Given the dearth of information emerging from Ethiopia and the continued shuttering of internet services in Tigray, I am taking a public stance by refusing to take the Ethiopian government position that the conflict in Tigray is over. I know this seems like a dramatic reversal from the position I held for weeks as I endorsed the ENDF campaign to bring TPLF to justice, but I’ve always noted that I would support PM Abiy Ahmed as long as the campaign was limited to just TPLF leaders and those who chose to pick up the gun to affect a political outcome. Moreover, I also noted that I will not abide any hint of collective punishment and that I would withdraw my support if I felt that Tigrayans as a whole were being selectively targeted for reprisal.
That day has arrived. It has now been ten days since the supposed end of conflicts and the repatriation of Me’kele, instead of moving quickly to restore essential services and ensuring that the average Tigrayan could go back to a semblance of normalcy, to the contrary, the internet is still shut off for most of Tigray and, outside of photo ops which PM Ahmed keeps pushing out as if he is marketing a movie release, there has not been any verifiable campaign to bring relief to our fellow Ethiopians in Tigray.
Duty to country entails finishing what we started and staying the course of what we’ve planned. The remarkable history of #Ethiopia shows us that despite all odds, this great nation continues to prevail. #EthiopiaPrevails pic.twitter.com/54bapk3jsW
— Abiy Ahmed Ali 🇪🇹 (@AbiyAhmedAli) December 1, 2020
I will not still my tongue for political expediency, if I say I am against repression then I am morally convicted to speak out against all forms of repression not just those that target the ethnicity I identify with. To my fellow Ethiopians who are turning a blind eye to this ongoing campaign in Tigray and who try to diminish the anxieties Tigrayans are feeling by saying “its just internet”, I ask you how you would feel if you could not get in touch with your families back home? Moreover, how did it feel when TPLF supporters during the era of Meles used to dismiss your righteous grievances. So when these things are not being done to you and your ethnicity, then your concern for “human rights” ends?
I am resuming Crisis Chronicles and will update the ongoing war in northern Ethiopia until certain milestones have been met. One of those is the restoration of internet services in Tigray. The propaganda being spun by EthioTelecom is a farce; the internet being down has nothing to do with damaged unfractured and everything to do with a planned regional outage. For those who don’t know, Abiy Ahmed has what is called an “internet kill switch” that allows him to turn off the internet nationally or regionally at his whim. He has done this multiple times in the past year alone, shuttering the internet in Tigray has NOTHING to do with reconstruction or the TPLF intentionally destroying key infrastructure, this is the work of PM Abiy Ahmed, which makes sense considering where he worked at before rising to power.
Just last week I wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Ahmed conveying to him that I would support his initiatives as long as what he was doing was in the best interests of Ethiopia and her people. I also noted in the same letter that I would use this space to criticize him if he takes steps away from good leadership and returns to the practices of the EPRDF/TPLF that he was a part of. Sadly, it seems that Mr. Ahmed is choosing the later instead of moving towards the former. Until he reverses course and becomes the leader that Ethiopians desperately want and deserve, I shall pick up the pen and speak against what looks to be a creeping despotism and a slow walk towards OLF hegemony. My words might not produce the intended results, but at least I can look back in the future and know in my heart that I spoke out against the next coming of Meles Zenawi if that is the path PM Ahmed has chosen to embark upon.
Listen to my latest Ghion Cast as I discuss my decision to speak out in further detail. To the members of the international press, when you report on Ethiopia, do so from a place of nuance and in ways that does not impeach your credibility. Do not lead with rumors and innuendos, report on what is actually taking place instead of spinning wild and unverifiable conspiracy theories like Gerry Springer of Human Rights Wash (yes I wrote Wash on purpose). Do not whitewash news, live up to your credo and report news without agenda setting and media narratives.
11/30/2020: Critical Hour
I joined Dr. Wilmer Leon and Garland Nixon on the Critical Hour to discuss the latest developments in Ethiopia, provide nuanced analysis of the conflict and the wider geopolitical considerations at play in Ethiopia and beyond. Make sure to check out the open letter that I wrote to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that served as the basis for this interview.
