“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.” –Primo Levi
By Alem Mamo
Hate, whether it is at the individual or group level, is a serious and debilitating illness. First it consumes the carrier’s emotional, psychological and spiritual being before it is peddled into the ‘other’. The notion of the ‘other’ is the primary root of this dangerous and destructive illness. Through deliberate and systemic construction of fictitious narratives, the ‘other’ is portrayed as a monster, devilish, and in an extreme case sub-human. During the Rwandan genocide Hutu extremist radio stations described Tutsi’s as ‘cockroaches,’ and ‘it’ should be exterminated. The radio station declared, “you have to kill the Tutsi; they are cockroaches.” This hateful and monstrous narrative wasn’t built overnight. It was carefully and meticulously laid brick by brick and spewed with a tone of viciousness for decades.
In Ethiopia, the dehumanization of the other is incorporated into the official and unofficial policies and narratives of the TPLF.
It is not surprising that the TPLF has a long list of ‘others’ which it hates and identifies as ‘enemies’ who the group believes must be eliminated: the Agaw, Amhara, Gambella, Oromo, Konso, Ogaden, Wolqaiet, Raya, pro-democracy activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and the list goes on. At the top of its hate and hit list, however, is the Amhara people. The TPLF’s hate for the Amhara people is deeply entrenched and viscous. The group’s history, political program, and narrative is carved out of Amhara hate and Amhara dehumanization. During the guerilla years it’s fighters sang anti-Amhara songs, and the cadres psyche up the foot soldiers by spewing anti-Amhara hate stories. As such the group launched a calculated political, military, social, and economic campaign against the Amhara, including the annexation and occupation of Amhara fertile land incorporating it into Tigray territory.
As the TPLF began to consolidate power at a national level, various groups began to question its character, policy, and legitimacy. At the same time the group’s hate list also grew rapidly. Today, it is engaged in a large scale military operation against the entire population in four corners of the country. Promising young men and women are murdered by the regime’s snipers in broad daylight. Villages are burnt, peaceful protestors are summarily executed, prisons are filled with any one who dares to question the group’s legitimacy. People are being killed by forces loyal to the regime for no other crime than belonging to a particular ethnic group. When one’s identity becomes the prime justification and rationale for being killed, it is no longer just unlawful killing. It is a precursor to genocide, a violation of international law.
During the Trojan War (in Greek mythology) the Amazonian queen, Penthesilea, was killed by the Greek hero, Achilles. After killing her he removes her helmet and sees her face and instantly falls in love with her corpse. The solider Thersites who witnessed Achilles killing Penthesilea and his romantic reaction accused him of necrophilia to which Achilles responded by killing Thersites. Necrophilia is pathological romance with death. It is the dark emotional and psychological whole in which love is replaced with death. The TPLF has been dancing with death and destruction for a very long time. It embraces everything that is contrary to love, life and human decency. It is this disturbing and twisted nature of the group which makes a political solution to the country’s problems more difficult.
The demagogues, after preaching hate and division for more than quarter of a century now, are evoking dark and painful memories of human suffering. Two of the highest priests of hate, Seyoum Mesfin, TPLF’s Ambassador to People’s Republic of China, and Abaye Tsehaye with a rotating official and unofficial title, painted a bleak scenario relative to the Rwandan Genocide and the Shoah, the extermination of six million Jews by the Nazi’s. Their audacity to lie is breathtaking. It is an open secret that the current political, economic, and social woes of the country have their roots in the belligerence and violent behaviour of the group itself. Instead of looking deep into their own soul, they once again resort to their hateful rhetoric and denial. There is an Egyptian joke related to the recent Revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak. In this joke the archangel of death appears before Mubarak and tells him to bid farewell to the Egyptian people. Mubarak asks, “Why, where are they going?”
At these challenging and trying times Ethiopia desperately needs wise and even-tempered leadership. The country is at the edge of the abyss. It is the thoughtfulness and enlightened quality of the Ethiopian people that has kept relative peace in the country, so far. If it was left to the TPLF’s hate peddling and campaign of division, this ancient and proud nation would have descended into a catastrophic chaos. It is imperative that this culture of coexistence, mutual respect, peace, and harmony must continue, in spite of TPLF’s divisive and hateful policy.
The ethnic hegemony that the TPLF has imposed on the Ethiopian people for the last twenty-five years is unravelling. At the same time, the unwavering commitment of the people to establish a free, democratic, and just political order in the country is being pronounced daily in city streets, towns, and villages. While the demand of the people remains the building of a democratic society, the TPLF’s hate mongers are still resorting to their old and tired mantra of ‘revolutionary democracy’. Authoritarian demagogues, wherever they are, whatever culture they come from, are all cut from the same cloth. They don’t see what is coming. They don’t distinguish the difference between military might and people power. There is no a page in the history book that confirms people’s uprising being quashed with military might forever. In the end, it never stops the forces of freedom, truth and justice from their triumphant march.