-why doesn’t the West acknowledge that Wolkait is a “graveyard” of TPLF atrocities —
Aklog Birara (Dr)
On April 26, 2022, unknown terrorists or extremists or foreign agents and hired hands or the TPLF or the OLF/Shane or some other Anti-Ethiopia entity caused terror and outrage in the ancient city of Gondar. This is a city I love. This is the city where I attended high school. I remember this ancient city as a hub of diversity. Jews, Christians, and Muslims respected, acknowledged one another, and lived side by side peacefully for centuries. Most modern enterprises were owned by non-Gondaries.
You can speculate all you want. The reason for the bombing and for the deaths of at least twenty innocent civilians most of the of the Muslim faiths is planned and executed deliberately to stimulate a reign of terror and to cause this time a faith based civil war. The caustic environment emanating from the ethnicization of politics among elites contributes to this kind of tragedy and abnormality. It behooves regional and federal Government authorities to waffle no more; and rationalize the act of terrorism. Culprits must be held accountable.
The broader issue is equally important. Regardless of ethnicity, faith, class status or political orientation, those who accept Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and the welfare of Ethiopia’s 120 million people (Ethiopians and those of Ethiopian decent) must abandon dreaming and hoping for a divine intervention. Foreign powers and their vast network of agencies will nor defend their rights, advance their welfare and development. Ethiopians bear the prime responsibility to do that and more.
First, powerful, and influential countries such as China, Russia, Turkey, the UAE, USA, and others serve their own national and strategic interests. I have argued persistently that corporate or state media, think tanks, civil society organizations, human rights entities, policy makers (legislators) and decision-makers (government officials) operate in tandem. They speak from the same script. Non-state actors in these countries rarely deviate from government policy prescriptions. Self-interest has primacy over principles or values.
It is rare for CNN, the BBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, or others to challenge contentious government official positions. This is the case of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) initiated war in Ethiopia and the politically engineered misnomer of “Western Tigray” propagated by the US Department of State as well as by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. You need to ask, “Whose bidding are they doing?” How come they fail to recognize that “Western Tigray” never existed before the TPLF annexed and incorporate Amhara lands into Tigray; and before it decapitated the Amhara population and moved in tens of thousands of Tigrean settlers.
Western human rights organizations, most notably Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch feel entitled to speak on behalf of selected Ethiopian “victims.” They lie, conduct research and interviews guilty as charged. They conclude that Amhara administrators, Amhara militia, Fano and Eritrean forces are accountable for ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity of the Tigrean population. These institutions had the audacity to assert Amhara forces ethnically cleansed more than “700,000 Tigreans” in Wolkait, Tegede and Telemt. Census data does not support this claim. Amnesty and HR Watch fabricated the data based on inputs from the TPLF, its core supporters and its foreign Lobbyist. The inputs are make-believe data. The interviewees include Samri that massacred Amhara in Mai Kadra. Census data does not support this outrageous number.
I am aghast at the ferocity of their arguments, their bias and partiality. Independent Photojournalist Jemal Countess’s reporting on the Wolkait massacre of indigenous Amhara that I had reported in my previous commentaries is a most welcome voice. It is a timey rebuke of the make-believe narratives presented by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, the TPLF and its cohort of international advocates.
On April 17, 2022, the prominent American Journalist Jemal Countess reported to the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) in Addis Ababa that “Wolkait is a great site of mass graves where thousands of people were massacred and buried by TPLF’s tyrannical administration during the past four decades.” The TPLF is a killing machine. The TPLF has crafted the art of secrecy, silent killing, identification of impassable mass grave sites and the siphoning of funds. The TPLF is adept at recruiting others to do its bidding.
Mr. Countess went to the site in Wolkait and “saw the mass graves last week and was saddened by the content of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch’s report on the alleged crimes in Wolkait area.”
How is it possible for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to ignore these atrocities by the TPLF? What prompted them to take sides in defense of the TPLF propaganda? Is it ethical or moral to ignore the facts, the information on the ground, the eyewitnesses, the experts from Gondar university who unearthed the massacres? What is the real reason they downplayed hard core facts and opted for make believe data and witnesses?
