It has been nine days since a clash between the Ethiopian federal government and the TPLF started; in that time, the only things that certain are the actors involved and the scale of human suffering the conflict has unleashed. To underscore that point, a few hours ago Amnesty International released a damning report that detailed the gruesome deaths of scores of Ethiopians at the hands of ruthless terrorists.
What the report did not assign is blame; it has yet to be determined who the responsible parties are. Preliminary reports are that most of the victims were Amhara workers living in a northern Ethiopian town called Mai-Kadra. This report has quickly been seized by those who support Abiy Ahmed and those who support the TPLF alike to spin narratives that favor their agendas; the conflict being fought on social media as much as it is fought in Tigray.
It is on this front that all Ethiopians and those who are following the developments in Ethiopia should really pause and assess news apart from propaganda. There is a concerted effort to use the plight and suffering of innocent Ethiopians to advance hidden motives and there is also a stunning lack of consistency when it comes for caring about human suffering. International media outlets should report cautiously, there are a lot of nuances when it comes to this unfolding tragedy that is decades—if not centuries—in the making. Rushing to report “facts” before they are corroborated will only lead to more casualties and prolong the anguish of innocent civilians.
What is lacking in the reports emerging from Ethiopia and from the reaction of one too many Ethiopians is impartiality, instead the airwaves are filled with selective outrage that is biased through the prism of ethnic affiliation. To set the record straight, Tigrayans who feel targeted are valid in their reasoning; cutting off the internet and phone services to a whole province is nothing short of collective punishment and it is immoral. However, the TPLF is complicit in the carnage that is taking place in Tigray; after ruling Ethiopia for 27 years with an iron fist, they have decided to set the country on fire if they are not able to sit at the head of the table.
Though we might never truly know who perpetuated the grizzly and cowardly attack against unarmed civilians in Mai-Kadra, it strains credulity that the Ethiopian federal military would have perpetuated this onslaught and risk a backlash from the international community in a battle where it has seized the initiative. Moreover, as the Amnesty International report detailed, most of the casualties seem to be non-Tigrayans. This has all the hallmarks of the an asymmetrical warfare initiated to further a political objective. TPLF leadership need to be held accountable for any and all actions they take in direct contraversion of the Geneva Accords and international norms.
We have confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians, who appear to have been day laborers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive. This is a horrific tragedy whose true extent only time will tell as communication in Tigray remains shut down,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
Likewise, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has to take any and all steps needed to ensure that civilians are not bearing the brunt of this conflict and to stop besieging Tigray as a whole in order to root out insurgents who are intent on destabilizing Ethiopia. Moreover, every effort must be taken to assure Tigrayans that this conflict is not against them but against an ideology that has splintered Ethiopia for political gains and looted Ethiopia’s resources for close to three decades. Tigrayans have suffered under the thumb of the TPLF as have the rest of Ethiopians; we have to move away from this “us versus them” mentality and realize that we are all in this together.
When empathy ends at the border, when compassion is constrained by ethnicity, when understanding is limited by color, when kindness is selective based on ideology and love is conditioned on affiliations, humanity is degraded and malice is bolstered::
— Teodrose Fikremariam (@TeodroseFikre) November 12, 2020
In the long run, the problems of Ethiopia cannot be solved by bullets and bombs. Though a tribal junta cannot be allowed to act with impunity and to flout laws and civility as they please, in the end unleashing weapons against extremists only empowers the zealots and diminishes the potential for enduring peace for generations. What is needed is reconciliation and a national dialogue that extends into all our homes. All #Ethiopia|ns really need to reflect and ask themselves if what they are doing is helping people back home or inflaming passions that will only lead to more body count. #HealEthiopiaTogether Click To Tweet
Political or ethnic considerations should not come before our connective humanity. At this moment, a Tigrayan mother in Mek’ele is no able to reach her children in Addis Abeba because her phone is not working. At this moment, an Amhara child is still grieving the loss of his parents from a heinous attack in Western Ethiopia. At this moment an Oromo student has to negotiate between going to school and safety. These are our people hurting, our care should not be clouded by ethnicity but crystalized through humanity. If not, the pains of others we ignore will in time come knocking at our doors.
Ethiopia is one of the few countries in the world where the constitution begins “we the tribes”rather than “we the people.”We are alienated within our “tribes” as well.This is fomented by some radicals in Ethiopia,but especially in the Diaspora,and has created even more animosity pic.twitter.com/dA2mx2WmFO
— Obang Metho (@ObangMetho) October 25, 2020
There are centuries of wounds and grievances that are deeply encoded in our DNAs. Generation after generation has witnessed trauma after trauma; we are a nation that is hurting deeply and in need of collective healing. The acidity of public discourse is just a manifestation of these deep injuries that are embedded in our collective hearts. What we need more than anything else are empathy and compassion that transcend our differences, until that happens, the conflict in Tigray is but a precursor of more fires to come::
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