By: Gedda Komma
At the onset, it is good to note that Tigray is the cradle and home of both Christianity and Islam – the first home of these Abrahamic religions in Ethiopia. So no Ethiopian religious institution and leaders can lay any claim to the historical and religious precedence over Tigray. Tigray prides itself for having not only received but provided protection for the first followers of Prophet Mohammad. This is just to remind our readers that Tigray is historical high grounds in all sense. Tigray invented and shared Geeze alphabet with the rest of Ethiopia with all its religious and secular music and state, military, and other strength Ethiopia is known for. Meaning, Tigray will not use religion for political ends but others should use religion against it either. The Christian and Islamic world must know the reality on the ground. The cheerleaders of Abiy try to accuse TDF for attacks on religious sites – false and futile religionization of their genocide!
Back to the religionization of Abiy’s politics to lubricate genocide on Tigray. When one looks at war on Tigray with some hindsight, the genocidal war had a preparatory and execution phases – all accompanied with baggage of maliciously choreographed narratives – some of it peddled by religious leaders in Ethiopia and diaspora. The preparation phase of the genocidal war had multiple thematic dimensions. Among them, economic sabotage, blocking roads, inflicting various damages on Tigrayan companies and business people, denying Tigray region its annual budget, blocking investors from visiting Tigray or even strategically discouraging potential investors from going there, investment commission’s orientation against Tigray, firing of Tigrayans from all jobs in Ethiopia and blackmailing anything Tigrayan so that people don’t use Tigrayan businesses for buying goods or services – were general direction of Ethiopian government.
On military preparation, it included early lay-offs of Tigrayan military officers before their proper retiring dates, assassination of the Chief of Staff who was Tigrayan, conniving with neighboring countries such as Eritrea and to some extent with others countries. In addition, the Amhara regional government was happily part of the preparation. All military preparations, wide profiling, exclusive and derogatory campaign against Tigray all with well-oiled genocide-toned media campaigns were part and parcel of preparatory phase. Media campaigns were done in parallel so that all medias take the same anti-Tigrayans false messages and accusations simultaneously, repetitively and with exaggerated emphasis to indoctrinate the public against Tigrayans. In fact, it is safe to conclude that Abiy’s two main investment areas in pre-war period was to prepare for bloody war against Tigray and build his image to reinforce the first goal. No other serious issues were planned and implemented unless one counts political photo moments as important.
One sector that has been effectively weaponized against Tigray, among other sectors, is religious sector in the country, thus the subject of this piece. As preparatory aspect, religious institutions were manipulated for image building of Abiy with auxiliary role of media. One main focus has been instrumentalizing the Orthodox Tewahido religious leaders and platforms for supporting anything the government does in the country including war – and as long as the damage is on Tigray they are always ready. The Ethiopian government armed these religious leaders with genocide-apologetic and openly supporting agendas. Each religious sector has been used properly in promoting war and eulogizing Abiy despite he oversaw bloodletting in various parts of the country including genocide in Tigray. These and other religious leaders were given platforms and access to medias for promotion of hate and profiling of Tigrayans. The Ethiopian medias, in the country and abroad, also facilitated demonization, profiling of Tigray, labeling religious leaders from Tigray including the Orthodox Tewahido Churches Patriarch – Abune Mathias. His own Orthodox bishops, priests and deacons were encouraged by public medias to belittle and profile him as ‘junta’. Most of the Ethiopian Orthodox bishops and leaders outperformed their counterparts in other religions in open support of the war on Tigray – both at diaspora and at home. So, Abiy has successfully weapoinized the Orthodox Church leaders, diaspora medias, and activists to facilitate famine, rape, genocide on Tigray. These genocidal agents have gone miles to cover up or justify the Eritrean military’s brutal acts in the whole of Tigray. These religious leaders who could not speak on the man-made famine that is consuming Tigray civilians, blockade of humanitarian aid by Amhara, Abiy and Eritrean forces, or who are unable to call for stopping of war keep coming out in public in support of genocide! Thus, Abiy has used them well to his political end. Today, the Ethiopian Orthodox T. Church is strategically weak and depreciated for losing its moral ground and thus Tigray constituency! Irreparable.
