The Eritrean and Ethiopian “law enforcement operation” which occupied Tigray resulted in the destruction of 90% of community water resources. Tigray is an arid land with very few ponds, lakes, or rivers. Much of the water supply was derived from government maintained wells. There is only appreciable rainfall during the summer months. Adult Tigrayans living a hard rural farming life which makes up 90% of a 7 million population generally need at least 2.5 liters of potable water to drink.
Water is essential for life. Death can occur if there is no water intake in just days. Water borne disease can cause febrile illness, diarrhea, and inability to carry out even the necessary labors of daily life. Without antibiotics or intravenous fluids to treat these conditions normally treatable disease becomes fatal potentially for thousands of people as always been seen in the past. The limited water intake of Tigrayans had already been documented to contribute to high rates of kidney stones and kidney disease which now without medical treatment become fatal. Just about any medical condition is made worse by lack of water. Pregnancy and child development become compromised by the lack of proper intake and disease.
Before the onset of the Ethiopian Tigray conflict in November 2020 most of the urban areas had water plants often with their own generators which provided water several days a week. Many of the modest homes had water storage at a low height that allowed low flow by gravity to dispense the stored water. Sometimes they had an electric pump to push water up to higher storage. The loss of electricity rendered city water supplies inoperative. In the rural countryside traditionally women would carry 5 gallon containers on foot often traveling for hours to government installed manual pump equipped wells. Many women searching for water became targets of violence and violation by Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers.
In the urban areas the community now receives water delivered to the neighborhoods, kebele, by horse drawn tank carts which collect water from wells or natural resources. This is not purified in any way and may contain bacterial, parasitic, or chemical contaminates. While I was in Mekelle during the occupation we would try to filter the water by pouring it through blankets and then boil it. As there was no electricity we had to search for fire wood which was in short supply. The timing of the fire was key because it was used to keep warm during the often chilly evening hours and used to cook food as well as to kill pathogens in the water.
The official dehumanization of Tigrayans by Ethiopian and Eritrean supporters combined with social media celebration of murderous acts against noncombants belays the clear intent of evil intended to be rendered. While nefarious propaganda from supporters of the Ethiopian and Eritrea governments claim there is no proof of genocide now numerous and growing examples have been posted on Facebook and other social media as egregious records of duty by members of these forces themselves.
Numerous social media exists even before the conflict with Ethiopia government officials and their clerico-fascist supporters in the rogue Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Protestant factions who say Tigray require complete extermination and support the blockade of food, medicine, and other basic necessities even though this violates the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights to which Ethiopia is a signatory by membership. This attitude was no doubt an aggravating factor in generating the ongoing genocide of Tigrayans.
One example now well documented by Tghat is Geremew Demse from the Amhara region and at one time a member of the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Sudan. He posted pictures and video where he selects a male teenager to be executed during the Mahbere Dego massacre. Subsequently a long line of many young men is seen being marched to their death.
Unfortunately this is just one of at least hundreds or maybe even thousands. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian have reported that Facebook has been inept in impeding these practices. Many nonpolitical Tigrayans living in other regions of Ethiopia whose families have been abducted and killed leading experts to believe that these were “vigilante” actions inspired by social media and encouraged by Ethiopia and Eritrea. One such case out of many is Gebremichael Teweldmedhin, a Tigrayan jeweller abducted three months ago in Gonder, a city in the Amhara region.
While Facebook has been under severe criticism by media critics for allowing this practice to continue almost unabated there has been not a single word from the Ethiopian or Eritrean government. This can only lead to the conclusion that Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afeworki endorse this method of inflicting hate into their followers and promoting more terror upon the Tigray people.
A coalition of African and American lawyers has filed a complaint of mass killings, violations of women, and military targeting of civilians in Tigray with the African Court on Human and People’s Rights. While the previous joint report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the UN has been widely criticized as biased and limited many are hoping for a just outcome and action to stop the Tigray genocide. Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has partnered with Legal Action Worldwide (LAW), as well as the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU), to submit a landmark complaint against Ethiopia.