TPLF atrocities of indigenous Amhara span more than forty years. Concerned Ethiopians including residents of Wolkait, Tegede and Telemt kept reporting systematic, deliberate, and silent killings, forcible expulsions of indigenous Amhara throughout these years. Tragically, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch never responded to these pleas.
A group of us submitted voluminous data with names and locations of those killed by the TPLF to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Nada; no response or follow-up.
The massacres in Wolkait, Tegede and Telemt by the TPLF are among the most horrific in the world. In the words of Journalist Countess, “Looking at the situation in Wolkait, standing at a place where there were nine people buried on top of one another in one grave, in one little corner of this town which is built on mass graves…. And visiting other graves that hold twenty-four here, and 35 there, and looking at a great site of mass graves…”
Amnesty and Human Rights Watch misled the entire world by pre-selecting, pre-screening, and manipulating data; and more troublesome by ignoring real massacres of indigenous Amhara perpetrated by the TPLF. “But the entire world is being misguided by misinformation of the Western media and by politically motivated reports of human rights organizations,” Countess said.
Ethiopian experts righty suspect that Amnesty and Human Rights Watch were either persuaded or blind sighted by the TPLF and its network of supporters and lobbyists to foreshadow the investigation of mass graves in Wolkait by Gondar University that was in the works. This preemptive strike by the TPLF and its international supporters has one goal: to blame the victims, to blunt the reality on the ground and to call for accountability before they come after you. It is a preemptive strike. “These two human rights organizations are ignoring that, and they actually came out with these records to try to downplay or blunt the effect of University of Gondar’s report,” said Countess.
Who is the real source for Amnesty and Human Rights Watch?
According to Photojournalist Countess, “the point person in this intelligence gathering for these human rights organizations report is a member of the terrorist TPLF, which has been still backed by the Western powers. This is because Westerners do not want to hear the bad news about TPLF that the group has committed massacres and mass graves around Wolkait and its surroundings. Once again it goes back to ‘I don’t want to hear bad news about my friends. So, I am going to let my friends speak, even though my friends are the ones who committed the crimes. So, what TPLF is doing is utilize the power of white voice.”
I subscribe to this assessment. Why else would Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, the US Secretary of State, and others ignore atrocities of Amhara by the TPLF? Why else would they not hold the TPLF accountable for ethnic cleansing of Afar? How come the mayhem in Afar does not deserve scrutiny by these human rights organizations?
A threat to Amhara is equally a threat to Ethiopia
In addition to the damage to the indigenous Amhara population, this wrongful and falsehood reporting by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch is a threat to Ethiopia. It is alarming that a limited few within Ethiopia and Western policy and decision-makers wish to sacrifice the legitimate and legal demands of the indigenous Amhara population and “negotiate” a deal. Such a deal will lead to a catastrophic and perpetual civil war. It will contribute hugely to the strategic geopolitical interests of Egypt and Sudan. It will weaken Ethiopia further. It will make it virtually untenable for Amhara and Tigreans to coexist.
This is the reason why the Amhara regional Government as well as the Government of Ethiopia must reject the findings and conclusions by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. The Wolkait question is no more an Amhara issue. It is an Ethiopian strategic and geopolitical issue. A few years ago, I researched the history of the contested area for six months. I concluded that TPLF claim is bogus. Wolkait must be a red line not only for Amhara but for all Ethiopians who believe in both Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet.
I remind the reader that Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed had acknowledged at a public forum that “Wolkait” is part and parcel of the Amhara region. This validation and confirmation of a historical fact leads me to urge that it is time for the Federal Government of Ethiopia to respect the demands of the indigenous Amhara population; and restore Wolkait, Tegede and Telemt to the Amhara Region.
With this broad setting, I would like to focus on the future.
What is the option for Ethiopia?
The appropriate option for Ethiopia would have been for the Government of the USA AND WESTERN EUROPE TOGETHER to demand that the TPLF, OLF/Shane and other combatants stop fighting, disarm and negotiate for durable peace. Ethiopian society, especially the country’s political and social elites must also determine to move from a political culture of ethnic polarization and hate to that of a just society based on political pluralism and democratic governance.
