Memorandum On The war on Tigray: Setting the record straight
The much-celebrated election of Mr. Abiy Ahmed, by the EPRDF in 2018, to lead a political transition was from the start pregnant with seeds of failure. Rather than initiating a constitutional and an all-inclusive process, Dr. Abiy chose to 2 indulge in a personal power consolidation and started to reorganize the country’s political system and trajectory in a way that suits his political ambitions.
He abolished the party in power that elected him for a transitional period and replaced it by his own makeshift party. Furthermore, he imprisoned opposition party leaders and many prominent personalities who were considered a threat to his political ambitions, and some were mysteriously assassinated.
Dr. Abiy considered the TPLF, the most principled and organized member in the EPRDF coalition, as the major threat to his political project of establishing a one-man rule autocratic system. For this reason, the TPLF was the main target of blackmailing, attacks and isolation and was eventually forced to not join the new and hastily organized party i.e., the Prosperity Party. It is, therefore, part of a process of establishing a one-man rule on the part of Mr. Abiy that the TPLF and the Tigray people became the objects of attack and isolation.
Mr. Abiy cleansed all members of the Federal Government Cabinet representing Tigray and the majority of Tigrayans who served in the bureaucracy. He, unwarrantedly, charged Tigrayan political and military leaders and systematically criminalized them and other leaders of political opposition groups and government officials. Mr. Abiy and government affiliated media undertook extensive and systematic media campaign, not to mention the hate speeches, to vilify Tigray, Tigrayans and its political leaders, cut off the road connecting Tigray with the rest of the country through the Amhara region, started to conspire with Eritrea to encircle, isolate and eventually wage war on Tigray.
Mr. Abiy, under the pretext of the COVID 19 pandemic, postponed the constitutionally set timeline for the national election until such time when there was no serious challenge by imprisoning prominent opposition political leaders and their supporters and until the National Regional Sate of Tigray was weakened by his conspiratorial machinations.
Tigray opposed his unconstitutional decision and held its regional elections as per the provisions of the national and regional constitutions. The federal government penalized Tigray for holding regional elections by not only refusing to release Tigray’s annual budget but also by halting all forms of domestic and international humanitarian and developmental assistance. The government’s unorthodox response to Tigray’s decision to elect its leaders through a 3 democratic process culminated in the genocidal war declared by the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments in November 2020. It was a war meant to punish the Tigray people for voting but also to abort what otherwise could be a ‘bad’ precedent for the rest of Ethiopia.
The genocidal war
The war has been an act of treason on the part of Abiy’s government because it invited foreign governments to attack its own people and used mercenary foreign forces to suppress a legitimate domestic political and constitutional right. In this war, Eritrean forces have violated and still do Ethiopia’s territorial integrity at Mr. Abiy’s invitation, which renders the Ethiopian government’s argument about sovereignty irrelevant. Moreover, forces from the Amhara region are in control of Western Tigray violating the Ethiopian constitution.
The war is also genocidal. The Ethiopian, Eritrean and Amhara forces, as is widely reported and documented, are engaged in war crimes and crimes against humanity. They have collectively committed crimes at a scale rarely seen in recent history. Siege, starvation, sexual violence and looting of public and private property have been used as instrument of war since the war broke out. Mass displacement and large-scale civilian massacres have characterized this war. Moreover, intentional destruction and looting of heritage sites and museums as well as desecration of worshiping places have been widely perpetrated by these force as they strive to efface the identity and undermine the pride of the people of Tigray.
Cease-fire, inclusive dialogue and the way forward
The government of Tigray has from the start, long before the war on Tigray was declared, has called for the resolution of all political and constitutional impasses through dialogue. In this regard, it has also repeatedly appealed to and warned the international community on the likelihood that the political crisis could potentially degenerate into a threat to the country’s unity and peace and security of the Horn of Africa.