The ACHPR investigation has been different in that many interviews have been done via live internet with first hand witnesses and medical providers including members of Mekelle University and others from Tigray who were able to evacuate outside the country. Although initially there was robust discussions including a statement asking for the cessation of air attacks affecting civilians the ACHPR investigation seemed to have quieted down in the past few months after a recommendation was made to have “experts sent to Ethiopia” to further investigate. This same discussion of experts was done at the recent African Union summit but in regards to peace negotiations without discussion of investigation.
The African Commission on Human Rights and Peoples Rights was created in 1987 and has a mandate to perform review and investigation of human rights violations with treaty members which include Ethiopia and Eritrea which are charter members. While Ethiopia is not signatory to the International Criminal Court it is subject to the African Court on Human and People’s Rights to provide legal opinions regarding complaints filed of it’s charter members.
Since the first reports of human rights abuses in the invasion of Tigray by Eritrean, Ethiopian nationals, mercenaries, and Amhara militia forces the Ethiopian government has sought to minimize their impact. In February 2021 when the former Minister of Women, Children, and Youth for Ethiopia, Filsan Abdullahi Ahmed, went to occupied Mekelle to review early findings. Although she said violations of women “occurred conclusively and without a doubt” this view was not shared by the Ethiopian government.
Subsequently, a joint report from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the African Union which was very limited in the scope of where and with whom it conducted investigation. No interviews of health care providers in Tigray who provided treatment to victims were done. Much of the investigation was done by phone calls only to “witnesses” arranged by the occupying force who could be reasonably assumed to be under duress. Many areas such as Axum were not included in the joint report.
Will the world’s attention and will to act fall away from the injustice in Tigray just has happened in Myanmar to the Rohingya? After intentional famine imposed on millions of Tigrayans, unjustified imprisonment of innocents, as well as hundreds of civilian deaths by drone attacks Nobel Prize winner Abiy Ahmed’s leadership in Ethiopia seems to be following in a similar pattern to that of a previous winner, Aung San Suu Kyi. Esteemed leaders who bought time doing little until the world eventually lost interest.
In 1991 Aung San Suu Kyi was hailed as “bringing power to the powerless” winning the Nobel Peace Prize then in 2015 she was elected in the “first democratic election of Myanmar” to lead the country. However in 2017 Myanmar security forces carried out genocidal violence as described by the United Nations displacing several hundred thousand Rohingya within Myanmar and another 740,000 people fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh. At the time Kyi remained silent on issue and was criticized by many of the world’s leaders. Since the early 2000s her status has been shaky in Myanmar as her power has been continually challenged by the military whom she has been adverse to criticize calling them “sweet”. She and the military leaders have imprisoned the press and limited free speech.
Despite intense world-wide attention for a few years Myanmar has made no significant progress in resolving the crisis, or providing accountability and justice for the victims. The court-martial conviction of three military personnel for crimes against Rohingya reflects ongoing government efforts to evade meaningful accountability, scapegoating a few low-level soldiers rather than seriously investigating the military leadership who directed and oversaw the atrocity crimes. Today almost one million Rohingya refugees live in the world’s largest refugee camps in Bangledesh’s Cox Bazar Region. Meanwhile Rohingya remain without rights of citizenship such as voting, owning a business, or even to work in Myanmar.
A brief inquiry was officially made by the United Nations to see how the UN could have better responded to the crisis but placed no blame. The International Criminal Court found that changes in election procedures, law enforcement, and civil rights were needed but nothing substantial has happened.
In recent weeks almost 200 innocent Tigray civilians including women and children have been killed by drones under the command of the Ethiopian government. Yet today in a statement of egregious blasphemy the Ethiopian government sent a letter to a supplier of the deadly drones, United Arab Emirates after they suffered a drone attack from rebels in Yemen. The letter goes so far as to say that attacks on civilians are cowardly that “neither the norms of humanity or international law can justify”.
