WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom has an undeniable record of accomplishment

In 2019 when the Ebola crisis in central Africa in a region undergoing civil war Tedros Ahanom was instrumental in helping form an effective international response limiting the spread of the deadly virus as well commencing research efforts. Source Nature

World leaders and analysts have complemented the work of  Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus who was elected for another term as Director-General of the World Health Organization. These complements are not just limited to his recent work but began almost twenty years ago beginning with his appointment to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and continuing during his subsequent office of Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Complaints by malcontents at the current Ethiopian government of covert actions have never been proven. At the same time Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus has fully cooperated with international NGOs and the UN to send aid to Amhara, Afar, and other regions of Ethiopia while the Ethiopian government blocked similar aid to Tigray.  I was fortunate to share a table with him at an African Union summit on health care development about 8 years ago. He is articulate and driven by a higher sense of duty not just to Tigray, Ethiopia, or Africa but to mankind.

The expansion of Ethiopia’s health care system commenced in 2004,  when over 30 000 Health Extension Workers were trained and deployed in Ethiopia and over 2500 health centers and 15 000 village-level health posts were constructed. Some analysts have attributed Ethiopia’s successful reforms a to strong leadership and “political will”. However an academic study of these reforms by Kevin Croke from the Harvard Department of Global Health and Population at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health determined that the reality was there was more to the story then will. This analysis was published in December 2020 in Health Policy and Planning. The focus on rural development and stressing the primacy of development as well building alliances among different regions as developed by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus is what drove the success in reform. The WHO Director-General has been tested with the Ebola crisis, COVID 19, immunizations, global health inequity, and other issues yet he has stayed on course. 

Today the Ministry of Health has been mostly Addis Ababa centric. The level of spending per capita for health care has gone down from $23 to $18. Even though Tigray is claimed to be a part of Ethiopia no expenditure is currently directed there for any government activity including health care. What aid that comes issues from the World Health Organization, International Red Cross, and other international sources.

After becoming Foreign Minister in 2005 where he served until 2012 he expanded his advocacy for health care development in underdeveloped nations not just in Ethiopia. He joined in international efforts to deal with malaria, tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS setting in motion movements to control these maladies with good results. To some extent this  has followed a general trend in public health among academics to place health care front and center in political considerations for funding and priority.

Dr. Tedros as he is known in Tigray where use of first names is matter of custom was unanimously elected again because of his history of accomplishments recognized by health authorities and elected leaders except for Ethiopia who judges him wrongly because he is Tigrayan.

My Christmas Thought for Tigray and Ethiopia

A 500 year old iconic artwork showing Mary with the infant Jesus from what was once the Abyssinian empire where we what call Tigray is today

A little more than 2000 years ago a man was born into the Middle East not far from what is Tigray today. He came from an ancient tradition stemming from a covenant made between God and Abraham that would lead to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This shared heritage saw human beings as being created in the image of God, with each having a life with dignity and value, and that the affairs of man should be done in accordance with the commandments of God given to the prophet Moses.

The world Jesus was born into was corrupt and morally lost. The ruler of Jerusalem was a half-Jew who had made an unholy alliance with the Roman Empire to seal his complete power over his domain rejecting the Jewish faith.  A seemingly unquenchable bloodthirst compelled him to kill many of his subjects and even his own wife and her family who came from a ancient rabbinical lineage. When this ruler named Herod heard that a Messiah was born his fear of losing power became so enraged he killed every male child born in the kingdom in a cruel mockery of the Passover story.

Today is the second celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in the West (while in Ethiopia this will occur in a few weeks) since then the people of Tigray have been under siege, depravity, violation, starvation, isolation, and risk of violent death without end.  I appreciate what God’s grace has given me and my family and am grateful yet everyday my heart sorrows for the suffering of the Tigray people.

As a researcher and physician I have cared for and interacted with thousands of families in distress traveling through much of Tigray. Most of them live a very simple hard life working everyday to have minimal water, food, and shelter which most of the world takes for granted.  Yet they unwaveringly hold their faith in God even in the midst of genocide. Their life is not much different then that into which Jesus was born.

Today the power that brought this suffering to these children of God lies with group of clerico-fascists who have twisted ancient words of wisdom to their own selfish ends like the Sanhedrin that questioned Jesus. They uphold a  ruler who played in a park while his people fought locusts destroying their crops. Whilst children and elderly die from agonizing hunger  he denies them any food. Who forbids any communication between families who for more than year have been in darkness. Who brings death from the sky randomly targeting innocent souls.

