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Ethnic Profiling of Tigrayan Ethiopians and Genocide in Tigray
IDEA Editorial December 10, 2020


The Institute of Development and Education for Africa (IDEA) has been diligently following and monitoring the Ethiopian conflict since the declaration of war on Tigray by the Abiy Ahmed government on November 4, 2020. We at IDEA, without any bias to any party, are interested to compile data on evidence surrounding ethnic profiling of Tigrayan Ethiopians residing throughout Ethiopia and the genocide now being perpetrated by the Abiy-Isaias combined forces; whatever we present here are reflections of the realities on the ground and supported by valid proofs gathered by journalists or testified by the victims of war, some of whom have now sought refuge in the Sudan.

Ethnic profiling of Tigrayan Ethiopians did not start when Abiy and his cohorts initiated war against the relatively peaceful regional state of Tigray; it actually started early on, that some five years ago, when there were disturbances in the Oromia and Amhara regions, and when Tigrayans were selectively attacked, their property burned down to the ground, and a significant number were forced to go back to Tigray; violent attacks on Tigrayans especially in the Amhara region continued under the watchful eyes of the administrators of this region, and in some cases they themselves incited violence against Tigrayans who were either doing business or who have lived there as professional workers like auto mechanics or store owners; these innocent Tigrayans were blamed for being sympathizers or members of the TPLF, although the majority of them have nothing to do with the TPLF and don’t even associate with any political group. 

Once Abiy Ahmed assumed power on April 2018, it has become standard practice, again to singularly attack Tigrayans, based on the implicit assumption that they are the potential enemies and the supporters of the TPLF. Now, the Abiy ethnic cleansing of Tigrayan Ethiopians has reached a zenith point and is openly demonstrated by imprisoning suspected Tigrayans including businessmen and women, hotel owners, staff members in government offices, and members of the armed forces or collectively known as the Ethiopians Defense Forces (EDF). Before the war on Tigray began, some old guards of the EDF, who happen to be Tigrayan, were forced to retire, and some of them who were in active duty like the former Chief of the Armed Forces, General Se’are Mekonnen, was assassinated on June 22, 2019.
When the war on Tigray began, some seventy former colonels and generals of the EDF were either put under house arrest or charged with treason and awaiting trial; similarly, almost 50% of the Ethiopian Air Force, the cream of this Force, were forced to abandon their jobs, and are now languishing in the prisons of Bishoftu only for being a Tigrayan. In almost all government offices, Tigrayans are forced to leave their jobs, and recently a significant number of Ethiopian Airlines’ employees, who happen to be Tigrayans, have been ethnically profiled and fired. 

At all check points, including airports, Ethiopians with a Tigrigna name are not allowed to go through the security departure points and travel, and now it looks the ethnic cleansing of Tigrayan Ethiopians have reached unbearable proportion when municipal authorities have begun evicting Tigrayans from their homes in such Kebelles like Lideta and Qirqos. Adding insult to injury, Tigrayans in Addis Ababa and other cities will be given ‘yellow cards’ (copycat of the Eritrean gov’t ID cards) in order to distinguish them from other Ethiopians and alienate them from their Ethiopian citizenship. 

The ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans and even the most assiduous purges, however, may ultimately fail to meet the mission and objectives of the Abiy regime, because his forces, who are now engaged in wanton destruction and genocide in Tigray, could be defeated and this whole ethnic profiling could backfire on Abiy and his associates. After all, the Abiy regime may stumble into a wholly unpredictable situation following his disastrous policies, his hate politics, and his warmongering. 

If we want to learn the nature and characteristics of Abiy and Isaias, twin enemies of the Ethiopian people in general and Tigrayans in particular, it is imperative that we pay attention to the identical patterns and secretive covenants of these two regimes; they are both dictators and pompously narcissistic; they are destructive and responsible for war crimes. 

The self-perpetuating cycle of violence perpetrated against all Ethiopians, including the Oromo, the Somali, the Afar, the Wolita, the Qimant, and the Benishangul, is now manifested at its highest point against the people of Tigray; the Abiy government claims that it is out in Tigray against the TPLF leadership, whom he calls criminals, but for all intents and purposes, the war he is conducting is against the people of Tigray. Since the war began, IDEA has learned that civilian areas are targeted by the Ethiopian Air Force, and as we write this editorial some five fighter jets have been downed in Tigray while bombarding civilian areas. Bombarding civilian areas is prohibited by international law, more specifically by the Geneva Convention of Protocol I of 1977, but the Abiy regime could care less about international law.

War crimes are acts that violate international laws, treaties, customs, and practices governing military conflict, and nations and/or regimes that do not abide by these laws will pay the ultimate price and could be charged as war criminals, and what do war crimes entail? According to the United Nations, a war crime is a serious breach of international law committed against civilians or “enemy combatants” during an international or domestic conflict. A war crime also occurs when superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering is inflicted upon an enemy.

Examples of war crimes include killing of hostages, abuse of civilians in occupied territories, abuse of POWs, devastation not justified by military necessity. All these examples have happened against the people of Tigray and is still begin committed by the EDF in all occupied parts of Tigray, including Mekelle, the capital city of the regional state, where recently 39 young men and women were shot and killed, not to mention the Mai Kadra gruesome massacre and the drone attack of civilian town of Worq Amba in Qola Tembien, where 84 innocent people lost their lives. The constant air strikes on villages and towns, especially on the Shire-Shiraro area and Mekelle and its surroundings have had huge impact on the livelihood of the people who were either injured and whose loved ones lost their lives, their farms destroyed, and their institutions, factories, and churches gone forever. While air strikes are best exemplified by the bombardment of St. George church at Enda Yesus and Mekelle University, in which several students were injured and one student died, a good example of shelling and bombardment of civilian areas is that of Eritrean forces attack on Adigrat, the second largest city in Tigray, in which ten people were killed. Same atrocities were committed by the joint forces of EDF and Eritrean troops in the Shiraro area, Adwa, Gerhu Sernay, Emba Seneity where they killed innocent people and killed off peasant animals, as well as destroyed farms. 

On top of the above crimes against humanity, the generally accepted definition of war crimes, also include three categories, including crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and traditional war crimes, and embedded in these crimes are killing of civilians and prisoners, destroying civilian property, perfidy, and rape, all of which were committed against the people of Tigray. 

All the above-mentioned war crimes are conducted by the perpetrators in order to realize their genocidal agenda on the people of Tigray, but IDEA would like to make crystal clear to its subscribers and readers what genocide means and how it is defined in the context of international law.

According to UN sources, genocide was first recognized as a crime against international law in 1946 by the UN General Assembly (A/RES/96-1); codified as an independent crime in the 1948 convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide (the Genocide Convention). The convention has been ratified by 149 states (as of January 2018). For further reading on the genocide and the Genocide Convention, our readers can open the following link:

https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/genocide.shtml what is most important for IDEA and its relevance to the genocide in Tigray is Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: In the present Convention genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, and racial or religious group, as such
a. Killing members of the group
b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
e. Forcibly transforming children of the group to another group
Except for ‘d’ as stated in the above enumeration, ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’, and ‘e’ are applicable to the intent of genocide against the people of Tigray.

Finally, IDEA requests that the UN Security Council should either send observers mission or peacekeeping forces to Tigray or other regional organizations like the African Union (AU) and the European Union (AU) must intervene following a UN mandate. Ultimately, the perpetrators should be charged with war crimes and crime against humanity and brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions of the authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect ethioobserver position. ethioobserver  does not exercise any editorial control over the information therein. ethioobserver cannot accept any responsibility or liability for any actions taken (or not taken) as a result of reading the material displayed.