“I find it extremely difficult to talk about what’s happening around us,” said Haile to Abraham as they were going upstairs in the New Classroom Building, standing in the west wing of the campus. Abraham, as tall as he is, takes longer strides than Bekele who was behind him trying to keep pace with him. “What is bothering you so much? I do not see any reason why you are so bitter like that. I have never seen you like that at all,” replied Belete, firmly.
Without even looking back at Belete, as they were still climbing up, Hailu asked, “Don’t you follow world news about our county and what is happening around the world these days?” Belete shuddered at the unexpected question by his friend; he was taken up by surprise. How can my friend ask me a question bluntly? He is my dearest friend, after all. He thought under his breath. Belete did not bother to respond to Abraham right away as he used to.
Abraham, when he could not get immediate answer to his question, as usual, he again asked him “Why are you quiet, Belete?”
“What question?” retorted Belete, still looking the other way. By then they arrived at the office they had set out for.
The office was so crowded by people who had similar case with Hailu and Belete. Both friends had to sit down side by side in one corner and wait for their turn. The situation allowed them to continue their discussion. Yet, who would start first? Uneasiness grabbed them both and silence reigned for a while until Abraham cleared his throat and continued from where the stopped. “My friend,” he said, “when I said, don’t you know what’s happening, I did not mean to under estimate you. I was just trying to remind you of the urgency of what is happening to our country. It is my way of capturing full attention of my audience. I apologize if I have seriously offended you. I’m very sorry!”
Belete coming back to himself, with a low voice said, “I felt a bit offended as you had never talked to me like that. How you asked me was unlike you. But now I understand you. I, too, apologize, my friend.”
“I’m glad that you accepted my apology. Misunderstanding is bad for it can separate close friends just like that,” tapping his friend’s shoulder.
Now with relaxed spirit, Belete asked, “What was it that you wanted to tell me?” “The situation of our country bothers me very much,” said Abraham. “What about it? I mean, I want to know what it is all about?” enquired Belete looking at Abraham strait in the eye.
After a brief pose, Abraham, as if looking for the right words said, “It is what the TPLF is doing in northern Ethiopia, namely Tigray, Amhara and Afar regional states. Funny enough, despite its loss in every battle front, still it tenaciously clings to its dream of reinstating itself in power and rule Ethiopia again.”
“How can that be?” asked Belete.
“The junta thinks that it can achieve its vicious objective by killing innocent civilians in tens of thousands in the regions. The war crime it is doing is beyond human comprehension,” said Abraham trying to show the picture vividly.
“Can’t anybody do something stop to it once and for all?” Belete angrily asked.
“Under normal circumstance it could have been easy for the national defense force together with Amhara and Afar’s special forces and the militia. But the situation in this case is rather quite different.”
“What does that mean?”
Abraham tried to explain it clearly. “I mean to say if it were conventional warfare it could have been very simple to force junta soldiers to totally surrender or to wipe them out without mercy. Nevertheless, their war tactic is using human shield. They make it appear social warfare. But in actual sense it is not.”
“I still don’t understand you. What is human shield and what is social warfare?” Belete demanded clarity for he felt so much bewildered. Abraham with the spirit of vengeance looked around if there were people listening to them and said, “In warfare strategy, evil fighters like TPLF fights from places where many people gather like churches, mosques and schools. They use humans as their shield for they know that well-trained soldiers equipped with strict military discipline, do not make these places their targets as they are well aware that there will be deaths and heavy human casualties if they do so.”
“Now I understand what human shield means. Don’t they care for the safety of their citizens whom they always propagate about to the international community?” asked Belete.
“The other problem,” added Abraham, “which is worse than the human shield is what they call human wave which the junta soldiers are using. They force as many innocent people including children, women and elderly people to fight. In the battle, the untrained people are placed in the front to serve as shock absorbers while the forces of the junta remain behind. These innocent people die in hundreds in every front and keep dying as the flow of the people does not stop. As one group is wiped out, another follows non-stop as sea wave. The difference here is people die.”
“What you are telling me is rather shocking,” said Belete.
Abraham deeply sighed and said, “There is more to what these people are doing. What they have done to Amharas and the Afar people in the wake of the unilateral ceasefire agreement is appalling. Just recently, in afar region alone, they massacred over two hundred and forty displaced people out of whom 107 are children in Galicoma at the health center and school where they took refuge.”
“Tell me more. My knowledge about the crisis in the north is very limited. I’m rather oblivious of what is happening. I could say I’m suffering from naivety,” humbly said Belete.” He further asked,
“How about the so called international community, particularly the West, what are they doing? Why do they sit back and quietly watch when such human atrocities take place? They behave as if nothing has happened at all,” “When it comes to international community, the situation is quite intriguing. It is now proven that their human rights propagation is relative and blindly partial. For any simpler issue, it is evident that they move mountains by means of their media and all other setups as long as the measures they take are in line with their selfish interest.”
Belete, rather confused said, “Wait a minute. Are you telling me that they are not fair in their judgment? What has Ethiopia done to them to be ill-treated like that?”
“From every indication, it is not because they care about what’s happening in Tigray but they use the TPLF as spring board for their geopolitical interest in the horn of Africa.” added Abraham.
At this point, Belete nodded his head as a sign of agreement to what Abraham was telling him. “Now I understand. This issue might include the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” he said.
“Of course it is the major issue that has triggered the whole crisis. They are aware of the fact that the dam lays firm foundation for Ethiopia’s future economic prospects,” reassured Abraham.
‘Why does the international community bent on thwarting of Ethiopia’s efforts to harness the Nile, her natural gift that flows right from her bosom, to produce electric power? Why do they play double standard in dealing with Ethiopia’s case in Tigray Region? They are violating the international rule or principle. They unfairly apply it in different ways to different people or groups like they are doing it to Ethiopia’ deeply thought Abraham.
“I hear that Europe and the US use double standard towards Ethiopia’s law enforcement operation in Tigray as a sovereign country.”
What does it mean?” enquired Belete.
“You know,” said Abraham, “there is the internationally agreed upon law that a sovereign country has the right to solve its internal affairs without interference. Yet, in violation of this law, the international community, particularly the US is trying to force Ethiopia to abandon the law enforcing operation and negotiate with the terrorist group. The US, for instance, vociferously declares not to negotiate with terrorists.”
“Why does she urge, rather compel Ethiopia to negotiate with a terrorist group? Why do Semantha Power and Jeffry Feltman waste their time if they come to Ethiopia only to violate the law? This is a stark double standard,” agreed Belete.
The people march in the streets in support of the government’s desire to bring peace and prosperity into the country, and in opposition to the international community for what it is doing to Ethiopia.
Everybody is puzzled as to what’s to be done.
As the time was getting late for lunch, Abraham and Belete hurried to their homes.
BY JOSEPH SOBOKA
FRIDAY 11 MARCH 2022