On the hand, another big moral casualty during this war has been the Ethiopian Catholic Church. The Catholic Church in Ethiopia failed Tigray people and itself when it could not oppose the Eritrean occupation of Tigray, man-made famine and deprivations on Tigray. The mass arrest of Tigrayan civilians and religious leaders, some of whom are its members, left this Church tested and failed. Universal Catholic Church did more to be the voice of the victims than the one in Ethiopia led by Cardinal Berhaneyesus. The worst thing, the Ethiopian Catholic Church is full of enthusiasts of genocide on Tigray including supporting siege on Tigray, arrests of Tigrayan civilian and religious leaders, mobilizing international tolerance of genocide support for it, globe-trotting to campaign against Tigray or at least to distribute crimes to other places as well under the guise of malicious both-sidism. Some Catholic priests campaign against Tigray and support continuation of war openly like those in Orthodox Church who go to the extent of going to war front to motivate soldiers on battle front. For example, an Ethiopian Catholic priest joined the pro-government rally in Washington DC to support war on Tigray while he has been purportedly assigned there to serve the Ethiopian Catholic diaspora there some of whom are Tigrayans. Some of the Ethiopian Catholic priests are on malicious campaign against Tigrayans using their religious platforms in clear contrast to the calling of their priesthood and religious teachings. Most of key leaders of the Catholic Church in various dioceses, Addis Abeba, and in diaspora are campaigning relentlessly against Tigray. These people could have called for peace, cessation of hostilities, withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Tigray and all other occupying forces that have destroyed the region. Then, they should have called for withdrawal of TDF from Afar and Amhara region, they could have called for protection of civilians everywhere, should have opposed when other religious leaders continue profiling Tigrayans in public.
Islamic institutions – Abiy has mobilized Islamic leaders, public speakers, and activists for his political ends. Most Islamic religious festivities were used to praise the guy. When it comes to war on Tigray, the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council is on the record for its public support including money and moral support for the war. When Eritrean government destroyed Al-Negashi, the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs was less vocal than its support for genocidal war instead of calling for peace! When wicked Eritrean government spokesman even tried to deny Al-Negashi story this Council was nowhere to defend the true story. By then, the intention of Eritrean government was to divert attention of the global and national Muslim’s from all its crime to the other debate so that it may not be liable in front of history for shelling the mosque. On the contrast, now some medias are implicating and insinuate that Tigray is using ‘Islamic card’ for its propaganda and so forth. However, to put the record straight, Tigray doesn’t use religion for political propaganda, such is Abiy’s lot. Tigray religious followers including Muslims have all the right to inform their fellow believers in the world about what is happening on Tigray – the land and people that welcomed the first Shahabas when they were persecuted in Saudi Arabia by the Quraysh. Muslims of the world can and should understand what is truly happening in Tigray, such as siege, blockade of humanitarian aid, massacring of children and women by Eritrean and Amhara forces, the combat drones mass-killing on civilians. The world Christians and Muslims also should know that the Ethiopian religious leaders and government are misleading the world about what is happening on Tigray. The Tigrayans have started to share their stories with the world. In response to Tigray Muslims’ and others effort, Abiy will assign some lying mouths to cover up his genocide on Tigrayans. Yes, if Muslims of the world clearly understand the reality on the ground, they will side with the victims of genocide and not the wrongdoers. No Islamic community will support the siege and blockade of humanitarian assistance to the civilians in Tigray by falling for the lies of Abiy government. So sharing experience is not using ‘Islamic card’ for propaganda but sharing human experience of genocide as a community.
