The United States on Monday condemned a speech by a leading ally of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who compared the Tigrayan rebels to the devil and said they should be “the last of their kind”.
“Hateful rhetoric like this is dangerous and unacceptable,” a State Department spokesperson told AFP in response to a speech last week by Daniel Kibret, who is often described as an adviser to Abiy and was appointed to the board of the Ethiopian Press. Agency last year.
Since fighting broke out in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region last November, thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced to live in conditions bordering on famine, UN says, and war has recently spread to the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara.
The UN and the United States recently expressed concern about hate speech and dehumanizing rhetoric in the conflict, but Daniel’s comments were the first to draw specific criticism from Washington.
During an event in Amhara attended by senior officials, Daniel called for the total erasure of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF), which dominated national politics for nearly three decades before Abiy did not. starts in 2018.
“As you know, after the fall of Satan, there was no such thing as Satan that was created … Satan was the last of his kind. And they (the TPLF) must also remain the last of their kind. species, ”said Daniel.
“There shouldn’t be any land in this country that can withstand this kind of weeds.
“They should be erased and disappeared from the historical record. A person who wants to study them should not find anything about them. Maybe he can find them by digging in the ground,” he said to applause. .
Asked to clarify his remarks, Daniel said in a text message to AFP: “” They “refer to the terrorist group TPLF.”
Abiy’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum dismissed Washington’s criticism.
“There continues to be a serious error in reading statements made by various entities without understanding the nuances of the Ethiopian languages. Translations by TPLF supporters cannot serve as a basis for declaring statements as ‘hate rhetoric’.” , she told AFP.
“Statements made against a terrorist organization are deliberately translated to give the impression that they were made against our people of Tigray. It is a regrettable position of those who choose not to look beyond TPLF propaganda “, she added.
“The Ethiopian government is the first to stand guard over the people of Tigray.”
– ‘Really disturbing’ –
But Simon Adams, executive director of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, told AFP Daniel’s words were “really disturbing and reckless.”
“Given the upsurge in deadly ethnic violence in Ethiopia, it is difficult to take at face value the claim that he was only talking about the TPLF rather than Tigrayans in general,” he said.
“References to people as weeds that must be removed, or as monsters that must be erased, are classic hate speech. And calling for the total extermination of any political party and its supporters is tantamount to incitement to commit war crimes and other atrocities. “
Other groups have also sounded the alarm bells.
“The frightening speech and appeals expressed by a powerful figure do not deserve a platform and should be quickly and unambiguously condemned at the highest level,” said Laetitia Bader, Human Rights Watch director for the Horn of Africa.
“Such statements can increase the risk of massacres of civilians and of people targeted simply because of who they are, where they live or where they were born,” said Nicole Widdersheim of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide in the United States. ‘American Holocaust. Memorial Museum.
The State Department spokesman told AFP that Washington was “concerned about the bellicose rhetoric on all sides of the conflict.”
US President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against warring parties in northern Ethiopia if they do not engage in a negotiated settlement.
rcb / amu / dl