Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Says Government Is Committing Genocide in Tigray Region

Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Says Government Is Committing Genocide in Tigray Region
Image: Mulugeta Ayene / AP. Abune Mathias, the sixth patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, during the 2020 Good Friday service at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in his first public comments on the war in his country’s Tigray region is sharply criticizing Ethiopia’s federal government, saying he believes its actions constitute genocide: “They want to destroy the people of Tigray.”

The United States ambassador hosted him today to learn more.

In a video shot last month on a mobile phone and carried out of Ethiopia, the elderly Patriarch Abune Mathias addresses the church’s scores of millions of followers and the international community, saying his previous attempts to speak out were blocked. He is ethnic Tigrayan.

The video comes as the conflict in Tigray marks six months. Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting between Ethiopian and allied forces and Tigray ones, the result of a political struggle that turned deadly in November. Dozens of witnesses have told the AP that civilians are targeted.

“I am not clear why they want to declare genocide on the people of Tigray,” Mathias says, speaking in Amharic and listing alleged atrocities including the destruction of churches, massacres, forced starvation, and looting.

“It is not the fault of the Tigray people. The whole world should know it.”

He calls for strength, adding that “this bad season might pass away.” And he urges the world to act.

The comments are a striking denunciation from someone so senior inside Ethiopia, where state media reflect the government’s narrative and both independent journalists and Tigrayans have been intimidated and harassed. The video also comes as Ethiopia, facing multiple crises of sometimes deadly ethnic tensions, faces a national election on June 5.

Dennis Wadley, who runs the US-based Bridges of Hope ministry and has been a friend of the church leader for several years, told the AP he shot the video in an impulsive moment while visiting him last month in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

“I just pulled out my iPhone and said if you want to get the word out, let’s do it,” Wadley said on Friday after arriving in the US. “He just poured out his heart. … It’s so sad. I actually hugged him; I never did that before.”

A church official reached on Friday confirmed the video and the interest of Mathias in making it public. The church patriarch serves alongside a recently returned exile, Abune Merkorios.

“I have said a lot of things, but no one allows the message to be shared. Rather, it is being stifled and censored,” Mathias says in the video.

“Many barbarisms have been conducted” these days all over Ethiopia, he says, but “what is happening in Tigray is of the highest brutality and cruelty.”

God will judge everything, he adds.

Click here to read more.
Source: Christianity Today

When you purchase a book below it supports the Number #1 Black Christian Newspaper BLACK CHRISTIAN NEWS NETWORK ONE (BCNN1.com) and it also allows us to spread the Gospel around the world.