Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) denied the federal government’s accusation regarding the forceful mobilization of fighters into its forces. It said these allegations were coordinated between the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments and Amhara forces.
In the statement released on May 17, TPLF also avowed that “weaponized starvation” is pushing the force to unwanted military confrontation, and “this makes voluntary, institutionalized and formal mobilization a must”.
“We would never opt for anything less, not only because it would go against the noble cause and principles we uphold but also because an army of forced conscripts cannot bring about sustainable victory.”
Just a day before TPLF’s statement, Reuters reported that authorities in the Tigray region are forcing youths to join the military force.
“Authorities in Ethiopia's war-shattered Tigray region are forcing young people to join their army's fight against the central government by threatening and jailing relatives, according to captured fighters and residents, according to captured fighters and residents.”
In a recent public consultation forum at Mekele DebreTsion GebreMichael, Chairman of the TPLF said, "This is a critical moment. This will lead us to the final irreversible victory. But this victory will be attainable with the people [people's participation]. We reached this stage; we have done many things with your participation in the war. But [full victory] is yet to come.”
Kindeya Gebrehiwot, former Mekelle University president, now working in the Tigray External Relations Office, told Reuters by email that some low-ranking government officials had detained family members to force their relatives to enlist but said such incidents were rare, the relatives had been released and the officials punished.
“Our armed forces are, therefore, a group of determined, conscious, and well-trained youngsters who know what and why they are fighting for,” TPLF confided.
Meanwhile, the most recent statement from the Ethiopian government communication service stated that mobilization of the youths for its own interest is obviously expected from the nature of TPLF.
TPLF also accused the federal government of deliberately encircling the Tigray region so that the humanitarian aid will not reach the region. “The Ethiopian regime and its allies have only changed their genocidal strategy from military offensive targeting civilians to a silent and even more gruesome style of genocide inflicting a slow and painful death on Tigrayans through a weaponized starvation.”
In response to TPLF’s accusation of the federal government of intentionally creating an aid blockade, the government said on May 14th that the actual reality is rather contrariwise and labeled the blame “drama”.
In reference to the government’s action, it dubbed “weaponized starvation”, TPLF asserted that “the people of Tigray’s unwavering ownership of the fight against the unjust and genocidal war that has been waged against their survival and human dignity should make it categorically clear that we remain to uphold the right and duty to voluntarily mobilize our forces for self-defense.”
The Government's Communication Service, on the other hand, indicated that “such a justifying argument being constructed by TPLF shows its eagerness for second-round war by deploying youths to the conflicts, showing its carelessness for the lives of Tigrayan youths.”
Three weeks ago, Reuters quoted Getachew Reda, advisor to the President of Tigray who confirmed their forces have left all of Afar hoping desperately needed food aid could finally pour into the famine-hit region.
The government of Ethiopia stated reports that TPLF forces had fully left the Afar region to make a smooth humanitarian aid supply are invalid. “TPLF is trying to create confusion in the global community to show the federal government is not eager to provide a comfortable aid supply.”
End of March this year, both sides announced "cessation of hostilities", which was believed to be a positive turning point for the 19-month long war, especially among the international community.
TPLF’s statement additionally noted that “even following the declaration of cessation of hostilities in March, all supply lines towards Tigray remained shut, all bank activities frozen, power and telecom lines shut down. Access to humanitarian aid remains to be essentially blocked.”
Whereas the Government Communication Service Minister Legesse Tulu (Ph.D.) said that following the declaration of cessation of hostilities on March 24, 2022, the federal government has made unlimited efforts to save people living in the Tigray region needing urgent support.
There were recent reports of TPLF’s call to arms to the fight it said is the final and determining one.
As the federal government affirmed that its forces are fully prepared and packed at any time and anywhere to tackle each form of military attack from the invader groups, TPLF remarked that any mobilization they have been making is solely aimed at ensuring the natural rights to survive as a people and civilization.