Beginning on November 3th, 2020, the Special Forces and militias of the Amhara Regional State of Ethiopia, the entire army (some eighteen divisions) of the Ethiopian Defence Forces (EDF), some twenty divisions of the Eritrean Defence Forces, a detachment of several thousand of Somali soldiers from Somalia along with drones from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have invaded and have been pummelling this seat of the ones fabled Axum Kingdom, home to the UNESCO’s great world heritages, and an overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian state of Tigray!  This massive invasion involving a combined force of some half a million troops, has taken place at the time when not only the crops in the fields were about to be harvested urgently but also at the time when the farmers of Tigray were single-mindedly fighting off the locust invasion determined to wipe out anything green and edible in Tigray!  And that was not all!  There was that invisible invader too.

Abiy Ahmed is committing crimes against humanity in Tigray and the UNSC and the ICC should take actions

By Abebe Haile Mariam

At the time the massive invasion force descended upon Tigray, the people of the State of Tigray were doing their level best to manage the COVID pandemic and doing a great job at it too! In fact, the State of Tigray had managed the pandemic so well that, unlike the Abiye Ahmed government which used the pandemic as a smoke-screen to postpone the Constitutionally mandate election, Tigray was able to multitask and conduct (in accordance with the Federal Constitution of Ethiopia) a democratic election and ushered a democratically elected regional government for the State!

Not just since the COVID pandemic, the election, the locust invasion though, and the onset of the invasion but since the ascent of Abiye Ahmed Ali to power some two and a half years ago, the State of Tigray has been the only peaceful reginal administrative State in Ethiopia!  The rest of the eight regional administrative regions or Kilils have been, due to the massive opposition to the Abiye regime, under military “command post” rule!  Prior to the military onslaught, the State of Tigray has been so peaceful, that at the time of the invasion or any time before, the people of Tigray did not fire a bullet at anyone, invade any other’s territory, and never declared war on anyone!  They has stayed put in their own State minding their struggle against the scourge of underdevelopment as they also advocated dialogue involving their fellow compatriots from the Nations and Nationalities of Ethiopia to solve the Constitutional crisis in Ethiopia!

As everyone who is familiar with Ethiopian political scene also knows, ever since the ascent of Abiye Ahmed to the helm of power, of the nine administrative regions or Kilils in Ethiopia, it has been, until November 3, 2020, only Tigray that has been peaceful, lawful and also, in fact, a sanctuary for their fellow citizens internally displaced from elsewhere in Ethiopia, and refugees from Eritrea!  Ever since Abiye Ahmed Ali, conned his way to the helm of power, as the eight administrative regions engulfed themselves in ethnic, religious and political fires so set by the Abiye regime with full support of the once UNSC sanctioned terrorist regime in Eritrea, it has been only Tigray which had become a beacon of hope and a the safe haven for Ethiopians fleeing the quagmire in their own administrative regions or Kilils!  So, much so that, Tigray has been dubbed, for the last two or three years, as the microcosm of the Ethiopia of Meles Zenawi, complete with people from every ethnic, religious and political groups which make up the Nations and Nationalities of Ethiopia, to travel freely, live in harmony and able not only to propel Ethiopia into the “economic Tiger” of the world but also to become global players with its armed forces contributing to peace missions across Africa! That such was Ethiopia under the late Meles Zenawi is a matter of public record! And then came Abiye Ahmed dubbed by the West as the “reformer” to supposedly deliver Ethiopia into a democratic country.  But who was this Abiye Ahmed Ali?

For starters, according to Britannica, Abiy Ahmed Ali was born on August 15, 1976, and according to the very same force, he had taken part in the fight against the communist Derg (Menguistu regime), which not only served as the proxy for the USSR as it misruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991, but reduced Ethiopia into the “misery index” of the world (remember of the walking skeletons and the “we are the world campaign?)  This would mean that, by the time the struggle against the Menguistu or Derg regime ended, Abiye Ahmed Ali was only fifteen years old! This would imply that if in fact, he had taken part in the armed struggle as a child soldier, he could never have had a chance to go through high school or may not even had any schooling!  And many are those who question the rest of his academic credentials but what is beyond dispute is that he has been a member of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), which was part of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) ruling coalition, and that he joined the Ethiopian armed forces, too.  In 1994, he was sent to Rwanda as a member of the Ethiopian peace keeping mission and served there until at least 1996.  Upon his return home, he served as a radio operator in the Ethiopian army during the Ethiopian-Eritrean war which took place from May 1998 to June 2000.  That would mean by the time, he was twenty-four, he was only a radio operator with the Ethiopian armed forces! In the next seventeen years (2000 to 2017), he had reportedly earned:

  • Attained a rank of lieutenant colonel;
  • Earned a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in 2001 from Microlink Information Technology College in Addis Ababa;
  • Assigned in 2007, as head of the Ethiopian government’s Information Network Security Agency (INSA) responsible for cybersecurity;
  • Earn a master’s degree in transformational leadership in 2011from the International Leadership Institute in Addis Ababa, in partnership with Greenwich University in London;
  • Earned a master’s in business administration in 2013 from Leadstar College of Management and Leadership, in partnership with Ashland University in Ohio;
  • Earned a doctorate in 2017 from the Institute for Peace and Security Studies of Addis Ababa University.
  • Served as an Executive member of the OPDO;
  • Became the vice president of the Oromia regional government, and
  • Ascended to become the Prime Minister of Ethiopia in April 02, 2018!

Setting the academic achievement question aside (although many claim his educational achievement is a fraud), there is the other truth which has been intentionally omitted from his resume!  As a member of the OPDO executive body, as a Vice President of Oromia, and as head of the INSA, he was a part and parcel of all the crimes that the EPRDF has been accused and one which PM Abiye has tried to conceal his role in the human rights violations from the international community! Moreover, PM Abiye, had concealed from those who dubbed him as a “reformer” that in 2001(the year he claimed he earned his bachelor degree), the OPDO was rocked by a series of corruption scandals, which led to the ouster of then secretary general Kuma Demeksa on charges of corruption, “anti-democratic practices,” abuse of power and nepotism!  And finally, as was pointed out elsewhere, INSA, the intelligence and spy organization was known as the brain behind the many human rights violations in Ethiopia, and PM Abiye was not just a foot soldier of this machine of death but one of its key executives! And no wonder, Ethiopia has now become not only the “misery index” of the world but also the “Killing fields” which makes the Rwanda and Cambodian genocide look like a picnic!  So, we have now the “Reformer” of the powers that be, destroying an entire ethnic population, a population of people that has contributed so much to the people of the world, whose only “crime” is refusing to live by anything else but the rule of democratic law!

Hear Ye Hear Ye, the UNSC, ICC and the people of the world! It was at the time when the people of Tigray were trying to save their crops from the locust, fight the COVID pandemic, trying to harvest their crops, and by any measure, the State of Tigray was not only minding its business but also playing a constructive role when it advocated an inclusive dialogue to solve Ethiopia’s existential predicament, that it was invaded by a total of thirty-eight divisions with a combined force of over four hundred thousand soldiers equipped, among other things, with drones from the UAE!  Clearly, this was a war of choice by some of the world’s most brutal dictators on whose clock not only democracy died but literally tens of thousands died and millions became internally displaced and hundreds of thousands have become refugees in neighbouring countries (according to the UNHCR, there are now over one hundred thousand Eritrean refugees in Tigray, and as a result of the ongoing invasion of Tigray, over forty-five thousand Tigrayans have sought refuge in the Sudan)!

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has known of the Eritrean regime’s crimes for for some thirty years.  It is to be recalled that on December 23, 2009, the UNSC had “adopted resolution 1907, imposing sanctions against Eritrea in response to the ongoing border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea, as well as Eritrea’s support to armed groups destabilizing and undermining peace and reconciliation in Somalia, which the UNSC determined constituted a threat to international peace and security.”  According to the BBC, “…the UN Security Council accused Eritrea of arming, training and equipping armed groups including al-Shabab.”  Unfortunately, despite the absence of any change in the behaviour of the regime in Eritrea, and despite the fact that Eritrea continued to be dubbed as the North Korea of Africa, it only took the word the Abiye Ahmed Ali, a man who, by his own admission in the public square and since then, corroborated by the testimony of Ato Endargatche Tsege (leader of the political party Ginbot 7), had served as a foreign agent while in key position in the National Intelligence & Security Service (NISS) of Ethiopia, the UNSC resolution was lifted enabling Isayas Afewerki to do, once again, what he does best: arm terrorists, wage war, create regional instability and refuges not only on his own people but people elsewhere in the Horn of Africa!  And nowhere is this cataclysmic apocalypse so devastatingly obvious than in the current onslaught in Tigray.

