The head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in his first public comments on the war in the country’s Tigray region is sharply criticizing Ethiopia’s actions, saying he believes it’s genocide: “They want to destroy the people of Tigray.”
In a video shot last month on a mobile phone and carried out of Ethiopia, the elderly Patriarch Abune Mathias addresses the church’s scores of millions of followers and the international community, saying his previous attempts to speak out were blocked. He is ethnic Tigrayan.
“I am not clear why they want to declare genocide on the people of Tigray,” Abune Mathias says, speaking in Amharic and listing alleged atrocities including the destruction of churches, massacres, forced starvation and looting. “It is not the fault of the Tigray people. The whole world should know it.”
He calls for strength, adding that “this bad season might pass away.” And he urges the world to act.