Emperor Menelik brilliant as he was when it comes to power politics, he understood the potential challenge to his sovereign power would emanate from none other than Tigrians. He “knew” and believed “legitimate heirs” of the throne were either Amharas or Tigrians. He believed that unless the actors in the rivalry to the throne, the Tigrians, are weakened there would not be any certainty to the sustainability of his domination over whatever you call Abyssinia or Ethiopia.
And the only viable solution for the emperor was to cut the potential of threat to his power significantly. Then it was fine for Menilik to let go north of the Mereb river to Italians. By doing so, he has succeeded in undermining the momentum of Tigrian resistance against his hegemony. In the rule of the game it is natural that the competitors to the emperor’s power had to face all the ordeals of an enemy of the state.
During the reign of Haileselasie too, the emperor understood the dangers that Tigrians present to his power. Why? I think the first Woyane movement is an answer. The first Woyane movement had succeeded to prevail over the emperor’s forces though for a short time. With the help of British air planes, unarmed civilians mostly women and children were massacred and the movement was aborted. Then Haile Selassie deliberately starved these rebellious people and blocked all venue of enlightenment from reaching these same people. These are punishments over “an enemy of the state.”
With the advent of the DERG to power in 1974 unspeakable brutalities were committed against all Ethiopians. Yet, the magnitude of suffering sustained by the Tigrians at the hands of the DERG was insurmountable. There is no need to go on detailing all the heinous crimes for the facts shout themselves. In short the people of Tigray were subjected to a deliberate and systematic aggression that would even threaten in eliminating them as a factor from the equation in the Ethiopian body politic. Again these were measures against “enemy of the state.”
Now, let us see the fate of Tigrians in the era of TPLF/EPRDF. Are they being treated as enemy of the state? Don’t take me wrong, I am not an anti EPRDF. In fact I support them like many fellow Tigrians for lack of better option. Oxymoron? Yes. That is exactly the contradiction and reality of every Tigrian, I believe.
Let us see the point of convergence between TPLF and the elite opposition groups and their die hard Diaspora supporters in keeping the people of Tigray at bay from any economic, social and all other developments. Of course, the premise and motives of these two groups are different.
As far as I know, TPLF during the armed struggle had always maintained its principled stance even if that principle had the potential of undermining the organization politically. Let us see two examples. 1. TPLF against all odds had endured and sustained its long held belief that the Eritrean question could only be solved through popular referendum. 2. During the Transitional period, this organization had pushed in to convincing other member organizations of the Transitional Government to accept a provision in the Transitional Charter that says primary attention would be given to those regional states that had lagged behind others in terms of development and those regions that had contributed and paid a lot in terms of sacrifices for the down fall of the DERG regime. In other wards, people of Tigray who paid the ultimate price in the armed struggle would be given primary development by the then government. I am not unmindful about the tremendous contribution of other members of our society nor am I crying for special attention to be given to Tigray at this point in time. I am just trying to show how things have been reversed the other way round. And what happened since then? Was the provision translated in to reality? The big question is, let alone primary attention, was the people of Tigray given equal opportunity in the economic and infrastructural development like other regional states? And why?
Just from the beginning since EPRDF assumed power until now, there is a conspiratorial rumors funneled by the DERG remnants that the state of Tigray was sinking because of the huge flow of investments and now the region being crowded by super high ways. These rumors were spread purposefully to hinder any drop of development in the region. And the people had no means of verifying the veracity of the rumors and took them as is. The result? What the DERG remnants had failed to do through blood and iron have succeeded in preventing developments in the regional state by arm twisting the EPRDF government through malicious rumors. And you can see the sorry state of Tigray being relegated to back waters. And the tragedy is no intellectual from the region had written about this reality in spite of the glaring facts in the ground.
The TPLF whose hallmark was intransigence when it comes to its principles, why did it compromise the very important issue of development in the region, the issue for which hundreds of thousands of lives have been paid for? As an Ethiopian in general and Tigrian in particular, I believe in an equitable distribution of resources and parallel development of all regions. I am happy to see and observe the developments in the Amhara region and the Southern Peoples, nations and nationalities region. After all I am Ethiopian and should be happy to witness any development in any part of our country. When you look at Tigray at this point in time, you will be saddened and heart broken to observe the injustices at the judicial and administrative institutions. Poor public governance, equally and shockingly poor infrastructures and corruption are pervasive.
The poor development in Tigray is not with out the knowledge of the prime movers and shakers of the Federal Government. It seems like the TPLF leaders believe that the only way to find legitimacy among Ethiopians is by undermining development in Tigray. I understand the leaders intend to leave a historical legacy and be remembered as agents of change in the down of the 21st century. And I also perfectly understand that the leaders are trying to transcend and reach out to almost all Ethiopians. Minus Tigray, an objective assessment of the over all development in the country would give the leaders a plus (+). But it becomes ugly when the means and procedures of leaving a historical legacy and any attempt of transcending to reach out every body is at the cost of the economic and social prospects of certain group of people, as is the case of Tigray.
The legacy that the TPLF leaders are trying to leave will either be incomplete or the leaders will ever be remembered as controversial leaders. So I believe the TPLF leaders have rendered the people of Tigray as sacrificial lambs in their desperate attempt to ward off any semblance of parochialism. Well, for totally different reason, that is what the DERG remnants intend to see- Tigray lagging behind in development. This is what I meant there is a point of convergence between these two sworn enemies, i.e., TPLF and DERG remnants. Albeit for different premises, both these groups have become bottle necks to development in Tigray. Hence, TPLF has unwittingly shared with those who treated the people of Tigray as enemy of the state.
In all honesty, the people of Tigray don’t deserve the status quo. They deserve better. Or is it a destiny for the people of Tigray that any government sees them as threat to what ever the state aims high?