[This is a complete English language translation of the interview of General Tsadekan Gebretensae, a member of the central command of the Tigray Defense Forces with Dimtsi Weyane journalist Damora Yahya. This translation and the subtitled video was made by the following group of Tghat volunteers on Twitter: @Hintsaweezy @TsenatSaba @yaredinho_r9 @MimiLalim @MearegG3 @Mattewos88 @Yohannes_T_M @asadi_selam]
A video of the interview with English language subtitles is included at the end.
Damora Yahya: Greetings Dimtsi Weyane Tigray audience, today we have for you, one of the children of Tigray who joined Tigray’s fight against the fascists and invading forces. This freedom fighter is a member of the Central Command and is serving Tigray with his impeccable leadership. The Central Command is under the government of Tigray and was set up to lead the people’s fight against the invaders. The guest I have for you now is fighting as a member of the leadership of the Central Command. My guest’s name is Tegadalay [freedom fighter] General Tsadekan Gebretensae.
General Tsadekan Gebretensae has joined us in today’s Dimtsi Woyane Tigray session to answer questions in relation to the fight going on all over Tigray against the fascist and invading forces, the progressive strength of Tigray forces’ to get to its current state, and other related topics. Thank you for joining us Tegadalay General Tsadeqan Geberetensae, we hope you will be able to give us detailed answers and explanations for our questions.
To start off my questions, how did the current war start? It is known you were working on some things in Addis Ababa. Could it have been stopped? What was happening in Addis Ababa? What efforts were you making with the government? How did it start, could it have been prevented?
General Tsadekan Gebretensae: If the question is whether the war could have been prevented and/or was it necessary, it was not necessary and it should have been avoided. All of this loss inflicted on the people and what is happening at the country level should not have happened. In the case of – ‘was it possible to avert it?’ It wasn’t possible to avert it because war is not fought by one party alone nor can it be stopped only by one side. Early on, the forces that declared war were preparing to impose their demands by force, and regardless of what efforts were made, there was no chance of stopping them.
This war is being waged by the government of Isaias and the Amhara elites. It is a war that is being waged by the combined forces of the Amhara elites together with Isaias and with the support they were able to mobilize from the outside world. They started the war when they were convinced they were well prepared with full power to subjugate the people of Tigray.
What does this mean? When Amhara elites realized that the century-old unitary system started by Emperor Menelik II was diminishing with the establishment of multinational federalism by EPRDF, they made repeated attempts to consolidate their power and stop it. Later on, they finally felt they found someone to act on their agenda.
Abiy Ahmed, from the Oromo people, was encouraged by the Amhara elites to gain power by staying within the EPRDF. As they admitted, Andargachew Tsige and Berhanu Nega connected Abiy with Isaias, whom they have been conspiring with to topple the federal structure, and informed him of the different efforts they have been engaged in. This is an open secret. In Abiy Ahmed they found a good executor and through him, they started working to dismantle the ethinic federalism system established in Ethiopia.
In the case of Isaias, he held resentment and hatred because he didn’t like the ending of the war he started 20, 21, or 22 years ago. In fact, when the war started 21/22 years ago, the Eritrean government started with the wrong policy. After the beginning of the Eritrean state, founded on the Eritrean people’s struggle, a group of scholars led by Isaias’ government decided to base the country’s growth not on resources from within the country but from outside sources. Ethiopia became a major executing ground for this. Even before the war, there were groups exploiting Ethiopia in different ways. They exchanged foreign currency and took it, bought gold from Ethiopia, and sold it in their country, Ethiopian banks were serving a foreign company called the Red Sea company.
Not only that, they took actions that they desired against the government from within and they killed individuals. When kidnappings intensified, we strongly opposed them. The army they had was established for a long time and we had a problem because we had dispersed or sent the Tigrayan forces home to build an inclusive Ethiopian army from Amhara, Oromo, and other ethnic groups.
