Lilay Hailemariam Reda is son of Blata Hailemariam Reda, one of the founders and patriots of the First Woyane revolutionary movement of the 1940 in Tigray. He was born in Jinka town, South Omo Zone of South Ethiopia National Regional State.
Later he joined the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) as it started to fight against the dictatorial regime of Derg. He had the ambition and spirit of continuing the revolutionary mentality of his father by joining TPLF. But it did not take him long to realize that TPLF itself is an undemocratic, inhuman and blood sucking terrorist group. So he left his membership and continued to fight against the terrorist group in different ways.
In his recent interview with the Ethiopian Press Agency he has explained the ruthless treatment the group perpetrated against the people of Ethiopia in general as well as the people of Tigray in particular. Here are the main points:
What was your reason to leave from the TPLF?
I left TPLF because I came to understand the fact that it is a cohort of murderers. Their ruthlessness go to the extent of burying people alive. For instance, in the late 70s, they gathered about 92 people who were connected to the ruling elites of the imperial time in one way or another. They gathered them in the guise of offering them with anti-malarial tablets. However, what they prepared to administer to them was poison stuffed in a capsule of tetracycline. Many of them died immediately after swallowing the tablets. However, when four of them were lingering with pain for longer time, they buried them alive. That is what they always used to do when they come across someone who outshines them or who enjoys better acceptance among the people or the fighters. If you are one of such persons they give you a mission and as you go to accomplish it they ambush you on your way. They also shoot you from the back during the course of war or they finish you off in prison.
In mid-1970s Sebhat Nega had purged most of the youths with the pretext of having ‘awraja’ sentiment. Those youths had a very legitimate and democratic quest. They used to raise the issue of assigning qualified leadership at the helm.
How do you explain the conspiracies of TPLF to make the people of Tigray remain without an alternative political party?
In the beginning, the fighters in TPLF were of two categories. On one side were those who joined the front with a genuine aim to struggle. The others were those who joined to run their conspiracy politics. From the beginning, the front used to kill the early founders. It had also murdered many fighters that belonged to other localities and that were believed to have a difference in attitude.
After overthrowing the Derg and assuming power in Addis Ababa in 1991, it had killed thousands of fighters only because they held a different opinion. For instance, many of the fighters were killed in places called Tatek and Awash Arba.
Sadly those who are waging war against Ethiopia and leading the war on various fronts today are those lame duck military generals that had caused the death of thousands of Tigrayan youths in the past. Those who led the war in the Ethio-Eritrean war are still leading the ongoing war in Tigray. These inefficient military officers are using the youths as their cannon fodder.
For the last 27 years, TPLF has been working to make Tigray people remain without an alternative political party. What they claim is that the people of Tigray have brought us to power and they are the only ones entitled to remove us from power. This means they intend to rule the people by impoverishing them. As a result, so far about 2 million people of Tigray survive on the safety net program. Urban areas in Tigray do not have water supply. The youths and women are also forced to become addicted to smoking cigarettes, chewing khat and engaging in commercial sex work.
The endowment companies take advantage of the people. Otherwise, the people have not gained anything economically. TPLF leaders have received billions of birr in compensation for the land in Jinka and Omorate which were designated for sugar factories and oil exploration respectively.
They have never been to these places in reality. But as they heard that these lands are delineated to such mega projects they claimed as if they leased the land beforehand. In this way, they receive a large sum of money from the projects. They have also embezzled money from the Development Bank of Ethiopia using the lands in Gambella State.
TPLF always claims that 60, 000 people died during the 17 years of armed struggle. But if one counts those it assassinated, they are more than 100 thousand. They have made the people live under acute poverty. It seemd as if the people were struggling to lead a life of servitude. What they committed in 27 years will make you forget what happened during the regimes of emperors Hailesellassie and Derg.
Now they are deploying the youth emboldening them using narcotic drugs. Even if peace reigns later it is questionable if the youth could also return to normal life by then. The people are also likely to suffer from post-war trauma.
TPLF and its supporters talk about the possibility of returning to power. How do you see that?
That would mean just the end of the world. TPLF is politically defunct. If we believe that it will come up with new politics, the problem rests with us. They do not know how to live in peace. They cannot live in Ethiopia, not even in Tigray. The people are telling the politicians “back off!” Its acceptance among the people of Tigray has ceased to exist.
TPLF has invaded the neighboring States of Amhara and Afar. What would you like to say about the destructions and atrocities it is perpetrating against the people in these states?
It is indeed committing genocide in Amhara and Afar. You can see many mothers and fathers along with two or three kids, begging on the streets of Debreberhan and Addis Ababa as they are displaced from their homes in Wollo. What else could be termed as genocide? Displacing people from their homes is tantamount to genocide. Their campaign in Afar and Amhara aims to control the land. Then they would expand their territory and establish what they claim as free Tigray. To realize their daydream they have to displace Afar and Amhara. They do this with a calculation. They usually say that they want the land, not the people.
