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HomeOpinionThe UN and US Leaderships’ Hypocritical Stand on Ethiopia is a Blemish

The UN and US Leaderships’ Hypocritical Stand on Ethiopia is a Blemish

Image credit : Institute for Human Rights and Business

Aklog Birara (Dr)

Part VI

I find no material evidence to suggest that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) will ever allow Ethiopia to exist as a unified multinational State. Equally, no matter how hard I have tried, I do not find facts on the ground to support that the TPLF will ever stop dehumanizing and slaughtering innocent non-Tigrean Ethiopians, especially the Amhara. 

This permanent attribute of the TPLF is encouraged, supported materially, funded in part, and championed by Ethiopia’s external adversaries. 

I shall ignore dehumanization and utter destruction committed by the TPLF over the past 46 years (the TPLF Manifesto of 1975 as a starting point) and focus on the now. Reports by Amnesty International, Globe and Mail and Human Rights Watch confirm TPLF monstrosity beyond words. 

It is time for Western institutions—the media, think tanks, policy, and decision-makers to demand accountability in a court of law. It is hypocritical for the UN Secretariat and for the Government of the United States to preach peace, stability, the rule of law and democracy, while at the same time leaving one of the worst cases of genocide in the 21st century left uncontested and unchallenged. 

TPLF atrocities since June 2021 meet the criteria of genocide contained in the UN Genocide Convention. Article Two of the UN Genocide Convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” It includes the following actions by State and non-State actors. 

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 the group to another group.

The Convention confirms that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or war, is a crime under international law which parties to the Convention undertake “to prevent and to punish” (article 1). The primary responsibility to prevent and stop genocide lies with the State.”

The TPLF has committed the above crimes before and after it took power and ruled Ethiopia with an iron-fist for 27 years. The UN and the United States cannot deny the fact that TPLF’s ideological roots and strategic objectives remain the same. Ethnic-hatred, dehumanization, selective and targeted massacres of perceived enemies, perpetual ethnic conflict regardless of cost and deliberate destruction of infrastructural and other investments are deeply rooted in the psychological make up of TPLF founders, current leadership, elites, and core adherents. The tragedy is that TPLF acquired backing from Ethiopia’s adversaries. The Government of the United States and the United Nations leadership are unabashed enablers of mayhem in Ethiopia. Western Parliaments and the US Congress have so far remained numb. 

The mayhem in Ethiopia the West and the UN ignores

Mayhem is a “needless or willful damage or violence.” The TPLF committed treason and murdered non-Tigrean members of Ethiopia’s Northern Defense Forces (NDF) willfully and needlessly on November 4, 2020. The TPLF went on a killing and destruction spree. The more unchallenged, the more ruthless, inhumane, crude, and merciless the TPLF became. It captured 1010 UN food relief vehicles and used them for its insurgency. The USA and the UN failed to demand release. It committed the Mai Kadra genocide. Neither the UN nor the US demanded accountability. 

Is there any independent international or domestic person or entity that has estimated the human toll in Tigray, Afar or Amhara regions? Is there any credible data, complete inventory and or cost estimate of the destruction and damage of infrastructural, industrial, farming, household, and private property in the affected localities since the war began? The Afar and Amhara regions have suffered. The most severely damaged region is Amhara. I focused on human atrocities and incalculable economic damages in the Amhara region for now because the TPLF assaulted this region relentlessly. 

The TPLF is not operating alone. It operates in coordination with its foreign masters. The TPLF has two goals: a) terrorize and dehumanize the Amhara; and b) deprive the Amhara of the socioeconomic pillars or resources that support livelihoods. These two goals are designed to implode Ethiopia or at least fracture it severely. Incapacitating Ethiopia helps Egypt to control the Blue Nile. It helps the USA to reinstate or create a government elite that is subservient to the USA. 

It is incontestable that the human toll and the amount of capital losses emanating from the destruction of investment property is worse than any in Ethiopian history. More troublesome is the multigenerational psychological impact of this senseless war triggered by the TPLF. 