We had a very small army, theirs was 3 times bigger than ours. With this in mind, they thought they could overwhelm, defeat, and silence us. They planned to easily implement their policy of emptying Ethiopia’s economy from within us. The war didn’t play out according to their plan. They failed to materialize their aim of digging into Ethiopia’s economy. They were shortsighted, not able to see the long road ahead. We strengthened our military capacity while in the middle of the war and changed the situation. After this, Eritrea lost its significant military power. And as history indicates, Ethiopia also lost so much. The war ended in the manner that we all know. That [Eritrea’s loss] birthed a grudge.
Not only that, but during 20+ years afterward, there has been extensive propaganda all over Eritrea that said Woyane [TPLF] is responsible for Eritrea’s poverty, unemployment, and for all shortcomings in the country. Instead of examining their policies and trying to work to right their wrongs, they have been externalizing their own problems. Eritrea has consistently worked on political hatred [against Tigray]. As a result, the relationship between the two people [Eritreans and Tigrayans] got worse. While this was unfolding, Isaias and his followers were waiting for the right time to take revenge they had this [ጊናይ] short-sighted thinking; a thinking that didn’t see the long road ahead, thinking that didn’t consider how to strengthen the relationship of the two people.
During the first war, they waged the war relying on their 150K soldiers, their 6 rounds of Sawa [Eritrea’s military training center] graduates, and the fact that Tigray’s military force was disbanded at the time. They thought they could overwhelm and silence us. That was short-sighted and something that didn’t look ahead.
They have been preparing for revenge for the previous war that they waged [and lost]. When Abiy Ahmed got to power, he made them believe the time was theirs. They got united. They started working with Amhara elites to destroy the Tigrayan political beliefs and leadership; the multinational federalism beliefs that the Amhara elites see as their primary enemy and the leadership that defeated the military of Isaias and his followers.
In all of this, they had foreign agents as well. Isaias has been brokering with foreign agents. He has been telling the Arab countries that “you already got the Eastern Red Sea, I will confer you the western part of the Red Sea.” He has been promising to confer the western part of the red sea route to Arab countries, which has an economic value of about $1 trillion in a year. To achieve this, which does not consider the interests of the Afar nation (a society that is small in number and loosely coupled with unitary Eritrea in political beliefs) located beneath Massawa, the Ethiopian government had to come into the equation. As a result of Isaias’ long time brokering to help Arabs gain control of the entire trade route along the red sea, while also executing Amhara interests, and bringing Ethiopia into the equation, Isaias connected Abiy Ahmed with the Arabs. For a while before that, Isaias had an agreement with the Arabs for them to use the Assab port for their military and nonmilitary purposes. And to further gain the attention of the Amhara elite, they started circulating a promise to establish a Navy base [in Eritrea] with an idea to have one great Ethiopia. The purpose of this navy base is mainly to help the Arab trade along the Red Sea and guard essential areas on the Red Sea.
By offering such appealing reasons to the Amhara’s elites and having made sure of technical support from the Arabs – all three started preparing and conspiring in an organized manner for a long time. They then started the war when they thought they were ready. We [Tigrayans] have been discussing with concerned prominent politicians to resolve this in a peaceful way and I, myself, took part in it. The essence of this movement was to make sure the constitution of multinational federalism was respected and to address other issues through discussion.
On the Tigrayan side, there was no opposition to this movement but instead, I have received support. In Addis Ababa, I met with Abiy Ahmed, along with other, three times and discussed this issue but it became obvious he had no intention to resolve this peacefully. Especially at the end, I raised my point that he’s fighting with the Tigrayan people and that it will lead the country to a dangerous position if he doesn’t settle this peacefully. At the end, he raised an idea about the interviews I gave on different occasions.
In the interviews, I stated the people of Tigray have enormous advantages. First, the people of Tigray are homogeneous which means there isn’t ideological polarity, and also live cohesively and this is a big asset. Secondly, you can call Tigrayans a political community. They don’t form their political beliefs by listening to any political parties and other influences. Instead, they use their political knowledge and judgment to come to a conclusion by themselves. Thirdly, they [Tigrayans] have a deep military tradition and have sacrificed a lot in the war to free themselves from oppression in the past. This is not only during the guerilla fight but also evidenced historically.
