Tigray participation and discussion blocked in Ethiopian Midwives meeting

At the annual Ethiopia Midwife Association which claimed to discuss all mothers and children exclusion of Tigray discussion or participation was done. Amhara regional authorities and their security made sure this policy was enforced.

The Ethiopian Midwife Association national annual meeting this year like other scientific and medical meetings under government regulation avoided any discussion of Tigray or inclusion of any professionals from Tigray. The topic of the need of providing services in conflict regions excluded Tigray. This is another example of the official Ethiopian leadership policy. The formalization and rigorous enforcement of the official Ethiopian government policy of hate, discrimination, and disregard of the plight of Tigray civilians while at the same time nefariously claiming concern.

A person attending who wishes to remain anonymous informed me that some questions where posed to leaders of the meeting about what was being planned for Tigray which resulted in “private” intense reprimands from security personnel who were accompanying Amhara region government officials. As a part of promoting Tigray genocide the Abiy Ahmed led government is intentionally damaging mothers and childrens access to healthcare.

Prenatal care, birth related complications and mortality, and early infant outcomes in Ethiopia are greatly affected by having medically attended birthing services of which midwives are a vital component. Before the war Tigray midwives were a part of the national collaborative effort to improve these outcomes. The politicization of health care professionals in Ethiopia reminds one of the similar scenarios scene in Nazi Germany. 


Ethiopian public health meeting about conflict health issues excludes Tigray

The Ethiopian Public Health Association meeting was supposedly about the public health problems brought about by conflict but was in reality an propaganda event closely monitored by Ethiopian authorities who made sure no substantial discussion about Tigray was made or that any representatives from Tigray attended.

This week the Ethiopian Public Health Association held its annual convention in Addis Ababa with the theme title “Conflict, Public Health and Health Systems Resilience”. In the introductory remarks it was noted that the national armed conflict is a major health problem. Additionally “alarm at the combatant’s destruction of health facilities was expressed in Amhara, Afar, and lastly Tigray as well as gender based sexual violence”. However, that was the only mention of Tigray. Live internet connections were done with universities in Ethiopia but not a single one to Tigray. No member from Tigray health services or university who used to normally contribute was invited or even allowed to attend despite a joint publication of Mekelle University and the Medical University of South Carolina published in the prestigious journal Lancet.

A person who attended but wishes to remain anonymous informed me that specific instructions were given by the leadership of the conference to avoid discussion of Tigray and insure no one from Tigray attended the meeting. Undercover security persons monitored the meeting.  One the goals of the meeting was to project the “victimhood” of Amhara and Afar rather then to have real discussions on findings and developing strategy.

Hypocrisy of HR 6600 opposition by those condoning deadly Ethiopian sanctions on Tigray

Amhara diaspora complain that sanctions in HR6600 are worst than war even though explicit provisions allow humanitarian aid. Meanwhile they condone the deadly sanctions of Ethiopia on Tigray.

Five hundred days and five hundred thousand dead in Tigray which means 1000 dead a day have and will continue to die. Although the Ethiopian government using weapons of war supplied by other countries continues to kill civilians including innocent women and children daily now the greatest threat to the population are the sanctions of Ethiopia on Tigray. The most powerful sanctions currently going on anywhere in the world is the complete blockade of food, water, electricity, communication, fuel, and medicines from Ethiopia or Eritrea to Tigray.

In a bizarre example of hypocrisy, supporters of Abiy Ahmed’s Ethiopian government have made the statementSanctions are a form of warfare that kill more people than bombs & guns” referencing H.R. 6600 which seeks to stop Tigray holocaust. The bill contains specific exemptions to humanitarian aid to any part of Ethiopia. It should be remembered that the United States still gave over $ 1 billion in aid to Ethiopia the past year.

Except for a few carefully pre-screened medical aid flights which are like giving a man dying from hunger a single grain of rice this situation is now extending into its second year. International experts say that 83% of Tigrayans are at risk of death eventually from hunger or otherwise treatable medical conditions.

