1 1 Forceful Annexation, Violation of Human Rights and Silent genocide: A Quest for Identity and Geographic Restoration of Wolkait-Tegede, Gondar, Amhara, Ethiopia By: Achamyeleh Tamiru 1. Introduction Ethiopian history has been studied and written by both foreign and local scholars for many centuries. Some of the writers were purely scholars while others were travelers documenting their trip experiences. These writers have extensively defined the boundaries of the many administrations, languages, cultures, traditions, faiths and other characteristics of Ethiopia. These factual documentations were especially true of Northern Ethiopia. It's also essential to note that these historical documentations were done in several European languages as well as Amharic and Geez. One of the many areas described by writers ever since the 14th century is the area surrounding the Tekeze River and the people of Ethiopia on both sides of the 4th largest river in Ethiopia. One of the notable regions and the interest of this article is the locality and the people of Wolkait-Tegede in historical Gondar, Ethiopia. Historical documents and maps dated from about 1434 to 1991 show that Wolkait-Tegede were pars of the Gondar province of Amhara. Despite the availability of a mountain of evidence to support this fact however, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has annexed the Wolkait-Tegede region into historical Tigray region in In fact during its bush days, it was in 1979 when TPLF entered Wolkait-Tegede and declared the land as part of its newly coming Greater Republic of Tigray. In other words, to bring it to today's Ethiopian reality, a region in Amhara Federal State is transferred to Tigray Federal State by force. In the process of annexation, the identity, history and cultural make up of Wolkait-Tegede has been taken away, re-written and utterly decimated by TPLF and its state machine. This historical atrocity has been perpetuated against Wolkait-Tegede for nearly four decades as the grand scheme of TPLF to control the area dates back to its early days of the armed struggle. 2. Historical Background and Where We Are Now Modern Ethiopia had fourteen provinces including Eritrea until One of the provinces is Gondar which is located in northwest Ethiopia. Tigray and Wollo to the east, Eritrea to the North, Gojjam province to the south and the country of Sudan in the west border Gondar.
2 2 Wolkait-Tegede are the indigenous people in the province of Gondar owning a rich culture, language, history, land and other societal values of the larger Amhara people in Ethiopia. In 1975, TPLF has begun its armed struggle in Tigray against the military Derg government. As a Communist separatist movement, TPLF's main objective was the liberation and creation of a country of the Great Republic Tigray. It clearly states in its 1976 manifesto that TPLF is struggling against the Amhara people. Due to its remoteness and proximity to the province of Tigray, it was inevitable for TPLF to venture into Wolkait-Tegede for supplies, access to the Sudan and refuge from Derg's military forays. During the armed struggle, TPLF had benefited a great deal from the region and was cognizant of the importance of the region for all the natural resources nature bestowed upon it. Thus, the design to annex the area to the future Greater Republic of Tigray was conceived early on and for numerous reasons. In 1991, TPLF-led government took state power in Ethiopia. It immediately introduced new administrative regions of the country by doing away the pre-1991 set up. When the new Federal State arrangement was unveiled, Tigray Federal State has grown exponentially taking away areas from Gondar and Wollo provinces. Tigray now has boundary with Sudan and Eritrea a new country since Gondar was incorporated with Amhara Federal State and was buffered from international boundaries with neither Sudan nor Eritrea. Therefore, by denying Gondar international boundary with Eritrea, the Amhara Federal State is denied direct access with Eritrea. It's unclear whether or not the Government of Eritrea is acquiesced to this arrangement with TPLF at the time of the liberation struggle or during the hay-days before the 1998 Ethio-Eritrea war. TPLF has never ceased its attack against the Amhara people; in fact, with the national resources at its disposal, it systematically and unashamedly continued its Anti-Amhara agenda in the entire country. Many instances could be presented. However, on a regional focus, the Amharic speaking areas contiguous to Tigray State have been recipients of the brunt of the atrocities. One of the methods used by TPLF to erode away Amhara identities is the dislocation of Amharas from the area and settling thousands of former TPLF fighters from arid and infertile lands of Tigray to the more fertile land of Wolkait-Tegede region. It took steps to change the administrative language of the area, started producing documents and stories to inculcate the "Tigrayness" of Wolkait. In nearly four decades, TPLF has been working on this agenda. Nonetheless, the people of Wolkait didn't sit idle. Many have made it clear that their identity is Amhara and they belong to the today s state of Amhara. Four months ago, fifty thousand Wolkait Amharas had
