For any keen observer of politics in Ethiopia over the last twenty-five years the current crisis
is not the least surprising. The political, economic and social architecture, which exclusively
benefits a small minority that claims to represent less than 6% of the 100,000,000 population, is at the centre of the wider national discontent. This marginalization of the majority by a small minority reached an intolerable level on May 6, 2016 spilling over on the streets of cities, towns and villages across the four corners of the country. Demonstrations were exclusively peaceful and orderly, simply demanding political and economic rights. The response from the Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF) that has ruled the country over the last twenty-five years was a total massacre.
The May 6th massacre that included children as young as 10 years old was conducted with meticulous planning of the government’s security and military apparatus, including the positioning of sharp shooters on rooftops and high grounds surrounding peaceful demonstrations. Hospital sources in the north western city of Bahir Dar describe several victim’s injuries as a ‘single bullet head injury’. In preparation for this well-planned and executed mass murder, the regime cut off internet, telephone and electricity services in most cities including the capital Addis Ababa. Some cities still do not have service restored as the state massacre continues.
The scope and magnitude of this massacre truly is horrifying. A mother of two who participated in the Bahir Dar peaceful demonstration describes the situation as a ‘blood bath’. When I spoke with her over the phone she could hardly contain herself. Our conversation was interrupted several times as she struggled with her grief. “They shot my son in front of my eyes. I couldn’t protect him, I just held him close as he took his last breath. I couldn’t save him. Can you imagine?” she asked. “I will save the bloodied scarf I held my son, I will save it.” Posing a question to me, she asked, “What would you do if you were me? What would you do?” she repeated.