Tigrai vs Kinijit


Introduction

  
Professor Donald Levine and I had several hours of conversation in the recent past. Levine stated that his goal was to interview Ethiopians of Tigrai origin, and how they feel about Kinijit (Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party - CUDP). The American sociologist whose acquaintance with Ethiopia starts from the mid-'50s said Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had encouraged him to be critical of his government. Using the new-found opportunity, Levine chose to interview Tigrians in a bid to find out the truth about the relations between Tigrai and Kinijit - the opposition party which has won the hearts and minds of millions of Ethiopians and yet faces "treason and genocide" charges from Meles Zenawi.

Given the sensitivity of the issue, Prof. Levine was also considerate about my safety and said I would go anonymous in his report so that I would be spared of a possible government retribution. I thanked him for the concern, but I declined the offer, saying I better be quoted by my real name so that I would be one authentic voice in Levine's would-be story: "How Tigrians Feel About Kinijit." Despite publishing a number of pieces on Ethiopian Review, nothing that remotely resembles my view appeared in the letters, let alone to quote me word by word. To fill the yawning gap, I've tried to write down what our minds went through during our lengthy conversation. It's fun. Prof. Levine also spiced up his English with Amharic expressions that could have raised the eye-brows of an Ethiopian debtera. It's the ABC of a political science like we have never heard of. Here we go with the first question:

“Erswo Ye-Tigrai tewelaj nott? (Are you a native of Tigrai??)”

"Yes, I'm."

Then, how do you take Meles's serious charges that Kinijit had sought genocide against the people of Tigrai?"

I feel insulted, of course. But the appropriate question should be does Meles seek genocide in Ethiopia, and the answer is yes. Meles inherently knows that he has no place in Ethiopia, and what he has adopted as a strategy to stay in power is to pit one ethnic group against the other, and the Tigrian group is one factor in the Meles equation of destroying Ethiopia by self-elimination. From the 1991 Arba Gugu massacres to the 2003 Gambella genocide, from the Awassa-Tepi massacres to the post-election killings in Addis Ababa, Meles is closely identified with mass murders. He was the first to introduce the dreadful terms of "Interhamwe and Rwanda genocide" into the national lexicon, along with his second-in-command Bereket Simon.

If these guys failed to throw the country into a full-fledged ethnic bloodbath, it is due to the strong national awareness - and hence resistance - on the part of the Ethiopian people. If the May 2005 election results were an indication of anything, they were a summation of Ethiopia's rejection to the Zenawi rule. Given the fact that CUD-Kinijit had emerged as a force to be reckoned with, the only option Meles considered as a means to hang onto power was to bring down Kinijit with fabricated charges of genocide. To try to employ "genocide" so as to stay in power may sound strange to a ferenji like you, but as they say, the devil is in the details.

Ethiopia vs CUD (Kinijit)

The Ethiopian people have found the leadership they have been looking for generations in Kinijit. The Kinijit leadership is a blend of seasoned politicians and heavyweight academics. Take a look at this constellation of stars: Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam or Prof. Yacob Haile-Mariam; Hailu Shawel or Hailu Araia, Birtukan Mideksa or Berhanu Nega, Befekadu Degefe or Gizachew Shiferaw. The Ethiopian people were truly looking for the day to savor the taste of Kinijit like a good wine that had mellowed over time. It is a rarity - in fact the first ever - in the history of Ethiopia that such a star-studded leadership has burst through a stifling TPLF environment and caught the limelight of international attention. As ordinary Ethiopians, we thought God has finally answered our prayers. The unprecedented over 90 percent voter turnout at the May 2005 polls was an Ethiopian way of celebrating the dawning of a new era of hope, peace, and prosperity on the one hand, and an opportune moment of bidding farewell to years of despair, war and social pestilence on the other. When the bells tolled for a regime change in Ethiopia, Meles stared defeat in the eye, and right on declared a state of emergency like the country had come under foreign attack. Meles had to either exit power peacefully, or continue to rule by raining death and destruction. He opted for the latter; and as a result, the "treason and genocide" charges became the political offshoots of his rule-by-terror strategies.