Ethiopia is worth fighting for
Whether you believe in God as I do or in nature, Ethiopia is endowed with many blessings: strategic location, rain and water, ample arable and irrigable lands, a diverse and hard-working population most of them young and ready to be entrepreneurs. I often wonder if this is the reason Ethiopia is the origin of humankind.
It behooves every Ethiopian to ask the cardinal question why we fail to be kind to one another? Why do we continue to kill and to demean one another based on ethnic and religious affiliation? Why let foreign institutions dictate to us what is right and wrong etc.?
One objective of Part III of my critique of the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch biased report is to demand that they revisit their findings and sweeping conclusions. This is because their findings are flawed and pro-TPLF. They are not serving Ethiopia and or the legitimate causes of its diverse population, including Tigrean Ethiopians.
My trusted Ethiopian American and other colleagues tell me that they will not change. Whether they change or not, the record is important. Ethiopians must close ranks and contest the Amnesty and HR Watch fabricated report relentlessly, with passion and facts. Those with access to census data of the 1970s and 1980s have an obligation to reveal the facts at the time.
The Amnesty and HR report will be cited by Ethiopians and other Africans for decades to come as what not to do under the pretext of defending human rights in Africa and the rest of the non-Western world.
This leads me to the details that remain uncovered in Part I and Part II.
Amnesty and HR Watch refer to the November 2021 Report of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and dismiss it outright because the two agencies “did not find that ethnic cleansing had taken place in Western Tigray during the period covered” by your report.
The question asked was this. How do your findings compare with theirs?
Amnesty and HR Watch believe that the international community anointed them as the sole guardians of human rights. Therefore, they dismiss independent investigations and conclusions by other entities, especially national ones. “There are a number of key differences in our findings. The OHCHR-EHRC report contained little mention of the abuses and terrorizing tactics used by Amhara authorities and security forces against ethnic Tigrayans. It did not describe how Amhara security forces committed gang rape, sexual slavery, and other forms of sexual violence against Tigrayan women and girls in Western Tigray. The report states that both Tigrayan and Amhara communities in Western Tigray were forcibly displaced. In order to prove their assertion, they reported that the Tigrayan population suffered the most. “Their displacements amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, apart from Mai Kadra, the report overlooked the responsibility of officials and Amhara security forces in the ethnically targeted violence, intimidation, threats, restrictions, and expulsions that Tigrayan communities experienced.”
Their arrogance aside, why did the two fail to conduct due diligence concerning massacres of indigenous Amhara, massive displacements, and expulsions by the TPLF during its insurgency under the Socialist military Government in the 1970s and 1980s and after it took power in 1991? How credible is it to interview TPLF combatants who fled Wolkait, Tegede, Telemt and other localities after TPLF started the war that caused mayhem? Amhara forces did not start the war. They did not cross the border and invade Tigray. Amhara were the victims, and the victimizer was TPLF and its youth wing, Samri.
How credible is it for Amnesty and HR Watch to hire TPLF supporters and members as interpreters of “victims” including TPLF youth wing Samri who fled to the Sudan? What else would they say? Tons of research by concerned Ethiopians on forcible annexation and massive demographic change were not covered.
The most recent by Gondar University reveals the magnitude and horrific nature of the atrocities of Amhara inflicted by the TPLF. The TPLF killed, maimed, forcibly evicted or forced to flee more than sixty thousand Amhara (75 percent of the population at the time the TPLF annexed the lands). In their place, the TPLF settled tens of thousands of Tigreans.
When Amara and other Ethiopian forces liberated the annexed lands during the recent civil war, the occupants fled to the Sudan or to Tigray proper. Amnesty and HR cater to this settler group for political and strategic reasons. The same is true for the US Department of State and some members of Congress. The make-believe script is identical.
