Kedir Jewar, Mayor of Dira Dawa, an Islamic strong supporter of Abiy Ahmed has said on the Ethiopian Television network Tigrayans “are worse than the devil himself & they should be exterminated, erased from the face of the earth”. This type of language goes against the well accepted norms of what is morally acceptable in war for Islam.
The Qu’ran has specific rules for a just war that are very similar to the Christian theory of just war first published by the African Bishop Augustine of Hippo in the 6th century. Included is that women and children must be protected, the offer of negotiation must be honored, and that once offensive behavior ceases so must attacks on the enemy. Genocide, starvation, violation of women, and wanton destruction are expressly forbidden.
“O people! I charge you with ten rules; learn them well! Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.”
Like his Christian counterparts such as the so-called Deacon Kibret and the “Prophetess” Birtukan who have publicly called for the complete annihilation of the Tigray ethnic group without mercy now Mayor Jewar is added to the list of blasphemers to their faith who have replaced their worship of God for the idolatry of Abiy Ahmed.
An official Ethiopian government publication now says that Tigray mothers possess the “spirit of the Devil” suggesting they are not human and should be totally eradicated. This is latest indisputable proof of intentional genocide taken together with ongoing bombing of civilians as well as the starvation of millions of innocent women and children in Tigray by the Ethiopian government.
Thanks to Yaddi Bojia for revealing this latest despicable wicked intent. This war on the Tigray has never been and is not now a “law enforcement operation”. The words of so called Deacon Daniel Kibret, trusted advisor to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, repeated multiple times that the Tigray people and any history of their existence must be eliminated are once again echoed in this latest government declaration. Everyday of inaction to stop this horror costs innocent lives. Abiy Ahmed’s propaganda of dehumanizing his opponents including Tigrayans to justify genocide is plainly demonstrating itself once again.
One of the most independent voices in Ethiopian journalism, Tsedale Lemma, appears to have resigned as Editor in Chief of Addis Standard naming her replacement in a tweet today. This occurs as international watchers of press freedom and repression have downgraded Ethiopia to the lowest level equal to ally, Eritrea. Tsedale Lemma had been an objective, honest, and consistent voice for truth in Ethiopian affairs who garnered more respect internationally then any other Ethiopian voice. Her absence from the news will be sorely missed and marks another sad milestone in the censorship and repression of Ethiopia’s government.
Earlier this year Addis Standard was closed down for not reporting news approved by the Ethiopian government and now again is under fire from supporters of Abiy Ahmed as being a mouthpiece for American interests following a report of a financial gift by an American foundation.
She founded the Addis Standard in 2011 which eventually became the most respected news source in Ethiopia. During the leadership of Meles Zenawi’s EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front) she was an outspoken critic of the lack of press freedom. When Meles Zenawi died she felt his contribution to Ethiopian progress was overstated.
When Abiy Ahmed came to power she initially expressed hope for him as a reformer but by November 2020 she wrote in a New York Times opinion piece that Abiy Ahmed was moving to “militarism and repression”.
The action of the majority of the world’s leading democracies to vote for investigation of human rights violations by all parties in Ethiopia is only significant if it represents a concerned and determined effort rather than a fleeting sound bite that will be forgotten.
Voting for a leader is the beginning of democracy not its end. Not since the rise of fascism and communism in the early 20th century has the concept of what makes democracy been so threatened in the world. Democracy is not the iron will of a majority over a minority it is instead the recognition of the rights of all citizens to basic freedoms. This is essence of democracy.
At this moment Ethiopia has become one of the most repressive governments in the world. There is no freedom of the press, no freedom of assembly, no habeas corpus protection, no right to impartial due process or any due process, no freedom from legal discrimination against a minority, no freedom of communication, no freedom to private property, no freedom to earn a living, and finally no freedom against extrajudicial killing or violation.
