Does Abiy Ahmed want to be the Christopher Columbus of Africa?

Once revered now history paints him in a different light. Currier and Ives print of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), landing in the West Indies on October 11, 1492.

The current war in Ethiopia begs comparison of the similarity of Amhara dominance over what we call Ethiopia with the European conquest of the New World. In America the once toted celebration of Christopher Columbus Day has become instead a day of solemn reflection on forced conquest and cultural obliteration. The blindness to the devastation of American European influence reminds me of the blindness of Amhara obliteration of other Horn of African societies.

The current Ethiopian conflict is not a really new phenomenon but really a repeat event of a recurring theme against central authority in the empire we now call Ethiopia. The expansion of the old Abyssinian empire under the Amhara monarchy since the mid 19th century has repeatedly tried to create a single nation state identity. To some extent international interests have at various times encouraged this to promote the development of a “civilized modern Ethiopian” state as defined by greater world powers. Whereas today many Abiy Ahmed supporters see his leadership as a new pro-Africa anticolonial movement in reality it is shaped into a redo of the reign of the late Haile Selassie into an internal colonization. Like Haile Selassie he portrays an Ethiopia that welcomes major power involvement in economic development but only through him. Like the European settlers who exterminated large groups of American Indians especially those who did not adopt European language and ways of life, Abiy Ahmed has advocated for non-Amhara extermination.

In the New World over the past century we have lessened the idea of Christopher Columbus as a discoverer of the New World in favor of him bringing a dark period of cultural obliteration and forced submission of the aboriginal population of America to that of Europe. The cause of bringing modernity to society is not a justification for tyranny.

Listen to the rhetoric of Amhara news sources and you hear frank open discussion of the inferiority of many ethnic groups and religions of Ethiopia except Amhara. The Amhara culture like Christopher Columbus forced its language, religion, trading practices, government, and even complete civil obligations of the Tigray, Afar, Somali, Beningshagul, and Southern Ethiopian Peoples. Those that argue that the Tigray dominated too much the previous Ethiopian People Revolutionary Front are making a similar point they fail to see about the Prosperity Party which is now an Amhara substitute. I suspect this is why many Tigray do not want to remain in Ethiopia. Many will be happy to see the other regions of Ethiopia find their own destiny. The current war of the Tigray is not about who dominates Ethiopia but rather whether the Tigray, Oromo, and others can choose their own path for self determination.

Like Europe learned in World War II where Hitler dreamed he could unify Europe under a German firm hand and Yugoslavia in the 1980s the times of monocultural dominance over large multicultural dominion are coming to an end. If the region of Ethiopia wants to prosper and find peace, to end the wars that come every generation, it needs to find a new solution. Christopher Columbus has no place in Ethiopia.

 

 

Abiy Ahmed Tewahedo supporters are violating their Donatist beliefs

Donatus Magnus, A Berber Bishop, who proclaimed Donatism a central theme in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (Painting from the Nuremberg Chronicle 1440)

Ethiopian Orthodox Church clergy and their Evangelical allies supporting Abiy Ahmed’s policy of no negotiation and deprivation of human needs to deal with the Tigray are blasphemous to Donatism a unique theological tenet of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The conduct, preaching, and speeches made to members of the United States Congress as well as the Ethiopian public that the Tigray need to be wiped out and no peace talks should be held is a severe violation of the Donatist principle espoused for hundreds of years.