Unarmed youth patrols saved many women during Mekelle occupation


March 2021 photo of Mekelle bus station. Patrols of Ethiopian and Eritrean forces during the Mekelle occupation often took the opportunity to loot property and violate women on the street. Many were saved by the brave actions of unarmed Tigrayan youth group members who sometimes gave up their lives to protect the women. Source Irish Times

During the occupation of the capital of Tigray, Mekelle, by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces between November 2020 and July 2021 unsung heroes were the daily and nightly volunteer unarmed foot patrols coordinated by youth groups. Although armed fighters were outside the city in surrounding mountains these youth groups played a key role in intelligence gathering, spreading and informing news to the kebeles (neighborhoods), and finally at great personal risk acting as safety escorts for women traveling in the streets.

A few days after the initial military occupation by regular military forces we saw a change in the composition of the enemy soldiers. A greater number of Eritreans and Amhara appeared on the streets. Everyday they would be “patrolling the street” in squad size groups carrying out looting of local businesses and even worse whisking away  women off the street to terrible fates including sexual violence.

Local neighborhood groups of Mekelle residents organized unarmed foot patrols usually of just one person to function during daylight hours and also covertly at night when there was a curfew. Many times these guardians saved ladies walking from work, church, visiting relatives, or obtaining household needs by warning them of approaching enemy patrols or distracting the patrols while the women got away or found a hiding place.

From November 2020 through the beginning of January 2021 I know of at least seven young men who were shot by occupying forces. Those that were lucky enough to be brought to hospital by relatives or neighbors were often taken out of the hospital by enemy forces in the morning and never seen again.  An evil fate for the remains of those killed at scene copied a practice used by the Derg regime. I first learned about this from a friend, Rev. Douglas, whose mission was near the Desta Hotel near the Business School Campus. I went there and saw the decaying body lying on side of the busy street. Bodies would be ordered to lay where they died on the street for days. You could see the locations from a long distance because within a few hours scavenging birds would circle over them.

The denial of the Ethiopian medical establishment of Tigray suffering

Official communication on the Ethiopian Pediatric Society internet website where Professor Bogale bans any discussion of Tigray suffering as political without regard to humanity. Subsequent responses to this on the website echoed his sentiment that the Tigray should not be given any consideration. Source TGHAT

The lack of response or even concern for the terrible suffering in Tigray for millions of innocent civilians, mothers, and children by the non-Tigrayan medical establishment in Ethiopia’s capital including at universities, medical schools, and government health organizations is shocking. For many years cordial relationships existed with cross training of medical students and post-graduate resident occurring frequently between Mekelle University’s Ayder Hospital and Addis Ababa’s teaching programs.

TGHAT Tigray News reported today about receiving a letter from a doctor who wished to remain anonymous complaining of the “blatant double standard and hypocrisy the leadership of the medical society has exhibited on issues related to Tigray”. This doctor felt the silence of suffering violated his sacred duty and oath as a physician to society. The head of the Ethiopian Pediatric Society, Professor Bogale Worku, threatened any physician who wanted to discuss help for Tigray during academic meetings.

Even the current Ethiopian Minister of Health, Lia Tadesse, a trained obstetrician gynecologist who spent time in training at Ayder, has acted as if Tigray does not exist any more. During the occupation of Mekelle several phone calls with Lia Tadesse by Ayder leadership were met with the response of “there is nothing I can do”.  Subsequently all funding for the University and Ayder Hospital which were federal not Tigray institutions primarily were completely ended. Medical supplies intended for delivery to Ayder were sent to Eritrea. USAID officially complained to Lia Tadesse about her lack of regard for the welfare of the Tigray population and refusal to cooperate with aid to the region.

The fundraising effort, Doctors 4Ethiopia, claims to be raising funds to rehabilitate and restore medical services for “all of Ethiopia”. However in small text they have a disclaimer that they will only help hospitals designated by the Ministry of Health which apparently has decided not fund any Tigray hospital. They are intentionally misleading donors wanting to help Tigray.

In long history of mankind it was not unusual for the healing professions of opposing sides to show mercy to enemy combatants and innocents. Notable exceptions occurred in World War II where some Nazi German doctors used Jewish civilians for immoral experimentation. More recently during the Rwanda genocide of 1994 the Hutu regime punished doctors who treated Tutsi victims. There was at least one doctor, Sosthene Munyemana , who has been called the “Butcher of Tumba” for his atrocities to the Tutsi. The prevailing sentiment in the organized medical establishment of Ethiopia appears to have abandoned their morals and duties in favor of seeking political favoritism.

