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The Tigrayan Orthodox Faction Lacks Moral Ground to Talk About Moral Ground

From the web (author provided)

Yonas Biru, PhD

I refer to Ethiopia’s political system as a tribal federation rather than ethnic federation because it is primitive and degenerative, not to mention its savagery. A tribal mindset lacks an ethical grid and a human moral campus. At its worst, it invades and poisons religious institutions. It is this phenomenon that has triggered the Tigrayan Orthodox faction to invoke the religious equivalent of Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution to secede from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church (EOTC).

The faction has formed the Tigray Orthodox Church (TOC) accusing the EOC of two transgressions. First, it alleges the EOTC did not condemn the war that destroyed Tigray. Second, it accuses some EOTC clergymen of actively supporting the Ethiopian National Defense Forces. 

Showing Christian magnanimity and brotherly gesture, the EOTC Patriarch and several bishops went to Mekele to apologize to members of the Tigrayan Orthodox leadership. The Tigrayan faction chose not to show up. Even worse they locked the church in a saddening display of absolute rejection. This was unbecoming of any religious group. Even if one assumes the EOTC was deserving of the blame that the Tigrayan faction has mounted, Christians are supposed to be guided by the principle that “to err is human and to forgive is divine.” Let us leave this aside for a moment and set a factual background for our discussion, focusing on several phenomena before and after the war.

Before the war, Tigrayan forces were itching for war, telling the world “ጦርነት ለኛ የባህል ጨዋታችን ነው“ (war is our cultural playground). Elders and religious leaders from around Ethiopia went to Mekele many times to appeal to the TPLF to no avail. 

At one point the Ethiopian Council of Federation was in a meeting to decide how to handle TPLF’s defiant dance and drum of war. With a tone of arrogant mockery, Daniel Berhane, one of the founding members of Digital Weyane, tweeted: “አይጦቹ ተሰብሰበው ደመቷ አንገት ላይ ማን ቃጭል እንደሚያስር እየተነጋገሩ ነው” (the mouses are in a meeting to decide who is going to bell the cat).

Another Tigrayan political leader went on TV to declare: “ጦርነት አንፈልግም። ጦርነት ከተጀመረ ግን፣ ጠሚ አብይ እንደ ኮሎኔል መንጊስቱ አምለጠው የመጥፋት እድል አይኖራቸውም። ወይ ይማረካሉ፣ ወይ ይገደላሉ” (We do not want war. But if war begins, the Prime Minister will be captured or killed.


Another one confidently announced: “አማራ ውጊያ አያስፈለገዉም፡ በፊሽካ ነው የሚወጣው። ፊሽካ ተነፍቶ ነው የትግሬን መሬት ለቀህ ውጣ የምንለው”

Tigrayan religious leaders did nothing to rein in such a culture of belligerence and war provocation. Let us go back even further in time and ask what have Tigryan religious leaders done during the TPLF’s 27-year terror and atrocities.

As a reminder, the Human Rights Watch characterized Ethiopia under the TPLF as “one of the most inhospitable places in the worldbearing the hallmark of crimes against humanity.” The human rights agency further documented the TPLF-led government “committed numerous human rights violations against Anuak communities in the Gambella region of southwestern Ethiopia that may amount to crimes against humanity.” Tigrayan religious leaders were silent and cold like the people down under (ጉድጏድ እንደገባ ሬሳ  ድምጻቸው ተዘግቶ ገላቸው ቀዝቅዞ ነበር).

Now let us see what happened at the beginning of the 2020 war and during the raging war crimes and atrocities on both sides. Let us make four things clear. First, the EOTC Patriarch has made statements condemning atrocities in Tigray and elsewhere, but as an institution the EOTC has not done enough to condemn the war and atrocities committed against civilians on both sides of the warring parties. History will judge the Church harshly.

Second, indeed some elements of the EOTC have taken individual stands to publicly side with the government, going as far as declaring their readiness to fight alongside government forces. 

Third, Tigrayan religious leaders were quiet when TPLF slaughtered the Ethiopian National Defense Forces in their sleep in 2020. They were quiet again in 2021 and 2022 when TPLF and Tigrayan Defense Force (TDF) committed atrocities in Amhara and Afar regions during the war.

It is worth noting that The Amnesty International’s 2021 report has documented TPLF’s atrocities in Amhara and Afar regions, stating “potentially amounts to crimes against humanity and defy morality or any iota of humanity.” On February 16, 2022, it issued another report of “repeated incidents of widespread rape, and summary killings. Those who were shot at the back of their heads could not be recognized. Their faces were partially blown off.” We did not hear a squeak from Tigrayan religious leaders.