Under the leadership of this dark leader, Abiy Ahmed and his associates, Tigray has suffered like the kingdom of Jerusalem did under Herod. I pray that the Holy Spirit will somehow find its way into the dark hearts causing so much misery. Jesus Christ, the son of God, told us that love between the brothers and sisters of God’s creation is the only way to salvation.

Amen

Ethiopian hypocrisy of killing Oromo elders meeting in traditional democratic councils

Night Shot Of Karrayyu Tribe People Gathered Around The Gifts Offered To The Karrayyu Tribe Families For The Gadaaa Ceremony, Metahara, Ethiopia

Apparently the Abiy Ahmed regime feels threatened by longstanding democratic practices of the Oromo people. Whilst saying it wants an African solution to an African problem they kill Oromos trying to do just that. The extrajudicial killing of members of an elder council  of Karrayyu Oromo in the East Shewa zone of Oromia this week apparently by elements of Amhara militia is an attack on the Oromo culture and tradition. Unfortunately much of the discontent of the Oromo people in Ethiopia gets little attention in the current conflict. For sometime the Oromos have practiced legal pluralism with a mix of traditional practices and more modern governmental functions. Researchers on these practices have found them to be effective in reducing violence and helping local populations prosper peacefully. Interestingly Ethiopian Prime Minister in his claimed PhD thesis discussed elder councils as a way to solve conflicts but now seems to have dumped the concept. Although spokespersons for Abiy Ahmed deny their involvement, many Oromos point to the recent history of executions by Amhara militia documented on published videos and history of domination.

The Karrayyu Oromo who once numbered over 200,000 in population are a subgroup of the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia numbering 33 million or 32% of the Ethiopian population. Their origins in what came to called Ethiopia goes back many hundreds of years. They are mostly nomadic pastoralists who came under Amhara domination during the reign of Menelik II at the end of the 19th century. Like many Oromos they complain of a history of discrimination and deprivation under Amhara rule.

The Karrayyu and their fellow Oromos practice the gadaa system which involve different generations rotating local government responsibilities in social, political, economic, and religious life. Western political scientists have recently studied and noted this form of democracy as potentially predating the Greek concept of democracy.

A positive Mexican-American reflection on American Thanksgiving

Turkey tamales are one innovation Mexican-Americans have added to American Thanksgiving meals which represent a time of bringing families together

As a Mexican-American child growing up in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas I remember celebrating the American holiday, Thanksgiving, as a day which seeked to convey a utopian image of the founding of America between native peoples and foreign immigrants. This remembrance has come under controversy with the emergence of a bitter feud between advocates that it should be a day of shame of European conquest and defenders who note it was and is a symbol of the ideal of what America is striving to be. That although not yet perfect America has made considerable progress to that promised by its inception.

Just before Thanksgiving a year ago I was a part of Mekelle University medical faculty teaching medical students, providing healthcare, and promoting research to improve the lives of Tigrayans as well as their fellow Ethiopians. Unfortunately today I find myself displaced by a horrible war that has killed, starved, deprived, and rendered hopeless tens of thousands of people in Ethiopia. Everyday of the war reminds me they have not yet reached the state of progress we have struggled for in America. We versus they thinking has poisoned their society. They need to be exterminated mentality has ruined a country.

I am currently reading Thaddeus William’s Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice which has helped me to come to terms with how I view Thanksgiving.

First we have to recognize that all men are created by God in his image. All of us are potential sinners and potentially repentant members of the human family. Neither the native American society nor the Europeans were without sin yet they judged each other as “they” not “we”. Today this lack of seeing others like ourselves deteriorates into volatility and then violence. This has been sin of man since history has been recorded.

As a Mexican-American we honor our native and European roots. They are our mother and father. To hate one and love the other only recognizes half of our whole. The American expansion to the southwestern continental region of North American engulfed our traditional lands which beforehand had been taken from our native ancestors by Europeans.

Today we are a part of a great country, the United States of America, to which we have contributed much including building its infrastructure, harvesting its food, blending into and adding to its culture,  as well as defending its liberty from foreign threats. We cannot change history but we can learn from it. Our identity now is we are an essential part of the American dream and it is an integral part of our culture. Today I can celebrate Thanksgiving because although there was a flawed past there is a  future with  promise. I thank God for his creation of us all.

