Genocide Part 7
All the forces waging wars of „Genocide” against the Kunama people, aim at disrupting and destroying the Kunama people’s traditional “ethnic identification marks,” their “egalitarian social system” and their traditional system of “commonly owning and administering their native and ancestral land”:
Throughout their long and troubled history, the Kunama people had to face and suffer multiple and various forces, waging endless wars and persecutions and causing them enormous and continuous sufferings. It is said that the Kunama killed by those forces, throughout the years, exceed those died naturally and those still living today in their native and ancestral land. Though those criminal forces were and are said to have originated and originate from the Kunama people’s neighbouring and distant regions and their populations, as well as from far away foreign countries, their are all said to have had and have always the common aim at either reducing the number of the Kunama ethnic-members or even conduct on-going evil-activities to wipe them all out, from their native and ancestral land. This has been a repetitive occurrence all the years.
Leaving aside the century old histories in which the Kunama, as one of the prime, (if not the prime) inhabitants/inhabitant, not only of the present-day-Eritrea, but also of much greater areas, extending to and including also the present Ethiopian State of Tigray, had had to face foreign and invading forces from across the sea and land. The atrocities committed against the Kunama race, only in the present century, amount to numberless quantities. Only the Ras Alula Abba-Negga’s all-out and atrocious “Genocide” attempt against the Kunama race is said to have killed between “300 and 500 thousand” Kunama men, women and children. Though his main motives have never been clarified, the theory however remains that, “the Ras” had aimed at reducing/eliminating the Kunama people and conquer their vast and fertile land. As a matter of fact, it is said that if Ras Alula Abba-Negga had not been distracted, by the advancing and conquering Italian military forces, he would have brought and done great damages to the prime inhabitants of the area, the Kunama and the Baria/Nara populations. That attempt had temporarily failed, mainly due also to the consequent and direct intervention of the Italian colonial authorities to protect those populations. The settlement and the presence of the Italian agriculturalists, mining-companies and few military personnel, in the Kunama land, had brought, for the first time, in the Kunama history, in the Kunama land and to the Kunama people, a relative peace, only to have again ceased by the advent of the British and the defeat of the Italians and following the establishment of the “British Military Administration (BMA.)”
It was then, the turn of different individuals, (e.g. the Tigrians: Adal families, Teklenkiel, his uncle Gebrekal, Ashimbirs and others) and from the 1950s to the 1960s, these were replaced by the outlaws and criminal individuals like Hamid Idris Awate, (from the Kunama people’s immediate neighbouring Baria and Beni-Amer populations,) and other groups and individuals, (the leaders and members of the Jebha unit operating in the Kunama land, in the 1960s and 1970s, who misusing also the very meaning of the Eritrean Liberation Movement, on the other hand, very allegedly claimed to have been initiated by Hamid Idris Awate himself,) had followed him and continued his and their “ethnic-cleansing” drives against the Kunama ethnic members, against whom they had always nurtured grudges which have been in display ever since. The “genocide” wars against this innocent ethnic.-and-folk-group therefore, did not start and are not continuing today, only by members of certain ethnic-groups, but also by other members and they have a very long history which has to come to an end today. Both the ELF (Jebha,) and the EPLF (Hizbawi-Gmbar) too, did persecute the Kunama in the same manner, killing them just as many and just as out pure hatred.
The Kunama people themselves have always believed and do still strongly believe that the basic reason for their plights and sufferings is their “misfortune” of occupying and possessing a vast and fertile native and ancestral land which has always been the envy of their neighbouring and distant fellow-Eritrean populations. Added to this is the Kunama people’s traditional and very clearly defined and very firmly retained “ethnic identification system” which very distinctively recognises its members and keeps them tightly united with and to each other and does very rarely integrate with others. Another Kunama people’s distinctive hallmark, which is not only unknown, but also diametrically contrary to the class and social stratification systems, existing in some Eritrean ethnic-groups, is the Kunama people’s “egalitarian social system” which automatically eliminates every kind of social stratification, recognising all its ethnic members as equal and having equal rights and duties. A basic example of such “egalitarian system” and mentality is given by the Kunama people’s tradition of owning and administering, as one people, their native and ancestral land in common and for all of its ethnic members. It is absolutely unthinkable for the ordinary Kunama people to think of trading with their native and ancestral land, based on their belief that their land belongs to their race, to their people and to their ethnic group’s members.
This is the most serious and the most crucial issue which the Kunama have never compromised and probably will never compromise with other ethnic-groups, populations and even with governmental authorities, because the Kunama fully identifies him/herself and his/her own existence with his/her own native and ancestral land. This reality is fully understood only by the Kunama people themselves who do not understand why other populations do not understand. No matter how often, how hardly and even how cruelly all those forces may have been waging wars and trying to penetrate, weaken and break the three elements, joining the Kunama as one people together, they have never succeeded and perhaps they will even never succeed, because those elements are innate in the Kunama people’s mentality. It takes centuries before a society radically changes its traditional and customary values. The Kunama is still a traditional society.