How does the Tigrian diaspora see Kinijit?

As opposed to the Tigrai people at home, Tigrians in the Ethiopian diaspora have mixed roles in the struggle being waged for democracy and justice. Crudely, there are three Tigrian groups: a) An organized group working for the Meles-Sebhat clique b) An organized group working to bring an end to the Meles/TPLF clique, and c) a silent majority which is often cowed into submission whenever the cadres summon a meeting of "all Tigrians."

Whether by combination of personal greed, excessive fear, lack of political insight, or being the long-time victims of the hate politics of TPLF, the majority of Tigrians in the Diaspora have practically remained aloof from the struggle we are waging to bring an end to a rule clearly detrimental to the emergence of Ethiopia as a stable, self-reliant, democratic nation governed by the rule of law.

When Meles and Bereket unleashed their Agazi soldiers and attacked the sovereignty of the Ethiopian people, when Ethiopian citizens were being hunted down like enemy solidiers in their own country, the small Meles-Sebhat clique in the Ethiopian diaspora quickly isolated the Tigrians from joining the rest of their own Ethiopian compatriots, who took to the streets of Western capitals, condemning the rise of fascism in Ethiopia. It is very sad and inexplicable why the majority of Tigrians turned into passive onlookers when their own fellow Ethiopians were being attacked by forces loyal to Meles. I wonder how those Tigrians who have distanced themselves from the national struggle of fellow Ethiopians could have felt when Shabia invaded Tigrai in 1998, and the call former Tigrai regional governor Gebru Asrat made for the rest of the Ethiopian people to join the war against the invaders had fallen on deaf ears! I wonder if our people - who rushed to save their country with their lives in the 1998-2000 War - deserved to be abandoned when the same people who sent their children to fight for what was practically Tigrai areas - came under a merciless attack by the Meles-Bereket gang.

If there is good news from Tigrians in the Ethiopian diaspora, it is from members of civic organizations like the one headed by the patriot and democrat, Dr. Giday Assefa, chairman of Tigrian International based in Frankfurt, Germany, as well as members of Solidarity Tigrai. Members of these Tigrian groups have long identified the TPLF regime as the worst enemy to the Ethiopian people and, whatever these members do, they do it to backup the home-based struggle to dislodge tyranny and build democracy.

With credit going to the Amharic Service of the Voice of America (VOA), who brought Dr. Giday Assefa into the limelight of Ethiopian public attention as opposed to the Tigrinya-language VOA Program (which looks shy to interview Tigrai opposition leaders and embarrass Meles or Bereket), Giday and his organization played an important role that the article published swiftly was a time-sensitive statement headlined - "Hizb Le-Hizb AyeFajimm!" (No To Civil War!) Widely circulated among Ethiopians worldwide, the Hizb LeHizb AyeFajjim was a news alert aimed at out-running Meles and foiling his planned genocide project.

Visibily angry at Meles that he has been 14 years in power and yet Ethiopia was on the brink of chaos, BBC HardTalk host Stephen Sackur was overwhelmed with disbelief when he told Meles: "

"The rich world wanted to believe that you, Meles Zenawi, one of the good guys in Africa, they believed you were doing your very best to deliver progress, reform, to your country. But one looks around the country today with an average life expectancy of 42, when millions and millions of people absolutely dependent on international food aid to avoid starvation, and when one does, after 14 years in power, what did you deliver for Ethiopia?... But you're also telling me that if things go wrong, as they might you said, this country could slip into anarchy like Rwanda. You said that to me. Does that suggest you've established a level of stability and confidence in the future that can sustain this country?"

Meles - "We are not out of the woods yet..."

How does the Tigrai region see Kinijit?

I believe the people of Tigrai look upto Kinijit leaders as democratically-elected leaders. This could be verified by what the Tigrai communities in Addis - notably Tekle-Haimanot and Cherkos districts - did at the 2005 polls. The 23-0 parliamentary knockout victory for Kinijit in Addis serves as a strong evidence that the two districts were unwavering in their support for Kinijit. After learning the shocking election results, the banner Meles undoubtedly read in his mind across the Tigrian communities in Addis was: "Your time's up; and hand over the power, please!" Tigrian communities in Addis are in other words a microcosm of the people in Tigrai region. The vote for Kinijit in Addis would have transpired likewise in Tigrai region.