3 3 petitioned seeking protection from involuntary forced provincial annexation asserting their identity and for their land to be restored back to the Amhara region where they belong and filed their complaint to the House of the Federation, Ethiopia s Upper House. In the great reality of Ethiopia, the Amhara Federal State is also controlled by TPLF. However, the longing of the people of Wolkait is to at least not being cut off from their Amhara brothers and sisters of Gondar (and beyond) for historical and cultural reasons. The response from TPLF is death, incarceration and more suppression. The representatives of the Wolkait people and Wolkait activists who have been campaigning to assert their identity and for their land to be restored back to the Amhara region have been killed and imprisoned 1 As the national struggle by all Ethiopians is intensifying, the people of Wolkait are continuing their demands of the restoration of their Amhara identity and be integrated to their home province. Therefore, it is essential to make note that the question of Wolkait-Tegede needs to be seen in the over Ethiopian context of arbitrary boundary demarcation for political or other superficial reasons. The struggle of Wolkait is a struggle for liberty, justice, human rights, cultural preservation and economic opportunities. 3. Historical Evidence of Wolkait-Tegede Identity As mentioned in the introduction, there are numerous historical evidences of where Wolkait is located, to whom it belonged, and other details by many writers and historical figures. These individuals wrote and professed what they knew and observed. The European writers, especially, never thought what they wrote decades or even centuries ago would become historical evidence in 21st century minority political scheming. The writers had no axe to grind. Evidently, without knowing it, they had lent important support for the Wolkait people claiming Amhara identity and administration restoration. Now let s see some of the notable evidences written and spoken by both foreigners and Ethiopian personalities presenting the boundary and identity of Amhara in general and Wolkait in particular. Emperor Zarayakob of the 14 th Ethiopia reunited most powerful kings of his time. He was born in Fetegar, in the current Oromia region near the Awash River. He was married to the daughter of the king of Hadiya. 1 The list of names of the deceased will be found in the appendix of this article.
4 4 He was coroneted as the emperor of Ethiopia when he was 37. He left behind a lot of accomplishment of his reign. In addition to ruling his country, he was directly involved in writing many books. In addition, other church scholars have written many books. One of these books written is called the Book of Axum. Chief of Axum St. Marry Church has written the book. Book of Axum detailed the 14th century provinces of Ethiopia. This book is best noted as not only providing the names of provinces and the history of the time but also the borders of the provinces of Ethiopia by then2. In the book, the provinces and the borders of the 14th century Tigray, with the center at Axum, are describes as follows: 2 Carlo Conti Rossini. Liber Axumae. Book of Axum. Responsibility: Edidit [et interpretatus est] K. Conti Rossini. Parisiis, E Typographeo Reipublicae,
5 5 From this, it is clear that Wolkait-Tegede is not part of the 14th century Tigray. In addition to this, Yohannes K. Mekonnen 3 in his book Ethiopia : the land, its people, History and Culture, he described the provinces of the 14 th century Tigray as: The Book of Axum.. Shows a traditional schematic map of Tigray with its city Axum at its center surrounded by the thirteen principal provinces: Tembein, Shire, Seraye, Hamasen, Bur, Sama, Agame, Amba Senait, Geralta, enderta, Sahart and Abergele. Among the nineteenth century notable foreign writers about northern Ethiopia is Walter Chichele Plowden 4 who traveled as a missionary in 1848 and wrote the book Travels in Abyssinia and the Galla Country: With an Account of a Mission to Ras Ali in According to Plowden, by then, the region of Tigray consisted of all Christian regions North of the Tekeze River 5. The sub-divisions were Hamasen, Saraye, Akale guzay, Agame, Tigray proper, Shire, Adiabo, Temben, Inderta, Woggerat and Silalo. The writer clearly wrote that the river Tekeze is the line separating the Tigray province and Gondar where the people of Wolkait are located. Next page is the evidence page of the book. 3 Yohannes K. Mekonnen. Ethiopia: The Land, Its People, History and Culture. New Africa Press, PP Plowden, Walter Chichele ( ) was born on 3 Aug. 1820, and educated at Dr. Evan's school, Hampstead. He met Mr. J. T. Bell, and joined him in an expedition into Abyssinia to discover the sources of the White Nile. He remained in that country till 1847, and was shipwrecked in the Red Sea, on his way to England. In 1848 he was appointed consul in Abyssinia, with a mission to Ras Ali. He remained in the interior till February 1860, when he took leave of King Theodore. Near Gondar, on the Kaka River, he was attacked by a rebel chieftain, and was wounded and taken prisoner. He was ransomed by the authorities of Gondar on 4 March, and carried into the town, where he died of his injuries on 13 March His manuscripts were forwarded to his brother, Trevor Chichele Plowden, by whom they were published as Travels in Abyssinia and the Galla Country, 8vo, London, Walter Chichele Plowden (1848) Travels in Abyssinia and the Galla Country: With an Account of a Mission to Ras Ali p.39.
