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Ethiopia-Tigray Peace Agreement Contains Biblical Mandate

Image: Phill Magakoe / AFP / Getty Images

The Ethiopian war in Tigray is over.

On November 2, federal forces and rebel authorities agreed on a “cessation of hostilities,” ending a conflict believed to have killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions. All sides committed abuses, as documented by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and other international observers.

“No one has been clean in this war,” said Desta Heliso, a visiting lecturer at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology. “As Christians, we have to feel sorry about this.”

The peace agreement, however, provides for a biblical mandate.

Most negotiations concerned military realities. The two-year conflict in the Horn of Africa nation’s northernmost region—home to 7 million of Ethiopia’s 120 million people—vacillated in advantage between the two sides and between hostilities and humanitarian truce.

The United Nations stated 5.2 million Tigrayans need assistance.

But as federal forces pressed deeper into Tigray, peace talks sponsored by the African Union (AU) in South Africa concluded with an agreement for complete disarmament of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) within 30 days. National troops may enter the regional capital of Mekele; assume control of all borders, highways, and airports; and expedite humanitarian aid.

Both sides agree to cease defamation campaigns, and the central government will ensure restoration of communication, transportation networks, and banking services.

But long-term peace may depend on the outcome of a minor clause included among the 15 measures. The federal government agrees to conduct a “comprehensive transitional justice policy” consistent with the AU framework.

Ethiopia will be the first experiment in implementation.

“The possibility for reconciliation is there,” said Heliso, who was formerly vice president of the Kale Heywet Church, one of Ethiopia’s largest evangelical denominations. “But some claims for justice will have to be given up for peace, painful as it might be.”

That may not be necessary. Adopted in 2019, the African Union’s 2019 Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) goes beyond criminal accountability—while ensuring impartial investigation—to set up measurable standards for…

This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on November 11, 2022. Please click here to read the full text.

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Africa Christianity Today Published Articles

Genocide in Tigray? Ethiopian Christians Debate Orthodox Patriarch’s Claim

(Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images)

The head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in his first public comments on the war in his country’s Tigray region is sharply criticizing Ethiopia’s federal government, saying he believes its actions constitute genocide: “They want to destroy the people of Tigray.”

The United States ambassador hosted him today to learn more.

In a video shot last month on a mobile phone and carried out of Ethiopia, the elderly Patriarch Abune Mathias addresses the church’s scores of millions of followers and the international community, saying his previous attempts to speak out were blocked. He is ethnic Tigrayan.

The video comes as the conflict in Tigray marks six months. Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting between Ethiopian and allied forces and Tigray ones, the result of a political struggle that turned deadly in November. Dozens of witnesses have told the AP that civilians are targeted.

“I am not clear why they want to declare genocide on the people of Tigray,” Mathias says, speaking in Amharic and listing alleged atrocities including the destruction of churches, massacres, forced starvation, and looting.

“It is not the fault of the Tigray people. The whole world should know it.”

Our coverage included four evangelical perspectives, including:

Without naming the offending parties, the Ethiopian Gospel Believers’ Churches Council (EGBCC) has made clear statements in favor of the peace process, she said, and against the “destructive forces intent on destroying Ethiopia.”

Earlier, the EGBCC organized two separate weeks of prayer and fasting for the Tigray region, mobilizing resources on its behalf.

But Abebe noted that the conflict started when the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) first attacked the national army. While lamenting with the patriarch the sexual violence against women and other atrocities in Tigray, Abebe wonders why he has not spoken out against ethnic violence in other regions.

Perhaps he is a victim of a TPLF misinformation campaign?

“The patriarch’s statements were irresponsible,” Abebe told CT. “To throw around a term like genocide is a massive mistake that might embolden rebels across the country, when a critical election is just one month away…”

This article was originally published by Christianity Today on May 10, 2021. Please click here to read the full text.