Dear David Beasley, dear Martin Griffiths
Dear Linda Thomas, dear Samantha Power,
Dear Antonio Guterres, dear Michelle Bachelet,
I apologize for addressing you without your respective titles. It is because you do not deserve them. There is no point sugarcoating it at this stage. Collectively, the lot of you are an ignominy to the word ‘humanity’ despite all claims and titles crowning you as the moral and legal leaders of the current global order. Not only are you indifferent to the suffering of oppressed minorities, but you are also the frontline enablers of contemporary atrocities and crimes against humanity. Before I address your failure to halt, even minimally, the annihilation of a whole 7-million people in Tigray, let me first confirm that you are blatant racists, pseudo-moralists, and virtue-signalers, who hide behind terminologies of “aid”, “human rights”, and “unity”, while simultaneously empowering aid obstruction, genocide, and discrimination. It is easy to look back at history and express nostalgic revulsion at the horrors of the Darfur Genocide, the Rwandan Genocide, the Srebrenica Massacres, the Cambodian Genocide, or the Holocaust – the list goes on. It is much more difficult to look at your own selves and reflect on how YOU are enabling a multi-faceted genocide against Tigray which you have been nonchalantly yawning at the past 21 months. We will write down each one of your names as the world’s humanitarian leaders who watched a whole nation perish simply because they lacked the will to impartially stand in solidarity with innocent children, women, youth, and elders. Albert Einstein rightly said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who do not do anything about it.” He was right; he was talking about you.
Today, on 26 August 2022, the Ethiopian government carried out an indiscriminate airstrike in Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, targeting a daycare center by the name of Res Kids Paradise. Up until this hour, three children, two women, one teenager, and an unidentified body have been confirmed dead by doctors at Ayder Hospital. Rescue teams are still dragging dismembered bodies of children torn in halves and quarters like loaves of bread, and gathering bits and pieces of human bodies from the debris of the fallen structure. Today, the Ethiopian government turned Res Kids Paradise – a name insinuating a place of hope and peace for our toddlers – into hell. And I mean hell in an almost literal sense, with fire scorching our toddlers from above and mutilating them to their untimely deaths. This, in addition to the war on Tigray which has claimed the lives of 500,000 Tigrayans. As if living under man-made famine, as confirmed by your colleague Mark Lowcock, was not enough. As if a whole population being completely cut off from the rest of the world through a willful communications black out was not enough. As if a whole nation being shut off from accessing its own banking services and savings through a deliberate obstruction of its economic and social rights was not enough. As if a whole population cut off from electricity and water, from food and water, from its basic and essential services, in complete breach of the first tenet of humanity – the right to exist! – was not enough. And by the way, when I say a population, I am talking about SEVEN MILLION INDIVIDUALS! Tigray is not suffering one form of malign. Tigray is suffering a combination of all the unconscionable crimes a rational mind cannot fathom.
As the beacons of contemporary morality, what has your reaction been? Tweets and petite press briefs expressing phony concern! And here I kindly have one request. Because you are obviously not concerned, if you could at least do us the favor of holding truth as the highest moral element and keeping quiet! The façade of your claimed humanity is truly exhausting. Leave the concern to those of us who have not spoken to our mothers, fathers, siblings, children, and spouses, for the past 21 months. Leave the deep concern to those of us who can support our families yet have to watch them starve from afar because you fail to hold the Ethiopian government accountable for besieging its own citizens. Leave the concerns to those of us discovering the death of our families through online news articles, recounting how their hands were tied behind their backs to be thrown in the Tekeze river and to be later found on the other side of neighboring Sudan. Leave the concern to those of us who watched the Ethiopian forces burn our brothers alive in the 21st century as they celebratorily shared it on social media. In today’s Ethiopia, killing a Tigrayan is a rite of passage and a sign of machismo. And it has become a rite of passage because the international community – led by the likes of you – have allowed it. If you are indeed the gatekeepers of morality, please lock yourselves behind those gates and save us your consternations. We are especially appalled at the inaction of respected individuals like Samantha Power, a powerful leader acclaimed for her authorship of “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” – a book on the history of global inertia in the face of mass atrocities. There is a Problem from Hell as we speak and you are contributing to it. On 29 September 2021, Martin Griffiths, the UN Humanitarian Chief called the situation in Tigray “a stain on our conscience”; a year later, it is still unclear what the international community has done to lighten this stain, let alone eliminate it. The heart wrenching aspect of it all is that some of you dare to claim that your parents and grandparents survived historical oppression, while you, their daughters, and sons, allow it to happen to our children.