The truth of “collusion” is in the open

Crazy like a fox, TPLF spokesperson and champion of death and destruction, Getachew Reda, admitted on Tigrean media this week that the “the US provided tools and logistics support and emboldened the TPLF and its allies” to march into Addis Ababa and overthrow Ethiopia’s elected Government. It is therefore not surprising that the US encouraged American citizens to leave Ethiopia immediately. Why would you demand that your citizens leave unless there is a secret collusion? 

Western media, think tanks, policy and decision-makers continue to refer generically to ethnic cleansing, genocide, famine, and starvation and the weaponization of humanitarian aid in Tigray. They rarely if ever express alarm and outrage of the human toll and destruction in the Afar or Amhara regions. 

I find no credible evidence to support the thesis of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Tigray that is perpetrated by Amhara, Ethiopian or Eritrean Defense forces. This does not however mean that rape, targeted killings, and destruction of infrastructural and economic investments have not occurred in Tigray. The joint report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission confirms violations including rapes that amount to “war crimes.” 

In Part V, I drew attention to ten TPLF led specific underreported and unappreciated areas by US mainstream media, think-tanks, policy, and decision makers. These citations confirm that the TPLF is a menace to peace, stability and democracy in Ethiopia and the rest of the Horn of Africa. It is a menace because its entire leadership is terrorism prone. Hundreds of thousands of Tigrean Ethiopians, most young, are dead or are dying for an outdated goal. It is terrorist prone because it has allied itself with Ethiopia’s mortal enemy, Egypt. Egypt’s singular goal is to wage proxy wars and abort the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Tragically, the terrorist prone TPLF claims that it has the backing of the USA. Should not the Government of the USA deny and deplore Getachew Reda’s statement publicly? 

The TPLF Manifesto of ethnic hatred is mentally deranged 

In 1975 the TPLF issued its first manifesto declaring that the Amhara people are mortal enemies of the Tigrean people. The parallel is Hitler’s declaration that Semitic Jews were mortal enemies of the German people. Neither is empirically true. However, uncontested these declarations have had and will have devastating and multigenerational consequences. Collateral damages affect relations between and among nations. US flawed policy will impact US and Ethiopia relations adversely.

I shall draw international attention to war crimes, rape, genocide, and the intentional degradation of sources of livelihood perpetrated by the TPLF in the Amhara region since June 2021. It is a double whammy that I find frightening. 

  1. Degradation of human worth that the West ignores

In its report “Ethiopia: Survivors of TPLF attack in Amhara describe gang rape, looting and physical assaults” dated November 9, 2021, Amnesty International provides a horrifying eyewitness account of the barbaric dehumanization and debilitating psychological and physical damages of massive rapes, pre-identifying and targeting Amhara girls and women. These crimes are consistent with the TPLF Manifesto to shame and degrade the Amhara people. Amnesty reports that “women are raped at gun point, robbed and assaulted.” 

The town of Nifas Mewcha, Amhara region, that I remember vividly when I was growing up in the town of Debre Tabor is where the sample survey of sixteen victims took place. “Survivors described being raped at gunpoint, robbed, and subjected to physical and verbal assaults by TPLF fighters, who also destroyed and looted medical facilities in the town. Fourteen of the sixteen women Amnesty International interviewed said they were gang raped.”

This number is a tip pf the iceberg. Informal reports confirm assaults of hundreds of girls and married women in the Amhara region alone. “Regional government officials told Amnesty International that more than 70 women reported to authorities that they were raped in Nifas Mewcha during this period.” Eyewitnesses report girls gang raped in front of their fathers. Women raped in front of their husbands, all at gun point. It is heartbreaking. The intent is to demonstrate a sense of superiority of Tigreans over Amhara, cause fear and inflict permanent psychological damage. 

Agnes Callamard, Secretary General, Amnesty International, called on the international community to stop appeasing the TPLF and demand accountability. “The testimonies we heard from survivors describe despicable acts by TPLF fighters that amount to war crimes, and potentially crimes against humanity. They defy morality or any iota of humanity.” To this day, the TPLF never embraced a sense of morality or humanity. What stuns me more is the hypocritical and self-serving affinity to and advocacy of Western media, think tanks, opinion leaders, policy, and decision-makers on behalf of the TPLF.

This unholy alliance is immoral, unethical, and dangerous. It undermines peace, stability, and democracy in the entire Horn of Africa. So, why is the USA supporting terrorism? 