Though ethnic and cultural “integrations and homogenisations” may be common and frequent in many nations of the western world, ethnicity, nationalities and culturo-linguistic diversities are common in continents like Africa and therefore, the cultural values of an ethnic-group like the Kunama, cannot be disrupted and destroyed simply using force. One needs time, patience and peaceful strategies to reach to a break-through. The very fact that, from its first coming to power in the independent Eritrea, the present PFDJ’s regime, fully and wrongly inherited the Italian and the British colonial principles of “Terreno Demaniale/State Land,” regarding the Kunama land, and translated it into its Tigrigngna language as “Meriet Mengsty,” was a clear message that, no matter what the Kunama people’s tradition of owning and administering their native land as “people,” may have meant and means to them, the regime did keep such illegal principle as legal, as it very well suited its own aims of taking a total control over the Kunama land.
Though illegal from the very start, the Italians themselves had never declared the entire Kunama land as “Terreno Demaniale,” but only the parts they needed for their own agricultural and political purposes. They therefore did not only leave the Kunama people, own, retain and administer their crop-fields, grazing-lands, reserved-and sacred areas, but they also openly protected them from being invaded by the neighbouring populations. It was only with the advent of the British forces and of the Italian defeat that the Kunama land too lost that protection and became the prey of many landless and land–seeking individuals, groups and entire populations. Nevertheless, the Kunama people did not lose, have not lost, cannot and will not lose their belief and mentality that their “native and ancestral land” is still and will always be theirs, as long as they are and remain the Kunama “ethnic-group’s members,” the members and the protectors of their “egalitarian society” which entitles them to enjoy their equal status and equal land-ownership and administrative rights. We Kunama do feel compelled and see it necessary to inform our not Kunama fellow-Eritrean citizens that they should not be let taken astray by the present PFDJ regime’s very wrong land policy, particularly regarding the Kunama land, where many not Kunama individuals and groups, including the regime’s regional authorities and their supporters themselves, are said to be investing fortunes in land acquisitions and appropriations, without either knowing or ignoring the Kunama people’s traditional land ownership and administrative rules and principles and the difficulties and the problems which will follow with the fall of the present illegal and dictatorial regime.
In the final analysis, the recognition, the respect and the protection of the Kunama people’s ethnic rights mean and will mean that their “ethnic identification principles,” their “egalitarian social system” and the “common ownership of land property rights” of their native and ancestral land will remain the three fundamental pillars on which the Kunama people, the Kunama society and the Kunama race are built on and held. Any attempt to attack and destroy one of those three pillars is a menace to the Kunama race. This is what the PFDJ’s regime is doing today: to attack the Kunama race at its very lowest and grass-root level.
Let us inform our fellow-Eritreans that, by insisting on the Kunama people’s ethnicity, ethnic, culturo-linguistic and territorial-rights, we do not intend to spread either the idea of dismembering Eritrea and the Eritrean society into “ethnic enclaves,” as the leaders of some opposition organisations are reported to be claiming, or to claim that we Kunama are a special breed and need a special treatment, but to just simply and plainly state the reality that every Eritrean ethnic-group has its own human, social, political, territorial and economic rights to claim for, enjoy and protect. That no force is either entitled or has the right to interfere on, threaten and violate those legitimate rights of our people.
The criminal policy the present PFDJ’s regime and its military and civilian forces are using and conducting upon the Kunama people: indiscriminately detaining innocen, men, young and old, women with their infants, accusing them of invented crimes and dumping them for years, in high prisons like that of Addi-Quala, amount to a real and true “genocide,” for, the main motive of such degree of cruelty, exercised only upon the members of a single and entire ethnic-group, is not to combat crimes, but to destroy that race. Mr. Mengesteab Girmay’s inside report very clearly confirms the hidden plans of the PFDJ’s regime when he states that the aims of the regime’s military forces in carrying out detentions of the Kunama ethnic-members, based on invented accusations, are other than just punishing them as culprits. He also adds: “akeddimu’un mengsti ab lli bhier izi zeifthaun resah areaian iu tsenihuo” (even before, the government had reserved, upon this ethnic-group, an illegal dirty view.)
The message is very clear that all the injustices the PFDJ’s regime and its military and civilian forces have been and are committing upon the Kunama ethnic members are simply because of grudges, hatred and sinister views and plans they have always had and always have against the members of the Kunama race. Their hatred and killings are ethnic-based and motivated and therefore proven “ethnic-cleansing killings.”
The regime therefore is requested to immediately empty of the Kunama people, its prisons, prison-cells and dungeons around the country, where the Kunama ethnic members have been and are unjustly languishing and dying.
Like Addi-Quala’s high prisons are not meant for innocent people like the Kunama who have the only misfortune of being falsely accused. We Kunama do also urgently appeal to the international Human Rights Organisations to intervene and see that the regime does comply with its duties of releasing those innocent Kunama people and let them free. With many thanks and grateful regards,
the Voice of the Kunama People/Kunama Narkaba Tummada.
The VKP/KAM: (December 29, 2008.)
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