Rather, the Abiy’s use of religious cards does not spare any religious institution. The Protestant Churches have become collective targets for misuse under the disguise that Mr.Abiy Ahmed is a protestant or ‘our own’ ‘Lord’s son’ ye geta lij. However, Abiy so far proved that he doesn’t adhere to much of religious values because he lies without fear, kills by all means, deprives civilians of food and medicine. Yes, he talks religion but acts devil. Yes, for political purposes he mobilizes the protestant churches for them to champion his narrative, to mobilize grass-root blind allegiance, and promote his image around. The miracle and prophesy industry has boomed since the war on Tigray took off mainly to convince the ordinary citizens that Abiy is chosen by God to lead and all other people are doomed to slavery and death- or sort of it. These ‘pastors, apostle or prophets’ act religious drama mainly to thank God for sending Abiy and prophesying the ‘eminent victory ‘of Abiy. Some of the wildly appetited evangelical preachers who masquerade as prophets peddle a lot of lies in the hope of scaring gullible faithful into supporting of Abiy. The degree to which they show dramatic scenes is shocking because it shows lack of logical thinking in those pastors/actors, those who believe and follow them. However, the government of Abiy assigns and encourages such religious leaders to various in-country and international campaigns using religious platforms. The case in point is the Council of Protestant Churches that is led by the Prosperity Party member, member of parliament, university professor and doubling down as the president of KaleHiwot Church – Dr.Eyasu Elias. The Council is instrument of Abiy’s religious political conspiracy and is full of Abiy fanatic religious leaders. It works to ensure that all protestant Churches and structures slowly become Abiy’s political vehicles so they do every conning in terms of decision making, election of religious leaders and so forth. Most importantly, this structure is ardent supporter of all inhumane acts happening against Tigrayans. The Council leaders are also assigned to lobby around the world through member institutions to convince the global protestant churches against Tigray in ways of downplaying the genocide as they promote Abiy. These leaders are blind to the human suffering in Tigray and unreasonable supporters of Abiy, Eritrean invasion and Amhara elites’ massacring of Tigrayans. Mass arrest of innocent civilian Tigrayans has never been their issue to this day. They never speak to it!
All in all, no Church or religious institution has openly challenged the injustices on Tigrayans except openly or tacitly endorsing it. Moreover, the campaign against Tigray’s quest of survival and natural rights is immoral on these religious leaders, but they do it anyway to confirm with Abiy’s political vendetta on Tigray. The Catholic Church leaders in Ethiopia, the Orthodox/Amhara religious leaders in particular and protestants have become super political, genocidal, and promoters of profiling of Tigrayans using pulpits! These leaders/institution don’t try to stop the repeated acts or calls for genocide by some religious and political leaders! It seems some Ethiopian Catholic Church leaders are even engaging their missionary friends such as Fr.Guiseppe, an Italian Comboni missionary who blatantly denied the humanitarian crisis and genocide in Tigray or downplayed it on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7mn9qYHuTE . Mind you, this channel is owned by Comboni Missionaries whose superior is from Ethiopian Amhara background. In this video, people who have connections and experiences with Ethiopian Embassy in Italy are featured reinforcing the same. Fr.Gueseppe is toning down the arrest of Tigray religious leaders by Ethiopian government and undermining what Bishop Tesfaselassie of Adigrat diocese/Catholic Church in Tigray stated with sense of urgency in his statement about the famine, lack of medicine and all sorts of integrated genocide by prolonged siege. There are several Catholic leaders who inflict damage on Tigrayans in various ways with a tacit blessing from the government and most probably from the Cardinal himself? The Ethiopian Orthodox is off from its religious duty of promoting human dignity and fully on the campaign against Tigray in support of Amhara elite -Ethio-Eritrrean genocide on Tigrayans.
In conclusion, Abiy, Amhara elite, and Eritrean government are installing not only famine but also religious institutions to reinforce integrated genocide. The Ethiopian diaspora and in-country mainstream medias have strategically helped in deploying religious institutions and leaders against Tigrayans. It is shocking to see religious leaders from all institutions openly or implicitly siding with genocide! It tells that all has come to an end in terms of what we knew as country and religious leaders. It seems betrayal of values and principles on the part of the Ethiopian religious leaders who have reduced themselves to mere tools in the hand of Abiy. Religious leaders and institutions in Ethiopia are big institutional and moral casualty in this genocidal war. In fact, in many other countries where genocides took place, religious leaders seem to have failed the people and God. Ethiopia may not be an exception from the look of things. So, not much is expected anymore. Tigray has to say #NoMore to Ethiopian religious institutions and leaders who are politicized. The Ethiopians should try to tame these religious leaders who preach genocide – bishops and deacons, pastors, and so forth who failed God and conscience. It is a sign of total decay and NoHope for any meaningful role anymore from them. So the global religious world must relate with Tigray through Tigrayan or international religious and inter-religious structures and NOT through Ethiopian religious institutions. They are culprits and cannot serve human dignity of Tigrayans anymore! They should not only KnowMore, and repent, be more, and better!