The bottom line is this. Amnesty and HR Watch used a narrow time span, padded, and jaded data, slanted, and conducted selective interviews and so on. The sole intent of this charade is to prove to the international community that the culprits are Amhara Fano, militia, defense, and authorities. Both organizations, the US Department of State and the US Congress want to hold accountable and responsible representatives of Amhara organizations for war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The mentioned the Mai Kadra as peripheral, incidental, and inconsequential to the assessment. Even in this instance, they accused Amhara victims as looters.
If the purpose was genuine accountability for all war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, at minimum, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch would have also held the TPLF accountable? Why did they fail to do that? It is for them to explain.
2. What does the term ethnic cleansing mean?
If there is merit to the contention of ethnic cleansing in Ethiopia, the ethnic group that stands out and merits international focus is the Amhara. The massive depopulation of Amhara in Wolkait, Tegede, Telemt and Raya and the ensuing demographic change (populating annexed lands by Tigreans) is the worst example of ethnic cleansing, crimes of war and genocide. Amhara is single out for ethnic cleansing, defamation, psychological degradation, killings, genocide and for economic disempowerment based solely on ethnicity.
Amnesty and HR Watch refused to acknowledge the incontestable fact that Wolkait, Tegede and Telemt are graveyards of TPLF atrocities over 40 years. This sidelined this fact for their own strategic reasons. I repeat, there is an enormous difference between recurrent targeted killing, ethnic cleansing and deliberate expulsion of persons solely based on ethnicity and faith—incontestable regarding the Amhara–and other forms of human atrocities that includes Tigreans. The TPLF killed hundreds of Annuak. It killed thousands of Oromo etc. It is true that Ethiopia manifests all forms of killings.
My point is that Oromo, Somali or Amhara are not targeting and murdering Tigreans based on their ethnicity. The same is not true for Amhara though. The agencies had an obligation to fact check what is happening to Amhara in West Wellega, North Shoa, Beni Shangul Gumuz show targeting. Instead, they cherry picked victims on the basis of political strategy and policy-making.
3. Since ethnic cleansing is not a recognized crime under international law, why is it important to describe the actions in Western Tigray as ethnic cleansing?
It is part of a package.
4. Have you concluded ethnic cleansing has been committed in other country situation?
The incidents identified are in line with US policy. “Human Rights Watch has found ethnic cleansing in a few situations. It similarly concluded that the violent expulsion of the Rohingya population in Rakhine (Arakan) State constituted ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In the 2000s, it also found that Sudanese forces and Janjaweed militias were responsible for ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in Darfur.”
You cannot compare apples and oranges. These citations might be true. But it is hard to deny that Amnesty and Human Rights Watch singled out samples for strategic reasons. Nevertheless, my question to Amnesty and HR Watch is this: Why are you reluctant to point ethnic cleansing of the Amhara in Beni Shangul Gumuz, in Western Wellega and other parts of Ethiopia? If human life has equal value, are Amhara not human? Is not the issue your organization targeted Tigrayans at the cost and exclusion of most Ethiopians to make a political point? Why the bias and favoritism?
5. Have you concluded that crimes against humanity may have been committed in Ethiopia or in other country situations?
“Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have previously found that abuses may amount to crimes against humanity in other parts of Ethiopia. Amnesty International also found that the Axum Massacre in 2020, and the widespread sexual violence in the northern Ethiopia conflict, may amount to crimes against humanity. In February 2022, Amnesty International found that Tigrayan forces committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in parts of the Amhara region since the conflict’s expansion in July 2021. Human Rights Watch has also previously documented crimes against humanity in Ethiopia, such as murder, rape, and torture by the Ethiopian military against the Annuak population in the southwestern region of Gambella in 2003; and murder, torture, rape, and forcible population transfers against the Somali population in the Somali region of Ethiopia in 2007.”
Lack of safety and security in Ethiopia is a normalized fact. Abuses occur every day in the USA too. However, neither Amnesty nor HR Watch had the courage to hold officials accountable wherever abuses occur. While I commend Amnesty and HR Watch for acknowledging the massacre of Annuak by TPLF military; I find it offensive that the two HR organizations are reluctant to identify the TPLF and OLF/Shane accountable for crimes against humanity of Amhara in any part of Ethiopia. Why is that?
