Jan Nyssen, guest professor at Bahir Dar University (BDU), had an exchange of views with one of BDU’s vice presidents, regarding the murder of BDU’s Prof. Meareg Amare and the situation in Ethiopia in general. Prof. Meareg was killed in Bahir Dar on 3 November 2021, because of his Tigrayan identity. The VP expresses condolences, implicitly admitting that there was murder. And then vehemently accuses Prof. Nyssen of disregarding Afar and Amhara victims of the war and “to have a special attachment with TPLF”.
This is Professor Nyssen’s reply.
Thank you for email. I have so many things to say, hence sorry for using bullet points to structure my answer.
- First of all, it is good that you acknowledge and appreciate the late Prof. Meareg, and recognize that he was murdered.
- Your confirmation that Prof. Meareg was assassinated is in contrast with most ethnic fanatics at BDU, who continue telling that “this is well done”/”he is a junta”/”he was carrying GPS”/”he was killed by TPLF in Mekelle 6 years ago”/”he died by covid-19”/etc.
- But now, where is your public condemnation of this murder, why are you more than a week late? Why do you wait for the reaction of a guest professor before timidly saying something? Do not escape from your responsibility. Show empathy, condemn, ask for international investigation, it is not too late. Or, if you can’t handle the fano terror in Bahir Dar: quit your job, like minister Filsan did.
- Do not patronize me, do not question my humanity! Since one year, I am working day and night for peace in Tigray and Ethiopia. I got the worst insults from your staff, even senior professors of your university, and you did not correct them.
- While each civilian casualty is one too much in a war, be it Tigrayan, Afar or Amhara, there is no common measure, 95% of the civilian victims are Tigrayans. See my interview with the Norwegian news magazine Bistandsaktuelt
- In the past, I was critical to TPLF, see several of my earlier publications, especially with regard to their top-down attitude to farming communities. But if TPLF is to be replaced, that will depend on the Tigray people, and for sure not to be replaced by war criminals like Abiy Ahmed and affiliates.
- Did I ever see research papers from you or BDU colleagues that held a critical note on the much worse top-down behaviour of Amhara region authorities, since decades? We were the first to come up with the hundreds of farmers drowned in the Beles River due to Tana-Beles water releases, while Amhara Region authorities were just laughing about it. We showed the mess of the Ribb irrigation scheme, BDU staff did not dare to speak out about such top-down project implementation. The urban-rural relation went all wrong in Amhara region, and now urban fanatics try to solve it by dragging also the rural people into ethnic hatred and ragtag warfare.*
- To avoid all this suffering, all over Ethiopia, the war must stop. May I suggest: (i) Immediately stop the blockade and allow huge volumes of food aid and medicines to Tigray and Wollo, people are starving massively because of the blockade; (ii) ENDF et al. to leave Tigray’s most fertile lands; they left already Southern Tigray, they should also leave Western Tigray; (iii) Negotiate!
* As an illustration of how fanatics want to involve Amhara farmers in warfare, see this recent facebook post by a lecturer at Bahir Dar University
Translation: “Leave to where? Do you want us to get captured by Shene to escape from Weyane? To be mocked and humiliated yet again? to the Sudan? to the Gumuz? It is an honor to die in our birthplace, please! Instead, let us go insane from internal traitors and fight ferociously; if we die, it will be an honor for our descendants. I have already decided, and you should as well. You educated rural youths; you need to alert your ignorant farmers. Weyane can fool them by saying “we don’t target farmers”, or they can give them money. We must prevent them from repeating what they did in 1983 (in international calendar 1991). If our farmers accept money from TPLF or get fooled, they must know that they have betrayed Ethiopia. Tell them (the farmers) that Weyane's money is blood money and that it is the exchange of our children's rape. Whatever the truth, it will be a flood of blood, but the Amhara army will not be defeated by Tigrè; this has never happened.”
Notes by Jan Nyssen
- “Shene” stands for the Oromo Liberation Army; “Woyane” is a generic word used for TPLF, Tigray, Tigray Armed Forces, Tigray resistance, etc.
- Note a focus on « internal traitors »
- Remarkably, Dr. Ayalew Melese does not trust the farmers’ judgment, they might look for peace, rather than fighting with the Tigray forces
- The prospect of “a flood of blood” is in line with multiple reports of human waves of poorly armed Amhara village militia that are sent to confront the now-experienced TDF fighters.