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Part II – Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes in Ethiopia: TPLF, OLF and Abiy Ahmed

Part II

By Bruke Lemma, Ph.D.

“Never confuse fighting for one’s government with fighting for one’s country.”- J. Adam Snyder

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

The Ethiopian government suddenly declared unilateral ceasefire by giving some improbable reason for doing so. And, straightaway, the ENDF left Mekelle leaving government employees, university students and others stranded there. Which was all baffling and totally unanticipated including by the US, the EU and others who were agitating for cessation of hostilities and so on earlier. As such, the typical expectation is that the Ethiopian government after declaring a ceasefire, would stay there and seek to extract similar commitment from the TPLF in return – which was not the case. What’s more, the government also ordered the ENDF to abandon the Amhara region to which the force retreated to after leaving Mekelle – exposing the undefended population there to an attack by the TPLF. 

Thus, a war between the federal government and a renegade region was turned into a war between two regions – intentionally or otherwise. The TPLF was indirectly armed twice over by Abiy Ahmed’s Administration and given massive advanced weapons and equipment – first, by the government’s failure to secure the Northern Command despite having ample opportunities to do so; and, second, through sabotage and corruption in the ranks of the ill-prepared ENDF command structure and so on. It was sickening to hear Abiy Ahmed telling the Amharas that they are great warriors; and, that they would have no problem stopping the TPLF – a group that Abiy Ahmed himself was instrumental in its being armed to its teeth.

In addition, the Amharas who were defending against the TPLF from advantageous positions, were told repeatedly to pullback for inexplicable reasons – allowing the TPLF to get to and control advantageous areas and then slaughter badly armed and unarmed Amhara peasants and others. Inevitably, the TPLF was able to capture and control large areas; and, that way, millions of Amharas were systematically handed over to a terrorist group with long standing genocidal intent towards them. In that, while there hasn’t been any explanation directly from the government in regard to the reasons for the ENDF’s retreat from the Amhara region – however, some have suggested three possible reasons for it doing so. 

The first of these reasons is that bloodied by TPLF’s accusations of human right abuses and so on and so forth in the Tigray region, Abiy Ahmed wanted to turn the tables on the TPLF by making it possible for the group to capture areas in the Amhara region and commit human right abuses on the population there – which the group has been and continues to do so, unsurprisingly. The second of these reasons is that allowing the TPLF’s occupation of the areas in the Amhara region was something designed for use later as negotiation strategy by Abiy Ahmed’s administration. As such, to create some sort of comparable actions. That is, declaring the TPLF should leave the areas that it occupies – and the Amhara should in turn hand back control of Welkait and the other lands that were annexed and incorporated to the Tigray region by the TPLF. 

While it is hard to be certain about these things, however, any ploy to hand back Welkait and the other lands as part of any negotiation would be Abiy Ahmed’s greatest mistake yet – it is not only Amharas in general, but it is hard to imagine even Abiy Ahmed’s Amhara lackeys in PP going along with that. In any case, that aside, there is also a third, a much more straightforward reason for Abiy Ahmed’s allowing of the occupation of these areas by the TPLF and the continued delays and failures to liberate these areas. 

Specifically, this is the breaking down of the Amhara spirit using the TPLF as a sledgehammer; as such, the Amhara broken down and straggling with numerous social, economic and other problems, would not be able to offer any resistance to Abiy Ahmed’s dictates and agendas including regional expansionism sponsored by him and the continued complete state capture and control by Oromo ethno-nationalist elites and more. In general, there are plausible reasons demonstrating that Abiy Ahmed has been fighting two battles, one against the TPLF and, another, against the Amhara – which was also the reason for his lack of urgency and motivation for clipping the wings of the TPLF and reducing or eliminating its ability to wage the destructive war it is now waging – when he could have done so.

In any case, the TPLF used its Amhara minions and lackeys in the EPRDF to ruthlessly oppress and marginalise the Amhara people. And now Abiy Ahmed and his ODP/PP are using these same Amhara lackeys to do much the same thing to them. Grovelling, shameless, soulless men par excellence such as Agegnehu Teshager are motivated only to serve their masters – who fill their bellies – by obediently facilitating and providing cover for the crimes that are being committed against the Amharas. 

“The only thing viler than tyrants are their lackeys.” – Marty Rubin

Unfortunately, any authentic Amhara leaders that come out are continually silenced and sabotaged or, worse still, are systematically co-opted and corrupted – allowing the TPLF, the OLF and others, among other things, to continue to perpetuate massacres and brutal killings, dislocations and destructions and so on with little or no fear at all of being called out or held accountable. Therefore, it is incumbent on all Ethiopian intellectuals and others to endeavour to be their voice – and to continue demanding for a stop to these things and calling for justice for the victims.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther

In particular, the war has caused and continue to cause great devastation in the Amhara region; among other things, due to TPLF’s extensive lootings, its continued actions of wholesale and vindictive destructions of infrastructures – including its burning down of thousands of schools, medical facilities, private businesses, its killings of farm animals and more. In addition, the war has also caused and continue to cause incredible economic difficulties and pains for vast number of people throughout the country. It has also stretched the country’s resources to the breaking point – owing to the expenses and disrupted economic productions and more. 

It is, therefore, essential to bring this war to an end as expeditiously as possible. In that regard, the calls for cessation of hostilities coming from a number of corners including the US, the EU and as well as from a number of Ethiopians within and outside the country are understandable. However, these calls must be directed to the recalcitrant party, which is the TPLF. As such, Abiy Ahmed’s administration has already declared unilateral ceasefire – this ceasefire, however, was mocked by the TPLF who then proceeded to expand the war and occupy the Amhara and Afar regions. 

