Quantifiable evidence and data on issues of concern are the backbone of effective advocacy. Hence, IAA’s decisions and recommendations will be based on proven facts. Therefore, this section will house research materials on Irob history, language, cultural values, environmental and natural resources management, and development areas. IAA will work with expert volunteers and when possible even contract expertise in respective issues to do its own research. Other useful research work by anybody about Irob will also have room under this section. IAA would encourage and invites all Irob scholars to get organized and do their part. Furthermore IAA shall make every effort to coordinate its activity with domestic and international research organizations and universities who may be able to conduct pioneer research in this remote unexplored region and communities.
By Suba Hais
Oct. 25, 1998
Irob is one of the Ethiopian territories invaded by the Eritrean armed forces this year. When news of the invasion broke, I observed that many Ethiopians, including Tigrayans, did not know anything about Irob, even its existence. After almost five months, there is not much change in this regard. The aim of this paper, therefore, is to provide some information about the people and the location. It will also discuss the current condition of the people after the invasion.
LOCATION, LANGUAGE AND RELIGION
The Irob people occupy a small, semi-arid, mountainous region with a wide altitudinal range in which almost all types of crops can be potentially cultivated. It is located in Agame, northeast Tigray/Ethiopia. The territory is bordered by the Endeli River to the east and to the north-east, by Shumezana to the north-west, by Guolomakeda to the west, Sae`se` to the south and Afar Region to the south-east. The Irob neighbors to the east and north-east are predominantly Muslims and speak the Saho language. The Afars are Muslims as well and, of course, they speak the Afar language which is very similar to the Saho language. The other neighbors are Tigrigna speaking Christian highlanders.
The Irobs who live in this geographic location speak Saho. Many other Irob descendants who live in the rest of Agame and some other adjacent places have adopted the Tigrigna language. Irob is an ethnic community made up of three sub-groups: Adgadi-ârere, Bouknaiyti-âre and Hasaballa. Adgadi-âre and Hasaballa are predominantly Tewahido Christians, while Buknaiyti-âre is mostly Catholic.
Most of the three Irob groups claim to be descendants of one man, Summe. Acccording to the oral history of the people and several written records, Summe’s father, Negus (King) Werede-Mehret, is believed to have come from Tsira'e in Kilite-Awla'elo, Tigray about 800 years ago. That is around the time when the so-called “Salomonic” dynasty took control of political power of the Ethiopian empire from the Zagwe dynasty. It is recounted that WoredeMehret, himself a local king, was a descendant of Emperor Yitbarek of the Zagwe dynasty. Negus WeredeMehret’s forefathers left their ancestral land probably for political reasons related to the change of political power in Ethiopia. In fact, for many centuries, the Irobs isolated themselves to this remote, militarily strategic, mountainous region keeping their distance from the political centers.
Many different tribes inhabited the Irobland before the descendants of Weredemehret went there. But most of those tribes left the region for good. The main ethnic group who dwelled in the region when the descendants of Weredemehret moved there were the Kayayta people. Today too the Kayayta people are one of the main social groups who live in the Irobland. The Aydola (Aydoli-dik) are some of the early inhabitants of the region as well. Anyway it is not the purpose of this article to deal with the question of the Irob ethnic group in general. However, putting it briefly the Irob ethnic group is a community composed of the descendants of Kayata, Summe, Aydola, Ga’aso, Dabrimela, Hado/Hazo and some few members of other lineages.
By Brhane Tsigab Gebretsadik, L.L.B., M.A.
Submitted to the 5th Secretariat International Conference on Federalism (ICF) Ethiopia, Addis Ababa
The Ethiopian Federation has been designed with the aspiration of accommodating Ethno-linguistic diversity. Mechanisms and institutions that safeguard minority groups, like Irob, also for the most part remain within the Regional States. Tigray Regional State has taken the initiative to make available financial and technical support to start the Saho language in primary education. Yet, the existing self-administration of the Irob people demands some advancement as regard to the composition of its human component. Although most of members of the Wereda Council are from the Irob people, composition of the Wereda Executive demands a step forward. Equitable representation of the Irob people in the Regional State also needs some adjustment.