The State Department under the Biden Administration talks a lot but in reality has accomplished very little in facing many international challenges. America’s security and world stability always sits on the edge of precipitous cliff because democracy is a very fragile entity to maintain at home and abroad. As St. Paul tells us in his writings man is always struggling against his animal nature to find his spiritual self. The 18th century English philosopher John Stuart Mills, a major inspiration to the American revolution, espoused responsibility, morality, and freedom to live ones life as one chooses but strongly proclaimed that society must act strongly when clearly its actions hurt others pointing to the conflict of mob actions versus a minority.
The valuable resources the United States expends in foreign aid which are the fruit of Americans hard work should be given with understanding of promoting democracy. At this point when there is much that needs to be done in America and you have a country of Ethiopia who is choosing to spend its capital in weapons and deprivation against minorities then America should abstain from facilitating these actions. Whilst many say that the United States cannot and should not be the policeman of the world nor should we be the facilitator of evil tyrants. Like the Bible tells us we should leave the house, shake the dust from our feet, and move on as regards Ethiopia.
On the other hand, if we abandon the Tigray, Oromo, and others in Ethiopia who are currently at risk of being crushed out of existence then that demeaning of their status of being equal creations of God in his image will serve to forever demean our own status before our Creator.
Today the United Nations Human Rights Council approved a resolution mostly approved by the world’s leading democracies and opposed by those with questionable human rights records. While the warring parties have been in combat there has also been a media war with conflicting versions of reality. The communication and press blockade to Northern Ethiopia has made it difficult to know what is propaganda and what is fact at times but some ongoing trends have been undeniable. Make no mistake, the world’s leading democracies no longer see Abiy Ahmed as democratic reformer but fear he has become instead a horrendous violator of human rights and intent on genocide.
The following are undeniable:
Ethiopia and Eritrea are actively involved in intentional blockade of food, medicine, fuel, communication, financial resources and other supplies
Ethiopia repeated attacks civilians as revenge for Tigray Defense Force actions
There is no true humanitarian action underway by Eritrea or Ethiopia towards Tigray or Oromo peoples
Among the resolution’s key elements were calls to all parties to the conflict to halt “direct attacks against civilians…including on the basis of their ethnicity or gender”.
In addition, the draft text called for an end to attacks against communities’ crops, livestock and medicines, and “to refrain from incitement to hatred and violence, to avoid further damage to critical civilian infrastructure, and to end any measures that may exacerbate the already acute humanitarian crisis”.
This could be achieved by allowing and enabling the “full, safe, rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief”, the resolution stated.
In addition to investigating all alleged human rights violations since the conflict erupted on 3 November 2020, the new international probe’s responsibilities include collecting and preserving evidence, “to identify those responsible” and ensure accountability for perpetrators.
The investigators’ mandate also directs them to provide guidance on transitional justice to the Ethiopian Government, in the areas of accountability, reconciliation and healing, and to update the Human Rights Council at its 50th session in June 2022.
Having lived and worked at Mekelle University since 2015 and in Ethiopia since 2012 I am some reflections on the New York Times article today which stated the war began before the Northern Command action by the Tigray Defense Force and what may lay ahead.
In the year prior to November 2020 the relations between Mekelle University and the Federal Ministries of Science and Higher Education as well as Health were deteriorating. Instead of the usual budget increases of about 13% there were discussions that Mekelle University had always gotten “too much” and that it was going to be downscaled even though what the University received was an appropriate amount for the population it served the same as the others. University Department heads and administers were suddenly no longer invited to be part of major discussions at the Federal level.
Several times Federal police showed up in Mekelle unannounced in violation of the Ethiopian constitution leading to tense moments on the streets in Mekelle and at the airport. Security was removed from leading Tigray military officers and Tigray People Liberation Front party leaders leading to the assassination of two generals in Addis Ababa. We all had the feeling that things were going to get violent eventually even if we prayed they would not.
