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know more to say #nomore

11 Questions to help you make sense of the events that have led to the current conflict in Ethiopia and the #NoMore Global Protest.

At a glance

What led to the current conflict in Ethiopia?

what can i do to support humanitarian aid efforts in ethiopia?

What’s going on with this protest?

Ethiopians of all ethnic backgrounds (and now Africans across the continent) are coming together to protest against an orchestrated and biased media campaign seeking to overthrow the democratically elected government in Ethiopia. The misinformation campaign aims to draw the US, the EU and Australia into the conflict, which was started on November 4, 2020 by armed insurgents in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The banner of “Never Again” – a sacred commitment by all those who seek to stop genocide is being used for morally reprehensible armed insurgents called the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), who are themselves perpetuating genocide while claiming to try to stop a genocide in Tigray. A recent joint report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission independently verifies that all parties to the conflict started by the TPLF last year have committed war crimes. Yet, while sanctions that will impact millions are being threatened against the Ethiopian government and have already been imposed on individuals within the Eritrean government, there has been no action to reprimand the TPLF’s continuing role to destabilize the horn of Africa. All of this was started by the TPLF. Starting, organizing and using the media to foster genocide is morally reprehensible and the TPLF needs strong international condemnation. Those who use genocide and “Never Again” to weaponize western superpowers and their citizens to advance their military and political agenda at the expense of the lives of tens of thousands and the displacement of millions from their homes need to be publicly warned and stopped. Right now, that is not happening and the #NOMORE movement is trying to shed light on the widespread and highly damaging misinformation campaign being directed by the TPLF and their sympathizers, who want to return to power an authoritarian party that ruthlessly ruled the country for almost three decades. The misinformation is resulting in harmful and dangerous policies by the US - including a bill that has been introduced in the US Senate to severely sanction the Ethiopian government starting January 1st.

It is critical for us to pause all decision making on Ethiopia, including the bill being advanced by Senator Bob Menendez until it is based on credible, independent reports. We need Senator Bob Menendez to mention sanctions against the TPLF, freezing of their off-shore assets, and public warning for misuse of “Never Again.” His remarks on November 19, 2021 on an NPR interview show no awareness of the TPLF’s role in this conflict. His comments on genocide in Ethiopia particularly are gravely concerning as they may lead to military intervention in Ethiopia that can lead to an Afghanistan-like scenario.

Woah! That’s a mouthful, I did hear about some type of war going on in Ethiopia where the government is killing its own people. Is this not a classic case of African dictators abusing their power?

Sadly, there has been a long history in Africa of dictators perpetuating violence against their own people. This is decidedly different. The guerrilla force spreading the misinformation campaign is fighting against the first truly democratically elected government in Ethiopia. The TPLF launched as the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) on November 4th, 2020, through a preemptive strike on a government military base, but this group is not new to Ethiopia. They represent the oppressive previous rulers of Ethiopia, known as the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which instituted a system that inflamed ethnic strife in order to divide and rule Ethiopia for 27 years. The TPLF was toppled from power 3 years ago after nationwide protests and a reform-minded government was put in place.  The TPLF retained control of Tigray (one of Ethiopia’s federal states) and is now fighting to regain power over all of Ethiopia and to topple the democratically elected government. Despite ruling the country through authoritarian practices for 27 years, the TPLF and the Tigrayan people represent only 5% of the population. There is no concerted effort by the rest of the 95% of Ethiopia or the Ethiopian government to commit genocide against the Tigrayan population. This is a false narrative advanced by the TPLF to regain power to manipulate US and western powers to support its cause while continuing to divide and stall the federal forces of a democratically elected government.

What’s being done to stop the fighting?

The Ethiopian government agreed to a ceasefire in June of 2021 under heavy international pressure. But the ceasefire was not reciprocated by the TPLF who used the opportunity to expand their atrocities to other regions within Ethiopia, committing unspeakable acts of ethnic violence with war crimes that include gang rapes and mass shootings of innocent civilians. Despite these activities, they continue to receive positive coverage in the international media while their propaganda vilifies the Ethiopian government. They are also using social media to draw more supporters and increase a sense of imminent collapse and peril for the whole country, including the capital, Addis Ababa. Simultaneously, the Ethiopian Government has a constitutional duty to defend its citizens, including those in the Tigray region, from insurgencies and domestic terrorists who would openly seek to destroy the democratically elected government. This is why balanced reporting is critical for the way forward and why #nomore was created.

