San Jose, Calif., November 27, 2020 – EAC is extremely concerned by TPLF’s (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) continued disregard for civilian impact, as demonstrated by their strategy of hiding among civilians in the city of Mekele and using schools, religious sites, and hotels as their hideouts. EAC is alarmed by TPLF’s use of innocent civilians of other ethnicities as well as the residents of Mekele as human shield, a war crime.
EAC Calls for Support of Efforts to Push for Peaceful Surrender of TPLF Leadership The Ethiopian-American Council of North America (EAC), an advocate for political change in Ethiopia and the protection of human rights for Ethiopian-Americans and other members of the Ethiopian Diaspora, respectfully calls on the international community to champion efforts to avoid civilian casualties, by pressuring TPLF’s leadership to surrender peacefully and end their unlawful use of civilians as human shield.
TPLF has shown itself to be the epitome of brutality and corruption when in power, and a merchant of terror and chaos when not in power. Bringing them to justice is a key prerequisite to stabilizing a region of over 130 million people.
Why It’s Critical to Get it Right When it Comes to Ethiopia
According to a November 19, 2020 briefing by Tibor Nagy US Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs : “Ethiopia, most especially since Prime Minister Abiy has taken power, is the linchpin in the region, of course, with over a hundred million people and a 2,000-year-old history as a state – the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa that was never colonized. It is a key strategic partner for the United States.”.1 He also adds “the United States very much wants Ethiopia to be able to continue playing a positive role in the region, exporting stability, and hopefully at some point in the not-too-distant future prosperity as well”. Ambassador Raynor confirms “Ethiopia is basically a net exporter of security to the broader region”
TPLF on the other hand is an ethnic based terrorist group who seeks the advancement (as clearly stated in its name) of Tigreans who represent 6% of the population of a nation with over 80 ethnicities. They only way such a small minority could consolidate power is clearly through a divide and rule strategy. TPLF re-drew the map of Ethiopia along ethnic lines and forced all citizens to identify themselves on their ID by their ethnicity for the first time in their history. They particularly targeted the Amhara ethnicity and fabricated false narratives that portray the Amhara in particular (about 30% of the population) as being historic enemies of other ethnicities especially the Oromo. This led to hundreds of gruesome killings of Amhara civilians for over 15 years.2 In addition hundreds of Anuak were murdered and thousands displaced so their fertile land could be given to foreign investors.3
Having thus divided the country, as documented by Foreign Policy, TPLF dominated not just the military but the economy as well and hundreds if not thousands of TPLF leaders and loyalists miraculously became multi-millionaires and in some cases billionaires, while the poor country reeled from massive debt. 4 This level of injustice against 94% of the population of the second most populous country in Africa can only lead to mass upheaval. TPLF will turn Ethiopia into a net exporter of instability which is fertile ground for other terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and Al Shabab.
TPLF has shown itself to be capable of unspeakable atrocities against innocent civilians. This includes the gruesome ISIS style killings of over 500 civilians on November 12, 2020 as reported by Amnesty International 5 and Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. 6. From this report it is clear that the civilians were targeted for being ethnic Amharas (about 30% of the population). These civilians were migrant workers and were targeted specifically for their Amhara ethnicity. In addition, per Assistant Secretary Naggy “The TPLF leadership has admitted responsibility for the November 13 missile launches at airports in Bahir Dar and Gondar, in the Amhara region, and the November 14 attack in Eritrea. These unacceptable attacks make the situation more dangerous, and the Secretary condemned them in his most recent statement”. 1. Though western media reports that it is unclear who the perpetrators of this genocide were, both the Amnesty EHRC reports are clear it was committed by retreating TPLF soldiers and in Mr Nagy’s briefing he also states “We remain deeply concerned over reports that civilians have been purposely targeted and attacked. We condemn the November 12 massacre in Mai-Kadra, apparently perpetrated by TPLF soldiers and militia as they retreated from the town.
The Lead-up to the Law-Enforcement Operation on Tigray
Ethiopia as one of the poorest countries was already stretched to the limit fighting COVID, locust invasion of historic proportion, waves of ethnic based massacres of Amharas, Gurages, Gamo and massive internal displacement of people, diplomatic battles with Egypt on the GERD Dam, etc. It would be ludicrous for the government to stretch itself further by starting a conflict in Tigray. Clearly it was forced to respond to endless attacks by TPLF.
TPLF lost power in Ethiopia in April 2018 following mass upheavals by Oromo and Amhara youth who were fed up of 27 years of oppression by a small minority. TPLF officials retreated to Tigray to orchestrate a return to the seat of power.
Since 2018 Abiy had been taking a very conciliatory approach to the TPLF, and though he arrested some of the most corrupt TPLF members including generals, the vast majority of them and their huge business interest remained untouched, presumably so as not to cause destabilization in the country. Prime Minister Abiy continued to preach his message of inclusiveness per his philosophy of “Medemer”. 7 Dismissing this message of peace, starting in 2019 TPLF officials from their hideout in Tigray, used their vast stolen wealth to train and sponsor terror squads (mostly Oromo extremists known as OLF-Shene). A Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis confirms that TPLF was funding these acts of genocidal terrorism. 8 They were able to target Amhara citizens living in all areas of the country as ethnicity is indicated on their ID as mandated by TPLF law. There were hundreds of people including women and children who were savagely killed in ISIS style executions, hangings, beheadings, butchering by machetes etc. Though only some of these massacres were reported in the media including by Bloomberg and The Guardian, there were multiple waves of these killings, spreading terror among civilians. 9,10 Oromo extremists also targeted the Gamo, Gurage and other ethnicities and even Oromos if they were Orthodox Christians. Scores of people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. For the last 3 months all Ethiopians have been horrified to hear daily reports of savage ethnic based killings and fearing we were heading the way of Rwanda.
From April 2018 to September 2020 Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as well as civilian good-will groups such as “Mothers for Peace” as well as a group of Elders made a total of over 14 attempts to bring TPLF into the fold. 11
It was clear that Prime Minister Abiy’s message of inclusiveness and love was lost on the brutes of TPLF and OLF-Shene, the massacres continued. Traumatized by the un-ending waves of terror and barbaric reports of hundreds of civilians being butchered by OLF-Shene with the training and financial backing of TPLF, Ethiopians demanded the Prime Minister stop his preaching and start taking action to bring about rule of law. The Prime Minster refused to take military action to avoid the horrors and civilian cost it would entail.
In September 2020 The Prime Minster changed the currency of Ethiopia to, among other things, render null and void the sacks of cash TPLF had stashed all over the country to fund their terror operation of having OLF-Shene target and massacre villains of specific ethnicities, mostly Amharas but also including Gurages and others.
Emboldened by the lack of military action, TPLF attacked the Northern Command Post of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) stationed in Tigray on November 3, 2020, killing hundreds of unsuspecting soldiers of the ENDF, a move condemned by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 12 These soldiers had just helped the local civilians in Tigray fight a locust invasion of historic proportions, and their reward was to be brutally murdered as they slept (betrayed by their own Tigrean general who coordinated the attack with TPLF forces). With this attack TPLF crossed the final red line and prompted the bombings by the Ethiopian military. To Ethiopians the question was why it took so long to bring the criminals to justice.
Since the start of the law-enforcement operation, while the Ethiopian forces are doing everything to avoid civilian casualties, TPLF has clearly been targeting civilians as well as trying to internationalize the conflict. The horrifying Mai-Kadra massacre of over 500 civilians is case in point as reported by Amnesty International 3 and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.