Why the UN Must Charge the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF0 for War Crimes – Aklog Birara (Dr)

Why the UN Must Charge the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF0 for War Crimes – Aklog Birara (Dr)

Part I of a series

We Ethiopians can save Ethiopia from destruction if, and only if, we begin to think and act as one people embracing our common humanity. The alternative left and propagated by ethnic elites and terrorists is to slaughter one another wholesale. This slaughter is based on ethnic and religious identity and not based on our humanity as Ethiopians. Concrete evidence shows that terrorists such as the TPLF and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) are not bound by a sense of our common humanity let alone by our common identity as Ethiopians. They slaughter innocent civilians wholesale and ad infinitum. They   rocket our villages, towns, and cities in the same manner as the TPLF demonstrated in Mai Kadra, Bahir Dar and Gondar. Terrorists do not subscribe to the civilized notion that an eye for an eye is a recipe for incalculable harm sparing no one.

The TPLF is a menace to peace, stability, and the rule of law in the entire Horn of Africa. The UN, the African Union and all governments that find terrorism abhorrent need to wake up and condemn this pest. It has now expanded its threat across international boundaries by rocketing the Asmara Airport. It is unlikely to stop there or any time soon. It might inflame and engulf the entire region.

Like others who believe in humanity and justice, I had wrongly believed that the TPLF that imposed the ethnic-federal Constitution and Apartheid like administrative structure on Ethiopia would accept the reform agenda that begun in 2018. The promising changes that occurred enabled opposition groups, including the well-armed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) to return to Ethiopia. Thousands of political prisoners jailed without due process of law by the TPLF-led Junta using draconian Antiterrorism and civil society laws were released. Ethiopians enjoyed a semblance of freedom and peace.  Independent media was able to operate, albeit within boundaries.  I had hoped the reform would lead to policy and structural transformation; and propel Ethiopia’s backward economy. The TPLF thwarted this promising start.

I would like to underscore to the global community this important point. The TPLF made a strategic decision and camped in Mekele more than two years ago. It rejected the reform for a reason. The reform challenged its hegemony. This hegemony provided the TPLF and its surrogates unparalleled opportunity to plunder the Ethiopian economy. It offered it with the security, defense, and other institutional muscle to kill and jail at will; and to crush dissent and competition in every sector. It dominated politics, finance and the bulk of the economy while maintaining its identity as a Liberation Front. It never changed its name. It never stood up for Ethiopia’s sovereign rights.

Defeated through popular resistance, TPLF’s strategic intent is to restore this hegemony at any cost. Failing restoration, the alternative is to stimulate civil war; and to make Ethiopia ungovernable. For the TPLF any means that serves this political end is acceptable, including wholesale massacres of innocent civilians and treason. This terrorist group does not care if rockets aimed to destroy an airport also cause collateral damage, namely, the deaths of civilians or engulf the entire region into catastrophic war.

Murder, assassination, theft, treason, and destruction is in TPLF’s genetic make-up. For more than 30 years, this terrorist and treasonous group has massacred Annuaks in Gambella; Afar in the Afar Region; Amhara all over Ethiopia; Somali in the Somali Region: Oromo throughout the Oromia Region; Wolayta in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region; Gurage throughout Ethiopia; and a mix nationalities in and around Addis Ababa. It has killed Ethiopian Muslim and Orthodox Christians; and destroyed places of worship.

The TPLF is Incurable.

The TPLF plundered the Ethiopian economy that harmed the poor the most including Tigreans. In my assessment, the TPLF is incurable. It is worse than the Corona Virus Pandemic, worse than cancer. It is inhumane. The cure is not appeasement.  Rather, it is surgical operation and end TPLF impunity.

I genuinely believe that the TPLF is anti-Ethiopia and anti-Ethiopians. For sure, it is anti-democratic and anti-rule of law. Tragically, these attributes harm the interests of the people of Tigray.  Like the rest of Ethiopians, they too deserve justice and freedom from the grip of this terrorist group. Here, I urge the people of Tigray to join other Ethiopians; support Ethiopia’s Defense Forces; and bring down the TPLF core leadership and its diehards soonest. Ethiopia deserves peace and stability.

The sons and daughters of TPLF high officials are away from harm.

