Addis Ethiopia Weblog

Ethiopia's World / የኢትዮጵያ ዓለም

Archive for April 15th, 2021

Top Ethiopia Health Official Alleges ‘Sexual Slavery’ in Tigray

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 15, 2021

Health officials say Ethiopian troops and their allies have been forcing women into sexual slavery in the Tigray region. That is after the conflict began there last year when Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed ordered an offensive. Thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced. Now, a woman’s story of surviving gang rape offers an insight into the sexual violence against women in Tigray and the Ethiopian military’s involvement. A warning – some viewers may find the information in this story distressing.

__________________________________

Posted in Ethiopia, Health, Infos | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

‘Kept in Sexual Slavery’: Tigrayan Women Report Horrific Violence by Oromara Troops of Ethiopia

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 15, 2021

በጾታዊ ባርነት ተይዘዋል’ የትግራይ ሴቶች በኢትዮጵያ የኦሮማራ ወታደሮች የተፈጸመውን ዘግናኝ ግፍ ሪፖርት አደረጉ 😠😠😠 😢😢😢

🔥 አጥፉ ፣ ደምሥ ፣ አስገድደህ ድፈር ፣ ዝረፍ፣ ያዝ! ይህ ነው የአረመኔው ግራኝ አብይ አህመድ በትግራይ ላይ የሚያደርገው ጦርነት!

🔥 Destroy, Exterminate, Rape, Steal, Annex! That’s evil Abiy Ahmed’s war on Tigray!

🔥 It’s Rape Jihad against Tigray (RapeMadan)– የዋቄዮአላህ ሰአራዊት የአስገድዶ መድፈር ጂሃድ በትግራይ። በጣዖታዊው ረመዳን ደግሞ ገና ብዙ ግፍ እናያለን። ትግራዋያን እና ኤርትራውያን ኢሳያስ አፈቆርኪን እና ግራኝ አህመድን ባፋጣኝ መድፋት ግዴታቸው ነው። በጦርነት “ማጥቃት” የሚባል ነገር አለ፤ ስለዚህ ሕዝባችሁን የምትወዱ ከሆነ በትግራይ ብቻ ጦርነቱን መከላከል ብቻ በቂ አይደለምና ወደ አስመራና አዲስ አበባ ዛሬውኑ ዝመቱ፤ አሥር ሰው ብቻ በቂ ነው። ችሎታውና ብቃቱ እንዳላችሁ እናውቃለን!

The young mother was trying to get home with food for her two children when she says soldiers pulled her off a minibus in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, claiming it was overloaded.

It was the beginning of an 11-day ordeal in February, during which she says she was repeatedly raped by 23 soldiers who forced nails, a rock and other items into her vagina, and threatened her with a knife.

Doctors showed Reuters the bloodstained stone and two 3-inch nails they said they had removed from her body.

The woman, 27, is among hundreds who have reported that they were subjected to horrific sexual violence by Ethiopian and allied Eritrean soldiers after fighting broke out in November in the mountainous northern region of Ethiopia, doctors said.

Some women were held captive for extended periods, days or weeks at a time, said Dr. Fasika Amdeselassie, the top public health official for the government-appointed interim administration in Tigray.

Women are being kept in sexual slavery,” Fasika told Reuters. “The perpetrators have to be investigated.”

Reports of rape have been circulating for months. But Fasika’s assertion, based on women’s accounts, marks the first time an Ethiopian official – in this case, a top regional health officer – has made a sexual slavery accusation in connection with the conflict in Tigray.

In addition, eight other doctors at five public hospitals told Reuters that most of the rape victims described their attackers as either Ethiopian government soldiers or Eritrean troops. It was more common for women to report sexual violence by Eritrean soldiers, the doctors said.

The Eritreans have been helping Ethiopia’s central government fight the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), in the conflict plaguing the Horn of Africa nation.

Taken together, the descriptions paint the most detailed picture to date of the sexual violence against women in Tigray and the military’s alleged involvement in it.

Most people interviewed for this article declined to be identified. They said they feared reprisals, including possible violence, by soldiers who guard the hospitals and towns.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed acknowledged in a speech to parliament on March 23 that “atrocities were being committed by raping women” and promised that the perpetrators would be punished. He did not identify the alleged perpetrators.

