Op-ed: State-Orchestrated Genocide in Tigray

Op-ed: State-Orchestrated Genocide in Tigray

State-orchestrated genocide is a one-move game: keep doing it. 

Ten months into the genocidal war, there is considerable and credible evidence that war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of genocide have been committed by the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), the Eritrean military, and forces allied to Abiy’s regime. It has also become increasingly clear that there is no military solution, a negotiated ceasefire being the only way to avoid all out catastrophe. But Abiy and his allies are not budging. Instead, the Ethiopian government has doubled down on its efforts to increase the bloodshed, portraying the conflict initially as a quick “law enforcement operation” and later as a war for the country’s survival.

Portraying the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as the enemy of the Ethiopian state and people, Abiy has gone as far as labeling the elected regional party as a terrorist organization, “junta,” and “cancers.” Pro-government media are abuzz with genocidal propaganda. 

While doing this, Abiy continues to promise a more unified Ethiopia and a better tomorrow to the masses after these enemies are destroyed. He is using every method, including fear, to brainwash and force Ethiopian youth to die for a tomorrow that will never come. As the war continues and Abiy desperately holds to power, Abiy and his regional supporters, such as Amhara president Agegnehu Teshager, have gone as far as calling high school and college students to take arms against the TPLF. 

As far as Abiy is concerned, the day Ethiopia’s citizens have the space to think about what happened is a day that should be avoided at any cost. More war and blood has become the only strategy to stay in power and avoid accountability — all leading to more fascism and totalitarianism.

Since the war began, institutionalized impunity for the genocide has taken root. Abiy has declined independent investigations into the war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war on Tigray. Instead, Abiy agreed to allow the Ethiopian Human Rights Commision, a state funded entity, to partner with international organizations to “investigate” crimes in Tigray. There are serious concerns with the validity of such investigations.

Extortion and exploitation have become norms. Since Abiy waged war against the people of Tigray, which has seen many atrocities against Tigrayan civilians, people of Tigrayan ethnicity have been forced out of state organizations, such as Ethiopian Airlines, government agencies, and NGOs. Tigrayan houses have been arbitrarily searched and bank accounts suspended. Many Tigrayans in Addis Ababa are being unjustly detained, forcibly disappeared, and taken to concentration camps without court hearings or formal charges.

Transactionalism has dominated public service and international affairs. Abiy’s administration is more concerned about the support it has for its involvement in a genocidal war than it is about respecting and abiding by international laws and norms. Abiy has blately declined calls for negotiation and peace from concerned neighbors, civil society groups, and respected international actors and/or individuals. Instead, the administration has doubled its efforts to strengthen ties with those that can provide military assistance during the war on Tigray, including Eritrea and Turkey

Social and economic development only happens on state television. Ethiopia’s economy has been decimated. Prior to the war, Ethiopia’s economy was one of the fastest-growing in the region, expanding at an average of 10% a year in the last decade until 2019. The war has made the country almost unlivable. Today, Ethiopia is relying on its war-allies and the diaspora community to fund the war and pay for its expenses. 

All of that will continue, until such a day when the genocidal regime collapses, more often than not in a violent way. 

This is how almost every state-sponsored genocide in history has unfolded. And Ethiopia’s ongoing genocide is following the same path.

HMOmna Tigray External Contributor, September 2021