Abiy Ahmed Ali asked me, “do you mean this or do you just say it for political consumption?”
I then replied, “I do not speak for political consumption but because I believe it.”
Abiy then said, “don’t be mistaken. There is no society that will not be subjugated by force and money. The same goes for the people of Tigray too.”
Then I told him, “if this is what you believe in, if this is the policy you follow then you are wrong.”
At last, he told me “do not worry too much about the people of Tigray. Do not lose sleep over the people of Tigray, we will solve it some way.” At this point things were clear. In the midst of this, the death of Oromo artist Hachalu Hundessa happened. The chances of resolving things in Ethiopian politics, with dialogue and achieving peace started to visibly narrow and the inevitability of the use of force increased. After this, I came to Mekelle.
The current war on Tigray is a war on the people of Tigray. The people of Tigray have their own long history of identity, victories, and rebellion to ensure one’s rights. In addition, the people of Tigray paid a huge price and fought to create a multi-federal system which was denied. Thus, the people of Tigray were seen as the only obstacle to move forward in creating a unitary system in Ethiopia – to gain the benefits from the alliance between Isaias and Amhara elites and brokering with Arab countries. Therefore, the war on Tigray is not due to Woyane but because of its political ideology rooted in the Tigrayan’s identity.
Tigrayan Muslims and Christians have a long history of tolerance among each other. They both live in peace and harmony. It is quite different from the culture and beliefs in the Middle East. On top of this, as I mentioned before, there is a long history of Tigrayans revolting against subjugation, standing up for one’s rights, and victories in doing so. Therefore, they know they can not implement policy change and establish unitary government ideology in which a central government dictates to the people as they wish unless they oppress and rob Tigrayan identity, eradicate the people, and revoke multinational federalism.
In order to do this, they started the war using all their resources as a result of the intention of the Amhara elite’s intentions to reverse the established system and Isaias’ grievances about the previous war he started himself and his subsequent blaming of Tigrayans for the problems (starvation, migration, and other problems) of Eritrea and the deeply rooted view that Woyane is the reason behind the shortcoming of Eritrean policies and the failure of their initial economic plan to grow by leaching on outside sources.
Therefore, Isaias and his collaborator’s idea lined up with Amhara elites, and to implement this they also got support from Arab countries and hence they started the war. Therefore, unless we, Tigrayans, change our identity, culture, and mentality, this war on Tigray wouldn’t have been averted. This war is not about the Woyane, TPLF, or any other body. This war is mainly due to the identity and ideology and way of life most Tigrayans adhere to. The war is not sudden. So, the invaders believe in the subjugation and marginalization of the people of Tigray.
Damora Yahya: Dear DW Tigray viewers, you are watching the interview with General Tsadekan Gebretensae; a member of the central command which was set up by the Government of Tigray to lead the war. Continuing with our questions; you have explained how the war started and its historical background. Now it has been a few months since, as a person who has been personally following the war, how do you see the development of this war and how do you explain the current state of it.
General Tsadekan Gebretensae: As I have stated before, this war was started by our enemies who have been preparing for a long time by gathering all their strength and made a pact amongst themselves. Now they are attempting to present it as a retaliation for the “attack” on the North Command; this is just a fairy tale. In the entire process, the Government of Tigray had around 22 battalions of “special forces” which were around 10K troops.
Secondly, there were thousands of militias who were dispersed in their own homes and not ready to carry out a conventional war to fight and stop the enemy. There was not sufficient readiness. There were clear indicators that the Government of Tigray started to take note of the developments. A clear indication was the establishment of the new North-Western Command. This command would include the western part of Tigray such as Humera and Welkait and some of its military units to fit with the political arrangements of Amhara elites who claim Humera and Welkait as their own.
Following this, it was decided to remove 6-7 Generals from the command center in Tigray and replace them with new ones. When this was being carried out, the Government of Tigray expressed its objections and stopped this change. Some divisions of the North Command have been moved to the western part and some divisions including commandos have been moved from Gonder in the direction of Beaker and Humera. In Woldia and Kobo, there were several divisions that had been mobilized and getting ready for war.
