By RightsViews Staff Writer Emily Ekshian
A year of conflict rages across the border in Ethiopia, constituting a genocidal war against the non-Oromo peoples of the region.
The Ethiopian government launched a military offensive in the north, and is fighting opposition forces in Tigray, closing off the region. Ethiopia’s yearlong Tigray conflict threatens to tear the country apart. Tensions emerged between the Ethiopian Federal Government troops and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), where the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, executed a military offensive against the ruling faction in Tigray on November 4, 2020. Thus, in the north, Tigray rebels are fighting Ethiopian government forces and their allies.
Tigray, where most of the fighting has been happening, is located in the North, where the government is called the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The government even has its own regional army – militias and special forces. The TPLF ran the country for almost 30 years, even though they made up a minority, only 6%. Many people of TPLF saw them as autocratic and dysfunctional. Historically, TPLF had been oppressive, locking up hundreds of journalists and political dissidents.
TPLF rebels from the north have teamed up with a small faction of the ethnic group, called the Oromo. In recent months this war has spread to the neighboring regions, such as Amhara and Afar. While in other regions of the country, like in Binshangul, ethnic tensions are growing. In the South, precisely Oromia, violent protests are vast among the region. The Oromo have waged guerrilla war for its right to choose independence, free from slavery, oppression, looting and killing. Together, they are threatening to advance towards the capital, Addis-Ababa. The central government, however, claims that the country faces grave danger at the hands of the unity of the group.
Ethiopia has many ethnic groups and political parties, challenging the central government. Ethiopia is divided into 10 regions, loosely representing the ethnic diversity of the country. The political autonomy of the country is vested in the central government located in Addis-Ababa. Ultimately, the Oromo liberation army wants to ethnically cleanse the non-Oromo, especially the Amhara, from the Oromia region. They seek to assume power by capturing Addis-Ababa for this reason.
The units move down to neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara, and down the highway to the capital. Rebels on Sunday, October 31, announced they have captured a strategic northern Ethiopian town, called Kombolcha. But the government has denied the claims, fearing advancements into the country’s capital. The government has announced a “state of emergency” and has urged civilians to take up arms and to defend their neighborhoods. The government had also launched a ground and air offensive to push the Tigrayan rebels back. He says that civilians should consider it their duty to fight against rebel forces.
Ethiopia’s year long war marked by ‘extreme brutality’ from all sides involved. Human rights groups have accused authorities of indiscriminate killings, and of mass arrests. Though, the government claims that they do not target civilians. A UN’s Human Rights working group has found evidence that all sides of the conflict have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The conflict was initially disguised as a law-and-order enforcement operation against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Ultimately pushing for centralization, Prime Minister Abiy claimed to unify the country by increasing the federal government’s power and minimizing the autonomy of regional governments through this conflict. The war against Tigray has further deepened ethnic tensions, creating a humanitarian crisis, with 4.5 million people in urgent need of assistance. The people of Tigray make up 6% of Ethiopia’s 110 million people, yet have succumbed to disproportionate power for nearly 30 years.
Since November 2020, Ahmed’s administration has also caused difficulties for the Tigray groups. The administration has actively worked to block access to electricity, aid, food, and water for millions of Tigrayan civilians. Collectively, Ethiopian troops, Eritrean troops and Amhara Militias have committed war crimes and ethnic cleansing operations, massacring and starving civilians, and weaponizing sexual and gender-based violence against females. Much of Northern Ethiopia is also on a communication blackout and access for journalists is being restricted.
The horrendous military exercises from both sides have caused thousands of deaths and widespread destruction, internally displaced 1.8 million people, and sent thousands of refugees into Sudan, where the UNHCR has played a crucial role in helping relocate victims. More than 700,000 Ethiopian refugees have fled the country, with a majority crossing over to Sudan. The UNHCR engages to provide the refugees with shelter, health, food and nutrition services through Sudanese host programs.
Nonetheless, the military involvement and unlawful occupation of Ethiopia and Eritrea are deemed destructive for the long-term peace and coexistence between Tigranyans and Ethiopians. Conflict between the federal government and rebel TPLF forces in Ethiopia threatens the very fabric of the state, with hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of starvation and disaster.
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“With Famine Crisis, Thousands of Somalis Flee to Ethiopia Refugee Camps” by United Nations Photo is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
“Top enlisted U.S. Army Africa Soldiers lecture in Ethiopia 090724” by US Army Africa is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
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