He said then for the first time that Eritrean soldiers had entered the conflict in Tigray in support of the Ethiopian government after the TPLF attacked military bases across the region in the early hours of Nov. 4. Ethiopia’s government had previously denied this, and the Eritrean government still does not acknowledge their troops’ presence. The TPLF was the dominant power in the central government when Eritrea fought a bloody border war with Ethiopia a generation ago.

Neither the Ethiopian nor the Eritrean governments responded to Reuters’ questions about specific cases raised by women and their doctors, or about the accusation of sexual slavery. No charges have been announced by civilian or military prosecutors against any soldiers. However, officials in both countries emphasized that their governments have zero tolerance for sexual violence – a point Abiy’s spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, said the prime minister reiterated recently in discussions with military leaders.

The alleged sexual violence has drawn international attention.

Billene said the United Nations, the African Union and Ethiopia’s state-appointed human rights commission have been authorized to carry out joint investigations into alleged abuses by all sides in the conflict. That includes the “criminal clique,” she said, referring to the TPLF.

An Ethiopian military spokesman and the head of a government task force on the Tigray crisis did not respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment. Reuters could not reach military leaders in either country.

Asked about the reports that Eritrean troops have committed rapes in Tigray and are keeping women in sexual slavery, the country’s information minister, Yemane Gebremeskel, accused TPLF activists of “coaching ‘sympathizers’ to create false testimonies.”

All the fabricated stories – which are alien to our culture and laws – are peddled to cover up the crimes of the TPLF which started the war,” he told Reuters in a written response.

Reuters was unable to reach a TPLF spokesman.

RECORDS OF ABUSE

Fasika, the health official, said at least 829 cases of sexual assault have been reported at the five hospitals since the conflict in Tigray began.

Those cases were likely “the tip of the iceberg,” Fasika said. Rape is under-reported in Ethiopia because it carries a huge stigma. Also, most of the region’s health facilities are no longer functioning, and travel between towns remains dangerous, he said.

Most of the women who have come forward are either pregnant or sustained severe physical injury from the rapes, Fasika said.

Reuters interviewed 11 women who said they had been raped by soldiers from Eritrea, Ethiopia or both. Four said they were kidnapped, taken to military camps and gang raped, in some cases alongside other women. The women did not know the camp names but said they were located near Mekelle and the towns of Idaga Hamus, Wukro and Sheraro.

Five other women said they were held in fields or deserted houses for up to six days. And two said they were raped in their own homes.

Reuters could not independently verify their accounts. However, all told similar stories of being beaten and brutalized. Healthcare providers confirmed that the 11 women’s injuries were consistent with the events they described, and they showed Reuters medical records for three of the women detailing their conditions.

The health care providers also shared details of nine other cases of sexual assault, including the ordeals of two 14-year-old girls.

Although Ethiopia’s government declared victory over the TPLF in November, fighting continues in some areas, and medical workers say new rapes are reported at the region’s health facilities every day.

This is being done to dishonour the women, to break their pride,” said a doctor at Ayder Referral Hospital, in Mekelle, citing the brutality of the attacks and humiliation of victims. “This is not for sexual gratification. The rapes are to punish Tigray.”

TELL MY STORY’

The 27-year-old mother said uniformed soldiers from Eritrea pulled her off a minibus on the road from Mekelle to the city of Adigrat on Feb. 6. They tied her up and marched her through fields to a bush camp, she said. After 11 days of rapes and beatings, she said, the soldiers forced nails, cotton, plastic bags and a rock into her vagina and left her alone in the bush.

Villagers found her unconscious and brought her to a nearby hospital.

She said she was still bleeding from severe internal injuries and could not control her urine, walk without a crutch or sit up for long periods. One leg was broken, she said.

She also described a different kind of pain: While in the hospital, she has no way to speak to her 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter because the Eritrean soldiers took her cellphone. She had left the children with her mother to search for food and never returned. At the time, the family had less than a week’s worth of bread.

I don’t know anything, if they are dead or alive,” she said. “The enemy destroyed my life.”

A 32-year-old mother in Mekelle told Reuters that soldiers removed her from a minibus on the same road at the end of February. They were dressed in Ethiopian uniforms, she said, but spoke with an Eritrean accent and had traditional facial scarification typical of the neighbouring country. She said they shot her 12-year-old son dead in front of her, then brought her to a camp where she was held with other female captives and repeatedly raped for 10 days.

Tell my story,” she said. “This is happening to women out there right now. I want this to end with me.”

