By: Amlaku B. Eshetie
I am in the forties. I lived my childhood during the Derge. I had no understanding of the politics then. However, when the Derge was removed by TPLF, I was a high school student and I could somehow understand politics and history. Since then, what I witnessed in Ethiopia is ethnic favoritism and partiality.
TPLF was a Tigrian led ruling party, and always favored Tigrians. In the era of TPLF, being a Tigrian was like anything – wherever you go and speak Tigrigna language all doors were open. The prominent and pivotal leader of TPLF, the late Meles Zenaw, was blunt enough to publicly denounce one ethnic group – the Amhara. He declared that the turn was for Tigrians and other minority ethnic groups as the Amhara had enough in education, in economy and in political power. So, every access to education, economy and political power was made sure to be closed for the Amhara.
Besides depriving the Amhara of their equal rights, the TPLF squad was rewriting the history of Ethiopia into a completely new, anti-Amhara narratives. In the name of the mother-tongue education policy, the Oromo were allured into boycotting learning the Amharic language. In all its divide and rule era of over a quarter of a century, TPLF portrayed the Amhara as the past oppressor of the rest of the Ethiopians. This narrative was amplified by the extremist Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
The youth who were born and educated in those 27 years (1991 – 2018) had no exposure to the entirety of Ethiopia and its genuine history. They were fed the newly cooked anti-Amhara ideology and narratives. I truly feel so sorry for these young people. They were made to find themselves nowhere because they did not study neither English nor Amharic through which they could get jobs all over Ethiopia and beyond. Only Oromia has no places and jobs for its youth population but the crooked politicians narrowed and precluded the opportunities of the young population while sending their children and educating abroad.
In 2018, the TPLF lead coalition EPRDF, with the help of public uprisings from the Oromo and the Amhara, evolved and took control of the power by pushing TPLF aside. This new power shift put the Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO) on the lead. The chairman of OPDO, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, became the Prime Minister of the nation. Pursuant to this, the Premier tried to liberalize the whole system, including the release of political prisoners and return of those in exile.
The release and return of all kind of opposition parties was an opportunity for TPLF to pursue its hate politics and anti-Abiy and anti-Amhara narratives even when they are out of power, ambushed in Tigray region. The experienced covetous TPLF squad, in a secretive part tried not to leave any stone unmoved to ensure that the Abiy-led change is messed up and failed. The month of June every year is their omen month to make their utmost attempts. The first June, June 2018, they committed a failed attempt of assassinating Abiy Ahmed at a support rally that killed and wounded several supporters. Also, in July 2018, the chief Engineer of the Renaissance Dam, Engineer Simegnew Bekele, was shot dead in his own vehicle. In June 2019, the Amhara regional officials, including the president of the regional state Dr Ambachew Worku, were catastrophically killed. In June 2020 (July 6 which still was June in Ethiopian Calendar) the popular Oromo singer, Hachalu Hundessa, was shot dead.
Risking impartiality continued in the Oromo-led change, too. That is the worrisome and puzzling issue.
Every Ethiopian mourned by the death of Singer Hachalu Hundessa. We all have no difference on persecution of and trialing the killers of Hachalu. It was great and commendable that the justice system and security officers worked together and immediately caught and arrested the suspect killers of Artist Hachalu. Yet, the following victims whose killers we have no news of for two to three years deserve justice, too!
- The citizens who were killed in June 2018 at Maskal Square during a support rally for Premier Abiy.
- The then Chief Engineer of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Engineer Simegnew Bekele, who was found mysteriously shot dead in his own vehicle at Maskal Square on July 26, 2018.
3.1 Dr. Ambachew Mekonnen, Azeze Wasse who were raided in Bahir Dar while on official duty, on June 22/2019, and Migbaru Kebede who died two days after from his injury.
3,2 General Saere Mekonnen and General Gezai Abera who were killed in Addis Ababa on the same date as above.
3.3 General Asaminew Tsige who was killed on June 24, 2019 by the government security officers allegedly accused of orchestrating the killing of the Amhara officials and the Tigrian Generals.
- And the lives of hundreds of innocent citizens who were savagely slaughtered and burned by the Oromo move crowd in the aftermath of the death of the Oromo singer, Artist Hachalu Hundessa.
As I said it above, Hachalu is a national hero and he and his family need to be served justice and respect. A school and a street have been renamed in paying respect to him. A tree was planted and a statue in memory of Hachalu is promised by the deputy Mayor of Addis Ababa. All of that is good and well. Yet, the questions the current government officials need to answer are: how about those well educated, long-served national figures? How about the hundreds of innocent citizens who were made sacrifice lambs for the death of Artist Hachalu? Don’t the public need to know that justice has been served to these victims? Don’t the public ask that these national figure also deserve at least equal recognition as given to Hachalu? Is ethnic identity still the measure to pay tribute to people? Is recognition for individuals always given based on who is on power and on whether they relate to the people on power?
Justice needs to be fair and impartial. The ethnic-based partiality that existed for all the times I ever remember my whole life should end now. Our children should get the opportunity to think rationally and critically. The future of Ethiopia depends on our today’s children and our children are made who they will be by us today. We need to carefully nurture them and make sure that way they perceive Ethiopia and ‘Ethiopianness’ is one that integrates all, not disintegrate and segregate!
Peace, stability, and love to all Ethiopians and Ethiopia!