We Must Hold Abiy Ahmed Accountable For The Atrocities Committed in Ethiopia

Weyni Kidanemariam, Contributing Writer

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was hailed as a regional mediator after he earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. This happened after decades of commendations for initiating a lifetime commitment to fully execute the peace agreement with Eritrea that was accomplished in 2000. Many now feel the Prime Minister, however, is guilty of genocide—perpetrating instances of extensive sexual violence and abuse, war crimes, massacres, torture, and forced displacement in response to regional opposition and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), erupting into rebellion.

Ethiopia is well renowned for being the birthplace of coffee, and having a rich, diverse culture and authentic cuisine. Now, recent Google searches and top stories of 2022 exhibit exploitative news covers that implicate Ahmed’s involvement in a long-running genocide, killing many innocent Tigrayans living in the northern region. Ahmed launched a military attack in northern Tigray in November 2020, promising that the issue would be settled shortly. Eight months on, however, the fighting has left hundreds of thousands dead, forced more than 1.7 million to flee, fueled famine, and given rise to a wave of atrocities, according to Cable News Network. Now, after two years of brutalization, Ahmed continuously denies the ethnic cleansing—after intentionally cutting off aid and creating more of a monarchical system for Ethiopia––thereby fueling his authoritarian beliefs. In Western Tigray, Ahmed has enabled the displacement of natives by sending the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), Amhara Militia, and other special forces to attack infrastructure, destruct villages, and sexually torture women of all ages. According to The Conversation, “In 2021, Ethiopia reported 5.1 million internally displaced people in 12 months.” This intercommunal violence and hatred towards northern Ethiopia have led Tigrayans to seek refuge in Sudan. 

… The fighting has left hundreds of thousands dead, forced more than 1.7 million to flee, fueled famine, and given rise to a wave of atrocities.

The prime minister has also spoken out against this troubling issue of sexual brutality. Eritrea Hub states, on March 21, 2020, during a parliamentary session in which he was questioned on behalf of the sexual violence in Tigray, Ahmed replied: “The women in Tigray? These women have only been penetrated by men, whereas our soldiers were penetrated by a knife”. This endorsement has fueled social outrage as this statement prohibited women from speaking out about crimes that have been committed against them. Many didn’t believe these allegations of assault; with every encounter of alleged sexual abuse, assault, or rape, there was denial, and unsupported claims of “fake news.” This led to the screams and testimonies of suffering by the women of Tigray to now being mocked and rejected as fabrication. The lack of care for Tigrayan women has revealed itself and is another crucial aspect of the lack of resources provided.

As a result, holding Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, responsible for the long-running genocide is a crucial step to getting justice. Justice for the millions displaced, for the tens of thousands of women who were sexually abused, and for the hundreds of thousands who have passed away. Ahmed’s lack of empathy, arrogance, and responsibility punishes many and now, a once thriving nation is a suffering country in need.

This article also appears in our January 2023 print edition.