A 28-year-old house cleaner said soldiers grabbed her from a street in Mekelle on the afternoon of Feb. 10 and took her to a field outside a military base where she was raped by more than 10 men wearing Ethiopian or Eritrean uniforms.

Wiping away tears, she said that during her two-week ordeal, soldiers doused her with alcohol and mocked her as they assaulted her. She escaped when her captors were distracted by gunfire, she said.

SHOT FOR RESISTING

The government has set up a task force separate from the human rights commission to investigate the reports of sexual violence. Its head, Mebrihit Assefa, said the body includes representatives from the regional health bureau, the attorney general’s office and federal police.

The task force plans to set up five centres where rape survivors can file reports with law enforcement and receive medical and psychosocial support.

Our prosecutors (and) police officers are there to investigate all crimes committed, including sexual violence,” said Awol Sultan, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.

He did not respond to questions about the women alleging they were raped during captivity, or whether prosecutors were in touch with either the Eritrean or Ethiopian militaries. The results of the criminal investigations will be released publicly at an unspecified date, he said.

Abera Nigus, the head of Tigray’s justice bureau, said the legal process was likely to be complicated because most courts are not functioning in Tigray, and many rape victims cannot identify their assailants.

Knowing their rapists are still at large also has discouraged women from seeking help, doctors said.

Many of the women who sought treatment at hospitals had vaginal and anal tears, sexually transmitted diseases and injuries that rendered them incontinent, said the Ayder hospital doctor, an obstetrician gynecologist. The doctor shared notes from 11 cases the hospital had treated involving women raped by soldiers.

One woman had been gang raped on three separate occasions, according to the hospital notes.

Another was five months pregnant when she was raped, the notes indicate. Two 14-year-old girls were sexually assaulted in front of their families. One girl had a hand and foot amputated.

She had been shot for resisting her assailant.

Source

________________________________________

Posted in Ethiopia, Health, Infos, Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ዋዉ! How I Found Myself in the Tigrayan Struggle: The Story of a Tigrayan in Addis Ababa

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 15, 2021

💭 በትግራይ ትግል ውስጥ እራሴን እንዴት እንዳገኘሁ ፥ “ኧረ ኡ! ! !” የሚያሰኝ በአዲስ አበባ የአንድ የትግራይ ተወላጅ ታሪክ

፻/ 100% ትክክለኛና እውነተኛ!

ትግራዋያን ውጥንቅጥ፣ አስቀያሚ እና ቆሻሻ የነበረችውን የአዲስ አበባ ከተማን ሥነ ሥርዓት አስይዘው፣ አሳምረውና አጽድተው አስረከቧችሁ፤ ኦሮማራዎች ግን ትግሬዎችን ከአዲስ አበባ አባርረውና ተክትለዋቸው በመሄድ የትግራይን ከተሞች አወደሙባቸው፣ ዓብያተ ክርስቲያናቱንና ገዳማቱን፣ ትምህርት ቤቶቻቸውንና ሆስፒታሎቻቸውን ሁሉ አፈራረሱባቸው፣ ሰብሎቻቸውንና የእህል ጎተራዎቻቸውን አቃጠሉባቸው፣ ውሃውን በከሉባቸው፣ በብዙ መቶ ሺህ የሚቆጠሩትን ዜጎቻቸውን ጨፈጨፏቸው፣ በብዙ ሺህ የሚቆጠሩትን ሴቶቻቸውንና ህፃናቶቻቸውን አስገድደው ደፈሩባቸው። ምስጋና-ቢስ ኦሮማራዎች፤ ሰነፎች፣ ደካሞች፣ ከንቱዎች፣ የጥላቻ ፋብሪካዎች፣ ምቀኞች፤ አቤት ቅሌታችሁ!

አቤት መቅሰፍቱ የሚጠብቃችሁ! ወዮላችሁ! ወዮላችሁ! ወዮላችሁ!

I am not a great writer, and under normal circumstances, I would not be writing about this. However, I have realized that when it comes to Ethiopia, staying quiet hasn’t benefited Tigrayans. With the genocidal war waged on Tigray on November 4, 2020, I feel the need to speak up.

This is not a special story. It is one that is common among Tigrayans in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In the past year, I have realized that I have lived in a fantasy world all my life. I grew up thinking that Ethiopia was home to a perfectly diverse, peace-loving, and progressive population. I am now amazed by how out of touch I was from the dark history and reality of Ethiopia.

