regimes including the TPLF regime (assuming we are in the post-TPLF era), they all have their own distinct and common legacies. The purpose of this article is, however, not to recount the legacies of the previous two regimes, but to give a brief account on the legacy of the current TPLF regime.
The beheading of 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya by ISIS terrorists in 2015, the killing of at least 130 people in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, the killing of 32 civilians and maiming of more than 300 people in Brussels, Belgium, the killing of 20 people and hostage-taking of 170 at the Radisson Blue Hotel in Bamako, Mali on Nov. 20, 2015, the killing of at least 50 people at Mosque in Nigeria by a suicide bomber on Nov. 21, 2017, the street battles between IRA and the Sinn Fein (Catholics and Protestants) for many years even though it was not religious one, deeply shocked the whole world and these incidents got a worldwide media coverage. These crimes have been committed by religious extremists who do not represent the true Islam or Christianity who are killing and abusing innocent people in the name of God/Allah.
In the same way, there are/were many state sponsored terrorism around the world who are killing and abusing their own people for the sake of power in the same manner if not worse than that of ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists. The Pol Pot of Cambodia in the 1970s, P. W. Botha of the Apartheid of South Africa in 1970s and 1980s, Agostino Pinochet of Chile in 1970s and 1980s Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia in the 1990s, the Derg regime of the 1970s and 80s, Bashar al- Assad of the current president of Syria are few among others.
The TPLF/EPRDF regime, which came to power in 1991 in Ethiopia, proved itself to be one of these regimes, which is killing and abusing its own people for the sake of power in the same manner as ISIS and other terrorist organizations since it came to power. Tens of thousands have been killed and maimed for no reason other than asking their inherent or constitutional rights. No ethnic group in Ethiopia was so far exempted from such kind of brutal killings some of them at genocidal level.
Lt. General Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMiR) and the author of “Shake hands with the Devil” warned the international community that the recent catastrophe in Rwanda is being forgotten and its lessons submerged in ignorance. He testified that the genocide in Rwanda was a failure of humanity that could easily happen again.
Gen. Romeo pointed out some of the common failures in Rwanda, which allowed this unspeakable horror to occur. It was the combination of betrayal, failure, indifference, hatred, inhumanity and evil. In just one hundred days over 800,000 innocent Rwandan men, women and children were brutally murdered while the developed world sat back and watched the unfolding apocalypse (p. xvii) Gen. Romeo strongly argues that in the future, the developed world must be prepared to move beyond the national self-interest to spend their resources and spill their blood for humanity.(p.522). In the 21st century, the world cannot afford to tolerate a single failed state, ruled by ruthless and self-serving dictators. (p. 517)
The passing of resolution on HR-128 by the American Congress on April 10, 2018 can be taken as a lesson learned from the Rwandan genocide where America remained silent and watched the unfolding catastrophe in Rwanda. That is why Rep. Erik Paulsen said the US cannot turn a blind eye as Ethiopia oppresses its own people. Similarly, Rep. Keith Elison said, Ethiopia is an important ally of the United State. However, even allies must be accountable when they violate the human right of their people. Status as an ally is not a license to abuse a human right.
By “Shake Hands with the Devil”, Gen. Romeo refers to the Rwandan genocidaires, who committed a crime against humanity whom he shook their hands while he was in Rwanda as a commander of UNAMIR. He sarcastically said, “I know there is God because in Rwanda, I shook hands with the devil”. There are also so many devils who are paving the way for genocide to happen in Ethiopia. There are many devils who are sweating to incite communal conflicts by calling them “fire & straw” or calling the whole nation demons, who are asking for their constitutional rights. There are so many devils, who are sweating to pitch the Somalis and the Oromos against each other. The new PM has also shaken hands with the devil in Jijiga, Abdi Iley, who killed many and displaced more than 700,000 Oromos just to give peace a chance and to teach love instead of hatred and arrogance.
In the Rwandan genocide, radio became a powerful weapon used to incite and direct the Rwandan genocide. The radio station called “Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collins (RTLMC) was one of them. The perfect replica of the RTLMC in Ethiopia Zami Radio and ENN TV were also once a debutant radio and TV stations to incite and direct such kind of genocide in our country.
Regrettably, Ethiopia is right now under two separate governments, the government of newly elected PM and the government of warlords and armed bandits or “Command Post” as they call themselves, who are given a license to kill. The latter is also the one, which controls the real power and is responsible for the massacres listed in this article.