The US and the EU would be best advised to put pressure on the TPLF to leave the Amhara areas it has been occupying and return to Tigray – afterwards the Ethiopian government should be persuaded to open negotiations with the group. Other than that, it defies any logic and common sense to sit down and negotiate with a group while it is continuing to commit massive human right abuses and war crimes. In any case, while negotiations and peaceful resolutions are obviously preferable – however, given the TPLF’s long history of deceptions, double crossings and more, it is highly unlikely it would negotiate in good-faith and abide by agreements made. 

“Once we have a war, there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.” – Hemingway

Therefore, the only way forward is for Ethiopian government to use all the force it could muster and to dislodge the TPLF from the Amhara areas it occupies and return it back to Tigray proper. However, once the Ethiopian government achieves that, it must refrain from following the TPLF into Tigray.  As such, it must simply fortify the border areas and wait for the Tigray people to abandon and revolt against the TPLF and/or until TPLF is ready to negotiate and to disarm. Other than that, to fight against an enemy waging a guerrilla war and to win is not an easy thing to do even for a superpower – let alone for a country such as Ethiopia with highly strained financial and other resources. 

“For political and social as well as for military reasons the preferred way of bringing about victory was the shortest, most direct way, and that meant using all possible force.”- Carl Von Clausewitz.

It would be incredibly unwise and utterly disastrous and asinine to allow the TPLF to continue occupying the Amhara areas it is now occupying for any reason at all other than that of readiness – and for that, it has been a while already. In that, Abiy Ahmed’s administration has very little time left for creating favourable facts and conditions on the ground – one of which is convincingly crushing the TPLF and dislodging it from the Amhara areas that it is occupying now. 

“There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.” – Machiavelli

Otherwise, the calls and the activisms of the US, and the EU and others would get much louder and bolder – and they could do much worse things than imposing the sanctions that they have already threatened to impose. It seems Abiy Ahmed sort of realises these things – as his recent defiant letter to Joe Biden suggests. Still, while his letter shows admirable convictions and was also very articulate in its outlining and listing of TPLF’s extensive human right abuses and other crimes – it suffers from serious lack of self-awareness and double standards.  

In that, Abiy Ahmed’s administration, among other things, has also incarcerated the journalist Eskinder Nega for more than a year now using some trumped up charges because they found his freedom to be simply inconvenient to their plans and schemes – exactly the same thing as what the TPLF did in its time to this same man. Moreover, Abiy Ahmed’s administration has also incarcerated Sintayehu Chekol, who has been seriously ill in prison but continue to be denied medical treatment; Askal Demssie; Aster Seyoum who has been forcefully separated from her very young children and who is not in a good health as well.

“His supporters will push him to disaster unless his opponents show where the dangers are.”- Lippmann

In addition, Tadios Tantu, an octogenarian journalist, who was taken from his home by the Ethiopian federal police; and, for months, his family and friends were not told about his whereabouts; he has now surfaced in one of the prisons in Addis Ababa; while he hasn’t been charged, the authorities refuse to let him go and re-join his family and friends.  Well, these are just a few examples of the tyrannies in Abiy Ahmed’s Ethiopia – still, the Prime Minister is not quite the TPLF, not yet, anyway. 

As such, the US, the EU and others would use their energies and influences best leaning on Abiy Ahmed’s and putting pressure on him to improve his administration’s human right records and so on – rather than siding with the TPLF whom the Ethiopian people have already vomited and spat out. In that, both the US, the EU must also stop whitewashing TPLF’s almost three decades of extensive criminalities including its current massive human right abuses and war crimes – doing otherwise, would be a great disservice not only to the people of Ethiopia, but also to the people of their own countries.  

TPLF is not, has never been a Victim – it is a Perpetrator of Deeply Offensive and Violent Crimes and More; it is an Incorrigible Criminal Group – responsible for the sufferings, the deaths and destructions of thousands, upon thousands of people – let’s never forget that! In the way they are wading through this war, the US and the EU seems to be turning themselves into some kind of mouthpieces for the criminal group – which is rather perplexing. Among other things, the US has been saying that there shouldn’t be any change in internal borders and so on – what is it arguing for? Is it arguing that TPLF should be able to control these areas and continue inflicting the massive human right abuses that it has been inflicting on those people for almost three decades? 

It is also a clear violation of Ethiopia’s sovereignty when the US tries to get involved in the intricacies of the country’s internal borders. The US also threatens to impose sanctions on officials involved in the war – the Ethiopian government, the TPLF and the Amhara officials. However, it only calls for the Ethiopian government and the TPLF to sit down and to negotiate. Well, first of all, TPLF is regional administrator – it is not on the same level as the Ethiopian government. Moreover, if the US calls for one regional administrators, the TPLF, to sit down with the federal government – it cannot logically exclude the other party involved in the war, the Amhara regional administrators, from taking part in these negotiations that it has been calling for. 

Interestingly, the US and other misguided voices have also been speaking out for the preservation, or some such, of Ethiopia’s Constitution that was designed by the TPLF. This is a Constitution, along with the ethnic federalism enshrined therein, that has been directly and indirectly responsible for thousands upon thousands of the young and the old including women and children as well as the disabled and the frail dying and continuing to die in the most inhuman, in the most gruesome of ways.

In that, Ethiopians have been massacred, brutally killed, dislocated in their thousands in regions including Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, Benishangul-Gumuz, Metekel and more. Genocide Watch, among others, who was aware of these things, recently suggested reforming the Constitution, in particular, removing Article 39 of the Constitution. In any case, it is rather inconceivable that anyone would choose to make themselves to be advocates of something as utterly wicked as the ‘Ethiopian Constitution’ that has been the cause of so much pain and sufferings.  

Editor’s note : Part I of the article is available HERE
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