A day in the life of a neurosurgeon in Tigray before the war

A brain tumor in a young farmer from the countryside of Tigray treated in 2018. Today someone like him has no chance for treatment due to the Ethiopian blockade
The following is a story of a single patient written in 2018 before the Ethiopia Tigray conflict. It was a time of hope. That we could bring something new to Tigray and help the farmers. I pray these days will come again
 
As the family said goodbye to him he left the ICU for the operating room. He had been intubated and resuscitated in the emergency room where he presented with coma. A young uneducated farmer from a remote primitive area who had been deteriorating for a year and half. Tumors in this part of the world are large and angry because they present so late. The MRI of the brain showed a 10 centimeter tumor in the fourth ventricle which was highly vascularized. This is the type of case neurosurgeons dream of, a mix of danger and hope.
 
The residents and fellows do the initial opening until the back of the brain is exposed which takes the first hour of surgery. I can see the tumor erupting to surface with very swollen blood vessels around it. Instead of the ependymoma (an easier tumor to remove) this was going to be hard. I begin working a millimeter at a time. Gently dissecting tumor from brain, isolating and separating scar bands and blood vessels. Using directed light and magnification for the next 8 hours I cannot take even a 5 minute break. Removing the tumor means there is constant blood loss. The brain receives more blood than any other organ. Tumors cause extra blood vessels to grow into them. As you control one bleeder another 2 start.
 
By the fourth hour into surgery he has lost 5 liters of blood and his blood pressure is fragile. By the sixth hours there is still about 20% of the tumor left which is covering the cerebral aqueduct. This must be removed to allow flow of cerebrospinal fluid. We are millimeters away from vital areas that cannot be damaged.
 
Another 2 hours goes by and there are times when the blood loss starts again and pressure gets low even with another 2 units. After 8 hours from the beginning of my part of the surgery the tumor is completely removed. The patients blood pressure is holding thanks to high dose epinephrine (a drug to raise blood pressure in critical patient). Now comes the hardest time. Will the patient wake up? He goes to the intensive care unit and we wait. After a few hours he begins to move in a way that suggest he will emerge from coma. This is the life of neurosurgeon. Fighting to stay on the brink of life for hours at a time.
 
He left the hospital fully functional and returned to his farm. I pray he has survived the war.

Abiy Ahmed and Prosperity Party revoked all their promises of hope and unity for Ethiopia

The growing paradox between what Abiy Ahmed promised and what reality has emerged under his leadership

The glow of hope was replaced by the tarnish of despair in just three years after Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018 as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. The world watched initially with awe as the new leader freed political prisoners, took up the plight of Oromo interests being ignored in the growth of Addis Ababa, promised democratic elections, and a dialogue with all of Ethiopia’s varied and many ethnic groups. But this new wave of democracy would not last.

A major part of his rise in political popularity was the civil actions of the Qeerro demonstrators and support of Oromo activists including Jawar Mohammed who accompanied the new Prime Minister on his tour meeting diaspora in the United States. Today Jawar Mohammed and others sit in jail without a real due process. The Oromo whose cause was once championed by the Prime Minister suffer extrajudicial killings without restriction.

Early in his new role, Abiy Ahmed complimented the Tigray as an example of a good regional government in discussing with the Ethiopian parliament what should be expected of elected officials.

Now Ethiopia is involved in a civil war with an ever growing number of participants from almost all regions of Ethiopia joining the Tigray and Oromo fighters who clearly see that the Prime Minister has violated his supreme duty to follow the Ethiopian constitution and act in the best interests of Ethiopia.

The Tigray regional state had only 9000 armed forces in its service in November 2020 not the 250,000 claimed. Build ups in Eritrea and Amhara as well as severe cutting of budgets normally allotted by population and most importantly the characterization of the Tigray leadership as “terrorists” even after they had left power peacefully created an intolerable environment. It is literally a miracle that they were able to survive the initial onslaught of the combined forces of Ethiopia and Tigray estimated to be over 150,000. No doubt that a part of this revival was due to the will to overcome the intentional and massive genocide being acted upon the innocent Tigray population.

As someone who has lived and worked in Tigray for the past 7 years until I was forced to evacuate I have spent time in many regions talking to farmers, city dwellers, and thousands of patients and their families. The representation that the Tigray were subjugated to an unpopular despotic regional government is nonsense. What ever differences existed have been dismissed as the vast majority of Tigrayans, the Tegaru, are united in the purpose of avoiding an intended complete genocide. No doubt this is why Abiy Ahmed and his followers have such a fear of children, the elderly, and mothers of the Tigray that they want to arrest all of them immediately.

