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Open Letter to Amnesty International and the BBC

by Zerai Solomon

I read the article that was posted on the BBC website about an Amnesty International report claiming that Eritrean soldiers committed mass murder in the “Sacred City of Axum” last November.

BBC-Amnesty
BBC-Amnesty

As always, the BBC and Amnesty are very lopsided in their reporting when it comes to Eritrea. For one, the BBC’s reporter – one Kalkidan Yibeltal – is a native Tigrean who in the past has been known to write utter fabrications regarding Eritrea and also about the recent military confrontation between the Ethiopian Federal government and her former paymasters, the TPLF. It should be recalled that this individual was hired by the BBC at the behest of the TPLF authorities when they were still in power in Addis. As for the BBC itself, with “political analysts” such as Martin Plaut on their payroll, little of value is to be expected when they report against Eritrea.

Coming back to the report, there are several huge elephants in the room that those who do not care to see are turning a blind eye to.

Elephant no. 1: The so-called atrocities were committed in Ethiopia. It is up to the Ethiopian government to conduct a thorough investigation. Especially since it was the Ethiopian government that was involved in the military operation. To bypass the government and conduct an investigation on behalf of a section of the Ethiopian population – which Tigray is – is akin to ignoring the sovereignty of the Ethiopian government. If Amnesty is claiming that the Ethiopian government was privy to these alleged atrocities, then it should include the Ethiopian government as an accomplice. We all know that it won’t because the whole purpose of the report is not to find the perpetrators but to find an excuse to attack and harm Eritrea. It is an insult to Ethiopian sovereignty that Amnesty (and the BBC) are “investigating” reports on behalf of Ethiopian citizens without involving the Federal government.

Elephant No 2: While both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments have insisted that Eritrean troops were not involved, it seems that Amnesty and the BBC are bent on convincing everyone that they were. Quoting “eyewitnesses” they claim that they were wearing Eritrean army uniforms, they were speaking Arabic and another Eritrean language (Note, they weren’t speaking Tigrigna which is the lingua franca for Eritrean forces) and saying they saw Eritrean license plates on the vehicles. All this heresay and the big Elephant in the room is that while the report quotes a person who was witnessing the alleged killings from a second-storey building, there has not been a single photograph or video submitted to corroborate these facts. Everything was through word of mouth. In this day and age of smart phones, isn’t it very strange that not a single person was able to take a photographs of an Eritrean soldier in Eritrean uniform driving an Eritrean-license plated truck shooting at will at innocent civilians? Having said this, Plaut and his cronies are probably running around photoshopping old photographs to make them look like Eritrean soldiers as they have been wont to do in the past.

Elephant No. 3: If the policy of the Eritrean (and Ethiopian) government is to hide the fact that Eritrean soldiers were involved wouldn’t it make sense to not have the soldiers wear their standard uniforms? Otherwise how could one deny their presence? Again, nobody on the side of the BBC and Amnesty seems to find this incongruous.

Elephant No. 4: The report says that Amnesty has high resolution satellite imagery of recently disturbed ground in Aksum. Was it not possible and probably easier to catch the alleged-convoy of Eritrean soldiers travelling back to Eritrea with all the looted stuff that the report is claiming they took?

Lastly, Elephant No. 5: The report claims that the civilian population rallied together to prevent the Eritrean soldiers from looting the holy church of Aksum. This, after blatantly claiming that for several days this same population had been prevented from even stepping outside of their homes to bury their dead. Please, someone explain how a force that allegedly has no qualms about murdering people en masse was not able to breakthrough or even murder on the spot a bunch of rag tag villagers which were preventing it from seizing, as the report said, gold and silver that was only a few dozen metres away?

It all doesn’t make sense and such a report would not even be read in a proper court of law because of all its inconsistencies, hearsays and downright fabrications.

Eritrea is used to these fabrications and has suffered greatly because of them. People like Martin Plaut who have vested interests in the TPLF, news agencies like the BBC and others as well as so-called human rights organizations like Amnesty have been spewing out these lies and atrocities at the behest of the TPLF. They are now seriously undermining Ethiopian sovereignty by insisting that they know better for the Ethiopian population than does the Ethiopian government. It is high time that this modern-day version of Article 13 of the Treaty of Wuchale* be squished in its infancy.

As always, the truth will prevail.

*The treaty of Wuchale was a treaty that was signed by Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia and Italy. The Italians tried to trick Menelik by having a different article 13 in the Italian version to the Amharic version. The Italian version insisted that “… Ethiopia had to go through Italy to negotiate with other foreign countries..” but the Amharic version read “…Ethiopia could go through Italy to negotiate with other countries”. Menelik didn’t fall for the trick and consequently defeated the Italians at the Battle of Adwa in March 1896.

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