Abiy: From peacemaker to war monger’

KELVIN JAKACHIRA

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (pictured) has called on civilians in his country to show ‘patriotism’ by joining the military in its fight against rebels in the Tigray region.

 

Ahmed asked “all capable Ethiopians” to “show their patriotism” by joining the war, which is raging across the north of the country.

“The media, artists and social activists are expected to contribute towards

strengthening the people’s support for the country,” Ahmed said as he rallied Ethiopians against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front

(TPLF).

“Every Ethiopian must work closely with the security forces in being the eyes and ears of the country in order to track down and expose spies and agents of the terrorist TPLF.”

Such remarks are not in sync with expectations from a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 to the Ethiopian Prime Minister for his efforts to achieving peace and international cooperation, and in particular his initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

But his remarks inciting Ethiopians to confront the Tigrayans are a far cry from a man bestowed with such a high honour for promoting peace.

 

If anything the declarations by Ahmed resonate well with those that became accustomed with the infamous Jean Kambanda, the former

Rwandan interim leader, who is now serving a life sentence for

his role in inciting the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.

Kambanda made a series of pronouncements as he moved around Rwanda between April and July 1994 rallying citizens to turn against their fellow

countrymen resulting in the killing, in cold blood, of up to one million people.

Kambanda was arrested in Kenya in 1997 and sent to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha Tanzania, where he was given

a life sentence, which he is serving in the Mali capital of Bamako.

The remarks by the Ethiopian Prime Minister must not be taken lightly and hence the international community must intervene and restrain

him from inciting Ethiopians to turn against each other.

 

He must be playing a leading role in finding a lasting solution to the internal armed conflict that is playing out in his country.

What complicates the situation in Ethiopia is that the armed conflict and the escalating hostilities appear to be entrenched in ethnicity.

What started as a political dispute has now mutated into a campaign of ethnic cleansing against minority Tigrayans, with international experts

accusing Ahmed of leading a campaign against close to the seven million who constitute about nine percent of Ethiopia’s population.

There are reports of ethnic animosity towards Tigrayans, with derogatory language being used indiscriminately to tar all Tigrayans with the

alleged misdeeds of the TPLF.

The TPFF was in power heading the federal government for more than 25 years and had a bitter fall-out with Ahmed after he took office in 2018,

resulting in the conflict in its stronghold of Tigray.

There are reports of ethnically selective purges of Tigrayans from government employment and

the army and restrictions on their travel, businesses and residence.

Dehumanising words such as “daylight hyenas” and “unfamiliar others” are used to foment hatred.

These characterisations are familiar with what played out in the buildup and during the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

The extremists characterised the Tutsi as “cockroaches” as they mobilised against them.

The head of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church, His Holiness Abune Matthias – an

ethnic Tigrayan himself, has warned that a genocide is being committed in Ethiopia.

The United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also jumped in saying “ethnic cleansing” has taken place in western Tigray.

 

Refugees have told the media that authorities and allied forces in western Tigray have taken over whole communities, ordering Tigrayans out or rounding them up.

 

The refugees said thousands of Tigrayans were loaded into trucks and they do not know what happened to them.

Almost all refugees interviewed by the international media have described killings, often of multiple people, rapes and the looting and burning

of crops without massive food aid could plunge the region into starvation. The Ethiopian government rejects reports of mass atrocities as exaggerated’ and ‘politically motivated’.

Amid all this, the United Nations and the African Union remain mum or have responded mildly to signals that a genocide can ensue in

Ethiopia.

These are the same signals that were sent during the run up to the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 and the international community looked aside allowing extremists to butcher fellow citizens with complete impunity

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called the accounts by victims and witnesses as “harrowing”, saying, “We are very concerned.”

It’s not good enough Mr Secretary General. Action must be taken now to stop the situation from further deteriorating.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is asking “all capable Ethiopians” to “show their patriotism” by joining the war, saying the whole country

has to get behind the battle to defeat the TPLF- Addis Ababa

has designated a terrorist organisation. The TPLF says it is the legitimate regional government of Tigray.

The international community must not be caught off guard again. After

the Genocide against the Tutsi, the UN promised ‘Never Again’ should genocide happen anywhere in the world.

But how a celebrated Nobel Peace

Prize winner has turned into a war monger remains a source of worry.

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