The events leading to the Tigray Genocide have a long root in history. Here we start from the founding of modern Ethiopia by Menelik II who divided Tigray
9–10 March 1889
Emperor Yohannes Dies
Emperor Yohannes dies at the battle of Metemma near the Sudanese border. Yohannes capital was Mekelle and he ruled an Ethiopia whose main base was the Tigrinya-speaking peoples of both Tigray and Eritrea.
2 May 1889
Menelik II signs the Treaty of Wuchalle
Menelik of Shewa Signs the Treaty of Wuchalle with Italy heralding the division of the Tigrayan people and the founding of Italian Eritrea. He breaks with the tradition of being crowned in Aksum and founds a new capital. A few years letter, Menelik invades Tigray and decimates it.
Contemporary historian Fisseha Abiye Ezgi wrote that “every man they could find was either slaughtered or his genitals cut off”. He adds “the Shewan soldiers looted and demolished houses or set them on fire. They reduced Enderta into non-existence”. Tigrayans were scattered in all directions. Gebrehiwet Baykedagne, another Tigrayan political economist of the time described the conditions of Tigrayans thus: “There are hardly any Tigrayan youth left in their birth place, Tigray. Like a swarm of bees without their queen, they are aimlessly scattered in four corners of the earth”.
1895 to 1896
First Italo-Ethiopian War and the Battle of Adwa
Following disagreement over the Treaty of Wuchalle, Italy invades Menelik’s Ethiopia. The war mostly happened in Tigray and again mainly by Tigrayan forces. Eventually, Menelik joined and Italy was defeated in the battle of Adwa, but Menelik never intended nor tried to chase it from its stronghold, Eritrea.
From 1896 –
Anti-Tigrayan slurs and Hatred
Tigrayans of proper Tigray scattered to Italian Eritrea, other parts of Ethiopia and beyond. Demeaning and dehumizaing labels against Tigrayans emerge in both Italian Eritrea and Ethiopia. For example, the Kings spokesperson, Afewerk Gebreyesus, wrote a book, “ዳግማዊ ምንይልክ (Menelik II),” wherein he wrote “[when Tigrayans speak] in their language which lacerates the throat, pregnant women undergo miscarriage while the breast of women who just had delivery dries out.”
Eventually, over the following decades , as a result of the deliberate impoverishment and neglect and subsequent emigration, Tigrayans came to be seen as paupers and were subjected to derogatory names in both countries. In Eritrea, Agame, the name of the Eastern Tigray area, was changed into a derogatory word to refer to all Tigrayans. Tigrayans were also portrayed as treacherous and perfidious to the extent that a zigzag road was named Libi-Tigray (‘the heart of Tigray’) and it is still in use today. In Ethiopia, such derogatory terms as locusts, lice-infested, beggars, banda, and many more, were used to refer to Tigrayans, and are still employed today.
2 November 1930
Haile Selassie Crowned Emperor of
Following the death of Zewditu who was the higher
1935 to 1937
The Second Second Italo-Ethiopian War and Haileselassie Escape into Exile
This war was brutal including chemical weapons and was again largely fought in Tigray by largely Tigrayan forces. After the Battle of Maychew in 1936, Haileselassie fled out of the country, eventually arriving in the UK. Italy rules Italian East Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somali) until May 1941.
Italy got defeated in East Africa, Haileselassie Restored as Emperor.
British forces defeat Italy in Ethiopia. Haileselassie assumes power in Ethiopia with the support of Great Britain.
First weyane Rebellion: A Tigrayan Rebellion against Haileselassie Rule
Tigray rose against Emperor Haileselassie centralization efforts. The Rebellion was defeated with the help of British Royal Air Force bombing Tigray into submission from Aden (Yemen). Following that, the Ethiopian army was let loose on the people of Tigray resulting in vindictive mass massacres, pillaging and looting. As punishment for rebelling, Haileselassie took away Tigrayan lands and gave it to Wollo and Gondar and levied huge tax on the people impoverishing the Tigray people further and depriving them of any development.
TPLF Precursors Formed
Following the Ethiopian student movement and the the Ethiopian nationality question, Tigrayan students of Addis Ababa University form political associations that eventually resulted in the formation of the TPLF.
Communist Junta Overthrows the Emperor and Assumes Power
A communist military junta, called the Derg, highjacks the student movement, overthrows the emperor and assumes power. the The dominant Tigray association, TUSA, welcomes the Ethiopian revolution but opposed the Communist Junta as they didn’t believe it would especially address the nationality question.
TPLF Officially Formed
The TPLF, after consulting the Eritrean fronts, officially launches its struggle from Dedebit, North Western Tigray. It would continue for the following 17 years, until it together with other fronts defeated the Communist Junta in 1991.
The Great Ethiopian Famine Decimates Tigray
The Great Ethiopian famine whose epicenter was Tigray and whose images shocked the world was a result of government policy on Tigray in order to defeat the TPLF. The Communist Junta saw itself as a continuation of the Shewa ruling class that started with Menelik II. In its campaign phrased “to kill all the fish, it was necessary to drain the sea”, the regime employed three strategies against Tigray: starvation and denial of the humanitarian aid , removal of the Tigrayan people out of Tigray and resettling them in south of Ethiopia, and extreme brutalities involving massacres by armies and carpet bombing Tigrayans on market days and any other gatherings [see for example the Hawzen Market Day Massacre ]
The Communist Leader, Megistu Hailemariam, used slurs and dehumanizing words against Tigrayans such as locusts. Mengistu once said: “It is because of the hunger and famine that comes from this region [Tigray] that we are called poor and hungry; there is no poverty in the rest of the country”.
