Ethiopian university removal of Tigray degrees may bring international sanctions

26th of November 2021 Professor Tassew Woldehanna, the President for the AAU, announces unprecedented actions against Ethnic Tigray degree holders

The announcement of Addis Ababa University that retroactive removal of academic degrees conferred on ethnic Tigrayans for not supporting the government of Abiy Ahmed may have severe repercussions not contemplated by the authors of this rash measure. Historically this type of action has been most associated with authoritarian regimes seeking to silence intellectual discourse which dissents from the despotic party line. When brought up in democracies on the other hand it has been rejected. International accrediting agencies for institutions of higher learning, funders of research, and potential universities offering advanced academic training for Ethiopians could place sanctions against this academic betrayal.

In the prelude to the World War II conflict Nazi Germany created a false Jewish strawman leading to the genocide of more than 6 million. In the midst of going from legalized discrimination to overt murder came the removal of all academic degrees from Jews in Germany and the occupied territories including Poland. 

In the United States students at Harvard University last year brought up the possibility of removing degrees from supporters of Donald Trump as punishment for his policies with which they vehemently disagreed. Long discussions where held and ultimately these type of sanction was deemed inappropriate as an attack on freedom of speech. 

The academic world of which I am a part is a world wide commitment to learning and teaching for the betterment of all mankind. Even between countries who are sometimes adversarial such as  China and the United States cooperate and share scientific discourse as well as research. I myself have looked at Iranian medical publications on treatment of tuberculosis of the spine as helpful for what to do in Tigray even though I do not agree with many policies of the Iranian government. The academic achievement of someone is a separate issue then their political affiliation. The beauty of academics is that those of different views can find common ground on which to collaborate.

I fear that the international academic community might feel compelled perhaps justifiable so to sanction active faculty of Addis Ababa University for their betrayal of the academic norms of procedure. This could include barring participation in international meetings, research funding from international sources, decertification of Addis Ababa University from international accreditation, and sanctions on assets of university leaders.

The continued efforts to isolate Ethiopia from the international community being self imposed will only lead to further loss of many milestones previously attained in development and human dignity.


Ethiopian diaspora in the USA should avoid acting as unregistered foreign agents

Protestors supporting Ethiopian government in Washington D.C. If they act without support or guidance from foreign governments they are acting within their right of free speech. However if receiving compensation and/or guidance that they are acting for a foreign government this is different.

Many Ethiopian diaspora becoming deeply involved as advocates for the Ethiopian governments genocidal actions should be aware of the differences between free speech and acting as a foreign agent.  The United States government has already imposed sanctions on Ethiopia for violating human rights previously protected in legal treaties with the United States and other countries. In addition now the government of Ethiopia is making threats of physical violence against the United States to the extent of approaching becoming a hostile nation.

Recently at a Washington, D.C. rally in protest of the Tigray famine several Tigrayan women were slapped, punched, and knocked down allegedly by members of diaspora Ethiopian organization. This is currently under police investigation. If for example these assaults were carried out or supported under suggestion of the Ethiopian government this becomes an issue.

Similarly, there appears at least superficially to be communication between Ethiopian diaspora groups in the USA and Addis Ababa about which political candidates should be supported. 

Ethiopian diaspora need to be aware that while serving in the Ethiopian or Eritrean military can ultimately lead to losing American citizenship it is also true that acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Ethiopia or Eritrea can lead to significant prison terms or fines.

The following information is taken from the official Department of Justice website

FARA is an acronym for the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as amended, 22 U.S.C. § 611 et seq. (“FARA” or “the Act”)FARA is an important tool to identify foreign influence in the United States and address threats to national security.  The central purpose of FARA is to promote transparency with respect to foreign influence within the United States by ensuring that the United States government and the public know the source of certain information from foreign agents intended to influence American public opinion, policy, and laws, thereby facilitating informed evaluation of that information.  FARA fosters transparency by requiring that persons who engage in specified activities within the United States on behalf of a foreign principal register with and disclose those activities to the Department of Justice.  The Department of Justice is required to make such information publicly available. 

An “agent of a foreign principal” is any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or otherwise acts at the order, request, or under the direction or control of a “foreign principal” and does any of the following:

Engages within the United States in political activities, such as intending to influence any U.S. Government official or the American public regarding U.S. domestic or foreign policy or the political or public interests of a foreign government or foreign political party.

Acts within the United States as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, information service employee, or political consultant.

Solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value within the United States.

Represents within the United States the interests of a foreign principal before U.S. Government officials or agencies.

See 22 U.S.C. § 611(c); 28 C.F.R. § 5.100.

