By Meron Getachew
In the early year of 2018, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of four sister parties, assessed its own drawbacks and decided to make political reforms for political inclusiveness and for a better democracy. Following this, Abiy Ahmed was selected to be the custodian leader for a period of reform and transition for a better democracy. However, Abiy Ahmed was quickly intoxicated by the sudden unexpected political power and decided to dismantle EPDRF and eliminate TPLF with a final goal of dismantling the federal constitution of Ethiopia to create his single party and to continue his hold on power. To maintain his monopoly power grip, he plotted genocidal agenda against the veteran TPLF high officials, Tigray regional state leaders, and the people of Tigray.
All Genocide Parameters have been implemented on Tigrayan civilians:
The following undeniable facts clearly reflect the 21st century’s systematically orchestrated genocide that has been implemented on ethnic Tigrayans.
CLASSIFICATION: In the months leading to the genocidal war on Tigray, the government orchestrated false documentaries in which Tigrayan ethnicity was associated with crime, and all Tigrayans in the documentary were identified as “they” and “Tigrigna speakers.” Subsequently, Tigrayans’ right to practice their cultural identity was prohibited unlawfully. Tigrayans who have spoken their language, listened to Tigrigna music, reflected their regional flag, and exercised any of their cultural tradition that define their identity were jailed and even killed. Furthermore, all over the country, ethnic Tigrayans civilians have been ethnically profiled and countless ethnic Tigrayans have been forced out of government positions. Tigrayan business owner licenses have been revoked and many business owners have been unjustly imprisoned and forcibly disappeared. Across the country, government security forces used ID cards to identify and detain ethnic Tigrayans, and subsequently many Tigrayans have been lingering in the inhumane conditions at detention camps, and many have been tortured, forcibly disappeared, and killed. Ethnic Tigrayan military officers who were in the Ethiopian federal army have been detained without charge in various prison cells and many have been extrajudicially killed.
POLARISATION: Through national and regional mainstream media, newspapers, and social media, including through ESAT extremist media, political grievances, and hateful rhetoric have been persistently stoked to defame and dehumanize political leaders and the people of Tigray with the final goal to incite ethnic motivated violence and atrocities. In the well-staged campaign of hate propaganda, distorted information has been persistently perpetuated by associating all corruption, bankruptcy, and maladministration with the TPLF system and Tigrayans, branding them as “Leboch (stealer)” and “Zerafiwoch (looters).” Anti-Tigrayan rhetoric has been deliberately propagated to encourage and escalate hate.
SYMBOLIZATION: In various public speeches, PM Abiy Ahmed stoked violence and hate in terminology that identifies Tigrayans as enemies such as “Daytime hyena,” “Tsigure lewit,” “Cancers,” “Weeds,” “Terrorist,” and “Greedy Junta.” The Abiy government, Amhara extremists in authority, and pro-government activists have persistently promoted and reinforced hate using metaphorical terms such as “Satan” to alienate ethnic Tigrayans from the other Ethiopian ethnic groups so as to make an exclusive attack against Tigrayans easy. The other Ethiopians have been conditioned not only to hear anti-Tigrayan rhetoric but also to accept persecution or gross human rights violence against ethnic Tigrayans without questioning since any violence or inhumane measure against Tigrayans is presumed to be legal and normal.
DEHUMANIZATION: In the escalating hate propaganda campaign, Deacon Daniel Kibret, a social advisor to PM Abiy Ahmed, used dangerous and hateful rhetoric in the speech that denied the humanity of Tigrayans by equating all ethnic Tigrayans with evil being (Satan). He declared for the elimination of ethnic Tigrayans from the face of the earth by making it sound like the verdict he passed seemed normal, acceptable, and justifiable: “… after the fall of Satan, there was nothing like Satan that was created … Satan was the last of his kind. And they (Tigrayans) must also remain the last of their kind … they should be wiped out and erased from historical records…”
Amhara official, Agegnehu Teshager, on state media, promoted violence and genocide against minority Tigrayans by decrying the population of Tigray as being enemies of all nations and nationalities of Ethiopia: “This (Tigrayan) population is the enemy of all Ethiopians: this population is the enemy of Oromo; this population is the enemy of Afar, the enemy of Gambela, the enemy of Somalia. Unless this enemy is eliminated, we can’t get relief.” Subsequently, many ethnic Tigrayans have been killed in different regions in the country, especially in the Amhara region, by Amhara militias and Ethiopian federal troops in retribution for the genocidal call of extremist Agegnehu Teshager.
