Under house arrest since 2020, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch uses US-based media to condemn burning men alive, call end to ‘Tigray genocide’
– “The war that has been started to eradicate Tigrayans from the face of the earth has now spread across Ethiopia and is bringing instability, unrest, famine, and trouble in most parts of Ethiopia”, the patriarch said.
– The Patriarch said that a well-planned, state-sponsored act of Genocide has been committed on Tigrayans; he mentioned soldiers’ witness that they ‘have been told to kill any Tigrayan above 5’.
Source: Globe News Net
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church Patriarch, Abune Mathias condemned the shocking burning of Tigrayans alive in Benshangul Gumuz, and called for and to the ongoing genocide on Tigrayans.
In a statement delivered on Tigrai Media House (TMH), a US-based Tigrayan community media, using his mobile apparatus, Abune Mathias condemned the savage killing of Tigrayans in Benishangul Gumuz.
A gruesome video emerged on social media on Friday March 11, 2022, showing an unarmed man, who according to reports was Tigrayan, being set on fire alive to burn along with additional bodies of Tigrayans who were killed by group of people wearing Ethiopian national army, Ethiopian Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People(SNNP)’s regional special forces, and Amhara Special forces uniforms along with the notorious Amhara Fano vigilante group. The victims were 10 Tigrayans and 2 Gumuz who were just released from prison and on their way home.
The Amharic-speaking Ethiopian security forces in three distinct uniforms and their Fano associates are seen in the video jubilantly burning unarmed Tigrayan young man alive, burning bodies of more freshly killed Tigrayans and Gumuz, mocking at the burning bodies, and talking about how ‘delicious their roasted flesh could be’ to eat it with either injera or bread.
The Patriarch has been under house arrest since November 2020 when the war erupted.
The Patriarch in his latest statement said that that he has been denied opportunities to express his opinion, except for the leaked video last year using an official of an American Christian aid organization.
The patriarch reaffirmed his previous position that what is being done on Tigrayans is a planned, states-led act of genocide on Tigrayans, and called for the international community to help end it.
Tigrayans and various rights organizations maintain that Ethiopia and allies are committing a well-planned states-led act of genocide on Tigrayans.
A previous similarly gruesome video that emerged in early September 2021 showed members of Ethiopian National Defense army burning bodies of nine Tigrayan civilian men and talking of cannibalismduring the war in Tigray.
There are also numerous videos showing Ethiopian National defense army executing dozens of Tigrayan civilians live on video. One of the most graphic videos was the Mahbere-Degu massacre where Ethiopian army is seen executing dozens of unarmed civilian Tigrayan men and throwing their bodies off the cliff, to be eaten by the hyena and the vultures.
Ethiopian didn’t conduct any investigation on the crime and on other similar crimes thus far.
Ethiopian religious organizations have never condemned any of the heinous atrocities on Tigrayans over the past 16 months, including the recent shocking killing in Benishangul.
The Patriarch in his 23 minutes long statement detailed the heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide in Tigray and other parts of Ethiopia, and condemned them.
“The war that was started to to eradicate Tigrayans from the face of the earth has now spread across Ethiopia and is bringing instability, unrest, famine, and trouble in most parts of Ethiopia; this has to end; the country has suffered enough”, the patriarch said.
He also called for an end to the war and the blockade imposed on Tigray which is killing thousands of civilians of hunger and lack medicines.
Translation of his statement [Done by Tghat]
[Minutes 1.04 – 4.20]
The main reason I am appearing on TMH today is to express my sorrow at the horrific and deeply saddening act that was committed a few days ago near Metkel in the Benshangul Gumuz region. In this current month, the month of Megabit, 2014 according to the Ethiopian calendar, 12 Tigrayans, who had been released from a correction facility in Gilgel Beles after being found not guilty by the courts and with documents evidencing this were heading to their homes when government security forces and others with them stopped them on the road and killed them. One of them tried to escape but they found him where he was hiding and burned him alive, while his eyes were still seeing [still conscious].
