United Nations inability to stop genocide gives Tigray no option but to fight to the end

The failure of definitive action of the United Nations to decisively act against genocide since World War II predicts the victims of Ethiopian genocide on Tigray can expect no real help.  As a result of the genocidal actions of the Ethiopian government under the leadership of Abiy Ahmed towards the Tigray beginning on November 4th, 2020 it is possible that 750,000 people will die, thousands have suffered rape and other humans rights atrocities, and a population of more than 6 million people have been deprived of food security, personal safety, shelter, education, health care, transportation, and all means of communication for 9 months.

Unfortunately this catastrophe is just the latest of many genocides that have occurred in which the United Nations having recognized the crisis and its potential for horrific damage to human life yet accomplished nothing to stop or prevent it.

Critiques of the United Nations (UN)  have noted that it has a history of acting  “as a slow, reactionary bureaucracy, failed to effectively combat the genocides”. The UN is guided by the principle that military action is always to be avoided and that prolonged negotiation is the only answer. Unfortunately what this means is that usually the aggressor will get to maintain whatever territory or enslaved population already captured and often the oppressed have little chance for return to the previous status quo. This type of response is recognized by aggressors who know they have weeks to months to quickly do whatever immoral and egregious action they wish to take before the UN will even begin to discuss it. Knowing this the government of Ethiopia has taken a strong stand that it will not negotiate with the Tigray believing it faces no real threat of significant sanctions from the international community. For the Tigray it means they have no other course of fighting to overturn the government of Ethiopia.

Even when UN peacekeepers have been deployed they have failed to protect civilians when confronted by threat of attack by aggressors as they are directed basically to never engage as was seen in Bosnia in the 1990s. Former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon acknowledged, for example, that UN troops were pulled out of Rwanda “when they were most needed” and further acknowledged that the innocent at Srebrenica were “abandoned to slaughter” in 1995.

Genocide was recognized officially in 1946 in response to the genocide of 6 million Jews by the German Nazi regime. Polish lawyer, Raphael Lemkin, in his 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe which lead to the UN Resolution 96(1), 11 December 1946 formally recognizing it. The definition of a genocide was created in this resolution:

“Genocide is a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups, as homicide is the denial of the right to live of individual human beings; such denial of the right of existence shocks the conscience of mankind, results in great losses to humanity in the form of cultural and other contributions represented by these human groups, and is contrary to moral law and the spirit and aims of the United Nations. Many instances of such crimes of genocide have occurred when racial, religious, political and other groups have been destroyed, entirely or in part.”

Yet only three genocides have been officially recognized by the UN  Rwanda in 1994, Bosnia (and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre), and Cambodia under the 1975-79 Pol Pot regime.

Human nature is that we will take action to protect another based upon what their relation is to us. Evolutionary biologists talk about actions which preserve those closest to the same gene pool. Although the religions of the Abrahamic covenant (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) preach universal brotherhood mans ability to selfishly not see that the needs of others beyond his immediate circle of family and local community makes us reluctant to get involved. In Christianity this concept noted by Saint Paul was felt to be the greatest impediment to becoming a true Christian.


Abiy Ahmed speech and actions follow a well recognized historical pattern of genocide

The recent language and actions of Abiy Ahmed, PM of Ethiopia historically and scientifically analyzed show him to be a classic example of genocidal leader. His actions and words follow a well documented pattern of genocidal intentions used by other dictators whose purpose is solely to gain personal power at the expense of a persecuted minority. By February 2021 the U.N. special adviser on genocide prevention warned that without urgent measures the risk of atrocity crimes “remains high and likely to get worse.”

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gives the “Cancer of Ethiopia” speech on July 18, 2021

In the earliest records of primitive civilization there are records of genocide when the local of one group of people decided that another group needed to be essentially wiped out for false perceptions of being a threat. One recurrent theme that has survived as a justification for genocide into modern times is the need to “purify” the state. What usually happens has been studied vigorously by social scientists and historians is that a leader of state starts to portray a recognizable group within the society as the source of economic and social problems hindering the welfare of the population as a whole. They point out how this group is different from the rest of the society and that it is acting in contradiction to the benefit of the whole. The named group is dehumanized by referring to them as pathogens infecting the state.