Rural poverty severely rising under Abiy Ahmed wartime Ethiopian economy

Prior to Abiy Ahmed coming to power poverty had been declining in Ethiopia but now rural poverty is increasing even in areas far away from conflict according to the World Bank and other authorities

Abiy Ahmed and the Prosperity Party war on Tigray is creating rapidly increasing severe rural poverty in Ethiopia not seen in many decades. In his quest to stay in power against the steady advance of Tigrayan and Oromo forces Ethiopia’s leader is rapidly reducing all other human needs to minimal levels instead just focusing on surviving. Ethiopia has gone from being an economic miracle to an economic disaster caused by the quest for power of the Prime Minister.

In the decade before Abiy Ahmed came to power as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia the extreme poverty rate of the Ethiopian population defined as living on less than $ 2 per day had decreased from over 39% to 19% overall. Now data from the World Bank Group shows that first due to COVID19 and subsequently the prolonged war which severely limited economic output and creation of employment the overall rate has reversed especially in rural populations rising to 41%. 

Ethiopia has maxed out credit at over $40 billion requiring payments greater than $ 2 billion per annum just to pay the debt service not the principle. Severe cuts in human needs such as medications, medical consumables, infrastructure maintenance and improvement, and equipment imports just to run basic societal functions are increasing. The rapid decline of the birr which has been more than 30% over the past few month alone as well as growing international sanctions due to the Ethiopian governments human rights violations combined with ongoing war make any chance for economic recovery poor.

War on Tigray bringing decline of Ethiopian Airlines and competition


International air travel authorities are increasing the risk calculation for flights to Bole International Airport almost daily due to the approaching battlefront.

Ethiopian Airlines, one of the largest sources of foreign capital which bolsters the Ethiopian economy,  has been severely affected by the prolonged Ethiopian Tigray war.  Allegations of illegal war activity, approaching battlefront, decreased passenger traffic, and new initiatives by competitors are challenging the previous preeminence of the Ethiopian Airlines. Even before the war began in November 2020 what was Africa’s leading airline whose hub, Addis Ababa, had become the main African travel hub, was hurting due to the worldwide COVID 19 epidemic.

Now with many international agencies and governments evacuating the capital city of Ethiopia because of the proximity of the Tigray and Oromo forces many are wondering if an airport shutdown and closure of service is coming soon.

Numerous news sources have convincingly shown the airline to consistently carry munitions and troops in flights designated as regular civilian passenger flights which is against previously agreed upon international travel treaties including the Convention on Civil Aviation universally accepted around the world.  

In October 2021 the Biden administration stated that strong evidence of weapons ferrying into and between Ethiopia and Eritrea would be justification for sanctions against the airline. Although officials at Ethiopian Airlines initially refuted the claims they later changed the message after numerous well documented instances were revealed to say that they were loyal and proper in what they were doing. Fair trade practices with duty free imports to the United States are governed by Ethiopia agreeing to follow human rights practices which it has not.

The new vulnerability and limits on Ethiopian Airlines is bringing in a new vigor for other African countries to develop alternative airlines instead of allowing the continuing monopoly.  At the recent Dubai Airshow this past month, Air Tanzania, Uganda Airlines and RwandAir made major commitments with Airbus and Boeing to buy new aircraft while the cash strapped Ethiopian Airlines only worked on trying to lower maintenance costs. Many speculate that Ethiopian Airlines is in trouble financially because the reduced traffic has caused difficulty to make the payments on the millions of dollars in aircraft leases held.

Ethiopian blockade of antibiotics is killing children in Tigray

A young child with his mother visits a clinic in Southern Tigray which now have no supplies of medication or intravenous hydration

For young children in Tigray the availability of health care facilities and safe transport to them, intravenous hydration, and antibiotics for treatment can make all the difference whether a child lives or dies from infection which was the leading cause of death for those under age of 5 even before the Ethiopia Tigray conflict. This adds to many children already dying everyday from starvation.

This week health officials in Addis Ababa are celebrating improved use of antibiotics in Ethiopia but remain silent on the fact that for almost a year there has been no supply of antibiotics to save the lives of innocent children in Tigray. It seems they feel no responsibility to the welfare of children in Tigray. Given the Ethiopian blockade and the resistance of international authorities to challenge the humanitarian catastrophe in Tigray it is reliably expectant without a doubt that many times more children are dying.

The leading cause of death of children in Ethiopia under age 5  has been well established to be infectious disease. A study  looking at demographic data and disease statistics in 2019 before the Ethiopian Tigray conflicted indicated that male children, 0–11 months aged children, 12–23 months aged children, anemic children, husband with a lower education, mothers paid employment, non-breastfed children, regions of Amhara, Afar, Dire Dawa, Benishangul, Gambela, Oromia, SNNPR, Somali and Tigray were significantly associated with higher odds of morbidity in Ethiopia.

The general effects of the war contribute further to the medical crisis. Lack of fuel for public means of transportation means that for the mostly rural population of Tigray there is no way to seek medical consultation.