While this was happening, the only option of the Government of Tigray was to use its smaller force to take control over the North Command which was large in numbers and capacity in just a very short period of time. It doesn’t seem like that the enemies expected this and it caused shock. If they were forces seeking peace, other ideas could have been brought up. While securing/controlling the NC, they immediately started the war which they had already prepared for.
For instance, when the war against the 5th mechanized division was being carried out in Beaker, the 33 division which came from Addis Ababa and special commands were already nearby and took part in the war. At this very moment, the Eritrean forces started shelling Humera from the town of Omhajer. The option that the Government of Tigray had was to either wait for the NC to attack from within Tigray – in tandem with those on the outside – and disband the government within a few days or to create conditions so as to prevent this from happening. The Ethiopian government tries to use this as an excuse for the war but it is a fallacy.
Regardless, the war continued, and it was a war between 2 forces that were not evenly matched in power. The special forces of Tigray, which were few in numbers, not only took over the NC but also immediately engaged in a very difficult war all over Tigray. On the western front, there was the Ethiopian [PP] army heading from Humera, from Bademe there was a huge Eritrean army including several divisions, from Zalambessa there was another huge army heading to the central part. Out of four Shabia [Eritrean] commands, three took part in the war.
On the southern front, the PP army advanced to Raya with its full force. For one month there was a huge effort and a lot of damage was caused. One thing that has to be clear is when the intensity of the war increased, and the casualties of the enemy piled up something happened that fundamentally changed the dynamics of the war. And that’s the unmanned drones that came from Arab countries which started to target the arms that we took over from the North Command. Within this period the unmanned drones carried out a continuous attack on our tanks, howitzer, ammunition, petrol, and other logistics destroying everything. This forced the destruction of the defense system that had frustrated Shabia.
After the destruction by the drones, the tough force that shook the Shabia at the Adi Gozomo [North Western Tigray] front was broken. At the time the command at the Raya front was preparing to transition to offensive but the power balance completely shifted because the drones totally destroyed the mechanized brigade in one night. This wasn’t the only reason. The psychological effect of the involvement of unexpected parties in the war was not an easy thing as well. Such an imbalanced situation with Amhara special forces fano, over 30 Eritrean divisions out of the 40, 12 Ethiopian divisions, and 20/22 Ethiopian special forces resulted in an unanticipated loss and it appeared as though the first chapter ended in their victory.
Following this, however, the people of Tigray were determined and started joining the force. Thousands of youth wanted to take up arms. The colonels, generals, and military officials that have impeccable military skills and abilities started forming groups with people in different areas en masse. Then the Tigray Defence Force expanded exponentially in different areas of Tigray. When some advancements began to happen, thousands of youth that were really angered by the atrocities committed by the Prosperity Party and Eritrea started to come to stations of recruitment, took arms and began making advances in the war.
When they realized this, the enemies started to mobilize to end the war within a short amount of time, especially Shabia. As a result, Eritrea began to strategize for the complete defeat of Woyane and organized the forces that were returning thinking the war concluded after the first chapter. Meaning they started to conduct assessment and encirclement with the intention to first conceal the war within Tigray and second end it in a short time.
At the same time as conducting this assessment, they were committing an immeasurable amount of atrocities on the people. They massacred people and raped women indiscriminately because they weren’t killing based on specific criteria. In Naeder Adet, [Central Tigray] 7 or 8 priests were massacred on church grounds. A similar thing happened in different areas. The elderly and children were massacred and women were raped. These violations angered the people even more. It wasn’t only the factories that were dismantled and looted, but farmers were looted and terrorized. The things they could not take, they ruined by adding water to the flour, mixing grains. There isn’t an atrocity they haven’t committed.
