Makonnen Tesfaye, 14 May 2019
The now widely evidenced massacre of hundreds of Gumuz people, orchestrated and coordinated by ANM’s and ADP’s Amhara supremacists, is a dark episode in the annals of Ethiopian history, and as such must be condemned by all Ethiopian peoples and by the Federal and Regional Governments. Moreover, the perpetrators must be held accountable and brought to face justice. It is no exaggerating that Ethiopia is on a trajectory of slow-motion Rwanda style genocide. The massacre of hundreds of innocent citizens, the dislocation of millions, the spread of hate politics are becoming common and defining events. This most depressing episode of Ethiopia’s current political order is nothing but the manifestation of the strategic, political and ideological failure of the Government, which did not even have the decency to issue an official statement to convey condolence, or to reassure the country at large. The purpose of this piece is to put into perspective the direct role of Social Media activists who actively incited violence and fuelled the heinous massacre, and the criminal silence of most of the domestic and foreign media, which is tantamount to covering up a crime against humanity.
The Role of Social Media Amhara Activists
The contribution of social media driven hate politics in fuelling social strife, ethnic cleansing and targeting as well as a preferred platform for populist politics, in particular supremacists and extreme right-wing politics, is well evidenced globally. A clear example (well documented), is the direct link between the massacre of the innocent Gumuz people and the frenzied activities of Amhara social media activists who whipped up Amhara nationalist sentiment and jingoism and actively incited violence against the Gumuz people. Prominent among them are the notorious hate mongers (mainly Amhara diaspora based in the US) “Moto Keranyoo”, “Yoseph Yitana”, “Yoni Magna”, “Reyot”, “Abbay Media” and “EthioMereja”, to mention but a few. As an exemplar, “Yoni Magna”, one of the most notorious supremacist Amhara social media activists based in the US with tens of thousands followers at home and abroad unashamedly and boastfully posted on YouTube, on 3 May 2019, the following genocidal messages (direct translation from his Amharic You Tube Account) to incite violent action by his ANM followers: “Kill those tree-dwelling monkeys, “Shanquellas”. The Amhara people, I besiege you to kill those “Shanquellas”. My message has resulted in the death of 70 so far. It has to continue. It must continue. We shall not stop. Do not discriminate between children and adults, destroy all of them. We shall not stop. They have disrespected the Amharas. Eliminate those tree-dwellers “Shanquellas”. They have no use” (direct translation from Amharic). “Shanquellas” is a racist derogatory name (meaning “Slaves” or “Niggers” in Amharic, historically derived from the bondage and sale of the Gumuz people into slavery by Amhara Neftegna ruling classes and elites) given to the Gumuz people by Amhara supremacist, for that matter by Ethiopian supremacists. These propagators of massacres and ethnic cleansing must be stopped and held to account, and it is the duty of peace-loving and patriotic people to refer these people (the evidence is there/retrievable even if deleted) to Facebook and YouTube as well as to appropriate national and international judicial authorities. The abuse and flagrant use of the Ethiopian social media to propagate hate politics and its direct role in inciting violence, ethnic cleansing and even genocidal wars needs to be stopped. Moreover, it must be exposed and the hate preachers must be held accountable to face justice for the consequences of their actions.
The Role of the Domestic and Foreign Media.
In spite of the claim that one of the purported benefits of the Abiy reforms was the expansion of the free media, the domestic media has never been more hateful, sectarian, or destructive. With the monopoly of information and the mass media in general - where news agencies work hands in gloves with the ruling OPDO/ODP and ANDM/ADP - the domestic media, instead of becoming a force for consensus-building and unity, has largely become a mouth piece of the ruling parties and often has acted as a vehicle for propagating hate and sectarian politics. ESAT is a prime example of a mass media that is dedicated to hate politics and the promotion of ethnic cleansing and targeting for the purpose of restoring the old, hegemonic Amhara ruling class political power. ESAT was directly complicit in stirring up Amhara nationalist sentiment and war mongering in its daily news media (May1-5 2019) and called for “defend the Amhara pride by decisive action for once and for all” against the Gumuz people. Similarly and in the same vein, it was ESAT (the mouth piece of Berhanu Nega (PhD) and Andargachew Tsige – Ginbot 7’s Chairperson and General Secretary respectively) that unashamedly called for the genocidal elimination of the entire Tigrayan people in order to combat what it called the “Woyanes” (TPLF), propagating, to quote verbatim from their Amharic programme that, “it would be necessary to empty the Tigray sea in order to kill the Woyanes fish”. Yet, the political irony of all ironies is that the Western media left no stone unturned to secure the freedom of ESAT and Arbegnoch-Ginbot 7 (now rebranded as “Wazema” Party) political leadership, the very media, people and party that are currently fuelling the politics of hate and ethnic targeting with scant attention from the very the same Western media.
The foreign media has never been more apparent of their hypocrisy, criminal silence (complicity in essence) and their disdain of the country. When Ethiopia was doing much better, the largely neo-liberal global press picked on every small and big flaws of the EPRDF Government, reporting adversely on Ethiopia and its progress. This was with the sole purpose of undermining and discrediting the phenomenal success of the democratic developmental state model of economic development strategy and the pursuance of an independent and nonaligned foreign policy as against the prescriptions of the now defunct neo-liberal economic policy and a dependent and subservient foreign policy. The Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are prime examples. Not surprisingly, with the Abiy Government (a weak and dependent regime in the making), the foreign media, the Western media in particular, has given scant attention to the massive internal dislocation of millions, ethnic cleansing and targeting politics, or the heinous massacre of hundreds of minority ethnic people. This is consistent with and true of their ideology, geo-politics and hegemony that requires supporting dependent and subservient states in the developing countries.
Furthermore, to add insult to injury, condescending white neo-liberal journalists, such as Fergal Keane, the BBC Africa Editor, even suggested the nomination of the Ethiopian PM for the Nobel Peace Prize. In light of the monumental exposure of Western media’s utter hypocrisy regarding Myanmar’s Aung Sau Suu Kyi complicity in ethnic targeting and cleansing, is it not fitting that history repeating first time is a tragedy and a second time a farce? What are the BBC, VOA and DW “Ethiopian news services” doing? How could not they report and cover to an appropriate/proportionate degree (not a few lines on “ethnic clash” whitewash news) a heinous massacre of several hundred of a minority nationality people by state-sponsored terrorists, notwithstanding from a client/subservient state? Are they only interested in reporting Jihadist Terrorism, in particular when the victims are white people? What about their purported mission: “to inform...; objectivity; impartiality; balance... ”? Are they not morally complicit, even when they are bound by ideological and political calculations? The criminal silence of those news agencies is a dark chapter (there are many) of Western media coverage of African affairs and goes to show that they have learnt very little from the Ruanda genocide. May be this is to be expected, but needs to be exposed for what it is, complicity through silence. Peace-loving people and tax-payers in those countries need to question (via their customarily, democratically elected political representatives) the partiality of the news agencies, moral cowardice and their criminal silence on one of Africa’s inhuman, violent massacres perpetrated against innocent civilians (the majority of whom were children and defenseless people) in the 21st Century.