I remind the global community to remember who is dying because of this reckless internal conflict. It is not the sons, daughters, spouses, and close relatives of rich TPLF leaders. It is ordinary folks, poverty-stricken Tigreans and child soldiers trained and armed by the TPLF. TPLF leaders shipped out their families and their children at various times and to different parts of the globe. They can afford to support kin and kith abroad in the UK or in the USA or in China etc. They stole billions of dollars; siphoned it off; and hid stolen monies in different banks worldwide. They can tap into this huge global financial asset for decades to come. If needed, these assets can also be used to buy weapons to kill.

Deploying child soldiers is a crime. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has a moral obligation to inquire the extent to which the TPLF has deployed children as child soldiers; and uses these children as unfortunate fodders in its reckless war. The world would recall that German Nazis had deployed and sacrificed children as fodders as had Liberian terrorists.

Here is another undeniable fact. Ethiopia’s 115 million people who never ever enjoyed democratic governance, once again, face unparalleled and relentless ethnicity & faith-based assaults throughout the country. The primary targets continue to be Amhara and Orthodox Christians. Thousands perished in the process. Ethiopia’s economic and social infrastructure has been destroyed. Hundreds of commercial banks in Tigray and numerous in Oromia have been robbed. Billions of Birr pillaged from the Ethiopian people are now being deployed to purchase weapons and to conduct proxy wars. More than 100 million Birr was confiscated recently in Beni-Shangul Gumuz, another epicenter of genocide.

TPLF ethnic cleansing and genocide span more than four decades.

TPLF implanted deliberate identity-based crisis today is further compounded by three  formidable factors: a) the Pandemic that Ethiopia is managing well using its meager resources b) the hard fought national resolve to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on time; and at the same time Egypt’s aggressive posture to stall the Tripartite negotiations buffeted by President Trump’s reckless emboldening that emboldened Egypt further; and c) the unexpected betrayal, treason, war crimes, crimes against humanity and reign of terror initiated and orchestrated by the terrorist group, the TPLF; and its strategic partner, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).

The Federal Government is justified in initiating a peacekeeping operation in Ethiopia.

I am delighted to note that several government leaders have expressed support to the Government of Ethiopia. The fight against terrorism is in the interest of the world community. The TPLF and OLA are terrorist organizations. Ethiopia plays a pivotal role in the fight against terrorism. Now, it faces terrorism on its own soil. The UN, the AU, the Government of the United States, and others must now support Ethiopia diplomatically, financially, and logistically.

At the risk of repeating myself, the UN, the AU, the EU, fair minded governments, and human rights groups must recognize that Ethiopia faces a state of siege. I urge the world community not to underestimate the enormity of the problem Ethiopia faces from multiple fronts. The TPLF and its strategic allies as well as its external supporters have been preparing, planning, and plotting to inflict pain and suffering on Ethiopia for decades. TPLF Special Forces about which I had forewarned are the most well-equipped, well-trained, and most disciplined. At one point, 2/3rd of Ethiopia’s military asset was housed in the Tigray Region; almost all commandeered mostly by TPLF officers.

Another important point I would like to highlight is this. Ethiopia’s determination to restore peace, stability and the rule of law is targeted. The assertion in some quarters that it is a civil war is flawed; and patently false. Ethiopia’s Defense Forces pre-identify and hit specific military and strategic targets. They have demonstrated the capacity to avoid civilian casualties. The TPLF and the OLA do the exact opposite.

Against this background, the UN and governments must understand that the TPLF still possesses heavy and sophisticated weapons, Sam missiles and mechanized regiments paid for by Ethiopian taxpayers. Many of these weapons are scattered and hidden in caves, mountain tops and even near monasteries. It is reported by reliable sources that the TPLF has constructed tunnels near the Tekezeze River; constructed bunkers; and hidden weapons of mass destruction. Buffeting this arsenal is a huge financial asset that the TPF can deploy, hire own mercenaries, and conduct proxy wars. Governments can help Ethiopia by disclosing stolen assets hidden and turning them over to the Government of Ethiopia.

It is decades of hell that broke.

As part of its preparation for war, the TPLF had announced that it no longer recognized the Abiy Government and its institutions. What the TPLF did before November 3, 2020 is as important for the world to know. It is true that before it committed the ultimate sin or treason, the TPLF had declared publicly that Ethiopia is led by an illegitimate regime. This declaration cannot mask TPLF behaviors, misdeeds and assaults on Ethiopia and Ethiopians spanning more than 3 decades.

