A few months ago, there were rumors of a massacre of hundreds at the Church of Our Lady Mary Zion in Axum, in northern Ethiopia. It is an area rocked by the Tigray war, which involves the communists of Ethiopia, the Eritrean defense forces, and ethno-nationalist movements. It is a very confusing conflict for those not schooled in the last 40 years of Ethiopian politics. And the nature of the war, happening in the middle of a pandemic, in the midst of unthinkable poverty, has meant that very little reliable information has come out. Initial reports were treated somewhat skeptically — how could anyone kill hundreds of people and there not be video, tweets, and news reports? But now Amnesty International has confirmed that there have been unthinkable massacres in this region, though it has not yet confirmed all the details of the Cathedral story.
One columnist, however, has been trying to get the word out. Matthew Walther is finishing up his strong Trump-era run at The Week, and over the weekend he published a brief interview with an American eyewitness to the scenes in Tigray. He’s been following the conflict and its associated human-rights disasters since December.
Walther’s work trying to draw attention to this conflict reminds me a bit of Auberon Waugh’s famous work on the war in Biafra. Thankless, difficult, but necessary.