Mehmed Talaat, commonly known as Talaat Pasha or Talat Pasha, was a politician of the late Ottoman Empire who served as its de facto leader from 1913 to 1918

Examples include the Ottoman Empire calling the Armenians “tubercular microbes” which the state like a good doctor should remove. In the case of the Rwanda, genocide the chopping up of Tutsi men was called “bush clearing” and slaughtering women and children was labelled as “pulling out the roots of the bad weeds”.

Rwandan fugitive Leon Mugesera (C) is escorted handcuffed by policemen to a police vehicle on the tarmac as he arrives at Kigali International Airport late on January 24, 2012. Mugesera, a linguist who had lived in Canada since 1993, is wanted by the Rwandan authorities for alleged incitement to genocide in a speech he delivered two years before the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of 800,000 people, mainly minority Tutsis. (Photo credit should read STEVE TERRILL/AFP/Getty Images)

As a neuroscientist I have been working with a European NGO on developing methods of teaching good communication skills for business executives. This is based on a new field called neurolinguistics. It is based upon the concept that the human brain has developed to favor engagement in mutually beneficial relationships which favor survival. Language developed to serve this purpose of finding and maintaining these relationships. This language theory of forming relationships helps to explain how manipulative leaders can come to power.

As such we can apply these understanding to how political leaders use political propaganda to secure their political positions. Using language which clearly identifies a “common” threat they are able to unify the population and draw them to trust the political advocator. Under normal circumstances the use of drastic restrictions of human rights or even violence is felt immoral by a majority of the population. However if political propaganda marks the targeted group as outsiders to his constituency and then vociferously proclaims they are threat to the well-being and survival of the greater society this then dehumanizes the targeted group. The society becomes desensitized so that the previous objection to human rights violations and/or violence becomes allowable or even encouraged to an alienated minority.

Adolf Hitler speech to the Reichstag on January 30, 1939 where he condemned the Jews

We can compare Adolf Hitler’s speech to the ReichStag (German legislature) on January 30, 1939 where he said “If the international Finance-Jewry inside and outside of Europe should succeed in plunging the peoples of the earth once again into a world war, the result will be not the Bolshevization of earth, and thus a Jewish victory, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.” with Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia “ cancer speech of July 18, 2021 where he described Tigray as the “cancer of Ethiopia” , that it was root that needed to be” totally uprooted so that it never budded again”. He clarified that the Tigray were the “weed” and the rest of Ethiopia was the “wheat”.

Ethiopia has committed genocide and turned Tigray into a concentration camp

The government of Ethiopia while claiming a law enforcement operation has committed genocide to the people of Tigray and turned Tigray into a concentration camp.

What is the definition of a concentration camp?
According to the highly respected encyclopedia Britannica a concentration camp is “defined as an internment centre for political prisoners and members of national or minority groups who are confined for reasons of state security, exploitation, or punishment, usually by executive decree or military order”. What the Ethiopian government has done to the Tegaru, Irob, Agaw, Kunami, Afar, Orthodox, Catholic, Christian, and Muslims who live in Tigray meets every requirement stated in this definition of a concentration camp and in every way just a deadly as those recalled from previous examples when evil predominated a society.

Actions of Ethiopia against Tigray are more than law enforcement
When the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and Eritrean Army units invaded the Regional National State of Tigray in November 2020 the leadership of Ethiopia specifically stated that was being undertaken was a law enforcement action to capture the leaders of a “terrorist group”, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and that there was no intent to take action against the civilians of Tigray. In fact they explicitly stated they were proceeding with this invasion to not only capture the leadership but also to protect the security and life of their “brother” Ethiopians.

