Sewale Belew – [email protected]
From the outset, false distinctions between worthy Tigraway and unworthy Amhara populations are enforced by TPLF propaganda and tribal led politics that attempts to disintegrate shared reality, degrade language vitality and create fertile ground for all kinds of hate-led revengeful treachery ideas to flourish its political domination.
Crucially speaking, the trademark of TPLF propaganda is not only promoting lies, which is characteristic of propaganda warfare in general, but also, upholding lies in service of TPLF’s own strategy look true and justifiable.
The ongoing TPLF atrocities in Afar and Amhara regions of Northern Ethiopia reminds constantly on how TPLF opted to apply the famous statement used by the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, who said: If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth. Strikingly, much of the TPLF propaganda tactics used by its spokesmen including Getachew Reda, General Tsadkan, and General Tadesse are all direct replicas adopted from this Nazis propaganda tactics.
An exemplary case in point is the propaganda techniques used by Joseph Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it often, people will eventually come to believe it as truth.” This was the ‘big lie” law of propaganda often attributed to Joseph Goebbels and the Nazi Party. The ‘big lie’ technique that they described – and that they used enabled them to turn the long-standing antisemitism in Europe into mass murder. In this regard, the Nazis’ ‘big lie’ concept was their depiction of Germany as an innocent, besieged land striking back at the “international Jewry”, whom the Nazis blamed for starting World War I.
This Nazi propaganda repeatedly claimed that Jews held power behind the scenes in Britain, Russia, and the United States. It further spread claims that the Jews had begun a war of extermination against Germany, and used these to assert that Germany had a right to annihilate the Jews in self-defense. Similarly, Hitler instructed his Nazi party activists and regime heads by providing his primary rules that stated:
“never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame that enemy for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.” 
In this 21st century, the term has been applied to Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the result of the 2020 United States presidential election. In this instance, the term was used to refer to the false claim that the election was stolen through massive electoral and voter fraud; the scale of the claims resulted in Trump supporters attacking the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2020.
TPLF’s Political Propaganda Manipulation and Money Making Networks
As its vested political maneuvering strategy, TPLF utilizes the following main propaganda media manipulation techniques and most commonly followed social media propaganda sharing and messaging techniques of war propaganda for its global and domestic media consumers and news analysts.
TPLF’s Four Fold Media Manipulation Techniques to Fight Its Prospective Enemies:
- TPLF’s breaking news and newspaper editorial techniques
- Selecting TPLF amplifying one-sided topics for broadcasting and placement
- Choosing one-sided headlines focused on TPLF as title, subtitle or section titles
- Writing one-sided allocation of text or speaking time about conflict of TPLF & other parties.
- Selecting one-sided or non-transparent 3rdparty sources
- Interviewing guests deliberately on one-sided selected designation of TPLF legitimizing topics.
- Preparing misleading omission of context or background information to downplay the opposition parties.
- TPLF’s linguistic use techniques
- Make use of unsubstantiated or false allegations or assertions on issues in question.
- Make manipulative choice of words (phrases), formulations, and designations to win audience.
- Make manipulative suggestions, insinuations, and associations to legitimize TPLF and its status.
- Make manipulative translations and citations that give TPLF excellent images.
- TPLF’s audiovisual techniques
- Make manipulative useof photo, or figurative images, sound or film material
- Make manipulative editing of photo images, sound or film material
- Make manipulative use of the audio-background music
- Make manipulative facial expressions, gestures, intonation of the subject matter in a convincing framework.
- TPLF’s supplementary techniques
- Continuously appeal to foreign authorities the status of TPLF
- Constantly fight the enemy by defaming; discrediting; and mocking in all media outlets
- Constantly idealize TPLF while trivializing the enemy camp.
- Constantly dramatize; personalize; and generalize accusations coming from the enemy camp.
- Constantly ask for financial and material support in cash or in kind.
TPLF’s ten messaging techniques for portraying its war propaganda
- Always tell the enemy camp is solely responsible for the war
- Always justify TPLF and Tigray people are innocent and peace-loving
- Always portray the enemy camp as having demonic features of mercilessness
- Always justify TPLF is fighting with determination for a good cause; while the enemy fights for its selfish ends.