By Brhane Tsigab Gebretsadik, L.L.B., M.A.
By Angesom Adayu
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement of Bachelor of Law (L.L.B) at Mekelle University
This paper is a research on forcedly disappeared innocent civilians for two decades by Eritrean armed forces from Irob land. This research is basically conducted to address the humanitarian and human rights violated during forced disappearance. It also addresses the responsible bodies to claim their rights and the legal frame to trace back those innocent civilians. Forced disappearance is the most horrible and complex human right violation which relatively easy to describe but the cruelest that could be faced by the victims. The cruelty originates from the fact that the disappeared persons are at the complete mercy of the perpetrators and has no contact with his or her family or any other person outside his or her captivity. The victims and victims’ families are subject to various human right violations which are recognized in international instruments such as international customary law, UDHR, ICCPR, ICESR etc. And nobody should be subject to forced disappearance whether war or peace time. During war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the Eritrean government violates the rights declared in these instruments and hides 96 innocent civilians for two decades (1998-200 up to now) from Irob land. This is war crime, torture, crime against humanity and jus cognes. But except Irob rights advocacy association no body claim their right starting from Ethiopian government, even though it has primary obligation to know the truth about those civilians. This thesis will analyze the responsibility of both states and the legal frame work to trace back those civilians to their home land. This will be done through the reference of the international laws, literatures on the area.
By Brhane Tsigab Gebretsadik (L.L.B., M.A.)
Institute of Federalism and Legal Studies Ethiopian Civil Service College, Addis Ababa
The Ethiopian Federation has been designed with the aspiration of accommodating Ethno-linguistic diversity. Conversely, some studies which are conducted in the area disclose that the existence of legal as well as institutional lacuna to put into effect such objective. Moreover, Ethiopia’s Federalism is frequently studied from the point of view of the center. Yet, mechanisms and institutions that safeguard minority groups, like Irob, also for the most part remain within the Regional States. For that reason, this study is attempting to look at the Ethiopian Federal arrangement from the periphery, i.e. the Irob people. Hence, the title of this study is “protection of minorities in states: the case of the Irob people in Tigray Regional State”. Accordingly, the accessible self-government, safeguarding of identity, equitable representation and vertical Intergovernmental Relation (IGR) of the Irob Wereda within the Regional State government organs are the central concerns of this study.
The existing self-government of the Irob people demands advancement in terms of its empowerment in addition to the composition of its human component. The Council and the Executive Committee of the Wereda have not comprehensible power and function in connection to the identity matter, particularly, to the Cultural and Language issue. Although most of members of the Wereda Council are from the Irob people, composition of the Wereda Executive Committee demands a step forward. The composition of civil service of the Irob Wereda does not also illustrate the required reflection of the people. Apart from the Wereda Militia Force, the remaining compositions of the Justice Sectors are not in the right track. Though a bit, the Regional State has taken the initiative to make available the fund, and technical support, at least, to start the Saho language in primary education. As regard to their culture, yet, there is no institution and allocation of resource to expand and advance it.
Equitable representation of the Irob people in the Regional State also needs adjustment. The number of representatives of the Irob people at the State Council is insignificant. As a result, the requirement of extra institution whether it is a Second House or another supplementary forum seems indispensable. The representation of the Irob people at the Regional Executive Council is nil. Their representation at the Supreme Court is also not practical. The same story also exists in the remaining justice sectors, i.e. the Regional State Justice Bureau, the Bureau of Police and Security as well as the Office of Prison Administration. The composition of Constitutional Interpretation Commission looks at simply to the Wereda Councils rather than the NNPs that are found within the Regional State. Also, the representation of the Irob People at the Zoba Executive Committee as well as the High Court is not materialized yet. It is also essential to build-up the vertical Intergovernmental Relation (IGR) of the Irob Wereda within the Regional State Government. Hence, the fiscal portion, the interaction among the Regional State Council, and the Wereda Council reveals the need to make an effort to build up proper IGR. With regard to the State-Zonal, and Wereda Executive Bodies, the State-Zonal, and Wereda Justice Organs, and the Party Line as IGR are as well in similar scenery.