Yesterday, the Chief of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, followed by a chorus of other world leaders, expressed false outrage at an alleged theft of fuel from the WFP’s premises by the Tigray government. It was immediately clarified that the fuel was an amount that was hospitably loaned to WFP and rightfully reclaimed. It was loaned to the WFP while the Ethiopian government deliberately blocked the organization from replenishing its stocks as part of its imposed blockade on Tigray – a situation about which we are yet to hear any outrage from the WFP Chief. The global outrage was ironic and even comical for two reasons. Firstly, it is comical that respected leaders of global institutions threw tantrums because WFP was obliged to return what it owed – which in any global space would be a fair transaction. The fact that WFP’s Chief called it “theft” is also implicitly racist, because of course, how can a besieged minority loan an esteemed organization some fuel and have the audacity to reclaim it! Secondly and most importantly, however, Beasely and its cohorts’ outrage was ironic because none of them have expressed a similar level of outrage at the fact that Tigray has been in a humanitarian blockade and siege for the past 21 months. Instead, Beasley, an individual mandated to save lives through the delivery of food services in acute emergencies, chose to make a political statement and shame the dignified will of Tigray to survive at a time of need. What he should have done is speak out against the besiegement and starvation of SEVEN MILLION individuals, as is stated in his job description. And while the fuel incident triggered name calling and shaming, the airstrikes that led to the deaths of children were simply overlooked with insouciant calls for restraint on both sides – although it was clear who the aggressor and the victim were. Perhaps, the values of things have changed in the 21st century and the memo has been circulated? The memo that declares that human lives have become less worthy than commodities themselves – has anyone else seen it? Sometimes, it is almost as if the suffering of Tigray is a nuisance to the world; that our refusal to silently die has become an annoyance to be leveled with. In any case, because Beasley is an evangelist who no doubt is blindly appeasing his counterpart Abiy Ahmed in ‘evangelist solidarity’ – let me leave this here. Myself a Christian, I advise him to heed the words of His Master, whom he claims to believe. “Indeed, they bind heavy burdens that are dreadful to bear and put them on people’s shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them…. You are blind guides who filter out a fly and yet swallow a camel.” It would befit Beasley, and his cohorts, to stop filtering out the fly – such as borrowed fuel – and focus on the camel – the planned wiping out of 7 million Tigrayans, as confirmed by his colleague Peeka Haavisto and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, as stated by Dr. Tedros.
I have not included any political statements in my letter, nor is it addressed to political leaders. It is addressed to the humanitarian community. I am aware that there are those who will read my letter and say, “but the TPLF.” The word “but” in a genocide and siege is just a genocide-enabler, nothing else. You can use the conjunction “but” all you want next to the Rwandan Genocide or the Holocaust, as was explicitly done at the time, yet they do not change the lives and identities we pointlessly lost. And I have deliberately not included political statements to remind you, global leaders, what you have forgotten. You have forgotten that these are people – just like you, just like your beloved children and families – that are perishing. They have dreams too; they have goals they want to and can actualize. And they did live in one of the most peaceful and developing regions in Ethiopia before war came upon them. Yet, they are now perishing collectively, indiscriminately, without any sense of individualism, in a pot of your indifference and empowerment. Stop fanning the pot that is killing our people. Lift the cap and let our people breathe. You have the means and leverage to do so. If you choose and decide not to, at least save us the semblance of pity. We can do that just fine on our own. Have some shame.