6 6 Another missionary Joseph-Émile Coulbeaux 6 of France wrote a book on the location and identity of Wolkait people as inhabitants of Gondar-Amhara. He wrote that Amhara districts 6 Joseph-Émile Baeteman (September 29, ) was a French missionary and religious writer. In 1905 he went to Ethiopia for teaching, but he returned to France during World War I, in which he served at the front. In 1919 he returned to Ethiopia. Around 1920 he founded the Lazarist mission of Mändida, which he left in 1929 due to illness. He then
7 7 that border with the Tigre, beyond the Tekkeze, are: "Welkait, Enseeya, and, in front of Adet Plateau, Tsellemt that begins north of the Semein chain of mountains 7. It reflects that Wolkait land and people have been the historically belonged in the Amhara society of Ethiopia. He reconfirmed a six hundred years (written history) on the Amhara identity of Wolkait people in Gondar province. Here is the evidence page of the book. The above red-underlined text in French, from the evidence page of Coulbeaux s book, is translated into English as; Amhara districts that border with the Tigre, beyond the Tekkeze, are: Welkait, Enseeya, and, in front of Adet Plateau, Tsellemt that begins north of the Semein chain of mountains. returned to France and wrote several books including Histoire politique et religieuse d'abyssinie depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu'à l'avénement de Ménélick II. 7 Joseph-Émile Coulbeaux (1929) Histoire politique et religieuse d'abyssinie: depuis les temps les plus recules jusqu'a l'avenement de Menelick II p. 11.
8 8 In 1853, a British writer Mansfield Parkyns 8 documented that Northern Abyssinia or Ethiopia may be considered as divided by the river Taccazy into two countries Tigre and Amhara; though, strictly speaking, these are only the names of two of the many provinces into which both countries are divided. But the people east of the river (Tigray) differ in language, and to a considerable extent in dress, manners, and customs, from those west (Amhara) of it. Here is the evidence page of the book. 8 Mansfield Parkyns (16 February January 1894) was a British traveller, known for his travel book Life in Abyssinia: being notes collected during three years' residence and travels in the country that has been published in1853. In this book he described his experiences and observations during three years ( ) travels in Abyssinia, the modern territories of Eritrea and Ethiopia.
9 9 Samuel Gobalt 9 wrote a journal in 1850 that indicates the boundary of Amhara and Tigray people showing the location and identity of Wolkait people. 10 He wrote that the Amhara and Tigre provinces are most extensive and separated by the Tekeze River. He added that the 9 Samuel Gobalt, a Swiss Lutheran, who became an Anglican missionary in Ethiopia and was the Protestant Bishop of Jerusalem from 1846 until his death. He visited Ethiopia twice, the first time from the beginning of 1830 to the end of 1832 and returned in March The book is all about his journey of the three years' residence in Ethiopia. He entered to Ethiopia via Massawa and spent much of his time in Ethiopia in Tigray and Begemider. 10 Samuel G. and Rober Baird (1850) Journal of three years stay in Abyssiniya. P.37.
10 10 inhabitants are distinguished not only by different language but also by different national feeling. This is notable historical evidence that the river Tekeze marks the end of Tigray territory and start of Gondar province where the people of Wolkait reside soon after crossing the river. Here is the evidence page of the book. Hormuzd Rassam 11, in his memoir, recorded the history and geography of the Amhara state of Abyssinia, the Sudan and the Gulf of Zula. According to Rassam s description of the 11 Hormuzd Rassam ( September 1910) was a British citizen, settling in Brighton, and represented the British government as a diplomat in Aden. In 1864 Rassam was chosen for the perilous duty of delivering a friendly letter of protest to Theodore. Arriving at Massowah, he and two companions. Lieutenant Prideaux and Dr. Blanc, of the Indian army, were kept waiting there nearly a year before receiving permission to enter the country, which even then was only granted in response to Rassam's threat to return to Aden. Rassam met Theodore at Damot on 28 January Rassam narrated his strange experiences in his 'British Mission to Theodore, King of Abyssinia, with Notices of the Country traversed from Massowah through the Soudan and the Amhara and back to Annesley Bay from Magdala under the title «Narrative of the British Mission to Theodore, King of Abyssinia».