My parents are Tigrayans and I was born and raised in Addis Ababa. My family is middle class at best. My parents worked hard to provide us with a quality education and to put food on the table. Up until my twenties, my connection to Tigray was limited to sending books, pens, and clothings to relatives in Tigray.

I was a typical Addis Ababaian. My family was too. We assimilated, unconsciously conforming to the culture, language, and lifestyle of the city. We celebrated ‘Abebayosh’ (a more typical Amhara celebration) more than ‘Ashenda’ (a Tigrayan festival). We sang and danced to “Menilik Tikur Sew” and “Ethiopia hagere yedefersh yiwdem,” and other songs that were pro-Ethiopian nationalism. Little did I know that I was singing and dancing to songs that would be used as background music to the decimation of my own people – Tigrayan people.

As a member of the Tigrayan population in Addis Ababa, I now feel deeply betrayed by both communities. I blame my parents and relatives for not teaching me Tigray’s history and for not telling me what Tigrayans went through in the past.

I also feel betrayed by the people in my hometown, the city I was born and raised in, that now sees me and my parents as the “enemy.” The truth came out in pieces … and then slowly flooded our homes and hearts with blood.

My upbringing as a Tigrayan in Addis Ababa…

I grew up aware of my Tigrayan identity. I was raised to respect the dynamic identity of populations in Ethiopia. I was raised to be conscious of others’ feelings, emotions and to not offend anyone in our community.

Retrospectively, I am not going to deny the fact that I had my own implicit biases against people from outside of Addis Ababa. For example, my friends and I often laughed at non-city sounding names. I had my own biases against every ‘non-Addis Ababian’ (non-urban) person. It was all fun and jokes at the time, but I believe those small implicit biases contribute to the bigger problems we see today.

Ethiopia’s university system draws students from across the country to new areas in hopes of creating appreciation for the country’s diversity. Now, as I witness students who once studied at Mekelle University (in Tigray’s capital) cheering for the destruction of Mekelle or Tigray, I can’t help but wonder if education or cultural integration through universities failed to address the root cause of the problem.

2005 Election

As I think back, there were always signs of what was to come. One of my best friends once said to me, “Tegrewochu yihidulin” (we want Tigrayans out). We were in middle school. He wasn’t the brightest kid, he never really paid attention in our civic or history classes. His parents appeared to be loving people. I wondered what they taught him at home behind closed doors.

There were protests throughout the city against the outcome of the elections. It did not take long for me to realize that Tigrayans were being scapegoated for the problems.

Many were chanting, “Tigre wede Mekelle” (deport Tigrayans to Mekelle). My Tigrayan friends and I were shocked. We knew our parents were from Tigray, but we had no clue what they did to deserve deportation. None of us had been to Mekelle at that time, so it felt somewhat foreign.

What happened during the protests was utter chaos. My most vivid memory was of the fear in my father’s eyes when he came to pick me up from school during one of the protests in Addis Ababa. I could see he felt threatened, unsafe, and concerned about the future.

Although I was young, I too felt the uncertainty, the rush, the panic.

“Many were chanting, “Tigre wede Mekelle” (deport Tigrayans to Mekelle). My Tigrayan friends and I were shocked. We knew our parents were from Tigray, but we had no clue what they did to deserve deportation.”

ESAT: The media that spread hate against Tigray and Tigrayans

The flames of ethnic tension in 2005 continued to be fanned by Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT).

ESAT journalists shared conspiracy theories, and demonized Tigrayans every day. Ethiopians, ate it up!

In my home, we were not allowed to watch TV, though on occasion we watched some family oriented shows. Our parents wanted us to focus on our studies. I had never heard of ESAT. It was never brought up in conversation with friends and we never really discussed politics. I thought all of our problems could be solved if we were educated together. I had no clue what the rest of Addis Ababa was being fed day in and day out until recently.

The first time I learned about ESAT in 2016, it came with a warning from my cousin who lived in the United States. She told me to keep my “eyes open.” She mentioned that Tigrayans were being targeted in the media – especially on ESAT. There was apparently a Youtube video on “How to shoot a Tigrayan in the leg” and that ESAT released a statement to challenge the Ethiopian people to fight Tigrayans who made up 5 million of Ethiopia’s 95 million population at that time. I dismissed it and thought “diasporas are crazy, man. No one is going to do that.”