- Always tell that the enemy commits inhuman atrocities on purpose; while with TPLF, it is a forced situation and an unwanted accident.
- Always propagate the enemy uses illegal weapons to destroy Tigray and its people.
- Always spread TPLF’s losses are small, while those of the opponent are enormous.
- Always broadcast TPLF’s cause is supported by intellectuals and renowned artists
- Always spread the news TPLF’s basic mission is sacred and liberating
- Always get ready and fight telling anyone who doubts TPLF’s reporting is a traitor.
TPLF’s Extended Background Preparatory Inculcation and Propaganda campaigns
At home in Tigray Region, long before the November 2020 startup of initiating the fight with the Ethiopian government, TPLF had been preparing itself in all fronts for the war. Besides amassing weapons and government treasury for its objectives, its main core pillar was preparing the young recruits to its Tigray Forces was strengthening its propaganda manipulation tasks through various scope and optional means. The main ones included the following:
TPLF provided decisive and repetitive trainings on how to target members of the various ethnic or religious groups who they believe have to pay for original crimes committed against Tigray in the past, even if the randomly chosen victims had nothing to do with it. All they care about such action is revenge only; and they would travel to the victims’ territory to enact it by any means possible.
TPLF trained its youth recruits to consider themselves absolutely as “crusaders,” often for an ethnic, Tigray national or religious cause. Their mission: to take part in TPLF’s total war waged against members of a rival ethnic or religion neighbors. They are often linked to groups that share their “Tigray Tiserh” ethnocentric views.
TPLF trained its mass-media wing operators to write lengthy declarations explaining TPLF’s core views, visit websites drenched in hate speech and violent imagery, and travel to target symbolically significant sites while seeking to maximize bloodshed.
TPLF trained its cadres and agitations activists to believe that the status quo system is rigged against them, which means that they can justify excessive violence against innocents. It further trained them to move into taking actions as part of a toxic mix of animosity, emotions and showing angers as well as fear of any unexpected expression of outrage.
TPLF trained massive active youth participants who passionately work on social media and the Internet, with TPLF’s hives of hate groups located both in Diaspora globally and within and outside Tigray domestically, whose main mission is to feed solely TPLF agenda of hate mongering, especially with the ascendancy of the youth for Tigray Tisereh mission.
TPLF trained its youth fighter army members to selflessly be dedicated to be committed for the adventure of it, and the victims to them are vulnerable simply because their sexual, ethnic, gender or religious background differs from that of Tigray braves who fight to free themselves heroically. They are brainwashed to consider their group attacks in any external rural community as revenge, in response to collective slights against their communities in Tigray in the form of state terrorism.
TPLF trained its youth fighter army members to think society doesn’t care about the victims. On the contrary, they will easily surrender to TPLF and would applaud their assault in appreciation to TPLF’s power.
Most TPLF recruits have mostly been young, but irrational and dangerous. They are loyal to TPLF and take the brainwashing training as fun to go and harass the distant unknown ethnic groups beyond Tigray region. Trained to see themselves as “defending” their turf: their neighborhood, their workplace, their religion or their country. They are trained to justify their dedicated crimes as necessary actions to keep the persisting threats on Tigray at bay. They are brainwashed to stay brave and show little or no remorse for their attacks. They are told to believe that most, if not all, of society supports them and their heroic actions. They are brainwashed to believe that what they’re doing individually and collectively has some sort of communal assent for Tigray.
Exhibition 1: Defining Non-Tigraway Folks and Leaders as Major Foes
TPLF’s consistent strategy and tactics for using social media and other propaganda methods in and beyond Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia is to identify and synchronize its varied social media outlets, and how they impact on its propaganda warfare campaigns against its rivalries (i.e., the Afar, the Amhara and the PM Abiy regime). TPLF strives always to prove its capabilities of providing a deep dive into its propaganda warfare efforts on social media through Facebook, Twitter, TikTok etc. In so doing, TPLF identifies a major battleground of ideas that are currently being waged to periodically arouse and motivate its followers in Tigray and in Diaspora. It specifically identifies Tigraway communities of closely connected Twitter and Facebook users domestically inside Ethiopia and externally among those Tigraway supporters in Diaspora. TPLF exploits new realities of online and social media to conduct its propaganda warfare at a perhaps unprecedented scale and level of complexity.