At the time of invasion I was Chief of Neurosurgery and on the faculty of Mekelle University, a federal university not under the Tigray state, which had medical students and specialty trainees from almost every regional state in Ethiopia as well as surrounding countries. Additionally it administered Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital which served a population of about 10 million including not only Tigray but also Afar, northern Amhara, and recently even Eritrea intermittently when the border was open. Additionally we occasionally cared for patients from Addis Ababa and the SNNP (Southern Ethiopia).

Following the complete take over of Tigray we were initially told by the Interim government and military commands that the government, medical, and educational services would be quickly restored. But instead they quickly deteriorated well before the reorganization and re-emergence of the Tigray Defense Forces. Except for a very short time of a few weeks early on the  following have been cut-off and never restarted including banking services, electricity, telephone and cell, internet, water, civil infrastructure management, hospital supply, schooling, etc.

Although the Federal government claimed it was giving 70% of the trickle of very basic aid that was coming in reviews by well established international authorities revealed it was less than 3% of the total which was in itself dramatically less than required.

Soldiers of the Ethiopian Army even took videos celebrating the killing of civilians

As the weeks progressed the undeniable evidence was increasingly seen that sexual abuse of women now estimated to be in the thousands, extra judicial killing of whole villages, routine execution of males even those below or above that generally considered to be militarily capable were reported even by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Although there may be a possibility of some actions by Tigray militia which also require investigation the exponentially greater magnitude affecting hundreds of thousands of violation of human rights and killing by soldiers under the direct command of the Ethiopian government cannot be denied. If not stopped the number being threatened will rapidly accelerate to millions.

More than 350,00 people are at critical levels of starvation now and will increase rapidly

Instead of taking corrective action to improve the humanitarian situation which would possibly yield the benefit of making the civilian population of Tigray more peaceful instead new arguments surfaced from mouthpieces of the Prime Minister’s advisors that due to previous claims of unfair treatment by the TPLF that justified the violations of human rights currently underway. Videos emerged stating that every Tigray should be killed at birth. Eritrean and ENDF soldiers have stated to neutral third parties that they were instructed to rape women to destroy the chance for Tigray to have children.

The Nejashi Mosque was bombarded and then ransacked

Religious institutions, artifacts, and worshipers were targeted for destruction which had nothing to do with a “law enforcement” action. One of the most important Mosques in the world in Negash where the followers of Mohammed took refuge from prosecution from pagan Saudi rulers at the invitation of a Christian king was intentionally bombed and ransacked. What does that have to do with “law enforcement”? Monasteries in Western Tigray with religious texts hundreds of years old were attacked with their treasures destroyed and clergy assassinated. The ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church which traces its roots to the early Jewish religion of Menelik I and then the Christian kingdom of Ezana in Axum was desecrated with the murder of at least 80 unarmed worshipping civilians. What does that have to do with “law enforcement”?.

Aksum’s Our Lady Mary of Zion Church where Eritrean soldiers killed civilians

It is well documented that Eritreans, ENDF, and Somali mercenaries destroyed factories and businesses including those of foreign investors who generated income for the Ethiopian government and provided employment for civilians. Many pieces of equipment of not only these but also the national Ethio-telecom company were taken by Eritreans as war bounty to Eritrea. How does this destruction of Ethiopian federal property qualify as “law enforcement”?

The invading forces were instructed to destroy seeds and prevent farmers from planting crops. Many livestock were killed to be consumed by no one or taken to Eritrea in trucks. Both aid and commercial food supplies where blocked from entry to Tigray. Gradually both the Federal Government and the government of Amhara began to change their tune to explain this by saying that the population of Tigray was too supportive of the TDF and that NGOs were smuggling weapons with the aid. They accused organizations with much greater long standing reputations of wrong doing with no evidence instead trying to cover their own genocidal intent.

The government of Ethiopia as late as 2019 was a signatory to the Genocide Convention of the United Nations which states verbatim any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
Killing members of the group;
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The treaty recognizes the following two elements of the crime

A mental element: the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”; and

A physical element, which includes the following five acts, enumerated exhaustively:

Killing members of the group
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group