This is an extended summary translation (unofficial) of General Tadesse Werede’s remarks to the press, delivered in Tigrigna, 27 October 2022
• The aim of the Ethiopian and Eritrean invasion has been previously made clear. So it doesn’t require a new explanations. In short, they want to exterminate the people of Tigray. They want to leave the people in a situation where it can’t recover ever again.
• Both countries, the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea, carried out the invasion together, with a joint plan. At first the fighting was carried out by the government of Ethiopia on the southern front. But within a short time, the government of Eritrea was involved and both are carrying out the offensive together, with a joint plan. It can’t be seen separately, both armies of the governments of Ethiopian and Eritrea are attacking us together. They are attacking us together from Eritrean territories, i.e. from Zalambessa, Igela, Rama, and Adiyabo. On the remaining side, from Adiyabo, Bezega, and Western Tigray. The Ethiopian and Eritrean forces are jointly carrying out offensives from many of these areas. Moreover, on the southern side, in Tselemti, Eritreans forces are taking part as well as providing support. Hence they are carrying out the offensive together.
• Both have similar objective [in carrying out the invasion]. They each have their own objective. But it is ultimately the same. Though their respective strategies may be different, their objective is to wipe out the people of Tigray. The government of Eritrea has made it clear the objective that it wants to achieve from this war. It has revealed it to the army. It was also found the documents that were seized. It is to cause massive displacement of the people [of Tigray]. It is to make sure that the people won’t be able to live in their homes and villages. It is to make them refugees, to displace them to Eritrea, Amhara and put those that remain in IDP camps. It this way they plan to completely isolate the people from the war and force them to flee, to be displaced. This is primary objective. They measure the success of the war based on their extent of success in achieving this. The objective of the Ethiopian government is to bring Tigray under control at whatever cost. It wants to capture the towns and larger cities of Tigray, including the capital. Then it aims to capture the rural areas and persecute the people. Then it seeks to make [TDF] an army that lacks weapons. This, too, is clearly known. Therefore, this is the measure with which the success of each individual battles as well as the overall war is gauged.
• War has rules. Individual battles too have rules. These are known laws; they are international laws. These laws are made invalid. All the people are not armed combatants. But the fighting has become one which targets all the people. Innocent civilians, children, elders, religious leaders, etc. are made targets. The war has become one where cities, rural areas, villages are burned. This was seen everywhere [battles took place]. It was observed in Adiyabo and many areas of Tigray. It was also observed in Zata, southern Tigray. They destroy and loot everything they come across. It is to make sure that there isn’t any grain they [the locals] would feed on when they return [to their homes]. This is being done in Adiyabo. They collected the crops, they loaded up fences. They went from house to house, they loaded up and took away household equipment. They did the same in Shire. Eritrean soldiers robbed residential homes for their personal gains. They are doing it in a manner worse than the previous time.
• Wars have their own rules. In this war, they seek to achieve their aim at whatever cost. The fighting that took place in Tselemti, Asgede, Tahtiay Adiyabo, Lailay Adiyabo all the way to Shire, Selekleka… these were battles that any [sensible] commander would have stopped [because of enormity of losses suffered]. The [Eritreans] know the losses in manpower the EDF suffered; they know it we know it. [They suffered heavily in terms of] both man power and material losses! They lost a lot of military officers! The extent of losses suffered by the Ethiopian forces is to big to be counted. We are seeing how the Ethiopian youth are being led into a slaughter. In particular battles, fighting carries on up to the end. A lot of their soldiers are killed and wounded, both on the front and flanks; their tanks are destroyed; their vehicles are destroyed. It is not just the ones at the front that are killed but even the ones in the middle. Both the ordinary soldiers and officers are put to the slaughter. Their decision is that regardless of the extent of loss, the mission has to be achieved. This, after suffering heavy losses, they were able to advance forward to Shire and even reached Axum. But the offensive is not commanded by a commander who is guided by basic knowledge of military science. As long as it achieves the political objective of the Eritrea’s government – displacing the people and completely isolating the people from the [Tigray] army – [they implement it regardless of the loss].