Today, Ethiopia is a failed state due to the chameleon nature of the Prime Minister and his followers which have now revoked all their promises. Many of his former supporters are now in prison. There is no free speech, no free press, no growing economy, and now Ethiopia is becoming identified most closely with outlaw nations like North Korea, Iran, and yes especially Eritrea. Ethiopia has allied itself with the enemies of all the values it once promised to hold most dear.

 

Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afwerki continuous hatred toward Christians

Still from Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab geolocated a video showing people carrying a dead man on a stretcher in Da’Ero Ela Plaza (14.129918, 38.717113), towards Arba’etu Ensessa church.

Esaias Afwerki and Abiy Ahmed despite his claim of Christianity seemed joined together in their hatred for Christians during the Ethiopia Tigray conflict.

About 40,000 Irob (sometimes spelled Erob) people live on the northern Tigray Eritrean border. They speak a different language Saho then the Tigray and high percentage of them are Roman Catholics due in part to schools and support services placed in the community by the Catholic Church since the 19th century. Traditionally they have been allies with the Tigray in opposing Eritrea and the Derg. 

Many Irob who have lived in the areas recognized as Eritrean since Eritrean independence have suffered extrajudicial killings, imprisonment, displacement, and general deprivation for years. It was not unusual to hear that Eritrean authorities would come to dismantle Irob homes to use the lumbar for government projects. Authorities blocked church functions, funerals, and public gatherings to discuss local issues which were customary to Irob cultural tradition.

Since the Ethiopia Eritrean invasion of Tigray the situation only got worse. Investigation by the European Center for Law & Justice as well as the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights reports numerous murders of priests, Catholic lay, destruction of worship facilities, and also of social supportive buildings for the Irob. Many families report many if not all the men in their family were executed by Eritrean forces. This barbarism against is not only for Catholics but also Tigray Orthodox believers where more than 80 priests and lay worshipers were murdered in Axum .

During the invasion of Mekelle, I witnessed the artillery barrage destroying much of the building housing Catholic Charities. Eritrean forces then came and removed all files and communication equipment. While meeting with lay representatives of the church to discuss how we could help offer medical help, I was accosted by Eritrean soldiers and my cell phone erased by them.

Esaias Afwerki’s prosecution of Christians in Eritrea is rated by Open Doors as the 6th worst in world. He has closed Catholic schools and hospitals throwing sick patients into the street. Even though Abiy Ahmed claims to be a Christian and member of the Mulu Wongel (Full Gospel Believers Church) in Addis Ababa his partner in the war, Esaias has expelled, tortured, and killed many members of this same church in Eritrea.

Vatican News reports that Ethiopian authorities have raided a center in Addis Ababa arresting many priests, Salesian missionaries, volunteers, and employees. Many of the Salesians have lived in Addis since 1975 with strong pacifist sentiments.

The World Council of Churches representing 50 million Christians from 349 churches in 110 countries sent letters to both Abiy Ahmed and Ethiopian Christian churches in February 2021 condemning violence, lamenting displacement, and widespread hunger in Tigray.

George Orwell’s dystopian 1984 country is becoming reality in Ethiopia

A year after winning the Nobel Peace Prize thousands of Ethiopians were arrested, dead, and silenced

Abiy Ahmed is bringing the fantasy of George Orwells 1984 into reality in Ethiopia. He once promised a new era of free speech, free press, and exchange of ideas among different ethnicities but now his metamorphosis to one described by Jeffrey Felts as one “whose behavior no person of conscience can accept” has brought Ethiopia to the brink of ruin if not complete destruction.

Anyone with any previous tie to Tigray without current evidence of intention to act against Ethiopia can have their possessions taken, their livelihood destroyed, and imprisoned without due process. News organizations must register and promise to only publish news that is approved to strictly follow government’s dictations. Ordinary citizens who voice any opinion in opposition to government in person, on the street, or in social media are to be considered terrorists.

In the case of Big Brother in George Orwell’s classic tale of a completely dominating dystopian state,  1984, his name was unknown but in the case of Ethiopia which now seems to be following the same theme we know the protagonist is Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed. Unfortunately this is not fiction but a growing epic catastrophe causing millions of people to suffer and die. There is no morality above that which serves the state. All actions to preserve the stability of the state are allowable.

In 1984 Big Brother constantly watches every citizen all the time. Not only what they do and say but even analyzing what they think to insure that everything is being done for the benefit of state stability and security. History, education, and media are strictly controlled and manipulated to further the state’s goals while truth has no relevance. There is only one official nationalism and all others are forcefully quashed. The citizens live in poverty and deprivation to keep them in a state of continual dependence on government assistance tied to perfect individual support of the state. Failure to fully cooperate results in severe penalty.

