Many have praised the peace agreement that was signed between Abiy Ahmed Ali and Issayas Afewerki as a breakthrough that will bring peace and development in Ethiopia, Eritrea and the entire Horn of Africa region. The Nobel Prize even recognized it with its coveted Peace Prize. To the dismay of many, the terms of the agreement were neither publicized to the people of both countries nor ratified by their respective parliaments. Nobody knows what’s in the agreement except the two men and their sponsors. Many have been asking for the official publication of the terms in light of the repeated promise by Abiy Ahmed to be very transparent to the people of Ethiopia, including live transmission of his cabinet meetings, none of which materialized. Some have suspected the peace accord to be a conspiracy between the two leaders to choke up Tigray and destroy the Tigray People Libration Front (TPLF), an elected governing party in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. This opinion looked far-fetched several months ago but not anymore. All political and security developments from the signing of the agreement (especially after the re-closure of the border between the two countries) to this date affirm the suspicion by some observers about the ill motives of the agreement. There is no denying that the current state of affairs in both Ethiopia and Eritrea doesn’t show any semblance of peace. In fact, there is an ongoing international war, as clearly articulated by Martin Plaut, who is a leading expert on Ethiopia-Eritrea at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, that is leading to a genocide of the people of Tigray. This notion of genocide is strengthened by the recent report from the Europe External Policy Advisors (EEPA) Horn situation which states “the conflict in Tigray shows signs of genocidal tendencies with evidence of Eritrean military in the conflict, damage, looting and humanitarian disaster in Tigray; violence against Eritrean refugees in Tigray.” By now, everyone including the skeptics have realized that the accord between Abiy and Issayas was actually a mockery of peace. The New York Times reporters D. Walsh and S. Marks on Dec 28, 2020 published an extensive report entitled “Refugees Come Under Fire as Old Foes Fight in Concert in Ethiopia” which quotes the HRW’s Laetitia Bader as saying:
“It looks like the much-lauded peace deal between the former enemies in fact laid the groundwork for them to make war against Tigray, their mutual adversary”.
However, there is an extensive effort to hide the genesis, status and consequences of the ongoing war by controlling the narrative through manufactured news in the Ethiopian state media. The
PM as well as his PR machine have even created a ‘Fact Checking’ apparatus that refutes anything that is outside of the government’s narrative. Even though many Ethiopians as well as foreigners by now know the repeated lies Abiy Ahmed Ali has been making in his TV appearances and social media, his latest article https://www.pmo.gov.et/articles/8/ takes his lies to another level. He states obvious lies about the events that led to war and the pretext for his coordination with Eritrea/UAE as follows,
“At the same time, I also know that the Federal Government was forced to engage in this operation for existential reasons – the future of Ethiopia as a sovereign nation and the peaceful co-existence of its people was at stake. The heavy cost we incurred as a nation was necessary.”
Abiy Ahmed has even lied to the UN chief, António Gueterres, in his ears over the phone. After a conversation with Mr Abiy, Mr. Gueterres said that “he assured me there were no Eritrean troops in Tigray, except in territory that Ethiopia had agreed to hand over following a historic peace deal between the two nations in 2018.” Since then, the denial of the involvement of Eritrean troops in the war on Tigray has been refuted by several international media, humanitarian organizations and by Diaspora Eritreans whose family members are participating in the war. I think it was Arisophanes who said, one bush, they say, can never hide two thieves.
The details provided in the article by
PM Abiy Ahmed are direct opposite of the facts on the ground. As it’s commonly said, there are always two sides to a story, but Abiy Ahmed has controlled all the narratives by blocking all non-state media. There is no internet or phone for individual citizens to report their daily encounters via social media. He has assigned people who follow his whims in all government bodies including the Ethiopian Human Rights Organization which is led by Daniel Bekelle, who was hand-picked by Abiy to lead the organization. As a result, he was able to control narratives about the causes of the war, the mass killings in Mai Kadra and even the denial on the presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray. Luckily, truth never remains buried. Huge efforts are being put by the Tigray Diaspora and some organizations to find out the truth from those who fled to the Sudan to save themselves from the war and ethnic based attacks by the Fano Amhara militia. A recent article in https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/w/ethiopia-accused-war-crimes-mai-kadra-massacre clearly shows how most of the Mai Kadra victims were Tigrayans. This is in direct contradiction with the statements from Mr. Bekelle’s Ethiopian Human Rights commission and Mr. Belay’s Amnesty International (Daniel Bekelle and Netsanet Belay are in laws and former prisoners in Ethiopia which directly creates conflict of interest and lack of impartiality to neutrally investigate the case). Abiy’s lies are white lies that are not difficult to discern even though they are coated with sugary and shiny rhetoric. For example, he boisterously stated in parliament that his troops didn’t kill a single civilian during the war on Tigray which is almost impossible when the war is being executed with heavy shelling, air bombardment and drone attacks. The reports and eye-witness accounts from those fleeing the war and others clearly indicate that there were hundreds of civilian causalities including children and women of all ages.
