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Diaspora Ethiopians and the Hall of Shame

Diaspora Ethiopians and the Hall of Shame

Aynalem Sebhatu 03-23-21

Amhara and Eritrean nationalists marched through Washington DC, Toronto, Los Angeles and other cities last week. The rallies are organized by Ethiopian and Eritrean embassies in DC with close collaborations of disillusioned members of the Amhara extremists and supporters of Isaias Afewerki in the wake of the international community’s reactions to the genocidal war in Tigray. The confusion and shoulder-shrugging indifference that the diaspora Ethiopians displayed at the slaughtering of Tigrayans is shocking and it really shows how toxic the diaspora politics is.  The ethnic cleansing against Tigrayans is too gigantic to be ignored by anyone let alone diaspora Ethiopians and Eritreans.

Some members of the diaspora Ethiopians are denying the ethnic cleansing ever took place and some are starting to fabricate mass justifications for it.  Abiy Ahmed’s run from the hall of fame to the hall of shame is incredible enough, the diaspora Ethiopians are a bunch of hypocrites who proved themselves remarkably adept at marching into the hall of shame. Is there any shameful act than identifying and expressing solidarity yourself with ethnic cleansing and genocide? Is there any bottom for their moral and ethical bankruptcy?

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It is odd that the participants of the rally have chanted against the international communities interfering on the internal affairs of the country while hardly any effort has been exerted on, at least, the Eritrean army’s killings of innocent Tigrayans, rape and pillaging of the northern part of the country.  On one hand, it is very difficult to understand how the demonstrators have spilled so much ink on slogans which have nothing to say about the ethnic cleansing and the genocidal nature of the war in Tigray. On the other hand, the message of the rally is not surprising given the history of the diaspora Ethiopians and the Eritrean government’s role in actively propagating the “fires of hatred” against Tigrayans for a long time.  Thereby creating political polarization and a political climate for ethnic cleansing and genocide to succeed.

It was well known that the diaspora Ethiopians have a strict attachment to their political point of views—especially their unshakable extremism in light of changing facts—as if they were their life’s savings; their unbounded hatred for the TPLF is clear no matter what the TPLF does. I have no qualms if their hatred is limited to the TPLF, but it is not. They always lash out angrily at the people of Tigray whenever their political beliefs are threatened.  Similar mind set is always on display against the people of Oromo and the OLF.

While the problem of Amhara chauvinism has gained much public attention since the ascent of Abiy Ahmed to power in 2018, it has been an ongoing and persistent problem in Ethiopia. Amhara extremism has been unquestionably accepted by national mass media and put into effect through violence against other ethnic groups, such as Benishangul-Gumuz, currently against Wello Oromo and Tigrayans. These unspeakable terror and violence are committed with the blessings of the Amhara regional state, as well as by political groups and individuals.  Whether or not we acknowledge it, the perpetuating of Amhara chauvinism via violence generated fear driven violence against innocent Amhara too. No one should condone any violence against anyone. But the exploitation of slaughtered innocent Amhara for exacting political revenge and for recruitment of members of the Fano (fascistic youth group) is wrong and it should be condemned. It is also used as a recipe to develop their conspiracy theory of political victimization of the Amhara, narrated as “Amhara genocide.” True, they never defined “genocide,” but why bother? The people of Amhara knew what it meant.  At the end of this political narration, the Amhara political elites and their conspirators squarely blamed the TPLF and by extension the people of Tigray. Therefore, the war in Tigray is merely the fuse which touched off an explosion that has been building up political conspiracy against Tigrayans for almost three decades.

If you ask Tigrayans who used to live in Gondor and surrounding areas, many of them will let you know that the new chapter of the ethnic cleansing really began when the TPLF (EPRDF) took power in the early 1990’s. The Tigrayans rose to power and cracked the foundation of the way things had always been. That is, breaking the century old dominance of the Amhara political elites in Ethiopian politics. The Amhara elites increasingly talked about a sense of loss and started rampant dissemination of propaganda designed to promote their chauvinistic views and attract attention from the young people. They painted the political system as one big casino owned by Tigrayans and the state of Tigray profiting from it.  This led to a more troubling track of violent attacks against Tigrayans who used to live in northern Gondor areas and expelled thousands of Tigrayans in 2016. The current ethnic cleansing in west and south Tigray is simply an extension of a consistent toxic message, repeated political and human demonization against Tigrayans for the last three decades.

For years, most people thought innocently, people hated the EPRDF’s rule because of the constitution and by extension the federalist political system. Yes, some might have a genuine difference of opinion on the formation of the state in the country. But at this point in time, we realized it did not have a damned thing to do with federalism. The Amhara extremists hated Tigrayans because the Tigrayans were leveling the playing field for all the nations and nationalities of Ethiopia. And that was a problem because most Amhara people truly felt that Ethiopia belonged to them. The Amhara nationalists’ manifesto made it obvious Ethiopians who were not Amhara were not deemed to be Ethiopians. This kind of mind-set has created a sense of colonized subjects than like citizens of the country on “other” Ethiopians.  One could easily find a microcosm of their terror and violence; as a happy hunting ground of the “other” Ethiopians in the killing fields of Tigray and in the trench warfare of the Oromo and Benishangul-Gumuz.

My first recommendation for the diaspora Ethiopians who marched in Washington DC is to march to United States Holocaust Memorial Museum which is adjacent to the National Mall.

Tigray will Prevail!

Eternal glory to our martyrs!

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