Note: this is a verbatim transcription and translation of a short audio clip of a woman in Mekelle, confronting the group of ‘elders’ who had travelled for an alleged ‘peace-conference’. For a background on the visit of the elders and reception by Mekelle residents, please have a look at Mekelle speaks truth to messengers of false peace.
I will stand to make my remarks because there are religious leaders present. I find it difficult to suggest that you do not know what has happened to Tigray as much, or even more, than we do because you are the ones who supplied, supported and blessed the start of the war. Religious leaders in particular. We expected you to intervene to calm things down. To the contrary, however, what we witnessed was you making things worse. As far as I am concerned what you are doing now is tantamount to breaking someone’s leg on purpose and then donating a wheelchair to aid with their mobility. Because it’s the same force that you blessed and sent who has come here to massacre us.
For 28 years you said that TPLF was killing us. And you applauded when the government [current] said the same thing. After all that, however, when the TPLF retreated from the city [Mekelle] to keep its residents safe you allowed Eritrean troops to come in and massacre our people. Even if you didn’t personally authorize these massacres, you did not denounce the government for allowing it to happen. I have great respect for religious leaders, and I believed you would condemn this.
As a Tigraweyti (Tigrayan) my mothers, sisters and friends have been raped, they have been murdered, they have been starved to death, their property has been looted – they have nothing left. In addition to all of that all of our sacred places: Al-Nejashi, Debre Damo, Aksum, Saint Mary of Zion church have been attacked. Catholic nuns have been raped. But you, as religious, leaders have not condemned any of this. First condemn this. Denounce the atrocities that are being committed against us by Eritrean troops.
Religious institutions should be politically neutral. Stay away from politics. You shouldn’t be here only to support the government because it is under pressure internationally or because it is said that Ethiopia is at risk. Let’s first of all make peace.” Let’s first try to understand each other. Has it been possible to create mutual understanding? It has not. Right now Tigray has been invaded on all sides. So please, if you are trying to help us, if you are here to help the people of Tigray, first denounce all of the injustices and suffering that we have endured, so that your efforts do not become a mockery. This is my comment to you.
And one last thing, how are you planning to help us? In what ways are you going to help the people of Tigray? What I really fear at this time is that Tigrayans will say ‘we are not Ethiopians’. And they would have good reason for saying so because you have allowed these people to be attacked by Eritrean troops. So, Religious institutions, please be politically neutral and work to pacify the people and the country. Politics, government, parties are all fleeting – they will pass. But people and faith will remain, do your duty. Thank you.