That couldn't happen because of untold repression in the country. While Ethiopia is the largest prison on the African continent, Tigrai is one of the worst cells within that prison administration. To gloss over this fact, Meles projects himself as if he were the guardian of Tigrai, an act starkly opposed to the reality on the ground. All what Meles wants from Tigrai is to keep the region strictly as a breeding ground for Agazi. Those who have enslaved Tigrai are also top TPLF officials tied by intra-family marriages.

A great deal of political drama and psychological game have been played out over Tigrai so as other fellow Ethiopians would wrongly think Tigrai is synonymous with TPLF. For the record, all administrators of 38 districts in Tigrai region are drawn from the Sebhat Nega clan in Adua. This clan is in turn warned to be vigilant against Tigrai that may rise up against TPLF along with the rest of Ethiopia. On top of this, members of the inner TPLF circle are also privileged members of the mulit-billion-dollor Endowment for the Rehabilitation of Tigrai (EFFORT) , a chain of 43 companies making up the largest business oligarchy built on the stolen wealth of a starving Ethiopia.

Partial list of the Meles-Sebhat politico-business oligarchy

  1. Sebhat Nega - TPLF Politburo and CEO of the chain of multi-million-dollar businesses grouped under EFORT (EFFORT has never been audited to public)
  2. Tsegaye Berhe - TPLF politburo and Tigrai regional governor is brother-in-law of Sebhat Nega
  3. Kidusan Nega - TPLF CC member, mayor of Mekelle, wife of Tsegai Berhe (She is sister of Sebhat Nega)
  4. Aberash Nega - sister of Sebhat Nega who ran for Addis Ababa City Council. She did not win as all138 seats but one were swept by the popular CUD-Kinijit opposition party. Sebhat Nega had also tried fielding his two nephews for City Council seats in Addis.
  5. Mulugetta Alemseged - Cousin of Meles Zenawi, TPLF CC and secretary general of the National Intelligence (Securit) Council.
  6. Azeb Mesfin - wife of Meles Zenawi, CEO of Mega Publishing Company in Addis. Meles also brought her to Addis as member of parliament "elected" from Tigrai region.
  7. The sister of Arkebe Ekubai - TPLF politburo and former mayor of Addis - is the wife of Addis Alem Balema, who is TPLF CC and EFORT Depty CEO
  8. Berhane Gebre-Kiristos - TPLF CC and Meles Zenawi's most trusted ambassador (He was based in Washington, DC for over 12 years). Now ambassador to Brussels, Belgium.
  9. Nigisti Gebre-Kiristos - the wife of Arkebe Equbai and sister of Berhane Gebre-Kiristos
  10. Abai Woldu - TPLF Politburo and Chief of Rural Development
  11. Terfa Kidane Mariam - wife of Abai Woldu, TPLF CC and Chief of Justice and Security
  12. Mekonnen Abraha - Cousin of Abai Woldu is TPLF CC and Chief of Finance Bureau.
  13. Dr Haile Michael, TPLF CC and Director of the TPLF-run Civil Service College is cousin of Abai Tsehaye, TPLF politburo and Minister of Interior

The 43 companies controlled by Meles and Sebhat business oligarchy has never been audited for the public. Recently, the London-based The New Economics Foundation said deposits had risen noticeably over the past five years, with inflows from Cameroon up 516 per cent, from Ethiopia rising 103 per cent and Nigeria up by 47 per cent. Yes, Ethiopia outstripping even Nigeria in corruption! However, the No. 1 concern of the individuals listed above is to make sure the rest of Ethiopia sees the Tigrai people as beneficiaries and share holders in the stolen national wealth. Some of the following instances may illustrate the dirty tricks TPLF uses to implicate the ordinary Tigrians in their crimes - be they financial or political:

"We've destroyed their way of thinking..."...is apparently closely linked to Meles Zenawi's slip-of-the-tongue type of vilifications committed on national TV and Radio with intent to destroy the strong bond of unity that has been the hallmark of the Ethiopian people for centuries.