11/28/2020: The Hard Road Towards Healing Ethiopia Starts Today
When it comes to war, the easier objective is achieving victory, the hardest part is always maintaining the peace. It is with this in mind that I implore all Ethiopians who feel like celebrating at news of Mek’ele’s repatriation. First let me temper the optimism that many are feeling at this moment; as relieved as I am that TPLF forces succumbed to the ENDF so quickly, I also know—based on my studies of previous campaigns like this on—that there is a high likelihood the remnants of the militias will turn to guerrilla tactics in order to prolong this conflict.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration and the ENDF must take all steps necessary to mitigate this risk. Chief among these steps that need to be taken is ensuring that the average Tigrayan feels that they are stakeholders in the future of Ethiopia and that they have a seat at the policy making table. Though TPLF should be held responsible for their criminality and be brought to justice, the sins of a few should not be cast on many. Tigrayans were as much a victim of TPLF as the rest of Ethiopians; it is imperative that they are brought into the wide tent that is Ethiopia post-haste.
This means that Abiy Ahmed should move quickly to restore order in Tigray and dedicate what resources needed to ensure the safe return of Tigrayan refugees who were forced to flee to South Sudan. Provisions need to be made to house and feed countless thousands of people and to rebuild the homes that were lost during TPLF’s murderous campaign. Any steps that were taken by the Ethiopian government to restrict movements over the past couple of weeks should be immediately rescinded. Mr. Ahmed needs to pivot from a war posture and focus on a peace process. Reinvesting and empowering Ethiopians should be the main focus going forward throughout Ethiopia, we can take care of ourselves if we are only given the means and the opportunities to do so.
Beyond that, it is up to us—the average Ethiopian both home and abroad—to take part in the transformative healing of Ethiopia. That starts by not gloating or overtly celebrating today’s outcome. I know a lot of the emotions are byproducts of decades of suppressed emotions and grief that are being exorcised by millions of Ethiopians who have felt the brutal hands of the TPLF on their collective throats. However optics are important at this time. Is it worth having Tigrayans feel like people are dancing at their expense? It is best to be modest in victory or else risk creating a new generation of enemies.
What Ethiopia needs more than anything else is a National Healing and Reconciliation campaign, or something akin to that model. We are a people who are deeply wounded; traumas of war, repressions, famines and privation have been passed down like a most unwanted inheritance from one generation to the next—pains being compounded with every decade. We hold in our hearts wounds that have never been dealt with, the battles are being fought in our collective minds. The road towards healing Ethiopia starts within each one of us. May God continue to bless #Ethiopia and all her children #HealEthiopiaTogether Click To Tweet
Below is a video that Bethlehem Bekele and I did this afternoon related to the very notion of healing as individuals, as a community and as a nation. May we start on the long road of healing today, we deserve it.
Update: November 28th at 9:17 AM EST – the Battle for Mek’ele has Commenced
According to multiple reports emerging from Ethiopia, the campaign to root out the TPLF from Mek’ele has commenced. I pray for all Ethiopians in Mek’ele and their families who are scattered around the world. I fervently hope that there is a speedy resolution to this conflict. As much as I wished that the TPLF would have put down their guns and as much as desired that egos would be put aside, the genie is already out of the bottle and all we can hope for now is a speedy resolution.
I know full well what will happen over the coming days, and God forbid weeks; there will be gruesome pictures of the dead and imagery of mothers and fathers crying over lost ones. For all Tigrayans, this will be a revisitation of the horrors of June 22nd 1988; I am mindful of the wounds that you carry in your hearts. When I advocate the dismantling of TPLF for the good of Ethiopia, that does not exclude Tigrayans. I know there are a lot of Tigrayans who silently chaff at the overbearing hands of TPLF. Yet as much as I endorse this campaign to hold TPLF accountable for striking out unprovoked and attacking their own nation’s soldiers, I don’t lose sight of the fact that this battle was and is taking place in your backyard.
I am not cheering for war; my heart breaks while writing this. Ethiopia has seen too much deaths and witnessed too many heartaches—we don’t need yet more logs on the fire. As much as I don’t want to say this, I feel that in this case war is in fact a necessary evil needed to expel a rogue element that imperils all Ethiopians.
