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Massacres, Rapes & Starvation: Breaking Through The Blackout to Expose Tigray’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on May 15, 2021

Courtesy: The Telegraph

💭 እልቂት ፣ አስገድዶ መድፈር እና ረሃብ፤ የትግራይን ‘በሰው ልጅ ላይ የሚፈጸሙ ወንጀሎችን’ ለማጋለጥ የተዘጋውን በር መበርገድ።

👉“በምዕራብ ትግራይ‘ የዘር ማጽዳት ’ማስረጃ አለ። የኒውዚላንድ የቀድሞው ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ሄለን ክላርክ “ትግራውያንን ለማጥፋት በማሰብ የተከናወነ ከሆነ በዘር ማጥፋት ሊመደብ ይችላል” ብለዋል ፡፡

👉 ወ / ሮ ክላርክ አክለው “በአንድነት ተደምረው በትግራይ ተወላጆች ላይ እየተፈፀሙ ያሉ ከባድ ወንጀሎች በሁሉም የዕድሜ ክልል ያሉ ሰላማዊ ሰዎችን መጨፍጨፍ የዘር ማጥፋት ፍች ሊያሟላ ይችላል” ብለዋል፡፡

👉“There is evidence of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Western Tigray. If carried out with the intent of eliminating Tigrayans, it may be classified as genocide,” says Helen Clark, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

👉“Taken all together, the serious crimes being committed against Tigrayans, including massacres of civilians of all ages, may meet the definition of genocide,” Ms Clark added.

🔥 #TigrayGenocide: A ‘pathetic’ international reaction:

„The silence from key international actors has been deafening

🔥‘አሳዛኝ’ ዓለም አቀፍ ምላሽ ለትግራኝ ጭፍጨፋ

ቁልፍ ከሆኑ ዓለም አቀፍ ተዋንያን ዝምታው ያደንቁራል

👉 Imagine The Outrage if The 150,000 Dead Tigrayan Ethiopians Had Actually Been Palestinian, and The Aggressors Israeli Troops. We’re observing this right now! Watch how the world reacts to the current escalated Fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.

👉 ፻፶/150ሺ ዎቹ የሞቱት ትግራዋያን ኢትዮጵያውያን በእውነቱ ፍልስጤማዊ ጨፍጫፊዎቹ ደግሞ የእስራኤል ወታደሮች ቢሆኑ ኖሮ ምን ያህል ቁጣ በዓለም እንደሚቀሰቀስ አስቡ። ይህንን አሁን እያስተዋልነው ነው! በአሁኑ ወቅት በእስራኤል ኃይሎች እና በፍልስጤም ታጣቂዎች መካከል እየተባባሰ ላለው ጦርነት ዓለም ምን እንደሚሰማው ይመልከቱ፡፡

Six months into northern Ethiopia’s shadow war, its atrocities are becoming harder to hide

When the first American bombs crashed into Baghdad in January 1991, the nature of war fundamentally changed.

Images of the First Gulf War were bounced off satellites and broadcast live to tens of millions of homes around the world.

Everyone saw how Iraq was systematically taken apart blow by blow. Since then, war has become more visible – its crimes ever harder to hide. But one conflict in the far north of Ethiopia has bucked the trend spectacularly, defying the information age.

For the last six months, communications blackouts and appalling access for human rights researchers and journalists alike have shrouded a conflict raging across the Tigray Region in shadows.

But as tens of thousands of Eritrean and Ethiopian national army troops have battled forces loyal to the regional government of Tigray, information has slowly and surely leaked out.

Humanitarian reports, grainy mobile phone videos, refugees accounts and journalistic dispatches all point the same way: dozens if not hundreds of mass killings, a systematic campaign of rape, ethnic cleansing and starvation being used as a weapon of war.

Last week, another bombshell hit. A video smuggled out of the country shows the head of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church Abune Mathias saying the Ethiopian state is committing a ‘genocide’ on the ethnic Tigrayan people.

Several senior independent observers horrified by the tepid international response to the Tigray crisis broke ranks to tell the Telegraph what they thought was happening.

“It is crimes against humanity. It’s the crime of extermination. It’s the crime of mass starvation. It’s certainly a lot worse than Darfur,” says Alex du Waal, one of the foremost international experts on the Horn of Africa.

“There is evidence of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Western Tigray. If carried out with the intent of eliminating Tigrayans, it may be classified as genocide,” says Helen Clark, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

“Taken all together, the serious crimes being committed against Tigrayans, including massacres of civilians of all ages, may meet the definition of genocide,” Ms Clark added.

How did it come to this?

Tigray is populated mainly by ethnic Tigrayans who make up a small part of Ethiopia’s myriad of more than 80 ethnic groups.

Despite their small size, the ethnic group has played a huge role in the country’s modern history. In the 1980s, the Tigrayan’s People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) led a rebel coalition to oust the Derg, Ethiopia’s Marxist dictatorship.

For the next three decades, the TPLF dominated Africa’s second-most populous nation, with Tigrayans holding key positions in the country’s government, armed forces and economy. But major TPLF abuses led to widespread hatred for the ethnic group.

Ethiopia’s current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed swept to power on a wave of anger at the status quo in April 2018. Mr Abiy moved to sideline the old Tigrayan guard and tried to increase the federal government’s power over regional governments.

Tigray openly resisted and held regional elections. An escalating war of words turned into an open conflict in November 2020. Mr Abiy accused the TPLF of attacking a major federal government military base and launched a massive offensive to oust the group.

Mr Abiy enlisted the help of Eritrea, whose dictator Isaias Afwerki is a longtime foe of the TPLF and axe-wielding ethnic Amhara militias, to crush Tigray’s battle-hardened fighters in a three-pronged attack.

