MEDIA ‘AMBIGUITY’ ON THE TIGRAYAN CONFLICT IN ETHIOPIA
‘’The media has the potential to build and unite and it equally has a high propensity to destroy the world’’
Since the Horn of Africa state of Ethiopia came to the fore in November last year, mainstream media has taken keen and incomprehensive interest in penning down the unfoldment, which have occurred so far in Ethiopia, where the government of prime minister Aby Ahmed is working tirelessly to contain the crisis in Tigray that has greatly undermined the peace and stability of the country. Bringing the world closer to the happenings in Tigray is commendable, however, this cannot not be done at the expense of the premier’s efforts to seize Ethiopia from the hands of detractors. A plethora of mainstream media have grossly violated the ethics and deontology of journalism, further questioning the place of objective reporting in the contemporary world. Main stream media including CNN, BBC, AFP, among others have demonstrated total failure, seen in the great amount of propaganda and poor or biased reporting on the Tigrayan crisis by western media outlets.
The ambiguity and complex nature of reporting by main stream media doesn’t only frustrate government’s efforts but also distorts the minds of people about the reality on the ground. The clear understanding of the situation is further jeopardized. Each passing day, the media has flagrantly sensationalized captions and stories founded on wild exaggeration, the insecure, unconfirmed prerogatives of undisclosed sources. Idiosyncratic and fictitious reports have largely been disseminated by main stream media, derailing and obscuring the world from the actual situation on the ground. Ethiopia is seemingly susceptible to the current propaganda game, where reality and truth are being twisted by Journalists, experts and other opinionated persons. Most often these detractors use main stream media that have gained a huge audience and trust to attain their objectives. But for how long would this drag on? Must destabilization step in for a third party to calve its sphere of influence in a country? Logical, critical, categorical and objective reporting has been thrown to the dust. This media ambiguity, poor and propaganda reporting which, was thought could disappear with the wind of change blowing around the world seems to becoming more resilient. ‘Hard’ headlines occupy the front pages of these media outlets in recent times. Here are some examples of the media’s major lapses with regard to the situation in Tigray Region, Ethiopia. Late last week, the Associated Press (AP) reported that, “The war in Tigray started in November, shortly before the harvest season, as an attempt by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to disarm the region’s rebellious leaders.” Similarly, the AP penned and published an article in which it referred to the TPLF attack in Mekelle as merely an “allegation”, while the Washington Post has blatantly accused Ethiopia of “occupying” Tigray. Correspondingly worded phrases and headlines have also been the norm in articles published by many other mainstream outlets, including, obviously, AFP, the BBC, and CNN. A wide range of such reports are seen every day on social media and what have you. That notwithstanding, what remains factual is that It was after some years of totally rejecting all proposals for peace or constructive dialogue that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) launched its massive offensive on all contingents of Ethiopia’s Northern Command. TPLF have been subtly and actively preparing for war and seeking to hamper the positive developments toward peace and cooperation in the region. Its objectives were to take control of the Northern Command (which possessed 80% of Ethiopia’s entire weaponry) and then march on to Addis Ababa in order to topple the Federal Government. Invading neigbouring Eritrea was another goal. It hoped to push for a “regime change” and incorporate large swathes of sovereign Eritrean territory into Tigray. This is largely why Eritrea was dragged into the Tigrayan crisis, different from what main stream media report, accusing Eritrean forces of causing atrocities in Tigray. Worth mentioning is the fact that Eritrea is a party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and Their Destruction (1992), and for years has been a member and active participant of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. This report seeks to give a clear understanding about the atrocious acts committed by the TPLF now and over the years, though they continue to play as victims. This is what main stream media has never reported and seemingly has no plan of penning factual and objective stories regarding the crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.