I urge Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian National Defense Force to exercise maximum restraint by narrowing the target to just combatants and minimizing civilian casualties. I continue to urge the TPLF to lay down their guns and surrender for the good of Ethiopians. Your acronyms stand for Tigrayan People Liberation Front, by your actions, you have turned Tigray as a whole and Mek’ele specifically into a frontline, so I plead with you to liberate that which you entrapped and free the people of Tigray from this nightmare.
I pray for Ethiopia and all her people, we are a country deeply torn by generations of traumas that have been imbued in our souls. This conflict in Tigray is a projection of the wider wars that have been going on in our minds and within our communities for decades. When the last shot has been fired, I truly pray that we all come together, that boasting and the “winner take all” disposition is permanently abandoned and that we start a national Healing and Reconciliation campaign to finally rid our hearts of the grievances we have been carrying for centuries. Enough competing for ethnic supremacy, it is time that we start collaborating for the sake of the common good. #Ethiopia #HealEthiopiaTogether Click To Tweet
I spell out my position when it comes to this conflict on video below and discuss the unsaid words, years of hidden grudges and unexpressed angers that has brought Ethiopia to this point. I pray for our generation, for our children and future generation that we put pride aside and hear each other out so we can heal as a people.
Update: November 27th at 10:04 PM EST – TPLF Escalates Tensions by Attacking Eritrea Again
For the second time in as many weeks, the remnants of the TPLF regime, who once ruled Ethiopia with a Stalin grip, unleashed a salvo of missiles into Eritrea. After starting this tragic conflict three weeks ago by “preemptively attacking” the Ethiopian National Defense Force—rational people call attacking one’s own military an act of terror—they doubled and tripled down on sedition by taking part in a mass-killing in Mai-Kadra. According to eye witnesses cited in an Amnesty International report, hundreds of unarmed civilians—men, women and children alike—were mowed down by forces loyal to TPLF militia in ways that recall the horrors of Pol Pot’s killing fields. This fact was later corroborated by Ethiopian Human Rights Commission’s report.
This latest act is desperate attempt on the part of the TPLF to widen a localized conflict, which they initiated according to the TPLF spokesman Sekuture Getachew, into a regional war that by drawing in Eritrea. This is the same TPLF that scores of politicians, pundits and opinion leaders are stampeding to microphones to demand that Abiy Ahmed reaches a negotiated settlement with. I ask the Right Honorable Gentlewoman Assita Kanko, would she have advised that the Belgian government negotiated with Salah Abdeslam and the perpetrators of the Brussels bombings in 2016?
Abiy Ahmed has a Nobel Peace Prize but he is refusing to pursue peace, I believe he should give that back! This is my intervention in #EPplenary 👇🏽 about Ethiopia. The EU must consider using all available leverage to help de-escalate the conflict. Time is running out. pic.twitter.com/IrDXcGzuag
— Assita Kanko MEP (@Assita_Kanko) November 27, 2020
I’ll return to this point over and over again until these morally equivocating politicians and “experts” either understand or are shamed into silence. If fringe elements, with enough firepower to take over a military base attacked a fort in South Carolina, killed scores of soldiers and then went on to target civilians in an attempt to force a political outcome, what do you think the US government would have done? No need to imagine, all you have to do is open your history book and read about the attack on Fort Sumter and you’ll see how Abraham Lincoln dealt with separatists with deadly intentions.
For the sake of durable peace, what is needed more than anything else is a decisive outcome. A status quo where the TPLF are slightly weakened but feel emboldened because they won by forcing a draw will only lead to a delay in hostilities until TPLF yet again feel the need to “preemptively strike”. I understand, wars are horrible and I’m no proponent of people killing people for the sake of political objectives. However, in this case leaving what is effectively a terror cell in place and rewarding criminal behavior is a precedent that other violent factions like the OLF will see as a campaign to emulate across Ethiopia.
Where were all these “voices of moderation and reason” when Meles Zenawi and his henchmen were mowing down protestors and unarmed civilians for having the temerity to demand human rights and democracy for close to three decades? Where were these concerned wonks when TPLF was looting the country and siphoning untold fortunes into their personal bank accounts while the average Ethiopian was withering? The outrage you are witnessing from too many international voices has nothing to do with concerns for justice, it’s all about protecting forged relationships. J’accuse! Hypocrisy is thy name.
