This is a complete English language translation (excluding introductory remarks not included in the audio recording) of the first post-victory address of Dr. Debrestion Gebremichael, President of Tigray, transmitted via Mekelle FM, made by the following group of Tghat volunteers: @MedhanieG, @Zeate1, @yohannes_T_M, @hayet_alem
At the moment, it is probably not appropriate to talk about the atrocities again. But since we have paid the price, we shall remember what the inhumane brutes have done. They collectively ventured and tried everything in their power to exterminate the people of Tigray. They have committed unimaginable crimes and we will not forget. We will hold those responsible, all the sources of injustice and brutality, accountable.
Those of you who were in the midst of our enemies, those who have suffered at the hand of our enemies, your struggle and perseverance, above all, was the source of our strength. In the end, we are here because of you. Because of you, Tigray prevailed.
It is not just in our history; we have now done the impossible. We are glad and proud that those who wrote history are ours. Time and again, the people of Tigray amaze us; we are in awe. We are lucky and proud that we hail from the people of Tigray. Our history and pride attest that the people of Tigray are principled and that we are ready to fight until the last breath. Over the previous eight months, enduring the inhuman savagery, our people, in cities, rural areas, and the diaspora, fought as one.
We know the savagery and injustice will go past the last eight months. Our enemies have tried to exterminate us in a short period; they have done everything in their power. We must remember the past atrocities, if only not to be beaten and slaughtered again. There are many things that we need to do. From now on, the people of Tigray will not disarm. In addition to the power of arms, we need law, order, politics, and diplomacy. However, as we stress over and over again, we get here because of our force of arms. We won because of our force of arms. We shall continue working on our deficiencies and rely on ourselves. We know the force of arms is not everything. However, we have also witnessed that without the force of arms, we are nothing.
We prevailed because of our people, because of our youth, because we worked together. Had we not done enough from inside and out, no one would have routed the invaders. They came with their families to live on our land. They were telling us that we needed their and Asmara’s permission even to think. They were here to subjugate the people of Tigray. However, the people of Tigray are unique. Let alone these enemies; we have not bowed down to others even more powerful. The people of Tigray have a glorious history.
Those who were around us conspired and did everything to beat us into submission and subjugate us. We shall remember their heinous crimes because we should not let them repeat them. They have to know that there is unfinished business. Because of our struggle, Tigray is out of hell. We will continue with the force of arms along with rule and order. When the latter is not possible, we have to be ready to fight. If we want respect, it has to come from our power, and it is our power that will earn us respect. We have to do what we must.
Operation Ras Alula in Tembien is a unique tale. When we designed it, it was meant to clear those who were there and do what we can by getting closer to you. It was meant to move us closer to our people incrementally. But since the belligerent invaders wanted to finish us off, encircle and decimate us, they brought their whole force. Tigray Defence Forces were nearby, the people of Tigray were nearby. The people set the deadline; they said it should not go past June. Our roadmap was that of the people. We said let’s fulfill the wishes of the people. The Tigray populace said we should put a hold on everything else including family-related priorities, and destroy our enemy before the start of the rainy season in June.
The people of Tigray are awe-inspiring. The people of Tigray were the strategists, the architects, and the owners of the victory without involving any other strategist or researcher. What the Tigray Defense Forces performed is what the people of Tigray have designed and the defense was performed together with the people.
We have reached this point because of the people of Tigray and we will continue working together to accomplish unfulfilled goals. The invaders are full of pretense and are claiming they have declared a ceasefire and vacated Tigray because they wanted the farmers to toil their land. They are full of mockery. Nothing is off limit to them. The truth is, they conducted a bloody war and did everything at their disposal to crush Tigray, and after their defeat, they were confused and disoriented and ran away with their tail between their legs.
This being the truth, they have the audacity to say that they left to enable farmers in Tigray to sow seeds and tend their farms. What we should all understand is, our achievements are evidently clear to everyone including our adversaries. They didn’t have the intention of running away with their tail between their legs, their dream was to crush us and to make us kneel.
We also know the intention of our neighbor Isaias, his intention was to stay in Tigray unimpeded and rule Tigray. Isaias was watching the offensive [Operation Alula Aba Nega] from afar, he preferred to watch from a distance, fearing that his forces would be hit. Then he realized that Tigray will use its might to pursue him and he retreated.