Following World War II the United Nations was formed with the basic tenet of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The members of the United Nations agree to principally follow these directives. Yet Ethiopia continues to openly kill and starve civilians as well violated just about every article of the UN mandate.
The forecast for growing cereal crops (teff, sorghum, maze, and wheat) in Tigray and Ethiopia in 2022 is poor for Tigray and questionable for Northern Ethiopia due to below average rainfall predictions based upon meteorological data and satellite sensors. Tigray cannot grow enough food to escape famine without receiving food aid. Normally there is a second season harvest which is more dependent on good rains then the first. The Ethiopian government continues the complete blockade of food and medicine to Tigray.
Without outside food aid from international sources such as the World Food Program this years crop in Tigray will be very insufficient to relieve the ongoing and worsening famine affecting more then 1 million Tigrayans and threatening ultimately another 5 to 6 million. Even for Ethiopia, the war spending in excess of $4 billion since the war with Tigray started will make it difficult to meet its needs even outside of Tigray without major purchases and/or aid.
Although Ethiopia claimed to withdrawal from Tigray last season to allow planting, Abiy Ahmed appointed official, Abraha Desta, said this was a lie and explained that seeds and farm equipment were sent to Eritrea as well that farmers were prevented from planting. While Ethiopia denied famine, Desta claimed it was a crisis causing many deaths. Eritreans also ransacked food aid during their occupation of Tigray. Just this week an Ethiopian attack on a community mill which farmers in Tigray need to make their crops into flour was destroyed. No seed supplies, fertilizer, or farm equipment has been allowed to be delivered to Tigray since the conflict began in November 2020. Most farmers depend upon farm animals to plow and carry heavy loads in their work but many animals were killed by Eritreans and Ethiopia forces.
The world is disgusted at the malevolent indifference of Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian government to the starvation and torment constantly applied to the innocent Tigray population. The world must understand the origin of a twisted blasphemous manifest destiny of Amharic domination that began with the death of Yohannes IV the last Tigray Emperor of Ethiopia in 1889.
Similar to Europe there was a strong imperial character to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which existed with the monarchy. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church developed quite independently of the Roman Catholic Church and also somewhat isolated from the Eastern Orthodoxy as well with its own special characteristics including the concept of Jesus Christ incarnation of human and God being indivisible. This concept is called Tewahedo and often the Ethiopian Orthodox Church uses this name in short. A very important concept for the clergy was Donatism which stated that priests had to be perfect examples of the followers of Christ otherwise they could not carry out their sacred functions of the Eucharist, Blessings, and Forgiveness, and Counsel to the Emperor. This concept which is not seen in the Western Church empowers Tewahedo to have tremendous influence over the secular government. They can forgive any sin and counsel any heinous act.
The Byzantine founder, Constantine, greatly admired by Tewahedo followers believed that although Jesus teaches peace and love the imperfect soul of man will inevitably bring war. Whenever possible the concept of akrievia (Greek: ακριβεια)which is to strictly follow the peaceful path must be sought. However in a fallen world where human weakness has brought chaos Economia(Greek: οἰκονομία, oikonomia)is allowed to temporarily break God’s commandments. The end will justify the means. Tewahedo clergy leadership has the power to give temporary dispensation for committing of even mortal sins to facilitate Amharic destiny.
Although previous Tigray rulers including Ras Alula sought some expansion from Tigray into Eritrea and Johannes temporarily captured Gondar it was after the death of Yohannes IV when Menelik II came into power that Amharic expansion began with the application of economia theological support for barbarism and cruelty. Killing, torture, theft of land, and enslavement were morally justified towards the Oromo, Southern People, and Muslims of the Western Ethiopia to achieve the goal of building the Amharic Empire. In the last decade of the 19th century, Amharic expansion violently captures the regions of the Oromo, Sidamo, and Somali lands tripling it’s territory and making a new capital, Addis Ababa, out of the former FinFinne.
