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June 12, 2021
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Abune Mathias video message about Tigray “genocide”, reactions to it

Abune Mathias claims a campaign to decimate ethnic Tigreans underway, even calling it “genocide.”  While expressing anger that PM Abiy Ahmed’s government stifled the patriarch and a potential danger to the patriarch,  a considerable number of Ethiopians do not agree with his claim of “Tigray genocide,” which sounded more like the cliam from TPLF propagandists

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When the Associated Press on Friday published a story of a video released by Ethiopian Patriarch Abune Mathias, the video itself was not published. 

It was a little later that the video started to be shared on social media after Tigrary Media House published it. 

Dennis Wadley, International Director Bridges of Hope International, took it to Twitter saying that it was him who videotaped Abune Mathias clandestinely using his cellphone.   

He tweeted “The Ethiopian Patriarch has tried repeatedly to get his message out about the Tigray genocide, but has been censored. He has asked me to release to the world a 14-minute video today.”

In the 14 minutes of video message, the patriarch talked about ongoing massacres all over Ethiopia but claimed that what is going on in Tigray is different, he said.

He claimed that a “genocide” is going on in Tigray. And he said that the perpetrators, in this case he is referring to the Ethiopian and Eritrean army, although he did not name names, are carrying it out with the intention to decimate ethnic Tightens from the face of the earth. 

Furthermore, he mentioned that he has been trying to speak out against it several times, and had several interviews, apparently with state media, but it was not aired due to censorship from people who are in power. 

“I am stifled,” he said.  The video turned out to be viral as the story was published by many in the mainstream media including CNN. 

He encouraged ethnic Tigreans by saying to not be demoralized by what is happening. It will pass, he said. 

Abune Mathias has been speaking out, in tears, against the massacre of Ethiopian Orthodox followers in the Oromo and Benishangul Gumuz regions of Ethiopia, among other regions of the country. 

Reactions from Ethiopians 

Reactions to his message are mixed. There are those who are angered by his message that there is a plan to decimate Tigreans. They opposed that he framed it as an anti-Tigrean war. For this group, the war is against the TPLF which attacked the Ethiopian Defense Force on November 4, 2020 triggering a military response from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. Some even claimed that the patriarch’s message is meant to cover up the crimes of TPLF. It is also intended to rescue TPLF by appealing for international intervention, military, in the region. 

There are also activists who criticized the patriarch for omitting the genocide in Maikadra, which is confirmed by humanitarian organizations. 

There are also Ethiopians who understood the video message in light of a planned plot to probably assassinate the Patriarch and cause mayhem in the country. But these groups still do not approve the Patriarch’s claim that the war in the Tigray region is intended to eliminate ethnic Tigreans. 

At the same time, numerous outrageous messages have been expressed against prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s government security arrangement to stifle Abune Mathias. It seems more  Ethiopians seem to agree that the government should stop arresting his right to exercise his freedom of speech. 

There is also another group that supports TPLF that exploited the video message as a tool to lobby the international community in favour of international intervention in the region. 

Reaction from TPLF supporters is seen as a move to influence policymakers and destabilize Ethiopia 

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