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HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE
Silent war crimes, ethnic cleansing happening in Tigray — lobbies
Say the inhumane acts are happening in darkness as government has barred the media and international players
• The authorities allegedly maintain detention cells of horrendous torture and deadly mistreatment to Tigrayan civilians, since the civil war broke in November 2020.
• The report says upto 60 summary executions of Tigrayan men by Amhara Special Forces near the Tekeze River Bridge on January 17, 2021 alone have been recorded.
Dawud Ali, 8, sleeps next to his uncle, Mohammed Ali, 40, after losing fingers from explosives that were left close to his house in the aftermath of fighting between the Ethiopian National Defence Force and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces at Dubti Referral Hospital, Dubti town, Afar region, Ethiopia on February 24.
TIGRAY WAR: Dawud Ali, 8, sleeps next to his uncle, Mohammed Ali, 40, after losing fingers from explosives that were left close to his house in the aftermath of fighting between the Ethiopian National Defence Force and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces at Dubti Referral Hospital, Dubti town, Afar region, Ethiopia on February 24.
Lobbies want action taken against Ethiopian authorities for allegedly masterminding massive human rights abuses against civilians in ongoing Tigray war.
The two—Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch—released a new report on Wednesday in Nairobi.
In their report, they show that crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing is ongoing in the country’s western Tigray zone.
This they say include torture, forcible transfer, rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearances, widespread pillage, imprisonment and possible extermination.
The report says the inhumane acts are happening in darkness as government has barred the media and international players.
It says new administrators in the Western Tigray zone, as well as regional officials and security forces from Ethiopia’s Amhara region, are responsible for a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
The authorities allegedly maintain detention cells of horrendous torture and deadly mistreatment to Tigrayan civilians, since the civil war broke in November 2020.
Western Tigray (referred to as Welkait-Tegede by Amharas) has been the site of decades-long boundary disputes, simmering tensions and rights abuses.
With the raging conflict, Amhara forces, militias and authorities with long-standing grievances and interest over the land, worked closely with the federal government to take control of these areas, effectively seeking to push the Tigrayan out.
The report says upto 60 summary executions of Tigrayan men by Amhara Special Forces near the Tekeze River Bridge on January 17, 2021 alone, sexual violence and mass detentions have been recorded.
The lobbies also accuse authorities of withholding humanitarian aid and services and of forcible transfer of hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans from the territory.
“In addition, Tigrayan militias carried out war crimes against Amhara residents and labourers during a massacre on Mai Kadra town on November 9,” the report read.
The report is a product of a study conducted by the two organisations between December 2020 and March 2022.
They interviewed more than 400 people claiming to be survivors of abuses, their family members and witnesses across dozens of towns and villages in Western Tigray.
“We carried out extensive in-person interviews with Tigrayan refugees during five separate research visits to Sudan.
“We also conducted remote interviews between March 2021 and March 2022, primarily with Tigrayans displaced from Western Tigray, as well as with local Amhara and Walqayte residents from the Amhara region,” the lobbies said.
The researchers also assessed medical and forensic reports, satellite imagery and the few available videos and photographs.
As remedies, the lobbies want the authorities to allow refugees who want to get back to their original lands to do so.
They also want the government to “first acknowledge the suffering, support unhindered humanitarian access and facilitate access to independent international investigators.”
“It should also take concrete steps to make sure communities in Western Tigray are protected, notably by releasing all those who are arbitrarily detained there and facilitating safe, sustained and unhindered humanitarian access,” they said.
The lobbies also demand that the Ethiopian authorities demobilises and disarm abusive irregular forces, including Fano and other militias in the area.
“It should suspend civilian officials linked to abuses in Western Tigray from their posts,” the report reads.
These include interim Amhara authorities and security force personnel from the Amhara Special Forces and Ethiopian federal forces.
“It should also ensure that they are not reinstated to government and security positions,” the report adds.
The state should also carry out fresh vetting of Ethiopian federal and Amhara regional government forces.
This they say will ensure those implicated in serious crimes are removed, and appropriately disciplined, or prosecuted according to international fair trial standards.
“We also call for any agreement by the parties to the conflict to include the deployment of an AU-led international peacekeeping force in Western Tigray,” the report read.
The lobbies say the force should have a robust mandate to protect civilians, monitor rights violations and support unhindered humanitarian access.
(Edited by Bilha Makokha)