Dr. Aklog Birara
The UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) was singed on December 2006 and became effective on December 23, 2010. This important legal instrument is part of the body of international human rights laws that mitigate state initiated and state-sponsored actors from abusing peaceful citizens. “The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) is an international human rights instrument of the United Nations and intended to prevent forced disappearance defined in international law, crimes against humanity.” As of the end of July 2016, 96 states have signed the convention and 52 have ratified it. What is the content of this convention? Article 2 states the purpose clearly. “For the purposes of this Convention “enforced disappearance” is considered to be the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.” Welcoming the Ethiopian New Year, one of the holiest seasons for Ethiopians the artist Yehunie Belay sang a moving, thrilling and patriotic song, Seken Bel (literally be serene and thoughtful) calling for the end of “brothers killing brothers.” It takes sane, collected and thoughtful people to recognize the importance of this song. It takes a world view that embraces everyone’s humanity, identity and dignity. Above all, it takes a government leadership that values human life over material possession, greed and an insatiable preoccupation to steal, plunder and remove all human obstacles in achieving and maintaining these privileges. The purpose of this article is to argue that the TPLF is culpable (liable) not only for killings, maiming, torture and imprisonment of thousands; it is equally accountable for the “enforced disappearances” of thousands of Amhara, Oromo, Annuak, Somali, Konso and other Ethiopians. I have argued numerous times that “enforced disappearances” constitute the largest segment of ethnic cleansing and “silent genocide.” Ask yourself why the TPLF Agazi and its agents go house to house and arrest thousands of young people? Where does the TPLF take these people and what does it do with them? When a mother in the Amhara region asked the whereabouts of her only child, she was told by Agazi personnel they did not know. She was told to ask the “local authorities.” It is this kind of trickery the TPLF uses in all disappearance cases. They used the same trickery when asked about ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Amhara in the 1990s when the distinguished Professor and renowned physician Dr. Asrat Woldeyes responded and saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Amhara. In Gambella, authorities rejected
accountability for the massacre of more than 400 Annuak. History recalls that Meles and his cronies blamed the CUPD for the massacres, arrests and disappearances following the flawed elections in 2005. Most recently, they refused to acknowledge that 5,000 Oromo were arrested and or “enforced to disappear.” To date, 11,000 Amhara youth have been arrested and their whereabouts is unknown. Denial is the DNA of the TPLF and its supporters. In Bahir Dar, where the TPLF is on a witch hunt, its agents hauled thousands of young people; and when asked told parents that they were being sent to military and education camps. Forget rehabilitation and education camps. The TPLF leadership is incapable of learning and changing itself and its cohorts let alone teaching anyone anything worthwhile. It is alleged that many young people arrested in Bahir Dar were subjected to “injections.” Are these injections to calm young people as if they are lions or Rhino being sent to the zoo? No, it is to make them incapable of thinking and fighting back. It is to incapacitate them for the rest of their lives. Imagine the enormous social, economic, psychological and other costs to their parents, spouses, brothers, sisters and other relatives. Imagine the cost to Ethiopia as a country! Imagine too the intent to decapitalize the Amhara and the Oromo nationality. The TPLF builds prisons as if they are factories! Systemic Displacement and “enforced disappearances” are institutionalized The TPLF is systematic and deliberate in its targeted program of displacement, marginalization and disappearances. For the Amhara population, it is a matter of survival. Research shows before and after it took power, the TPLF “killed, maimed, imprisoned and “enforced disappearances” in the Wolkait-Tegede and other areas of the Gondar region. It reconfigured Gojjam diminishing its size and enabling the expanded Tigrean state to envelope and strangulate Gondar and Gojjam. Its primary objective was and still is to displace and annex lands and incorporate them into Greater Tigray extending its border to the Sudan. At this pace of annexation, there won’t be sufficient land for the Amhara population. Nor will there be a robust succeeding generation. This is among the root causes of the current popular resistance. The annexation of lands around Adds Ababa follows the same model. It displaces Oromo farmers to make room for the newly rich Tigrean elite and its cohort of supporters. Land grab is a new and aggressive wave of subjugating powerless Amhara, Oromo and others and ensuring the supremacy and longevity of the Tigrean elite. Forget the façade of equality of nations, nationalities and peoples. The decimation of the indigenous people of the Omo valley is illustrative of greed gone mad. According to the Voice of America, TPLF forces attacked the indigenous population of the Konso, recognized by UNESCO as unique. The lands belong to them. For the past 5 days, the TPLF’s Special Forces, including the notorious Agazi, “killed many people, burned several homes and entire villages, displaced thousands and ‘enforced’ unknown numbers of disappearances.” Young men fled the scene due to fear of being killed, arrested and tortured. There is no argument that the TPLF and its champions place a premium on physical property and diminished worth on human life. For the past 25 years, the TPLF and its cohorts used Ethiopia as their private ATM, extracting billions of dollars to enrich the few while the vas
majority of Ethiopians starve; and hundreds of thousands leave their homes in search of opportunities abroad. The regime is not only greedy; it is also inhumane. The regime or its agents burn prisons such as Kilinto and kill political prisoners trying to save their lives. How more cruel can a regime be? A guard at the scene said “he saw wholesale massacre.” This is crime against humanity. The regime believes that it can solve social, political and economic crimes by killing victims rather than by overhauling the entire system that is the root cause of the problem. It is time to ask them why victims would allow this suffocating environment to persist! The notion that the TPLF is capable of subjugating, killing, maiming, arresting and causing to enforce the disappearances of an estimated 40 million Amhara (throughout Ethiopia) and Oromo whose numbers are greater than the Amhara population is absurd. It is impossible. Equally, unless the Oromo and Amhara choose to remain divided, suspicious of one another and perceive one another as inimical rather than amical, it is no longer feasible for the TPLF to govern Ethiopia. One cannot govern people who refuse to be governed regardless of the military might one can deploy. Ethiopia is too big for that! The Ethiopian people are fiercely independent for that! As I have suggested before numerous times, the best option is a political transition that involves all stake-holders. The TPLF must recognize that it has placed the entire Tigrean population at risk. Equally, Tigreans must come out of their cocoons and join their Oromo, Konso, Annuak, Somali, Amhara and other sisters and brothers as they struggle for freedom, justice, genuine equality and democracy. In summary, the TPLF leadership is legally responsible and accountable for “enforced disappearances.” It behooves this clan to heed to Yehunie Belay’s incredible song that calls for “serenity,” composure and statesmanship rather than a display of the arrogance of power and of brinkmanship. Killing innocent people and “enforcing disappearances” of thousands of youth is a losing proposition!!! Long Live Ethiopia! Long Live Unity in Diversity!