Unofficial links and outsized influence on US policy

Ethiopians allege that former American decision-makers such as Susan Rice, a close friend of the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Gale Smith, confidante of TPLF and a onetime foreign spokesperson for the Relief Agency of Tigray continue to influence US policy concerning Ethiopia. I ask myself “Why is it that ex-public officials and diplomats with links to the Biden Administration are allowed to serve as self-appointed global public relations and public diplomacy advisers for the TPLF? Whose national interests are these influencers serving or undermining?” They certainly are not helping the United States maintain enduring relations with Ethiopia.

 I understand and appreciate the standard practice that ex-officials and diplomats use their expertise and ties and advance financial interest as well as advocate or stand up for the causes they believe in. There is nothing wrong with this. However, it behooves them to do the right thing for the right reason. A sense of fairness, justice, humanity, democracy, parity, the overriding principle of advancing the common good come to mind. These are global goals that strengthen democracy. Why undermine them?

If TPLF actions are “despicable, defy morality or any iota of humanity,” these influencers in high places are duty bound to condemn the TPLF and call for accountability. “TPLF fighters must immediately stop all human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including sexual and gender-based violence. The leadership must make clear that such abuses will not be tolerated and remove suspected perpetrators from their ranks.”

A pattern of inhumanity with impunity

I cannot provide Western, especially American influencers, more compelling evidence than Amnesty International. “Gang rape and physical assaults” are recuring attributes of the TPLF. They occurred in Wolkait, Setit-Humera, Tegede, Telemt and Raya before the TPLF took power in 1991. They occurred repeatedly in Addis Ababa, Somali, Oromia, Gambella, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples, Amhara throughout 27 years of brutal and corruption-ridden rule by the TPLF.

The TPLF is consistently consistent in using the criteria of ethnic identity to rape and to inflict physical pain. It makes no difference to TPLF fighters whether the target is a child, married, the elderly or even handicapped. It is the common denominator that matters most. In all cases, degradation of Amhara. 

You cannot deny the undeniable

“Survivors told Amnesty International that the attacks began as soon as the TPLF took control of the town on 12 August 2021. The women all identified the perpetrators as TPLF fighters based on their accents and the ethnic slurs they used against victims, as well as their overt announcements that they were TPLF.

First victim: “Bemnet, a 45-year-old Nifas Mewcha resident, told Amnesty International that four TPLF fighters came to her house on the evening of 14 August and demanded she make them coffee, before three of them gang raped her. 

Second victim: “I suspected their intentions, and I sent away my daughters to stay away from the house. [The soldiers] told me to bring them home. I told them they will not come. Then they started to insult me. They were saying ‘Amhara is donkey,’ ‘Amhara is useless. One of them told the others to stop insulting me. He said, ‘she is our mother; we don’t have to harm her.’ They forced him to leave the house and three of them stayed back at my home. Then they raped me in turns.”

Third victim: “It is not easy to tell you what they did to me. They raped me. Three of them raped me while my children were crying. My elder son is ten and the other is nine years, they were crying when [the TPLF fighters] raped me. [The fighters] did whatever they wanted and left. They also assaulted me physically and took shiro and berbere [local food items]. They slapped me [and] kicked me. They were cocking their guns as if they are going to shoot me.”

Fourth victim: “I have children, 10- and two-year-old girls. I was scared they might kill my daughter. I said, ‘don’t kill my children, do whatever you want to me.’ The youngest was asleep, but the older [one] was awake and saw what happened. I don’t have the strength to tell you what she saw.”

Over the past four decades, I have heard TPLF leaders and hardline supporters dehumanizing Amhara routinely through an avalanche of insults: “አማራ አህያ ነው (Amhara are donkeys) ፤ አማራ ደደብና ሰነፍ ነው (Amhara are dumb and worthless).” These are verbal assaults inflicted on rape victims in front of their families. The TPLF and its elites victimize Amhara with intent to inflict permanent psychological injury. A psychologist may want to consider the reverse, namely, the victimizer suffers from an inferiority complex he/she wishes to compensate though revengeful actions. Revenge begets revenge. It creates a vicious cycle that harms all. 