I don’t make this analogy gratuitously, my father passed away from this horrible disease, but the operation that is taking place in Tigray at the moment is akin to a cancer patient taking chemotherapy. If anyone has witnessed first hand the devastating toll that chemo takes on people, as I have, they know full well that at times you have to take adverse medicine in order to address an even deadlier malady. #TPLF has proven over 27 years of brutalizing Ethiopians, and now starting a deadly rampage in Tigray, that they are cancers that need to be dealt with or else they will metastasize and kill the body that is #Ethiopia Click To Tweet
Here is my challenge to long time readers of the Ghion Journal and those who ran across this article and are new here. What is clearly taking place is an insidious campaign, based on media narratives, that is being spun by too many in the establishment to blur the lines when it comes to accountability and in the process equate the Ethiopian government’s responsibility to restore order with the TPLF’s unconscionable actions. The same voices who were condemning Mr. Ahmed just a couple of days ago were mum when TPLF initiated this bloody act of terror and are now silent as church mice now that the TPLF has yet again attacked Eritrea unprovoked.
While we don’t have the resources and reach of the international and mainstream media, what we have are verifiable truths on our side and a solid community of readers who are passionate about justice and checking the abuses of power. So if you agree with what you are reading here and you are vexed over how the stories are being spun by people like Susan Rice, Gerry Simpson, Martin Plaut, BBC et al, don’t just stew in grievance, act! Every time you see a slanted analysis or “news” that doesn’t tell the full story, take this article and tag each one of their tweets, Facebook posts and insert it in comment sections on corporate news websites.
One armed with truth can silence a thousand bearing lies::
Listen to this interview below I conducted on Fault Lines Radio last Friday to hear a nuanced analysis of the conflict in Ethiopia, that includes some historical context, in ways that too many in the international press have proven that they are either unable or unwilling to do.
Update: November 25rd at 10:25 PM EST – A Special Report
Update: November 23rd at 7:53 PM EST – Eminent Battle for Mek’ele
On this eve of an eminent battle for the city of Mek’ele, it has become crystal clear that the TPLF will not give up and disarm for the good of the very people their acronym is named after. As noted plenty of times, the full responsibly of what is about to unfold lays at the feet of Debretsion Gebremichae, Fetlework Gebregziabher, Getachew Reda and the TPLF leadership who have decided to plunge the whole of Tigray into the hell of war and made a Machiavellian choice of using 500,000 residents of Mek’ele as human shields. They are doing this in order to avoid consequences for their actions when they started a campaign of terror on the night of November 3rd by butchering Ethiopian National Defense Forces soldiers in the dead of night while they were sleeping.
Though some in the press are spinning this as “Abiy’s war of choice”, the truth is that the TPLF left Mr. Ahmed no choice at all the minute they picked up guns in order to achieve political and economic objectives. Imagine if you will what America would have done if rogue elements in Texas, with enough firepower to almost have parity with the US military, attacked Fort Hood? What would the president of the United States have done if these same extremists started killing civilians in Dallas? What would our government have done if these outlaws then barricaded themselves in San Antonio and started launching rockets at St. Louis and then doubled down on their malicious deeds by lobbing missiles into Canada in order to expand a local conflict into a continental war?
Would the director of Human Rights Watch be giving a moral equivalency between an unprovoked attack and an attempt by the US to restore law and order? Yet this is exactly what Gerry Simpson, the director of Human Rights Watch did, going as far as using pictures unrelated to Ethiopia in order to spin a narrative that could destabilize the entire Horn of Africa let alone Ethiopia. Would Susan Rice have called the Commander-in-Chief a war criminal because he sent the military in to confront homegrown terrorists? Would the international press be howling collectively and advocating on behalf of would be usurpers?
