Open Letter: No confidence in African Union (AU) to investigate the genocide in Tigray

Eritrea Ethiopia Open Letters Tigray

(By Tigray Academic Diaspora in Europe) –

Thank you to the USA, UK & EU for standing with the principle of democracy and justice to  protect the people of Tigray and other ethnic groups in Ethiopia

13 March 2021

We are writing this letter to express our heartfelt appreciation to the USA, UK & EU government for standing with the principle of democracy and justice that protect victimized minorities. We shall remain grateful to the civilized world for considering robustly and seriously, the genocide war waged against the Tigraians, in the northern part of Ethiopia. Similar atrocities have been also committed in western Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz regions. We also believe that your consistently and explicitly articulated political and humanitarian stance, shall remain resonating in the history of books for generations to come. At this opportunity, we call upon our African leaders to take a leaf of the civilized world‘s democratic culture and a common sense of standing for principle, justice, humanitarian values.

We say so because most African dictators condone evils deed such as genocide, in the name of protecting sovereignty and some obsolete written laws. Deploying common sense and human values, instead of protecting the organic sovereignty of the people, these leaders always try to protect the sovereignty of inorganic land, whenever certain crises arise in Africa. Evidently, such practice abrogates the very essence of having organic individual leaders, with common sense heads & hearts to solve any socio-political problems. We, therefore, call upon all African and other nations’ leaders to follow the path taken by USA, EU, and UK leaders to save humanity across the world be it in Yemen, Burma or Tigray.

As academics, what impelled has to comply this letter is not because it is closer to our heart as Tigraians; but mainly because, with some preliminary research, we found the Tigraians situation is far worse dire than the other crises we know. The exasperating factors of our findings are:   

  1. As the world knows Tigray is the most vulnerable and poverty-stricken area in the world. Before the outbreak of the ongoing genocidal war 1.5 million people (20% of the population) were under food safety schemes. How this figure has risen, or their situation worsened shall be left to the imagination, for brevity’s sake.
  2. Tigraians are besieged for total annihilation by three extremely vengeful and racist external forces: Ethiopian Federal Army, Eritrean soldiers and Amhara militias (all in all in the ration 3:1000). This is not like in Yemen or Burma against own government or between two parties.
  3. The level and type of atrocity, the forms of genocide, the rampage of raping and wanton killing are unheard off nor can be imagined by any sane person, as explained below. 
  4. Tigray, having had long civilization, is endowed with several UNESCO registered heritage that the world can not afford to lose; which are now decimated and looted by these jealous and vengeful extreme forces.
  5. If the civilized world fails again to stop this genocide, what had been forgiven during the Rwanda crises, there is no doubt that African scholars will record it as a deliberate conspiracy for the reduction of the African population.

In this light, while expressing our commendation to the USA government’s initiative at the same time we would like to bring out our worries on some the contrary suggestions forward by some international bodies or few governments; in nominating AU to be part of the independent investigating body.  The chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat had a meeting with Mr. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Minister of Ethiopia yesterday, 11 March 2021, to discuss the modalities of engagement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) in the investigation of alleged human rights violations in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.

The principle of the investigation was proposed by H.E Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, during a Summit-level meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council held on 9thMarch 2021.The Chairperson of the Commission welcomed the readiness of the Ethiopian Government to cooperate with the African Union’s Treaty Body; and he expressed his appreciation to the Government of Ethiopia for its openness to engage with the African Union and stated his confidence that the ACHPR will deliver on this important task. Evidently, our reservation and worries arises from this point, which does not reckon with what has been suggested by leaders of the developed nations.

For instance, Mr. Antony Blinken, the Foreign Secretary of the USA’s government, has expressed his government’s position on the war waged by Col Abiy Amhed Ali, affirming that his office has incontrovertible evidence that ethnic cleansing has been taking place in Tigray by the joint forces of Amhara, federal-state forces, and Eritrean army. Based on the United Nation’s human rights Charter, we believe an act of genocide being committed against the Tigraian people. This act of genocide has been committed with impunity since the 4th of November 2020; whereby thousands of unarmed civilians have been wantonly massacred.

Those cold bloodily annihilated include non-combatant citizens: underage boys, young men, elders (+priests/monk), women/+nuns/. Besides indiscriminate shooting raping/ including underage girls & nuns/ and starvation have been deployed as weapons of genocide. After 4 months blackout, a few examples of the gruesome crimes have exposed this month that include images of underage raping, inserting harmful stuff to a girls’ private part, subjugating incest at gunpoint, throwing alive shepherds into deep cliffs, burning crop field, pouring water/soil into grain silos and massacring Sunday schools boys. Videos on these heinous crimes are available if requested, which are reserved for legal proceedings; but excluded here for decency reasons; as some of them are horrific images of the repugnant forms of raping and slaughtering.

This week, after the USA Government made a clear & loud statement, the extreme forces have started razing the whole village by showering cluster bombs, as a desperation tool before the arrival of the international investigators. As it is well known by all parties, deploying cluster bombs is prohibited by UN-SC Resolution (1325 & 1612). These extreme dictators who do not heed international laws nor have respect to the international community nor human dignity have been dropping cluster bombs since the middle of  February on the Tigray villages, as you can see in the attached document and the link stated below: https://eritreahub.org/one-million-people-are-missing-eritreans-committed-war-crimes-interim-administration-of-tigray.

Such evidence, as indicated above are more than plenty,  to bring the perpetrators to justice, the two dictators of Ethiopia and Eritrea, for those crimes of genocide they have committed; however, the question to the international community,- is an urgent quest: “How long can the Tigran people endure the unendurable before they become an extinct wholesome entity?”  This is why we, the academic, found it hard to fathom the nomination of AU and the so-called EHRC, to be part of the investigative team. We found this suggestion as adding salt to the Tigraian people’s wounds, for the following four reasons:

Firstly, Mr. Moussa Faki himself as a person or his office/AU/ is an accomplice of those crimes by association, by making an irresponsible official statement, saying these genocidal acts are ‘acceptable Law enforcement operations!’ Mr. Musa Faki, himself should be one of the parties to be investigated on his inhumane political stance. For that matter, the AU is not well equipped nor prepared to undertake or lead an investigation of the extent and complexity of war crimes being still committed in Tigray; as it lacks the necessary resources, organizational capacity and above impartiality. 

Secondly, after Col A. Ahmed Ali humiliating the three African senior political leaders sent by Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, and rejecting their mediation for peaceful negotiation; now, on what grounds would the PM seek the AU mediation; as this is a dubious intent to veer off the USA & EU pressure.

This is why his cohort officers are frantically lobbying African Heads of States and Regional Organisations such as IGAD to show a blind eye to the atrocities committed in Tigray Regional State.
The African Union has utterly failed to prevent and stop past episodes in Rwanda. There are numerous interconnected and complex factors that led to the AU inaction in the Tigray genocide;  such as a misguided view of the Ethiopian political crises, the bureaucratic nature of the AU, peacekeeping fatigue of the African States and non-involvement policy on the individual African States. The shadow of Somalia is still present and the African states, as well as the AU Secretariat, are unwilling to engage in another peace operation in the region.

After all, the magnitudes of the crimes committed in Tigray exact an internationally mandated commission with resources, experience, and tractions. Moreover, the wanton destructive involvement of the third countries Eritrea and the UAE, makes the investigation automatically an international matter that needs to be scrutinized by a reputable international body. The crimes so far exposed on international media are classed as International Human Rights Violations, Rape of Women, Ethnic Profiling and total breach of conduct of the armed conflict and food used as a weapon of war, which are clear violations of International Laws of the United Nations. Due to these facts, an UN-mandated investigation is the right way forward for this particular crisis as the matter has gone beyond the African boarders; besides this,  the AU has already miserably failed to bring an African solution, in, many parts of the continent. The Eritrean and Somalian cases are the two stark examples of its failure.

Thirdly, Dr. Daniel Bekele, commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Right Commission, has been rejected for an interview by BBC because of his compromised impartiality, having a brother-in-law who bungled up hasty conclusion on the Maikadra massacre on 9th Nov. 2020 in the name Amnesty International.

Fourthly, the EHRC is set up and salaried by the government which is supposed to be investigated itself for either professional negligence or tacit accomplice. Why could a party, which is part & parcel of the government, be suggested to be appointed as an investigator? This sounds like sending a thief’s friend to investigate a ransacked house and whose content has been stolen by the former.

In this light, the most appropriate move should be, firstly, that the aggressors and violators of all those heinous crimes should be removed or leave Tigray immediately, lest they hamper the independent investigation to be carried on by the foreseeable international bodies appointed by UNSC or the USA’s government or EU.  Secondly, in fact all along with the first task, the thousands of dead bodies lying around strewn everywhere should be buried, before the stench brings pandemics to the whole of the Horn of Africa and even to the incoming international investigators.

In like manner, the most commendable course of action should be to bring and distribute immediately some easily digestible food items to those who are at point of their death rattle, due to starvation in almost all towns, suburbs, and villages. Evidently, only the only reputable international bodies should do this, as the government that purposely burned crop fields and used starvation as a weapon genocide cannot be trusted to carry out this noble task.

To give you a bird’s view on the socio-political history of the Tigraians we affirm that they are the most hospital and generous people as Western writers witness in several published materials. Other ethnic people or foreigners are taken care of by the whole society and revered as exotic to be founded of (with their attempt to learn Tigrigna). Tigraians have no hatred to ethnic groups nor committed anything against the Amhara or Eritrean people.  For years, several Amharas have lives and are married happily in Tigray, working in all walks of life (lecturing to daily labouring). Before the outbreak of the war, Tigray  not only has sheltered over 100, 000 Eritrean refugees,  but also allowed them to undertake any business including studying at its universities (with free scholarship);  out of which several of those who graduated with degrees are able to flock out of Ethiopia without any hassle. 

Furthermore, history attests that Tigraians are known for putting aside their communal interests whilst defending the Ethiopians from the brutal regime of Mengestu Hailemariam and three previous aggressors.  Such generosity and dedication were not limited within Ethiopian borders but also extended to the other African countries and even beyond the continent, especially during the TPLF’s leadership within EPRDF. In this light one should not forget that, the TPLF, as a part of the EPRDF government,  had immensely contributed to the peace and security of the region and was the core member of the US-EU and UK lead Global Security Architectures in the Horn of Africa, mainly in Somalia, Congo, Yemen, South Sudan; and irreplaceable contributions in destroying  Islamic Courts, Al-Shabab,  ISIS and other  Islamic terrorist groups in the region or even beyond the African shores.

To substantiate further the above point, the generous and dedicated nature of the Tigraians, we would like to mention only a few of the most recent episodes:                                                                                                                             

  1. Please see the story in The Times, of Tuesday, 01 December 2020  (12.01am); how the Tigraians treated humanely the pilot who came to bombard them whose plane was downed by Tigray Defence Forces (TDF), in Temben, West Mekelle.
  2. The thousands of POWs that have been released by TDF including the current generals who claim to manage the army from Addis Ababa, were once upon a time POWs, freed, educated and trained at the cost of Tigraians. 
  3. Just last week hundreds of POWs released from TDF grip were sent to Mekelle so they could get food/other logistics, and they were given various types of clothes by Samre town dwellers so that the POWs would not be targeted by friendly fire. 
  4. The political world knows how TPLF spared EPLF by sending its 3000 fine sons to Nakfa battle, when the Derg launched wholes onslaught in 1984.
  5. Eventually, TPLF carried the brunt of the blame for helping Eritrea to secede by ultra-Amhara nationalists for the last thirty years.
  6. Finally, TPLF changed Ethiopia for good, at the cost of Tigraians, just one to mention the economic progress, bringing the number of Universities from 2 to 45 in only two decades. Apart from resolving 1000 years old power rivalry, introducing a decentralized system, aka federal system and the economic achievements scored are well known by the politically enlighten members of the international community.

However, if at all there were some political errors or some democratic deficit, in the allegedly TPLF, led Gov’t of EPRDF, the blame should have been shared among all major members of the ex-EPRDF leadership. After all, as there is no perfect government system in this world, neither it could be that of TPLF led EPRDF.  Evidently political differences are resolved by negotiations using pen & paper on tables; not on battlegrounds by deploying drones or tanks. The sad irony is, these three ungrateful aggressors are now appearing to be a bit worried that their genocidal crimes are exposed in the eyes of the world; and instead of retreating to their respective camps/domains; they are trying to reinforce and bounce up their evil and egregious acts to mop out Tigraians, sooner than planned for fear of being forced to leave the region; as the per urge given by the USA Gov’t.

Unfortunately, the USA administration’s urge given without an actionable ultimatum seems to have enhanced the onslaught on the battleground, as some video sneak out attest this fact, as one can see the link indicated below:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0?ui=2&ik=543f05d9d0&attid=0.1&permmsgid=msg-f:1694055468580028407&th=17827e7922853ff7&view=att&disp=safe&realattid=17827e747403c0cc4771   A video showing unarmed shepherds being thrown alive to deep cliffs.

More of such gruesome images can be availed on request.  The mass murder of unarmed village boys is also shown in this link: https://twitter.com/TghatMedia/status/1370131746889535495?s=19

Evidently, this has doubled the pain and losses of lives and further wonton distractions of assets, including the uprooting of orchards bearing fruits, looting crops, and domestic animals. It is a point of annihilation by starving to the people who solely dependent on the soil and plants for their survival.  To stop this atrocity exacts an immediate action, at least to reduce the dead bodies’ counts and the staggering bill to foot by the world humanitarian institutions.

Whilst applauding the position of the USA and taking it as a light at the end of a tunnel, we would like to beseech the whole civilized world to back the USA position and to act in unison without much ado, in the language and ways any dictators and aggressors understand!! The sooner action is taken, the fewer dead body counts (humans, animals, plants). Above all, we should spare Tigray from cluster bombs that are raining down since last week, almost after Mr. Antony Blinken’s humane and considerate words resonated across the world!

We remain with great anticipation,

Tigray Academic Diaspora in Europe 

 

3 thoughts on “Open Letter: No confidence in African Union (AU) to investigate the genocide in Tigray

  1. ዘለዓለማዊ ክብርን ሞገስን ንሰማዕታትና፥ ትግራይ ፥ትዕወት ትግራይ ፥ትዕወት ትግራይ ፥ትዕወት says:

    An excellent letter. Yes We thank all countries who are on ourside by being a voice for the voiceless, condemening the atrocities, genocide and the unspeakable illtreatement committed by amhara, eritreans and UAE.

    Thank you EU, UK, USA for not being on the wrong side of the history.

    1. Well Substantiated letter!
      Minor Editing:
      *…TPLF’s leadership with in EPRDE.N=Delet ‘N’

      *#2…PoWs…POWs
      *#3…dwellers of samre,so that the POWs would ‘not’be targeted by friendly fire

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