Vandalizing Truth After Wrecking the Campuses: Another game in Canada rigged for the TPLF — and this time a diplomat might let himself be used

Left: Stéphane Jobin, Right: Campus buildings of Wollo University shelled by the TPLF

Canada keeps drinking the TPLF Kool-Aid. First a parliamentary subcommittee hearing that shamelessly favored advocates for the Junta, as well as Mukesh Kapila (“Ethiopians are horrible people”), and now…

Even Canada’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Stéphane Jobin apparently doesn’t care about the obvious conflict of interest in participating as a guest speaker at an event sponsored by supporters of the TPLF.

With luck, Stéphane Jobin is in Addis now, where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed would be within his rights to summon him to explain his actions. And if he doesn’t get a satisfactory answer, well, it’s common knowledge that Abiy has a good working relationship with Justin Trudeau. It would be hard to believe that Canada’s prime minister would want Jobin involved in this.

It’s a round table “to inform the University of Toronto community, Canadians, and scholars and the public elsewhere, of the destruction of Ethiopia’s contemporary system of higher education and its ancient cultural heritage.”

The website goes on to explain, “The devastation has come about as a consequence of the two-year-old war. Following the start of the engagement on 4 November 2020, all levels of education have been interrupted while four universities were closed across the Tigray region. On 13 September 2022, the Business Campus of Mekelle University was bombed.”

Why is only destruction in Mekelle mentioned?

The guest speaker list is packed with pro-TPLF sympathizers, and even one of the Junta’s senior leaders and spokespersons, Kindeya Gebrehiwot. Then there’s Jan Nyssen — the man who tries to deny Welkait belongs to the Amhara region — and Richard Reid of Oxford University, who peddles the toxic narrative of “Amhara domination” in Ethiopia’s history, which is highly questionable, to say the least. Note the background for the other speakers: “Mekelle University, Mekelle University, Mekelle University…”

Where is the representation, for instance, from universities in Dessie? I visited the campuses of two of them myself, and in photos here taken by others, you can see the absolutely jaw-dropping destruction and vandalism spitefully inflicted by the TPLF. Its operatives scouted the facilities and then systematically stole computers and even a COVID lab.

And if you want a proper, frank and open discussion about the threats to cultural heritage, why is there no discussion of the TPLF occupation of Lalibela? This is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It doesn’t get any more valuable than that. While church officials we spoke to assured us at the time of our interview that no looting took place and precious manuscripts were spared, they were still concerned about the potential structural damage the TPLF did to these beautiful complexes by parking their artillery next to them.

And while we’re at it, maybe the U of T organizers would like to talk to the imam of the mosque in Afar, where local residents showed us priceless Korans and Islamic works vandalized by TPLF soldiers.

By getting involved with such a shabby rigged farce, Stéphane Jobin would put the credibility of the Canadian government in peril — not only with Ethiopia, but with the rest of Africa.

He either hasn’t realized — or hasn’t been properly briefed by other informed Canadian institutions — that the TPLF is slowly and very cleverly penetrating Canadian universities in order to get credible “rubber stamps” on their false narratives. Feeling betrayed and broken by the peace deal, the last holdout TPLF zealots are pinning their hopes on securing the fake “Tigray Genocide” in respected scholarship — all as a means to drag the Ethiopian Government in front of the International Criminal Court.

As I reported last year, this has always been a goal, with TPLF operatives even confronting UN officials, demanding the names of sexual assault victims and their safe houses to find witnesses for their bogus ICC case.

The University of Toronto would enable TPLF advocates, along with supporters like self-declared “human rights advocate” Joanne M. Hodges, to lock in their phony claims and protect them from being overrun by real data from the forensic-based investigations now sweeping through Tigray.

The smart thing for Stéphane Jobin to do would be to withdraw from the event and then to reach out to reporters and researchers who have actually visited the war zones in the Amhara and Afar regions and who can give him a more balanced picture of events on the ground and the peace agreement that was signed by both parties.

Update: The website for the event no longer advertises Jobin as a guest speaker, which suggests either he dropped out or perhaps was never a firm “get” for the organizers in the first place. Either way, this is good news for Ethiopian-Canadian relations, but the fact that the event is still going ahead is a sad commentary on how academic research can be weaponized for political ends.

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Jeff Pearce

Writer person. Books - Prevail, The Karma Booth, Gangs in Canada; in June 2021, Winged Bull, a bio of Henry Layard, the Victorian era’s Indiana Jones.