These heinous crimes angered the people and made it clear they have no choice left but to fight for their freedom. As I indicated earlier, the generals and colonels shortly started mobilizing and making progress not only because they had a group of angered youth that wanted to fight for their land day and night but also due to their impeccable reputation and achievements. Thus, they not only overcame the several Shabia divisions that were encircling but also dispersed them to the point they did not have any outcome with their encircling. This resulted in the Tigrayan forces coming out more advanced and strengthened.
During the progress of the war, the Prosperity Party’s force became really weak. This is for several reasons. The Northern Command was the strongest force in Ethiopia. Possibly, 75-85% of Ethiopia’s military equipment was stationed here. Most of the strength and centralization were also within the Northern Command. The materials that were not destroyed by UAE drones during the first operation were looted by Shabia leaving Ethiopia with little to no role to play. Later on, the small military groups and officers that were believed to have the capacity to lead were lost, many passed away, after being spared at the fight on the Raya front.
The loss that occurred there was heavy and after that, they detained 15-17 thousand Tigrayan officers as one of their political moves. These three things added up and really weakened the Ethiopian army to the point that its ability to regroup and defend against foreign forces has reached a questionable level. As a result, this war is being led by Shabia. Even if there are Ethiopian materials, they are utilized according to the plan Shabia set up. Also, the Ethiopian generals act according to the Shabia general’s plan. They act as extras and they work according to the instructions and orders of Shabia. Now in the war, the Shabia military is attempting to counter the resistance from the people of Tigray. The fight of the Tigrayan people has been overcoming these attempts and coming out stronger. It has reached a point that it is causing them great loss.
The struggle of the Tigrayan people has created many brigades. The Shabia brigades which have been constructed for many years and were known as [ጎብለል] of Africa are being dismantled by the Tigrayan brigades which were constructed only in the past three or four months. The Tigrayan army is not only dismantling Prosperity Party brigades but also Shabia brigades. This has great significance. It is an indication of our coming victory. Victory in the struggle of the Tigrayan people is certain because we are fighting for justice and equality and for the rights, we enshrined through our previous struggle.
We are fighting for our right to self-determination and self-rule in our own land. This is enshrined in the constitution, and we are saying our constitutional rights should be respected. The Shabia soldiers have created an alliance with the Amhara people who committed crimes on them years ago. Now they have formed an alliance and with advice of the likes of Andargachew Tsige and the government in Addis which represents the interests of the Amhara elite they are waging a war on us to prepare us for subjugation by the Amhara.
They have no justice and no purpose. It is just a matter of time, but the Tigrayan people’s struggle has justice and a clear purpose, the Tigrayan people do not have any other choice, the only choice we have is to win this struggle if our rights are going to be respected so, their defeat is certain. And we can clearly see that their defeat is nearing. The Tigrayan People’s struggle created brigades and cores in 3 or 4 months and in the near future, these brigades and cores will be transformed into effectiveness in the near future. We have recognized some gaps that we need to fill – we know – and we are working on them.
Once we work on these, not only are we going to dismantle Shabia brigades, but we will eliminate them. Once we start eliminating these brigades, our victory will be nearer. So, at what stage is the struggle? At one point, they had caused us to hit rock bottom. They had declared we were annihilated. They even celebrated at the Sheraton Hotel saying it was over. It was said you cannot reconstitute flour that has blown into the wind. But because of the People of Tigray, the military officials of Tigray, the well-known colonels and generals of Tigray, the outstanding cadres of Tigray, and because of all these interconnected groups, in a short time, we have been able to create brigades and we are now in a position where we can dismantle enemy brigades.
Now even Shabia knows that you cannot snuff out the Tigrayan people’s struggle by rounding up and eliminating their leaders. Isaias and his followers know. What is left to them now is to prepare themselves for their eventual defeat. So, this is the stage we are at.
Damora Yahya: You’ve elaborated well on the status of the Tigrayan People’s struggle right now. How do you think this war that we are in as a people – a war we are in to rid ourselves of fascists and invaders – how do you think it will end? What are your thoughts?