6. Are Eritrean forces also present in Western Tigray? What abuses are Eritrean forces responsible for?
A major thread in this biased and precedent-setting investigation is the intentional finger pinpointing and targeting of Amhara and Eritrean forces as the primary culprits. “Our research found that Eritrean forces were present in Western Tigray, following the initial offensive in the area, in November 2020. We also found that Eritreans have continued to be present in certain towns in Western Tigray, and have carried out abuses, including looting of civilian property, arbitrary arrests, and sexual violence against the Tigrayan population. Additionally, our research through December 2021, found that Eritrean forces present in the towns of Humera, Adebai, and Rawyan acted alongside Amhara security forces and militias to carry out the roundups of ethnic Tigrayans who remained in the area.”
What is the material difference between the two human rights organizations and the Government of the USA concerning Amhara and Eritrea? I find none. This convergence of policy views is troublesome for me. Africans must be weary that the same thing can happen to any Africa nation or government or ethnic group. This is how cherry-picking works. You identify the target and throw verbal grenades in the name of human rights.
The TPLF committed wholesale massacres of Afar and Amhara. It raped little girls and elderly women. It looted, destroyed, or damaged close to ten billion dollars in social, economic, and physical infrastructure since June 2021 alone. Does this not amount to war crime, crime against humanity and economic crime? Do the Ethiopian poor deserve such punishment? Why is it tolerable for TPLF to inflict pain and suffering on the Afar and Amhara population and intolerable for Amhara militia, Fano or Eritrea to defend themselves against a terrorist group? Amnesty and HR Watch must respond to this too. If they fail (high probability) then I urge their funders to demand that they do. We must demand that they explain to theinternational community why they are inflaming an already tense environment.
The bottom line here is this. There is a concerted Western policy effort and set of programs to hold Amhara and Eritrean forces accountable for crimes, while giving the TPLF a safe passage to the promised land. This biased policy absolves the TPLF entirely. The promised land and restoration of Wolkait, Tegede and Telemt to Tigray.
7. What are you asking governments to do?
I agree with Amnesty and HR Watch that Ethiopian authorities must hold accountable persons who committed atrocities” war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. The critical question is on what parameters and criteria? Based on what evidence? On what period? On what type of coverage? Who targeted and killed whom? Where is the forensic evidence? I do not know of a case where ordinary Amhara attacked and killed Tigreans based on their ethnicity.
‘Survivors and families of victims of abuses are seeking redress and accountability, but the government’s continued denial that abuses against Tigrayans occurred in Western Tigray compounds their suffering. The Ethiopian government should first acknowledge their suffering, support unhindered humanitarian access, and facilitate access to independent international investigators. It should also take concrete steps to make sure communities in Western Tigray are protected, notably by releasing all those who are arbitrarily detained there, and facilitating safe, sustained, and unhindered humanitarian access.
Ethiopian authorities should also demobilize and disarm abusive irregular forces, including Fano and other militias in the area. It should suspend civilian officials linked to abuses in Western Tigray from their posts, including interim Amhara authorities, and security force personnel from the Amhara Special Forces and Ethiopian federal forces, and ensure that they are not reinstated to government and security positions. The government should also carry out the vetting of Ethiopian federal and Amhara regional government forces to ensure those implicated in serious crimes are removed, and appropriately disciplined, or prosecuted according to international fair trial standards.”
Is this not a one-sided verdict and demand? Why do these human rights organizations refuse to apply parity? By this, I mean, why are they reluctant to demand both the TPLF and its strategic ally in the act of terrorism, OLF/Shane disarm at the same time? Are not these entities the source of Ethiopia’s troubles?
Given its favoritism and slanted findings and conclusion, I state unreservedly this is not a legitimate human rights report. Rather, it is TPLF defense and advocacy gone mad.
This recommendation is identical to the demand by the TPLF and its supporters in the West. I do not deny that killings and displacements of Tigreans occurred. This is inevitable during a civil war. But the problem did not just erupt after November 2021. The international community normalized silent killings and deliberate expulsions of indigenous Amhara by the TPLF over three decades. But the international community including human rights organizations either ignored or concluded that Amhara got what they deserve.