In his article, Common factors uniting the peoples of Ethiopia, Dr Fikre Tolossa disputes Meles Zenawi's misleading remarks:

"The Tigreans had Aksum, but what could that mean to the Gurage? The Agew had Lalibela, but what could that mean to the Oromo? The Gonderes had castles, but what could that mean to the Wolayita?"

In a beautiful narration that sails through the length of Ethiopian history, Dr. Fikre sums up:

"Aksum... was built by both Semitic and Hamitic Ethiopians. It is therefore the pride of all Ethiopians. To question what the Gurage have to do with Aksum is to deny their historical contributions and to attempt to deprive them of a pride they share with other Ethiopians. The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela were built predominantly by the Hamitic Agew as well as other Ethiopians including the Amhara and Tigre so that Christian Oromos and others would not go as far as Jerusalem for worship. For the Christian Oromo, Lalibela is their Jerusalem. For the non-Christian Kushitic or Hamitic Oromo, the churches of Lalibela are symbols of their pride, for they were envisaged and materialized by the Hamitic Emperor Lalibela. It is probably by realizing this among other reasons that the Hamitic Ahmed Grang who had destructed so many other churches previously, spared the churches of Lalibela from annihilation. Lalibela is the pride of all Ethiopians. To question whether the Oromo care for Lalibela is to suggest that the Oromo are foreigners."

Meles made the divisive remarks not out of context but in compliance with his policy aimed at destroying the bonds that have held Ethiopians together. His remarks are chosen carefully to weaken and eventually destroy our being as Ethiopians, in conformity with his We have also destroyed their way of thinking.

Maintaining a political upperhand over Tigrai remains crucial in the dangerous political game Meles pursues within and outside of Ethiopia. Unlike those opposition who gave up hope and abandoned Tigrai as a Meles stronghold, Kinijit has been very conscious of the hypocrisy of Meles over Tigrai. This awareness by Kinijit - an opposition party which became the envy of any other contenders - had scared the heck out of Mr. Meles. At their successive meetings, and counter to the negative campaign Meles was waging against Kinijit, officials of the CUD-Kinijit like Andargachew Tsige, Berhane Mewa, Prof. Mesfin, Engineer Hailu (at least meetings attended by this author) simply discarded as baseless the TPLF national anthem that Tigrai is the other side of the Meles/TPLF coin. Meles was - until the arrival of Kinijit - safe because his opponents who abandoned Tigrai as a TPLF stronghold were prescribing wrong solutions to the political maladies afflicting Ethiopia.

Beyond the Kinijit-TPLF tug-of-war, it is interesting to note Meles has been changing colors a zillion times to carry out his goals. For instance, after tying down rebel-time TPLF with a Stalinist policy that even cursing American Imperialism was a norm among senior TPLF officials - Mr. Meles was confiding in the former US President Jimmy Carter top-secret TPLF plans of attack to overthrow the Derg regime. This is a huge leap in any political undertaking: you have comrades blinded by a Marxist orthodoxy and the chief of the Marxist zealots reports daily to the United States. Despite the Albanian mask that covered the hideous goals of Meles Zenawi as an Enver Hoxha disciple, it is worth noting here how Meles was pouring the details to Mr Carter.

[In 1989 and 1990, Meles] would meet me at airports in Paris, Atlanta, and London when I came into the region, spread his war maps on the floor, and describe his progress against Mengistu's forces. After Meles prevailed in 1991 and despite my concerns about Eritrean leadership, he granted Eritrea complete independence in 1993, cutting Ethiopia off from the Red Sea and making it the most populous landlocked nation in the world. Source: The Carter Center