General Tsadekan Gebretensae: As I have described, this is a war between Isaias’ invading army and the people of Tigray. Isaias is in this war to prepare the Tigrayan people for subjugation by the Amhara, as agreed to with Abiy Ahmed. When we bring up the topic of how it is going to end – naturally, answering how the war between Isaias’ invading army and the Tigrayan people’s resistance army is going to end is the main point. In this plan, as mentioned previously, the purpose of the Ethiopian army is really just to buttress the Shabia plan. So, how is it going to end – there are two choices. Until now, Isaias’ army has tried to finish the war in a short time in Tigray by eliminating the leadership.
They could not achieve this. It was foiled. Not only was it impeded, but their brigades were dismantled in the process and it has put them in a difficult situation. So, there are two choices now. One choice is for them to leave, to go back to their country – to get out of Ethiopia, to get out of Tigray – and, maybe, in doing so, buy themselves time. After that, it will be up to the Eritrean people. So, this is one choice. The second choice – if they insist on staying in Tigray to finish the war – if they continue this way, they will hasten their end.
Their death will come sooner. At what speed? It is clear where we are now after having hit rock bottom. From now on, after fixing the gaps we have identified, we know what capacity we will attain. It is just a matter of time, but the Eritrean army will certainly be ousted from Tigray in defeat. And the main reason for that is because we are fighting for justice, for our rights, and for our land and they are fighting as representatives of the Amhara elite so they can prepare us for subjugation by the Amhara elite. They [Eritrean troops] are committing crimes on us on behalf of Amhara. It is unheard of. It’s unthought of. The people of Tigray that fought in the Sahel [Eritrea] with them for years, the people of Tigray that stood with Eritrea when its independence was questioned by the international community, the people of Tigray that had to bear the political problems for the last 20 something years [and] supported the independence of Eritrea. Saying we will administer you with Amharas and we will kill you with Amharas is unthought of. But this is their mentality. Their mentality is short-sighted. They are fighting with that kind of mentality.
They have been losing with the way they are going. And now following that, their total defeat is inevitable. Therefore, Isaias and his followers have two choices. Either getting out of Tigray and prolonging their lives or staying in Tigray, fight and shorten their lives. These are their choices. Besides that, they got in [Tigray] hastily. Leaving like that is not going to be easy. They started the war by arranging it in the way they wanted it to be. The way it is going to end is not going to be the way they want it to be. Eritrean troops have a choice. While they are here, if they say they will fight with the opposition group of Eritrea, that is their choice. Becoming Isaias’s slave is not a must.
If they want to go to their country, it is their choice. They can go to their country. If they say “No, we want to go out”, the Tigrayan government had [already] made a statement. The people of Tigray, Tigray Defense Force will accept them and send them to any country that they would like to go to. If they want to leave all [those choices] and say “We want to make Isaias’ and his followers’ life longer and fight”, they have chosen death. They will be waiting for their death.
These are their choices. So how is it going to end? There is no doubt that the victory is for the people of Tigray. But looking into the victory because the main player is the Eritrean force. After leaving the country, the problems, atrocities, and abuses that are being committed on the people could be shortened. They may extend their time a little bit if they say “No. We will continue [doing] what we were [doing]”, but the speed we are going it won’t be long before we shorten their time.
That is regarding how it is going to end. Here I know that there is a big movement in the international community. Isaias is trying to woo various parties with a variety of concessions and claims. Because he knows Americans are [concerned] about Ethiopia’s unity. He tells them “I am the protector of Ethiopia’s unity. I am the one that can ensure the continuity of Ethiopia’s unity”. He tells them without him Ethiopia will disintegrate claiming “Woyane is going to disintegrate it.” When he goes to Arab countries he promises that he “can guarantee you Red Sea is when I have Ethiopia.”, “That’s Me” because he knows it is what they want, he is trying to negotiate that.
He is doing the job of a broker. When he goes to Sudan he positions himself as a mediator of Ethiopia’s and Sudan’s problems. “Let’s not bring in outsiders. I can solve the problem for you” is what he is saying. When he goes to the Amhara he says: “Woyane is your enemy. I will eliminate Woyane for you “So live with me in agreement and peace”.
