World News Tigrayan Reporter: TPLF blocked AID to not "Make Abiy look Good"

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Hermela Aregawi October, 2021 ÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷ Popular Tigrayan journalist Hermela Aregawi, who previously criticized the Ethiopian government, spoke-out against Tigray rebels that are accused by the UN for starving Tigrayans by delaying aid transport. The high-profile Tigrayan reporter shocked many of her followers when she revealed that pro-rebel Tigrayans declared they “don’t want aid to get to people because it will make Abiy Ahmed (government) look good.” Ms Aregawi, an Ethiopian-American journalist of ethnic Tigrayan descent working for CBS news network in Los Angeles, was initially vocal opposing Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed’s military response to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) insurrection. As one of the most famous Tigrayan-Ethiopians in the West, she supported various Tigrayan activists, including the OMNA-Tigray pro-TPLF advocacy group. However, she recently began to publicly doubt and question why the TPLF refused the government’s ceasefire in June & expanded its war into Amhara and Afar regions. Over a million more have been displaced and over two thousand Amhara civilians massacred in various atrocities committed by TPLF since July. After the United Nations accused the TPLF last week for not returning “all 149 trucks” of UN’s latest food aid convoy, Ms. Aregawi expressed the concern shared by many Ethiopians that TPLF is still diverting humanitarian aid and logistics to support Tigrayan fighters, instead of prioritizing non-combatant Tigrayan civilians who are starving. Since July, “only 38 out of 466 aid trucks that entered Tigray have returned,” according to the United Nations. This UN statement made headlines worldwide, as the humanitarian aid trucks were already provided with enough fuel for a round trip, and as more photos of TPLF misusing the aid trucks to transport its own militants were uncovered. Contradicting claims by TPLF leaders that the aid trucks ran out of fuel, the UN also released video of extra fuel tank vehicles that were already sent to Tigray. Since the Abiy government opened the Semera-Afar aid corridor several weeks ago and decreased road checkpoints from 7 to 2, the World Food Program (WFP) spokesman Gemma Snowdon revealed that the TPLF stealing and diverting UN aid trucks in Tigray is currently “the primary impediment to moving humanitarian aid into Tigray.” Several government officials are concerned that TPLF is repeating its 1980s strategy of using starvation of Tigrayans as a political weapon. According to BBC, tens of thousands of Tigrayans starved to death in the mid 80s due to an ethnic rebellion and after over 95% of Western aid money was stolen by TPLF to fund its brutal insurgency. Despite documented evidence of “high energy biscuits” and other nutritious WFP food brands falling into the hands of Tigrayan militants in recent weeks, Ethiopian officials say they will keep opening the aid corridor to Tigray. “Even if the evil steals 99 percent of the food aid, we must keep sending aid if we can save even one Tigrayan,” said the newly elected Ethiopian MP Daniel Kibret. Due to his previous association with Prime Minister Abiy, Mr Kibret has been one of the top victims of TPLF cyber misinformation campaign since the insurrection began in November. In January, mistranslated and edited videos of Mr. Kibret were spread online by TPLF supporters in the United States, claiming he wanted Ethiopia to “drop 10 heavy bombs” in each town to kill all Tigrayans. However, original video evidence showed he praised Ethiopian Air Force for not resorting to bombing towns and for minimizing civilian casualties in Tigray. As the war continues, Hermela Aregawi also asked why pro-TPLF online activists do not reveal how many Tigrayan fighters have died; but mention only civilians. “How many young soldiers have been killed in this questionable war?” she said. Similar questions about the TPLF’s “genocide” claim propaganda were raised by many independent observers after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy admitted the human toll of the war and visited families of fallen & wounded soldiers at the end of 2020. However, TPLF leaders refused to admit losing any soldier during the war, and some Tigrayan hardliners even claimed that the over 52,000 soldiers who allegedly died, are all civilians. Since early November, TPLF members worldwide have pushed this narrative that all Tigrayan soldier death were civilian death. Casting doubt, Ms Aregawi also asked why pro-rebel Tigrayans on social media labeled the conflict “a genocide since Day 2.” “My perspective on Tigray evolved because of inconsistencies I have seen and heard in 10+ months,” she admitted on Twitter. Critics say the diversionary weaponization of the “genocide” term has been a part of TPLF’s playbook for years. When Amharas were ethnic cleansed in Welkait to create “Western Tigray” in the 1990s and when hundreds of unarmed civilians of Addis Ababa were massacred in broad daylight in 2005, TPLF chairman Meles Zenawi famously used “interahamwe” term and “genocide” charge against civil rights leaders and nonviolent dissidents. Some Tigrayans today not affiliated with the TPLF are praising the courage displayed by Ms Aregawi. “For the sake of peace, we need more independent-minded Tigrayans like her who oppose TPLF’s war for power,” Rahel Berhe, a Tigrayan activist in Addis Ababa said speaking to Awasa Guardian (AG). She was a member of the underground Yikono movement that spotlighted the sexual violence epidemic that ravaged Tigrayan women under TPLF rule for decades. After recent reports that an Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebel faction laid down its arms, there is hope the TPLF might disarm as well if the international community puts pressure, she claimed. Ms. Berhe also pleaded with the Ethiopian government to continue opening humanitarian aid delivery to Tigray. She claimed that the majority of Tigrayans at most risk facing starvation today are the same Tigrayans who had severe malnutrition and left perpetually dependent on food aid for years, “while TPLF supporters and members were becoming millionaires” nationwide. In addition to controlling Ethiopian military and economy at home since 1991, a UN 2015 report had revealed some TPLF government leaders and Tigrayan elite drained over $30 billion to oversees accounts since the 1990s, according to Forbes.

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