Following the occupation of Mekelle, the Ethiopian Federal government never lived up to its promise to restore or rebuild society when the TDF looked all but defeated. The University was in effect deconstructed and unbudgeted for education and Ayder Hospital was abandoned by the Federal government as if it did not exist. The Tigray were less than human, they did not deserve healthcare, education, protection, or even food said the self-righteous religious cleric0-fascists directing the mob supporters of the Prosperity Party.
I still have flashblacks about the many hundreds of civilian patients we saw at Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital especially as the Eritrean and Ethiopian forces where coming south from Adigrat through Wucro. Mutilated babies and mothers. Grotesque injuries to women. Many civilians shot in the back trying to flee combat areas. There was an intentional genocide to not just control Tigray but to wipe them out. I am convinced that eventually outside reviews will show the scope of this horror we have seen is just the tip of the iceberg of the mass murder committed. Apart from the Armenian genocide suffered in the early part of the 20th century genocide has never been successfully hidden for a long period of time. The truth will come out.
Ethiopia’s financial resources are quite diminished now. Some estimate their reserves are less than $150 million as it is reportedly spent $ 150 million in just the past two months for drones and weapons. As a result in every region of Ethiopia there is no money for education, health care, or infrastructure. The supplying “dogs of war” have eaten their fill and not left much left to plunder. Some might even argue that Ethiopia was a demonstration run for Turkey to convince other countries to buy it’s drone weapons which Ethiopia nicely paid for. Now in return for not giving more weapons they will use their new sphere of influence to get new deals from the West. That was a part of the plan no doubt along. They got paid to get in and they will get paid to get out. Like a confidence game criminal they will move on to the next victim when they have exhausted Ethiopia’s treasures. Whatever wealth Ethiopia had has been transferred to the puppet masters who controlled Abiy Ahmed.
Ethiopia was always the pawn in a larger power game between Arab states wanting to expand their sphere of influence, Russia, China, Europe and the USA. This is not about colonialism or African independence. I do not see how being $80 billion in debt to a foreign country for weapons is a step in the direction of self sufficiency.
The only winners in this disaster were the weapons dealers and loan providers. Ethiopian development is probably been knocked backwards 10 to 30 years at least even if the war stops now. So much hate has been generated between Tigray, Amhara, Oromo, and other peoples the idea of Ethiopia going forward as a united people seems more remote then ever.
The African Union is quietly abandoning Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa premier investment group Cepheus Capital which promised great investment rewards in a land of milk and honey cannot continue the false promises of high growth and stability. Ethiopia may default on its junk rated bonds in the next quarter. Ethiopia will come out of this most likely more divided or in a state of chronic war. With a primitive quality of living comparable to the times the prosecutors of the war like to fantasize about. Unfortunately the old saying TIA, this is Africa, which former President Obama warned us about is still true. The never ending cycle of self-destruction continues.
While Abiy Ahmed supporters complain of international press discrimination against the Ethiopian government they turn a blind eye to the complete loss of press freedom and increasing prosecution in Ethiopia. The respected Committee to Protect Journalists latest report finds Ethiopia only second to Eritrea in violations of press freedom. Any news about Ethiopian federal government activities not officially approved is now considered an act of terrorism immediately liable to imprisonment.
In May 2021 Reuters reported that over 21 journalists many of whom had been previously freed had been arrested in the previous year. Scores of journalists and their media have been shut down, jailed, or left the country fearing imprisonment or worse. Despite this Billene Seyoum, press representative for Abiy Ahmed, falsely claims “conditions for journalists are improving”.
When Abiy Ahmed came to power as Ethiopian Prime Minister in 2018 one of the tenants he proclaimed for his vision of a new democracy was freedom of the press. In fact the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize committee noted specifically that Abiy had “discontinued media censorship”. Now Abiy Ahmed’s voice is the only one allowed to be heard in Ethiopia.