Today the Nobel Prize committee said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize has a “special responsibility to end the conflict and contribute to peace” in Ethiopia where Tigray remains under a complete blockade. About the current situation in Tigray they added “The humanitarian situation is very serious, and it is not acceptable that humanitarian aid does not emerge to a sufficient degree”.
Once seen as the emergent African nation of prosperity and democracy instead its honor and status has fallen precipitously to competing with North Korea, Iran, and Eritrea for the most evil pariah. Everyday at least 40 children die of starvation, 50 innocents are killed by air or drone strikes, all the while over 7 million Tigrayans have continued to be without food, medicine, power, travel ability, or communication. More then one hundred thousand are held in concentration camps in Western Tigray, in the areas around Addis Ababa, Afar, parts of the Southern Nations regions of Ethiopia, and even now in Eritrea.
Once a champion of free speech and free press, Ethiopia has jailed more journalists than any other African nation. So called terrorism laws allow journalists to be jailed indefinitely without due process for printing any information not explicitly approved by the government.
Estimated to be more than $60 million in debt within the next year, government estimates that the pre-war debt would take 3 years to pay if there was greater than 8% growth are now impossible. In reality it may take a whole generation if ever. The per capita income has dropped to $700, birr has halved in value, Ethiopian bonds are now rated junk, and world wide interest in investment in unstable Ethiopian state has withered to almost nothing. Chinese news sources have indicated they continue to withhold $339 million in further loans because Ethiopia is unstable.
Comments by former Derg supporter and now Abiy Ahmed supporter who promotes Tigray genocide was disavowed strongly by his former institution. This week many in the academic world were shocked when well known virologist Tilahun Yilma made genocidal statements about Tigray. Dr. Yilma who was a Derg Regime supporter who eventually immigrated to the United States proclaimed that he maintained a present position at UC Davis as well that they had no problem with his genocidal statement because of his academic achievement.
Quite to the contrary, Dr. Yilma was promptly removed from the UC Davis website as evidence he longer has any affiliation with the university. Dr. Renatta Tull issued a swift condemnation of Dr. Yilma’s statements on twitter saying that such statements do not reflect the University’s values reflected in the University’s Principles of Community. The University said he has no longer any relationship with the University.
The latest Abiy Ahmed supporter to call for Tigray extermination is a former notorious Derg Regime general who calls for all Tigray leaders to be exterminated and the Tigray state to be put under strict military command.
Kassaye Chemeda, former general under the infamous dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam who ran Ethiopia from 1977 to 1991 killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians leaving their bodies on the street for days then demanding their families pay for the bullet used to execute them in order to bury victims. Estimates of the total killed in the time referred to as the Red Terror estimate that more then 1.2 million civilians were killed. The killing occurred in multiple waves. Well known Ethiopian historian, René Lefort describes “that just knowing how to read” was enough to justify execution by the Derg Regime as an enemy to the state.
General Chemeda has been honored by many Ethiopia immigrants who were former sympathizers of the Derg Regime who left Ethiopia to come to the United States following their defeat by the Tigray Liberation Front and allies. Immigration from Ethiopia to the United States occurred mostly from 1975 to 1995. Many of the initial refugees where supporters of the monarchy which was overthrown and many of the later where often supporters of the Derg Regime who left Ethiopia because of fear of reprisal or imprisonment from Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Front which assumed power following the Derg defeat. As such it is not surprising that many Ethiopian immigrants to the USA support Abiy Ahmed who many see as reviving the Derg plan.
At a celebration of Derg war “heroes” held in the United States by former Derg supporter immigrants in 2009 General Chemeda and other veterans were celebrated to have attempted to defend Ethiopian integrity or unity. No remorse about the killing and terror was expressed. At the meeting the former General recounted happily how he had crushed Somalis.