As mentioned elsewhere above, the entire population of the State of Tigray is not only without power, postal and telephone, internet, banking and commerce, and cities without running water, and hospitals and clinics with “no fuel for backup generator, no gloves, no anti-pain (medication), no antibiotics, no meals for patients and staff, no bank access – even our ambulance was taken by the soldiers,” but also in the midst of an invasion with regional, national and multinational troops, armed by hundreds of tanks, warplanes and drones courtesy of the UAE!  Moreover, although the perpetrators are yet to be known, acts of genocide has been reported!  Lootings of not only of modern conveniences but also artefacts of churches, schools, hospitals, private and public properties have also been reported.  Livestock have been commandeered and slaughtered by the invading armies, and crops left to rot or harvested by the armies for their food!  On top of it all, there is the killings which has caused not only the displacement of over a million people within Tigray but also according to the UNCHR, forty-seven thousand refugees of which half are children and some forty percent women, have arrived in the Sudan!  And yet, despite the strangulation and decapitation of the entire population of the State of Tigray, and despite of the fact that the Ethiopian regime has been using the state media to fan ethnic hatred toward Tigrayans, and despite the heavily documented ethnic profiling, discrimination, imprisonment and suspension/firing of Tigrayans from their employment of which Ethiopian Airlines was one of the many accused, the United Nations Security Council and the International Criminal Court, are yet to pay the due attention to the tragedy in Tigray!  And there is no doubt that these two esteemed organizations are playing a double standard.

We remember how swift both the UNSC and ICC were during the Darfur conflict.  That was the case where the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement fought the Sudanese government forces (from 2003 until 2009–2010) and in response, the government forces and their Janjaweed militia attacked the “black Sudanese in the Darfur region.” These actions were deemed a genocide by multiple governments and human rights groups, and as such, the case in Darfur was referred to the ICC’s Prosecutor by the United Nations Security Council in 2005 following which arrest warrants were issued for the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir by the ICC on March 4, 2009, and the second on July 12, 2010.  And yet, unlike the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement which attacked the Sudanese government forces, the people of Tigray never attacked anyone, invaded any one or fired at anyone!  Their only crime is holding an election and choosing their representative government!  And that is not all.

What is sad and inexplicable is the UNSC, the ICC and the international community’s failure not only to stop Abiye Ahmed Ali and Isayas Afewerki from their genocidal war at the earliest stage possible but also that the UNSC of whom some of the members are major powers with satellites, they have failed to name the other players in the genocidal war against Tigray! As the senior African analyst recently pointed out on Africa Report, there is in fact an international dimension to the conflict in Tigray!  In an article entitled “Hidden World War,” the analyst warned the African Union and the world at large not only of the involvement of Somalia and the UAE but also the “growing human suffering amid atrocities in which cities and residences are systematically destroyed by combined Ethiopian and Eritrean forces seem to go unnoticed!”

Others, especially Tigrayan and Eritrean scholars and members of the opposition forces of Eritrea along with the Federalist forces of Ethiopia, also believe that Egypt and Saudi Arabia are also involved in the current war in Tigray.  According to these sources, while Egypt’s involvement is connected to the GERD, Saudi Arabia’s goes way deep into the notion of Ethiopia as the “Christian Island in an Arab sea!”  While Egypt’s policy for about the last century has been dedicated to keeping Ethiopia economically poor and unable to exercise sovereignty over the Nile, Saudi Arabia’s has been guided by what could only be termed as a Jihad against the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed who called on Muslims to “never harm the Habesha people” who then were the Axum Kingdom or Empire whose seat of power was the current Tigray!  The very people and soil of Tigray where UAE and other Arab drones are pulverizing are in fact the very people and soil that not only served as the safest sanctuary for the followers of the Prophet and one of his sisters, where the King of Axum (Tigray) gave Muslims, for the very first time, legal protection to practice their faith but also the very people and soil which, as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, once told the German Parliament, the Bundestag, that the “King of Axum saved Islam reiterated, if it wasn’t for Emperor Armaha of Axum, Islam as a religion, would have been destroyed by the rulers of Mecca at that time. ‘Christianity was the first to provide sanctuary for Islam; without Abyssinia and its Christian king who protected the first Muslims, Islam would have been destroyed in its cradle.” And yet, it is to this sacred people and their sacred soil, the current and past Arab oligarchs, have waged jihad against this citadel of not only Christianity but Islam as well!

