By: Gashaw Gebre
Absolute control did not deter at all the public rage against TPLF tyranny. The Ethiopian youth protested on social media and the streets. Facebook and YouTube, more than the print media helped the opposition forces to organize and voice their protest. The anger that simmered for years came out in the open particularly in 2014 onwards. The patriots in the diaspora as well challenged TPLF for the Human Rights abuses in Ethiopia. Exiled journalists fought hard and worked with dedication to expose the corrupt rotten regime of TPLF.
In 2018 TPLF lost control of EPRDF. Its domination in the Ethiopian politics had come to an end. The days it had complete control on social media were over. Freedom rang and Ethiopians chanted.
But for the TPLF repressive regime social media was a propaganda platform and a spy network to fish for political opponents. On the other hand, it was also a platform where the opposition networked and organized. It helped organize actions and raise funds. In the end, as history witnessed TPLF succumbed and we reached 2018. Ethiopia’s Spring arrived.
Post 2018, the previous TPLF dominated Ethiopia started to change in fundamental ways. Freedom of expression replaced the total repression. Media became vibrant again in Ethiopia. Facebook and YouTube became places of getting accurate useful and tangible information, at least most of the time. Obviously, there are some exaggeration and opposing political forces slugged it out on social media which is not strange.
These same venues, Facebook and YouTube became places for further cheap gossip, rumors and conspiracies in Ethiopia and about Ethiopia. It seemed as though that is what Ethiopians must pay for freedom. Currently, YouTube is a money-making scheme with competing vendors peddling conspiracies, outright lies, and hate messages with amazing zeal and energy. This is an imminent danger. A monstrous culture in development. As we are currently witnessing nothing beats the notorious lie campaign of the TPLF in Europe and the Americas.
Evidently, Ethno nationalists which mostly include radical TPLF supporters and Oromo extremists used social media for their destructive ends. We have seen the rise and fall of radical activists. Ethno-nationalists overstepped the boundaries of peaceful politics and slowly moved to causing anarchy and consistently calling for lawlessness. These moves consequently resulted in the death of hundreds of innocents and displacement of thousands in urban and rural Ethiopia. In all of that, we see that these dark forces of violence had effectively used Facebook and YouTube.
From 2018 to 2020 there was a two-year-old confrontation and sabotage by TPLF against the Federal government of Ethiopia. The confrontation ended when TPLF opted for a terrible act of treason against the soldiers of the Northern Army Command and got a devastating blow by the Federal Forces. The Federal government decimated TPLF with a resounding military defeat. The inflated ego of the militarists, the warlords was shattered to into pieces. At the point the diaspora TPLF lie campaign went into high gear.
Right after this decisive defeat, diaspora TPLF and their mercenary support apparatus came with up with a Twitter campaign for the purpose of playing victim and launch a disinformation campaign.
As Twitter is one major platform for engagement over topics of global politics and diplomacy. We can safely say that most people in politics is today on twitter. TPLF used twitter for a relentless campaign of denial, fabrication, and outright messages of ethnic hatred. At times even coming out in support of Ethiopia’s foreign enemies. When the cheap propaganda campaign became outrageous, it became necessary for the diaspora based Ethiopians to give answers to the TPLF barrage of fake news swiftly and decisively.
Ethiopian American Civic Council (EACC) and Ethiopian Advocacy Network (EAN) the joint action for defense of Human Rights abuse in Ethiopia sponsored a campaign on Twitter with the coordinated action on Facebook and Telegram platforms.
The first Twitter campaign took place on January 1st followed by another on January 6th. The 3rd and further coordinated and truly global campaign one took place on Sunday, Jan 17th, 2020. On the Sunday campaign hundreds of Ethiopians from across the world, US Canada, EU and as far as Japan took part. A technical, media and editorial teams with support of the patriotic section of the social media made the success possible.
The hashtag for the campaign is #unityforethiopia has now become very popular. TPLF’s fabricated news about a nonexistent genocide just for propaganda purposes and an empty cry for the decimated leadership is now being challenged. This made it necessary to create another hashtag named #NoGenocideInTigray. Today all the surviving old leadership of TPLF residing outside of Ethiopia are engaged on social media campaigns assisted by capable Western agents. The regional provisional administration is shouting loud saying that TPLF armed groups in Tigray are making delivery of humanitarian aid delivery impossible. Yet another was in the making.
February 7th came roaring and in just two hours from the start, about 77.8 thousand tweets were registered. It ended with 101K tweets and trending and exposing the TPLF disinformation campaign. The Washington Post called it a digital battle.
It would be naïve to think that the social media is truly a platform for competing ideas. TPLF is adamant and crafty in spreading lies. Western public opinion, Ethiopians experienced, bent in favor of TPLF even during the years of terrible Human Rights abuses. TPLF’s diaspora is well funded and networked. However, it is no match at all to the inexhaustible know how of the Diaspora Patriotic Forces and their resourcefulness.
There are countless issues facing Ethiopia today. Internal security challenges, boarder conflict, anti-Ethiopia efforts by Egypt because of the GERD and rebuilding Tigray are few of them. We are also heading to a landmark election in June 2021. The forces of darkness, the relics of the turbulent years, the “liberation” junkies are all out with negative messages months before the election. These need to be challenged. We hope for the best that public opinion will reject these false witnesses. Ethiopia is calmer now with sporadic killings of innocents checked by law enforcement. The twitter campaigns are patriotic cries to help Ethiopia bear the pains of birth of the democratic future ahead of the enthusiastic crowd.
The combat will carry on exposing the false reality presented by TPLF. Civilized dialogue, reason and tolerance are the favorable nutrients for democracy.
(The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views by East-Africanist).