The following massacres, which the TPLF regime used as a tool to protect its interest and to maintain the supremacy of a minority group is a few examples inter alia.
1. The TPLF major acts of genocide in Oromia:
1.1. The Badano massacre.
In 1992, the TPLF orchestrated the Baddano Massacre against the Amharas and videotaped the atrocity and used for propaganda against OLF in a similar fashion with Hawzen massacre.
1.2. The Ambo Massacre /2014/
When the Ethiopian government announced its readiness to implement the ill-fated Addis Ababa Master Plan, it provoked an immediate reaction from elementary to university students across the state of Oromia. The government responded with a brutal crackdown and gunned down about 78 students in Ambo town alone. Over 400 Oromos were estimated to have been killed in that year alone.
1.3. The Irreecha Massacre:(2016)
The fascist TPLF regime has committed war crimes and crime against humanity on the peaceful irreecha ceremony on October 2, 2016 and killed at least 678 festival-goers and many thousands injured.
1.4. The second Ambo Massacre (October 25, 2017)
10 people were killed and 23 more wounded when the residents of Ambo blocked the road to stop three trucks loaded with smuggled sugar tried to pass through the town of Ambo. The unit of national army entered the city from two direction one from Addis Ababa and the other from Gudar and committed an indiscriminate killing on the protesters.
1.5. The massacre at Calanqo (December 2017)
In December 2017 the Agazi forces and the national armed force killed 20 civilians and wounded about 14 people in Calanqo /Chalanqo/. The killing came after the protest erupted when an Oromo man was shot-dead by Somali Liyu Police. The killing took place when the Agazi force opened fire on the protesters who were trying to block the road. A 10-year old child and five family members working on their farm were also among the killed by the military force. No one is so far held accountable for the killing.
1.6. The massacre at Hammarrressa camp (February, 2018)
The TPLF’s military force massacred in Eastern Oromia in Hammarressa camp in February 2018, which is a home for over 400 internally displaced people. The victims were simply protesting against the appalling conditions in the camp when the Agazi force arrived out of a sudden and killed 6 people. This was the second killing at Hammarressa camp.
1.7. The massacre at Moyale town. (March 10, 2018)
At least 13 civilians were shot to death on Saturday March 10, 2018 by the members of the Ethiopian army in Moyale town and more than 15 were wounded. Since then the killing continued and on Wednesday 14, March 2018 a 9-year-old child and 3 more wounded. What makes the Moyale’s massacre different from the others is that a pure carnage for no reason committed by the government soldiers. About 50,000 people fled to Moyale, Kenya and the number is still increasing on daily bases.
The massacre by TPLF in other Regions.
2. Tigray Region: The Hawzen Massacre (June 22, 1988)
The Hawzen massacre in Tigray is the crimes against humanity orchestrated by the TPLF and committed by the Derg according to the Ex- TPLF treasurer officer Gebre Medhin Araya.
According to Gebre Medhin, the massacre was orchestrated by Meles Zenawi, Sibhat Nega and other TPLF leaders when the TPLF soldiers refused to fight outside the region of Tigray. The TPLF leaders intentionally leaked the false information to the Martial Law Administrator for Tigray Legesse Asfaw that the TPLF would organize a seminar in Hawzen on Saturday 22, 1988.
On that day, the Ethiopia Mig 21 fighter jets bombed the market place and the town of Hawzen. More than 2,500 people were perished. They did this for money and to demonstrate the cruelty of Derg to win the financial support of the western powers particularly the US and satisfy their lust for power, which had worked for them perfectly.
The TPLF propaganda machines prepared 12 handpicked camera operators who videotaped the massacre to use it for propaganda purpose in order to convince the TPLF fighters to wage war against the Derg and the Amhara people by showing the heinous crimes committed by the military junta. The TPLF regime declared the State of Emergency (SoE) for the second time in Ethiopia, which is the perfect replica of the Derg’s Martial Law Administration for Tigray. TPLF, which declared the SoE when there is no war or conflict was protesting the Derg’s Martial Law Administration in Tigray at that time.
While accusing the Derg for the last 27 years for its cruelty, the TPLF leaders are playing the same dirty games at the expense of valuable human being.
3. Southern Region:
3.1. The Loqqee massacre (May, 2002)
The Sidama nation is one of the victims of the TPLF brutality alongside the Oromo, Ogadenia, Amhara Benishangul, Gambella, Gedeo, Hadiya, Afar, Konso, Gurage and many others. The Loqqee massacre of Sidama civilians on May 24, 2002 is part and parcels of the massacre and genocides committed against other nations and peoples of Ethiopia.
