Minister of Peace in a Time of Genocide
For more than six months, massacres, starvation, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and destruction of essential infrastructure have been widespread across the Tigray region of Ethiopia as a genocide against Tigrayans has taken place. Tigrayans are suffering in silence as telecommunications have been shut-off completely in many areas or intermittently in others. Despite all of these atrocities, the Minister of Peace Muferiat Kamil has been silent, demonstrating complicity in the face of the destruction of a people and region.
The Minister of Peace was directly appointed by the unelected Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Therefore, she is following the command of the federal government and is on the side of the oppressors. A Minister of Peace who truly cares about peace within Ethiopia and greater stability in the Horn of Africa would not allow such horrendous and destabilizing atrocities to occur on her watch.
The primary function of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Peace (MoP) is “to sustain the reforms that Ethiopia is currently undergoing through peace-building measures, establishing and strengthening the rule of law, and building the capacity of peace and security focused sectors.” Yet, the MoP is unequivocally failing in its duties. Protection of civilians has been ignored since the start of the war, as innocent citizens are stuck in the direct line of fire, subject to numerous shellings, shootings, sexual violence, and lootings, and are unable to receive humanitarian aid, as the federal government has restricted access across the region.
In addition to allowing the atrocities to continue, the MoP has denied that the war is still going on. On May 5, 2021, more than six months after the war began, the MoP released a statement regarding Tigray Regional State. The statement included phrases such as “since the completion of the law enforcement operation”, alluding to the war being over. The war is not over and has been raging on since November 2020. The statement focuses on rebuilding while innocent lives are still being taken and people are forced to flee their homes every day.
The genocidal war waged by Ethiopia’s federal and aligned forces against the people of Tigray is very much still on-going. Genocide is occurring under the watch of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Peace. Her job is to safeguard peace, yet peace could not be farther out of reach.
Before any peace processes can begin or even be discussed, there must be an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of troops by all invading parties. The international community must ensure that the MoP ends the current conflict and prevents future conflict from unfolding within Ethiopia. If the MoP is unable to restrict the improper use of arms and military equipment on behalf of the federal government, the international community must step in.
Furthermore, independent investigations must be conducted by external, credible organizations to understand the full, unbiased extent of the situation occurring in Tigray. Reparations for the victims and justice must be pursued. All actors engaging in, responsible for, or allowing these atrocities must be held accountable.
After all conflict has ceased, then post-conflict peacebuilding can be initiated. Post-conflict peacebuilding must engage all actors to ensure equitable negotiations are made. Only then will there be any chance of sustainable peace in Ethiopia.
Omna Tigray Contributor, May 2021