Ethiopia’s Prime Minister who has been accused of several human rights violation in the country has been condemned by the US for a recent speech where the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed compared Tigrayan rebels to the devil and said they should be the last of their kind.
A State Department spokesperson said Sentiments of hateful rhetoric like this is dangerous and unacceptable while responding to the speech ocastrated by Daniel Kibret, who is often described as an adviser to Abiy and was nominated to the board of the state-run Ethiopian Press Agency last year.
Since fighting broke out in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region last November, thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced into famine-like conditions, according to the UN, with the war spreading to the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions.
The UN’s special adviser on genocide prevention and the USAID’s chief have previously voiced concern about hate speech and dehumanizing rhetoric in the conflict, but Daniel’s comments were the first to draw specific criticism from Washington.
At an event in Amhara attended by high-ranking officials, Daniel called for the total erasure of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominated national politics for nearly three decades before Abiy took office in 2018.
Speaking at the event, Daniel said “As you know, after the fall of Satan, there was nothing like Satan that was created. Satan was the last of his kind. And they (the TPLF) must also remain the last of their kind.”
He further added “There should be no land in this country which can sustain this kind of weed and they should be erased and disappeared from historical records. A person who wants to study them should find nothing about them. Maybe he can find out about them by digging in the ground.”
Simon Adams, executive director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, a leading Non Governmental Organization described Daniel’s comments as “truly disturbing and reckless given the surge in deadly ethnic violence in Ethiopia it is hard to take at face value the claim that he was only talking about the TPLF rather than Tigrayans in general,”
A federal government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said that Daniel was expressing his personal feelings and stressed that he didn’t say explicitly that all ethnic Tigrayans should be wiped out.
Few weeks ago, Ethiopia said that rebellious forces from the Tigray region had been defeated in the adjacent Afar region and had withdrawn, but the Tigrayan forces said they had merely shifted troops to neighboring Amhara for an offensive there.
Tigrayan spokesperson Getachew Reda, speaking to Reuters via a satellite phone from an undisclosed location, said the Ethiopian authorities had only now realized Tigrayan forces had withdrawn.
The war broke out in Tigray in November between federal troops and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which ruled Ethiopia for three decades but was then the region’s ruling party.
Thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million have been forced to flee their homes. In July, after the TPLF recaptured the regional capital of Mekelle and seized back most of Tigray, its forces advanced into Afar and Amhara regions, marking an expansion of the conflict into previously untouched areas.
Since then, at least 300,000 people have fled fighting in those two regions.