Despite warnings from a former US president about the damage a landlocked Ethiopia would cause for coming Ethiopian generations, Meles anyway went ahead and fulfilled his promise of inflicting the most serious damage on the sovereignty of Ethiopia ever. All evidences support the fact that Meles - who joined TPLF from Eritrea along with other Shabia rebels like Musse Kidane, Yemane Jamaica, was an alien to Ethiopia, that he was a conscious enemy who foresaw grabbing TPLF leadership an easy venture to intensify his Eritrean struggle from an Ethiopian soil. Given the TPLF leadership was in the hands of Adua natives Aregawi Berhe and Sebhat Nega - it eased the way for Meles to join TPLF than EPLF. With TPLF, Meles saw many opportunities, like surviving the TPLF war by working behind the war front as propaganda instructor (where he would manufacture many Eritreans out of Tigrian youths), and climb up the ladder of TPLF authority. On the other hand, if Meles had joined Eritrean rebel groups, his chances of joining even the central committee of Isaias Afwerki's group - leave alone to be able to control the leadership - would have been almost nil for the fact that Shabia was already 13 years in the business, and the seats were taken up by more experienced and older Eritrean rebels. As an Eritrean fighter, Meles Zenawi's best chance was to disappear into the sand dunes of the Sahel desert. It is with this in mind that the reference to Meles as a Tigrian ethnocentrist emerges as an illogical concept. Proving that he is not is key to prescribing the right solutions to the challenges Meles has posed to the survival of our country - Ethiopia. Since the term has been misused by some commentators, it is appropriate to answer the question: "Is Meles a Tigrian ethnocentrist?" Before proceeding further, what does ethnocentrism mean?

This term was coined by William Graham Sumner, a social evolutionist and professor of Political and Social Science at Yale University. He defined it as:

The viewpoint that “one’s own group is the center of everything,” against which all other groups are judged. Ethnocentrism often entails the belief that one's own race or ethnic group is the most important and/or that some or all aspects of its culture are superior to those of other groups. Within this ideology, individuals will judge other groups in relation to their own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with concern to language, behaviour, customs, and religion.

In political science and public relations, not only have academics used the concept to explain nationalism, but activists and politicians have used labels like ethnocentric and ethnocentrism to criticize national and ethnic groups as being unbearably selfish — or at best, culturally biased. (Wikipedia )

"The feeling that ones group...the Tigrian group...is superior over others."

If Meles had an iota of Tigrian ethnocentrism, then we could have seen a Meles who could have - contrary to his blasphemy - taken pride in Ethiopian history that goes back to the great Axumite Civilization - known for developing the ge-ez alphabet, for erecting monolithic obelisks of architectural wonder, minting gold, silver and bronze coins as hallmarks of one of the greatest civilizations on par excellence with the Romans, Persians, and Chinese. Instead, we have a Meles who disdainfully rejects the existence Ethiopia before the reign of the great Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II as recently as 100 years ago.

If Meles were a Tigrian ethnocentrist, we could have seen a Meles who has respect for Ethiopian norms and values, including to our national flag that he desecrated as a piece of rug. If Meles were a Tigrian ethnocentrist, then we could have seen a Meles who could have admired the heroic exploits of at least Ras Alula Abanega than a Meles who scoffed at Ethiopian emperors as wasteful warlords. If Meles were a genuine Woyane leader, he could have written at least one book about the First Woyane Peasant Uprising in Tigrai, but we have a Meles who "manufactured Eritrean fighters out of Tigrian youths," and published two books dedicated to Eritrean independence from what he called "Ethiopian colonialism." If Meles were a Tigrian ethnocentrist, he could have punished Shabia for the 1998 invasion of Ethiopia instead of a Meles who worked with the enemy, triviliazed the sacrifice of 70,000 Ethiopian soldiers, and finally passed to The Hague forged documents showing Ethiopian territories like Badme were inside Eritrea. Oh, no! A Tigrian ethnocentrist wouldn't do this unless our political mind has gone haywire. There is no wonder then when the civic organization known as Tigrai Solidarity condemned Meles Zeanwi a few years ago as a mercenary in control of state power in Ethiopia.

