Straight up, the Abiy regime’s spokesman stated that the siege of Tigray is justifiable and will not be lifted until the people of Tigray dissociate themselves from the TPLF.

What this means in practical terms is that blocking access to humanitarian aid, cutting the Internet and phone services, cutting electricity, and shutting down bank services, among others, is a way of punishing the people of Tigray for their support of the TPLF. So, according to the Abiy regime, the people of Tigray have the burden of showing that they do not support the TPLF, and God knows when, if ever, they would be able to do so. Until then the blockade continues.

The fact that the the Abiy regime has now been open about why there is a blockade of Tigray is a departure from previous conflicting messages, ranging from a flat-out denial that there is a blockade to accusing the Tigray government for the lack of access to humanitarian aid. So, it is a good thing that the Abiy regime has finally cleared the air. However, it is extremely disturbing to know that, in this 21st century, there is a government which, contrary to its obligations under the Geneva Conventions, does not make a distinction between combatants and civilians. As a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, Ethiopia has the obligation to protect civilians. Collective punishment is also prohibited under these international instruments. Hence, there is no legal basis for requiring civilians in Tigray to do anything – much less prove that they have dissociated themselves from the TPLF – before they are accorded the protection and services they are entitled to under the law. In fact, denying access to humanitarian aid and using starvation as a weapon of war is a war crime which the Abiy regime will eventually be held responsible for.

How about the support that the TPLF (I would rather prefer to say the TDF) has amongst the people of Tigray? I think that is clear to every body who follows the news. Still, that does not justify blurring the distinction between combatants and civilians. What you can fight are those who are carrying arms to fight, not the unarmed civilian population that may be sympathetic to the former. Put another way, the Abiy regime has no right to prevent civilians in Tigray from getting access to food and medicine whatever the pretext.

On another note, I was dumbfounded when I listened to Abiy today somehow admit that Tegarus in Addis Ababa and other towns have been arrested arbitrarily. He blamed such acts on retaliation and corruption. Wow!! Abiy knows no shame. Is he trying to convince us to forget that abusing Tegarus started right after he came to power, which is three years and a half ago? Who would forget his vicious rhetoric that made such abuses possible? Is he trying to tell us that he knew about the abuses recently? The world is now so familiar with Abiy’s double-talk and straight lies that nobody would take what he says seriously. He is a serial liar and what he said today about the abuses is just that: A BIG LIE!!

Zemenay Bahta

The Prime News


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