Head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Ethiopia breaks his silence on the war in Tigray.
In his first public comments, the Patriarch has sharply criticized Ethiopia's actions. Abune Mathias said he believes the actions amount to genocide.
However, his comments have divided Ethiopian Orthodox Christians along ethnic lines.
"The patriarch's message brings hope and unity for the seekers of truth. However, his message had been ignored for six months and he was forbidden from addressing the world. It is good for the world to finally hear his message which brings a sense of unity to the people", said Father Selassie Merkse, Priest at Saint Mary's church in Mekele.
Ethiopia's government says it is "deeply dismayed" by the deaths of civilians.
"I don't think the patriarch is right to say that, because it is very difficult to say that something different has happened in one region. Many ethnic clashes have taken place in different parts of the country, people have been displaced, killed, and massacred and at that time, the patriarch did not say anything. I do not think he was right to blame the government for a genocide in the Tigray region", said Addis Ababa resident, Mesfin Tadesse.
The government blames the former Tigray leaders and claims normalcy has returned in the region of six million people. It has denied widespread profiling and targeting of Tigrayans.