But I was wrong…

Following ESAT’s call for solidarity against Tigrayans in 2016, Universities became a hit zone for Tigrayans, and later they became a crime scene for everyone. So many despicable things happened, including the killing of innocent Tigrayans, the removal of Tigrayan students’ eyes, and the burning of Tigrayan homes in Gondar that launched the internal displacement of Tigrayans from different parts of Ethiopia. There was a systematic demonizing and persecution of Tigrayans all over Ethiopia.

The same friend who said, “we want the Tigrayans out,” in middle school, said that the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) made Ethiopians racist. The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was a key member of the EPRDF coalition and Tigrayans were often associated with the EPRDF regime and its doings.

Other people also joined the chorus.

“You don’t think Tigrayans benefited from the system?” or “By the way, I like the people of Tigray but not TPLF…” said the same person who is denying the rape and death of civilians during the genocidal war today.

Our Addis Ababian friends were quick to tell us about Tigrayans’ experience in Addis Ababa. They didn’t want to hear what we had to say. If we had anything positive to say about Tigray or Tigrayans, some of them went as far as telling us that we were brainwashed and lied to by our Tigrayan community elders.

Slowly, I stopped engaging with friends about the Tigrayan struggle for equality in Ethiopia. They believed the accusations made about Tigrayans on ESAT more than they believed their own friends.

I am not going to defend the EPRDF regime for its oppressive reputation, but the party did not represent Tigrayans nor work for the Tigrayan population alone. Tigrayans were members of the community receiving the same services as others. We were no different. Money didn’t rain in Tigray or in our homes, but the way others portrayed it made it seem like each one of us was receiving gold chains for every breath we took.

“We supported the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and we gave

Ethiopia was one of the fastest growing economies during the EPRDF regime, but Tigrayans were not the beneficiaries of the rapid economic growth. The Ethiopian elites were made up of people from different ethinic groups.

Tigrayans often supported developmental projects during the EPRDF regime, not because TPLF was a key party in the coalition, but because all we wanted was development, for the country to do better, and most of all – we wanted peace. We know the cost of war – most of us have lost close family members in wars. Our mothers were thankful for and willing to do anything to preserve peace. We supported the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and we gave money to the project without a second thought. Tigrayans had fully bought into the idea of the “Ethiopian” identity, without realizing that we were never fully accepted by other Ethiopians.

It was shocking and painful to discover your own friends were saying such awful things about Tigrayans.

Personal experiences of anti-Tigrayans sentiments…

A Tigrayan can’t be rich, poor, smart, or dumb without having his or her Tigrayan roots mentioned in the conversation in Addis Ababa.

I remember once in my profile picture on social media I had an afro, but I was naive to not know the association of this hairstyle with Tigrayan fighters during the Derg regime. A very close friend said:

Tigrayans were also perceived as having access to wealth and weapons. Occasionally, I got the usual:

To this day I cannot believe what a medical doctor friend of mine said:

“It looks like the number of contraceptives and abortion laws in Amhara was designed to depopulate the Amhara region.”

Typically, when people refer to harmful laws implemented in the Amhara region, they blame the EPRDF regime, but I had never heard such extreme opinions before. I didn’t respond to her statement, I was in disbelief.

The comments continued. The sad thing is most of us Tigrayans did not bother to correct their jokes on Tigrayan identity or how the EPRDF was being associated with Tigrayans.

And then there was the election–

Tigrayans decided to hold a regional election in August 2020. The unelected Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, did not support this election. He wanted to postpone the regional and federal elections and used COVID-19 as an excuse. Through a state-sponsored campaign, Abiy’s administration successfully made it look like holding an election was a crime against humanity.

During this period, Abiy strengthened ties with Eritrea’s dictator Isaias Afwerki. Ethiopian youth went out to celebrate dictator Isayas’s visit to Ethiopia. No one questioned why Ethiopians or the Prime Minister would celebrate a guy who is known to have destroyed his own country – Eritrea.

Anti-Tigrayan sentiments escalated across the media. The Amhara elites began telling farmers not to sell their goods to Tigray or Tigrayans. They genuinely believed that the best way to defeat Tigrayans would be to starve them. They blocked roads to Tigray and started robbing trucks and cars in an attempt to starve the Tigrayans in Tigray.

Amhara Regional Government officials admitted to blocking roads to Tigray because Tigrayans were “harboring criminals.”

I will never forget the videos of armed men threatening to destroy Tigray, broadcasted on social media since 2018. The same men were paraded around as heroes in Amhara Regional Government meetings and conferences.

