Dr. Aklog Birara
December 2, 2020
Submitted to the Editor, China Daily
On March 17, 2005 a UN panel of experts defined terrorism as any act “intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.”
Following the horrendous and tragic act of terrorism in the United States, an American agency, the FBI described terrorism as codified in the Code of Federal Regulations. It is “The unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).”
The purpose of this editorial comment is to underscore to Ethiopia’s friends across the globe the fact that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has committed terrorist acts in Ethiopia. It is solely this act that prompted Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia to instruct Ethiopia’s Defense Forces to restore peace and stability; and to enforce the rule of law in Africa’s second most populous nation.
Ethiopia has a distinguished history of peaceful and mutually beneficial relations with all nations. Its current singular interest is to accelerate sustainable and equitable development. In this regard, I am delighted to see that the Chinese private and public sector is involved heavily in Ethiopia and in the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. The structural changes in infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing industry, telecommunications, hydropower and thermal generation, finance, and export and impot trade etc. bode well for Ethiopia’s growing population. There is a spillover effect in the rest of the Horn. Investments generate employment, increase household income. In turn, citizens enjoy peace, stability, and personal security. No nation can develop without peace, stability, and the rule of law.
It is this promising trend that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (the TPLF) has threatened. There is a plethora of evidence supporting the thesis that the TPLF must be designated as a terrorist group. The TPLF defied the Ethiopian Federal Constitution it crafted masterfully and imposed on Ethiopians. It stole Federal armaments. It preidentified and murdered non-Tigrean members of the Ethiopian Federal Defense Forces Northern Command. The TPLF declared that it no longer recognized the central Government. It continued to use coercive tools; escalated and expanded a reign of terror throughout Ethiopia.
In line with these terrorist acts, the TPLF Special Forces committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Mai Kadra, the Amhara region of Ethiopia where more than 1,500 innocent civilians were massacred in a single night on November 9, 2020. It called on all terrorist, extremist, and jihadist forces in Ethiopia to rise-up and create havoc and destruction. The specific intent to cause civil war and to Balkanize Ethiopia.
Despite these terrorist acts, the Government of Ethiopia showed restraint and extended an olive branch of 72 hours; and urged the TPLF core leaders, its Special Forces and militia to abandon fighting; and to surrender peacefully. The intent was to mitigate losses of innocent human life and prevent costly damages to investment property. Tigrean-Ethiopians have responded positively; and welcomed Ethiopia’s military. They are as eager in welcoming peace as other Ethiopians.
Tragically for Ethiopia, especially Tigrean-Ethiopians, the TPLF refused to surrender. It continued to murder, launch rockets, and hit civilian airports in Asmara, Eritrea, in Bahir Dar and Gondar, Ethiopia. It gutted one of the largest civilian airports in Tigray. Deliberate and intended to inflame the situation; divert responsibility; and blame the Government of Ethiopia for the mayhem and destruction.
The crimes committed by the TPLF should confirm and support the argument that the UN system, the African Union, the European Union and friendly Governments around the world including China and Russia have an obligation to designate the TPLF as a terrorist group.
We also plead with the international community to dismiss falsehoods and propaganda against Ethiopia and its Defense Forces. Among those falsehoods is the false narrative that Ethiopian Defense Forces are targeting Tigrean-Ethiopians. The war is not between Ethiopia’s Defense Forces and Tigrean-Ethiopians. The war is not between the TPLF and Prime Minister Dr. Abiy. The war is to subdue terrorists.
The Ethiopian Defense Forces have taken extreme caution to avoid civilian deaths and the destruction of investment property.
The level of empathy, the care and the humanity Ethiopian Government leaders as well as the members of Ethiopia’s Defense Forces show will long be remembered as a singular tribute to the high moral compass that has governed and still governs Ethiopian society. These careful and sensitive actions demonstrate a common humanity. We should therefore ask the question “Why the TPLF and its core supporters show barbaric and inhumane deviations from the norm? How would a Federal Government that is responsible for all Ethiopians respond?” How would China react to terrorism?
In the light of the above, I urge the international community to consider and designate the TPLF as a terrorist group. Its terrorist acts are the same as acts of terrorism by Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab and Boko Haram. The TPLF murdered more than 1,500 innocent people in Mai Kadra because they were non-Tigrean. The TPLF preidentified and murdered non-Tigrean members of Ethiopia’s Northern Command in Mekele. It also sponsored other murders in Ethiopia. The TPLF perpetrated rocket attacks.
All these barbaric and inhumane actions are intended to foment ethnic conflicts and to destabilize Ethiopia,
The Government of Ethiopia is totally justified in executing a careful and methodical peacekeeping operation in Ethiopia’s heartland. Any nation would do the same thing if faced with these types of terrorist acts.
All TPLF terrorists must be subdued. It must be held accountable. It is only then that Ethiopia’s 116 million people would begin to enjoy peace, stability, and personal security. It is only then that Ethiopians would be able to focus on the most important enemy of all, namely, the alleviation of poverty.
Aklog Birara, Ph.D. is author of 6 books and thousands of commentaries. He served with the World Bank for 30 years and retired as Senior Advisor. He can be reached at: [email protected]
Submitted on November 28, 2020
By Aklog Birara (Dr), former Senior Advisor, the World Bank, ret.