The government of Mr. Abiy, however, closed all avenues for political settlement on unwarranted grounds by arguing that the federal government and the Tigray government were not co-equals and that there was no moral equivalence between the two parties to sit at a negotiation table. For that reason, there was 4 no interest nor a meaningful attempt to resolve the crisis through dialogue on Mr. Abiy’s part.
After the war was launched, Mr. Abiy’s government trivialized the crisis by declaring that the genocidal war was a “law enforcement operation” to apprehend few criminals. This glib but intentional characterization of a deep and complex political crisis and equating it to a simple legal matter made any political dialogue impossible. Moreover, it made any negotiated political solution unthinkable when the Ethiopian parliament designated the TPLF as a ‘terrorist Organization’ exacerbating the already multifaceted political crisis.
On the part of the Tigray government, we have called for a negotiated ceasefire on more than one occasion by outlining meaningful and workable conditions that take the facts on the ground into consideration. The government of Tigray firmly believes that only a negotiated ceasefire can lead to a lasting solution to the multifaceted crisis even as its forces continue to advance to strategic positions in the Afar and Amhara regions. We are still calling on peace loving countries, institutions and the broader international community to pressure Mr. Abiy’s government to heed our call.
“The unilateral ceasefire”
After suffering a heavy military defeat at the hands of the Tigray forces, Mr. Abiy’s forces retreated from Mekelle and declared a unilateral cease fire. This, however, did not emanate from the Ethiopian government’s readiness to reach a negotiated settlement nor was it driven by its concern for the wellbeing of Tigray farmers as claimed by Mr. Abiy. It was simply because it was decimated militarily and needed time to reorganize itself for future counter offensive and return to Tigray to perpetuate further atrocities. Accordingly, today and despite the so-called unilateral ceasefire, the entire Western Tigray remains under the control of Eritrean, Amhara and Ethiopian forces while Mr. Abiy has publicly called on all able civilian Ethiopians to mobilize and join the Ethiopian army and other regional forces. Recently, the federal government affiliated medias are busy agitating the people to go against the ‘enemy’ with any available killing material. Machetes are leisurely distributed in Amhara region, a reminiscent of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
Thus, after declaring the “unilateral ceasefire”, what we have witnessed of the behavior of the Ethiopian government, does not indicate a desire to resolve the crisis peacefully. Instead, its actions reveal that the so-called unilateral ceasefire was simply a coverup for misleading the Ethiopian people and the international community into believing that it was not militarily defeated while also buying time to prepare for the reinvasion of Tigray. Furthermore, it aimed at triggering international pressure on Tigray to reciprocate the “unilateral ceasefire” it declared as it prepares for its counter offensive. It must, however, be emphasized that despite its much talked about declarations, at no time has the government stopped fighting. In the aftermath of its ouster from Tigray, it mobilized and deployed all its commands / North, South, East and North Easter commands/ along the Tigray border and was preparing to launch counter offensive.
The siege and humanitarian crisis
The government of Tigray requested, as a matter of confidence building measures and based on international humanitarian principles, for the lifting of the siege imposed on the Tigray people before any agreement on ceasefire and dialogue could take place.
The blockade is a complete and total siege encompassing humanitarian, financial, communication, transport and economic blockade. The government has made it impossible for the international community to provide much needed humanitarian assistance to those most in need. Most of the donor agencies and organizations have announced that their stock is completely depleted and the lives of the more than 6.8 million aid recipients is in danger.
There are currently up to 6.8 million people in need of emergency assistance in Tigray out of which 2.2 million are Internally displaced people; mainly victims of ethnic cleansing in western Tigray. The federal government from the start focused on obstructing delivery of humanitarian aid and has played almost no role in the provision of humanitarian aid. The largest donor, USAID, covers 66% and WFP provides 25% of the total amount of humanitarian aid and the remaining 9% is covered by other members of the humanitarian community.
