I have watched many Ethiopians and Eritreans belittle and diminish the Tegaru people of Tigray as they have suffered through a gauntlet of pain, deprivation, violation, and isolation. Having been a physician, teacher, and researcher who lived with them for years I must denounce these fallacies. When tested beyond a tolerance which would break the reed instead they have bended and rebounded like a spring that has been compressed. Faith in God, tradition in valuing community over self, and a living memory of generations of struggle has tempered them as individuals as well as a society into a resilient and adaptive culture which has lasted thousands of years.
Though fierce and clever in battle when the threat has been extinguished an out pouring of mercy and kindness consistently emerges. They do not dream of conquest but instead put the preservation of their neighbors and family as the priority. Following Abiy Ahmed’s coming to power they accepted the new era with the initial promise that it offered to them no threat. Little did the world know that a secret sinister plot contrived by Amharic expansionists allied with the Isaias Afeworki’s lust for power would surface like weeds in the garden of what was a developing modern nation of Ethiopia.
During the occupation of Mekelle I witnessed countless acts of charity including Tigray mothers giving food and blankets to enemy soldiers in hospital. Towns folk offering me enjera, cash, and water even when they had little for themselves or their families. Unarmed men walking Tigray women to protect them from invading predatory soldiers. The forming of a wall of unarmed citizens, Muslim, Orthodox, and Catholic to protect their hospital, Ayder, against ravaging Eritreans which cost the lives of young men shot in the street without warning.
The Ethiopian constitution clearly states that regional states have the right to their own security forces and the right to autonomous rule. A Tigray election despised by Abiy Ahmed because he knew what would be the result rightfully reached.
Do not call them rebels. They have paid the price many times to fight just to survive. The rebels were the Amharic expansionists and Eritreans.