Severe budget cuts due to the need for war spending more than doubling the Ethiopian government budget has now resulted in medical supply shortages throughout Ethiopia not just Tigray. Even in discussions I had recently with some in the SNNP this is a growing situation. So it is likely death rates for young children from infection are increasing nationwide now not just in Tigray.

Escalating Tigray civilian detainment is moving towards holocaust

The detainment of Tigrayans in Addis Ababa increased with the retreat of Ethiopian forces from Tigray

The intentional escalation of hate of the Tigray demonstrated by Abiy Ahmed and his supporters beginning well before the onset of the Ethiopia Tigray conflict closely mirrors how the Nazi movement in Germany labeled and then persecuted the European Jews. The Nazi movement lead by Adolf Hitler began its rise to power in part by naming European Jews as the cause of Germany’s economic woes in the post World War I period. Although initially seen as radicals  the failure of German democratic movement to effect jobs and economic growth in the face of a punishing treaty that called for punitive payments eventually found the Nazi’s gaining popular support. Abiy Ahmed intimated by naming his new political party, Prosperity Party, like the Nazis could bring economic success by attacking a minority just as Hitler had done.

The Nazi’s capitalized on this idea that they had majority support in the same way as Abiy Ahmed supporters currently proclaim to begin a gradually escalating policies toward the Jews and other non-Aryans who became the strawmen for all of Germany’s woes. First they were labeled as different then the majority and seen to have evil motives to the general population. Public badges of Jews were then legislated into place to point them out. Then in 1941 and increasing rapidly through 1942 the concept was put in place to detain all Jews and place them in concentration camps leading to millions becoming slave labor and executed. This progression from labeling to genocide seen again in the Ethiopia Tigray conflict to be coming true.

Although he once praised the Tigray People Liberation Front as  an ideal regional government to his Parliament after agreeing to a cooperation pact with Isaias Afwerki the praise turned to condemnation. At first the scenario painted was that the Tigray population was a victim of a despotic TPLF leadership. During the initial takeover of most of Tigray, Abiy Ahmed placed many TPLF Tigrayan critics in key interim administration positions. However these appointees began to complain almost immediately about the conduct and policies of the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces. This included destruction of factories, high rates of violations against women, and blocking of farmers planting a harvest.

The resurgence of the Tigray Defense Force following the occupation of Mekelle leading  to the Ethiopian Defense Forces forced withdrawal and defeat marks an important change in the Ethiopian rhetoric towards the Tigray. Now Abiy Ahmed was saying that the strong support of the Tigray fighters by all Tigray justified actions against Tigray civilians. This was the beginning of a spiraling decline from the recognition of Tigrayans as Ethiopian citizens with rights to conversely all be enemy combatants so evil that even the elderly, small children, and mothers must be urgently confined as necessary for “national security”.

At this moment nobody knows the exact number of detainees but estimates now exceed 70,000 throughout Ethiopia. No clear definition of what constitutes a dangerous person requiring detainment has been given. Under terrorism law and the emergency state there are no clear cut rights to legal representation or due process. Many are being held in warehouses without provisions for bathrooms, feeding, or medical care. Family members have no rights to know where their loved ones or in what condition they are in. We know by way of a statement of a member of the Federal prosecutors office that some extrajudicial killings have already occurred. FANO leaders and others in the Prosperity Party have already posted on the internet that these Tigray and other detainees should be executed automatically to force the Tigray Defense Force and their alliance to surrender.


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.


Corrupt Addis mayor sees more Tigray detaining and possible independence

Mayor Adanech Abebe of Addis Ababa seems to have escaped embezzlement controversy by becoming staunch Abiy Ahmed supporter 

The controversial mayor of Addis Ababa, Adanech Abebe, made some comments during a recent interview including that rape of Tigrayan women did not occur, that the number of Tigrayans to be placed in concentration camps will be increased, and finally that Tigray has a right to become independent following rules in the Ethiopian constitution.

Whereas before many Amhara and other Abiy Ahmed loyalists had contended they were on some kind of mercy mission to save the Tigray from the leaders of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front as well as the idea that the rest of Ethiopia had complete say on the future of the Tigray this new statement is an important retreat. One wonders if this new viewpoint is of convenience to be able to lock up all Tigray as “enemy aliens” and permanently confiscate all their assets. No doubt they plan to permanently expel Tigray from Addis Ababa and perhaps all of Ethiopia.

The mayor has been the subject of controversy since coming to power in August of 2020. Allegations arose that she had over 40 million birr in a bank account. Prior to her current post she had served as the Minister of Revenue and Customs Authority as well as Federal Attorney General. Previously Abiy Ahmed had promised a new election when questions arose about potential embezzlement but now she appears to have been forgiven in return for staunch support of Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party.

In speech made at Addis Ababa University  in 2019 she had promised to “perform her duty” in collecting taxes from those avoiding it. However the initiatives to collect back taxes from wealthy merchants and others in Addis Ababa seem to have diminished soon after her speech.


