The Nobel Committee leader Berit Reiss-Andersen (left) and Deputy Henrik Syse (right) applaud the Prime Minister of Ethiopia after the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December 2019. Photo: Fredrik Varfjell / AFP / NTB
[Note: Computer translation]
OPINIONS: I understand that the Nobel Foundation has never before withdrawn a prize it has awarded. But it is always a first time with everything, writes the article author who is a former ambassador for Eritrea to the Scandinavian countries. She is shocked by Prime Minister and Peace Prize winner Abyi Ahmed’s handling of the brutal war in the Tigray region.
When Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2019, my first question was: How does the Nobel Committee decide who will receive the prize each year?
After some research, I learned that Alfred Nobel in his will had decided that the return on his fortune should be divided equally among five prizes.
One of the five prizes was to go to “… the one who has worked most or best for the fraternization of the peoples and the abolition or reduction of standing armies as well as the formation and dissemination of peace congresses.”
The question then is: Why was Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – without having a track record of contributing to peace in Ethiopia or the region?
Boasted of the old regime
During Abyi Ahmed’s inauguration ceremony on April 2, 2018, he concluded as follows: “I thank you with the utmost respect and love for my organization, the EPRDF (the former four-party governing coalition, editor’s note), and my people who elected me and gave me the responsibility to lead. ”
A little later, in his speech in Mekele on April 13, 2018, he praised Tigray, the Tigray People and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). He said that Tigray is the cradle of Ethiopian civilization, the source of Ethiopian identity and the roots of philosophers such as Yared and Zerayacob.
He listed the names of ten TPLF martyrs, among them Meles Zenawi (former president 1991-95 and prime minister 1995-2012, editor’s note), and said many thousands of others could also be praised for his admirable courage and said they had paid for it. highest award for justice, equality and development in Ethiopia.
But within a few months of Abyi coming to power, there were clear signals about who he really was. He gradually began to paint a picture of the 27 years of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in power as 27 years of darkness and oppression.
This happened despite the fact that Abyi himself had been part of the military establishment, the security apparatus and the EPRDF’s coalition government. He served in the military with the rank of lieutenant colonel, he was appointed head of the Information Network Security Agency in 2007, the Ethiopian government’s organization for electronic surveillance and cyber security.
Abyi was elected as a representative to the Federal National Assembly as a member of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), which was part of the EPRDF’s governing coalition. Abiy was appointed Minister of Science and Technology in the Federal Government, but left the post to serve as Vice President of the Oromia Regional Government. In 2017, Abiy was elected head of the secretariat of the OPDO party.
Cannot be released from liability
With all this as a background, I believe he can not be absolved of responsibility for mistakes made by the EPRDF, because he himself was part of the governing coalition, and not least he was among the leaders of the apparatus that monitored the Ethiopian people.
One of the most important peace steps taken by Prime Minister Abiy was the peace agreement with Eritrea. But the so-called peace agreement was never made public, neither for the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea nor for the rest of the world. Today, it can be stated that the agreement was a war pact rather than a peace agreement.
Now Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Peace Prize winner, along with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, appear as leaders responsible for barbaric atrocities and crimes against humanity committed in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Abiy and the Eritrean despot have waged a genocidal war against the people of Tigray, which they planned together to create as much suffering as possible and destroy food supplies, infrastructure, financial institutions, communications, transport and cultural heritage.
Two leaders, both with big dreams
Both Abiy and Isaiah both have imperial dreams: Abiy strives to establish a unitary state, as opposed to a federal state, and to become king of Ethiopia, as he has repeatedly stated, and Isaiah has always had ambitions to dominate the region.
Both Abiy and Isaias know that they can only achieve this if the leadership of Tigray’s regional government is removed and Tigray’s people are crushed economically, psychologically, historically and culturally. Abiy, Isaias and their supporters want to completely obliterate the Tigray people from the map of Ethiopia, if they can. Abiy has managed to destroy a people in just 8 months. Isaias has achieved something similar in 30 years in Eritrea.
The methods they have used have been the same: total blackout, economic stagnation, hunger as a weapon in war, imprisonment, extrajudicial killings, rape, destruction of culture, social network and identity. At the same time, humanitarian aid is being deliberately hindered.
It is sad that the late reaction of the international community allows Abiy and Isaiah to continue their planned genocide. The world will one day wake up to a terrible tragedy.
The capital must be destroyed
Today, as I write this open letter, perhaps the brutal atrocities and crimes against humanity have subsided somewhat, since the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) have recaptured most of the Tigray region. But the situation is still very unstable.
The Ethiopian government has declared a unilateral ceasefire, allegedly for humanitarian reasons. But they have dismantled UNICEF’s satellite communications equipment and confiscated internet equipment from several UN agencies on their way out, to hamper humanitarian work.
Earlier, Abiy praised Tigray as the cradle of Ethiopian civilization, but at a press conference in Addis Ababa on June 29 this year, the same Abiy boasted that he would reduce the regional capital of Mekele from a powerhouse to the same status as the small village of Beshasha, Abiy Ahmed’s birthplace in Oromia region.
Promises to fight back hard
Contrary to the declaration of unilateral ceasefire, Abiy Ahmed warned on Wednesday, July 14, that his forces will strike back hard at his enemies. According to local and state media, reinforcements are now being mobilized in Oromia, Sidama and other regions, which could lead to more bloodshed.
The Eritrean forces have withdrawn to areas near the border with Eritrea, but continue to forcibly recruit Eritreans in Eritrea, including child soldiers as young as 15 and 16, and send them to war without proper training.
The Nobel Committee was obviously in good faith when it awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, because they thought he was contributing to peace in Eritrea and Ethiopia, and perhaps also in the region. But the question that then arises is why the Nobel Committee does not have the opportunity to reconsider its decision – and consider withdrawing the award to Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed? Does not this special award help to tarnish the reputation of the Peace Prize?
I understand that the Nobel Foundation has never before withdrawn a prize it has awarded, and that there is no mechanism for making such a decision. But it is always a first time with everything, and mechanisms can be created.
If the Nobel Institutions think it is completely impossible to withdraw the award, then they can at least publicly condemn the horrific, brutal atrocities and crimes against humanity that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has committed against Tigray’s innocent people and against Eritrean refugees in Tigray.
Brings shame over the Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Center’s Peace Prize exhibition for 2020 was about this year’s peace prize winner; The UN Food Program, as well as a digital exhibition on how food and hunger are used as a means of power in wars and conflicts.
In an exhibition on how food is used as a weapon in earlier times of war, how can the Nobel Center remain silent about the simultaneous use of food as a weapon in the Tigray region of Ethiopia? (By an irony of fate, the photo artist behind important parts of the exhibition is Ethiopian Aïda Mulluneh, and the exhibition opened on December 10, at the same time as the war raged in the Tigray region and where food was used as a weapon.)
That the Nobel Peace Prize should remain in the possession of a genocide is an ugly stain on the history of the Peace Prize. I would add that it is a shame for such a highly regarded award to have to honor someone responsible for genocide.
As a former ambassador for Eritrea to the Scandinavian countries and an admirer of Scandinavian social democracy, I appeal to the Norwegian Nobel Committee to consider withdrawing the peace prize awarded to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, even though the award was made in good faith and to encourage a young leader.
Today it is very clear that he is a war criminal, blinded by imperial ambitions, and he has not earned the award. I would also like to emphasize the fact that he is in the process of tearing apart the Ethiopia that has historically been an ally with Scandinavia, and especially with Sweden, the country of origin of the Peace Prize.
I myself may be a little fluffy in world politics, but I feel a strong obligation as a world citizen to promote this appeal and make you, and the people in general, aware of the crimes a Peace Prize winner commits against the innocent people of Tigray and Eritrean refugees in Tigray.