By going to all and offering whatever gift he thinks they want and by looking like he is working for all, he’s trying to extend his time. But in all those calculations, he doesn’t understand the people of Tigray. He wants to suffocate Tigray while not recognizing the freedom, history of valour, and dignity [of the Tigrayan people].
That is the mentality he has. Therefore, Isaias’ government being defeated is inevitable. It is a matter of time. The only thing that could be discussed is how long and how soon it will be. The victory of Tigrayans is inevitable because starting from where we were to where we are now- the Tigrayan force [Tigray Defense Forces, TDF], that dispersed the [Eritrean] divisions that were being built for decades, will not take too long to fix existing problems and eliminate them.
So this is how it will end. As I explained earlier, Eritrean troops have a choice. Either stay here and wait for death or take the other choice. Extending the time of Isaias and his followers, and staying here to do what they tell them to do is one choice. It means they are waiting for their death. These are the endings.
Damora Yahya: Good Tegadalay General Tsadekan Gebretensae. There is a team of traitors, assigned by Abiy Ahmed as Tigray’s transitional government who have sided with the invading force of Isaias and are killing the people of Tigray. They pretend like all those atrocities that are happening in Tigray are not happening. And sometimes, they don’t tell who is committing [the atrocities] and making it look like there are other problems. They use reluctant words [in interviews] these days. In general, the so-called transitional government that looks like Amhara elites and is attacking us, the people of Tigray, with Abiy. What do you think about what they are doing? What are your observations?
General Tsadekan Gebretensae: It was said that the transitional government was removed and replaced by a new one recently. I have heard their statements over the radio. What I have seen is that they have understood that the strategy agreed upon with Isaias was working against them. What I understand is that they have agreed not to change the goal but to change the tactic. While the fight (war) was happening, we were listening to Isaias and his followers.
They were saying, “The only thing Tigrayans need is bullets and hunger.” This is not a statement that is made only by Isaias and his generals. This is Abiy Ahmed’s statement too. They got up and worked for 6 months to make the people of Tigray kneel down using bullets and hunger. They were killing [the people] for all of those 6 months. They have committed atrocities that are hard to speak of on the people of Tigray.
[Atrocities] that the world has talked about were done by them. It has enraged the people of Tigray. They have created thousands of youth that are angered, that want to take out their enemies [and] join the defense force. The people of Tigray, in the cities, are telling them that they don’t want to be administered by them. The youth are doing all they could to inform on the traitors.
When they saw this happening, a Prosperity party individual who was at the core of drafting this policy – because they understood that this policy was not working, because they understood that it was working against them and to change this, he came and started shedding tears (crocodile tears implied here). He said, “yes women have been raped, yes property has been looted, yes people have been abused” – he admitted to all the abuses that the world is talking about, all the things that have been exposed with evidence – he started commiserating with the people (but it’s implied here that he’s pretending).
He then said let’s come together and solve this problem. For me, this is a chameleon. A chameleon changes color to look like whatever leaf it is on, but it does not change its identity. If it’s on a green leaf, it changes to green. If it’s on a yellow leaf, it changes to yellow. If it’s on a red leaf, it changes to red.
The current Tigray administrator shows the characteristics of a chameleon. He just changed tactics and he wants the people of Tigray to forget all the crimes and abuses that have been inflicted on them overnight because of one TV or radio program and they want the people to approve and applaud them . Their disrespect is shocking. They do not understand the depth of the pain they have created. They do not understand or they do not want to know or they have been blinded by whatever benefits they are getting. I do not know the reason.
In any case, the main point is that they are just changing tactics. Because they understood their initial approach created problems for them, they decided to try and soften the people by pretending to shed their tears. This does not work. If they have truth and if they really care about the people of Tigray, there is a government that the people of Tigray elected; a government elected by 2.8 million people. They should have asked for the government to be reinstated. They should have asked for it to be reinstated so that it can negotiate the coming political life of Tigray.
