Genocide in Tigray and Abiy Ahmed the incarnation of African Hitler
Mulugeta Abai, Toronto Canada
With the intensification of international, regional and bilateral efforts to stop war in Ethiopia we call upon you to add your voice for peace and spare no time to stop the present genocidal war in Tigray. The atmosphere of hate, terror, violence, blockade, deliberate displacement and man-made famine imposed on Tigray by the Ethiopian government of Abiy Ahmed has all characteristics of genocide.
Among the first United Nations document dealing with crime of international nature is the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948. According to Article II of this convention, “genocide means… acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” The Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC) has reiterated this definition for fulfilling its mandate of the prosecution of perpetrators of genocide, among others.
Genocidal efforts have always begun with the use of war as a short cut and its glorification as a virtue and a solution for resolving disputes. “War alone,” said
Mussolini in his Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism, “brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it.” Hitler echoed this in Mein Kampf: “In eternal warfare mankind has become great; in eternal peace mankind would be ruined.” Attitude as such follows with the allocation of the scare resources of the nation for the purpose of militarization. There are scores of historical examples like pre-genocide militarization of the Ottoman empire, Nazi Germany, Rwanda and former Yugoslavia.
In a speech on January 17, 1936, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, said: "We can do without butter, but, despite all our love of peace, not without arms. One cannot shoot with butter, but with guns." Little later, the Nazi military leader Hermann Göring, announced in a speech: "Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat." In early June 2018, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, revealed his intension of militarization of the country. During a meeting with senior military officers, he said: “Following the efforts made to build capacity of our national defense, we built one of the strongest grounds and air force in Africa…. We should build our naval force capacity in the future.” He added that the military reforms should "take into account current fast changing world, socio-economic and political situation in Ethiopia." His exposed his ambition, despite the fact that the landlocked Ethiopia had disbanded its navy following the secession of Eritrea in 1993 and the army was relatively a small one.
Before waging war against Tigray, Mr. Ahmed had used army against Oromia, the conflict against the Sidama nation ahead of the referendum for statehood in November 2019, and the suppression against the Wolaita and Konso involving fighter planes, missile and rocket attacks, artillery shelling, drones, and infantry units. By engaging in war against his own people, Mr. Ahmed has trampled Article 95 (1-a) The Ethiopian Constitution that allows deployment of army in exceptional circumstances such as “external aggression or “in the cases of natural disaster or epidemic endangering public health.” He waged his unjust and unconstitutional war against the people of Tigray while there was no condition whatsoever to “endanger the constitutional order.” He declared war on the most stable and peaceful state government that had been legally elected by 98% of Tigrayans’ votes. There was no emergency situation to compel him respond by militarily power. He ignored all international and regional appeals for peace and reiterated his position that “Ethiopia is being run by a strong functional government. It doesn’t need a babysitter.”
The barbaric genocide of approximately six million European Jews, for merely being Jewish, traumatized the entire Jewish population of the world to the extent that even today they have not come out of the initial trauma. This happened by Nazi’s policy of extermination and “final solution”. Exterminations can take the form of massacre, massive physical annihilation or deprivations. According to Article 7-2-b of the Rome Statute for ICC, "Extermination" includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population.”
Less than a year and a half after ascending to power, on June 30, 1934, at 2:00 a.m., Hitler ordered massacred hundreds of men of same-sex orientation in the "Night of the Long Knives", with the justification that “for their corrupt morals alone these men deserved to die.” Mr. Ahmed’s military aggression of Tigray has resulted in the murder and extermination of thousands of people, including civilian population. A horrible massacre happened on November 9, 2020, in Mai Kadra, a town in the northwestern part of Tigray with the population of 45000 people including Tigrayans, Amhara and other ethnic groups. Many Tigrayans were hacked or shot to death by the marauding Amhara Milita and Fano. Due to the complete shutdown of Tigray’s communication and strict prohibition of the journalists’ freedom, it is difficult to get the exact numbers. The Tigrayan refugees who fled to Sudanese refugee camps, have recounted about the massacre of Tigrayan civilians in Mai Kadra by Ethiopian federal forces and members of an Amhara Fano and militia and of course the Eritrean Army.
Another instance of Mr. Ahmed’s policy of extermination is his deliberate attempt not to grant access to war-torn areas to provide people with much-needed humanitarian aid, including food and medicine. Since the beginning of the conflict, the Tigray regions have remained largely cut off from the rest of the world with food, medicine, clean water, fuel and other basic necessities desperately needed for war-affected and displaced population. This has happened despite repeated warning from humanitarian agencies about the compounding risk of life and suffering to the most vulnerable population. This deliberate blockade has caused sufferings and casualties for civilians and death for patients who are in desperate need of life-saving medications.
The complete shutdown of internet and phone communications to around six million people in Tigray have acted as a systemic and conscious effort of the Ethiopian government towards ethnic cleansing of the Tigrayan people. The Internet and phone shutdowns have caused life-threatening harms to the civilian population by preventing them from communicating with each other about safety measures, access to medical facilities, and sources of food and shelter.
Man-made famine has always been used as a sinister technic of genocide. A historical example is the Irish Great Famine or the Great Hunger that occurred during1845 to 1849 with the death toll of one million people and displacement of another million. The cause of famine was an infectious potato disease called potato blight that infected potato crops in the face of the British policy of Irish blockade. The Ethiopian government has imposed a similar policy on vulnerable people of Tigray through its policy of the region’s systematic blockade from accessing food, fuel, medicine and other supplies. The Ethiopian government has not even spared the United Nations relief workers. On November 9th, 2021, some 22 UN relief workers were arrested in Addis Ababa in the raids that targeted ethnic Tigrayans. It was followed by the arrest of 72 drivers contracted by the World Food Programme in Afar. This is a part of engineered genocide that has already left its impacts in destroying the Tigrayan people by means of mass starvation.
This ongoing policy of extermination and its man-made famine is comparable to the Nazi policy of the ‘final solution’ against the Jewish people. The United Nations humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths has warned that more than 22 percent of people experiencing malnutrition in the Tigray region, forced to survive on leaves, roots and flowers. Griffiths called the situation a “stain on our conscience”. According to the UN chief, Mr. Guterres, some 400,000 people are estimated to be living in famine-like conditions.
The genocidal war against Tigray has delivered its most destructive blow on children.The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) estimates that some 2.3 million children in the region are cut off from humanitarian assistance amid the violence. The agency’s Executive Director, Ms. Henrietta Fore, has raised her serious concern in this respect: “We are extremely concerned that the longer access to them is delayed, the worse their situation will become as supplies of food, including ready-to-use therapeutic food for the treatment of child malnutrition, medicines, water, fuel and other essentials run low”.
Massive extermination of children through man-made famine and deprivation, may lead to the depopulation of the entire region and partial destruction of Tigrayans as an “undesirable” ethic group. This deprivation is against customary international law including the UN Convention of the Right of the Child (CRC), Ethiopia is a party to.
Article 24 of the CRC obligates the state parties to guarantee “right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health” and the article 27 stipulates that “States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.”
Between 1915 to 1922, approximately 1.5 million Armenians perished because of a well-planned genocide by the rulers of the Ottoman Empire. The main component of the Ottoman’s genocidal policy was mass deportation of Armenian civilians. People were forcefully dislocated to the wilderness in Syria, Iraq and other regions. Entire families were starved to death; women and girls were violated and raped, and children were sold into slavery or sent to their deaths, perhaps even taking their own lives to escape starvation. Only decades later Hitler, in an attempt to carry forward his plan of the Jewish genocide, uttered these words: “Who after all speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
Heavy casualties and destruction, mass displacement of 100,000 people from Tigray, 72,000 refugees in Sudan: this is the sheer balance sheet of the genocidal war against Tigray. What will follow is the testimony of Shimei Abra Adiko, an Ethiopian refugee in Sudan: “The [pro-government] militia said they would kill us because we are from
Tigray. They told us, ‘You have 24 hours to leave’, and they began to loot our animals and property.” This is the blatant violation of the Article 7 (d) of the Rome Statute for ICC, which states, "Deportation or forcible transfer of population means forced displacement of the persons concerned by expulsion or other coercive acts from the area in which they are lawfully present”.
Before crossing the border, refugees spent days on the run, facing starvation, being stopped by armed groups who robbed their belongings. Many hid for long hours in bushes to avoid being spotted. They entered Sudan with nothing but clothes in their back. 50% of refugees in Sudan are children with inadequate means to survive. Tigrayan refugees in Sudan are unable to restock food, medical and other emergency supplies. Local communities, with their little resources, cannot be of much help to them. A great number of refugees have starved for days. They suffer from physical and mental health complications. Children suffer from flashbacks and frequent nightmares about dead bodies. Families have been torn apart by the conflict. Hundreds of refugees have lost contact with their loved ones.
History has taught us that the brutality of Nazism was not only due to the industry of death and technology of terror, but also because of the ideology of systemic discrimination and hate. It began with its strategy of state-sanctioned, propaganda of disdain, demonization of minorities and other techniques of insulting human dignity. Hitler targeted Jewish people due to their vulnerability as a minority group. “Under the guidance of Reich,” he said, “Europe would speedily have become unified. Once the Jewish poison had been eradicated, unification would have been an easy matter.” The military aggression of Tigray resulted in the murder and extermination of thousands of people, including civilian population. Hate propaganda and incitement to violence, fueled the fire of ethnic conflicts.”
Since taking office in 2018, the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has pursued a policy of massive discriminations against oppositional ethnic groups including and specifically Tigrayans and their leadership. He removed many Tigrayans from the government and security posts and arrested many in the pretext of rights abuse and corruption. In a further move, Ethiopia’s parliament stripped 39 members of TPLF, including regional president Gebremichael, of immunity from prosecution. Police arrested 242 Tigrayans charging them of conspiracy against the government.
Elsewhere in the country, ethnic profiling of Tigrayans has reached an alarming point. The Ethiopian police is seeking the list of ethic Tigrayans all over the country in an attempt to arrest and persecute them as “traitors”. The government’s newly formed State of Emergency Task Force for Tigray has systematically attempted to hunt people, Tigrayans and others, suspicious of working for the TPLF in the capital Addis Ababa and elsewhere. According to Ezekiel Gebissa President of the Ethio Multinational Federalist Support Force: “They are illegally dismissed from jobs, their properties destroyed, their assets frozen and travels restricted. Mass arrest, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearance of Tigrayans in Addis Ababa and in other towns have intensified, aggravating the precariousness of their life in Ethiopia.”
Article 7 (h) of the Rome Statute for ICC has classified “persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender” as a crime against humanity. Ethiopian government’s discriminative policy and hate propaganda has already left its harmful impact on ethnic harmony in a country of over 110 million people, over 90 different ethnic groups and 80 languages.
Public demagogy is a part and parcel of genocide. On 17th of May 1933, Hitler presented himself as a consistent proponent of peace: “No new European war could improve the unsatisfactory conditions of the present day. On the contrary, the application of violence of any kind in Europe could have no favourable effect upon the political or economic position which exists to-day…. The result would be fresh wars, fresh uncertainty, and fresh economic distress. The outbreak of such infinite madness, however, would necessarily cause the collapse of the present social and political order.”
Mr. Abiy Ahmed also made a similar remark in 2019, while receiving Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo: “There are those who have never seen war but glorify and romanticize it. They have not seen the fear, they have not seen the fatigue, they have not seen the destruction and heartbreak, nor they have felt the mournful emptiness of war after the carnage. War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I have been there and back. I have seen brothers slaughtering brothers on the battlefield. I have seen older men, women, and children trembling in terror under the deadly shower of bullets and artillery shells. You see, I was not only a combatant in war. I was also a witness to its cruelty and what it can do to people. War makes for bitter men. Heartless and savage men.”
Hypocrisy, double-standard, blatant lie and betrayal of the voters’ trust are symptomatic of the genocidal regimes. While Hitler and Abiy Ahmed were ascended to power by general elections, they both used their own repressive and deceitful methods for staying in power through all possible malicious means. In his Mein Kampf, Hitler has openly extolled his strategy of deception: “The great masses of the people . . . will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one.” Mr. Ahmed has similarly unleashed the beasts of hatred and hubris by resorting to lie about his intentions and those of his adversaries.
History has proved that genocide is neither native to any particular region nor it is restricted to any specific time. Apart from classical examples of genocide, we have had cases of genocide in our modern epoch. The Mau Mau Uprising against the British colonial rule in Kenya, continued for 8 years (1952-1960) and left a death toll of tens of thousands. The Rwandan genocide of April 6, 1994 continued for more than 100 days and killed over 800,000 civilians. In the same year, 100,000 to 150,000 civilians died during the Bosnian War, many of them victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The crime of genocide in Sudan, under General Omar al-Bashir, continued for years and resulted in the murder of more than 500,000 people.
And today, the genocidal war of the Ethiopian regime against people of Tigray has been continuing since November 4, 2020. It has even been recognized in the joint report of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the government-sponsored Ethiopian Human Rights Commission in early November 2021.
To sum up, the invasion of Tigray by Mr. Abiy Ahmed and his allies is a genocidal war with the sinister potential of disintegration of the multi-ethnic Ethiopia. Multiple crimes of international nature have been committed by the Ethiopian government, its allies, the Eritrean government, Amhara Fano and Militia. Please help us to stop this genocide in Tigray that is a crime against the family of nation. Do not let the present genocidal war in Tigray set a precedent with the ominous potential of engulfing the whole world in a vicious circle of violence. Abiy and Isayas are criminals and should be brought to justice so that we can say never again to tyrants and genociders. History will also record Abiy Ahmed as the reincarnation of Hitler and Isayas Afeworki the Stalin of Africa.