Another extremist, Debebe Eshetu, is an artist who publicly endorsed the genocidal call of Abiy Ahmed and Amhara officials against Tigrayans not only by equating ethnic Tigrayans with animals, “Hyenas,” but by also giving the impression killing minority Tigrayans is killing hyena, the justifiable and acceptable act of savagery: “Let’s devour the hyenas, and let’s be blessed!”
Yet, another extremist, Worku Aytenew, on Menelik’s genocidal campaign, coached Fano Amhara militias to burn ethnic Tigrayans on fire like the way primitives roast goats on roaring fire. Genocidaire Workku Aytenew also called such unspeakable horrendous crime holy act: “… eating them (Tigrayans) after roasting them, like goat, on fire is such blessing.” Following the extremist cannibal speech against ethnic Tigrayans, video footage was posted on social media showing armed men burning ethnic Tigrayan alive in the Benishangul Gumz region. In this graphic video, a crowd of armed men, Fano Amhara militias and Ethiopian soldiers, are seen taking the victim to a crime scene, to a heap of partially burnt woods. Several burnt-out charred are seen, as the perpetrators walked in the field, which indicates other victims had been burnt in the area. The soldiers kept calling the victim “junta,” Abiy Ahmed’s racial slur to refer to ethnic Tigrayans. After hurling insults at the victim, the soldiers threw him on the burning fire and burned the victim as a human torch alive. The perpetrators had shot and killed ten other Tigrayan civilians and had burned their bodies prior to the last victim. All Tigrayan victims were residents in the Benishangul Gumz region. This horrendous crime against ethnic Tigrayans is not an isolated incident, but rather, a manifestation of the unspeakable horrific crimes and atrocities that have been carried out on ethnic Tigrayans for more than one and half years.
Neither hate speech against any ethnic group has ever been culturally accepted nor considered as a blessing to Ethiopia. But by the irony of history, contrary to the fundamental historic contribution of Tigray in the history of Ethiopia, twisted narratives and anti-Tigrayan rhetoric had been propagated for years to make the rest of Ethiopian believe Tigrayans are the enemies of the nation and nationalities of Ethiopia.
ORGANIZATION: After having done months of military preparation, the Abiy government moved its troops along with Amhara special forces and Fano militia as well as Eritrean forces and Somalia soldiers. Abiy regime also imported military drones from UAE, as well as various military weapons, heavy artilleries, and armaments from outside to attack Tigray and Tigrayans in the name of “law enforcement operation.” Subsequently, the unlawful and violent invasion in the coordinated attack on Tigray incited a sense of revenge and genocide against ethnic Tigrayan civilians.
Well-Staged Plans on Implementing Genocide on people of Tigray:
A European Union Special Envoy, Pekka Haavisto, who met Ethiopian leaders in February 2021 uncovered the intention of the Abiy government to wipe out the Tigrayan population from the face of the earth in the prolonged due course of time by implementing a systematic campaign of ethnic genocide, – warning the world about the possible serious human right violation and atrocities against Tigrayans. A report released by AP News in June 2021 says, “Ethiopia’s leaders in closed-door talks with a European Union special envoy earlier this year said ‘they are going to wipe out the Tigrayans for 100 years,’ the envoy said this week, warning that such an aim ‘looks for us like ethnic cleansing,’… ‘It is a very serious act if this is true.’”
In the ongoing genocide, all kinds of atrocious crimes have been committed on ethnic Tigrayans with an ultimate goal to justify and legitimate the illegal and groundless claim on territories of Tigray with subsequent eradication of the people of Tigray and their historic and cultural heritages in systematic genocide campaign under the cover of “law and enforcement operation.”