Why does Mr @GerrySimpsonHRW keep using pictures that have nothing to do with #Ethiopia in his tweets? If this was journalism, one may ignore it as the usual sensationalism; but Mr Simpson isn't a journalist. Please stick to the facts @hrw. pic.twitter.com/xhPlc8PzYl
— Bahirdar Photography (@BDR_Photography) November 24, 2020
Of course not! The West has one set of rules and developing nations another, especially African nations where countries are treated with quadruple standards. It reminds me of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” where all animals are equal except those who walk on two legs are more equal. By the by, this why I created the Crisis Chronicles; there are almost zero journalists in the supposed “free press” who are giving a full perspective of what is taking place in Ethiopia and providing historical nuances to let readers understand the complexity that led to this outcome. Instead are using media narratives to flog the very same person they praised not too long ago. The truth is that most of international press and opinion leaders speaking the loudest about Ethiopia have not been honest brokers, they are either being intellectually lazy and passing on information without research and actually talking to Ethiopians or they have have an agenda they are filling in with slanted stories after the fact.
Thank you for sharing this beautifully written piece and expanding its radar. This is the insight, compassion and understanding that has been largely absent from Western reporting, and I hope @TeodroseFikre’s story continues to spread.
— Sierra Mision (@siemision) November 23, 2020
This is not to say that Mr. Ahmed is faultless, he has made it easy for his critics by returning to the failed tactics of the previous regime. This is the same TPLF junta that are now trying to return to prominence through brute force. However, the world should know, the options right now are either Mr. Ahmed, the return of the TPLF or anarchy as Ethiopia tears apart at the seams. This is why I am backing Mr. Ahmed for the moment; though I will continue to observe to see if he stops the backslide to the days of the EPRDF, for the time being, until the TPLF are disarmed and their leaders held accountable for their actions, Mr. Ahmed is the only option for the continued viability of Ethiopia until national elections are held.
So on this eve of a battle that will truly be horrific, I just want readers to return to the scenario I outlined above and ask yourself what would you expect your leader—whether you are in the US, France or the United Kingdom—to do if faced with the same predicament. The status quo is not maintainable. TPLF has effectively said “to the death” and are willing to revert to any and all measures to destabilize #Ethiopia. If they can’t be in charge, they will burn the house down. Click To Tweet
TPLF wrought this on the people of Tigray, I pray for a speedy resolution after which I beseech Mr. Ahmed quickly pivots from a war posture into a mending framework and initiates a national “Healing and Reconciliation” campaign for the good of the entire country. But first thing is first, TPLF has to be subdued for the good of Tigray, the whole of Ethiopia and the entire region. What you are about to witness is chemotherapy being applied to a cancerous body, it is my most fervent prayer that the loss of innocent lives is minimized and—for the sake of all Ethiopians—that there is a decisive outcome at the end of this battle.
Update: November 23rd at 7:53 PM EST – Conflict Entrepreneurs
I had other ideas for this segment of Crisis Chronicles earlier, I was intent on shinning a harsh light on yet more people who keep using the suffering of countless millions around the world to line their pockets and magnify their reach. But then I paused and started reflecting; what exactly is my aim. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that most of us are conflict entrepreneurs.
I could have written a scathing article putting a torch to a couple of folks who insist upon themselves as they keep peddling one-sided “analysis” of the developments taking place in Ethiopia. I know that would have been received with righteous indignation from people who are livid over the way this conflict is being portrayed. But if I did that, would I be any different than the very thing I vilified? Moreover, how would my screed help a child who is suffering in Ethiopia or a mother turned refugee crying in South Sudan?
Moreover, these folks I have pointed out below and in previous articles are just doing what has become the norm for humanity. A particular axiom comes to mind, when you point a finger, there are three pointing back at thee. Though by no means am I profiting from what I’m doing–I could not even pay my car note with the contributions that readers make–the fact is that I’m elevating my profile, as they say in the media world, because I tapped a pent up demand.
This was not my intention, I did not wake up thinking “how can I get more followers” from this human tragedy that has bracketed my once homeland. But in the end, my desire to give a voice to the voiceless is a desire that was shared by many. I do what I do because I have an abiding love for the land that gave birth to me, but my passion for justice and my desire to fight for “the little guy” has led to me having a platform where not too long ago I did not have a bed to call my own.