Leadership and humanity to foe has determined the victor in Ethiopia

The leadership of the Tigray and Ethiopian Federal Government

Whatever you might believe about the Tigray, the Oromo, or the Amhara the current situation has basically been about two armies and especially their leadership. The Ethiopian federal government under Abiy Ahmed had all the cards in his favor or so he thought. He professed that his intent with the invasion of Tigray was to do “enforcement”. His goal was to capture the rebel leaders to “liberate” the Tigray who like to be called the Tegaru.

I have never met Mr. Ahmed but I have had the pleasure many times to share airplane trips with Mr. Debretsion who is a quiet contemplative man who has an enormous intellect but at the same time understands the common man of Tigray. We always talked about what we were doing at the University and the hospital for the farmers.

The Tigray Defense Force has captured Dessie and now seems unstoppable while the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, says today from Bahir Dar that Ethiopia cannot win militarily over the Tigray.  Rather than thousands dying in weeks of battle, the humanity of the Tigray Defense Force avoided extensive civilian causalities and offered humanitarian care of prisoners which encouraged the Ethiopian defense forces to surrender rather then die for nothing in Dessie. There is no doubt that what has happened in Tigray and northern Ethiopia is a human tragedy. Those who mostly suffered have been poor farmers whose lives are tied to a constant struggle to just survive even in times of peace. Years from now historians and political analysts will try to cast light on what lead to this catastrophe.  

However, Abiy Ahmed’s hidden agenda, which was to annihilate the Tigray people soon become obvious. Instead of trying to compassionately motivate the people of Tigray that they had their interest by securing food, power, internet, medicine, education, and personal security they unleashed barbarous savagery of rape, thief, deprivation, destruction and hate.

In his mind and in his pronouncement to his followers, Abiy Ahmed, belittled the Tigray to subhumans incapable of doing anything well. He seemed to forget their history of being capable of elite light infantry campaigns in guerrilla and conventional warfare. The Prime Minister put his faith in military leaders who had previously been defeated by the Tigray in the Derg war. Finally, his cruelty to the Tigray people motivated her population to sustain a war effort not for domination but for survival. Meanwhile much of Ethiopia outside of the main combatants realized that the war was an instrument of destruction not unity. The old story of Amhara expansion that characterized the 18th and 19th century domination of Abyssinia over the Cushitic and Southern peoples is over. Medemer was exposed as lie. Apparently Abiy Ahmed has sent his family to Switzerland. I hope a new era will emerge.

Ethiopian desire to obliterate Tigray existence becoming more public

Yohannes Buayalew, a top Amhara government official warned that one of the key factors to win a war was to foster and internalize hate of the enemy

Once claiming Tigray as fellow  mislead Ethiopians, Ethiopian leaders now proclaim absolute hate for them. Yohannes Buayalew, an Amhara government official now proclaims a key factor to win a war was to foster and internalize hate of the enemy. “Artists should help promote hate among the people against the enemy. Hate is power needed to defeat an enemy.  He called on Ethiopian artists and writers to make hate sink in the people. Previous denials by Ethiopian officials that their war against the Tigray was an intended genocide but was only a “law enforcement operation” are now changed to bold proclamations of the need to develop absolute hate of everything Tigray. Of course the reality is that this hatred has been present since Abiy Ahmed began planning his Tigray obliteration after his alliance with Ahmara expansionists.

Before Ethiopian, Amhara, and Eritrean forces even entered the Ethiopian Tigray war they were told by commanding officers and political leaders that this war was about permanently removing the Tigray people from not only existence but history. We now know that specific orders were given to kill all male children over the age 4 at least and if more the better. Tigray women were to raped to bear Amhara children or their wombs rendered sterile by mutilation.

Schools, hospitals, farms, electricity, water, internet, and banking were to be destroyed that no vestige of society remained. Even before the Ethiopian invasion the Ethiopian Federal government had already changed the budgets of universities and other facilities to zero. Factories built by foreign interest which were financed by the Ethiopian government were to be destroyed.

Almost no prisoners of war from Tigray and minimally from Oromo fighters have been taken. Most were just killed on the spot and left for the hyena.

There are even some reports of Amhara FANO removing limbs from both combatants and civilians leaving them disabled. I saw innocent mothers shot in the back running from enemy soldiers and then their babies semi-decapitated. 

The hatred of the Abiy Ahmed and his followers has been so intense that Ethiopian Air Force bombing along the A2 Highway was allowed to kill many Amhara civilians as they could be sacrificed for the goal of genocide of the Tigray.