How do I know this is a truly democratically elected government?

The western media has openly supported false narratives and misleading stories issued by the TPLF, seemingly to cause panic and undermine the Ethiopian people's confidence in their elected government. On June 21, 2021 - the Ethiopian people elected the current government with over 80% of the 37 million registered voters voting despite the major challenges presented by the COVID health emergency. While not perfect, the election was globally hailed as a significant improvement and the first and most critical attempt at a transparent election process. International data on other elections amidst COVID show the turnout and participation in Ethiopia was the highest when compared to places like Canada (62% of eligible voter turnout), Germany (76.6%), the UK (67.3%), South Africa (57.5%), Nigeria (30-35%). While the TPLF has also used the COVID related delays of the national elections as an excuse to wage an insurgency, 78 other countries around the world also delayed their elections to accommodate the global crisis due to COVID. Furthermore, there were over 100,000 local observers and 100 global observers who witnessed the election, which was organized by a transparent and well-documented process led by Ethiopia’s first female to head The National Election Board of Ethiopia. Despite this, the media in the west has been repeating false narratives being issued by the TPLF, making it seem like the federal government was the aggressor, which is false. The conflict was started by the TPLF in their attempt to regain control from the democratically elected government, over the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the country. Their history of power, however, gives the TPLF a powerful network that extends throughout diplomatic and media channels. The amount of misleading stories seem aimed to cause panic and undermine the confidence the Ethiopian people have in their elected government.

Ok! So what went wrong?

The TPLF, anticipating its growing slip on power and influence in a democratically governed Ethiopia, used the excuse of COVID-related delays to the national election to launch a highly organized attack on the government of Ethiopia, instigating a campaign of violence to incite fear. It activated its guerrilla forces, attacked and killed Federal forces, and simultaneously induced a pervasive misinformation campaign, falsely claiming the government of Ethiopia is perpetuating genocide and starvation of its own people. The TPLF has been accused of using civilian shields as part of its guerrilla warfare tactics, increasing the loss of innocent lives. It also launched missiles into Asmara, the capital of neighboring Eritrea, furthering its agenda of regional destabilization of not just Ethiopia, but the entire horn of Africa, while internationalizing the conflict. The TPLF knew that its guerrilla tactics were most likely to succeed by manipulating and drawing in global superpowers like the US to aid its military ambitions. The TPLF’s immensely well-organized and orchestrated misinformation campaign has gained momentum that has not only pulled in international media sources but has seeped deep into respected academic circles through the lens of “stopping a genocide in Tigray.” The TPLF has used its connections, gained through its 27-year rule of Ethiopia, to influence and access powerful leaders in support of its agenda of destabilization of the country to regain power in Ethiopia.

What about the genocide against the Tigray people I have heard about?

The TPLF understands the commitment made by the the US and the Western world to never standby silently after past failures to intervene in colossal tragedies like the Rwandan Genocide. This guerrilla force has used this knowledge to perpetuate unimaginable horror, chaos, and violence including rape as a weapon of war that have now been documented by a joint report from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Further, undisciplined and perhaps mentally deranged soldiers on the Ethiopian Federal Forces with hatred in their hearts as well as the Eritrean Forces that have been drawn into the conflict have participated in atrocities and need to be brought to justice by the democratic institutions of the Ethiopian government. On November 3, 2021, Prime Minister Abiy and the mayor of Addis Ababa held a vigil for the victims of the Tigray war. The Ethiopian government was forced into a protracted war with an attack from the TPLF. It declared a ceasefire in June 2021 that was never reciprocated. These are not the behaviors of a nation organizing to perpetuate a genocide against its own people. This is a toxic narrative that is being advanced by the TPLF to gain international support.

What about the starvation and humanitarian crisis I have heard about in the Tigray region?

It has been to the benefit of the TPLF to make it seem as if humanitarian aid can’t get through, but this is not true. The organized and weaponized use of the media by the TPLF insurgents created the condition for tacit support of the agenda of the TPLF guerrilla forces as the ones fighting to stop a genocide. It created the vilification of the Ethiopian government along with unprecedented pressure on the government to cease attempts to quickly defeat the insurgents and instead to negotiate with them as equals. Further, trust in humanitarian aid organizations, including the United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) was eroded significantly when leaders like Samantha Power, current administrator of the USAID, became vocal advocates against the Ethiopian government with recorded biased and ill-informed statements. The known capture of humanitarian aid trucks and communications equipment by the TPLF for use in the insurgency has also severely hampered the ability of the Ethiopian government to protect the civilians it has vowed to protect equally.  Unfortunately, the US Government has fallen for the false narratives perpetuated by the TPLF and has continued to condemn the Ethiopian government instead of assisting it in stopping the terroristic acts of the TPLF.