The ego is a bedeviling friend; all of us who post on social media about the unfolding crisis in Ethiopia, or anywhere around the world, also check in frequently to see if anyone has responded or shared our thoughts. Social media is an incubator and a multiplier of narcissism in this way. So when I condemn mainstream media professional, pundits and politicians, I should really be more circumspect. On a smaller scale, are we not doing the same thing? Moreover, who among us is willing to lose a job or risk getting fired over a principle? It is easy to demand virtue from the sideline, but how many of us would do as we demand of others if the positions were switched?
There is no "us versus them" at all–humanity truly is one. Even when it comes to class, the CEO and the worker both trapped. The former by abundance and the latter by deficiency. Nothing will change until we collectively shift our minds from self-pursuit to collective success:
— Teodrose Fikremariam (@TeodroseFikre) November 23, 2020
I used to ponder, where is the demarcation line between evil and good. I finally have an answer–there is none. Humanity is one large organism in this way; we act collectively based on the decisions that we all make individually. I once thought that the battle was between black vs white until a seven year old “white” girl by the name of Samantha shattered those illusions while I was staying at Greenville Rescue Mission in 2015 as I watched her break bread with the homeless. I evolved, or so I thought, and came to the understanding that the battle is between the haves and the have nots. But now I see the rich and the poor are walking hand in hand right over an upcoming cliff while too many of us are arguing over our differences.
The conflict entrepreneurs are all of us; we all have our hands on the wheels of injustice. A few determine the direction and the rest steady the wheel, the only ones who really are powerless are the huddled masses on the streets who have been chewed up and spit out by the machine of consumerism. The people in Ethiopia are suffering for the same reason why people in America are suffering; we reward greed over virtue and we celebrate self-pursuit above collective success. #CrisisChronicles Click To Tweet
Until this changes, wars will continue and suffering will only multiply. All of us should really reflect on these things, including mainstream media reporters who I know are reading these words. As I wrote in an article that I published this morning, the only way out of the morass we find ourselves in as a species is through love and forgiveness. Raging against the machine only fuels the engines of injustice.
I just ask of those in the free-press, the ones who were once idealists and became jaded by the muck of this world and the ones who retained their optimism in spite of the vagaries of society, you have the ability to awaken the masses and to give a voice to the marginalized majority. You have an awesome power that comes with an awesome responsibility, don’t let expediency and the lure of fame blind you from the creeds you once espoused. You don’t have to be martyrs, as Robert F. Kennedy once noted, just be a tiny ripple of hope.
The same I ask of those in positions of power in various institutions around the world; I know there are good people in every organization who wake up every morning trying to do what is right. Too often, we are afraid to speak up for fear of retribution, but being silent in the face of transgressions exacts a bigger cost than the feared retribution.
There is a tiny sliver of humanity who I used to call the invisible hands, those who have amassed enough fortunes and clout that they can bend humanity at their whim. To those few I can only leave this closing thought; no matter which path humanity charts, just know that your fate is inextricably linked with ours. There is no mitigating risk and there is no escape clause; the fate of many will become the fate of all–carbon footprints can’t be reduced without unintended consequences::
Update: November 23rd at 1:47 AM EST – Minute Rice
There was the audacity of Obama, that was timid compared to the audacity of Rice. Susan Rice, the former United States UN Ambassador, had the gall to get on social media—with zero proof that civilians are being targeted by the Ethiopian National Defense Force—and allege that Ethiopia’s government is committing war crimes. There is chutzpa and then there is Susan Rice; this is the same lady who literally embraced the former despot of Ethiopia by the name of Meles Zenawi while he was committing ethnic cleansing against the Anuaks, mowing down protesters like he was a runaway John Deere tractor and ruling Ethiopia with an iron fist wrapped with barbed wires. The tweet below by Yohannes Gedamu details Rice’s hypocrisy.
A thread on Amb. Rice:
Let’s start with her eulogy for the late Ethiopian tyrant, Meles Zenawi. She spoke:
“Meles was selfless, tireless, & totally dedicated for his work & family, he had little patience for fools, or ‘idiots’ as he likes to call them, he had world class mind”
— Yohannes Gedamu (@yohanethio) November 22, 2020
This is also the same lady who laughed when a reporter asked her if Ethiopia had a democracy during Meles Zenawi’s reign of terror. Moreover, those who live in glass homes should not throw stones. Not only did she full-throatily endorse George Bush’s immoral war of choice against Iraq, talk about war crimes, she also backed intervention in Syria and Libya on her watch. Those two countries are currently in smolders while she is enjoying a life of uber privilege as a Washington insider.