And so the question for the big powers in the UNSC, ICC, human rights organizations and the international media is why is it that there is no outrage as a peaceful, and lawful people with an elected government, a government of what Webster would call “made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people” or what the greatest President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, would call a “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth!”  Why are the democratic Superpowers allowing the democracy so born in the heart of this ancient land of Tigray, Tigray which, as the seat of the Axumite Empire, has contributed so much to the world, to die at the hands of Abiye Ahmed and Isayas Afewerki?  Is it that we are seeing this mother of Ethiopia whose belief in faith and independence inspired the likes of Martin Luther to bring about the Reformation revolution, whose architectural wonders which dazzles the world, its culinary innovations which not only serenade the senses like no other on the planet but the first Nation in the world to write the greatest music with notes of spices, whose paintings and jewelleries so designed not only to reflect the divine nature of its people but also to capture the deepest rim of all humanity the world over, and as a nation of great past not only with its own alphabet, music, its own calendar and time but also philosophy on life, with lenses of “Shithole?”

It had to be through the lenses of “Shithole!”  Tigray has in fact become a collateral damage, for it has never been such in the past, never now and can never be one in the future!  That was why when Ethiopia was in the grip of that communist thug, Menguistu Hailemariam, Tigray, despite its meagre material resources, fought and prevailed against that Godless dictator backed by the entire Warsaw Pact, China and Cuba!  And it is because Tigray has always been a land of faith, peace, law and a people with a premium on independence, that Professor Erlich Hagai of Tel Aviv University said when the brown, yellow, black and even white people of different part of the world accepted European domination, Tigray was the one who fought bullet with bullet to guarantee its independence!  Yes, it was Tigray, the mother of Abyssinia/Ethiopia who was the first country on the African continent to defeat a modern European army (Italy’s) at the battle of Dogali in Jan 24, 1887!  It was also Tigray which defeated the Egyptians on multiple fronts and defeated too, the Turks!  People of this calibre, a people so rich in humanity, selflessness and humility, and ones who have contributed so much to the human family, deserve to be thought of, just as did Martin Luther, with reverence and seen with the lenses of good and God!

It is never too late!  Open your eyes, members of the UNSC, ICC, human rights organizations and the media, and see the current tragedy with your conscience and with the conscience of those citizens of yours who fell in defence of democracy!  If you do, if you change your lenses, you cannot miss it!  At this very hour, there are thirty-eight divisions pummelling the people of Tigray; a people who have waged no war, invaded no one and declared war on no one, are being destroyed by the combined forces of thugs with utter contempt for democracy!  You have known Isayas Afewerki as the terrorist who trained and financed Al-Shabaab (the terrorist organization with the blood of Americans in its hands)!  So much so, the UN had put sanctions on this tyrant who is running a nation (Eritrea) which has been a virtual prison since its independence from Ethiopia! You know, you cannot say you do not know, for your satellites have recorded and the records can show you, that Isayas has moved twenty divisions (200 thousand soldiers) into Tigray!  There is no way you can escape from this truth!  And you know too, together with Abiye Ahmed’s eighteen divisions, there are now thirty-eight divisions pummelling not only the developmental infrastructure of Tigray, destroying the UNSECO world heritage sites which dot the Tigrayan landscape but also, with total blockade of Tigray, not only people are dying from shortages just about everything but also almost four hundred thousand soldiers are conducting ethnic based revenge on a people whose crime is believing in democracy and independence!

In his book, For Whom the Bell Tolls, the great author, Ernest Hemingway, once wrote “Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know.  For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee!” Miss not that it is only when we view the entire human race as one entity and that we all are responsible for each other, that the sweetest idea of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” practically concurs with the divine laws in our faiths!  But should we apply it whimsically or inappropriately or in violation of the Divine Design, as is the case on the Tigray predicament, if history is any guide, the idea “it is us today and it will be you tomorrow” so foretold at the League of Nations before the onset of WW2, may come to play for the second time! And if we may quote the late Emperor Haile Selassie of his timeless truth again, The UNSC, ICC, Human rights organizations and the media must never forget that ‘‘Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.’’  USNC, please do not let evil triumph; stop not only these protagonists of war that are Abiye Ahmed, Isayas Afewerki and the Arab leaders but also refer the Tigray case to the prosecutor of the ICC, for the people of Tigray have not done anything criminal to deserve a genocides in Tigray and ethnic “Kristallnacht” being acted upon Tigrayans living elsewhere in Ethiopia in Realtime! With each passing day, not only people are being cut down by bullets from the ground, bombs from the air, knives and axes, starvation by a complete and air tight blockade but also, as people flee and seek refuge internally or externally, the COVID pandemic is posed to wipe out a people who are one of the oldest treasures of the world: the people of Tigray! Hear Ye Hear Ye, the UNSC, ICC and the people of the world! Never forget “For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee!”