The situation in Tigray from the perspective of an insider
Tigray, the northern region of Ethiopia, has been the the heart of attention since TPLF armies attacked the Ethiopian National Force on Nov 3, 2020 and the Ethiopian government began a law enforcement operation.
The TPLF held the central power for 27 years in Ethiopia, from 1991 to 2018. In the beginning, there were hopes of a bright days that human and democratic rights of Ethiopians will be respected when the TPLF overthrew the DERG regime and took power. However, it did not take long to discover that the story was not very different from the preceding government, as human and democratic rights continued to be violated. The TPLF led government has been accused of catastrophic deaths of civilians, jailing of opposition, ethnicity-based mass killings of Oromo and Amharas, prohibition of fair elections, and much more. It took 27 years of fighting for Ethiopians to overthrow the TPLF led regime from central power. Since losing this power, the TPLF then started to administer the Tigray region of Ethiopia. However, the TPLF leaders knew that, as long as they are not governing the entire country, it’s up to time that they would be held responsible for their atrocious crimes. 80% of the Ethiopian National Army weaponry is kept in the Tigray region. As such, the TPLF attacked the Ethiopian National Force to loot weapons and overthrew the legitimate central government. This is the cause for the current problems in the northern region of Ethiopia.
Since there are a lot of narratives on the situation in Tigray, it takes deeper investigation to find the truth.
This article summarizes the law enforcement operation in Ethiopia from its beginning to current state. The aim of this report is to uncover the truth and portray the real picture of the situation from the perspective of an insider. The report begins with eight facts that anyone who has an interest in the Tigray region should know in order to have a complete perspective of the situation. The report then proposes a solution for the problem in Tigray, the northern region of Ethiopia.
Fact one: TPLF started the war
The TPLF attacked and killed the military of the Ethiopian National Army based in the Tigray region. The purpose of the attack was to loot the national defence armour and overthrow the existing, lawful central government. The Ethiopian government had no choice except for launching a law enforcement operation.
Fact two: TPLF is the real enemy of the Tigray people
The TPLF is the root cause of the current conflict. They are using the people of Tigray as a human shield. They use historic sites and religious places as a strategic war camp. They drive the youths into the war without even giving them enough training and armours. They use children as a human shield while escaping to the jungle. They are the real enemy of the people of Tigray.
Fact three: TPLF had not done any good for Tigray while they were in power for 27 years
The TPLF leaders used the people of Tigray for their own benefit while they were in power for 27 years. Though the TPLF was in power, there was high unemployment rate in Tigray. Tigray has one of the poorest education, health, electric and transportation infrastructure than the rest of Ethiopian regions. If TPLF did no benefit for the people of Tigray while in power, it is impossible to imagine that the TPLF is doing good after losing power and in a rat race. The track record of the group shows that they are a total risk for the Tigray region, the whole of Ethiopia, and the horn of Africa.
Fact four: More than 1.2 million people were in a safety net program (food aid) even before the law enforcement operation in Tigray
According to the United Nation report on food aid in Ethiopia, there were more than 1.2 million people on a consistent food supporting list on the UN safety net food program in Tigray. This shows that the food crisis in Tigray was created under TPLFs leadership. On top of this, the TPLF started the war on November 3, 2020, which was the harvesting time for a majority of farmers in Tigray region. The fighting makes it unfeasible for these farmers to harvest their crops. As the attack on the Ethiopian National Force and the timing of the attack is premeditated and planned by the TPLF, it can be concluded that the TPLF purposely choose the harvesting season to cultivate the existing food crises and to blame the Ethiopian government of hunger on Tigray.
Fact Five: The Ethiopian Government is covering 70% of the cost of the food aid in Tigray.
The fact that the Ethiopian government is covering a significant margin of the cost of food aid in the Tigray region loudly speaks of the government’s commitment to provide the necessary assistance to the Tigray region. The Ethiopian government is also providing full access to humanitarian assistance in the region.
However, amongst the many aid organization who were wailing about access to humanitarian assistance in Tigray, only few actors are involving themselves in the actual aid process. If the international community cares about the hunger crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where is the aid? If the Tigray diaspora really cares about Tigray, then why did they hold hundreds of thousands USD collected by GoFundMe to support the food crisis in Tigray? Lamenting on access to humanitarian assistance in Tigray region by itself is not helping the hungry people in Tigray. Blaming the Ethiopian government for creating a humanmade hunger crises in the Tigray region, while the Ethiopian government is taking the lion share of the aid in Tigray is hypocrisy.
Fact Six: Negotiation with terrorists
The TPLF is registered as terrorist group in the USCIS list. The Ethiopian Parliament also unanimously decided to register the TPLF group as a terrorist. If the US is not negotiating with the terrorist group, then why should the US pressure the Ethiopian government to negotiate with the terrorist group? If the US is allowed to defend its interest from terrorist group outside of its own territory, then why is it a problem when Ethiopia stands to fight the TPLF terrorist group in its own territory?
In fact, this group is the root cause of all the problems in East Africa. Supporting the current Ethiopian government is the only choice to create a stable horn of Africa.
Fact seven: So much deception and lies
There have been a lot of fabricated news initially painting the law enforcement operation in Ethiopia as a genocide. Even CNN reported about a genocide in Ethiopia without showing evidence.
There would be human remains and mass graves if there is a genocide committed in the Tigray region. In fact, the only mass grave and human remain founds is in Mikadera, which was the result of a massacre committed by the TPLF forces , and eyewitness have been found. Even if late, Reuters reported on the genocide in Mikadra which was committed by the TPLF. When the TPLF realized that deceiving the world with genocide was not working, because there is no proof of the claim on the ground, they fabricated another lie. They came up with a “man-made hunger crises in Tigray,” while they are the cause of the hunger by deliberately choosing the harvesting time to provoke war. The truth always wins; their lies didn’t last long because the Ethiopian government gave full access for humanitarian aid in the region. Yet again, they fabricated the “famine in the Tigray region” lie and blamed the government. This also won’t last long. Now, they are claiming that the Ethiopian government is using chemical weapons in Tigray region.
If the Ethiopian government has already concluded the law enforcement operation in Tigray and the remnants of the TPLF is hiding in caves and jungles, then what is the justification for the Ethiopian government to use chemical weapons on its own people? The Ethiopian government has already come under a lot of pressure, how did one think that they want to add additional pressure on themselves by using chemical weapon on its own people? This idea by itself is silly. Using chemical weapons will not benefit the Ethiopian government, the only one who benefit from it is the TPLF. The TPLF fabricated this news because they want the international community to stand against the Ethiopian government. If there is any chemical weapon used in Tigray, then the TPLF should be accountable, not the government.
Fact eight: the Ethiopian government took action on its own military who committed crime while on the law enforcement operation in Tigray
The Ethiopian government is undergoing on investigation of claims of sexual assault and the killing of civilians by its own soldiers. According to the Attorney General of Ethiopia, Dr Gedion Thimotiwos, currently there are 28 charges made on soldiers on the allegation of killing civilians. There are also 25 charges on committing act of sexual violence. So far there has been 4 convictions and several other investigations are underway.
The UN, African Union and the Ethiopian Human Right Commission are jointly investigating all allegation of crimes in the Tigray region. The Ethiopian government gives full collaboration to the joint investigation committee. The Government also showed its commitment to take actions based on the joint investigation committee findings. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr Abiy Ahmed, held a meeting with his Generals in the palace and explicitly made it clear that he will not hesitate to take measures on those who were involved in crime against humanity in the Tigray region.
The role of the Ethiopian Government and the public
The people of Tigray are the ones suffering in this ongoing conflict. They are the one paying the price, instead of the TPLF. Everyone agrees that this is not fair nor acceptable by any means. Hence, all Ethiopians and the international community should stand together to stop the suffering of the people of Tigray by making the TPLF accountable and ending its darkness in the region.
The remaining Ethiopian region needs to continue showing their solidarity to the people of Tigray. All Ethiopians should stand together to condemn all crimes against humanity committed in the Tigray region. All involved in such actions should be held accountable and brought to justice. All Ethiopians should call for fair investigation of all allegations in the region. Both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments should show their commitment and willingness to discipline their troops who acted unlawfully during the law enforcement operation in Tigray.
All Ethiopians should stand together to rebuild Tigray. Fund raising, volunteering in the regions, donating clothing and foods and raising awareness should be the day-to-day responsibility of Ethiopians. The responsibility of the Ethiopian diaspora community is enormously significant in this time. Raising money should not be a one-time job, it should be a continued and consistent process. A government cannot do it alone.
This is also a critical time to all Ethiopians to show love, respect, support, and compassion to their Tigrayan compatriots. This is what will bring healing in the region. Government officials and the Ethiopian public should be cautious when making a statement regarding the region. Differentiating between the TPLF and the people of Tigray should be the heart of the statement. The public should show its support for Tigray more than showing its hatred of the TPLF.
The role of the international community
The international community needs to work with the Ethiopian government by respecting Ethiopian sovereignty. All humanitarian actors need to stop playing politics while staking the lives of people in Tigray. Activism and humanitarianism are different. The government of Ethiopia gives full access to all humanitarian actors in the region. Hence, asking for access for humanitarian actors is nonsense.
The international community needs to know the TPLF strategy, which is lies and deception. Fact checking all information and the reputation of the sources of information is key to finding the truth in the region. All incoming information is not news unless they are confirmed or verified by experts. This is especially true of the Western media and humanitarian actors who have their own interest in Ethiopia.
A strong Ethiopia means a strong horn Africa. Ethiopia is the only country who fought the extremist Al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia. Weak Ethiopia means strong Al-Shabaab. Ethiopia is a leading contributor for the UN peace keeping in Africa with over 8,300 uniformed personnel, the vast majority of them serving in Darfur (UNAMID), Abyei (UNISFA) and South Sudan (UNMISS). Creating a weak Ethiopia will destabilise the horn of Africa. The international community failed Libya, Yemen and Syria, Let us make it right this time while we have the chance in Ethiopia.