They threw him onto the fire like firewood and kindling amongst those that had been shot and burned in a pyre. They threw him on the fire cruelly and barbarically and he burned together with the others even as he pleaded for his life saying “please leave me alone”. This is something that has horrified and troubled the world, It is an act of barbarity.
There has been no cruel thing that we have not heard or seen since the start of the war in 2013 (Ethiopian Calendar). The suffering that has been brought upon the people of Tigray has never been seen or heard before this time is cause for deep grieving and mourning. Acts have been committed that make one despise being alive. But what has been done now is even worse than everything [that has happened before].
[Minutes 9.42 to end]
Nothing has been left in Tigray. And now in addition to all of this, children are crying in their mothers’ arms and perishing from starvation, like dried leaves. We are seeing their weeping mothers unable to even breastfeed them because the mothers themselves are starving. People are dropping like leaves [dying in mass] because of the blockade preventing food and medical aid from international humanitarian organizations. It is impossible to estimate the number of people dying from disease, hunger, and lack of medication. We have seen all of this. We have grown accustomed to it. But now, to make matters worse, we are seeing a person being thrown into the fire alive, like firewood while he is still alive and seeing [conscious]. This truly makes you despise being created. Why were we created?
The war, that was started to annihilate Tigrayans, to destroy Tigrayans, to eradicate them from the face of the world has now spread across Ethiopia and is bringing instability, unrest, famine, and trouble in most parts of Ethiopia. There is a lot of instability, unrest, and death occurring in Oromia, Benshangul Gumuz, and various areas. It is spreading everywhere, everyone is being affected. This is something that is deeply grieving.
Something that should not have occurred has occurred. A genocide the likes of which the world has never seen has been committed. They testify with their own mouths that they were instructed to kill all boys above the age of 5. They took defenseless children and young people, who had not fired a single shot or thrown a single pebble, and threw them down cliffs and burned them alive.
For example, in Humera, countless residents had their hands tied behind them and after being shot they were thrown into the Tekeze River. This is still happening now. It has not stopped. This type of cruelty is barbarous. In all truth, even a beast does not feed upon its own kind. A tiger does not eat another tiger nor does a lion eat another lion, in the natural order of things. What is the meaning behind committing such a crime against a human being created in the image of God? What does it mean?
Concluding remarks by Holiness Abune Mathias the first, Sixth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum [Translated]
I urge you to consider in the name of God, this act that has shocked the world; what does it mean to throw someone alive and seeing [conscious] onto a fire, like kindling? This is something that barbarians would not have done. No, they would not have done such a thing. It has never been done. It is very cruel. It is cruelty and hate beyond measure. Things are getting worse and worse by the day. The country has been damaged severely, not prospered at all. While the intention was to destroy Tigrayans, the destruction is now being shared by everyone.
I mourn this. I have not had much opportunity (to speak out) like this, until now. Only once, a little something managed to make it out but I have not had an opportunity like this before.
After this, it would be good if this was the end of it. I say it would be good if peace was made so that the people that have survived can live in peace and the children that have survived could grow up in peace.
There is limitless hate, beyond measure [but] a country cannot be built on hate, it will only collapse. Who profits from hate? from killing each other? Who is the person who profits from that? It seems like the battle is with God himself. The way I see it now, the fight is with God: Why were the Tigrayans created? Why did God create them? Why was a land called Tigray and a language called Tigrinya created? But it is impossible to win a fight with God.
As I have mentioned before, what is terrible beyond everything else is that while there are trucks fully loaded with the food, medical, and other aid that was given by humanitarians waiting on the roads people are dying from hunger. Why? This is not right. It is impossible to completely eradicate a people. We have seen a lot in history, we know that peoples that have endured genocide like this were not completely eradicated, they were not wiped out. The people of Tigray will not cease to exist. They [Tigrayans] are human beings and God does not wish for people created in His own image to be eradicated.