11 11 geography Amhara, Wolkait and Tegede were provinces of the state of Amhara. He stated that the term "Amhara," as now used by the Abyssinians, in an ethnological sense, designates the inhabitants of the country lying west of the Takkaze, and also south of that river, as far as the province of Gojjam. Here is the evidence page of his book. From Rassam s account, it is clear that the inhabitants of west of Takkaze, including Wolkait, and Tegede, were Amharas. William Cornwallis Harris 12 in his book The Highlands of Aethiopia: In Three Volumes, Volume 3 also confirmed the fact that ALL the Abyssinia provinces West of Takkaze up to the Blue Nile were speakers of Amharic. This fact 12 Major Sir William Cornwallis Harris (2 April 1807 died 9 October 1848) was an English military engineer, artist and hunter. From 1841 to 1843, Harris led a British diplomatic mission from Bombay to Sahle Selassie, Negus of Shewa, at the time an autonomous district of Ethiopia, with whom Harris negotiated a commercial treaty. Harris also collected extensive scientific data about Ethiopia during the trip.
12 12 nullifies the claims make by ex TPLF fighters and cadres such as Mekonnen Zelelew 13 who have propagated in their interview with SBS Amharic radio that Amharic is alien to Wolkait unlike Tigrigna. Here is what Harris had to say regarding this matter in his book. In addition to the ex TPLF fighter Mekonen Zelelew, there is another Tigrian called Ghelawdewos Araia 14 who claimed that Wolkait should have been historically part of Tigray because some of the place names in Wolkait are Tigrigna names. This is a very weak argument that can be easily nullified by providing the number of Arabic place names in Wolkait that are as many as those of Tigrigna names. Since the existence of numerous Arabic place names in Wolkait doesn t make Wolkait to be part of an Arab province or part of Sudan, the existence of Tigrigna place names in Wolkait doesn t make Wolkait to be 13 Mekonnon Zelelew, Interview by Kassahun Seboqa, SBS Amharic, News and Features, Australia: 22 APR 2016, Radio. 14 Ghelawdewos Araia (2016) Beyond Ethnocentric Ideology and Paradigm Shift for a Greater Ethiopian Unity, Tigrai Online, Ethiopian News, April 21, 2016.
13 13 historically part of Tigray. There is a place called Kebri Dehar in the present day Ethiopian Somali Regional State. Kebri Dehar is a Tigrigna word. The fact that Kebri Dehar is Tigrigna doesn t make Kebri Dehar part of Tigray. In addition to this, the Tigrigna place names of Wolkait are named after the Eritreans who settled there to make a living. So, Ghelawdewos Araia claim that Tigrigna name areas should be part Tigray is not logically substantiated by the facts on the ground. Henry Aaron wrote an important book on the history of Ethiopia covering a wide range of people and incidents in In his book, Wanderings among Falashas in Abyssinia: together with a description of the country and its various inhabitants, he addressed the situation of the Jewish refugees or Falashas and wrote also that the boundaries which, in imitation of the cities of refugee the avenger of blood dare not pass with hostile intent are well defined by Tekeze between Tigre and Amhara. He stated that the Falashas settled in the Amhara land of Gondar, which is separated by Tekeze River from Tigray. Here is the evidence page of his book. 15 Henry Aaron Stern (1868) Wanderings among Falashas in Abyssinia: together with a description of the country and its various inhabitants, p. 137.
14 14 Among the plenty of foreign writers about the history of Ethiopia, James Bruce is the most paramount. In his Travels and Adventures in Abyssinia, 1860 book, he wrote an important note, which can serve as another evidence for the people of Wolkait claiming Amhara identity today. He wrote that "the greatest length of Tigre/Tigray is two hundred miles..it lies between the territory of Bahranagash (today Eritrea) which reaches to the river Mareb) on the east and the river Tekezze on the west. Crossing Tekeze, we come to the mountainous district of Semien (Today s northern Gondar) inhabited by Falasha. The Bruce book tells that the river Tekeze has been the boundary between the people of Tigray and Amhara in Gondar. Here is the evidence page of his book.
15 15 Charles T. Beke 16, in 1867, wrote "Tigre extends full one hundred and sixty miles to the west and south and entirely surrounded by the river Tekeze which separates it from the rest of Abyssinia in addition to language." Beke wrote his book after the Ethiopia-Britain war, that is following the death of Emperor Tewodros II and during the time of Emperor Yohannes IV, a Tigrean and who ruled over Tigray before ascending to the throne of Ethiopia. C.T. Beke 16 Charles Tilstone Beke (10 October July 1874) was an English traveller, geographer and Biblical critic. Beke's writings are very numerous. Among the more important, besides those already named, are An Essay on the Nile and its Tributaries (1847), The Sources of the Nile (1860), and The British Captives in Abyssinia (1865). He was a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and for his contributions to the knowledge of Ethiopia received its gold medal, and also that of the French Société de Géographie.