Implementing Systematic Genocide: Massacre, Mass Executions, and Large-Scale Horrendous Atrocities
According to research and report data, 330 massacre sites have been identified in different parts of the Tigray region that were currently under the control of the Tigray government. According to the reports by international human rights organizations and international media outlets, civilians have been massacred and mass executed by Ethiopian soldiers, Eritreans soldiers, Amhara special forces, Fano militias, and Somalia soldiers. After the Ethiopian forces took over the Tigray region along with its external and domestic allied forces, Abiy Ahmed imposed a complete communication blackout and banned journalists from entering the region. Under communication blackout, horrific war crimes, massacres, and horrendous large-scale systematic atrocities have been committed on civilian Tigrayans by the triumvirate forces. What is so far known about the horrific atrocities that have been carried out against civilian Tigrayans is extremely terrifying and too overwhelming.
The Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers as well as Amhara forces and Fano militias have stoned, slaughtered, and hacked to death civilian Tigrayans in the most horrific and horrendous way. What remains startlingly unbelievable is, however, how little the international community has learned from the horror of the Rwanda genocide and chose to remain complacent and silent about the genocide of Tigrayan civilians. There are many graphic video footages and photo images that show the savagery and brutality of Ethiopian soldiers, Amhara Forces, and Fano militias taking delight while carrying out their horrendous crimes on civilian Tigrayans. Please see ‘killing for pleasure’ on the TGHAT website, [https://tghat.com/?s=killing+for+pleasure]. Bodies were left out in the open to be eaten by animals, thrown over cliffs, and into rivers in an effort to dehumanize them further and to traumatize survivors more.
According to experts who closely follow the ethnic Tigrayan genocide estimate, 100,000 civilian Tigrayans have been directly and brutally killed by Fano militias and by Amhara invading forces with the assistance of allied Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers in the Western Tigray region. Moreover, during the first eight months of the genocidal war on the people of Tigray, hundreds of thousands of civilian Tigrayan have been massacred and slaughtered by Amhara militias, and by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers using weapons ranging from knives, rifles, heavy artilleries, war jet, to armed-drones.
Cultural Cleansing: Systematic Purge of Religious and Cultural Heritages
As part of the genocide strategy, cultural cleansing has been carried out on religious and cultural heritages of Tigray with the goal to eliminate the memory of the richness and diversity in the heritages. Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers, Amhara invading forces, and Fano militias deliberately looted and destroyed the ancient religious and cultural heritages of Tigray. Riedlmayer, in the scientific social network site of ResearchGate, explains the motive behind a damaging cultural heritage in this way: “The killing of a person destroys an individual memory. The destruction of cultural heritage erases the memory of a people. It is as if they were never there.” The genocidal invading forces deliberately destroyed several historical religious buildings in the Tigray region. In the first few weeks of the war on Tigray, Ethiopian and Eritrean army forces deliberately blasted Africa’s first historic mosque, Al Nejashi Mosque, and several other ancient churches and monasteries with heavy artilleries.
Deliberate Destruction of Public Infrastructures, Local food products, and Healthcare systems
As part of the genocide strategy, Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers have targeted healthcare sectors, manufacturing sectors, and public infrastructures for ruin and destruction. The manufacturer’s machinery, instruments, and equipment were looted and vandalized, and then the buildings were burned down. With the intention to set in human-made starvation, brutal triumvirate forces: Fano Amhara militias, Amhara special forces, and Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers have plundered, damaged, and burnt to ashes the local agricultural food products, the farmer’s cattle, and the inhabitants’ food items. Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers have also burned many villages and destroyed farming equipment and irrigation projects to further exacerbate the vast humanitarian crisis they have already created by forcefully displacing a large number of civilian Tigrayans, looting and destroying agricultural food products, and committing horrific atrocities against civilian Tigrayans across Tigray region. Furthermore, Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers have vandalized and damaged schools, institutions of higher education, hospitals, clinics, and airports. The Ethiopian government has also deliberately destroyed Tekeze hydroelectric power stations with armed drones. In the ongoing genocidal war on Tigray, several external actors, such as UAE, Turkey, and China, have supplied armed drones and also assisted the genocidal regime with intelligence in operating the armed drones. These armed drones have not only been used extensively on battlefields but also to strike non-warfare areas, targeting residential and market areas where more than 700 civilians were killed and injured.
