Read Time:6 Minute, 44 Second
9 November 2022
Tigrai Global Advocacy Group (TGAG) representing Tegaru in the Diaspora across the world prays and wishes peace and goodwill to its people and humankind everywhere. TGAG was born out of a war crime of unimaginable magnitude and genocide that was committed by coalition of forces summoned and assembled by the prime minister of Ethiopia and the president of Eritrea. The intent to exterminate an entire race was ended not because of international intervention but because of an ultimate painful sacrifice of the children of Tigrai.
As an advocacy group TGAG pledged to seek justice and human rights on behalf of the people of Tigrai. It should, therefore, come as no surprise to anyone that it would condemn and reject the peace agreement between the Tigrai Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Federal Government of Ethiopia signed on November 2, 2022, in Pretoria. This is not peace agreement of give and take but a one-sided diktat with critical omissions and detrimental errors. It lacks the basic principles of peace negotiations and dismantles the guard rails of peoples’ rights and security.
True to its color and modus operandi, TPLF in a nontransparent manner signed this agreement that clearly features major existential flaws. To begin with, there remains a major chasm of distrust between Tegaru and the government of Ethiopia which not only marshalled the coalition that carried out genocide at the start of the Tigrai war, but also continues a tight siege which has starved over half a million victims mostly children to death. Members of the coalition which the agreement conveniently omits to mention, the Eritrean Defense Force (EDF) and Amhara Special Forces (ASF) are still engaged in heinous war crimes, including ethnic cleansing.
- Under the pretext of recognition of the 1995 constitution of Ethiopia, the agreement stipulates decisive measures that defy the security and rights of the people of Tigrai.
- Because there can only be one defense force in a nation, “TPLF combatants” must disarm, redeploy, and integrate into the community. What the agreement refers to as TPLF combatants is the Tigrai Defense Force (TDF). This is the peoples’ army that rose from the ashes during the Battle of Tembien when the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and EDF instead of completing a mop up operation were degraded and repelled by a rag tag fighter that rapidly grew to TDF. This defense force has successfully defended the people of Tigrai from wrath of the coalition forces who still want to exterminate the Tigrai race. Thus, disarming TDF is equivalent to sentencing the people of Tigrai to extermination, which is unthinkable and unacceptable. The genocide still being carried out in Tigrai legitimizes the need for a capable force (TDF) that would ensure the security and survival of the people.
- The agreement further declares that the party elected by the people of Tigrai in October 2020, TPLF was illegally elected and therefore will be replaced by transitional government appointed by the federal government until a new election sanctioned by the Ethiopian election Board is elected. TGAG asserts that the people of Tigrai have rights like any other region to elect their government. They cannot surrender their fundamental rights as if they were conquered subordinates.
On the other hand, since TPLF willingly signed the agreement that nullifies its election in defiance of the peoples’ voice, TGAG demands its immediate removal from office so that transitional government of Tigrai could be duly formed.
- The lack of trust of the government of Ethiopia and its leaders. A feature considered a silver lining in the agreement is the recognition of the 1995 constitution. The government depended on it to disarm TDF. But when it came to the regional political and territorial sovereignty, the prime minister dashed all hopes of such expectation by modifying the content of the document. He declared 24 hours after signing of the agreement that boundary disputes will be settled
- The agreement delegates the monitoring and verification of compliance to African experts and commissions to be established by the AU and Ethiopian government. For this peace agreement to be implemented successfully, it would require neutral implementation expertise and resources which Africa does not have. TGAG does not support this loose arrangement to hover like dark cloud over an already brutalized people.
- The signed agreement also defers accountability to the Ethiopian constitution and deals with it as part of reconciliation and delegates it to the AU Transitional Justice Policy Framework, the existence and practice of which is questionable. The accountability Tigrai people expect is the referral of the war crimes incidents and genocide to ICC. There will never be conclusion of the war crimes that occurred in Tigrai until all perpetrators are held accountable. This will be good not only for Tigrai but also Africa and the rest of the world that has failed Tigrai in the prevention of genocide despite the cries of Tegaru in the Diaspora and international media.
1. Withdrawal of hostile forces: The agreement conveniently ignores the white elephant in the room, the presence of EDF and the ASF. Not only are these forces engaged in land and air murderous offensives against Tegaru civilians, but also looting and ethnic cleansing. They intend to change the ethnic makeup of western and southern region of Tigrai. There cannot be peace while these forces, especially EDF operate in Tigrai. And obviously, TDF cannot disarm unless the objective of the shrouded peace is the extermination of The Tigrai race.
2. Humanitarian aid: This was a nonnegotiable right per the preamble of the UN. The prime minister of Ethiopia introduced the term “humanitarian truce” which was accepted by the US and UN which encouraged the coalition to tighten the siege which has claimed over half a million lives due to starvation. Now that the UN has defied the preamble of the charter, we have no choice but demand for unconditional access to humanitarian aid before any peace agreement is negotiated.
3. Prisoners: Tegaru all over Ethiopia were jailed extrajudicially because of their ethnicity. They must be released if for nothing else but building trust to proceed with lasting peace.
TPLF and its negotiators continue negotiations oblivious of what is on the ground in Tigrai. TPLF must now hand over the negotiations to TDF commanders, officially withdraw and vacate its office in Mekele. Intense war between the Eritrean forces and TDF continues. Even if TDF were to be disarmed, the rest of the complex peace arrangement will remain in limbo. Africa Union does not have the credibility, integrity, human and material capacity to successfully oversee the compliance and safety of the Tigrai people who will be at the mercy of hostile forces surrounding them who continue the atrocities with the objective of extermination.
TGAG thus urgently calls on Tegaru in the Diaspora to Unite; perhaps under “International Union of Tegaru in the Diaspora” (IUTD). The initial mission of IUTD will be to campaign intensively and aggressively for UN Peacekeepers to be deployed to Tigrai immediately to assure the safety of the people and prevent second Rwanda. Hand wringing and excuse after the fact regardless of how well expressed will never bring back our people after an escalated genocide.
TGAG respectfully invites other Tegaru organizations to consider the initiative to campaign for peacekeepers and to form a union to centralize our purpose and efforts for collective strength. We may have differences of opinions, but the cause of our people and the existential threat they face must be the strongest cement to bind us together. Let us be people-centered and march to the tunes of our heroes to assure their survival.
Tigrai will prevail because of honesty, transparency, resiliency, and centuries of wisdom handed to us through the generations before us.
Eternal glory to our martyrs and those who continue to carry the battle of the day for the survival of the Tigrai race and culture.
Released two years and five days since the brutal assault of Tigrai on 4 November 2020, a day that will remain etched on Tegaru’s brain forever.