16 mentioned that the west of Tekeze River is hereditary part of the Semien (Northern Gondar). Here is the evidence page of Beke s book. 16 Another western account on Wolkait is a powerful letter sent to Antoine Thomson d'abbadie by a Gondar priest named Abba Yosef from Adi Qeyih. 17 Antoine Thomson d'abbadie was a nineteenth century French explorer, geographer, ethnologist, linguist and astronomer notable for his travels in Ethiopia. The letter d'abbadie received was during the reign of Emperor Yohannes IV and it describes the geography and historiography of Abyssinia, what is today called Northern Ethiopia. From the letter it is clear that the area from Tekezze up to Checheho was part of Amhara province that was ruled by Ras Weregna while at the same time Dejzach Kassa, Emperor Yohannes IV was ruling Tigray. This means that during the 17 Sven Rubenson (2000) Acta Aethiopica: Internal rivalries and foreign threats, (Addis Ababa University Press), P. 139.
17 17 reign of Emperor Yohannes IV Wolkait was an Amhara land and Tigray at the Tekeze River from the west. Below is the letter sent to Antoine d'abbadie originally published in the Sven Rubenson book entitled Acta Aethiopica: Internal rivalries and foreign threats, Elizabel Filleul in Portuguese wrote «Tractatus tres historico-geographici (1634): A seventeenth century historical and geographical account of Tigray, Ethiopia (Aethiopistische Forschungen» that Among all the kingdoms that the Emperor of Ethiopia possesses today one of the greatest if not the greatest and the most important is the kingdom Tigre. From north to south, that is from the limits of the Hamasen to Enderta, it covers an areas of from ninety to one hundred leagues (3.2 miles); and from the east, which is besides Dancali, located at the entrance to the Red sea to the southern end of the Red Sea, to the west bounded by the Tekezze River beside the Semen, it covers an area of similar size, so that the Kingdom has a nearly circular shape Later on this article, I will provide a biography of the author.
18 Here is the evidence from Elizabel Filleul book that has been cited above. 18
19 In addition to written evidences, there are countless evidence maps that are all published in the journals and books supporting that fact that Wolkait was (and is) an Amhara land. 19 The following is a historic map of Abyssinia obtained from a book written by Tellez Balthazar 18 entitled as The Travels of the Jesuits in Ethiopia that was published for the first time in Balthazar s book of travels of the Jesuits in Abyssinia contains the geographical description of all the provinces of Abyssinia, and a historical account of the kingdom. Here is the map. 18 Tellez, Balthazar The Travels of the Jesuits in Ethiopia. London: Knapton, P.01. Tellez, Balthazar, is a Portuguese Jesuit, and historian of his order and of Ethiopia,
20 20 As can be seen on the above 1660 map, it is clear that Wolkait belongs to Begameder, today s Gondar and Tigray did not cross Tekeze. Below is Rigobert Bonne's 1771 map of Nubia and Abyssinia. Bonne was Royal Cartographer of France. He compiled some of the most detailed and accurate maps of the world. Bonne s work represents an important step in the evolution of the cartographic ideology away from the decorative work of the 17th and early 18th century towards a more detail oriented and practical aesthetic. His map was widely consumed by the political elite in Europe to travel across the world. It has been also used to settle territorial disputes over lands around the world, both past and in modern times.
21 21 The below map covers from Aswan, Egypt south along the Nile River to include all of modern day Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. It also includes parts of neighboring Arabia across the Red Sea. This is the most advanced map revealing the cartographic sophistication of the Ethiopian Empire. This map of Bonne is particularly noteworthy because of its detail and accuracy. The cultural and topographic features he depicts provided at proper scale and overlain with a land survey grid showing section lines. Here is what Bonne Map looks like, in the 17th and early 18 th century. 19 In this map, it is clear that Tekeze separates Tigray from Semien and Wolkait and Wolkait is much far from Tigray Border. Another map evidence is the map of Tigray, as shown below, that is taken from a 17th century book entitled Tractatus Tres Historico-Geographici(1634)20 that describes the 19 Sidney Hall. Decorative map of Nubia, Abyssinia and the Arabian Sea (1830). Longman Publishing Co., Inc. London, UK, P Elizabel Filleul. Tractatus tres historico-geographici (1634): A seventeenth century historical and geographical account of Tigray, Ethiopia.
