The Need to Act to Stop the Genocide in Tigray

The Need to Act to Stop the Genocide in Tigray

The tragic reality in Tigray has been going on for almost one year. Since the war began, Tigrayans have been deprived of the very basic necessities that are essential for survival. Although the full story has not been told yet, various international news outlets have reported about the gruesome atrocities perpetrated on Tigrayans, their loved ones, their property, and their cultural and religious heritage. The killings of people of all ages,  the rape of girls as young as five years old and elderly women as old as seventy, the looting and destruction of public and private property — all of these crimes against humanity have been committed and reported on many times by various mainstream media and humanitarian actors. 

International organizations and NGOs have warned of the grave consequences, but no appropriate measure is yet to be taken to stop the atrocities and war crimes. Using the lousy and unjustified excuse that Ethiopia is a sovereign country, the UN and the international community, with the exception of a few NGOs, have declined to intervene, watching from a safe distance the brutal war crimes and genocide being committed against Tigrayans.

Is the sovereignty of a country not about the sovereignty of the people living in it? How can the international community talk about the sovereignty of a country when a narcissistic dictator ethnically targets a specific ethnic group of his own country with a clear goal to wipe them out to the extent that they can’t exist with dignity in their own homeland? As the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) so importantly describes but has failed to enact, sovereignty means nothing when the state does not assure their citizens’ right to live.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has shown his intention to harm the people of Tigray repeatedly in words and actions. Abiy has often used hate-inciting words against Tigrayans. His master plan of ethnically targeting the people of Tigray includes consistently blackmailing and associating them with evil deeds and dubious crimes whose perpetrators couldn’t be identified by law so that the rest of Ethiopians develop fear and hate against Tigrayans.

Abiy has invited the Eritrean Army of brutes to help him vandalize, loot, gang rape, and spread fear amongst the people of Tigray. He has reportedly used chemical weapons to cause so much death and suffering. Abiy has conspired with his Amhara expansionists and Eritrean partners in crime to destroy and loot the livelihoods of Tigrayans. After successfully destroying their livelihoods the evil troika’s next move was to encircle Tigray and make sure that nothing goes into the region while they sealed all borders to prevent people from fleeing for their life with the greater aim to starve as many people as possible to death. All these devilish crimes against humanity, leaving Tigrayans in dehumanizing and dire circumstances, have been observed by international media and humanitarian actors, who continue to warn of the grave consequences if immediate action to stop the blockade is not taken.

The war against Tigray has been given so many names by its masterminds, starting with the infamous law enforcement operation, to a fight against terrorists, to a fight for survival, and to a military training. Whatever the name, the intention is clear: to weaken the people of Tigray to the extent that they can’t claim their human rights, to weaken their self defense capacity, to diminish their morale, and subjugate them once and for all, paving the way to their ultimate subjugation and theft of their motherland.

For Amhara expansionists land grab is at the top of their agenda, while Abiy aspires to stay in power for decades. For the psychopathic Eritrean dictator Isaias Afewerki, it is just about exacting revenge for his humiliating defeat in the 1998 Ethio-Eritrean border war and the fact that the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) kept him successfully away from meddling in Ethiopian internal affairs.

The methods applied to subjugate the people of Tigray are systematic destruction of livelihoods and infrastructure, systematic gender-based violence on women and girls to humiliate and create long term stigma, as well as mass killings of young people to weaken Tigray’s defense capacity. The potentially most fatal move of the genocidal master plan is to encircle Tigray, making sure no one gets out of the region, and keeping the people in the dark without power, telecom, banking services — all while preventing aid from reaching them.

History tells us that all genocidal crimes start with spreading unfounded hate speech against the target group; what has been happening in Tigray is exactly that. Far before the start of the genocidal war, Ethiopian government officials started inciting hate against Tigrayans, referring to them as hyenas, criminals, evils, etc. The hate propaganda was followed by this dehumanizing war.

Having said that, how much more damage must be inflicted to Tigrayans, how many more innocent lives must be sacrificed, before the international community can call the situation for what it is namely a genocide and act accordingly to avert another Rwanda in East Africa?  

The heinous scale of the war crimes committed on Tigarayans has shocked the international society, yet the UN and other responsible bodies have failed take decisive measures to stop the genocide and hold the perpetrators accountable. Unless the international community intervenes to break the tripartite alliance of evil and make it unmistakably clear that Eritrean forces need to immediately withdraw and that the Amhara expansionists need to leave Western Tigray, retreating to their pre-war borders, in more than empty words, a peaceful end of this senseless war is far from happening. The war criminals will continue to massacre innocent civilians with impunity while keeping the whole region under siege.

The international community’s intervention is overdue. The UN and the international criminal court should act swiftly if the lives of millions of Tigrayans means anything to them. Failing to do so, they will be remembered as the passive enablers of a brutal genocide.

Omna Tigray Contributor, October 2021