• We have also come across the progressive evaluation by the Ethiopian and Eritrean military leaders. They evaluated [the war progress] in Shire, Axum and Addis Ababa. The losses were enormous. Yet their evaluation says they are winning regardless of the cost. Eritrea’s criterion is the displacement of people; and they indeed displaced people. The people of Tahtay Adiyabo was displaced; it left the area in front of the [Tigray] army. Children, elders, women left with their possessions with no clue how long they will manage to feed their children. The people have scattered in the desert. They have displaced the people from their villages, and taking this into account they said they have become victorious. They are taking away all the crops they come across, even ripe and unripe corn along with the stem! I don’t know whether they intend to give it to cattle. They are loading up and taking away the grains and household items from homes. They are taking away any property, even spoons, as they are accustomed to doing. They are saying they have become victorious because they are able to do this.
• The Ethiopian army is being left without leaders. They are dying in large numbers. Yet they have captured Shire and they see it as success.
• They believe we don’t have [enough] ammunition so they are sending soldiers to get us to finish our ammunition by shooting at them. Soldiers come [at us] nonstop and [it is assumed] that we will keep shooting and eventually run out of bullets. There are soldiers who are condemned to die for this.
• The Ethiopian soldiers are being forced to fight by being shot from behind by Eritrean soldiers. Now Eritrean soldiers are also forced to fight by being shot from behind. The soldiers are humans and their capacity to bear such a burden will run out. This is what we are seeing.
• They consider the difference in population number. The Ethiopian people is around 110 million while the Tigray people are few in number. So they believe that regardless of the cost in man power, the Tigray people will not be able to bear the loss because they are few. So they see [their soldiers] as leaves.
• Soldiers of PFDJ are made to write the things they are supposed to do and not to do in their notepads.
• We have no other choice than stopping this force. Our army has become even more determined at seeing the people get displaced from their homes. Our forces have become ever more determined. They are practically seeing that the genocide is not just talks. The military officers are seeing it. So, there is no other choice apart from using all kinds of military wisdom and fighting strategy to deal with [enemy forces]. This is what we are doing. The war is bloody and very tough, not just for us but also for the enemy. But our only choice is to fight. This is going to continue. We will see which side will crumble through this way. Our youth have no other choice; the people of Tigray have no other option. Their only option is to strengthen the [Tigray] army. This is the only option they are giving them. Tigrayan youth are flooding into the army. It is flooding in numbers that are more than what our army could handle. They have decided to become fighters. There is no other option. They have made the youth and people of Tigray to decide [to join the fight]. This is how the war is going to continue. They are pushing into Tigray. They have reached Axum and Adwa. Okay, they are taking the towns and coming. There isn’t a place we have abandoned. We will not abandon it. They have captured Shire, Mai Tsebri and the towns of Adiyabo. Yet we have not abandoned [withdrawn from] Adiyabo; we have not abandoned [withdrawn from] the areas around Shire; we have not abandoned Tselemti; we have not abandoned Asgede or Ankerey. We will not abandon them. We have not abandoned Zana or Adet; we never will. We will leave behind ember. We are with the people.
• We will use all kinds of military tactics to inflict heavy losses and keep on destroying the enemy. We will stop and defend where we should and when appropriate, move and destroy where it suits us. We will continue like this. We are making sure that the enemy will not have a safe zone. They will see practically that capturing a city, say Adwa, doesn’t mean achieving victory. It will become indisputable that, as it is known in Tigray people’s history, Tigray will be their grave. This isn’t a slogan or bragging. This is going to happen. That is already started. There will be ember at their backs.
• After the defeat of the first Woyane [rebellion], a noble from North Shewa, an Amhara, was appointed as viceroy over Tigray as punishment. But Haile Selassie reappointed him before long. History is repeating itself. Now Dr. Alemu Sime, an Oromo, has been appointed as viceroy over Tigray. Other regents have been prepared from Afar and Amhara to administer woredas and zones. We are aware that police are going to be deployed from the federal police. We will see them come and rule over us. If they do manage to arrive, we will see if they will make it back. The strategy they are pursuing is not one that ends the war. It is a strategy that destroys and dismantles the country. The war can only end through peace. It is not possible to rule over the Tigray people by bringing an Oromo viceroy as well as woreda administrators from Afar and Amhara. The war will continue to rage in an even worse manner. There will not be a soldier that will make it out; nor will there be a viceroy who will get a chance to return. It is not just Ethiopian soldiers and viceroys but also Eritrean soldiers that will be buried here.
