It has been on public record that I expressed my desire to travel to Mekele to engage the civic and political leaders of the region. My hope was to help start the process of healing wounds created by TPLF’s 27 years of repressive rule and pave the way for starting the process of reconciliation. I was of opinion that the people Tigrai should not remain isolated from the rest of the country for the crimes of TPLF. I even hoped it might be possible to bring TPLF in from the darkness and get them aboard the reform train in the country’s transition to democracy. I debated with scholars, government officials and activists in support of this point.
But with its recent decision to reelect Getachew Asefa to its EC, TPLF has proven me wrong about their willingness to change. They are incapable seeing the light. They are not embarking on the process of reform and transition. Instead, they seem to want to derail it. They are clearly signaling that they want a return to the the past – to business as usual when they ruled this nation with impunity. Instead of reaching out for reconciliation, they have decided to rub salt in our wounds by reelecting a man responsible for the death of thousands and for the cruel torture of countless more. They mistook our conciliatory approach for weakness and naïveté.
Thus, in light of this development, I am cancelling my planned trip to Tigray, because I do not believe public engagement will be productive in a region controlled by a party that is so unwilling and/or unable to learn from its mistakes. Instead, I would strongly advise the people of Tigrai to work to librate themselves from this mafia group which seems bent on isolating them from the rest of the country and dragging them into a senseless war with their neighbors.