On state media, PM Abiy Ahmed admitted that he deliberately destroyed Mekelle, symbolically referring to the Tigray region: “Mekelle is no more the center of Ethiopia’s political gravity. We have obliterated Mekelle to the level of Beshasha (a small and underprivileged rural village where the PM was born).” In the same manner, the Ethiopian National Defense Force’s (ENDF) deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Abebaw Tadesse, on state media, sadistically elaborated how his government wantonly ravaged the Tigray region saying, “We have achieved our goals (on the genocidal-war on Tigray). We have completely destroyed the administrative, military, and physical infrastructures of the region.”
According to Tigray’s health bureau, over 80% of hospitals, 78% of the health posts, and 70% of clinics have been completely destroyed. Furthermore, 90% of the medical supplies and equipment have been looted, vandalized, and destroyed by Ethiopian and Eritrean armed forces.
Preparation: Forcible Internal Displacement, Forcible Mass Starvation, and the Death Toll
As part of a systematic genocide strategy, more than 1.2 million Tigrayans have been forcefully driven out of their home in western Tigray toward the central Tigray region. Many civilians have been arbitrarily killed as they fled toward central Tigray at several checkpoints. The intention of the genocidal invading forces sending the displaced civilian Tigrayans by millions toward the central Tigray region is to make them face human-made famine and potential death under brutal siege Abiy government unlawfully and illegally laid on the Tigray region by breaching international law. Five hundred and sixty-one days have elapsed since the Abiy government imposed a complete siege on the Tigray region. According to researchers, an estimated 100,000 civilian Tigrayans have died due to a lack of life-saving medicines and an estimated 200,000 civilians have died due to human-made famine under the ongoing siege in the Tigray region. In a recent report by researchers, 200,000 children have died of human-made famine and lack of medicine.
Blocking the main highway road that runs from the capital city to the Tigray region started after PM Abiy Ahmed has come to power. The objective goal of blocking the main highway road was to obstruct basic supplies, agricultural and manufactured products from reaching the Tigray region while Tigray exports have been utilized as a means of earning foreign currency and then in the process to debilitate the business, investment activities, and the economy of Tigray region with the subsequent economic blackout. After the Abiy government unlawfully imposed an economic blackout on the Tigray region for consequent three years, Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers, Fano militias, and Afar forces have been blocking all highway roads to the Tigray region for more than one and half years, restricting humanitarian aid for more than seven million people who are in a desperate circumstance and in need of urgent emergency relief.
Awal Qirba, the president of the Afar region, who has joined the genocidal brutal triumvirate forces in a systematic genocide campaign against Tigrayans, on state media, said his desire is to starve the Tigrayan population to death. On ETV, Awal Qirba said: “The Junta (name tag used to refer to TPLF/Tigrayans) has to know, to save them or their children, is like to kill my kids. Even sending them single bread (humanitarian aid) will not be allowed.” The Abiy government has been using aid-blockade as a major silent killer not only to kill a very large number of innocent Tigrayans but also to destroy the whole population of Tigray. In the continued brutal siege on the Tigray region, every day many hundred civilians especially children have been dying due to acute malnutrition and lack of life-saving medicine and food.