Given her embrace of an actual human rights violator Meles Zenawi—the former head of the very TPLF that started the current conflict by attacking Ethiopia’s National Defense Force—and given her role in starting multiple wars that left a multitude of countries in shambles, I humbly submit that she might not be the best judge of criminality. Perhaps what she was tweeting was nothing more than self-projection.
Lastly, what is the deal with Human Rights Watch and their one-sided advocacy for TPLF? They have yet to say a peep about the targeting of civilians as they lobbed rockets at Gondar and Eritrea, yet both the director of HRW and the regional director for HOA have now taken to twitter to recklessly make charges and insinuate crimes without any allegation except for innuendos and stretching imaginations to make points. I wrote yesterday about media narratives and how those in power utilize hidden agendas in order to mold public perception. Human Rights Watch apparently have decided to be less advocates for humanity and more pundits with motives. Where was @HRW while Obama was droning countless nations and continuing the immoral policies of Bush's endless wars that he ran against? The same place Susan Rice was when she was hugging Meles Zenawi. #Ethiopia Click To Tweet
Update: November 22nd at 7:05 PM EST – Huma Rights Wash
What inspired the Crisis Chronicles is a statement put out by Human Right’s Watch Director Gerry Simpson, who tweeted something that was so inflammatory that it took my breath away. He posted, in cryptic ways, that the Ethiopian National Defense Force was about to declare open season on 500,000 Mek’ele civilians. Shocked, I asked for clarification and requested that he provide the source where he got that from. I found out that the source he is citing is a Reuters report which was citing ENDF Col. Dejene Tsegaye giving a warning to Mek’ele residents to leave town before the fighting starts.
Let me say from the outset that Col. Tsegaye’s comments where ham-fisted and had a bit too much bravado for my liking, which is what Gerry Simpson and Reuters jumped on. Col. Tsegaye stated that residents should take precaution to leave the area after which he stated that there will be no mercy. Unlike TPLF, who are shooting off rockets indiscriminately into Gondar and Eritrea in an effort to induce mass casualties, the ENDF is giving advance warning so that residents are not caught in the cross-hairs. #Ethiopia Click To Tweet
Moreover, while too many reporting on this conflict seem to have selective amnesia on this front, it was the TPLF’s own spokesperson who admitted on Dimsti Woyane TV that they started this conflict by conducting a “preemptive attack. When a state strikes another state that they feel is about to launch an eminent attack, the measures that state takes could be considered preemptive. However, when a rogue militia attacks its own country’s military, that is not a preemptive attack, that is an act of terror.
Col. Tsegaye never said directly that the Ethiopian military would have no mercy on civilians, he could have also been saying that about the TPLF militia who have decided to turn the residents of Mek’ele into human shields. It is the height of malice to take a sloppy quote that leaves room for interpretation and turn it into a statement that is advocating crimes against humanity. Mover, if you look at the picture that Mr. Simpson used in his tweet below, the tanks are not even Ethiopia’s, they bear Egypt’s flag on the side. I’m not sure if it’s laziness on Mr. Simpsons’ part or that he thinks so lowly of us that we were not going to catch that.
Cite source @GerrySimpsonHRW, are you quoting a random blowhard on Twitter or are you quoting an #Ethiopia|n government official/military officer. If you have no source you are quoting, you sir are trafficking in yellow press journalism. #Ethiopia https://t.co/hXlknvThUT
— Teodrose Fikremariam (@TeodroseFikre) November 22, 2020
I will reiterate what I said from the outset, Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian National Defense Force should take every measure to avoid civilian casualties. War is hell and there will always be harm to those who are not joining the battle, but it’s one thing to have “collateral damage” (a term I detest but is the fact of all conflicts) versus the intentional and willful killing of unarmed civilians. However, it must be said that there has not been one report that proved or even insinuated the Ethiopian National Defense Force have targeted civilians or taken part in indiscriminate targeting of innocents. To the contrary, the only report that emerged of civilians being massacred was the one that was issued by Amnesty International where eye witnesses blamed TPLF militias for killing hundreds of unarmed men, women and children.