The word mercenary may not necessarily imply Meles working for Eritrean interests alone. He could be a mercenary for major powers as well, who would assist him survive public uprisings as long as he remains their watchman in the area. All the things the mercenary does are measured by their short- or long-term contributions towards his safe stay in power. For instance, Meles may employ Nigerian teachers at exorbitant wages but it doesn't mean he is concerned about the future of Ethiopian school children, who are being taught by disfranchised Ethiopian teachers anyway. The deal to bring in Nigerian instructors may have more to do with Meles Zenawi buying an important diplomatic influence from Lagos before a disaster he may have in mind strikes in, and catches the attention of global bodies like the UN. Likewise, the handing over of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway to a South African company for upgrade services also smacks of something aimed at winning the favor of the Pretoria government. It wouldn't be difficult to see the roles Nigeria and South Africa play over key African issues being decided at AU or UN meetings.

A Kinijit star rises over a fading Meles

Having lived for years smarting away from civic group condemnations contained in pess releases, Meles was stopped dead in his tracks when Kinijit came of age in 2005, and decided to bid him farewell into retirement. Meles was clearly terrified by the evolution of such a political force that spoke the language of peace and yet had the power stronger than all of his guns combined. The Meles who could easily sway the opinions of intellectuals at the push of a Tigrai-favoring statistical concoction was hit with a political paralysis when he came face to face with Kinijit. Given their political acumen and academic expertise, it is no wonder that Kinijit leaders like Engineer Hailu Shawel or Prof. Mesfin, Berhane Mewa or Andargachew Tsige hold identical views over the political situation in Tigrai as opposed to the wrong views that Tigrai is behind Meles/TPLF. Clarifying this point is very important if we want to deny Meles of any public support he wants to extract from Tigrai and extend his vicious rule. It is very important to identify the two: the people of Tigrai and the weapon of repression TPLF.

During his overseas visit to Seattle in 2005, for instance, the charismatic Ethiopian opposition leader Hailu Shawel told an audience of Ethiopians that he had no doubt Kinijit would have defeated Meles Zenawi's TPLF in Tigrai region despite Zenawi's rhetoric that TPLF is the party of the Tigrai people. Though admitting that Kinijit hadn't done its homework in Tigrai as it should have, Engineer Hailu nonetheless spoke to an applauding audience: "If the Tigrai people have had the freedom to choose between TPLF and Kinijit, I have no doubt Tigrai would have voted for Kinijit!"

Contrary to the misconceptions Meles has been spreading over the years, the Tigrai people in fact seek Meles - and all his TPLF accomplices - for crimes that have largely remained concealed to the Ethiopian public. Therefore, Tigrai's overwhelming vote for Kinijit in Addis was never a spontaneous act, nor a political act separated from what Tigrians have been harboring against the so-called "TPLF"." A Tigrai voting for Kinijit vis-à-vis Mr Zenawi charging Kinijit with genocide against Tigrai are absolutely two incompatible concepts.

The Question To Levine

Prof. Levine, if I may have to ask you one question, you know there are Ethiopians of Tigrai origin even in the leadership positions of Kinijit. I hope you know at least the distinguished scholar and playwright, Dr. Hailu Araia. Did you ask Meles why are Tigrians then rooting for Kinijit.

Yes, exactly. I asked him why Kinijit has Tigrians, and why Tigrian residents in Addis overwhelmingly voted for Kinijit if the latter were out to exterminate them. He said why are you surprised? There were Jews serving even the Nazis!

When I heard that, honestly, that churned my stomach.

I wouldn't be surprised. Meles has scary intentions for our country. When he sees things in terms of Jews and the Nazis, in terms of Auschwitz and the Holocaust, Interhamwe and Rwanda - clearly we Ethiopians have the most formidable enemy that we have to deal with for our survival. His disciples echo the same dreadful sentiments as well. When Bereket Simon - the former Information Minister - told a BBC journalist that Rwanda would be a child's play as compared to what was threatening to erupt in Ethiopia, he had reasons. Both Meles and Bereket were saving themsevles from future indictments that they had warned the world about an impending disaster in Ethiopia but no one listened. I'm glad you have been talking about this issue with other Tigrians as well. And I'm confident that they may have addressed TPLF as the Khmer Rouge of Tigrai, and that Tigrai was the killing field of mass murderers, and Meles Zenawi was the Eritrean Pol Pot of Ethiopia.