On the evening of May 23, 2002 the TPLF high level and low ranking officials including the ex-puppet PM who was the then the president of the Southern Ethiopian Regional States held an extraordinary meeting in Hawassa, where they premeditated the Sidama civilians Loqqee massacre. The massacre was ordered by the TPLF’s PM Meles Zenawi to block the Sidama nation’s constitutional rights to demand for regional self-administration that has been granted to others nations, which are 16 times smaller than that of the Sidamas such as the Harari Regional State.
On May 24, 2002, about 3 battalions of heavily armed security forces with modern machine guns butchered those Sidama civilians who had no weapons apart from leaves of trees and the Ethiopian flag as a sign of peace and non-violence.
Immediately after the aftermaths of the Loqqee massacre, at least 69 civilians including a 12-year-old child have been executed in a broad day light and over 200 Sidama civilians wounded. Neither perpetrators of the Sidama Loqqee massacre have been held accountable to this date, nor the quest of the Sidama people have been resolved.
3.2. The konso massacre (September 2016)
The Konso people is one of the very ancient people in East Africa and their historical village are world heritage. The konso people asked to be granted zonal status, which is a right, enshrined within the constitution. The response from the government was that the Agazi force sent to the village and burnt to ashes the konso UNESCO registered world heritage site along inhabitants on September 13, 2016.
After 400 years of conservation, the Konso-world heritage site is destroyed with fire set by security forces of the Ethiopian government. The Ethiopian government killed many Konso people, evicted in thousands, imprisoned thousands of farmers and silenced the people.
4. The Gambella Regional State.
4.1. The Anuak genocide (December, 2003)
On December 13, 2003, a car caring several employees of the federal government’s Administration for Refugee Affairs (ARRA), a driver and a police escort was ambushed by unknown armed groups some 20 km outside of Gambella town. All eight people on the car were killed and their bodies were badly mutilated.
This attack was the immediate spark for the massacre began later that day. The Ethiopian defense force and highlander civilians launched a brutal attack on Gambella town’s Anuak population.
HWR documented more than 400 victims and 104 extraordinary killings by the Ethiopian National Defense Force. So far, no one held accountable for the Anuak genocide.
5. The Somali Regional State
5.1. The Ogaden massacre.
On April 24, 2007, members of the ONLF attacked a camp for employees of a Chinese oil exploration company in Obale, killed approximately 65 Ethiopians and 9 Chinese nationals.
The ONLF attacked the oil company to stop the Ethiopian government from extracting the resources from Ogaden, as this will not be shared with the impoverished and suppressed population of the region.
As a result of this, the Ethiopian government launched a military crackdown in Ogaden against the ONLF and committed a multiple massacre though 2007 to 2008. According to HRW and various right groups, the Ethiopian military committed a war crimes and crime against humanity in the Ogaden. The Ethiopian air force carpet-bombed villages, which was confirmed by Satellite photos.
Tens of thousands of ethnic Somali civilians were killed and others fled to Kenya and neighboring Somalia. To take a measure of counter attack, the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) established the so-called Special Police (Lieu Police) in the Somali Regional state to launch its operations against ONLF.
After the conflict with the ONLF subsided, the Ethiopian government declared an open war against Oromia from Chinese to Borane by using these Lay police under the cover of ethnic and border dispute between Somalis and Oromo’s. As a result of this, many Oromos have been killed and more than one million displaced both from Somali region and border areas.
6. The Amhara Regional State.
6.1. The Wolkait silent genocide.
The TPLF committed a silent genocide in the Wolkait Tsegede against the Amhara nationals for the purpose of Tigreanization of the Wolkait population for the last 27 years. The TPLF has been arresting, torturing and killing tens thousands of innocent civilians for the purpose of making a demographic change in Wolkait, Tsegede and Tselemt areas of the Amhara region.
6.2. The Woldia massacre (2018)
On January 20, 2018, the Ethiopian security force killed nearly dozens and wounded many others on a religious festival as it did at an Irreecha festival of 2016. A religious festival that was supposed to be peaceful holiday turned into nightmare. The number of civilians killed in this atrocity is not yet officially confirmed but local informants put the estimate around 21. A similar killing happened in Kobbo and Masrsa on civilians who were protesting against the killing of innocent civilians in Woldia.
These are some of the legacies of the TPLF regime, which the Ethiopians are going to remember for many years to come. All the perpetrators will be held accountable in due course of time.