There are reports that former Ethiopian Minister of Women, Filsan Abdullahi Ahmed, is in Kenya hoping to find peace for Ethiopia. We know her faith in Islam teaches that women and children are to be protected in war. I pray that Allah, the Arabic name for God who formed his covenant with Abraham which also lead to my Christian faith, will watch over his faithful servant. There is always hope for a peaceful solution to the Ethiopian crisis when good people of conscience and faith exist.
Filsan Abdullahi Ahmed was appointed the Minister of Women, Children, and Youth by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in March of 2020. She is an observant Muslim Somali region native from educated parents and education in both Ethiopia and England. Prior to government service she had established her reputation as working with youth and seeking equality for women in government positions.
After the occupation of Mekelle, the Tigray capital, reports came out of many instances of violence against women which caused her to work with the Attorney General in Mekelle in February to investigate these claims. As a result on February 11, 2021 she announced such claims were “true without a doubt”. Ultimately Abiy Ahmed and his followers began a propaganda campaign against the truth leading to Filsan Ahmed’s resignation on September 27, 2021. Apparently now she is exile and fearing reprisal.
Abiy Ahmed’s ongoing war on Tigray and Oromo is costing Ethiopian youth throughout Ethiopia a chance for a decent education and to escape poverty. The all out financial burdens of war have created massive inflation and diversion of funds away from education. Instead of going to school teenagers from Northern Ethiopia now just like their Eritrean neighbors to the north under Isaias Afwerki can only look forward to carrying a rifle instead of books.
The effect of war on children includes not only poor physical development from malnutrition but also psychosocial developmental aberration due to constant lack of security for families as noted in past reports to UNESCO. For example the militarized country of Eritrea with a population of only 4 million or so frequently has more than 300,000 youth not being significantly educated. As a university educator for medical students, neuroscientists, and neurosurgeons in Tigray who was seeing Ethiopia hoping to emerge into a 21st century middle income country which can only be achieved by a strong education system this hope has all but faded.
Following the Derg war and Eritrean wars Ethiopia had gradually made progress in developing education. However, research on the effect of the Eritrean war showed that deprivation of education had severe long term effects on the Ethiopian economy. The percent of national budget had risen to over 4% of government spending under the previous government which was above average for an African country but still many of the poor especially rural women did not progress beyond elementary school. Now that number has decreased drastically.
Every school in Tigray was destroyed by Eritrean and Ethiopian forces. Several million people including children are now displaced such that tens of thousands of schools are now dysfunctional in Tigray, Amhara, and the Afar regions. The Ethiopian government has shut down the primary and secondary education system supposedly to allow harvesting of crops but the reality is there is no available funding for education now and will not be until the war comes to end.
After a week of strategic withdrawal when many Ethiopian supporters were predicting imminent defeat today we see again a dramatic advance of the Tigray Defense Forces. In fact before the news about the new rout of Amhara and Ethiopian National Defense Forces was announced many Amhara websites were falsely claiming complete victory in hours. It seems their wrong perceptions clouded the reality of the moment.
The study of what decides the fortunes of war for winner and loser goes back to ancient Greece and China as well. Living in the 3rd century BC in ancient Greece, Democritus was loved by Aristotle and hated by Plato. He believed that man relied too much on what he perceived by senses alone which could be affected by emotion and should instead always determine what is truth by applying reason. While others said “fortune favors the bold” Democritus said bold helps the start but does not decide the end of war.
Thinking about this takes me back to my many conversations with Debretsion Gebremichael, the President of the Tigray State, on many subjects relating to university and medical matters on shared airplane flights. He was mostly an attentive listener who would ask questions in a way that indicated he was seeking to understand cause and effect for every topic.
Of course I never had a chance to discuss war with him but this recurrent use of koreta by the Tigray to draw their enemy into a snare of ambush on the false pretense of an easy victory against a retreating army seems to be a recurring story. Interestingly this technique also goes back to ancient Rome and the victory of Hannibal at Carthage.
Debretsion Gebremichael presents quite a contrast from the boastful, somewhat empty intellectual, and rash acting Abiy Ahmed who continually seems to have problems with his perception of reality.