The demand that Ethiopian authorities “should demobilize and disarm abusive irregular forces including Fano and other militias in the area” is tantamount to de-jure recognition that the lands belong to Tigray.
Why would Amara defenders disband while the menacing force of the TPLF is still threatening the very survival of the Amhara in their own homelands? Is there an international covenant or law that supports Amnesty and HR Watch on the question of forcible annexation of lands followed by massive demographic change? There is none.
This deliberate negligence of the Amhara cause reminds me of the warning by the fascist Austrian diplomat and anti-Amhara “scholar” Baron Roman Prochaska and his 1927 book “Abyssinia: the powder barrel.” He argued that “Western powers must be weary of the Amhara of Ethiopia. Their nationalist sentiments and commitment to freedom and independence of their homeland have direct impact on freedom seeking Black Africans throughout the continent.” The West must punish Amhara because they are freedom loving. If Amhara goes then, so, does Ethiopia. If Ethiopia goes so will the rest of Africa. Ethiopians who blame Amhara for the threats Ethiopia faces degrade this status of fierce independence at their own peril.
The bottom line is this. Amhara are still a target of this Western animus. My advice to the Amhara community is to set non-strategic differences aside, strengthen capacity, unite to the hilt, and defend its very survival. It is clear from the evidence that the Western community including human rights entities are least interested in the wellbeing of Amhara or the continuity of the Ethiopian multinational state to which the Amhara belong
8. Could a finding that officials and security forces were responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing impede ongoing efforts to stop the conflict?
There are two important and positive developments in Ethiopia that Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, the US Congress, and the Department of State must not ignore. First is the cessation of hostilities by the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the TPLF. On paper the two parties declared intent to stop fighting. Yet, the TPLF continues to fight in the Afar and Amhara regions. Second, the Government of Ethiopia established a National Dialogue Commission. It is up to Ethiopian political elites, civil society, and academics to make this Commission a success.
Does it not make sense for Amnesty and HR Watch as well as for the rest of the West to support these two initiatives? I believe it does. Accordingly, it makes no sense whatsoever for Amnesty and Human Rights Watch to recommend an African Union led Peacekeeping force for Ethiopia. “Finally, any consensual agreement by the warring parties should include an AU-led international peacekeeping force with a robust mandate to protect civilians, promote human rights, and allow the delivery of humanitarian aid. Its mandate should be to protect all communities in this region, regardless of their ethnicity.”
This is TPLF speak. The intent is to create a safe corridor for the TPLF and for its foreign sponsors.
Amnesty and Human Rights Watch would have gained the respect of the Ethiopian people had they demanded that the TPLF that initiated the civil war and caused massive havoc to cease its insurgency. It is this initiative more than any other that would have created favorable and lasting conditions for the protection of all civilians, for the promotion of human rights for all Ethiopians and for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all in dire need. A major obstacle to humanitarian assistance is the belligerent TPLF.
9. By calling for the demobilization and disarming of abusive irregular forces in the area, are you calling for Western Tigray to be controlled by Tigrayan authorities and forces?
To their credit Amnesty and Human Rights Watch showed restraint on this question. But the body of the report and the evidence gathered to support conclusions and recommendations do not show impartiality. Had these organizations believed in the principle of impartial inquiry, they could have approached many Ethiopian experts and academics who have done research on TPLF forcible annexation of Wolkait, Tegede, Telemt and Raya and the resultant demographic changes that occurred. They could have referred to Prime minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s discourse on this sensitive matter. He had confirmed in a press conference that Wolkait, Tegede and Telemt were never historically part of Tigray.
The term “Western Tigray” is a machination of the TPLF. Tragically, this term the West normalized and legitimized this geopolitical term. The background to the story line emanates from several programs of social and political engineering:
a) The emigration of thousands of Tigreans from Sudan back to Ethiopia during the civil war in the 1970s and 1980s.
