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The Tigrayan genocide

The Tigrayan genocide


Alemseged Abbay



Tigrayans defeated Ethiopia’s Marxist junta, Derg, in 1991 and transformed the country from a posterchild of war and famine into a land of peace and economic miracle by 2018. However, the US was discontented with the developmental state model which put Ethiopia closer to China. Nor were the Amhara pleased with ethnic federalism that ended Ethiopia’s image of what the British-Czech scholar of nationalism, Ernst Gellner, described as “a prison of nationalities, if there was one.”


In 2018, the US found the opportunity to install its client, the unknown quantity Abiy Ahmed, in power. Abiy rushed to “normalize” relations with Tigray’s mortal enemy, Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea. Just as Wutchale Treaty (1889) between Italy and the Amhara emperor of Ethiopia, Menelik II, was not just about friendship and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (1939) was not all about non-aggression, the Isaias-Abiy Pact (2018) was not just about “normalizing” relations.  Italy and the Amhara decided to partition Tigray among themselves, the norther half going to Italy and the southern half staying with the Amhara. The sale of what was going to become Eritrea earned Menelik military and monetary payoff. In the case of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, Poland was divided into two, the eastern part going to the USSR and the western part going to Nazi Germany. Similarly, the Abiy-Isaias Pact was primarily about devouring Tigray. Cunning Isaias was delighted to find a pliant Abiy for a partner in genocide. For this rapprochement, Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize, which Donald Trump unabashedly ridiculed, because he believed that he was the one who deserved it. Who would blame him for being too logical? Should not the king maker, rather than the king, deserve to win it?


Visionless, Abiy chose to play the anti-Tigrayan ethnic card to win the support of the disgruntled unitarian Amhara political elite. Along with the Amhara militia, Fano (akin to Interahamwe and Janjaweed), Abiy organized a multi-national coalition—Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and UAE, to downsize Tigray-- economically, geographically, and demographically. As early as 2018, all land communication to and from Tigray was closed so that Tigray could starve to submission. Just like der lebensraum was one of the driving forces for Germany to commit genocide in 1904 (SW Africa) and the 1940s (holocaust), the Eritrean and Amhara expansionists wanted to truncate and annex western and southern Tigray, respectively.

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The war broke out in complete news blackout on November 4, targeting civilians, livestock, farm crops, and infrastructures. In a life-negating testament, like the one given by the German von Trotha against the Herero of S.W. Africa (1904), Abiy went on TV to announce that he was going to bomb urban centers, and people had no choice but to save themselves. One of his military officer, too, proudly bragged that, the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, was surrounded by tanks and it was going to be shelled with “no mercy.” Following drone attacks which possibly used poison gas, air bombardment, artillery shelling by the multi-national coalition forces, the army along with the Fano moved in to kill civilians indiscriminately. In the “slaughterhouse” of Mai Kadra, around 1000 Tigrayans were killed with machetes and axes, fulfilling two objectives of the genocide: downsizing Tigray’s demography and geography. Mai Kadra was Deir Yasin (1948) and Srebrenica (1995), all at the same time. Just like the Irgun and Lehi Zionist militia conducted massacres and ethnic cleansing in Deir Yasin to change its demographic looks, the Fano wanted Tigrayans to vanish so that Western Tigray becomes Amhara. What happened in Mai Kadra, however, was the tip of the iceberg. As in Srebrenica, where the Servs massacred some 7000 young Bosnian Muslims, it was designed to downsize the demography of Tigray.


Twenty first century’s unprecedented and most unimaginable atrocities are being committed in Tigray. Young people are “slaughtered like chicken.” They are herded to numerous “slaughterhouses,” where they can be heard screaming while being killed. A mother had to watch all her five children machine gunned. A refugee in the Sudan watched his 11-year-old son machinegunned. The educated elite, such as the lecturers of Adigrat and Axum universities are targeted. The economic elite are also hunted. As in the case of the Armenian genocide, this is intended to deprive Tigray of its economic, political, and intellectual leadership. Hunting the young is intended to strip the Tigray adi abo of its future.


As in Rwanda, no holy place can be a haven in Tigray. In the Cathedral of St. Mary at Axum, 800 believers were killed. Towns are emptied, villages flattened, and corpses left on the streets to be “eaten by hyenas.” Young girls and women are gang-raped before execution or deportation to arid wastelands such as the Tekezze. Deportations are warrant of death as what von Trotha did with the Herero (1904) and the Ittihadists (1915) with the Armenians. The Germans were raping girls and women before killing them or deporting them to the Omaheke Desert. The Turks subjected Armenian girls and women to similar abuse before killing them or pushing them to the Syrian Desert. Tigrayans are subjected to similar ordeal. As Serbs impregnated Bosnian Muslim women to humiliate them, Tigrayan girls and women are forcibly being impregnated by the Amhara men and being forced to have sex with family members.


Immediate action is needed to stop the genocide. In 1994, the Republican Senator, Bob Dole, and the Democrat National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake, agreed that the US had no self-interest to stop the genocide in Ruanda. Tigray, like Ruanda, is in Africa—Donald Trump’s “shit hole”. If it were in Europe, like Bosnia, US planes would be pounding Asmara and Addis Ababa, as what they did with Slobodan Milošević’s Belgrade, to capture the perpetrators of genocide, Isaias Afwerki and Abiy Ahmed, and give them The Hague as a domicile.


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