The full-scale war by Abiy Ahmed in coordination with the Amhara Militia, full force of Eritrean military and drones from the United Arab Emirates is not against another country. What makes it very alarming and sad is that it is against a region which is a member of the Federal State of Ethiopia whose government has been duly elected by the people of Tigray overwhelmingly. Can you imagine the US government conspiring with Cuba to attack Florida? This war has been ongoing for 57 days despite the false claim of ‘mission accomplished’ by Abiy Ahmed. The war violates many international laws and norms as the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the UN have clearly stated in their recent press releases. However, the silence of some of the powerful countries and multilateral institutions that they dominate in condemning these crimes has exposed the moral bankruptcy of these governments and multilateral institutions. The devastation from the 57 days of war involves atrocious human rights violations; including rape, extraordinary killings, bombing in towns and villages, disappearances and incarcerations, taken against innocent Tigrayans. Even after the announcement of ‘mission accomplished’ the Tigray region is blockaded with no access to communication, independent journalists and corridor for humanitarian organizations. This is leading to starvation of the people of Tigray and the pillaging of their civil infrastructure and private properties. The Eritrean army, with no shame, is involved in the looting, destruction of property (eg. Almeda Textile Factory, Adigrat Pharma Industry, Adigrat University, Aksum University, Sheba stones, etc.) and extrajudicial killing of anyone who speaks out against their evil deeds.
As documented by the HRW’s recent report after the visit by Laetitia Bader to the Sudan, the level of humanitarian crisis and devastation is huge. The report in part reads,
Residents of towns in western Tigray described initial heavy shelling, notably in the town of Humera, which borders Eritrea and Sudan, or gunfire before federal government forces entered a town. These troops would be followed by paramilitary police forces known as “Liyu Hail” from the neighboring Amhara region and young members of Amhara youth militia groups known as “Fano.”Many refugees had to flee the fighting with nothing but their basic possessions, often only the clothes they were wearing at the time. This was compounded by the fact that the banks had been closed in the Tigray region since early November, leaving many short of cash even before fleeing. Others had to pay security forces manning checkpoints in order to pass, or had money and phones confiscated while still in Ethiopia. Assistance currently available to support the influx of refugees is still in the early response phase but appeared basic: we saw new arrivals unsure of where to go, long lines of people including many children, queuing up at midday under the sun to get food, overstretched health facilities, and people without shelter. Several refugees expressed frustration by the lack of information they had received since arriving in the camp as to what services they were entitled to and could expect.
Despite the unequivocal evidence and eye-witness accounts of the humanitarian crisis that Abiy and Issayas have caused,
PM Abiy is still in denial mode. In his recent article, he said that he plans to rehabilitate the region that he destroyed and left to be pillaged by Eritrean and Amhara militia forces.
“Now that the active phase of military operations is over, our next task is to launch the process of healing from the aftereffects of this traumatic conflict, to ensure our citizens in the affected areas, including those who have been forced to cross the borders to the Sudan, have unfettered access to humanitarian assistance and other support necessary to rehabilitate them back to normal life at the earliest opportunity. Also critical is the need to restore the transport and communications links destroyed by the conflict.”
However, Abiy Ahmed has continued to confiscate factories (eg. Addis Pharma and Mesobo Cement), construction companies (eg. Suur plc) and transportation companies (eg. Ethio-Trans plc) owned by the endowment fund of the Tigray people. His words and actions have been incompatible since he came to public scene. Some have attributed his excessive lying and narcissism to his upbringing and his recent conversion to Pentecostal faith. He thinks the world won’t see beyond his words and rhetoric as long as he repeats his lies using his state media, his social media operatives and official government press releases. It is very sad to know that his office is full of marketing, public relations, religious and motivational experts instead of development experts. The Ethiopian people don’t deserve a leader who is a pathological liar and who is engaged in treasonous activities to destroy a political opponent. The world is duped by Abiy once and it would be up to it not to be duped again.
As articulated very well by Aynalem Sebhatu on his 12-25-20 article on aigaforum.com titled “The Horn of Africa on the Horns of Dilemma”, the silence of the ‘Ethiopian’ elites in Addis and in western countries is maddening and clear betrayal of their humanity. Elders, religious leaders and scholars have endorsed the war by calling it ‘just war’ when there is clear evidence of Eritrean involvement, arch enemy of Ethiopia the last 20 years.
“No one with a good frame of mind will think inviting the Eritrean dictator, into the internal affairs of Ethiopia, is an act of someone who cares about the sovereignty of Ethiopia nor the wellbeing of Tigrayans. That is why most Tigrayans are dumbfounded by the deafening silence of most Ethiopians while Tigrayans are slaughtered in the name of “law enforcement operations.”
The feeling is exacerbated when you see large crowds of ‘Ethiopians’ mostly Amharas cheerleading the ongoing assault on the Tigray people. It is going to be hard to heal these wounds and create a unified Ethiopia.
Finally, unlike what the PM proposes, the next steps that need to be taken to return to sanity and peaceful order are: (1) A United Nations mandated investigation of the war crimes that have been committed against Tigray and its people; (2) A full & unfettered access to humanitarian agencies to provide the much needed aid and support; (3) An full access to Diaspora Tigrayans to be involved in the rehabilitation of Tigray without interference by the Federal government; (4) A recognition to the demands of the Tigray people for self-administration; (5) A return of the areas that have been under the Tigray region that are now held by Amhara militias to the people of Tigray; (6) An immediate ceasefire.
Security and Justice for Tigreans in Ethiopia (STJE) is a non-political, non-religious global movement initiated by concerned Tigrayan-Ethiopians in the diaspora. The vision of SJTE is to make meaningful contributions towards realizing a just, peaceful, prosperous and civilized Tigray that plays a pivotal role in augmenting the democratization process of Ethiopia. It is registered in Washington DC, on March 21, 2020.