Systematic Weaponization of Rape
Ethiopian and Eritrea soldiers, Fano militias, and Amhara forces have been weaponizing rape by subjecting Tigrayan females, from children as young as 4 to 85 years old, to gang-rape and wild sexual violence. Reports released in August 2021 by Amnesty International and World Peace Foundation reveal how Tigrayan women and girls were subjected to systematic sexual violence by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers, by Amhara special forces, and by Fano Amhara militias. Many civilian Tigrayans from child to old have died from the terrible body harm in the mass rape and brutal sexual violence. Numerous Tigrayan women have not only been gang-raped but also subjected to other forms of torture such as the insertion of foreign particles, metallic materials, and hot metal into their vaginas, leaving them to suffer in agony with genital mutilation and intense trauma. In parliament, PM Abiy Ahmed has publicly validated the triumvirate forces’ mass rape, brutal sexual violence, and torture crimes against Tigrayan women by tailoring the false story to and downplaying the crimes to nothing: “Tigrayan women were raped by our soldiers, whereas our soldiers were stabbed with a dagger.” According to the report released by Tigray’s health office, 200,000 Tigrayan women and girls have been raped and many victims of rape have contracted HIV.
Preparation: Concentration Camps, Mass Detention, Forcible Starvation, Torture, Extrajudicial Killing
In the escalating hate propaganda, many innocent civilian Tigrayans have been subjected to ethnic profiling, discrimination, persecution, violence, imprisonment, confiscation of properties, and brutally attacked by government forces in different regional states in Ethiopia. Civilian Tigrayans have been the scapegoat for whatever wrong deed of others. More than seventeen thousand ethnic Tigrayans who were serving in the Ethiopian army have been detained, without any charge, in prison camps for years. Many Tigrayan members of the army, high-ranking military officials, and former retired veterans have been tortured and extrajudicially killed. The report released by Guardian says, “One year ago, Abiy government had interned at least 15,000 ethnic Tigrayan members of the armed forces, whom, we understand, it continues to keep in a detention camp,” “The authority did not provide legal justification for their detention- nor allow them access to a lawyer or to challenge their detention.”
Following the Tigrayan Defence Force’s march toward the capital Addis Ababa, Mesay Mekonnen, extremist and pro-government ESAT media journalist, who previously declared genocide against Tigrayans, wrote on his Facebook, “Message to the government: It is never late. Ethnic Tigrayans, even those who do not have any connection with TPLF must be sent to mass concentration camps.” A few days later, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans, who have lived outside Tigray, regardless of their age, gender, and health conditions, were rounded up by government forces and arbitrarily taken to detention camps across the country. Women and young girls have been subjected to rape and various forms of sexual violence. Many Tigrayans have been tortured, forcibly disappeared, and extrajudicially killed in the concentration camps. Furthermore, many Tigrayans are still languishing in the terrible condition of the concentration camps due to a lack of food, lack of medicine, lack of water, ill-treatment, and torture.
The report released by Guardian News says, “Abiy government has begun detaining large scale civilians of Tigrayan in areas it controls. In recent weeks, the government has interned more than 30,000 ethnic Tigrayans in Addis Ababa,” Furthermore, “Thousands of Tigrayans are being deported from Saudi Arabia and held in secret detention sites in Ethiopia,” according to Human Rights Watch.
According to Article II Genocide Convention, all deliberate acts of crime to destroy a population in part or in whole are precisely defined as genocide.
In Article II of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide is defined as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, 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 one group to another group.”
Now, are not all these well-planned genocidal strategies that have been implemented into action, – the unspeakable horrendous crimes carried out on ethnic Tigrayans, the unimaginable suffering and death of Tigrayans under siege, and the languishing and the extrajudicial killing of Tigrayans in concentration camps, genocide?
Reference 1) https://www.tghat.com
[“Let Them Be the Lat of Their Kind”: Anatomy of Tigray Genocide, Intentions and Acts]
[Understanding a 21st Century Genocide: The Case of Tigray]
Reference 2) https://apnews.com
[EP envoy: Ethiopian leadership vowed to ‘wipe put’ Tigrayans]
Reference 3) https://www.theguardian.com/international
[The warning signs are there for genocide in Ethiopia – the world must act to prevent it]
Reference 4) https://www.researchgate.net/directory/publications
[Culture Cleansing as a part of Ethnic Cleansing: The Case of BiH]