• This is how the war is continuing. There is a strategy which we have chosen after readjusting and there is the strategy which the enemy has chosen to pursue. We will see how it ends. At this moment, they have taken control of Adwa. The Ethiopian and Eritrean forces who came through there have a plan to continue towards Tembien. Some intend to move through Gendebta and Feresmay to Hawzien. Another detachment plans to move through Edaga Arbi and Tsedia to Edaga Hamus and continue through Hawzien. In this way it is attempting to attack in order to force us to withdraw from our defenses in Zalambessa. We were able to crush one of these two lines of attack. The Eritrean force that came through Gendebta was not only able to continue but it was destroyed. The other direction of [enemy] attack is the one trying to reach Edaga Arbi and Tembien through Maikinetal. The fighting is ongoing. We will see how it will end. On the southern front, there has been continual offensive through Korem and Alamata for the past 20 to 30 days. Heavy fighting has been going on. The enemy has suffered heavy losses. But the lives, cattle and property of a lot of people has been lost here. They say Raya Kobo is ours and claim to have a plan to restore it. Yet the residents of Raya Kobo have been targeted. Their village has been destroyed. They say Alamata is ours; Zata is ours. Yet nothing has been spared. They are destroying everything. The enemy force that came through this has reached Korem. As we speak, fighting is going on around Bala, between Mehoni & Alamata, and around Korem. We will see how it progresses. Bombardment is taking place everyday around Abala and Desae; an Eritrean force is ready to make a move. It tried to attack a few days ago but it didn’t succeed. But the attack has continued through there. Yesterday and today, it has undertaken a very heavy offensive through Zalambessa. At this very moment the offensive is going on but it has not been able to break our defensive lines. Similar attempt is being made through Gerhu Sirnay – Edaga Robue. Eritrean and Ethiopian forces are launching these attacks from Eritrea.
• They have set a clear objective. So they will continue to advance as far as they can. The war will continue. They will attempt to achieve their plan and we will fight to thwart their plans. We have planned strategies and techniques that will enable us to do all we can to finish it by burying them, we will implement them. Our forces are under intense pressure. Our soldiers are young but they have no other option apart from fighting. Our army is being strengthened by manpower. The people are giving our army all kinds of support – moral support, carrying the wounded – because this is a decisive moment. Our forces are fighting accompanied by the people. But the enemy is moving alone. Unlike enemy forces who are getting refreshments, our forces are fighting day and night without rest; but they are fighting with high morale. We have an army whose sole option is to fight and win. The foundation for victory is to have such morale. We have an army and leadership that is ready to accept martyrdom. This is how the war is proceeding. Our forces are enduring through challenges that are near impossible to bear. The outcome will not end in enemy victory.
• We have an army that will bring victory after victory. We are solving our shortage in material and ammunition from the enemy. At first the enemy forces were given a directive to take away ammunition before the wounded to prevent us from getting ammunition. But now, it is no longer able to do that. Hence, the enemy itself has become a source of our weapons. Not just Ethiopian forces but Eritrean forces have become a source of supply of weapons. Our army has reached an understanding that we are going to fight and defeat them with their own arms. The choice is in their hands. They have the option of ending it peacefully but if they say they will end it through force, the war will continue in this manner. It will not stop. Defeat is unthinkable! How are they going to win? The war may be prolonged; suffering and displacement of the people will increase. People who fight while enduring suffering either give up hope or become even more determined. The history of the people of Tigray shows that it doesn’t lean towards hopelessness. It has taken it towards determination. The Tigray army has also become determined.