Now they are saying “we have accomplished our mission and we are retreating because we completed our goal”. The truth is they fled when they were defeated by the people of Tigray. They were routed from Tigray and they didn’t leave for the sake of the farmers. They are still making preparations in our vicinity. They are now saying that “we realized we can’t stay any longer in Tigray, and we don’t have public support, but there are things that we can do.” Tigray has won, but If they don’t capitulate and if we don’t fully defeat them, they will never leave us alone.
Tigray has prevailed but we must make her (Tigray) prevail even more. They are saying they will regroup; they will not leave us alone. We must know that there is further preparation all around us. Though our victory is miraculous, huge, unique, unthinkable; we have to know that it is not complete and must complete it. We can’t afford to give them another chance to torture, kill, subjugate and to violate, and rape women. They shouldn’t be given a second opportunity at all. Tigray will not be slaughtered and mistreated again. We will continue to proceed with determination as we have just begun to do so. We have not said we will slaughter or demean other people. We have only demanded our rights to be respected. We want to develop and break the cycle of poverty and they are hindering us from realizing this; we will, therefore, ensure that they will not return.
Our victory is massive and needs to be celebrated as it is an astonishing one. It is astounding to everyone and to be honest it also amazes me. What kind of people do we have? Were we really born out of this nation? We will talk about it when we have time to talk about what we have experienced wherever we went. The people of Tigray are always new to me.
The women, the elderly, the children; wherever we have been, everyone showed us support and it kept us from getting discouraged. History was made wherever we went, Not just for the sake of our commitment or our people but for the sake of the children and those who have entrusted us. An unbelievable history was made which astonished even those of us who are seasoned fighters (tegadelit). Why do these people seem so new to us? We were born and fought in this community, and later we administered it; and yet it feels like we are coming to know the people anew. This is a historic nation that has made history and will continue to do so. Any force determined to hinder and block our journey will not exist.
We will not be humiliated and live with injustice. Those who wronged us will be held accountable. It is not just in words, we have to make sure that they are held accountable. We will not sleep until it is done. This is not about settling scores. If we are to live in peace we have to correct the injustice. We should not let our killers live free.
It was not our wish for the youth to be in this situation, the people of Tigray have sacrificed a lot already. It was not our wish nor intention to drag you into this war. Alas, there was nothing that we could have done. They told us “we will do anything by force” and assume kingship by exterminating us. The situation could have been resolved politically and through dialogue. All we said was ‘let us focus on our development, let us continue what we have started.” We said, “let’s prosper together, earn the respect of others, and share what we have”. That was our focus but they had other plans and wanted to subjugate us. Thus, we must rely on ourselves and our strength. We also know we have to rely on rules and order.
We are not anti-Amhara or anti-Eritrea, we don’t have any problem with any people. All we are saying is let’s live together and respect each other. However, there are few who would not let us live in peace be it in Amhara, Addis Ababa, or Eritrea and we shall continue our struggle with them.
We don’t want to instigate anyone. But for the sake of Tigray, because Tigray has to be peaceful because Tigray has to prosper because the safety and security of Tigray have to be maintained, we will do everything possible and it is only for that reason that we need our force of arms.
Because of our history and heroic acts, because of our principle, in addition to the youth and new generation who have taken up our fathers and forefathers’ mantle, we have accomplished the impossible. We are awestruck by your courage and loyalty. Our hope for this generation was to pursue science and technology, not armed struggle.
Alas, we were forced to go to war. However, we have seen our true character because of the war. What we have created will be of help in other ways. Tigray will change and develop because of you. Unlike what our enemies had for us. We will not go back 100 years, rather we will leapfrog 100 years. Tigrayans will not go backward because our enemies destroyed our houses and factories. Within a short period of time, we will rebuild and transform. We are not made only for battles.
The people have decimated all the invading divisions built over 30/40 years, including soldiers from other countries within seven/eight months of preparation. We did it alone, inside and out. We will win on every front. We did not want the war, but they have started it and we will finish it. We have to know that we have to finish this. We will, with our force of arm and determination, decide our fate. We will do everything in our power.
Again, I would like to say congratulations. I am glad we have met again. We are here because of you. Tigray has prevailed and will continue to reach new heights.