Yes, exactly. In fact, you sound like one of the guys who referred to Meles/TPLF as the Khmer Rouge and Tigrai as their killing fields. But why is Meles the Eritrean? Is it because of having an Eritrean mom?

An Eritrean mom? That is another stereotype that Meles and his cadres deliberately feed the unsuspecting mind of a ferenji so as to taint his opponents with racism.

Meles is unwanted in Ethiopia because he is a ruthless tyrant, and not because he had an Eritrean mom. That poor mom of his had no impact on Ethiopian political life whatsoever. Just for the record, Meles was born and raised in Eritrea, and not in Adua, in northern Ethiopia, as it is widely understood among Ethiopians.

Throughout the two-year-old war with Eritrea, Meles was churning out anti-Asmara press releases from Addis Ababa but was firmly behind Eritrea against Ethiopia. If Meles is still in power, it is because his former TPLF comrades - who accused him of "treason as an Eritrean mercenary" - did not want to go beyond offending him verbally. So it is not having an Eritrean mom but Meles Zenawi's mercenary role to promote Eritrean interests - among other things - that has placed him on a head-on collision with the rest of Ethiopia.

Here it should be noted that there is nothing wrong by Eritreans developing their country. In fact, the Ethiopian people would like to see an Eritrea emerging from the ashes of war and famine into the status of a food self-suffient and stable society. We believe conscientious Eritreans wish Ethiopia likewise. A crime surfaces when someone who claims to be an Ethiopian leader fights for Eritrea at the cost of Ethiopia. When Meles poses as a Tigrai defender and shamelessly talks about a Kinijit trying to wipe out Tigrai, it is his two-pronged attack to destroy Tigrai, which sees Kinijit as the granite pillar of Ethiopian survival.

What runs counter to the above point is Levine's misleading note:

"... In June, the sale of machetes surged in Addis and elsewhere; Tigrayan students in campuses in Addis, Alemaya, and Awassa were armed and reportedly trained to defend themselves."
The above line may have originally come from the mouth of the horse... from Mr. Zenawi himself. It is in harmony with the genocidal policies of Mr. Meles, and his morbid intentions to throw the Tigrai people into his Rwanda equation.Why should Tigrian students on campus - knowing that their own folks have voted for Kinijit - resort to buying machetes to defend themselves? Those "Tigrian students" who got mad at Kinijit must be what Prof. Levine may not know but we know as the disguised Meles Zenawi agents who stay on each campus as "students from Tigrai."

However, I would like to stress about the one striking point in your writing, and that is how Meles dared to accuse great Ethiopians like Prof. Mesfin of genocide. You wrote:

“Of the many strange elements in the current trial of political prisoners and journalists, the charge of genocide seems the most peculiar of all. Consider, for example, the idea of launching such a charge against Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam - the man who, of all Ethiopians I know, owns the clearest lifelong record of standing for nonviolence. What is one to make of that?”

"What is one to make of that?"

You are not the only one asking that question. Many lawyers, commentators, academics, human rights activists, parliamentarians, congress men and women, have asked the same question and dismissed it as ridiculous, and demanded the strong man to release the jailed leaders and other political prisoners immediately and without any preconditions. Prominent from such class of honest men and women are Ana Gomez of the European Parliament and Rep. Chris Smith of the United States Congress.Of course, there are exceptions as well, and they could be former ambassadors, or lawyers or academics who share "special interests" with the Ethiopian leader.

The question now to you is: "Could we count on you as one solid voice who would fight for the release of at least Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam?"

"Of course, what do you think I have been doing the last six months?" asked Levine in an angry, raised voice. "When every one was hiding themselves in the Diaspora, I was the only one who travelled to Addis, and yelled at Meles for one solid hour. TenayisTiligne! (Goodbye!)."


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Abraha Belai is editor and founder of Ethiomedia.com, and can be reached at editor@ethiomedia.com.


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