22 22 seventeenth century historical and geographical account of Tigray, as narrated by Manoel Barradas, a Portuguese missionary who was stationed in Tigray in The book was about the Kingdom of Tigray, with respect to the size and territorial integrity of Tigray. On the very same book, after this historical and geographic map, a description of the map is provided. Accordingly, the kingdom of Tigray, from north to south, extends is from the limits of the Hamassen to Enderta, which covers an area of from ninety to one hundred leagues; and
23 23 from east, which is beside Denakil, located at the entrance to the southern end of the Red Sea, to the west, bounded by the Takazze River beside the Semen, it covers an area of similar size, so that the kingdom has a nearly circular shape. From the above geographic map and the description provided, it is vividly clear that Tigray did not cross Tekeze. Hence, during the period when Manoel Barradas stationed in Tigray in 1624, Wolkait was part and parcel of Semein, the present day Northern Gondar of the state of Amhara. Another powerful map evidence is obtained from the Military Geographic Institute of Italy. Military Geographic Institute is the national mapping agency for Italy. A long time before the battle of Adwa, Italy was preparing herself to launch a full-scale invasion of Ethiopia and for this purpose she has been studying the full geography of Ethiopia since 1880 using her military spies, map experts, missionaries, and travellers. So, according to the Military Geographic Institute of Italy, the following is the map of Gondar from 1880 to Istituto Geografico Militare - Catalogo Carte Antiche. (n.d.). Immagine: b Foglio 9 Gondar Edizione Retrieved From
24 24 According to this map of Gondar produced by the Military Geographic Institute of Italy, between 1880 and 1901, Wolkait and Tegede were parts of Gondar of the Amhara province. Even after their defeat at Adwa, the Italians didn t keep silent from a clandestine study of the Ethiopia terrain because they have been again imagining coming back and occupying Ethiopia the whole of Ethiopia as they did later forty years after the battle of Adwa. In their updated study of the map of Ethiopia, the Italian diplomatic consul in Ethiopia and all other European spies were involved. After completing this underground study, from , of
25 25 the geography of Ethiopia, Italy come up with an updated map of all the provinces of Ethiopia. This map of Gondar looks like this.22 Just like the map of Gondar, in the map of Gondar as well, Wolkait and Tegede are parts of Gondar. For the third time, Italy, who has been making all the necessary preparations to invade Ethiopia, has produced Gondar s map in 1934, after assessing all of the details of Ethiopia in 22 Istituto Geografico Militare - Catalogo Carte Antiche. (n.d.). Immagine: b Foglio 9 Gondar Edizione Retrieved From
26 According to this third map of Gondar that was made based on an extensive study of the area by the Italian army a year before the full-scale invasion of Ethiopia, it is clearly depicted that Wolkait and Tegede are parts of Gondar. Note that Italy made every map of the different places of Ethiopia based on a study of a language spoken in the area under consideration. Here is the third map of Gondar that was studied by Italy a year before the fullscale invasion of Ethiopia Istituto Geografico Militare - Catalogo Carte Antiche. (n.d.). Immagine: b Foglio 9 Gondar Aggiorn Retrieved From:
27 27 In addition to these three maps of Gondar that have been produced by Italy before its last fullscale invasion of Ethiopia, Margery Perham 24 has collected and published the map of the provinces of Ethiopia on the eve of the Italian invasion of In her book entitled The Government of Ethiopia by published in 1969, she detailed the provinces of Ethiopia from the time of Emperor Minilik up to the year of Italian Invasion, Here is the map of Ethiopia up to the years of Italian produced by Margery Perham: From this map of Ethiopia, it is clear that Tekeze separates Tigray from Semien and Wolkait and Tigray s geographic and political power didn t not extend beyond the Tekezze River. The last historical map, before the annexation of Wolkait-Tegede into Tigray in 1991 by the TPLF regime, is the below map which shows the different provinces of Ethiopia from 1960 to The map is from Paul Henze's 25 Ethiopian published by Wilson Quarterly in Dame Margery Freda Perham (6 September February 1982) was a British historian of, and writer on, African affairs. 25 Paul B. Henze, "Ethiopia," The Wilson Quarterly, Vol. 8 no. 5 (Winter 1984), p. 101.
28 As can be seen from this map, it is clear that Tigray didn t not extend beyond the Tekezze River and Wolkait-Tegede are parts of Gondar, Amhara. 28 The references presented above are few among plenty of recorded history just to mention some as evidence for the legitimate question of the Amhara people of Wolkait-Tegede. In all the aforementioned books and journals as well as travel memos, the river Tekeze is the historic line separating Gondar and Tigray. It is based on this long established social, cultural and geographic dissimilarities that the people of Wolkait and their Tigran neighbors on the north of the river have lived side-by-side for centuries.