In this respect, TPLF leadership members are never content to merely lie in hitting their targets; they must transform their lie about “Greater Tigray” into a new reality, and they must persuade people in Tigray to believe in the unreality they’ve created since they were in Deddebit, Lower Tembien of Tigray Region in 1975. As such, the idea about “Greater Tigray” appeals to an imaginary and glorious past of Tigray people that was destroyed by the Amhara dictators. And in principle, after repeated lies, if you get people to believe in what you tell, you can convince them to do anything. Once when you are able to convince them to follow this fantasy version of reality, usually “the greater Tigray” nationalist narrative, and about its decline and the need for a strong TPLF leadership to return it to Tigray’s glorious past and greatness, then from that moment on, Tigray population’s anchor isn’t the world around them, but solely TPLF, whom they look up to lead them to the ultimate succession and freedom of Greater Tigray.
A key part of The TPLF leadership propaganda strategy has been and still is to define the enemy and those who posed a threat to the so-called “the chosen Tigray ethnic population. In this regard, TPLF’s Tigraway propaganda emphasis was essential in promoting the myth of the “The greater Tigray national community” and in identifying who should be excluded. In this regard the Amhara ethnic group have been considered the main enemy. But since 2019, the PM Abiy-led-admin is also included in TPLF’s primary enemy circle. Of late, others targeted as enemies of TPLF include the Afar and the Somali regional political elites and the regional army.
A key tactic used in achieving TPLF’s control of power is TPLF’s outlined propaganda and laws drafted and used to define the Amhara people as a major enemy group to be annihilated or crushed. TPLF leadership’s propaganda campaigns to its militia foot soldiers incited hatred or cultivated indifference to the Amhara and any other ethnic group that stands on its way to power. In such political actions, TPLF leadership and its political cadres were particularly effective in creating an atmosphere tolerant of violence against the Amhara ethnic group by invading with massive human waves into rural communities.
In TPLF’s manifesto, the leadership declared their intention to segregate the Amhara ethnic group from its democratic centralism platform and to segregate them from any leading political, legal, and civil rights roles. TPLF political cadres were recruited and well trained as propagandists to exploit classic labels against the Amhara as “Neftegna and Autarchic” to give a false portrayal of the Amhara ethnic group. According to TPLF leadership’s standing false propaganda, the Amhara ethnic groups were fed off the Tigray nation, poisoned its superior culture, seized zapped its economy, and enslaved the Tigray population as a 2nd class citizen. TPLF leadership perpetually claimed that the National Defense army member’s ethnic mixing through marriage intentionally weakened Tigray. Such hateful portrayal, while neither new nor unique to the TPLF leadership and its cadres, it became a prime propaganda image used to seduce the silent majority of the population in Tigray.
Exhibition 2: TPLF Erected a Statue to Propagate, Castigate Neftagna
The propaganda used by TPLF-leadership in the years leading up to and during Meles Zenawi’s Premiership of Ethiopia (1990–2012) was a crucial instrument for acquiring and maintaining TPLF-power, and for the implementation of TPLF-devised constitutional policies. Prior to his death, at one meeting session in time point, Meles Zenawi, spoke to his TPLF constituency stating:
“We’re not on the brink of the Amhara takeover. But there are reasons to be concerned, and we should always be on guard — that has been and still is the lesson of history. If we let the Amhara and Oromo easily join hands in solidarity against us Tigraway people and TPLF, then that is when we are totally annihilated and eliminated from power position”.
His speech appeared to be a sign of radicalization and warning signal. It provided a prophesy message preparing TPLF of the upcoming mass murder it would commit in the Amhara region. As predicted, in recent years, TPLF’s atrocities are spread beyond the Amhara region, extending and reaching deep into the Afar region as well.
