Ethiopian Orthodox Church Head Says Tigray Conflict is Genocide

Abune Mathias, the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, has accused the government of wanting to destroy Tigray. "They are working day and night to destroy Tigray," he says in Amharic on the 14-minute video. Radio France Internationale says that these are the first public comments from Abune Mathias, who is originally from Tigray, since the beginning of the civil war six months ago. He says he has been stifled and censored by the government. Local publication the Addis Standard reports the chuch patriarch as 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 Orthodox Church is Ethiopia's largest, with more than 40% of the population as followers. Dennis Wadley, the director of the US-based group Bridges of Hope International, recorded the video on April 26, 2021 during a trip to Ethiopia.

The conflict engulfing the region pits President Abiy Ahmed's military against forces loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which was once the dominant party in power. Abiy has said a number of times that the military is targeting TPLF leaders and not civilians. But reports out of the Tigray region have indicated otherwise. Abiy, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, sent troops into Tigray in November after accusing the TPLF of attacking army barracks.


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

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