Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was recently accused of instigating genocide against the Tigrayan people after making a statement on the ongoing conflict with Tigrayan rebels. Abiy Ahmed, 44, used words like "weeds," "cancer," and "disease" to describe the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which formerly ruled Ethiopia as an authoritarian regime for almost three decades before being designated a terrorist organization by the house of people representatives in May. Human rights organizations and journalists, on the other hand, have expressed concerns regarding his use of the word which they think can spark awidespread fear of genocide!
Preventing genocide labeledit as "speech that promotes the elimination of a group is an alarming warning sign of mass atrocities or even genocide." While Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute called the Prime Minister's statement as "the type of ethnic incitement that would make Rwanda's Hutu genocidaires blush... ".
Since disinformation from the Tigray region has complicated the international understanding regarding the conflict and the related issues there, I feel that evidence-based analysis is paramount before making any imprudent assertions or drawing any quick judgments regarding the situation in Ethiopia. As unsubstantiated charges are damaging to Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa as a whole, it would be wise to reconsider whether the journalists, scholars, and human rights organizations got the story right!
So, in order to understand the Prime Minister's statements, I prefer to look at a similar statement made by former US Secretary of State and current first US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change, John Kerry. In an opinion piece published in The New York Times in 2014, when ISIS was a global threat, then-US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote, "ISIS is a cancer that must be rooted out." And "The cancer[disease] of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries," he said, stressing the importance of a coordinated response led by the US and with the largest possible coalition of states. And now the same term probably with the same intent was used by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in a statement to describe the TPLF clique. Comparing to Kerry's blatant statement, the reactions towards Abiy's words however, seems heavily distorted with a previously established narratives about the situation in Ethiopia's Tigray conflict.
Therefore, some critical; question should be pondered as why John Kerry called ISIS a "cancer" and Abiy Ahmed Ali using the same term to call a terrorist group considered to be inciting Genocide?Was John Kerry referring to all Muslims when he called "the Islamist extremist group"-ISIS cancer? Why is it acceptable for John Kerry to describe an organization as a cancer or disease and not for Abiy to refer to a designated terrorist organization as such?
When Kerry and Obama called for a "unified coalition of nations" to combat "The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)," the international community knew they weren't calling for a mission of Muslim genocide! Remembering that Obama and other leaders repeatedly used the same language to characterize the terrorist organization, Abiy Ahmed's usage of the same word could only mean one thing: a terrorist organization. As a result, aside from unsubstantiated claims made by media activists, we can be assured that there is no proof that a genocide is imminent in Ethiopia.
Despite the established narratives in the news media and op-eds of some journalists and scholars regarding the prime minister's statement, what is imminent could be a fake massacre which is in the making by TPLF forces. According to emerging reports, TPLF forces are transporting thousands of dead bodies, mainly child soldiers, from the Afar region conflict between TPLF forces and the local militia in the last couple of days, to prepare for an orchestrated Tigray genocide campaign. This makes really good sense, as the reports well-suited with a recent New York Times piece on the TPLF's use of tens of thousands of "motivated young recruits" in their fight with the federal government and the Amhara militia.
Even though, conscripting and recruiting children into armed forces is a war crime under the International Criminal Court's statute, however, the deafening silence of Washington and the west on the TPLF's child soldiers is dismaying and heralds that international law is being selectively enforced.
So, considering all of the contexts here, the genocide narrative that has been circulating in the mainstream and social media in recent days should be questioned to see if it is the rebels' strategy to pave the way for even more fake massacre campaigns in the coming days to fit those pre-established narratives and pose multifaceted diplomatic challenges to the Ethiopian government.
What's more concerning though is, a mass killing of pro-Abiy Tigrayans could be forthcoming following a recent demonstration against the TPLF in Humera town. The TPLF soldiers have reportedly developed a plan to retaliate on these Tigrayans, and blaming the massacre on the Amhara militia and federal troops.
To summarize, apart from such developments a genocide in Ethiopia is not an impending scenario except orchestrated fake massacres. Therefore, without a heinous intention against the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the people, a closer examination of the entire statement can provide some insight into what it signifies. And only, a genuine understanding of the circumstances on the ground that has the capacity to reveal the truth and end the current argument over the PM's statement.
Editor's Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The Ethiopian Herald