The humanitarian community requires hundred trucks load of humanitarian aid daily to feed the 6.8 people in need. In the last two months three hundred 6 twenty trucks out of the required six thousand trucks are allowed into Tigray by the federal government. It amounts to 5% of the total amount humanitarian aid required. Since 20 August 2021, the government has further tightened the siege and no truck carrying humanitarian aid has been allowed into Tigray.
Currently, nearly a million people are on the verge of famine and the number is expected to quadruple in the coming weeks. The absence of telephone services has also made it impossible for aid workers and government to collect timely information on the deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground. It has also made the job of local and international media unimaginably difficult to report the evolving humanitarian condition in Tigray.
The impact of the siege on emergency food aid and the activity of the humanitarian community is simply a tip of the humanitarian crisis engendered by the blockade. The siege coupled with the wanton destruction and robbery of public and private property of the eight months long genocidal war will have a long-term debilitating impact on Tigray’s future.
It is, therefore, in this context that the presence of our forces in the Afar and Amhara regions should be viewed. Our forces were left with no option but to break the suffocating siege before it strangled the people of Tigray to death. We believe that the federal government could have prevented the Ethiopian people from further bloodshed by simply lifting the blockade and then engaging in a dialogue. The Tigray government has also legitimate security concerns justifying the presence of its forces out of Tigray given the federal government’s declaration of a general mobilization and its unabated amassing of federal and regional troops as it prepares for another round of genocidal war on Tigray.
As our forces moved to the Afar and Amhara regions, utmost attention is given to the protection of civilians. It is in this spirit that all local civilian administrations are left intact and public services and institutions are protected by our forces. Moreover, consistent with our forces’ track record and in accordance with international law, including the Geneva convention, thousands of POWs are treated humanely. These POWs have been accessible to all who would like to visit and assess their current situation.
This being the case, the government of Dr. Abiy Ahmed is engaged in fabricating countless allegations and lies against our forces. The government of Tigray would like to reiterate its long-standing position that any allegations of human rights abuse should be investigated by an independent international body and those responsible should face the full force of domestic and international justice and be held accountable.
Ethiopia at crossroads
The government of Tigray is as always ready to play a positive and constructive role in any international effort to resolve the overwhelming crisis that is currently engulfing the country. In this regard, we call upon the international community to consider the following actions and put the required pressure on Mr. Abiy’s government to refrain from continuing its belligerent policy:
- We call for the immediate and unconditional lifting of the siege on Tigray and demand for unfettered access for all humanitarian agencies to Tigray,
- We call for an immediate, unconditional and verified withdrawal of Eritrean army and all forces from Amhara region including militia and vigilantes from Tigray to their prewar positions in order to return to status quo ante,
- We call for an internationally sponsored and all-inclusive negotiation for cessation of hostility and ceasefire
Debretsion Gebremichael(PHD), President
September 3, 2021; Mekelle
The contrast between the people and leadership is extremely amazing and difficult to understand within the human way of thinking and frame work.
While the Amhara and Abiy leadership including the Amhara population (not all) is drumming for continued atrocities and the extermination of ethnic Tigreans from earth, the Tigreans play magnanimously for peace and dialog. Instead of quite understandable revenge and seek for vindication, they treat the Amhara POWs and civilians in a very human way. I hope researchers will study these two extreme difference in human behaviour in the future. For the rest, I am really tiered of all Amhara channels who blatantly lie every minute in their inputs. Debretsion must have been killed many times and survived more than any cat in the world. Abiy has said on several occasions, that it is legit to lie and deceive.
Mr. Debretseion nobody can’t save you from Ethiopian people don’t cry day to day unless try to complete your nightmare invasion needs of Ethiopia by the war already you launched after the Ethiopian government made unilateral ceasefire on the last June. Now your forces are already defeated by the ENDF and you have started your crying for your lords to save you!
Dr Debretseyon in setting out his government policy or roadmap regarding to bring peace he is on high moral and high ground. However the PM Abbiy is rolling down the hill expediting the Ethiopian empire disintegration. The two are stood in opposite. PM Abbiy is a native politician mentored by fascist Esayas Afework. This two authoritarian endeavor end fiasco very soon. Tigrai prevailed
It is interesting to read an article that depicts the TPLF version of the current Tigray Crises. In many aspects, Debretsion presented his group as an innocent body fighting for his people. As we all witnessed, the facts about the cause and results of the conflict on ground is far from what has been stated. Here are some of the core points I have found misrepresented or intentionally ignored in Debretsion’s article:
1. The major cause of the conflict is the difiance of Debretsion to handover some criminal membersof his cabinet. But nothing else. That is why it is nearly impossible to solve it by negotiating unless all criminals are arrested.
2. The immediate cause of the war is TPLF’s attack of the Ethiopian Army base in Northern Ethiopia.
3. Long before TPLF started the war, the Ethiopian government had tried all peaceful avenues to bring the TPLF group to sit and resolve their issue in peaceful way. Including several failed attempts of indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms. But Debretsion and his TPLF group rejected them all.
4. Amhara and Ertrean forces participated in the war as a result of TPLF’s rocket attack to Eritrea and the Maykadra genocide committed on Amhara by the TPLF.
5. Unlike the TPLF and the Western media propaganda, Ethiopian Army spent a 100 billion Birr worth of humanitarian assistance to the Tigray region for months long before foreign donors arrived.
6. While the Ethiopian government had all military superiority including controlling the air space with state of the art Airforce team, it declared ceasefire to give opportunity for peace. However, TPLF group considered is as an act of defeat and attempted to expand the war to Afar and Amhara regions which resulted in atrocities.
7. As TPLF forces advanced to Afar and Amhara regions they massacred civilians including children, mass rape, looting, destruction of religious institutions and displacing hundreds of thousands; all documented well and still continuing until this moment.
8. TPLF used a very outdated war strategy called human wave and recuruited thousands of child soldiers on its attempt to control parts of the Amhara and Afar regions which resulted in the death of tens of thousands of Tigrayan’s.
9. TPLF propagandists used several hate speech on the Amhara in view of creating panic among the Tigray people and motivated to join their army. This resulted in the rise of millios of Amhara people to decisively fight against the TPLF expansionist army.
10. The very reason of TPLF’s war against the Ethiopian Army is to overthrow Abiy Ahmed’s government and regain central power. TPLF has no other pre-war agenda concerning the Tigray people. Because, the entire Tigray was under TPLF’s power. Even succession is possible under the FDRE constitution. The Ethiopian government is a elected by the people according to the constitution and Ethiopians are not willing to accept a government via any military means. That is why millions of young Ethiopians are currently voluntarily joining the Ethiopian Defense Forces.
11. Although Debretsion calls for the international community to force the Ethiopian government to sit for negotiations, there is no just cause from the TPLF side for they started the war and there will be no issue to discuss to end the war. The only means to complete the crisis in tigray is by allowing the Ethiopian government complete the war; and get all wanted TPLF terrorist organization leaders under arrest. Then a new elite of Tigray people will organize themselves to form a new transitional government and hold election that will be organized by the Ethiopian National Board of Elections according to the FDRE constitution.
12. The role of the international community should be supporting the government of Ethiopia in its fight against terrorism and continues its humanitarian relief to all Ethiopian who are affected by the war in Amhara, Afar and Tigray regions.
You nailed it.
“We Know the Truth and the Truth shall Set us #Free” (the Bible)
Wow. Great points.
Repeating Z same useless old story of pp will bring no solution to z problem. Though late genuine Ethiopians have started to speak out the z true cause n solution. If u r Ethiopians who stand for Ethiopians ( not for Ethiopia) u have to accept z perpetrators r President Isayas n his monkey. This we’ll known broadly by all concerned. So the solution is shot n precise, get rid off these devils