(Source: Tigray Media House (TMH), By Mekete Tigray UK, 17 February 2021) –
Tigray Media House (TMH) anchor journalist Stalin Gebresilasie interviewed the spokes person of Tigray government Mr. Getachew K. Reda on 06 February 2021. Mr. Getachew K. Reda interiew has been transcripted covering the main points as follow:
The Current status of war on the ground
Getachew described the claim by Abiy and co that the war on Tigray is over as “wishful thinking.” He observes, “not only wasn’t there a single day where there was no fighting,” but the war is still devastating and many young people are being killed. The invading forces that Getachew calls “Abiy’s fascist forces and Isaias’ mercenaries,” were young people in their late teens recruited from the Amhara region. “The propaganda that the war is over is an attempt to deceive and bring to Tigray such young people and to use them as cannon fodders in an attempt to subjugate the people of Tigray forever,” Getachew explains.
As the war drags on, “Tigray Defence Forces (TDF), together with the people of Tigray, are doing a marvelous job in all parts of Tigray to thwart these futile efforts of the enemies,” he adds.
The main weapon Abiy and co are using is sealing off Tigray and creating a situation where only their story becomes the truth the world hears. They have succeeded to some extent. But the truth escapes in a way they cannot control. Thousands of unfortunate young people are effectively being used as cannon fodders. This is the situation on the ground. As we speak, there is fierce fighting on multiple fronts where Abiy’s and Isaias’s mercenary forces are being killed in the thousands. That they claim the war to be over when the fighting still continues is a joke, and more so when thousands of their forces are being killed.
This war is an existential threat to the people of Tigray, therefore the people of Tigray are joining the movement to stand and defend their dignity, democratic and human rights. Thousands of youth are joining the armed struggle from all parts of Tigray.
In this war we are dealing with ENDF, Amhara expansionists and the mercenary Eritrean army which is shamefully looting every property of Tigrians including stoves and dirty kerchief.
Our struggle is not just about liberating the land which is currently occupied by the invaders, since this war is a threat to our existence, we are aiming and preparing for much broader movement to tackle the dangerous threat.
Ethiopian Army Chief of Staff, General Berhanu Jula is Eritrea’s spokesperson
“In the first place, I don’t believe Berhanu Jula has the moral to say that. It is the Eritrean Generals who are leading the war. At best, Berhanu Jula can only be a spokesperson of the Eritrean military,” Getachew commented in response to recent remarks Berhanu Jula, Ethiopia’s chief of staff, made regarding TPLF.
Getachew shares a story about a young female soldier from North Shewa, in the Amhara Region, who was killed in a recent bloody fighting. He said, “she graduated on January 5, barely six days before the fighting.” This is the story of thousands who, he said, “were wearing military uniforms, but one can’t be sure that they even teach them how to shoot.”
Many of the dead soldiers might not have had the chance to shoot even once as their ammunition was found untouched. “It is heartbreaking to see soldiers who graduated on January 5 and were killed on January 11. And this is only for the sake of Abiy and Berhanu’s nonsensical game.”
When explaining how young people from Amhara and Eritrea were separated from their parents and duped into going to a war that was allegedly over, Getachew says “the Amhara forces were told they would retake land. The case of Eritreans is shocking. They steal old towels, charcoal stoves. They are given all kinds of missions. One can’t be sure how to treat these people.”
“On our part, we are working to halt any movement that threatens the existence of Tigray. The youth from all corners of Tigray are showing solidarity and determination and this should continue. This is not only about freeing our land from enemies. It is an existential threat, and we are working at a level that can enable us to avert this danger.”
Future of Tigray
Mr. Getachew said, he believe to himself that he is one of the TPLF leaders who firmly believe in the continuity and unity of Ethiopia as a nation. But things have changed after this war, Ethiopian government, along side the Amhara expansionists and the sworn enemy Eritrean government have collaborated to subjugate and annihilate Tigray for ones and for all. They are deliberately leveraging inhumane war tactics, such as mass starvation, complete and indiscriminate destruction of public as well as private properties, high to low level looting, raping, and merciless killings of civilians all over Tigray. Because of this betrayal and the magnificent pain unfolding in the people of Tigray, he and majority of Tigrians will now have hard time to regard Ethiopia as their own nation (country).
It’s only the people of Tigray who have the right to decide whether to continue with Ethiopia or not. For now, the focus of the resistance is to remove the invaders and bring the region into normalcy, once the that is achieved, the people of Tigray will be given the chance to deiced their future.
Many who know the Tigrayan psyche would agree that TPLF is (one of) the most pan-Ethiopianist force in Tigray. Or at least it used to be. Getachew describes himself as “one of the TPLF leaders who strongly believe that Ethiopia should continue to exist.” When asked if he still upholds that, however, he was “not in a position to talk in public about saving Ethiopia right now, when mass atrocities continue, by isolating Tigray and especially conspiring with an enemy government, to loot Tigray, to destroy its infrastructure, to subjugate and humiliate its people, to quench the Amhara’s capricious greed for land, on grounds of a common enemy.”
