Americans AND the world watched in horror on January 6th when a number of President Donald Trump supporters descended on the capital. The very place, mark and symbol of American democracy. The rioters marched with unmatched level of anger, delivering mayhem to our institution. They terrorized law makers, democratically elected politicians and attacked law enforcement officials.
The anger was the culmination of 4 years of fueling provided partly by the President of the US, his enablers and the like. The primary weapon used for this movement was social media. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram decided to ban the President. Twitter going as far as permanently removing the President’s account.
I, along million of others, have been following two major chaos in the world, the war in Ethiopia and US election. The banning of the President’s accounts brought the biggest question in my mind. You see, I call both countries my home. I hail from Ethiopia and the US has been my beloved country for over a decade. The riot that happened in our capital had me asking how Mr. Trump, who primarily used his social media to bring about such madness to this great nation and democracy was banned from Twitter & why and how the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who has been committing war crimes on an entire state, Tigray, with a population of over 6 million people, is allowed to weaponize the same platform.
The two events are very similar if I must summarize them. A call for false patriotism. The venue used to get this call out? Social media.
PM Abiy Ahmed waged war on his rivals on Nov 3, 2020 & conveniently named it “Operation of Law”. He has posted over 90 tweets since then. His patriotic supporters, just like Mr. Trump’s are fully and utterly convinced that without him, Ethiopia will be no more. They post on social media day and night to justify the war.
The Prime Minister is the one and only source of truth. He controls the information flow. His messages have been clear. His rivals are anti-Ethiopians. He has successfully subdued them. He is doing so with no harm to the people of Tigray. Everything is well and dandy under his administration. He got this.
He has posts sensational pictures (which has been removed since) from the capital of the country & his blind supporters hooray each time they see them . The problem? The world hears from no one but him.
In reality, since the war started (68 days and counting), Tigray has been subjected to complete blackout. Citizens of the state are not able to communicate with each other or their families in the rest of the country or the world. Banks have been completely closed. (With an exception of the capital of the state Mekelle where people are only allowed to make a deposit but not withdrawal). Hospitals have been heavily attacked. Pharmacies have no stock so are also closed. Over 60,000 Tigreans have been made refugees in less than 4 months. The list of randomly shot and killed civilians by the PM and his alleged ally, world known dictator, President of Eritrea Isayas Afewerki, is increasing each day. Women are violently raped. Children orphaned. In short, the sate is in total lockdown & collapse.
And how many Tigreans have been able to speak of this horror via social media from Tigray, you may wonder? None.
The people there have been completely shut off from presenting counter “evidence” to show the world what type of atrocities is happening to them. As a result, the UN, EU, AU, other international organizations and world leaders are unable to verify and fully condemn or pressure the Ethiopian government.
The opposition party (legally elected government of the sate that is being attacked by Abiy’s army) has been completely cut off from any form of communication. So how, you may also wonder, have they been telling their side of the story? They have not. Because they can not. Well, think of Myanmar.
Those of us outside Ethiopia with families in Tigray are trying to alert the world — telling our stories. We have put our work, studies, and duties on hold to be glued to social media, tag everyone or anyone who can help — but to no avail.
PM Abiy is using your platform to bring this much massive damage on my people — My family — and there is nothing I and the rest of Tigreans can do except hashtag words that might get this war the attention it deserves. We are helpless.
So I ask you, is PM Abiy Ahmed’s presence on Twitter any less dangerous than President Trump’s? Are the lives of the poor and destitute who live in a once promising country called Ethiopian any less valued?
I believe in the action of good people. The CEO, tech minds, and other twitter employees have tried numerous times to not let this giant platform be used to incite violence or to subdue innocent civilians around the world. It strives to be a source of good and not evil. It is a work in progress. I am helping you identify such evil on this letter. With much belief in humanity & goodness of We The People, I ask you again, folks at Twitter, what you are going to do to not to be used as a weapon of destruction?