A year without healthcare has cost over 200,000 lives in Tigray

Once a highly specialized tertiary hospital Ayder has now been rendered a place where the sick and their families wait for death

A year has passed since the onset of the Ethiopian and Eritrean war on Tigray including its subtotal blockade beginning even before November 2021 and the complete closing of all but a trickle of food aid since July 2021.

In August 2021 I wrote the concept of the crude death rate which relates to expected deaths per thousand population in Tigray. We knew that in 1950 for Ethiopia as a whole which was without any significant medical care the crude death rate was 32 per 1000 population. By 1971 it had fallen to 21.1 and then by 2020 before the war was only 6.4 per 1000. 

Tigray before the war was leading not only Ethiopia but much of Africa in increasing percentages of medically attended births, lowering maternal and child deaths, providing tertiary care for adults and children including surgical specialty services for not only Tigray but Afar, upper Amhara, and even Eritrea.  We served a total catchment area of over 10 million population.  Mekelle University’s Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital where I was Head of Neurosurgery working closely with the Tigray Regional Health Bureau was a model of developing health care for Africa.

Now 80% of hospitals and clinics in Tigray are basically nonfunctional because of intentional destruction and ransacking by Amhara militia, Ethiopian National Defense Forces, and Eritrean forces.  Medical equipment not wrecked was taken to Eritrea. Many doctors, nurses, and other health care workers such as health extension workers and health officers are displaced, have been abused or even killed. Although Ayder Hospital through a nonviolent civil action of the cities residents avoided gross destruction it has received no supplies in over a year. All health care workers have not been paid for essentially a year yet many remain trying to help without resources.

Now that a year has gone by with the medical resources of Tigray regressed to the standards of 1950 there is absolutely no doubt that the prediction that out of  7, 070,260 population of Tigray measured in the last census the Ethiopian blockade has brought about at least 226,248.32 deaths since the onset of the war in Tigray. This of course does not include deaths from intentional civilian mass genocide and execution.

To replenish the supplies, replace the lost and broken equipment, re-station the workforce, and re-establish the working society of transportation as well communication to stop this increasing death spiral will take months at best. It will take more than sending a few aid trucks. The absolute security of the Tigray Nation State functioning in an environment of growth  and freedom not destruction is the only way of recovery.

Why Eritrean forces have not left Ethiopia?

Ethiopia’s story about Eritrean troop involvement changes every day. Currently they say they have left but if they were there it would be reasonable to assist their allies in Ethiopia claims Ethiopian MFA.

Why has Eritrea not left Ethiopia? No one believes the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs notice this week stating this lie. Multiple sources report that Isaias Afwerki is controlling Ethiopian intelligence services as well placing commanders with Amhara militia and the Ethiopian National Defense Force. Why has Afwerki not left the basically defeated Ethiopian state?

Going back to 1991 it has been well documented that Afwerki wanted to unite Eritrea and Ethiopia into a confederation. This would give him access to the Ethiopian economy, a more stable currency, hosting the African Union, and legitimacy on the world scene.  Being the second worst nation in terms of human rights violations and lack of any election since he came to power would be placed aside by a new confederation with the naïve Abiy Ahmed.

Although political integration under the larger Ethiopian state had been discussed since 1952 the rise to power of Afwerki made it more of an realizable idea. His stalemate with the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front in the 1990s over the Eritrea Tigray border and subsequent hostility that remained rendered this idea mute until the Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister of Ethiopia causing the TPLF to recede from national power.

Here was the perfect situation. The master schemer manipulated the young inexperienced Abiy Ahmed into a secret pact ostensibly as far as the world was concerned creating peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea but in reality a war plan to dominate Tigray once and for all. This would pave the way for Isaias Afwerki to become the de facto leader of the new Ethiopia Eritrean state.

Even though the military confrontation with Tigray has failed there is still hope that international heavy weights and the United Nations concerned with severe famine, refugees potentially streaming to Europe, and a failed Ethiopian state leading to chaos in the Horn of Africa will push hard for some immediate ceasefire. With this ceasefire a promise of food and medical aid will be allowed into Tigray but Tigray will have to withdraw into its borders. Both Esaias and Abiy Ahmed are counting on the international call to be strong to end any further fighting thus preventing capture of Addis Ababa or Asmara.

No doubt this pause will give Isaias time to strengthen his armed forces and those of Ethiopia as well with a plan to reinvade Tigray. Of course the leaders of the Tigray National State realize this is exactly what will happen. They know Ethiopia will only let a trickle of aid come in while complaining all the while that everyone bringing aid is really plotting to help the Tigray. Many more months will go by until Ethiopia and Eritrea can once again attack in force. This is why the Tigray Defense Force and the Oromo Liberation Army must continue to march on.