29 29 The Present Day Wolkait-Tegede In the final years of the Derg regime, TPLF, which spent 17 years fighting for the secession of Tigray, decided (when it saw an open door and a vacuum in the leadership of the country) to instead take over Ethiopia. The creation of the Great Republic of Tigray is shelved for the future as far as TPLF is in power. They did that because they think that as far as the power of the country is on their hands, they can plunder the rest of the country to easily enrich Tigray. In addition to this, annexation of strategic and fertile lands from other provinces was executed as a contingency plan concurrently at work. It is well documented that the people of Wolkait were in defiance of the Derg regime rebelling and fighting the military regime as other localities of the country. Similarly, with great difficulty, the Wolkait people have been challenging the government stating their Amhara identity is robbed and their land was forcefully incorporated under Tigray. The resistance was conducted on individual and collective basis for the over 25 years. Unexpected voice of authorities has recently came to further affirm the historic facts that Wolkait-Tegede belongs in Gondar from former Governor of Tigray province during the Imperial regime, Ras Mengesha Seyoum, as well as from founding members of the TPLF Dr. Aregawi Berhe, Gidey ZeraTsion, Asegede GebreSelassie and Gebermedhin Araya 26. All of these men have testified that the Wolkait-Tegede-Telemt region has historically been within the Amhara province. No historic evidence or period is found that Tigray administration has ever crossed the Tekeze River. The current tyrannical minority regime, however, continued to deny the historical facts and has continued to pursue repressive and deadly force against people in the region that at various times raised the issue. In a recent meeting held in Gondar town, representatives of Wolkait affirmed that the TPLF regime was harassing their children who speak Amharic (their native language). The medium of instruction in schools and the working language of the local administrations have been changed to Tigrigna without their consent--which participants of the meeting said contravene their constitutional rights of using their own language. As recently as March 2016, representatives of Wolkait-Tegede have lodged their grievances with the Federal government in the capital city Addis Ababa. The members were abused and briefly detained in Addis Ababa last month while they were there to file their complaint to the House of the Federation, Ethiopia s Upper House. Afterwards, the committee was turned back and their case referred 26 SBS Amharic interview Ras Mengesha Seyoum and ESAT interview with Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) founders and now veterans living in exile
30 30 back to the Tigray State administration, the same administration that has been executing the overall annexation and alienation of Wolkait Amharas for decades. There have also been several reports of death and disappearances of people in Wolkait who have demanded their identity and their land be restored. 27 As the people of Wolkait-Tegede are persistently claiming their Amhara identity, several hundreds of unarmed civilians have paid their precious life. Attached to this article is a document that details the names of people who are killed by the brutal TPLF regime of Tigray since The document shows at least 308 innocent Wolkait-Tegede people of Amhara have been killed since the However, local sources testify that TPLF has been killing whoever gets in its way since the last 1970's and the rate has exponentially be rising in the past couple of years. Observers see the development in Wolkait as one that the ethnocentric regime, despites its rhetoric about respect to ethnic identities, would not and could not respond positively. It instead resorted to crushing the demand of the people of Wolkait by force in order to maintain control of the vast fertile land. Activists redundantly report that a silent genocide on Amhara people in general and Wolkait in particular and settlement of Tigray people on the annexed districts is accelerating. Ethiopians and the international community need to take immediate action to save these people before they get wiped out ones and for all from the land which will grant an ending vicious cycle for the future accessed on 15 March 2016
31 31 Conclusion As can be seen from the above chronologically presented historical documentations and detailed maps, it is clear that for over seven hundred years, from the beginning of the 14 th century up to the end of the 20 th century, Wolkait, Tegede, Tselemt, Humera and other territories found to the west of River Tekeze up to the Sudan border were parts of the old Begemedir and the current Gonder provinces of the state of Amhara. But because the land was largely fertile, TPLF forcefully annexed Wolkait, Tegede, Telemt and Humera from the Amhara district of Gondar to Tigray to build the Great Republic of Tigray TPLF leaders envisioned in Even after forcefully annexing those Amhara land to Tigray ever since it took power 25 years ago, TPLF never ceased to attack the Amharas fearing that they will rise up one day to reclaim their lost land to Tigray. To avoid the risk of the consequences of a possible Amharas revival to reclaim their lost land to Tigray, the TPLF regime has sagaciously and systematically designed the ethnic lines of federalism in order to control the country by perpetuating the punitive policies that emphasize the anti-amhara ethnic group. It was crystal clear that, before 1991, when TPLF was in the bushes, they were fighting to create Republic of Tigray on the tomb of Amharas. 28 Conceivably, their first core principle was to hit the Amhara s horn, and after that, declare the independence of Tigray annexing the fertile lands from the Amhara districts of Gondar and Wollo to Tigray to be a viable new nation. It is true that the people of Wolkait-Tegede and Telemt also speak speak Arabic for marketing purpose. However, their feeling, thinking, psychology, and identity are totally attached to the Amharic language and the Amhara culture. 29 This total attachment to the Amhara culture and language is highly reflected in their daily routines and activities such as at the local markets, in the spiritual ceremonies, in the weddings, at the funerals, and in many other occasions. The language-based federalism pretexted by TPLF in order to take Wolkait-Tegede to Tigray has been totally unacceptable by the Wolkait-Tegede people since its inception. They have been expressing their discontent on the forceful annexation and all the genocides conducted on them by the TPLF over the course of the last 36 years. 28 See Tplf s 1976 manifesto 29 See the video lectures presented by the Wolkait Amhara Identity Committee members at different public meetings in Gondar in 2015 and 2016.