But any hopes of a quick blitzkrieg offensive have evaporated. Instead, the conflict has descended into a guerilla war with the Tigrayan Defence Forces, and a vast humanitarian catastrophe spread across the region of six million people.

An estimated 1.7 million people were displaced across the region at the end of March, while 4.5 million people are in need of emergency aid, according to the United Nations.

More than 60,000 refugees made it into eastern Sudan before Ethiopian forces sealed the border, preventing their very own Rohingya moment.

The situation is now so desperate that many women IDPs and refugees are selling sex for as little as £1, says the International Rescue Committee.

Breaking through the blackout

Only a handful of journalists have been granted limited access to Tigray. Their reports tell of horrifying suffering and abuses committed by all parties.

But most human rights analysts and reporters have had to investigate dozens of reported atrocities from a distance, calling up hundreds of survivors on encrypted lines to corroborate accounts and even trying to rent satellites to take pictures of mass graves.

Earlier this year, the Telegraph obtained the first video evidence of what appears to be a war crime carried out by the Ethiopian army. Around 40 bodies in civilian clothes can be seen in the video at Debre Abay in Central Tigray.

“You should have finished off the survivors,” the cameraman nonchalantly says as soldiers walk past a mortally injured man. One video analysed by CNN, the BBC, Amnesty and Bellingcat shows what appears to be Ethiopian soldiers killing dozens of men, then pushing their bodies off a cliff.

More recently, this paper published testimony from more than a dozen witnesses alleging that Ethiopian and Eritrean troops went from house to house in the Temben region of central Tigray, killing 182 people in the second week of February.

“I saw dead bodies scattered, bodies half-eaten by dogs. The soldiers did not allow anyone to get close to the corpses,” one 26-year-old man told reporters by phone at the time.

Almost every atrocity investigation has been hotly contested or flat out denied as fake news by the Ethiopian government in Addis Ababa. One Ethiopian ambassador has even insinuated journalists at this paper were paid up TPLF agents.

Yet observers say such abuses are probably just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. One team of researchers at the University of Ghent has documented almost 500 events where people were allegedly executed or massacred, mainly by Eritrean, Ethiopian national troops or militiamen.

After reporting extensively on the conflict for the last six months, Tsedale Lemma, the founder of the influential Addis Standard, believes ‘genocidal acts’ are being committed.

“Many people argue that because the number of people massacred may not be in its hundreds of thousands, it doesn’t qualify as genocide. What this argument misses is intent.”

“Intent, not just numbers, qualify acts of massacres as genocide. There are objectively corroborated reports of, for example, young men of fighting age being intentionally targeted and massacred.”

At the same time, verified reports say that hundreds if not thousands of women and girls are being systematically gang-raped by Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers in what appears to be an attempt to cleanse the Tigrayan bloodline.

There are also reports of Tigrayans being forced to eat leaves to survive, displaced people turning up emaciated at ransacked healthcare centres and dying in their sleep of hunger.

One survey by a cluster of humanitarian groups found that half of all women surveyed were acutely malnourished. Experts have raised the alarm saying that starvation is being used as a weapon of war in the conflict.

The World Peace Foundation based in Boston released a report in April stating that food supplies were being destroyed and that the region’s elaborate food security system was being dismantled.

“There is a campaign that has been started to prevent farming. Regrettably, this campaign is being done by some of those tasked with law enforcement,” Abebe Gebrehiwot, deputy head of Tigray’s interim government, told Ethiopian state media on Monday.

A ‘pathetic’ international reaction

The silence from key international actors has been deafening. Over the last six months, the UN chief Antonio Guterres, the UN Security Council and the African Union have all refused to take any firm stance on the atrocities in Tigray.

Instead, they have spoken in muted tones about the need to get humanitarian access to the region. Part of the reason for this is Ethiopia’s considerable diplomatic heft — the African Union has its headquarters in Addis Ababa.

China and Russia have also blocked any serious attempt by Western nations in the Security Council to condemn the atrocities. Multiple critics said that part of the reason for Mr Guterres’ relative silence on Tigray was that he is up for reelection in January 2022 and needs African votes.

“UN Secretary-General António Guterres has abjectly abandoned his responsibilities. History will not judge him kindly even if he wins enough votes for reelection,” said Mr Waal.

Mr Guterres’ office said he was fully engaged in seeking an end to the conflict and “continues to call for all perpetrators of such violations to be held accountable and face justice.”

For Dr Mukesh Kapila, a former top UN official who raised the alarm about the ongoing genocide in Darfur in 2003, the situation is clear. “If you look at the pattern of killings and other incidents including sexual violence, use of starvation – there is a pattern of genocidal events. They’re taking place in close juxtaposition to each other. That points to a degree of orchestration.

“The fact that these genocidal acts are taking place in repeated places – points towards an organisation, it points towards a strategy. That is why I think of what is going on in Tigray as a set of genocidal acts, which taken together point towards an overall genocide,” Dr Kapila says.

“People are talking about this privately. But it hasn’t caught on publicly because it’s a huge, huge business to accuse a state of genocide. If you declare genocide convention, you are obliged to act,” Dr Kapila claims.

The US is beginning to wake up to the crisis. The US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, issued a stark warning saying that if the violence from Tigray spread across the nation of 110m it would make Syria look like “child’s play”.

Billene Seyoum, the spokesperson for the Ethiopian Prime Minister, hit back against the allegations of atrocities in Tigray.

“Whether from leading Ethiopian or international observers, such allegations need to be procedurally and thoroughly investigated on the ground and the results made public, which international and national human rights entities are doing,” she said in a statement.

“Anecdotal and unsubstantiated testimonies cannot count as fact and only serve to perpetuate a skewed narrative of a country. Ethiopia is making and realising commitment towards ensuring investigations take place.”

Source

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