• War ensues if things can’t be resolved peacefully. But war is not something that has no ending; it will ultimately end in peace. Peace can come in two ways; over the grave of one of the sides or through finding a peaceful solution. The enemies are seeking to bring peace by burying the history, morale and identity of the people of Tigray. This can’t happen. It only prolongs the war. It is not possible to think that the people of Tigray accept defeat, submit to its lords and in this way peace will prevail. Hence the enemies are making the war to continue in an even worse manner, a war with no frontlines, one where non-stop fighting continues from one corner [of Tigray] to the other. They had said they defeated the First Woyane. They committed many crimes. Yet what did this do? It created indignation among the people. It gave birth to the Second Woyane. This is what is happening now. This is what the history of the Tigray people shows. The war will not progress like the time of the first Woyane when it got defeated and the struggle hibernated for 30 years. The war will not stop. They have the option of ending the war [peacefully]; but the option of ending it through war will only worsen it. There is no other option. They are giving the people of Tigray the sole option of fighting. Hence the people of Tigray will continue fighting. Consequently, the youth of Tigray have already prepared their arms. Tigray army too has made full preparation to continue the war in this manner. Hence the next [chapter] is to continue the war in a unique manner that befits the stage. This is one way. The other way is negotiation for cession of hostilities. If it goes well, the fighting will stop and conducive condition will prevail for resolving it peacefully. Cessation of hostilities doesn’t end the war; it only creates conditions political solution. Talks are going on and there are signs that there is a desire to carry out political discussions. The International Community is exerting great pressure to end the conflict peacefully. The superpowers such as the US, the UN, and African countries are putting in efforts to end the conflict peacefully. If the Ethiopian government listens to the advice of the international community and accepts the peaceful option, it will be possible to end the war peacefully. I have hope that the Ethiopian government will accept this option. But the involvement of the Eritrean government has complicated the situation. Eritrea has entered following the invitation of the Ethiopian government. If the Ethiopian government gets Eritrea to withdraw, accepts peaceful dialogue and facilitates humanitarian aid delivery, there will be conducive conditions to resolve the conflict peacefully. I hope we will reach an agreement. But it may not accept this. Many things have complicated the problem. Eritrea has complicated it. The desire of the Ethiopian government to subdue the Tigray people may make it refuse to come to peace. So we will make preparations to continue the war. But if there are ways in which peaceful solution comes about, we will accept them.
• If it [Ethiopian government] chooses war, we will continue on the path of war. We know their strategy. They are going to refine and use the same strategy that we already know. They have already started. The war will continue and we will be victorious. We are prepared for both options.
• My message is the one which the people of Tigray has given us. Our only option as people is to destroy the enemies that have come to wipe us out. Their only objective is to exterminate us. That is what they are doing. They have started to implement it. They have made extermination a measure of their success. Dear youth of Tigray and people of Tigray, our only option is to continue the war. The youth of Tigray are doing this. In all areas where the fighting has reached, they are flocking to join the struggle. It has to continue. The people of Tigray has to be armed. It has to turn Tigray land into fire. It has to make it ember. We have to deprive them of a place they could have peace. All the people of Tigray have to express their protest in organized and non-organized manner, both directly and indirectly, as they are already doing now. We shouldn’t [inaudible] that they may inflict harm on us; they came to inflict harm and are doing it. Our option is to fight. We have not seen those who are silent being spared. Hence we have to use all our resources to fight. We have to arm ourselves. We have to make them perish in Tigray. But if there is a peaceful option, we will listen. But the peaceful option can’t be one which takes away our identity. We have to fight to secure our identity either peacefully or through war.
• The people of Eritrea should do everything they can to prevent its young and old people from getting buried in Tigray. What is happening is damaging the blood relations between the people of Tigray and Eritrea. I call upon the new generation of Eritreans to do their part in fixing this.
• New developments regarding the Amhara. During the fighting of the past month or so, Amhara Special Forces, Fano and militia remained at the back. Now they are taking the frontline in the fighting inside Tigray. It is the Amhara Fano and militia who are invading Zata. They are the ones that are burning houses. The ones fighting around Beri Teklai, Shimkomajo and Chercher are the Amhara Special Forces. Republican guard commandos and Mekit division [trained as commandos by EDF] of Amhara Special Forces that are fighting in Beri Teklai. They are fighting from the front. They have entered into Shiraro. Amhara Security Forces and even militia are entering in many areas. For what reason are they fighting inside Tigray? Is it to exterminate the Tigray people? This is a question that remains unanswered. This has to stop. If possible, Amhara elites and religious fathers have to put a stop to this. If this doesn’t happen, the only option would be for the people of Tigray to continue fighting and conclude it with victory. The Amhara administration is being made to enter into Tigray and commit crimes. This crime will cause severe embitterment which is going to be difficult to rectify. Time is running. The Amhara elites should think about this; otherwise this generation will be held accountable.
• I call upon the Oromo people to condemn the appointment of an Oromo viceroy over Tigray. Others too should fight against attempts to appoint administrators from Amhara, Afar, Oromia, SNNPR over Tigray. The people of Tigray will fight and reverse this. I call upon the peoples of Ethiopia to support the Tigray people.
“Statement by Tadesse Worede, Commander of Tigray Defense Forces”, Tigray TV, 27/10/2022