Since early in its development, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has strongly held valid that the clergy must be a church of “saints not sinners”.  Church leaders had to live their lives everyday following the Biblical teachings of love, charity, sacrifice, forgiveness, loving both neighbor and enemy, and avoiding hate and violence. Donatists opposed the idea of joining church and state as noted in the book of Samuel in the Old Testament because leaders of men tend to become corrupt and sinful. The Church had an imperial relationship to rulers but careful in how it advised. Similarly the Church had a long history of co-existence with differing faiths. Unfortunately as the Church moved somewhat to Amhara in last two centuries it did show some signs of Calvinist pre-selection where Cushitic Southern Ethiopians were not seen as equals allowing their enslavement. There are also some issues of Apostolic succession in the Amharic Synods of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as they cannot clearly trace to Saint Peter through the 5th century Syrian missionaries as do the Tigray. This is especially noted for Synods in the foreign countries which has lead to current divisions within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Abune Mathias, the recognized head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church by proper Apostolic succession, has been held in house arrest under Abiy Ahmed. He was prohibited from communication to the world until taped interviews where smuggled out of Ethiopia. He has decried the Tigray Genocide as unjustified and evil. 

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church origins begin in the 4th century CE when the Axumite King in what is now Tigray was converted from Judaism to Christianity by Frumentius a Syrian Christian monk who also followed Jewish Law. Frumentius and his brother Aedesius were shipwrecked and became prominent advisors to the Axum royal family leading to Ezana’s baptism.  Judaism had come to Axum many centuries before following the visit of the Sabian Queen Sheba to Israel who subsequently bore the son of King Solomon. There is also the Biblical story of the Ethiopian enuch (royal official) who on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem met Saint Philip who explained that Jesus had come as prophesized in the Old Testament.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church developed with distinct theological differences from the Byzantine Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Syrian Christian missionaries who preserved many Jewish traditions such as kosher diet spread their message throughout what is now Northern Ethiopia. No contact occurred with the Roman Church for almost 800 years isolating it from that influence.  While Church fathers from Northern Africa and Alexandria such as St. Augustine as well as those from the Byzantium had influence in the Ethiopian Church it still developed its own way.  Sometimes the church is referred to as Tewahedo which refers to the concept that Jesus God and human parts are indivisibly mixed. Some of its most recognized saints are lesser known or not clearly recognized in the West. The story of the Axumite empire in the Negus became a part of their religious tradition.

However one of the most important differences and one that really characterized the Tewahedo Church is Donatism. Donatus Magnus was North African Bishop who believed that for clergy to have the power to lead their flock and celebrate the Eucharist they had to live perfect lives. Otherwise their prayers, sermons, blessings, granting of forgiveness, and preparation and celebration of the Eucharist would be rendered invalid. Whilst prominent church father, St. Augustine disagreed as did the Roman Church, this principle has remained a pillar of Tewahedo through today.

 

 

Severe Ethiopian crackdown on Oromo Irrecha Bishoftu celebration

Security forces have blockaded the highway from Addis Ababa to Bishoftu in fear of protest gatherings forming at Irrecha celebrations

Although an official police statement from Bishoftu says that visitors are welcome to today’s celebration of Irrecha, the Oromo national unity holiday, the truth is far different. Since yesterday the 39 kilometer expressway from Addis Ababa (known as Finfinne to Oromos before the Amhara conquest) to Bishoftu has been mostly blocked off. Many witnesses report that numerous Oromo youth from Addis Ababa and other areas have been arrested by police trying to enter Bishoftu.  Despite the roadblock the editor of Addis Standard in her twitter reports says that many are still choosing to walk the 39 kilometer distance by foot to attend the celebrations at lake Hora Arsedi. Many have been quoted as saying that Abiy Ahmed will not succeed in stopping Oromo protestation to wrongful imprisonment of Oromo leaders and other grievances including extrajudicial killings.

Oromo celebrants of Irrecha at Hora Arsedi in Bishoftu are not deterred by threats from Ethiopian security forces under orders from Abiy Ahmed to stop embarassing protests before instillation of the new government

The Ethiopian Federal government is so fearful that large formations of federal police and soldiers are now deployed in Bishoftu. A complete blackout of telephone, cell, electricity, and internet services has been done. Hospitals and clinics are under strict orders not to report any injuries in Bishoftu just as yesterday doctors and nurses in Addis were rebuked for reporting injuries at Irrecha celebrations in Addis Ababa. Additionally there are now reports that prominent human rights leaders from Addis Ababa including Tesfalem Waldyes, founder of Ethiopia Insight, have been arrested.