I want the world to look at this situation. I know the world has seen it. I don’t mean that the world doesn’t know. In fact, I think the world is tired. The international community has been urging us to stop, to reconcile, to stop, and to make peace. But this has gone unheard.
We are observing that this situation serves no one. We (Ethiopia) are all going down and not rising. What has already happened has happened, those that have died are lost, and that which has been destroyed is gone. God will not ignore the blood of innocents. The weeping of Rachel (Jeremiah 31:15) and the blood of Abel (Genesis 4.10) were heard before God.
As we know from the bible in the past the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon threw the three young men into the fire but God saved them (Daniel 3). With the same [type of] cruelty, they were thrown into the flames, the three young men, Anania, Azaria, and Misael (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), Israelites that he had captured and brought them from Jerusalem, but God saved them. Even though the King had condemned them, God saved them.
But these Tigrayans were burned. They were burned. They were burned. It is exceedingly terrible. It is terrible. It makes one despise being created. It makes one despise being created as a human. My sorrow is deep. This is a loss for all Ethiopians but particularly a loss for the people of Tigray. The suffering is now spreading to everyone. It is gradually spreading across all of Ethiopia. This should be the end. Why is it not possible for us to feel forgiveness or compassion for the surviving people?
May God bring his salvation, for all our people. The people of Tigray are eating leaves. The sick are dying from a lack of medication. They are dying. This injustice should end. We should see an end to this type of cruelty committed by humans on other human beings. May God bring his mercy. May God bring his mercy. May God give us his peace and love. May God save us from eating (destroying) each other.
Background of the war on Tigray
The war began in November 2020 when Ethiopia’s army, backed by Eritrean and Somalia national armies and troops from Ethiopian regional states, moved to oust a TPLF-led regional government in Tigray after a long-standing political hostilities between Abiy’s ruling party and the TPLF. The other dimension of the war was a genocidal campaign that has been brewing by elites from Amhara and Eritrean government. The trio combined their forces to unleash the November 2020 ‘war-of-annihilation’ on Tigrayans.
The more than 16-month-old war was marked by extreme brutality, including the use of rape and hunger as weapons of war, massacres and ethnic cleansing against Tigrayans. As a result, the conflict has left thousands dead and forced many others to flee their homes with hundreds of thousands driven to the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations.
Since June, Tigray has been put under a total humanitarian blockade by the Ethiopian government, with only less than 10 %of the needed essential aid allowed to enter the region and no aid reached the region since December 15, 2021. This has resulted in man-made famine to more than 900,000 people in the region and more than 5400 deaths as a result.
The World Health Organization last month called for “unfettered access” into war-wracked Tigray, saying its first delivery of life-saving medical supplies since July last year had stalled due to lack of fuel.
Nearly 40 percent of people in Tigray, a region of six million people, face “an extreme lack of food”, the UN said last month. The dire assessment published by the World Food Programme (WFP) came as humanitarian groups increasingly curtail activities because of fuel and supply shortages.
The UN rights office last week reported that at least 304 civilians had been killed in air strikes in the north, particularly Tigray, since November. The UH Rights office also said that it has received reports of “306 rape incidents by Tigrayan forces in the Amhara region” between November 1 and Dec. 5, 2021.
A recent study by Mekelle University and the Regional Health Bureau showed that 120,000 women in a conservative Tigray came forward to report rape by either Ethiopian, Eritrean, or Amhara. Researchers say that the figure was only a tip of the iceberg, considering the sexual conservativism in Tigray into account. Tigray regional health bureau announced today that 7.3 % of the women who have been raped have been contracted with various sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and 5 % have been infected with HIV.
An estimated 9.4 million people in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Millions more are also suffering from severe food shortages, acute malnutrition is rising, disease and chronic illnesses are going untreated.
Featured: Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church Patriarch, Abune Mathias, condemned burning of Tigrayan civilians alive and called for an end to the genocide.