As you celebrate christmas surrounded by your loved ones, I kindly request you to remember the millions of innocent Tigrayans who are being collectively punished by shelling, bombardment, extrajudicial killings, deliberate starvation, massacres, looting and pillaging, and denial of services and humanitarian aid.
I had my ticket booked for a flight from Kigali, Rwanda where I live to Tigray to spend the holidays with my family. I was looking forward to spending the holidays with my family, friends and neighbors whom I missed a lot. On Christmas, which we celebrate about two weeks later than the West, people dress in their best white clothes, come together and share whatever they have making the holiday a special memory. I was looking forward to be a part of this yearly special memory and to laughing and playing with my sister and brothers.
Now, not only are my flights and plans in ruins, but also I have no idea whether my family members are alive or killed. The war on Tigray has devastated me. For 53 days, I have not heard from them. All I have heard from indirect sources is that our village situated between Wukro and Sinkata is occupied by Eritrean soldiers and that the people have fled to the mountains and caves. Can they still manage to stay alive for this long without food and water? While I desperately cling to the hope that they are alive, I keep seeing nightmares. I am terrified of thinking of my family in the mountains and caves. I am terrified of visualizing my mother, my sister and my brothers in hopelessness, despair, fear, hunger, thirst and suffering. That is just because I do not want to entertain the likely idea that they might have been brutally killed. This is now the story of almost every Tigrayan who is outside Tigray.
Just 53 days ago, Tigray was peaceful and Tigrayans had normal lives. Now, Tigrayans are in a great danger of extermination. All of a sudden, their lives have been turned upside down when Ethiopian Defense Forces, Eritrean military, Amhara militia and special forces, and special forces from the different Ethiopian regions, and aided with UAE drones, total blockade and total communication blackout, waged a devastating war on them. Despite the blackout, rare reports have shown us that no Tigrayans are to be seen in the densely populated villages and towns between Mekelle and Adigrat and from the end of western Tigray to Shire. Where have the people gone? Are they all killed? Or did they all flee?
For 53 days no banks, no hospitals, no electricity, no telephone, no internet, no water. More than a million Tigrayan have been displaced. Tens of thousands killed. No humanitarian aid allowed, no journalists allowed. 52,000 Tigrayans have fled to Sudan, but now the military has blocked Tigrayans from fleeing to Sudan lest they tell the horrific crimes being committed in Tigray to the world. According to the UN, 2.3 million children in Tigray are cut off from humanitarian aid. Hospitals, universities, and houses have been looted and pillaged.
Tigray was an epicenter of the communist junta government-induced famine of 1984/5 that moved Bob Geldof and Midge Ure‘s to come up with “Do They Know It’s Christmas?“, and later with Live Aid and Band Aid. The Tigrayans have now, again, been subjected to a replay of that horrible crisis.
As you celebrate Christmas, I want you to think of the innocent children, mothers and elderly Tigrayans that have been put in unnecessary suffering. I want you to pray for them. Your thoughts, prayers and solidarity mean a lot.
I want you to look at the poster above and to spend a minute thinking of the life of the mother and her children. Then use it to think of the lives of the millions of other people. Share that poster to your loved ones and friends as a christmas gift for the Tigrayan people. It might seem simple for you, but it means a lot for the millions of ruined souls who are under agony in Tigray.
Merry Christmas to you and peace to the Tigrayan people.
Thank you for your prayer, thoughts and solidarity!