EPRDF wins and the communist Junta is overthrown
After 17 years of struggle since the founding of the TPLF, a coalition of fronts called EPRDF whose center is the TPLF and other allies defeat the communist junta. EPRDF assumes power in Ethiopia, EPLF in Eritrea. Eritrea becomes independent, Ethiopia becomes a federation.
The Derg and Other Amhara Elite Move to Media and Political Organizations
The Derg elite and the Amhara that saw themselves as the legitimate leaders of Ethiopia enter the newly created media freedom and political space and engage in framing and targeting the TPLF and Tigrayans whom they saw as the main cause for the their loss of power and privilege.
Anti Tigrayan Sentiment in Media and Political Programs
An Amhara political party, Ethiopian Patriotic Front is launched with a repulsive anti-Tigrayan political program published on 8 May 1994. In the program, the party characterizes Tigrayans as traitors, and frames its struggle as being against the “disgraceful” Tigrayan ethnicity. (Often the TPLF’s 1974 manifesto is called “anti-Amhara”, but that referred only to the “Amhara ruling class” oppressing Tigray and other nations in Ethiopia).
Amhara professor Getachew Haile likens EPRDF rule—he calls it Tigrayan rule—to colonialism. He says “…as the British cannot accept Irish rule, the Iraqi would not swallow Kurdish rule, or the Israeli cannot fathom Palestinian rule, neither would the Amharas tolerate a Tigrayan rule”.
Eskinder Preaches Holocaust-like Extermination of Tigrayans
Eskinder Nega publishes a multi-year a column in his Newspaper Askual, called “Exterminate the Jew” where he defined the Tigrayans as the Jews of Ethiopia, popularized the Nazi extermination techniques of Jews as heroic act that Ethiopians must copy and emulate to exterminate the “cancerous” Tigrayan ethnicity. [See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, Newspaper scan1, Newspaper scan2]
The 2005 Ethiopian Election
An election took place in Ethiopia. A coalition opposition, Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), stoked and campaigned on anti-Tigrayan sentiment. It won in Addis Ababa and some cities. The EPRDF conceded those defeats, but CUD said it won the election in the entire country. Anti-Tigrayan sentiments were displayed by the CUD during the 2005 election demonstrations and slogans. An infamous slogan of the time was “[A] Tigrayan to Mekelle, his property to the city administration” which calls for confiscation of Tigrayan properties and summary deportation of Tigrayan to Mekelle. There were also calls to ostracize Tigrayans.
CUD Remnants move to the West, Establish Ginbot 7, and then move to Eritrea
CUD didn’t join parliament and infighting split it. Prominent figures move to the West. Among them is Berhanu Nega and Andargachew Tsigie current Minister of Education, and Andargachew Tsege, influential Abiy Ahmed ally. In 2008, both establish Ginbot 7, a name referring to the 2005 election. In April 24, 2010, Ginbot 7 establishes ESAT, which was to engage in a sustained anti-Tigrayan program until its split recently. Eventually Ginbot leader establish relationship with Eritrea and even move there.
Meles Dies, Hailemariam Desalegn becomes Prime Minister
TPLF and Ethiopia’s longtime leader Meles Zenawi dies and Hailemariam Desalegn whose was his deputy become prime minister.
Ginbot 7 and Ethiopian Peoples Patriotic Front Unify
Ginbot 7 signed a unification agreement with Ethiopian Peoples Patriotic Front (the part with repulsive anti-Tigrayan program), which was already in Eritrean. Eritrea and these forces work to increase anti-Tigrayan sentiments in Ethiopia through ESAT, websites like Ethiopian Review, Tesfa News, Eritrean Press and many more. Eritrea provided funds for ESAT
6 August 2016
ESAT TV Calls on Ethiopians to exterminate the Tigrayans
ESAT airs a message it said was sent to it from Gondar. the message references to previously used reference such as removing a stinking fish calls on what it said were the 95% of Ethiopians to exterminate the 5% Tigrayans.
27 March 2018:
Abiy Ahmed becomes EPRDF Chairman and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister
Former intelligence officer, soldier and minister Abiy Ahmed elected chairman of the governing coalition EPRDF. The following week, parliament approves Abiy Ahmed as the new prime minister.
21 June 2018
Eritrea Accepts Abiy’s “Peace” Offer
Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea accepts Ethiopia’s proposal for peace talks.
5 September 2018
Tripartite meeting between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia in Asmara
Isaias, Abiy Ahmed and Fermajo conduct a tri-partite meeting in Asmara, concluding with a joint closing statement.
11 December 2018
A documentary intended to stoke hate against Tigrayan s is broadcast on all state media. The Documentary presents the past 27 rules as Tigrayan rule and Tigrayans as perpetrators of unimaginable crimes against especially the Amharas and the Oromos. In it, individuals that clearly show that they have been trained what to say tell pain that Tigrayans inflicted upon them. the documentary called Tigrayans “daylight hyenas” and “unfamiliar others”, hate-laden words in their Amharic versions.