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The New York Times portrayal of the WHO chief as an innocent victim of circumstances should not be Overlooked

MAY 17, 2021

The New York Times OpEd Columnist, Nicholas Kristof’s attempt to portray WHO chief Tedros Adhanom (Ph.D.) as an innocent victim of circumstances is misleading and disingenuous, said Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega.

Kristof appears to be driven by sentiment more than facts, or perhaps by willful ignorance of the circumstances precipitating the Tigray crisis, the Ambassador added.

In his response to the columnist published on medium.com, the Ambassador said the columnist deliberately skipped to mention that before his appointment to the WHO, Tedros was one of the high ranking officials of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that launched preemptive attacks on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) on November 3, 2020.

That attack resulted in the massacre, maiming, torture, and detention of tens of thousands of Ethiopian federal troops, the Ambassador added. Top TPLF leader, Sekou Toure Getachew, said the aim of the attack was to conduct a “blitzkrieg” assault on Ethiopian federal forces and swiftly capture the major cities in the country.

As to Amb. Fitsum, the actions were taken by the Ethiopian federal government following the attack are no different than what any other country would have taken under the circumstances. He said, therefore, the TPLF is entirely responsible for the onset and consequences of the Tigray conflict. Kristof’s attempts to portray Tedros as an innocent victim of circumstances are misleading and disingenuous, he added.

He further said that Tedros’ ascribed status of “refugee” appears to be intended to generate sympathy for him as a victim of government persecution. Undoubtedly, he is free to return to Ethiopia at any time, according to him.

“It would be tabloid journalism to classify him as a “refugee” unable to contact family and friends in Tigray,”

He stressed. Accordingly, by blindly championing Tedros’s alleged personal plight as a “refugee”, Kristoff diverts international attention from the challenges facing the people of the region.

One should not overlook the forest for the tree. Kristoff makes no mention of the fact that in the months following the TPLF attack, the Ethiopian federal government embarked on a major reconstruction effort in Tigray, he noted. The Ambassador said his attempts to publish his response to Kirstof in the New York Times went unsuccessful and said decided to publish it on Medium.com.

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