I sometimes think of the permanent scars suffered by African Americans in the United States and Jews in Nazi Germany. The TPLF and its elites believe wrongly that non-Tigreans are “backward, ignorant, useless, donkeys.” Only they have the intelligence and expertise to rule and exploit Ethiopia. Why else would, according to one informal estimate, the TPLF sacrifice close to half a million Tigreans during this senseless war that it started? 

Why else would the TPLF steal Shiro (a staple Ethiopian women use to prepare watt (ወጥ) and berberie (በርበሬ) the hot pepper famous across the globe that they use to spice up the watt? Donkey’s do not produce, or use staples the TPLF is capturing, stealing, and hauling from the Amhara region to Tigray. Only a mentally deranged mind has the audacity to call hardworking people who produce and create “useless and donkeys.” 

Fifth victim: Bemnet, a 45-year-old Nifas Mewcha resident raped and verbally assaulted. “TPLF fighters also subjected the women to degrading ethnic slurs, such as ‘donkey Amhara,’ and ‘greedy Amhara.’ The TPLF forces told women they were raping them in revenge for the rape of Tigrayan women by Federal government forces. 

Sixth victim: “The one who raped me first is their superior. He was saying ‘Amhara is a donkey, Amhara has massacred our people (Tigrayans), the Federal Defense forces have raped my wife, now we can rape you as we want’.”

Seventh victim: “They were insulting me, calling me ‘donkey Amhara, you are strong, you can carry much more than this.’ I was unconscious for more than an hour.”

Recommendations for Action: 

  1.  I urge readers to approach ordinary citizens wherever they live and ask them to demand that the Government of the United States and the leadership of the UN Secretariat cease gross interference in the domestic affairs of Ethiopia. Failure to do so will have adverse consequences for the USA. While Ethiopia is not Iran, the disclosure by the TPLF that the USA is behind TPLF’s reckless assault on Ethiopian society and the overthrow of an elected Government in Ethiopia will compel Ethiopia to reconsider its relations with the USA. Such rupture in relations will be costly for both countries. 
  1. Rape and other crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Amhara by the TPLF require immediate attention. There must be accountability in a court of law. I urge the Government of Ethiopia to take the lead by inviting and empowering representatives from United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to investigate and prepare a comprehensive inventory of rape, extrajudicial killings and other crimes that constitute genocide and ethnic cleansing irrespective of locality in Ethiopia. The TPLF must not get away with murder. 
  1. I am delighted to learn that the ranking member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator James Resch (Republican) tweeted outrage at “summary executions of civilians and other ghastly atrocities at the hands of pro-TPLF fighters” of Amhara in the Amhara region. He called on the international community to conduct “investigation and take immediate action.” I urge the entire Senate and the Government of the United States to give teeth to this statement by holding TPLF genocide leaders accountable. Such a move will retore confidence that US and Ethiopian relations are not based on false and self-serving premises. 
  1. It is about time for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to get involved. It can start work by reviewing the most recent reports by Amnesty International, Globe and Mail and Human Rights Watch on atrocities by the TPLF. It can then bring charges against persons accused of genocide in Ethiopia within the boundaries under Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention. 
  1. It about time that the UN Secretariat and the Government of the USA acknowledge the compelling and Pan-African slogan “NO MORE.” It means “no more to gross interference in African domestic affairs. It means no more to fake news about Africa and Africans. It means no more to ethnic division. It means no more excuses for the terrorist and murder TPLF. It means no more to corruption and dictatorial governance in Africa. it means Africa and Africans deserve respect. 

Part VII will address the immense destruction of livelihoods that the West ignores

 Citations and references 

TPLF massacre in Gashena:->  https://youtu.be/MLFuY1hyPSQ

TPLF Looting and destruction in Dessie and Kombolcha:->  https://youtu.be/oiMtUrYswlU

UNFP Suspension of food aid distribution in Kombolcha and Dessie due TPLF theft 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/8/un-halts-food-aid-in-ethiopias-kombolcha-dessie-

after-looting

Human Rights Watch on TPLF summary executions of Amhara civilians in occupied areas   https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/12/09/ethiopia-tigray-forces-summarily-execute-civilians

https://youtu.be/ls3znR_oVxk

The destruction of the Amhara economy: An Amharic documentary 

December 11, 2021

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