By: Tolu Owojuyibge
Even though there are many things going on in the world, the U.S. news outlets seem to avoid covering some of the lesser known events that should still demand our attention.
Take for example the Ethiopian Civil War, a brutal affair that has been going on for the past year and half, and has included rape, kidnappings, torture, and beheadings.
The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) is one of the opposing parties against the prime minister. After a very bloody civil war, the Derg was removed from Ethiopia, mostly by Tigrayan forces, and much of Ethiopia's political power shifted to the TPLF. For the most part, the TPLF held responsibility and power for 27 years until Abiy Ahmed, the current prime minister of Ethiopia, decided to try to drain the TPLF of its power. Tensions grew but no conflict had started yet.
In September 2020, during the country's election time, Abiy Ahmed postponed the election due to Covid-19. Many people claimed he purposefully avoided elections because he knew he had become unpopular, instead of taking notes from the United States and other countries that used mail-in ballots.
The people of Tigray held a regional parliamentary election, opposing the Prime Minister's orders. Then, in November 2020, the TPLF attacked a federal military base after hearing word of an attack from the federal military. Abiy Ahmed immediately ordered a military operation against the leaders of the TPLF.
The TPLF fought using guerilla warfare tactics and defeated the Ethiopian military, who then retreated. Ethiopia also got help from Eritrean soldiers and UAE, Turkish, and Iranian drones. Abiy Ahmed used the drones and his soldiers to attack civilians after repeatedly promising a bloodless capture of the leaders. Soldiers have been reported using sexual assault, rape, looting, and torture against Tigrayan civilians. Communication, electricity, banking, food and medical supply are all being blocked from Tigray. An estimated 90% of Tigrayans, 5.2 million people, are in need of food assistance.
There have been a number of protests in the United States, as recently as November 2021, pleading for U.S. intervention to stop the heinous hate crimes Ethiopia and their forces have been committing against the Tigray people.
Even with efforts to get the U.S. to pay attention to Ethiopians’ struggles, there seems to be little to no response or political action, while issues that concern European nations, like the Ukraine and Russian war, which media outlets have gravitated to and reported on extensively, are publicized to garner sympathy.
United States mainstream media should be more in-tune with global humanitarian issues and help publicize lesser known conflicts to, at the very least, inform citizens. We cannot begin to solve issues if we do not have the knowledge to do so.
We should be able to rely on our media to report on events from other countries. If we receive limited access to how others operate, we risk alienating ourselves from important topics and issues.
While the news cannot tell people what to think, they do tell us what we should, and shouldn’t, be thinking about. The news is very powerful in shaping public perception of an event, but only when we know about the event in the first place.