I urge the world community to grasp the incurable nature of the TPLF based on the following:

Either alone or in partnership with surrogates the TPLF:  

  1. Declared and vowed in its Manifesto that the Amhara are mortal enemies of the Tigrean people.

 

  1. Imposed an ethnic and language-based constitution and an Apartheid-like administrative structure.

 

 

  1. Ruled Ethiopia with an iron-fist for 27 years; decimated civil society, opposition parties and independent press using draconian Anti-Terrorism and Civil society laws.

 

  1. Plundered Ethiopia; privatized state-owned enterprises and transferred wealth assets to its core members; siphoned off billions of dollars; bankrupted the banking system; increased Ethiopia’s foreign debt to astronomical levels; and left Ethiopia’s Treasury hollow.

 

  1. Transformed Ethiopia’s embassies and made them appendages of the party.

 

  1. Converted one of the most highly respected national institutions, namely, Ethiopia’s Defense Forces, into a mirror image of the TPLF; expelled or retired the most qualified and most competent officers; and reduced the nation’s military capabilities.

 

  1. Abandoned Ethiopia’s access to the seas; and made Ethiopia one of the largest land locked countries on the planet.

 

  1. Refused to accept the reform process; withdrew into Mekele; rejected several pleas from a slew of delegations to Mekele led by spiritual leaders, elders. academics, women and others, some crying and bowing to the ground for peace, national consensus, and reconciliation.

 

  1. Held its own elections in defiance of the Constitution that it had masterminded; and announced that it no longer recognized the legitimacy of the Federal Government and the leadership of the Northern Command that was housed in Tigray and has been serving its people and Ethiopia for more than two decades.

 

  1. Committed the ultimate sin, namely, treason, on November 3, 2020. On this day that will be cited by future generations as a “dark day”, the TPLF betrayed the trust and confidence of the Ethiopian Defense Forces and committed high treason and war crimes. In a precalculated and sneaky attack, TPLF Special Forces, militia and Tigrean members on the know within the Ethiopian Northern High Command preselected and murdered unsuspecting non-Tigreans, most of them Amhara, and many of them asleep and in their pajamas.

I am convinced that the world community will share the overwhelming Ethiopian public sentiment that the TPLF has committed crime. This crime is unprecedented in the annals of Ethiopian history. and in fact, in world history.

The Ethiopian Defense Forces represent Ethiopia’s diversity. Members of the Northern Command spent more than 20 years working side by side with their Tigrean counterparts harvesting crops, fighting locust infestations, collecting funds from their incomes and building schools, eating meals together, defending Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty etc.

It is virtually unimaginable to me that the very same human beings with whom you did the above and more would turn around and murder you in the wee hours of the night while you are asleep or reading a book or watching tv in your pajamas.

In summary,

  1. The TPLF has committed treason. It has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide in one go. Its crime is also calculated and deliberate. It is intended to inflame and cause civil war. Accordingly, the culprits must be held accountable.

 

  1. The world community must grasp the notion that the conflict is not a civil war. It is a domestic triggered by the TPLF; and not by the Abiy Government.

 

  1. I genuinely believe that the Federal Government of Ethiopia owes it to those murdered savagely and to the Ethiopian people and bring TPLF terrorists to court; hold them accountable for crimes; and restore peace, stability and the rule of law.

 

  1. Justice must first prevail in Ethiopia to go to the next stage, namely, peace, national reconciliation, and consensus.

 

  1. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Criminal Court must assist the Government of Ethiopia in investigating war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide; and only deal with those terrorists and criminals who live abroad and or who have escaped from Ethiopia.

 

  1. In my assessment, Ethiopia can hold TPLF and OLA and other domestic terrorists accountable in accordance with domestic and international laws.

 

Justice Shall Prevail in Ethiopia!

Ethiopia’s Defense Forces, Amhara Special Forces, Fano, Farmers and other units who are fighting terrorism are heroes and heroines!

Long Live Ethiopia!

Part II will identify concomitant crimes committed by the TPLF and its allies before and after the current crisis.

 

November 15, 2020

 

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