Each one became hunters of what the Prime Minister called ‘‘ye ken jib’’ (daytime hyenas).

I visited Tigray during the elections. No one was harassing non-Tigrayans. To the contrary, the people would speak to you in their broken Amharic if they felt like you were struggling with Tigrigna – it is our culture to welcome guests. No hate was sung against innocent people. They would criticize Abiy, but they saw criticizing a politician as a right. I was pleasantly surprised by the political knowledge of the average Tigrayan and their ability to separate people and governments.

The world turned upside down right before our eyes

The war on Tigray broke out on November 4, 2020.

People in Addis Ababa began voicing their support for the war. Our friends, our neighbors, and our co-workers. All of them were happy to hear a war being waged on Tigray.

They posted and shared their support of the war on social media outlets. To my surprise, those who had lived and worked in Tigray, or those with better exposure to the people of Tigray than myself, were cheering for the destruction of Tigrayan cities.

Our Instagram friends who had enjoyed watching what we had had for breakfast, lunch and dinner muted us when we started speaking out against war.

Every complaint was followed by whataboutism. Friends were no longer allies. People stopped asking questions and just started to watch and see how the war would play out.

Addis Ababa police raided Tigrayan homes. Some Tigrayans were being taken to the police station and disappearing for days. My aunt was held hostage by the police for no apparent reason.

We were nervous to go to the airport even as civilians. We began mocking each other by looking at each other’s’ ID’s to see if we could be identified by our last names and thrown in jail. Tigrayans usually have distinct names that could be identified easily. We asked ourselves if we would lie and say we were not Tigrayans. Would we proudly say we were Tigrayans and risk prison?

We could not reach loved ones in Tigray. But news about airstrikes and door to door killings in Tigray were common. Everyone was in the dark and it only kept getting darker.

Constant anxiety and panic attacks. We received phone calls from family members abroad with uncontrollable tears. They somehow knew our pain.

Police officers were telling people to identify Tigrayans coming back from Mekelle. Our neighbors called our children “little juntas” and their friends were told not to hang out with Tigrayans. The non-Tigrayan people we once considered ours turned against us.

Our non-Tigrayan mother and father in-laws started denying the atrocities happening inside of Tigray, forgetting that we are family. They always asserted: “In the end, Tigrayans will be Tigrayans.” They seemed to be disappointed by the fact that we didn’t want to see another war.

My coworkers couldn’t hold in their excitement to go cheer for war on Tigray. Those who grieved for the innocent lives during the protests that followed the 2005 election results happily accepted that Tigrayan youth (our brothers and sisters) could be collateral damage in the name of politics.

All the while, Tigrayans in Ethiopia and across the globe were worried about their loved ones in Tigray and in Addis Ababa. My family has already lost three distant cousins. A few family members in the ENDF are missing after being taken out for questioning and a few more are seeking refuge in Sudan.

Humanity slowly disappeared into thin air. The Ethiopians who in the past would stand by to make sure you have your tire changed, or gather to help with anything, turned into strangers who wished you ill.

Our Ethiopian “friends” chose to ignore our suffering. They never asked about our relatives in Tigray. At birthday celebrations, they got mad at us for not laughing as much, or for acting “oddly.”

It became clear. They never liked our Tigrayan identity. Such dislike did not develop in the past thirty years; it was a culturally and socially constructed hate that goes back for generations.

In the end I am Tigrayan. No amount of hate or fear can diminish that part of my identity. I, like many others raised in Addis Ababa, didn’t grow up romanticizing living in Tigray.

Since the war began, I have made every effort to learn about Tigray’s history and its people. There is nothing that I am ashamed of.

In fact, I have found a cause greater than myself. A cause to protect my heritage and my identity. A cause to resist forced assimilation and to rebuild Tigray.

My last message is to fellow ESAT followers. I would like you to to understand that:

A country is not an idea, it is the people in it. Invasion is not liberation. Under Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia has allowed Eritrea to invade Tigrayan lands. War kills both sides, not just the minority group. War has rules. You cannot rape, kill civilians, and demolish religious sites, universities or factories. Justice does not equal vengeance. Having an election should always be encouraged. It should never be a crime, especially when the constitution allows for it.

The EPRDF is not the TPLF. Four coalition parties led the country under the EPRDF. Oppression under the EPRDF should never be associated with Tigrayans or Tigray.

Tigray will prevail. History will judge those who are supporting the genocidal war.

Source

______________________________________

Posted in Ethiopia | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: