Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Says War in Tigray 'Barbarism' and 'Attempt to Erase Tigrayans'; Says His Repeated Pleas 'Censored'

Abune Mathias I, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Addis Abeba — In a video privately recorded by Dennis Wadley, international director, of Bridges of Hope, His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC), sent out a message to millions of the Church's followers both "inside and outside the country" that he has "repeatedly tried" to plea to put a stop in to "what's happening in Ethiopia today, especially the barbarism taking place in Tigray," but has not been successful because "a permission was not granted."

"I have been denied to speak, and my programs are repeatedly blocked."

In a 14 minute video released last night, Abune Mathias, who is the Sixth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia and Archbishop of Axum, also spoke about the Axum massacre perpetrated by Eritrean forces, in powerful words likening the lives lost with "people left over the ground like leaves."

His remarks on the gruesome massacre that took place in Axum over a course of two days marks the first publicly available remark from the highest authority of the Church in its Holiest site, about which "the world is speaking about, but we are denied from doing so."

"I speak, they bounce it back, I speak they bounce it back; so far there is no permission granted," he said, without mentioning by name who are censoring him. "For six months our mouth were sealed, unable to speak for fear and influence." He also revealed that an interview he gave on April 15 was "blocked from airing."

Abune Mathias said there are several violence in other parts of the country, including Oromia, Benishagul Gumuz and in Shewa Robit, but none were as brutal and "filled with cruelty barbarism, as what is taking place in Tigray."

In a sharp criticism against the war, the Patriarch, who is an ethnic Tigrayan, went on to condemn the atrocities taking place in Tigray including in the Churches and Monasteries as attempts to "erase Tigrayans from the face of the earth."

He spoke of the "people of Tigray being killed, robbed of their properties, denied of their rights... and the peasantry being denied of tilling the land."

"God will have his own judgment in responding to these atrocities, but people are dying; women are being raped; in fact the men who died are better off than the women who are enduring a life time scar... I truly don't know how this could be stopped," he said, and appealed to the international community to device a way immediately to "stop this free reign of killing... This kind of cruelty has never been heard before, especially the suffering the women are going through. Is it really necessary to do this kind of dirty deed without the fear of God?"

He also appealed to the "Churches around the world to see this and do their share to help stop, even by being a voice to this grotesque deed which is unseen and unheard around the world and which we can't even dare to speak about... .there is no time I rested; my conscious is distraught. If my voice is heard, will it help? I want all of you to think about it. To the people of Tigray around the world and in the country, this may pass; may God give you the strength, there is nothing that shall not pass... don't be overrun by fear and anxiety. Pray to your God."

The Patriarch, who has been serving the church since 2013, concluded his remark by saying: "I don't know what mistake the people of Tigray did to be threatened with erasure from the face of the earth. There is a genocide happening. The world should think about it; indeed it's known, but I caution for it to be known. May God bless you." AS

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