Leaflet distributed at the Vernet Concentration Camp on the occasion of Heritage Days. Because memory is useless if it does not highlight today’s struggles…
Originally published by CNT-AIT France.
Eighty years ago, at the concentration camp Vernet d’Ariège (France), Tecle HAGOS died. The plaque on his grave reads « August 19, 1941, Ethiopian ». Not much is known about his life, except that he was probably part of a group of a dozen students from the Horn of Africa who had traveled to Spain in summer 1936. The announcement of a Revolution, made by workers and peasants, ordinary people which had triumphed over Fascism on July 19, 1936, gave them some hope, they who had seen this same Fascism seize their land in Africa few months before.
Were they Amhara, Tigrayan, Oromo, or some other Ethiopian ethnicity? We do not know and frankly we are not interested to know. Tecle Hagos and his companions had not come to give their youth for Catalonia, Aragon or Andalusia, not even for Spain, but they came for ridding Humanity of Fascism. And also because they shared with the Spanish revolutionaries a universal idea: that of establishing Liberty through Equality and Solidarity.
There, in this Horn of Europe, these sons of the Horn of Africa had shared the libertarian hopes of this people who began to dream aloud. They had also shared its disillusionment, once the politicians had regained their power in the Spanish Republic. Like the anarchists of the CNT-AIT and the militants of the POUM, some Ethiopian freedom fighters were accused without any evidence by the Communists of « treason » and eventually were slandered and also knew the the republican jails …
Finally they shared the dramatic end of the Spanish revolutionnaries, joining the cohort of those who in the winter 39 took the paths of exile through the Pyrenees mountains… They were then welcomed by the Republic – the French one this time – which parked them as if they were beasts, in concentration camps. Spanish anarchists, Ethiopian as Italian anti-fascists, german anti-nazis with stateless Jews, all this mixed Humanity were seen by the Republic and the « self-righteous persons”, as « unwelcomed foreigners » to use the administrative term in use at that time, or « the scum of the earth », to use the expression of the British writer Artur Koestler who was also interned at the Vernet camp. They were outcast ? Well, so am I, as says the famous song of the Paris’ Commune !
Today, Ethiopia is once again under the fascist threat. It no longer comes from abroad, as in 1935. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, ironically winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, dreams of re-establishing the Ethiopian Empire and is currently waging a war of annihilation against the Tigray province, by playing the card of ethnic differentiation. Kidnapping and torture of opponents, mass assassinations, rapes, the use of foreign mercenary troops and indigenous militias … the same methods Franco and his henchmen used in 1936 are applied today in Ethiopia. These horrors would almost make you forget that the party in power in Tigray (the Front for the Liberation of the People of Tigray, TPLF) is worn out, authoritarian and corrupt, and hardly any better …
Meanwhile, the UN sends out messages of outrage against massacres and organized famine, as effective as those of the League of Nations in the 1936’s days against Fascism. Today, Russia signs military deal with Ethiopia, Turkey sends drones. And France signed a military cooperation agreement in 2019 … There will be no International Brigades for Tigray, this conflict does not interest any party because there is no electoral profit to be made by showing its solidarity with an arid and poor area.
Few are those who – like our companions of the anarchists of the Horn of Africa – dare to express in this fury of warlike madness their dream of another future, anarchistic and finally rid of identity hatred, by launching an appeal to all the belligerents so that they lay down their arms.
Freedom and solidarity!
ነጻነትና ትብብር (Amharic)
ናጽነትን ምትሕብባርን (Tigrinya)
Bilisummaa fi obbolummaa (Afaan Oromo)
Xorriyad iyo midnimo (Somali)
(Thank you to Pr. Matthew.F.Delmont, from Dartmouth College, for the Chicago Defender articles)
An initiative to boycott Ethiopian coffee, the Ethiopian state’s main resource and main source of revenue for the purchase of weapons, is underway. To find out more or join the solidarity network around the “there is blood in my coffee” campaign, you can visit the site http://bloodycoffee.org
To the Defense, Police, Special Forces, Militia Members and others Armed forces,
The issue is not about traveling. Don’t go !
Our leaders make us live in oppression and poverty. They stay safe in a comfortable place away from the battlefield.
Don’t go to war, don’t risk your life.
Think about your children, your wives and your family.
In any war, no matter whom against whom, it is the ordinary people who are dying.
But the family and children of the leaders are not in any danger, they are benefiting from the war.
If the government wants a war, let the leaders themselves go to war.
Please drop your weapons and refuse to give your life to the leaders.
Social Media Activists