Abiy Ahmed orders machine guns fired on Oromo protesting at Irrecha holiday

Ethiopia welcomes celebrants of Irrecha holiday with machine guns in Addis Ababa today

Instead of coming to the major Oromo cultural event of the year,  Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and of Oromo ancestry,  decided instead to send armed soldiers and pickup trucks mounted with high caliber machine guns. Witnesses from the scene report that unarmed Oromos began to protest the jailing of Jawar Mohammed and others while shouting “down with Abiy!”. In response the large crowd was sprayed with bullets killing many. Doctor contacts at Paulos Hospital in Addis Ababa report many causalities, at least more then 10,  some in serious condition have so far been received.

Seven died from gunshot wounds and at least 10 sent to hospital at the Addis Ababa Irrecha celebration

This week the Oromo people of Ethiopia who make up the largest ethnic group of over 30% celebrate a special holiday called Irrecha. It signifies the end of the rainy cold season. The event usually occurs near a large body of water to honor the nature deity, Waaqa, and give thanks for the blessings of the past year.  It is more than a religious holiday as Oromia of all faiths Christian and Muslim also celebrate the holiday as a day of unity and cultural recognition.

Abiy Ahmed’s father was Oromo and in his Parliamentary position, Abiy Ahmed was a representative of the Oromo area just north of Addis. His rise to power was fueled by Oromo leader, Jawar Mohammed, and his Qeero (bachelor) movement. However since taking power, the PM switched allegiance to Amhara expansionists who have a long history of enslaving and denying rights to the Oromo. He has jailed on charges of terrorism many of his previous Oromo supporters and mentors including Mohammed. An armed resistance, the Oromo Liberation Army, is growing by the day in hopes to depose the Prime Minister who they see as a traitor to the Oromo cause.

Tomorrow a major celebration is planned at a sacred lake in Bishoftu a short distance from Addis Ababa. However, now security forces are blocking the highway connecting from Addis Ababa trying to stop the gathering. Apparently Abiy Ahmed fears that more protests against the government will occur embarrassing the PM that his own people are against him while this week he is in the midst of the upcoming presentation of his new Prosperity Party government this week.  Many Oromia and others feel these elections in their regional state were unfair to opposition parties.

There is no doubt Abiy Ahmed is an evil man. The fallacy of Ethiopia for Ethiopians

Ethiopian PM started with a promise of democracy and inclusion but now has fallen into the essence of evil!

At this moment Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed has decided that he is justified to starve millions of innocents of whom children are the first to die. Not only Tigray but even before the war started 1 in 4 Ethiopians was getting international food aid from the UN and others. Many Amhara, Orom0, Somali, Afar, SNNP as well as others are also facing food shortages with displacement, new locust swarms, poor rains, and inflation which limited the planting material this year.

The English pastor, John Dunne,  wrote that “No Man Is an Island” in his Meditations centuries ago. Apparently this was never a reading of the Prime Minister. The United Nations was created so that nations can help each other in times of crisis. The vulnerable including women, children, and elderly have traditionally been protected by international agreements to which Ethiopia is a signatory. Abiy Ahmed believes he is above treaties. In the name of sovereignty no atrocity is forbidden. 

Yet today we see a man who just a short time ago received the Nobel Peace Prize and the hope of a nation but now has become one of the most evil in history. Overseeing and approving widespread rape, male child killing, destruction and theft of health care facilities, cutting of supplies of electricity. communication, fuel, and lastly intentionally starving the Tigray population with an intent to kill as many or more as the Nazis killed the Jews or the Turks killed the Armenians.

Meanwhile his maniacal supporters cry Ethiopia for Ethiopians. Forgetting the Eritreans and Somalis were called in to assist with the killing and destruction while the Tigray who at least when this war started were Ethiopians.

Ethiopia has zero capability to survive by itself economically. Ethiopia is $30 billion USD in debt such that it has to pay $2 billion USD annually just to cover the interest which is equal to a normal whole budget. The birr is worth almost nothing while rampant inflation for everything from diapers to food is rising daily. Without any outside support the Ethiopian economy will surely collapse. Now with sanctions surely coming it will crash viciously for the perpetrators.

Once aligned with the western democracies to help its development now Ethiopia has become pimped to Eritrea, North Korea, Iran, and Turkey. Eritrea has stolen many of the personal vehicles of the FANO Amhara militia and other valuable in Gondar and Western Tigray. The rebellion against the Abiy Ahmed grows in every region every day.

Additionally they are killing Amhara occupiers of Western Tigray while they ravage it. All this to “payback” a deposed Tigray group that had returned to just rule Tigray. Never mind that the Bible, a book the PM claims to follow, bands starvation as a weapon in both the New and Old Testament.  Perhaps he should read it again to learn about justice, peace, mercy, and love.  Many have talked about Abiy Ahmed ultimately ending up in the International Criminal Court for his complete loss of respect for human life. Now this may be necessary to find peace.

Will Abiy Ahmed’s Faustian Bargain bring an end to Ethiopia?

 
The Ethiopian tragedy precipitated by Abiy Ahmed is analogous to the story of Dr. Faustus who made a deal with the devil for power.

The Faustian bargain struck by Abiy Ahmed has cost the destruction of hundreds of thousands of lives, the economy, and the political unity of Ethiopia. The last of which is likely gone forever.  Famine, displacement, isolation, economic disaster, hostility with neighboring countries, and almost comprehensive strife between many factions and ethnicities is the reality of Abiy Ahmed’s leadership of Ethiopia. The human tragedy of Dr. Faustus told in the Elizabethan play by Christopher Marlowe seems to have become reality in Abiy Ahmed.

As a young man Abiy Ahmed joined the Ethiopian Army and eventually became an intelligence officer. This field fascinated him as he was a protégé of the Tigrayan leader, Getachew Assefa. Eventually Abiy would help form the INSA(Information Network Security Agency), the national intelligence service that was at first quite secretive about its existence. 

Intelligence officers play key roles in military functioning but often do not end up as leading commanders because they develop false senses of security about the value of their knowledge which is often prejudiced by wanting to prove previously held beliefs about a potential adversary. Developing command capability in the military requires experiences much more than being an intelligence officer alone.

As a member of the Ethiopian Parliament Abiy Ahmed developed a reputation of being an intelligent and devote protector of the rights of the Oromo people who he was thought to represent with zeal. The Addis Ababa housing authority was giving housing to Amhara,  who worked for the capital city, houses in the Oromo region. This was seen as a part of the expansion of the mostly Amhara city which had been built by the Amharic emperor to colonize the Oromo region a century before into the Oromo Regional State. Abiy Ahmed championed that housing in the Oromo region should go to Oromos.

There is no denying that Abiy Ahmed had great talents as orator and potential to be a great leader perhaps. His talk of medemer where he would build a unity of Ethiopia’s many different Ethnic groups into a blended national unity appealed to many Ethiopians. At that time he denied rumors that his mother was unlike his Oromo father an Amhara. 

After being thrust forward to the rank of Prime Minister by his confidant Lemma Megersa (leader of the Oromos) and Jawar Mohammed (leader of Qeero movement) he seemed destined for greatness, being a part of the most numerous ethnic group making up more than 30% of the Ethiopian population.

Yet somehow this gift of power and prestige was not enough. Like the tragedy of Dr. Faustus in the famous play by Christopher Marlowe at some point following his being named Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed decided he needed more power. The promotors of Amhara dominance and expansionism who had been somewhat silent for years on the domestic political front but active in the diaspora  began to whisper in Abiy Ahmed’s ear. They became the “Mephastophilis” who promised greater power and immortality if Abiy Ahmed just let go of reasonable logic and would trust the power of evil.

A joint alliance of “religious leaders” promised that God would allow Abiy Ahmed to break all rules of Christian morality in the name of creating a “Christian” Ethiopian state under Amharic dominance. It did not matter that no where in Scripture is such a thing promised. What these leaders were saying was the equivalent of saying during Jesus walk in the desert, described in Matthew 4:1-11,  when he was tempted by the Devil to accept him over God to rule the world Jesus should have accepted the Devil.  That this was necessary because Ethiopia was in another Zemene Mesafint, a time of many princes but no king, which would doom Ethiopia. 

Abiy Ahmed has forgotten his Oromo heritage while many of his own ethnic group rebel in growing numbers against him. He has imprisoned Jawar Mohammed and severely sanctioned Lemma Megersa. In fact almost anyone who was a previous mentor has become an enemy.

At this moment the war in Ethiopia rages on in destruction. The Tigray and their allies are advancing but they have offered to negotiate but tragically Abiy Ahmed and his collaborators under the Mephastophilian influence refuse logic.  Will Abiy Ahmed be like Dr. Faustus who in the end of the play realizes his sin and need for repentance or he will see Ethiopia to it’s end?

The Tigray are following war ethics of the African Saint Augustine

North African Saint Augustine of Hippo (painted by Berto di Giovanni) defined when a war is justified by Christian morals

A North African Bishop some 1,600 years ago would write about how and when Christians have the right under their faith to battle in war. He later lived in Rome while it was under constant threat of attack by pagan tribes in the 5th century AD.  Saint Augustine of Hippo has been widely recognized by Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians as one of the main influences in Christian thinking . He wrote about the ideal society in The City of God where he created the term jus ad bellum meaning just war.

The Sixth Commandment given by Moses had said “do not kill”. Apart from complete pacifism there seemed to many Christians no other alternative response to violence or the threat of violence to a population.   Augustine stated that the wrongdoing of the aggravating party was the initiator of war not the responder to the threat. The reason to respond to this violence or threat of violence was to achieve peace.

In fighting a just war the use of force should only be that necessary to reach the peace and also that it is directed to the combatants.  Augustine’s criteria were latter clarified by Saint Thomas Aquinas to include the war needed to waged by a legitimate authority, have a just cause, have the right intentions, have a reasonable chance of success, and be proportional to the force applied by the enemy.

The Tigray have agreed to peace talks to end the conflict but the Ethiopian government has refused saying that they are doing a law enforcement action. Law enforcement actions under international law cannot be directed to endanger innocent civilians. The parties must agree to seek peace when one offers it realistically. The Ethiopian offer of a temporary truce to allow planting while the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces stopped farmers from planting was a false pretense as noted by the Abiy Ahmed appointed interim administration during Tigray occupation.

Let us examine this criteria with respect to the Ethiopian Tigray Conflict

Application of Use of Force to Combatants not Noncombatants
A. In the “fog of war” injury to civilians must be avoided as much as possible. Intentional starvation, withdrawal of health care, livelihood (banking, communication, education)  of civilians and children at the approval and command of Ethiopian and Eritrean authorities grossly violates this mandate.

