Hiding in Hate Speech

Simon Weldemichael

September 2021


The travesty of war in Ethiopia represents a defining political issue today. Alarmed by widespread incidents, often exaggerated and selectively reported, of conflict and displacement, the international community has increasingly turned its attention to Ethiopia in the last ten months.  Sociologists speak of the “social construction of reality” as a force that impacts how people look at the world. Clearly, this concept has significant value in terms of understanding how western powers and their media sycophants who please them seek to mold public consciousness.

The conflict in Ethiopia has adverse effect on the Horn of Africa region as whole. As the region embarks on a regional reconstruction agenda, it is important to recognize that the participation of youth is an indispensable vehicle for sustaining and maintaining progress. Reconstruction cannot be possible without deconstruction of existing systems. Therefore, a collective consciousness of youth of horn of Africa on the behavior and technique of the disruptor Weyane is needed as precondition to change. We have to contemplating a peaceful future, initiating processes to address the sources of conflict, analyzing past grievances and implementing actions for peace. The responsibility to clean the HoA from suspicion, prejudice and stereotypes lies on the shoulders of youth. Insulating the toxic of hate speech should be among the greatest works of youth. 


The ongoing conflict in Ethiopia was started after TPLF attack on Ethiopian defense force on the third of November 2020. This event took place in an already heated atmosphere. Soon after the conflict was started, the TPLF’s media machinery intensified its hate messages to create anger and a feeling of victimhood upon the people of Tigray. Through intensive media orchestration, the resentment over lost status of TPLF was creatively painted as ethnic conflict. Public discourse is being weaponised and hate speech is distributed for political gain with incendiary rhetoric to escalate the situation.


There is no universal legal definition of hate speech and the characterization of what is ‘hateful’ is controversial. However, the term hate speech can generally be understood as any kind of communication in speech, writing or behavior that uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, color, gender or other identity factor. Incitement is a very dangerous form of speech, because it explicitly and deliberately aims at triggering hostility and violence.  Fighting against hate speech and biased report would play a crucial role to the peace and reconciliation process in Ethiopia.


Article 17 of the African youth charter reminded member states to “Strengthen the capacity of young people and youth organizations in peace building, conflict prevention and conflict resolution through the promotion of intercultural learning, civic education, tolerance, human rights education and democracy, mutual respect for cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, the importance of dialogue and cooperation, responsibility, solidarity and international cooperation.”

The TPLF clique, contrary to accepted rules, they instituted malicious education to promote a culture of hate and resentment at all levels. They intoxicated the young with hateful propaganda.

TPLF has a long history of advocacy, promotion or incitement to denigration, hatred or vilification of a person or group of persons, as well as any harassment, insult, negative stereotyping and stigmatization. They aggressively used “arrogant”, “exaggerated pride and confidence”, “they look down upon us” and other terms to describe Eritrea and Eritreans. For the Amhara and other nationalities of Ethiopia, they presented as “expansionists” who are hankering to take the land and life of Tigray and Tigreans. 

The scraps of Weyane are inciting propaganda of hatred against non Tigrayan Ethiopians including Eritreans to crystalize communal polarization. The Weyane media has aggressively made references to atavistic hatreds and ancestral enmities to boil the emotion of the innocent civilians. To hide themselves from their crimes, these irresponsible figures latched onto the resentments of ordinary people of Tigray who felt that their existence is being threatened. They relied on the politics of resentment to mobilize followers.  

Hate speech is believed to serve no purpose in society. A society washed by hate loses its ability to judge, and hence they uncritically accept any motion. TPLF used hate speech as a cobweb to conceal the light of truth from the people so as to lead in almost any direction. Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda adviser said: “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The conflict in Ethiopia cannot escape from this ugly reality.

TPLF has used hate speech over years to ferment conflict that claimed the life of tens of thousands of youth. They deliberately escalated the violence to attract the attention of outside groups. TPLF which did not abide by the spirit of humanism operated the war to the detriment of the people under its control. Today, biased handling of the issue and unashamed rhetoric crossed a clear threshold and become intolerable to any able-minded person.

Violence prevention and peace building are among the responsibilities of youth. Youth organizations in the Horn of Africa must condemn the heinous acts of aggression committed by an organization designated by the government “terrorist” to prevent further disastrous events. Any critical thinking person has thus object these one-sided narratives and social constructions from defining how one looks at the conflict in Ethiopia and to shed light to the cave darkened by hate speech.

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