Updated on July 14,2016
Published July 13,2016
For more than twenty years now, the way the regime in Ethiopia survived is simply by sheer use of force and violent repression. Many cases could be cited as an example. Just a few months ago, a crackdown was mounted in the Oromo speaking parts of Ethiopia following peaceful protest against the proposed Addis Ababa Master Plan.After killing more than 400 Ethiopians (and this is confirmed by international Human Rights Organization), it was finally able to temporarily quell the movement.
Last week, the regime came into a collision course with residents of Lafto district of Addis Ababa when it arbitrarily and inhumanly evicted more than thirty thousand residents from their houses only to reduce them to homelessness. The subsequent development was ugly. Many on social media reported that at least ten police men and civilians were killed.
What the regime is doing today in Gonder – which is theoretically under the so called “Amhara regional state” – is not just eviction.It wants a portion of Gonder,Wolqait, be under Tigray regional state. In essence and practically, what the Tigray Regional State, with covert support from “Federal government,” doing is incorporating Wolqaite region into Tigray and imposing Tigre identity on people who are rather claiming Gonder identity.
Wolqait has been opposing TPLF’s move legally and peacefully while rejecting imposed Tigre identity firmly. A committee was assigned to settle the question in what was thought to be a peaceful process. Inability to twist committee members to make them accept the interest of Tigray People’s Liberation front- which is the governing party under the cover of EPRDF- apparently pushed Tigray government to the point of desperation. The result?
Barely two days after social media is blocked in Ethiopia with the pretext of national examination, TPLF government is Tigay ventured to abduct Wolqaite question committee members at the point of gun. The response was what TPLF didn’t expected. People in Wolqaite stood their ground and fought back.
Based on ESAT report, and they cited sources from Wolqait and Gondar, the confrontation with TPLF security forces left at least five policemen dead and five others wounded. Unknown number of civilians are also reported dead. Colonel Demeke Zewdu, one of the committee members on Wolqaite question, was surrounded in his residence and asked to surrender. Colonel Demeke defied and opted no to surrender. People in Gonder reportedly came to his defense. TPLF security forces reportedly killed civilians. And the situation is tense.
In the ensuing moments, there was attack on properties whose owners are affiliated with TPLF. Among other damages, a bus was burnt.
In theory, Tigray regional government security forces were not supposed to operating in Gonder without the knowledge and authorization of “Amhara regional government.”
ESAT sources indicate that president of the “Amhara regional state” ,Gedu Andargachew and other high ranking officials are under surveillance and their phone is reportedly hacked.
It does not seem like Tigray government could take wolqaite, which is part of Gondar historically, with ease. More security forces are deployed but it is not safe to say if escalating the tension is in the interest of TPLF.
Again, all that people Wolqaite are saying is that their identity is not Tigre and what the Tigray regional government wants is to make Wolqaite part of Tigray and the people Tigre. Purely an identity question which could not be permanently repressed by military venture.