Tigray has constitutionally-known geographical land which is now occupied by others – it has land recognized by the existing Ethiopian constitution. They should have asked for these to be reinstated. Shabia is an invading force. It is a force that is here to prepare Tigrayans for subjugation by Amhara forces – they should demand for this force to leave Tigray. If they are truly Tigrayans and have feelings of Tigrayans, they should demand that Shabia depart Tigray immediately. They should demand for unfettered humanitarian access so that aid can reach the starving people of Tigray and they should remove or imprison anyone who is blocking aid. These are the things that are relevant to the people of Tigray.
The people of Tigray want to decide their own political fate. They should respect this, if they truly love the people and if they mean what they say. Anything outside of this is done with the purpose of fooling the people. They are saying to the people of Tigray since we were not able to achieve our goal through this approach, let’s try a new approach. Like a chameleon, they are trying to fool the people by changing their color without changing their identity. They might fool others, but they cannot fool the Tigrayan people.
But what one can observe from this is their level of failure. It is evidence of the fact that they were not able to emasculate the people of Tigray through bullets and hunger, as initially planned. It shows that they are now forced to try a different approach. This different approach is not going to work either. We will see that it is not going to work. That is how I see it.
Damora Yahya: To our viewers, I am conducting an interview with a member of Central Command Tigray, Tegadalay General Tsadekan Gebretensae. In conclusion, Tegadalay Tsadkan, this is a People’s struggle that we are in and we have had victories regularly but in order to completely annihilate our enemies and free Tigray, what should the people of Tigray and the Tigray Army do? What is your message to them?
General Tsadekan Gebretensae: Thank you. First, to the people of Tigray you set aside the problems of administration and leadership you had, and without holding this as an excuse, you stood united against abusers this makes one proud. In rural areas, cities, abroad – all over – you said no to abuse and subjugation through different means. Only by you and through your struggle will your rights be enshrined.
The diplomatic support that exists right now is a blessing, but victory will only be assured through your own struggle and through your work. Capitalize on this support and mobilize to ensure your victory. Especially young men of Tigray, enlist in the Tigray Army. Those who were in defense or special forces – and until now were unable to join Tigray Army for various reasons enlist in the Tigray Army.
If you cannot do this, form a union wherever you are, protect yourselves from harm, but whenever an opportunity presents itself, inflict harm on the enemy. What purpose do they have for coming to our land? We did not go to their land. Protect yourselves, be united, be disciplined, but when you find an opportunity, do not spare the enemy. They came to our land, we did not go to theirs. Form a strong relationship with the army that is outside (Tigray army outside of cities) and be prepared to accept any orders that might come from them at any time.
Identify the Tigrayans that are forming an alliance with the enemy. Advise them, warn them, let everyone know who they are and work hard to bring them back from their ways. However, if they do not turn back, it becomes necessary for the people to meet out whatever measure they deem necessary, because there is nothing above the freedom and right of the people. Using this opportunity, I ask the opposition parties of Tigray to continue their multifaceted struggle with vigor. The same goes for Tigrayans in the diaspora.
Tigray Army; as has been started already, address your weaknesses and shortages, use your established valour as a foundation to shorten your enemies’ lifetime and operate at full capacity so we can quickly resolve our people’s problems and worries.
Eritreans outside of Isaias and his followers, especially those in the diaspora, we have duly noted your support and your support for the struggle of the people of Tigray. We understand that you have taken a principled stance based on the fact that the war in Tigray and its ending is relevant for the interlinked fates of the two people. Especially young men of Eritrea and your advocacy on social media channels like Asenna Tv which serve as the source of information in Tigray during a difficult time, we appreciate it.
Even now, the people and government of Tigray recognize that their abusers are Isaias and his followers. We know that the people of Eritrea are silently shedding tears. And for this reason, we respect the rights of the Eritrean state. We have not budged from this principled stance. We will through the course of war and law make sure Isaias and his followers are brought to justice. Additionally, we fully support the struggle of the Eritrean people against the Isaias regime. We fully support the Eritrean people’s choice and struggle in their quest to rid themselves of the oppression, migration, and poverty that has been inflicted on them.