32 32 Up to 1991, foreign scholars who studied the northern regions of Ethiopia referred the Semein and Wolkait as lands of Amhara proper and described Tekezze River as the natural boarder between the states of Amhara and that of Tigray. Those writers unequivocally observed and recorded that the identity, administration and land of the people who were found west of the Tekeze River belong to the Gondar province of the State Amhara. In all, there is no historic evidence supporting the fact that Wolkait-Tegede had historic relations and ties with Tigray to make the claim that Wolkait-Tegede should be now part of Tigray. For the last 36 years, the atrocities committed against the Wolkait-Tegede people by TPLF have been going on in the open air and their scrimmage for help has been silenced by the TPLF and its bandwagon. TPLF was not alone when it was conducting the genocide on the Wolkait-Tegede Amhara. There are Tigray intellectuals who have been providing ideological underpinning to the genocide on the Wolkait-Tsege Amharas. One of the Tigrian intellectuals who has been providing ideological underpinning to the genocide on the Wolkait-Tegede Amharas is a New York based historian by the name Gelawdewos Araya. Gelawdewos Araya is known for his academic dishonesty in providing TPLF with unfounded evidences about Wolkait-Tsege. When the times comes, TPLF executives and their operators like Gelawdewos Araya will be held accountable for the genocide of Wolkait-Tsege Amharas that has been happening on a daily basis for the last 36 years. Ex-TPLF fighters and cadres are also linked with the Wolkait-Tegede atrocities for they are still providing ideological backup to the genocide in Wolkait-Tegede. True sons of Tigray should be concerned about TPLF s past and current actions of forceful annexation and all the genocides committed on their Amhara brothers by their TPLF bloody brothers. TPLF s anti-amhara policy and the genocide it has committed on the Amharas all over the country don t benefit anybody including the people of Tigray with whom they lived in peace for centuries with the Amharas. I believe the true sons of Tigray understand that the victims of today can become the butchers of tomorrow. And it is not difficult to guess that the measures TPLF is currently taking on the justice seeking Amharas will only facilitate future butchery. As Clausewitz urged, genocide (and an atrocity committed) is a precise series of reciprocal acts in which the culprit dictate the deeds of the victim. It should be also noted that the ongoing condemnation of the victim
33 33 more than the perpetrator by TPLF supporters, including by TPLF spiritual fathers, will only enable TPLF to continue the cycle of violence against the Amahras with impunity that can actually fan the flames of civil war.
34 Appendices 34
38 Other strong evidences that supports the claim that Wolkait-Tsege-Tselemet-Humera were historically parts of Gondar, Amhara 1. Historic Evidence 21
39 2. Historic Evidence 22 39
40 3. Historic Evidence 23 40
41 4. Historic Evidence 24 41
42 5. Historic Evidence 25 42
43 6. Historic Evidence 26 43
44 7. Historic Evidence 27 44
45 8. Historic Evidence 28 45
49 49 9. Map Evidence 28 Below is the map produced by Military Geographic Institute of Italy in 1936 when they surveyed their new occupied country and drew administrative provinces not just for Ethiopia but the whole of East Africa. As can been from the map, it is clear that the lands to the west of the River Tekeze is part of the Itaian Amhara province while Tigray was administered as one unit with a province called Eritrea.
50 Map Evidence 29 This is another Italian map drawn in This is an important map because, it not only shows the provincial boundaries of the whole country, it also tells us who was ruling which province. Once again, a map drawn before the claimed "theft" took place shows that the land to the west of River Tekeze was part of Begemedir province, ruled by Ras Wolde-Giyorgis.
51 Map Evidence 30 This is also another German map drawn in Again, this historical map drawn by a neutral body shows river Tekeze bounds the province of Tigray.
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