Fourth, some members of the Tigrayan clergymen have taken individual stands to side with Tigrayan Defense Force –  Before and during the war, TPLF was planting spies within the EOTC. Some of the Tigrayan clergymen have military titles on top of their religious ones. To this day, TPLF supporters take pride in this. Here is one evidence – 

Even worse, the fact that TPLF was recruiting children as young as 12 for the war front ad Tigrayan clergymen were umbrella holders to TPLF leaders seem to have been erased from the memory of the tribalist Tigrayan clergymen.

The EOTC as an institution (including the Tigrayan faction) needs to reflect on its deeds ad misdeeds to learn from its failings and seek forgiveness from the people of Ethiopia. The Tigrayan Orthodox faction has no moral ground to accuse and condemn the EOTC. Its own actions and inactions are no different from the action and inaction of the EOTC. Its effort to hold the moral high ground is both futile and sinful. The tears it shades are tears of a tribal political faction not of a religious One. 

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of  


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  1. It looks said the sect has been and still is a pawn to TPLF cabal and their ethnic gangsterism and identity politics. We haven’t seen them talking any godly deeds , mercy , justice and flagrant human rights violations of civilians since the Woyane regime come to the national political prominence over 30 years ago and even during the recent devastating wat with the current regime in Addis. No wonders that Getacow Reda was reportedly coaching the Tigrai faction in the proposed recon meeting between the two sides in the hope of capitalizing factions’s religous and social influence for poltical agendas and public manipulation .

  2. This is it!
    What is it now, Ittu?
    PM Abiy has to resign because of what he did to me the other day.
    What did he do to you for you to make such a demand suddenly?
    I was watching a video clip of him making a speech at an occasion and I noticed that he was looking for someone.
    Who was he looking?
    I realized he was looking for me. He sorted me out among millions who were watching and fixated his bloodshot eyes right on me. He tortured and poisoned me with potassium cyanide.
    How did you survive from the torturing and upmost from the lethal cyanide?
    I used my PhD in quantum physics to to escape death.
    You have PhD now, Ittu?
    What was the title of your doctoral thesis?
    It is called ‘Neftegnas and Neo-Gobenas killed 15 million Oromos, Filipinos, Zulus, Minnesotans and Gojjamians in 1896 at Adwa.
    That has nothing to do with Quantum Physics, Ittu.
    I made it to sound related to the concept. I successfully defended my thesis mumbling thru it with my turtle shell accent. They got tired of my mumbling and gave me the PhD. Yep, why not? Everyone claims to have one. So I joined the party. Anyway, PM Abiy must resign and I have the best candidate to replace him.
    Who will that be?
    Roger Rabbit and Kermit the Frog as PM and Deputy Prime Minister respectively with Ms. Piggy as the defense minister. You see how I made it so easy for you bigots, eyal-al-souqs, af-mishars, pants-on-fires, ‘Oromummaa’ blabbering rejects/losers and connivers. See yaa!!!!!

  3. The Orthodox Church has betrayed Tigray and its pardon has come too late to heal wounds. Now all Tigraians want to have their independent Tigray and their own free Churches and mosques. There awaits diplomatic initiatives to get internatinal support and recognition for independent Tigray because modern, civilized and ancient nation of Tigray can not continue to live with primitive and backward tribes south of it.

  4. Reuters has reported that Egypt’s Sisi and Ethiopia’s PM have met in Cairo yesterday to discuss Sudan’s crisis and Ethiopian dam. That is encouraging news that the two countries are talking now face to face to sort things out about all issues between them in general and Sudan in particular. The facts are laid bare about the dam for everyone to see. There is no secret about it. The process of filling the dam has taken place twice already without affecting the flow of water reaching Egypt even by a single cup. Mother Nature has been doing the job herself by pouring torrential rain during the three months between June and September. To prove the Ethiopian people’s goodwill the scheduled filling of the dam is postponed until September. This is called bending backwards to make your neighbors feel at ease. This shows those glorious and generous people who produced us all have never been their intention to do harm to other nations. This meeting between the two leaders is great news and to hope for.

  5. Subject: “The Tigrayan Orthodox Faction Lacks Moral Ground to Talk About Moral Ground” By Yonas Biru, PhD, July 12, 2023

    QUOTE: “…modern, civilized and ancient nation of Tigray can not continue to live with primitive and backward tribes south of it.” UNQUOTE by Digital Tigraway, July 13, 2023.



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