  1. Tigray Legitimate Authority
    Although the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed claimed falsely the election of the TPLF to rule the Tigray State was illegal it is clear as documented by many international researchers that the vast majority of Tigray voters by a margin of over 90% voted for TPLF. The opposition party, Tigray Independence Party, joined with the TPLF in supporting the war action. The Arena Party who was placed as interim administration would once there within a few months admit that the Abiy Ahmed government’s intentions was to starve the population and prevent agricultural food production by stopping farmers planting. Abiy Ahmed never allowed Tigray to vote in any Ethiopian election.
  2. Tigray Just Cause
    Proponents of the actions of the Ethiopian Federal Government claim there was an unprovoked attack on the Ethiopian Army North Command in November 2020. However many analysts have noted that Ethiopia began preparing for war months before November 2020 including building up forces on the Amhara and Afar borders. Pre-paying Esaias Afwerki, ruler of Eritrea, over $500 million USD beforehand and promising another $500 million upon starting the war. Arranging medical facilities in the Amhara region for a planned war. Reducing the necessary operating budgets to sustain Tigray government functions for months. Declaring the TPLF terrorists who could not hold office while just a few months before claiming in a speech to Parliament that they were exemplary leaders. The Tigray State government has claimed that Article 39 which allows for self determination of a regional state and that territorial disputes should be handled by civil litigation where violated. This has been recognized also by many members of the African Union and United Nations.
  3. Right Intentions
    The intentions of the Tigray State have been to remove the threat of loss of life, abuse, starvation, communication, property, and making a living imposed by the Ethiopian state on anyone who is a Tigray by ethnicity.
  4. Proportional Use of Force
    While the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces have widely attacked noncombatants by the deprivation of food, communication, transportation, fuel, electricity, personal security, livelihood, in a severe and constant manner clearly under order from commanders and government leaders this has not been the case for the Tigray forces. They have openly invited any and all investigations by unbiased bodies of any accusation. They have set up civilian administrations by local authorities in compliance with international rules of war.
  5. Reasonable Chance of Success
    In spite of the complete siege by Ethiopia denying food, medicine, fuel, health care, communication causing civilian death increasing daily the Tigray forces have reclaimed most of Tigray but not Western Tigray and temporarily occupied parts of Amhara to provide a buffer from invasion. They have asked for peace talks in lieu of demanding a complete military victory to which the Ethiopian government refuses.

The unholy alliance of religious Ethiopia with anti-religious Eritrea

Esaias Afwerki was trained to be an athetist in Communist China under Chairman Mao

The paradoxical alliance of Abiy Ahmed and his religious supporters with the anti-religion regime of Eritrea’s Esaias Afwerki. Look at any survey ranking the world’s countries in religious observance and its importance in daily life and you will usually find Ethiopia near the top. Yet Abiy Ahmed has put together an unholy alliance with avowed anti-religious Eritrea to facilitate genocide as a means to gain power against the very vows of brotherhood and humanity which make up the core of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religions of Ethiopia.

Abiy Ahmed has placed the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on house arrest because he spoke out against genocide. He has conspired with Eritrea in performing acts of murder and desecration against Christian, Muslim, and Jews (Qemont) to their followers and sanctuaries.  

Although Esaias was apparently raised as a Christian as far as anyone can tell he is now atheist. As a young man in the 1960s he was trained in Marxism under Chinese Chairman Mao who advocated a religious free world. In the early 1970s he complained that the early Eritrea independence movement, the Eritrean Liberation Front, was too full of Muslims leading to him to crush the ELF and start the Eritrean Liberation People’s Front. Although he has tried to curry favor with Islamic Arab league nations who deal with him based upon practicality without regard to his religious abhorrence in Eritrea there has been a long history of closing mosques and Islamic schools. In 2017 many demonstrations by Eritrean diaspora occurred in protest of Muslim oppression in a country where at least 1/3 of the population follows Islam.

At various times the Eritrean police state has imprisoned or assassinated religious followers. Like China it wants people to be devoted to the state not to God.  In 2019 all Catholic Church charities including hospitals and schools were closed down and patients thrown into street. During my time in the first three months of Eritrean and Ethiopian occupation of Mekelle, the Catholic Church charities office was the target of artillery barrages, ransacked, and all equipment removed by Eritrean army soldiers. Several times I walked to meet with the representatives of the Catholic Bishop of Adigrat who was detained in Adigrat and was searched, my camera photos reviewed and erased, and warned not to return. The Tigray Ethiopian borders has about 40,000 Irob who are a separate ethnic group who are mostly Catholic and have suffered terribly by the Eritrean occupation.

Members of the Pentecostal Church denomination, Mulu Wongel,  to which Abiy Ahmed claims membership have been arrested, detained, tortured and even worse many times in Eritrea since 2002. Although the exact numbers are unknown we know that at least several thousand Christians have been imprisoned without cause or trail in Eritrea for nothing more than practicing their faith.