There are some reports about the attacks launched on religious sites and leaders. How do you explain the attacks?
They have been destroying religious sites as they use them as their fortress. This is an alien to Ethiopian culture. But they are not Ethiopians. They have never called the name Ethiopia. They claim that they are the ones who established the Ethiopian empire and have to be disintegrated. But they have no clue as to where they would settle those 2 million Tigrayans residing outside Tigray.
But the politics and economy of Ethiopia have the fingerprints of Tigrayans. Tigrayans have been shielding Ethiopians for more than 3500 years. The group however is now shedding the blood of Ethiopians. It always prefers to live sucking the blood of the people. It is now forcing Muslim and Christian clergymen to carry guns. They are even being forced to be cadres. This is taboo and unprecedented.
There are also some recent claims that TPLF has been plundering relief aid and supplying to its fighters. How you agree with such reports?
This is not something that started now. During the 1984/85 famine, they have plundered the emergency relief food aid and spent it for their purpose. As a result of which between 100 and 200 thousand people have perished. By now USAID has also witnessed that food aid has been stolen. TPLF from its inception is a robber and murderer group.
Lately the terrorist TPLF has disclosed that it has allied with Shane. How do you see this?
It is TPLF itself that created federalist forces. I don’t think that the alliance they said to have formed now is new. Even after the reform they have been gathering federalist forces and making agitations. There are various time bombs they mined everywhere. They would continue to pop up even after five years or more. But fighting these groups should not be the sole responsibility of the government. The people should also join the fight.
One of the time bombs they possibly trigger is spreading havoc among the public. The defense forces can handle the war. But the worst threat remains in cities. TPLF is well versed in spreading havoc. One of the tactics of the federalist forces is spreading terror. They have no other strength than terror. That is how we used to occupy cities in the past. For instance, when we capture Dessie, we send youth from there to the next city like Debreberhan so that they can destabilize it. In this way, we had infiltrated about 5 thousand youth before we captured Addis Ababa. This is what I used to do by then. If a rumor originates in one place, it is easy to spread it across the nation in no time.
The other tactic is economic sabotage. Those who became rich during the last 27 years have lost the means that made them rich. The only choice they are left with is to destabilize the government, establish a transitional government and engage in another round of economic sabotage like land grabbing. The alliance they formed with shene is official. But there are also other such cliques in other places with clandestine ties.
TPLF has committed all the atrocities that suffice it to be labeled as terrorists. But the international community is reluctant to label it so. What do you think is the reason?
One of the reasons is our weaknesses in diplomatic activities. The other main reason is that the west does not want Ethiopia to come out as a strong nation. They take action with a calculation that works for centuries. Their reason to stage the colour revolution was to weaken the Arab League and Egypt. They labeled Egypt as a threat because Egypt uses its upper hand in the Arab League, its possession of the Suez Canal etc. After getting rid of Gadaffi and Sadam they have also weakened Tunisia, Algeria. The Gulf States are not considered a threat as they can control them easily.
Now they have turned their face towards Ethiopia. They are afraid that Ethiopia could become a strong nation through its collaboration with China. On top of that GERD is considered a nuclear power. According to a British company, Ethiopia has the largest potential for mineral resources in the world. It also has the largest number of rivers in the world. Therefore if it succeeds in building the GERD it is much easier to build more dams on other rivers. With its 100 million people, it is likely to control the Horn of Africa region, Indian Ocean, Bab el Mandeb Red Sea and Suez Canal. This will endanger western influence. To avoid these they have to weaken Ethiopia. Weakening Ethiopia will weaken all other blacks because Ethiopia is known as an icon of independence among black and Asian people. Hence harassing Ethiopia is their daily routine. Though they don’t want Ethiopia to disintegrate they want it to be poor and beg for their alms. Unfortunately, PM Abiy has done the job contrary to their expectation. Now they cannot put direct pressure against Ethiopia. The only way they can deal with Ethiopia is through the UN and AU.
What are you doing now to avail alternative political party?
Five months ago we have established a party called Raey Tegaru. We established it to give an alternative party with a vision and far sightedness. We propound the five pillars of the covenants of the first Woyane revolutionaries. These are 1) God/Allah is our leader, 2) Our flag is the flag of Ethiopia, 3) We will get justice in our homestead by our own judges, 4) No place for those who rape women, 5) No place for those who rob others or seek bribes. We added two more on that namely 6) we want to live harmoniously with other nations nationalities of Ethiopia and 7) Land will be administered by the owners.
BY ZEKARIAS WOLDEMARIAM – THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD