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The UN Failed to Proact in Tigrai As It Did in Rwanda

The UN Failed to Proact in Tigrai As It Did in Rwanda


G.Amare, March 02, 2021


UN, remember what you have said and promised after Rwanda's atrocities when over 800,000 people were savagely massacred within 100 days. By the time you (the UN) paid attention, it was too late to save the lives of Rwandans. Sadly, very many had lost their families, friends, and neighbors.


Rwandans seem to have obtained lessons from their immoral acts. After such a monstrous crime, it is encouraging to see them putting the past behind, healing from their psychological and emotional traumas; and working hard to build their country for a better future. They even have displayed the phrase "Never Again" everywhere in Rwanda to aware and educate new generations and with the hope, the world would be reminded, alerted, and get a lesson. Rwandans, you must keep on moving forward by protecting and maintaining your peace and harmony. No turning back!!!


"Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace." —Dalai Lama


"It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it." —Eleanor Roosevelt


"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset." —Saint Francis de Sales


The United Nations (UN) failed to timely respond to the immoral, barbaric, and en masse killings in Rwanda. Unfortunately, the UN doesn't seem to have learned from its past failure. The UN failed again to proact in Tigrai as it did in Rwanda. The UN has remained inept to stand at the forefront to coordinate, materialize, and transcend the promise "Never Again" into action. It failed to take preventive and protective measures. What is happening in Tigrai is premeditated acts and unseen types of human atrocities. 


One of the reasons that the UN failed to intervene in Rwanda beforehand was "it did not face the fact that genocide was a real possibility." I am not sure what explanations the UN would give this time for its indecisiveness to deal with the ongoing atrocities in Tigrai.  By now, the UN shouldn't have any doubt that the war in Tigrai has been launched with a clear intention and premeditation to annihilate the people of Tigrai and damage their historical heritages, social institutions, traditions, and cultural beliefs and destroy their economic resources and structures. It is an open secret that Tigreans all over Ethiopia have been profiled, displaced, discriminated against, imprisoned, harassed, tortured, killed, and suspended from work simply because they are Tigreans.

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The target of the war in Tigrai is not discrete to the action of armed conflict and is not limited to combatant militaries. Massive civilians and non-combatant members have been targeted. The peoples' psychological and social makeups are being damaged. They are being subjected to intentional humiliations, subjugations, and demoralization.


Numerous reports have confirmed that the war is occurring in a coordinated, systematic, and conspiratorial manner. Its scope is off limit. Sophisticated technologies, bombardments, heavy ranged and lethal weapons, and tracer ammunition have been utilized. There is also an allegation that prohibited dangerous chemical weapons might have been used. It is all-encompassing aggression involving tremendous amounts of resources and armed human waves (estimated over half a million) composed of Ethiopia's Defense Forces; Amhara Special Forces, Militias, and Fanos; and a foreign country: Eritrea (confirmed beyond doubt) and the Federal Republic of Somalia (yet to be confirmed) backed by drones of the United Arab Emirates.


The actions of the Eritrean troops and Amhara Special Forces, Militias, and Fanos in the war are reported to be outrageous, inhumane, and difficult to imagine. Reliable sources are reporting that these forces are indiscriminately, and inhumanly slaughtering civilians. They are committing malice aforethought crimes, inflicting psychological traumas and physical harms. Several reputable sources have reported gang-rapes and sexual assaults to cause humiliations and desperations not only to victims but also to their families and the society as a whole. They are destroying and turning Tigrai into ashes. Various video images are depicting Eritreans troops looting and confiscating Tigreans' properties. They are torching houses and bombing monasteries, churches, and mosques, turning factories, hospitals, and infrastructures into ashes. They have dismantled and seized machineries-public, corporate, and privately owned. Crops deliberately burned and livestock killed to bring poverty and starve the people. The Amhara Special Forces, Militias, and Fanos are particularly displacing Tigreans intending to change the demography of the areas they have invaded. They are aggressively and systematically committing crimes of ethnic cleansing.


The illegitimate Ethiopian PM and accomplices are persistently and widely utilizing psychological war, economic influence, and dissemination of lies and fake news. They are using various techniques to erase the history, values, and beliefs of the Tigrai people.


Reports from numerous independent sources including the Amnesty International, the International Crisis Group, the New York Times, CNN, Financial Times, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Human Rights Watch, and representatives of various countries and organizations, satellite images, and many other international media outlets and dominant political analysts are reporting and confirming horrific news of horrendous crimes. The peace and security of the people are miserably jeopardized. Reputable international Medias are revealing the fact that starvation is used as a weapon of war to force and subjugate the people and surrender their hope and democratic rights. The people are being denied access to health services. Sexual abuse and gang-raping are rampant and seen inflicting terrifying physical and psychological pains and post-traumatic stress disorders.


Not only these. The aggressors of the ongoing war in Tigrai have also openly disrespected and breached international law. Thousands of Eritrean Refugees were abducted by the Eritrean Armed Forces from the Shimelba and Hitsats camps in Tigrai which were under the official protection of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The Ethiopian government denied access to these camps and its forces engaged a UN humanitarian team claiming that the team failed to stop at checkpoints.


These all actions of dictators, chauvinists, and pathological liars are challenging the solemn duties of the UN.  However, despite the availability of vast irrefutable indicators and evidence, the UN is still hesitant to act. It is struggling to decide. What is hindering the UN from taking the matter seriously? How many innocent people should be massacred, tortured, gang-raped, and displaced before the UN acts?  Why is the UN sluggish to do independent analysis and investigation? Does the UN have to wait for a threshold of over 800,000 innocent lives to be inhumanly and savagely massacred before the UN passes a decision and moves into action? Is the UN waiting until peoples' historical and cultural heritages religious places, economic systems, infrastructures, and social services are decimated altogether?


Otherwise, the ongoing war in Tigrai is a scenario that rightly reflects the UN's failure to perform its functions fairly and expeditiously. In most cases, the UN is slow to respond and pass timely decisions when the very reasons for its existence are turned meaningless and its convictions and obligations, enshrined in the charter, are being challenged and violated. The UN was highly criticized for acting too slow in Rwanda's barbaric act of genocide. Retrospectively, the UN acknowledged its inaction and promised such an experience never to repeat anywhere in the world. Towards this end, the UN Secretary-General issued a press release on 07/04/2004, referenced SG/SM/9197 AFR/893 HR/CN/1077. Parts of the press release goes on saying:


["We must never forget our collective failure to protect at least 800,000 defenseless men, women, and children who perished in Rwanda…. Such crimes cannot be reversed. Such failures cannot be repaired. The dead cannot be brought back to life. So, what can we do? First, we must all acknowledge our responsibility for not having done more to prevent or stop the genocide. Neither the United Nations Secretariat, nor the Security Council, nor the Member States in general, nor the international media, paid enough attention to the gathering signs of disaster. Still less did we take timely action…. When we recall such events and ask, "why did no one intervene?" we should address the question not only to the United Nations, or even to its Member States. No one can claim ignorance. All who were playing any part in world affairs at that time should ask, "what more could I have done? How would I react next time…and what am I doing now to make it less likely there will be a next time?. Perhaps more than any others, those questions have dominated my thoughts, since I became Secretary-General"….If there is one legacy I would most wish to leave to my successors, it is an Organization both better equipped to prevent genocide, and able to act decisively to stop it when prevention fails….Many of my actions as Secretary-General have been undertaken with this in mind. But I know that my efforts are insufficient. The risk of genocide remains frighteningly real…Therefore, as the only fitting memorial the United Nations can offer to those whom its inaction in 1994 condemned to die, and as recommended in 1999 by the Independent Inquiry into the actions of the United Nations during the genocide in Rwanda, I wish today to launch an Action Plan to Prevent Genocide, involving the whole United Nations system"].


The press release further describes the critical need for establishing mechanisms to prevent, protect and warn people from the acts of genocide and other atrocities:

["Prevent armed conflict: genocide almost always occurs during war. Even apparently tolerant individuals, once they engage in war, have categorized some of their fellow human beings as enemies, suspending the taboo which forbids the deliberate taking of human life. And in almost all cases they accept that civilians may also be killed or hurt, whatever efforts are made to limit so-called "collateral damage.


Protect of civilians in armed conflict: The parties to conflict -- not only States but also non-State actors -– need to be constantly reminded of their responsibility, under international humanitarian law, to protect civilians from violence.


Ending impunity: …. reassuring those who live in fear of genocide recurrence, if people who have committed this most heinous of crimes are left at large, and not held to account; …. It is therefore vital that UN build and maintain robust judicial systems…so that, over time, people will see there is no impunity for such crimes.


Early and clear warning: …. If the UN is serious about preventing or stopping genocide in the future, it must not be held back by legalistic arguments about whether a particular atrocity meets the definition of genocide or not. By the time we are certain, it may often be too late to act. We must recognize the signs of approaching or possible genocide so that the UN can act in time to avert it….”].


Besides, the UN created the Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect in 2004 to advise the UN about risks and situations of genocide by collecting and analyzing relevant information on political, human rights, humanitarian, social and economic developments worldwide to identify early warning signs and risks of atrocities.


Unfortunately, the UN doesn't seem to have learned from the past. It doesn't keep its promise. It has failed to proact in Tigrai as it did in Rwanda. It has remained inept and failed to stand at the forefront to coordinate, materialize, and transcend the promise "Never Again" into action. I am not sure what the UN would say this time.  What is hindering the UN from acting promptly to do independent investigations? How many innocent people should be massacred, tortured, gang-raped, and displaced before the UN acts? Does the UN have to wait for a threshold of over 800,000 innocent lives to be inhumanly and savagely massacred before the UN passes a decision? Should the UN wait until peoples' historical and cultural heritages, religious places, economic systems, properties, infrastructures, and social services are destroyed, looted, or confiscated? 


Otherwise, all kinds of documented and undocumented crimes and acts of genocide are being committed in Tigrai. Dictators, pathological liars, and chauvinists are collectively committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The people of Tigrai are crying for help and are living in total darkness, being disconnected from the rest of the world: No Light, no Telephone, and no Internet. Access to a personal bank account, water, and health are denied. Starvation and gang-raping are shockingly and widely used as weapons of war. These are all warning signs and common risk factors that can lead to or enable the commission of crimes of genocide. The facts on the ground clearly and unambiguously indicate that aggressors are committing premeditated war crimes against humanity. According to United Nations, “such crimes do not occur overnight; they require planning and preparation and when no justice is done and no one is punished for perpetrating genocide, such impunity increases the risk of future genocide and crimes against humanity.”


The UN failed to practice the mechanisms created for: Upstream Prevention-taking preemptive measures before a genocide occurs, mainly done using risk assessments to predict genocides; Mid-Stream Prevention-appropriate to apply when genocide is already taking place with the main focus to end the genocide before it progresses further; and Downstream Prevention-appropriate to implement after a genocide has ended intending to prevent another genocide in the future and re-build and restore the community.


Historically, the name “United Nations", coined by U.S President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first used in the declaration of January 1, 1942 when allied powers led by Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union) pledged to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers led by Germany, Italy, and Japan. It officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, when representative countries met and wrote a charter which laid down rules and obligations, binding upon all signatories and mandates the UN to Maintain International Peace and Security, Uphold International Law, Protect Human Rights, Deliver Humanitarian Aid, and Promote Sustainable Development"].


The UN came into existence with solemn duties and issues of utmost importance and desirable intentions. Practically speaking, however, the UN is not seen implementing such duties fairly and expeditiously. Rather, the UN seems busy with its tangled bureaucratic procedures and red tapes. The UN is repeatedly observed to be sluggish in responding at a time when peace and security are endangered, international law is infringed, human rights are violated and suppressed, humanitarian aid is deliberately hampered, and starvation, sex, and raping are used as a weapon to force and suppress peoples' democratic rights.


UN, I respectfully ask you “to put yourself in the victims' shoes for a moment, perhaps it would be easy to feel and understand the level of atrocity and trauma of the people of Tigrai. Dear the UN Secretary-General and each member of the UN community, what will be your feelings when your wife is raped in front of you? How do you feel when your daughter is gang-raped in front of you (mother and father)? What do you think happens when you are ordered and forced to have sex with your family member? How do you feel when your religious places are disgraced, priests are maltreated and killed, monasteries and monks disrespected, and virgin nuns and underage girls raped? How do you feel when your family member is slaughtered like chicken? How do you feel when you lose your families to hooligans’ killings and run homeless, losing all their belongings?”  These all are anomalies to societal norms, painful, inhumane, and mind-boggling acts of lawlessness.


UN, act now! Implement preventive, protective, and early warning systems that you promised post-Rwanda genocide. Don't get bogged down in tangled bureaucratic procedures.


Tigrai will prevail!

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