Demonstrators from Melbourne’s Tigrayan community lined St Kilda Beach in body bags this past week, raising awareness against the alleged genocide occurring in Ethiopia.
The Tigray War in Ethiopia is a political conflict that began in November 2020 between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) — a guerilla movement-turned-political party – and the Ethiopian government.
Although the Ethiopian government claimed victory in November, the UN Refugee Agency and other humanitarian organisations insist that the conflict is ongoing. Melbourne’s demonstration is not an isolated event, with Tigrayan ex-pats protesting the conflict across the globe.
The Tigray Community Association in Victoria met with the Department of Foreign Affairs on November 24, noting that authorities “had no idea how many Australians were stranded [in the area] nor had an evacuation plan.” It is estimated that around 56,000 refugees have fled Ethiopia into neighbouring Sudan since early November, with the Tigray Community Association reporting that there are still at least 80 Australians trapped in the region.
— Omna Tigray (@OmnaTigray) January 9, 2021
However, in stark contrast to this claim, the Chargé D’Affaires at the Ethiopian embassy in Canberra, Beryihun Degu Temesgen, recently informed the ABC that all Australian nationals who wanted to be evacuated from Tigray had exited the country.
“The Tigray community in Melbourne has already started to hear of families that have been lost to this senseless war,” the association said.
Good job #Australia #Tigrayans. You have told a lot of stories to the world l about the ongoing #TigrayGenocide. It’s sad to see the int’l community keep silent about the #Tigray crisis.
.@UN @EU_Commission @ABlinken @AmbassadorRice @antonioguterres @USUN @KenRoth @mbachelet pic.twitter.com/cwJX9dNahL
— Fitwi Meles (@FitwiMeles) January 8, 2021
“We ask the Australian Government to make efforts to evacuate its citizens from the region,” the Tigray Community Association in Victoria told the ABC.
“[We] urge the Ethiopian Government for an immediate cessation of hostilities, allow for humanitarian assistance to be delivered to those in need, and to conduct all-inclusive political negotiations between political parties.”