To begin with, for those who have died as a result of war- heaven, for those who grieve- condolence, for those harmed- may God send His Mercy, as for the rest of our people we wish peace, health and justice.
The founding ambition of the Inter-religious Council of Tigray is to work with the laity of different religions to strengthen and continue the longstanding culture of mutual respect, cohabiting in peace amongst different religions by reinforcing love, unity and security of our people, the development and growth of our country.
In line with this, to keep our peace, we have been calling for peace and repeatedly giving such sermon starting from when the roads to Tigray were shut. People were killed and forced to flee on the basis of race/ethnicity before this war that has taken the lives of countless innocent people with no end in sight broke out, we have been saying “we should look after our collective country by remaining united; the differences politicians have should be solved around a table, by the law and the law only” and such ideas that are beneficial both for our people and government. As was the case however, they received our message through distorted ears; we weren’t spared from our worst fears. Horrifying acts that are difficult to even fathom, much less do, were committed at our oldest churches; against our faith leaders and congregations, against our relics. It is deeply saddening. We are extremely devastated by this and regarding the perspective we have, as the Inter-religious Council of Tigray, is to truthfully testify as to the circumstances that are on the ground. Until now, uninvolved priests that can be counted in hundreds have been murdered and riddled by bullets, shieks, imams have been killed, believers counted in thousands have been eliminated. As to the rest they’ve fled leaving their homes and belongings. Churches and mosques have been destroyed, monasteries too have been bombarded by heavy weaponry. Relics have been stolen, items of worship have been burnt, belongings of believers have been desecrated, machinery of institutions that underline development have been taken without spare, health institutions, schools, factories have been demolished, private or public institutions are as though they’ve never been, religious sisters and nuns have been violated and raped, mothers and daughters have been gang-raped animalistically.
Overall, what has happened and is happening here, upon the people of Tigray, are such heavy losses and bitter suffering, that it would make you wish that it is never committed against a creature; it makes you hate having been created.
As if all that happened within these past three months is not enough for our people, because of the war that has continued without a pause 80% of our people living in the countryside are facing grief and psychological trauma and the incessant lack of transport, food aid, crops, drinking water, power, banks and lack of medicine has put them at high risk of starvation and heavy danger from diseases and death.
About the unspeakable violation and abuse, death, destruction the Inter-religious Council of Tigray would like to say may God console our people and issues this 2 pages 7 points declaration of interest.
- This war was waged between the regional government of Tigray and the federal government as an internal affair; the involvement of the hands of any external forces shouldn’t have happened. But on the contrary, Eritrean forces have now entered all of Tigray destroying and murdering, desecrating places of worship and ruining our heritages. The federal government should above all, without any pre-conditions, Eritrean troops must leave our region and call up on the international community’s to take action especially for the Amhara regional special forced in the south and west parts of the region to be removed urgently.
- The Inter-religious Council of Tigray from inception, had the stance from the beginning that it was a war that should not have started. This war has no winner on either parties of the war, cuts too many lives short, devastates so much wealth and property, humiliated the honor of the country and destructed internationally recognized tourist attractions such as the Debre Damo monastry, Negash Mosque and other significant relics have been demolished. This war has taken the lives of many religious leaders overall since the start of the war it has and is causing countless and unspeakable destruction and for this reason, we call on both warring forces to stop the ongoing war and come to the table to negotiate. We call on the international community to mediate between the two warring forces and pressure them to have peace dialogues.
- Because of this war, the whole world is witness to the complete destruction of property and wealth of the government as well as private property and farmers. As a result, the whole society has fallen to become dependent on aid, they’ve been exposed to an extreme lack of food and medicine. The whole region’s society is in need of food, medical aid, we urge humanitarian agencies to be let in without impediment for all roads to be opened, and we call on the international community to save the people from extermination out of their sense of morality
- Since the war has began up until now, many inhumane acts have been committed, peaceful civilians have been massacred in crowds. Religious leaders and other peaceful people have been slaughtered at significant places of worship, places of worship themselves have been heavily bombarded and many legacies have been destructed, many developmental infrastructures are obsolete from big factories to small organizations, and even private property have been waged on and destroyed, women have been gang raped by up to 15 soldiers even the religious sisters and nuns weren’t spared, to summaries genocide the likes of which couldn’t be fathomed happening in the 21st century is happening. As these crimes violate religious or moral laws, it’s imperative we expose the truth, everything that has been happening until now should be investigated by an impartial party and for the perpetrators to stand before the law we call on the international community to extend their influence.
- We ask for any help that can be spared from the international community in rebuilding the places of worship that were damaged, the infrastructures and public institutions that were destroyed.
- We ask for internet access to be permitted in all of Tigray to get helpful information in order for all concerned organizations both local and international to facilitate the restoration of damaged institutions and to save the lives of innocents.
- To conclude, religious institutions, the community elders, civic institutions, justice institutions, and such organizations that value the sanctity of human lives in our country and in the world we present our plea in the name of God to strongly condemn and to take measures urgently to stop the abuse, suffering, and violations of human rights happening upon the people.
God bless our nation.
This is a translation of መግለፂ ቅዋም ጕባኤ ትካላት ሃይማኖት ትግራይ by Tigray Youth Network.