Ethiopia: Sovereignty is a priority just like peace - opinion

All partners, including the African Union, EU, and the UN, must recognize the government’s commitment to peace and support its repeated call for the TPLF to stop hostilities.

 RESIDENTS AND militias stand next to houses destroyed by an air strike during the fight between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and Tigray People’s Liberation Front in Afar region, Ethiopia, earlier this year.  (photo credit: TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS)
RESIDENTS AND militias stand next to houses destroyed by an air strike during the fight between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and Tigray People’s Liberation Front in Afar region, Ethiopia, earlier this year.
(photo credit: TIKSA NEGERI / REUTERS)

As of August 24, the rebel group Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) started attacking the Amhara and Afar regions, waging full-scale war in areas adjacent to Tigray; slaughtering and forcibly displacing innocent civilians, and carrying out the destruction of property and infrastructure. The rebels are known for their barbaric acts of violence including rape, systematic murder of peaceful residents, and merciless executions of prisoners of war. 

The TPLF is categorized as a terrorist group because of the atrocities and methods employed to conduct those acts. They massacred thousands last year in the cities, towns and villages in Afar and Amhara, and looted and destroyed all private and public properties. This time, they began to loot fuel and food coming from international organizations. The TPLF is fabricating lies about the conduct of the hostilities and its theft of fuel destined for humanitarian aid. 

The Ethiopian government assumes the responsibility to defend the sovereignty of the nation and the security of the people, which is its immediate priority. The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), along with various regional forces, are taking defensive and counter-offensive measures, bravely repulsing the attacks by the TPLF. The ENDF is known for its strength and military capabilities. 

From its very establishment, the TPLF held the people in the Tigray region hostage, under brutal and harsh rules. The international community needs to accept the fact that TPLF is a terrorist organization. As its history reflects, it is by no means ready for peace. TPLF’s conflict enterprise and behavior is consistent with its track record of dismissal of the appeals of elders, mothers and religious leaders of society, in addition to its vicious attacks on civilians.

TPLF has been conducting military training by forcefully conscripting the youth to advance its political objectives. It has mobilized the population in the Tigray region and threatened all who oppose forced conscription with severe consequences. TPLF is not committed to peace.

A woman stands in line to receive food donations, at the Tsehaye primary school, which was turned into a temporary shelter for people displaced by conflict, in the town of Shire, Tigray region, Ethiopia, March 15, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER/FILE PHOTO)A woman stands in line to receive food donations, at the Tsehaye primary school, which was turned into a temporary shelter for people displaced by conflict, in the town of Shire, Tigray region, Ethiopia, March 15, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER/FILE PHOTO)

The international community must help 

THE INTERNATIONAL community must acknowledge the brutality of TPLF’s aggressive actions. It is time to stop the suffering of the people in the Tigray region and the neighboring regions. All parties must take the necessary action on the TPLF to stop these griefs.

All partners, including the African Union, EU, and the UN, must recognize the government’s commitment to peace and support its repeated call for the TPLF to stop hostilities. Any statement from partners that embolden the TPLF will not help the people or advance the cause of peace. 

We all know that the Ethiopian government has been taking various measures during the past several months to create conditions for an amicable solution to the conflict. In that regard, the call for a permanent ceasefire is a demonstration that the conflict must end only through peaceful means. 

On the other hand, the negative social media campaign that intensified in the wake of the additional steps for a peaceful settlement clearly showed the TPLF’s longstanding tactics of victimhood and blame-shifting. The TPLF must be pushed out of occupied territories in the Afar and Amhara regions. The government has called on the people in the Tigray region to stay away from areas where TPLF’s military equipment and training facilities are located.

I understand that Ethiopia faces many challenges; therefore, Ethiopians in the diaspora are called to do their best to ramp up efforts to protect the interests of their homeland. We support the government’s commitment to not compromise the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, in line with the federal constitution. 

The writer is a former MK and an activist.