Following the overthrow of the Socialist regime and accession to power of TPLF in1991, the TPLF compounded the problem when it engineered the transfer and resettlement of hundreds of thousands of Tigreans from Tigray and Sudan into Wolkait, Humera and vicinities. At the time, an expert who worked for UNHCR is quoted saying “If a bus full of refugees comes from Sudan, five times that number arrives from Tigray at the same time.”
The TPLF settled more than 30,000 ex-combatants in Humera alone. This was part of a German funded demobilization program. This changed the demographic composition of the town of Humera overnight. The TPLF used its military might to de-Amharize Humera and the rest of Wolkait. This is the essence of ethnic cleansing. You annex the land; you change the demographics; and you deny the very identity of the Indigenous population.
b) Research findings and eyewitnesses inform us that the TPLF was purposeful and systematic in its depopulation of indigenous Amhara from annexed lands. It conducted massive killings burying dead Amhara and others who defied the TPLF in hard to trace mass-grave sites. These Auschwitz/Poland like sites are being unearthed and uncovered by Gondar University as I author this article. These gruesome findings are completely ignored by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. If they are principled enough, Amnesty and HR Watch can restore my faith in in their roles by righting their wrong deeds. It means identifying and financing experts and charging them to conduct forensic based testing and unearthing indigenous Amhara killed by the TPLF over 30 years.
Reports inform us that children, men, and women of all ages faced constant intimidation and harassment by the TPLF. The threat of bodily harm including death was so pronounced that tens of thousands of indigenous Amhara fled their homes and lands. Youth fled to Australia, Canada, Europe, the USA, and Southern Africa. This massive displacement proved lethal to the Indigenous population and served as a boon for the explosion of the Tigrean population.
The TPLF exercised forcible assimilation of Amhara, making it a crime to speak Amharic; killing husbands and impregnating their wives; and expelling those that do not follow TPLF orders.
The TPLF insisted that bilinguals (those who speak both Amharic and Tigrigna) must choose only Tigrigna as their language. This forced Amhara to abandon their identity altogether. The TPLF criminalized efforts by Amhara elders and mothers to teach their children their history, culture, languages, religious and marriage ceremonies, and other aspects of their unique heritage. Amhara children were forced to attend Tigrean schools and to learn Tigrigna and Tigrean culture. This new medium of instruction reinforced the Tigrayanization of Wolkait, Tegede and Telemt and cemented the political determination that annexed territories were no longer part of Begemdir and Gondar (the Amhara regions); but “Western Tigray,” part of Greater Tigray.
It is this forcibly annexed part of the Amhara region repopulated by Tigrayans that Amnesty and HR Watch concluded is “Western Tigray.”
In conclusion, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch offered the US Department of State an additional ammunition or tool with make-believe data and international legitimacy that affirmed a predetermined American policy position in support of the TPLF and to hold Amhara militia, Fano and leaders as well as the Government of Eritrea accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. On April 8, 2022, US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price confirmed as follows:
“The United States reiterates its much anxiety over continuing reports of ethnically motivated atrocities committed by Amhara authorities in western Tigray, Ethiopia, including those described in the recent joint report by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. We are deeply troubled by the report’s finding that these acts amount to ethnic cleansing.
We note with the utmost alarm that thousands of Ethiopians of Tigrayan ethnicity continue to be detained arbitrarily in life-threatening conditions in western Tigray. We urge the immediate release of any such remaining detainees and call on relevant authorities to grant international monitors access to all detention facilities. It remains our firm position that there must be credible investigations into and accountability for atrocities committed by any party to the conflict as part of any lasting solution to the crisis. We urge the Government of Ethiopia to cooperate with the UN Commission of Experts on Human Rights in Ethiopia.”
What do I propose?
I underscore the proposal I made many times before. Ethiopian political and social elites, academics, civil society and faith leaders, activists, youth groups, and media must ask a core or cardinal question now. Can Ethiopia’s center hold the country together? Are Ethiopian institutions strong enough to do that? Despite the temptation to speculate, I have decided to let the reader reflect and answer this question.”
I urge every Ethiopian to change her/his paradigm of thinking and work hard and fast to defend Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet from withering away.
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