Cannibalism and burial disruption against Tigrayans is not new to Amhara and SNNP

Amhara militia commander, Worku Aytenew advises his soldiers to burn and eat the flesh of Tigrayans on video.

The confirmed reports of burning Tigrayan captives for possible later consumption and statements encouraging such behavior by Amharic and SNNP leaders is no surprise when the history of cannibalism in Ethiopia is reviewed. The joint action of members of Amhara and SNNP forces draws attention to documented previous cultural practices of these groups.

One of the earliest reports of what is called famine cannibalism are found in a report by YeHarer Tarik in Harar in the 17th century. In wars between Christians and Muslims there were severe famines leading those in Harar to kill weak individuals, butcher, and sell their remains as “goat meat”. Other reports exist of Amhara doing similar acts in fights against the Oromo in the late 19th century. 

Mortuary cannibalism has been seen in the southwest area of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples of Southern Ethiopia. There groups of people called quamtut are known to secretly rob graves to harvest fresh bodies. For this reason recent burials are often guarded for over a month. A third group of cannibal behavior which occurs during daylight and involves the intimidation of its victims who are usually enemies is named gorogoro.

Cannibalism against enemy is also a form of ancient psychological warfare practiced in central and southern regions of Ethiopia. Pagan peoples and Christians both believe that destruction of the body before it is allowed natural corruption in the ground can have negative effects on future generations. From my experience in treating Ethiopian Orthodox Christians it is well established that believers fear life saving amputation for injury or diabetes complications because they fear it will affect their reincarnation. Consumption of the flesh of an enemy weakens the opposing clan’s powers.

Similarly the practice of the Ethiopian Orthodox believers is to bury bodies within 24 hours as their Syriac Christianity derived beliefs order by Old Testament Law. Mutilating the body or allowing its consumption by scavager wildlife and not being interred properly can affect ones reincarnation. This is well known by the Amhara and used against the Tigray as a form of psychological genocide.

It is indeed ironic that in December 2020 Amharic expansionists were spreading false rumors that the native Gumuz people were attacking and eating “light skinned people” a shady reference to Amhara to incite hatred against them and justify their extrajudicial killing.

The Ethiopian siege has sparked new innovation to self reliance in Tigray

Workshop meeting of the new Biotechnology Institute in Mekelle, Tigray in March 2022. Source Professor Kindeya Gebrehiwot

Tigray seems to have taken to heart the Greek philosopher Plato’s concept that “need will be the real creator” often translated to “necessity is the mother of invention”.  The over year long siege of Tigray by Ethiopia and Eritrea to strangle Tigray into submission has paradoxically sparked this movement. There is no doubt blockade has had major detrimental effects on the population but still their resilience and ingenuity may prove this Ethiopian strategy as one which only encourages the development of self reliance. Having suffered a long war with the Derg Regime in the past with little support the Tigray know that although external help is desperately needed to save lives to what extent when and how much it will come remains unclear.

There remains considerable engineering and technical expertise in Tigray which has allowed ongoing innovations although in a small scale in weapons production, power generation, and transportation.

Mekelle University has started a Biotechnology Institute to look at how innovation can be created to deal with improving health care. For example although some insulin is being supplied by aid flights from the World Health Organization this typically requires storage in cooled environments. Researchers in Tigray are examining the possibility of storage in buried containers which offer the same thing in mountainous areas which dominate much of the region.

Although internet and telephone from Ethiopia was stopped other sources of internet connection are being established which has allowed collaborative scientific efforts for example in analyzing the potential value of using wild and indigenous plants including fruit trees for food sources with promising results.

This month the AXM bitcoin is being introduced which will allow point to point internet transactions through block chain technology. This may play a role in allowing the Tigray economy to escape currency and banking control by Ethiopia.