Whether to save Ethiopia or not remains to be up to the people of Tigray to decide, Getachew believes. “Our agenda right now, above all else, is to free Tigray from the invasion. Once Tigray is free, we will accept what the people of Tigray choose. I don’t have any substantive reason I can present to my supporters and opponents (in Tigray) whether Ethiopia should continue to exist or not,” he said.
What makes it too difficult for Getachew to “preach for the existence of Ethiopia” is that the enemies are trying to subjugate Tigray “not only on the battleground but also Tigrayans not in the battleground, Tigrayans living in other parts of Ethiopia, are being harassed.”
We are not communicating with our foreign friends and supporters adequately, it’s very hard to communicate while every possible communication mechanism is blocked. But we understand we have supporters all over the world (people, governments and other institutions), because the war crimes being committed on the people of Tigray are evidently clear. Anyone with a conscious mind should condemn this dangerous crimes.
Regardless, we are trying our best to strengthen diplomatic relationships with foreign powers. We are also attempting to reach to the international community. We have observed the international community have a better picture of the ongoing war compared to the rest of Ethiopian people, who are effectively misinformed by Abiyi‘s main media stream.
We understand the destiny of our people doesn’t mainly hung on the position foreign powers take. We are paying tremendous scarifies to defend our dignity, our democratic and human rights, for this purpose thousands of Tigrian youth are joining the armed struggle.
The killing of TPLF veterans
While killing those who fight in the battlefield is expected, the execution of TPLF veterans like Seyoum Mesfin, former Minister of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was obviously instigated by hatred and, especially that of Isaias’s vengeance, to humiliate the people of Tigray. Getachew observes that “this compels, as it is practically observed, the people of Tigray to be strong and determined instead of humiliating them.” He exemplifies this.
“As I told you, the Eritrean troops are stealing. There is one ‘division’ engaged in looting. They steal charcoal stoves. They even steal dirty handkerchiefs. It is shocking. When they come, they think that it would be a walk in the park. But two battalions are being destroyed in a single battle. It is the angry people of Tigray who are doing this. Everyone should know that the people of Tigray will never be subjugated.”
Prisoners of war
Mr. Getachew said, he recently learned that Abiyi’s government is referring to them as Junta. We learned from the prisoners of war, that they were send to capture the weak fugitives of Junta (new nickname the govt is using to refer to TPLF leaders). The soldiers are not properly oriented that they are engaging with a well armed opposing forces. We don’t have anything negative against this soldiers, as they are deceived to take part in this war. We see them dying in thousands in every fighting, we pity that. When they are captured we don’t have the moral courage to do any harm on them, since most of them are mislead and deceived, they had no clue what they were getting into.
We have captured soldiers, who only took six days of training. Several soldiers were captured without even shooting a single bullet, their gun was still fully loaded after a fighting that continued for days. One of funniest incidents is, a young women (18 years old) was captured and she immediately started searching for her lost phone and money and even asked the TDF army men to help find her lost items, clearly she has no clue what it really meant to be captured in a battle, very sad.
TDF and political status of Tigray
According to Getachew, the leadership of the government of Tigray makes regular evaluations. When asked if there was recent reshuffle in the TPLF leadership, as rumors have it, Getachew says, “it is not the right time to make leadership changes. Nor do we believe that it is necessary. We give collective leadership.”
To spare the urban centers from being battlefields, the government of Tigray does not “hurry to free cities and towns now,” Getachew says, as “our cities are ours; they won’t go anywhere.We know that our land will not remain occupied merely because some arrogant group says it has annexed it. In this regard, you will see changes soon. We will continue to work this way.”
Getachew hints at how bloody the war has been when he mentioned that “around a hundred thousand or more people have died so far. These are all military staff perishing.” The tragedy of Abiy’s control of the story, in Getachew’s words, is that “nobody audits. The people should ask where their children have gone.” He says, “Sometimes I wish we could fix our media and tell the names of the dead to the people so that the families do not send another child to die in vain.”
Our defense forces are continuously evaluating their limitations and giving training to reach an apt status. The war cannot be limited only to dispelling enemies from Tigray. The fingers that invaded Tigray must be cut. And so must the brains maneuvering these vexing fingers. So the youth and the people in general should continue their defense. We are prepared to continue our training and political discussions to reach a status where we both get rid of the enemies from Tigray soon and create a condition that enables the determination of Tigray’s future political status.
Disclaimer: What is written on this article is not necessarily Getachew’s exact words, rather we have extracted the main points and wrote the article based on that.