Targeted sanctions of TPLF leaders, freezing of their offshore accounts and condemning any movements towards the capital Addis Ababa and with strong support for Ethiopian government led humanitarian aid will go a long way to ensuring a quicker end to the humanitarian catastrophe currently underway.

What can I do to ensure the US doesn’t use my tax dollars to unwittingly aid in a civil war that leads to the collapse of a democracy in Ethiopia?

On November 4, 2021 - the one year anniversary of the terroristic acts of the TPLF, a bill called Ethiopia Peace and Democracy Promotion Act of 2021 has been introduced by 3 powerful senators to put severe economic sanctions on Ethiopia starting January 1st. The bill is designed to pressure the democratically elected government of Ethiopia to negotiate and give in to the demands of the TPLF’s guerilla force. Sadly, the TPLF has made clear through its own self-documented strategies and campaigns (with a motto “there are no mountains we would not climb,”) it will stop at nothing but the ultimate destruction and toppling of the democratically elected government. Please call these senators to tell them you want them to pause and ask more questions before the US inadvertently destroys another fledgling democracy in a country far from its borders. Here are the phone numbers to call:  U.S. Senator James E. Risch tel: 202-224-2752  U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (202) 224-4744 U.S. Senator Chris Coons (202) 224-5042.

What is happening in Ethiopia now?

The TPLF’s propaganda warfare has caused severe alarm, widespread fear, hatred and family break-ups amongst Ethiopians, particularly Tigrayans, who fear ethnically motivated attacks. The genocide narrative has gained powerful and seemingly unstoppable momentum. The TPLF have employed intimidation tactics—scaring everyday Tigrayans, in the capital Addis Ababa and elsewhere, that they will be killed when the TPLF takes over the country unless they cooperate in the overthrow of the current government. This group is continuing to get tacit approval and support from the US government and its leaders, who remain misinformed on the true conditions on the ground. African Union leaders, including former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, are attempting to mediate a peace agreement. To this day, international media organizations continue to print headlines in favor of the TPLF. The #nomore movement is attempting to stop this blanket harassment of a democratically elected government so we can create the conditions for a peaceful surrender by the TPLF. This criminal insurgency needs to hear from global citizens that it does not have the unilateral support of superpowers like the US and their citizens. The TPLF needs to know it is the end of the road for its hostile take over guerrilla strategies and that transparent, people led movements for truth, accountability, justice and reconciliation will win today.

What can I do to help stop the spread of misinformation?

You can use your social media to say  “I stand with a united and peaceful Ethiopia. Join #nomore to learn more and defend the birthplace of humanity. Only uncolonized country in Africa. No US sanctions against Ethiopia.” Tell your friends to pay attention and care about Ethiopia. Every time you read anything from mainstream Ethiopia that vilifies the democratically elected government of Ethiopia, challenge their assumptions and ask them to check their sources and do balanced reporting, delineating opinions from facts. Follow thoughtful conversations like this one to stay informed on the issue. Unfortunately, certain universities are advancing one-sided narratives supporting the mistaken idea that the democratically elected government of Ethiopia is advancing genocide.  The  Yale Genocide Studies program is one example. Write to organizers of programs like this one asking for intellectual honesty and encouraging representation of facts. Finally, follow @hornofafricahub to keep up with this dynamic situation and support the end of the misinformation campaign. This is a playbook that other terroristic groups will continue to use to undermine democracy and advance the growing autocracy across the world. Let’s end this through people power.

How can we make sure all actors on both sides are held to account for atrocities of this war?

All peace loving people need to advocate for and make sure appropriate investments are made in supporting both Ethiopian and international judicial processes to hold those who have violated human rights through this conflict accountable. Investments are also needed in a robust Truth and Reconciliation process to bring healing and repair for the whole of the Ethiopian people and those in the Tigray, Amhara, Afar and other impacted regions where ethnically motivated killings and rapes have deeply traumatized a population. The seeds of division, wide-spread fear and multi-generational hatred planted and fostered by the TPLF over 27 years of rule and over this past year needs to be contended with and adequately resourced with a long-term Truth and Reconciliation process.

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