The relationship between Muslims and Christians in Ethiopia and Eritrea has been historically mixed. Although an Ethiopian King granted refuge to followers of Mohammed’s new religion from Saudi Araba pagans centuries ago and now Ethiopia is recognized as a special place in Islam the relationship has always had flares of unrest. Some of the diaspora that met with Abiy Ahmed during his visit to the United States in 2018 support the concept shared by many Amhara elites that Ethiopia should be a “Christian nation”.  Now many of his closest advisors echo similar dreams. Yet there are Muslim supporters who buy into his promise of Medemer unity.

Whatever claims Abiy Ahmed and Esaias Afwerki make in public there can be no denying that the orders they give their armies and militias are not to respect religion. Massacres at Axum’s St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church of over 80 civilians and clergy and the near destruction of the Negash mosque in Tigray followed by ransacking and pillaging by Eritrean troops portray a clear aversion to respect of any religion by either Abiy Ahmed, Esaias Afwerki, and their supporters.

Abiy Amed following Yugoslavia model for state destruction

Current armed rebellions against the central Ethiopian government

Although Abiy Ahmed Prosperity Party supporters exuberantly welcome his medemer version of a national unity  based upon the old model of Amhara elitism studies of the downfall of Yugoslavia just thirty years ago suggest it will similarly fall.  Many of those who witnessed the Yugoslavia downfall today point to the fact that political elites tried to force their version of a unity identity while ignoring altogether ethnic and religious differences in the country.

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the breakup of Yugoslavia. What was known as Yugoslavia had several ethnicities including Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Although the different groups had similar “racial history” and language there were significant cultural as well as religious differences between the groups that were not “taken into account” in creating the Yugoslavian state in 1918 after World War I.

The monarchy gave way to a communist regime at the end of World War II during which many partisans were split between supporting the Allied and Axis powers. The new communist ideals fashioned under Josip Tito ignored language and ethnicity but instead claimed that a common goal of “self managed socialism” was the main contributing factor to a Yugoslavian nationality.

Historians have noted that the education system and cultural recognition mechanisms of the time did not present the presence of a “multi-cultural” society but only that a history of national unity from a common struggle defined the country.

Upon the death of Tito in 1980 the long standing denial of ethnic identities and their suppression gave way to overflowing cries of discrimination and favoritism. It is interesting that many who have studied this change remark that ethnicity itself was not the cause for change but the existing pattern of political elites of a few ethnic groups to claim their concept of national identity was superior to other groups ideals. Ethnicity became a tool of political power, oppression, and ultimately resulted in the killings of thousands.

The breakup of the former Yugoslavia

Muslims, Christians, Catholics, Orthodox, Serbs, Montenegerins, Macedonian, Bosnians, Croates, and Slovennes all began to be polarized from each other. Even within groups there was division based upon how devoted one was to one’s own ethnicity or religion. In seeking recognition for their own religion it became a political tool for manipulation and oppression as well as ethnicity.

Abiy Ahmed who was once the representative in the Ethiopian Parliament for the Oromo region immediately north of the capital, Addis Ababa, made his early reputation as a mediator between religions and protector of Oromo rights to housing. However over the past two years he has found tremendous political support and power by realigning himself with mostly Amhara elites who have revived the concept of Ethiopia having an Amharic manifest destiny. Like those who tried to create a central unity in Yugoslavia he is supported by academics who speak not in terms of historical fact or scripture but in flagrant political  language which proclaims this is the only manner in which Ethiopia as a nation can thrive. That this approach will lead to it becoming an international super power. No regard is given that while for last ten years it approached Gross Domestic Product Growth of almost 10% annually it is now in reality a -2% for this year and in unescapable debt.

As regards those who are not Amharic he is saying that they can be a “part” of this unity if they agree to suppress dissent on his approach. Whereas initially he called for a free press, release of political prisoners, and openness in political discussion this has been transformed to a tyrannical state where dissent is rewarded with a branding of “terrorist” that can lead to imprisonment, confiscation of assets, or even assassinations. Healthcare, banking, communication, food, security, and right to life are reserved for those who agree with the Abiy Ahmed version of medemer while others will be deprived.

Just as in Yugoslavia this strict acceptance of only the Prosperity Party ideal of being an Ethiopia has resulted in open rebellion in not only Tigray but also Beningshagul, Amhara (Qemont and Agaw), Oromo, Somali, Afar, and Gambella regions. The fastest growing revolt is occurring in the region of Oromia of his own ethnic group. 

Noted authority on Ethiopia, Alex De Waal, wrote this week that Abiy Ahmed has turned up his rhetoric to excite his supporters while many other African leaders are increasingly shunning him.  The United States previously the foremost supporter of Ethiopia finds itself having to impose sanctions because of overwhelming evidence of mass genocide. Both De Waal and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez both have indicated that they believe Abiy Ahmed is a risk of destroying Ethiopia if he does not change course. In an interview with Al Jazeera, the UN Secretary General stated that Ethiopia cannot defeat the Tigray forces.

 

 

UN priority of preserving Ethiopian state over human rights makes it useless to find peace

The United Nations places preservation of the current Ethiopian regime over human rights and right to self determination of the Tigray and other ethnicities in Ethiopia

The United Nations is turning a blind eye to the suffering of the Tigray people by stating the preservation of the Ethiopian state is their first priority. Imagine if the Nazi Germany government sat as the judges of human rights violations against the 6 million Jews who suffered genocide! This is exactly the situation we are seeing now with the “joint” cooperation between the Ethiopian government who with its partner Eritrea has committed intentional starvation, rape, murder, displacement, withholding of health care, financial services, and communication very openly and publicly against the Tigray and other minority ethnicities in Ethiopia.

This week we have witnessed how useless the United Nations as well as the African Union is when a member nation’s government becomes inhumane and unjust. Although the United Nations Charter says the “inherent dignity” and the “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family should be protected and” upholding these human rights principles as “the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world” is fundamental to every undertaking of the United Nations. The reality is the real priority is about preserving the current leadership of a corrupt or inhumane country.

Michelle Bachelete, UN Human Rights Chief stated “preliminary findings” as dictated by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission were

  1. Government forces and their allies continue to be implicated in allegations of human rights violations.
  2. Reports also suggest that people of Tigrayan ethnicity have been detained by law enforcement officials on ethnic grounds, mostly in Addis Ababa 
  3. Incitement to hatred and discrimination were also documented targeting people of Tigrayan ethnicity, as well as attacks on journalists and the suspension of media outlets’ licenses and shutdowns of Internet and telecommunications in Tigray.

Ms. Bachelet added that Tigrayan forces have also allegedly been responsible for attacks on civilians, including indiscriminate killings resulting in nearly 76,500 people displaced in Afar and an estimated 200,000 in Amhara.

More than 200 individuals have reportedly been killed in the most recent clashes in these regions, and 88 individuals, including children, have been injured, she said.

There have also been reports of the recruitment of children into the conflict by Tigrayan forces, which is prohibited under international law.

However her answer to the situation was however that the priority of the United Nations was the preservation of the Ethiopian state and by extension of the current government of Abiy Ahmed. Even though the United Nations has previously stated that the Abiy Ahmed regime and partner Eritrea is carrying out a “de fact0” blockade against Tigray that is forbidden under the UN Charter she called for an immediate ceasefire without concern for its consequences.

No discussion was made about concentration camps or mass killings in Western Tigray or Aksum. No investigation at all about Eritrea who seems to be given a pass by the UN and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

As I have previously written the history of the United Nations in dealing with genocide is poor. To put it bluntly it is always too little and too late as was seen in Yugoslavia, Burma, Rwanda, Darfur, and others. The Tigray have no choice but to continue to fight for their survival.