If there are any reports prove the Ethiopian National Defense Force targeted or murdered civilians, I will be the first to fully condemn these actions and I will then put the onus on Abiy Ahmed as I do on TPLF. I continue to urge Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian government to ensure that Tigrayans are not persecuted in this campaign to root out the TPLF, the target should be specific and narrow, bringing to justice terrorists who initiated this conflict to begin with. As far as the TPLF, for the sake of the Tigrayans, whom they supposedly speak for, I ask the specifically to please stop turning Mek’ele into a fortress and using civilians as umbrellas. You ruled for 27 years, just because you are no longer at the head of the table does not mean you have to burn the country down unless you get your way. Tigrayans have suffered enough, lay down the weapons you picked up and take your battles from the bullet to the ballot box.
A Note to Media Covering Ethiopia
Let me clarify one thing, I’m not saying that the only ones qualified to report on Ethiopia, or any other country for that fact, should be limited to just people who were born there. That is a slippery slope of the very identity politics I have come to abhor. However, those who report should be knowledgeable on the nuances of the country, the history and the tectonic plates of society that is not discernable to the eye unless you really dig and ferret it out. If you don’t know, ask.
What I am speaking against is not necessarily the complexion or nationality of journalists as much as I am against their agenda setting ways of one too many who besmirch the noble profession of journalism. After all, we have a bunch of clowns pretending to be journalists in Ethiopia; being Ethiopian isn’t enough of a qualification to report news. When it comes to reporting news about war, special diligence must be made to not inflame tensions that could have devastating consequences.
Beyond that, don’t have double standards, don’t ask of Ethiopians what you would not ask of the west. As journalists and reporters, you have an awesome responsibility in your hands. You can tip the balance between justice and injury with the flick of your pen. Use that power judiciously and don’t add on to the troubles of a country that is already in turmoil. I honor your profession; I went to school to become a journalist initially before I took a more expedient path, now I’m more of an observer. As I noted in a previous article, be less muck and be more muckrakers.
Live up to the idealism that drove you to journalism in the first place. Don’t feed into the divides, mend it. Don’t amplify hatred, salve it. You have the means to do it, dare to act with that aim in mind. Even if you fail, you’ll leave a tiny ripple behind instead of adding to the billows of injustice that is crashing around the world.
“Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy
Purpose of Crisis Chronicles
After sitting back and watching a procession of “journalists”, “diplomats”, and “human rights advocates”, with hidden motives, report “news” emerging from Ethiopia with transparent agendas that have nothing to do with the wellbeing of Ethiopians, I have been sufficiently moved to stop relying on foreign observers to report truth and I’ll just present news myself.
Let me put a couple of caveats from the outset, I am of course relying on the very same reports I’m criticizing so my job is to give context and providing analysis on the developments in Ethiopia. I will not report anything that is not substantiated, I will try to be objective but will not let objectivity keep me from telling the truth as I see it, and when I make mistakes, I will own up to it.
Additionally, I am in touch with some Ethiopian reporters and journalists who have a lot of contacts in Ethiopia, so during the times I am actually able to present news as opposed to presenting analysis, I will label it as such. I will be posting updates at least once a day on this same link so feel free to bookmark this page and check back daily to see where things stand in Ethiopia and the region as a whole.
If there is breaking news I will note it as such. If you are in Ethiopia and you have verifiable information you want to pass to us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, all information received will be treated as strictly confidential unless otherwise stated. The daily Crisis Chronicles will be in descending order from newest to oldest, with today’s entry above. If you are tired of having our stories told for us by others, join the Ghion Journal as we convey our stories for us and by us.
To my fellow Ethiopians and all people around the world who feel marginalized by the lack of a truly free and robust free press, I offer this challenge before you. You can continue consuming toxins in the form of newsertainment that give you nothing but grief, you can continue to share links expressing outrage at the ways news has been turned into an commodity, you can continue to enrich these corporate outlets who care about profits first and edifying you last, or you can turn to platforms like the Ghion Journal that is not indebted to sponsors and will try to give you the real scoop unconstrained by ideologies. Choose wisely::