Global disparity in recognition of humanitarian crisis Ukraine vs Tigray

Primitive medical facilities for internally displaced people in Shire,Tigray  Source Relief Web

The immoral global disparity in recognition of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine versus Tigray occurring in press coverage has also now been seen in scientific publications. Noted researcher, Dr. Mulugeta Gebregziabher PhD, Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina had put together an international collaborative team including on site researchers from Mekelle University to assess the destruction of health care facilities in the war on Tigray. The research findings were published in the prestigious British medical journal Lancet however so far the journal has refused to publish a commentary on the morality and urgency of this potential form of genocide while it quickly published a similar comment regarding attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine.

Whilst no one is denying the urgency and gravitas of the Russian invasion on Ukraine many are asking the question as to why Western democracies are so silent and barely involved in seeking solutions to the conflict where at least half a million people have died due to war, starvation, lack of health care,  and blockade of food, fuel, communication, electricity, clean water, and other necessities of life?

Medical research has the most fundamental tenet that it is committed to improving human life. We teach young researchers that as well as developing sound scientific principles of investigation there is an absolute need when completed to communicate the research to the public otherwise the effort is meritless. 

A part of this reporting a priori requires an analysis of the morality of the issue. This substantiates the need of response and level of response to identified problems. Talking about unnecessary death, suffering, and deprivation to millions of people cannot be done with a total disregard to the moral values which define the lessons we are supposed to have learned from catastrophic world wars.


The 2017 film Beza about a woman TPLF fighter gaining new recognition

Rise Up Tigray, an British diaspora group, is showing the 2017 film, Beza, in London on March 26. Set in the time of the desperate struggle of the Tigray against the Russian backed Derg Regime it tells the story of a women TPLF fighter’s courage and sacrifice for her people. The inclusion of women as fighters and leaders in the long struggles of the Tigray people has played a major role in their resilience and survival. The study of the Tigray revolution against the Derg Regime found in in John Young’s book, Peasant Revolution in Ethiopia the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, documented this cultural strength. 

Many Tigray diaspora are advocating showing this film in other locations as a part of telling the world about who the Tigray are and understanding their struggle for freedom and autonomy through the past two centuries of Amharic monarchal rule and then the Amharic expansionist movement. 

Our neighborhood is the world which we are obligated to serve

Jacopo Bassano
The Good Samaritan
about 1562-3
Oil on canvas, 102.1 x 79.7 cm
Bought, 1856

For the Good Samaritan the world he knew was just in his sight of what he saw on the road he traveled. But today we have world wide almost instant communication to know not just our neighborhood or country but of the whole world. We cannot claim ignorance. Today thanks to modern science and engineering we can see the plight of others throughout the globe.

During the past month I have been reflecting upon how good life is for most Americans compared with many third world countries. It has been a difficult month for me. A few weeks ago a prostate biopsy was done after routine blood test showed my PSA blood level was elevated. I was diagnosed with an intermediate level cancer for which I subsequently underwent a high tech robotic assisted surgery by an experienced surgeon and his team. Imaging and pathology now show that I have better then 90% chance of being cured. All the while even just before I was anesthetized for surgery I prayed for Tigray. Even while in the hospital I could not take my mind off of the Tigray siege and ongoing hostilities in Ethiopia as well as Ukraine. After having lived in Ethiopia and then Tigray since 2012 until January 2021 it still feels very much like my home town as does the USA. 

I have actively studied religion and theology for the past twenty some years. One of the concepts that arose from studying Anglican concepts is personal versus collective salvation. There is no doubt that God created all mankind to be interdependent one on the other. The parable of the Good Samaritan where upon the protagonist helps a stranger in distress is a clear example of loving your neighbor. I am convinced we cannot reach a personal state of piety for Christianity by giving a blind eye to the plights of others.  When Jesus talks about the difficult of the wealthy to go to heaven for me he is clearly stating that we are called to do more with our lives than just to attend to our own needs or even just those of our immediate family and friends. The more freedom and capacity we have to act for others comes with a responsibility to act faithfully to our commitment to Christ.

Now that the modern medical science of America has with God’s grace given me a chance to live and be productive more than ever I hope to someday return to Tigray when the situation arises where we can continue the work of developing the university and health care capacities.