TPLF’s fantasy of the glorious past of Greater Tigray usually reflects a invariably patriarchal image in which the enshrinement of traditional gender roles lends moral authority to the strongman (Tegadalay) to impose his will on the his fellow worriers. Through appeals to the mythic past of Greater Tigray, TPLF establishes a hierarchy of tribal human worth labeled as: “Us” vs. “them”; Tigraway vs. Amhara.
Most notably, the statue erected by TPLF leadership in Bahr Dar City as an exhibition showing a portrait of an old Amhara man positioning his rifle down and carrying a flower was shown both to domestic and foreign visitors as a sign of a demoralized and humiliated Amhara Neftegna soldier.
Exhibition 3: TPLF Erected a Statue of a Cut-Off-Breast to Propagate, Castigate Neftagna
In Arsi, Oromia region, TPLF erected a statue exhibiting a cut-off-breast – ANOLE – portraying to exhibit a false narrative on how cruel the Amhara Neftegna settlers had been in the past. Although the Statue in Bahir Dar was demolished and replaced recently, the ANOLE cut-off-breast portray of a woman in Arsi tract still persists somehow. These statues were intentionally erected to intentionally degenerate the Amhara into humility and create animosity and havoc among the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups. Obviously this will keep the TPLF on power when the two endlessly engage in quagmires and skirmishes.
Exhibition 4: Enflaming Hate and Spreading Amhara Triviality
Propaganda made by TPLF has always been an intentional exercise of its leadership to promote its ‘Greater Tigray’ nationalism and succession concepts among the general population of Tigray. It’s a method of politics, a rhetoric, or a way of running for power. Accordingly, with massive support from the USA, it fulfilled its dream of holding power. Since TPLF seized government power in 1990 in Ethiopia, its main propaganda was three folds: (a) to demonize the Amhara ethnic population, (b) to create a climate of hostility, and (c) to create feeling of worthlessness toward the Amhara troubles when invaded with massive human wave tactics.
Ever since TPLF was replaced by PM Abiy’s government in 2018, many Amhara owned businesses, public edifices and religious places have been and still are being constantly destroyed by the endlessly recurring TPLF foot soldiers’ massive human invasions and violence against the Amhara regional communities. Many Amahara households, who had the means tried to leave their homesteads but encountered countless bureaucratic hurdles and recurring attacks.
Right before of instigating massive atrocities against the Amhara and Afar population in 2020, TPLF leadership made militia parades in major cities and towns of Tigray, showed public displays of anti-Amhara and anti-government groups in a variety of forms, from posters and newspapers to videos and radio addresses. TPLF cadre propagandists both within Tigray and in Diaspora offered subtler anti-Amhara viewpoints for educated, middle-class Tigraway people offended on TV and social media videos by makeshift caricatures. Few Tigraway university professors and religious leaders gave anti-Amhara ethnic themes respectability by integrating them into their lectures, public speeches and church sermons.
With repeated propagation made against the Amhara in Tigray, dislike of the Amhara easily got fully stirred up in recent years all around Tigray region and extended far beyond the TPLF cadres and its faithful followers. The majority of Tigray population, at least passively, accepted humiliation and hate propaganda and discrimination against the Amhara. TPLF leadership succeeded with its inciting hate and popularizing Amhara’s worthlessness.
In recent years, in some cases that occurred within Tigray and even in the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions, the TPLF leadership campaigns exploited the violence they stirred, which were both calculated and spontaneous, with massive human wave. The goal has been, and still is, to encourage passivity and acceptance of anti-Amhara and Anti-Afar mass killings as a political vehicle to restore TPLF to control its previous government power. Propaganda that demonized the Afar and Amhara within Tigray region also served to prepare the Tigray Region’s silent majority population, in the context of preventing Tigray from genocide.
 “OSS Psychological Profile of Hitler, page 46” (PDF). cia.gov. Retrieved 17 June 2018. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_lie.