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Posts Tagged ‘Lucy Kassa’

‘At Least’ 78 Priests ‘Massacred’ in One Zone of Tigray | በትግራይ አንድ ዞን ‹ቢያንስ› ፸፰/78 ካህናት ‹ተጨፍጭፈዋል›

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on May 10, 2021

…leaked letter claims.

12 Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers barged into the sacred room of the church. “They entered the holy room with their shoes. They shouted over us saying; ‘You are our enemies because you have comforted and preached to the villagers that this shall pass.”

፲፪/12 የኢትዮጵያ እና የኤርትራ ወታደሮች ከነጫማቸው ወደ ቤተ መቅደሱ ገቡ። ከዚያም ጮኹብን ‘እናንተ ጠላቶቻችን ናችሁ ምክንያቱም የመንደሩ ነዋሪዎችን ስላጽናናችሁ እና ስለ ሰበካችሁ ነው። አሁን ግን ይህ አብቅቷል!”

💭 Very sad, nevertheless Great reporting, dear Lucy Kassa – many blessings to you. Please to have a detailed one-on-one interview with His Holiness, Abune Matthias. A golden opportunity for us all! Please, if you could!

💭 በጣም አሳዛኝ ነው፤ ቢሆንም ታላቅ ዘገባ ውድ ሉሲ ካሳ ፥ ብዙ በረከቶችን እንመጭልሻለን። ሱሲ፤ ከብፁዕ ወቅዱስ አቡነ ማትያስ ጋር ዝርዝር እና አንድ-ለአንድ የሆነ ቃለ ምልልስ ለማድረግ ብትችይ በጎ ይሆን ነበር፡፡ ለሁላችንም ወርቃማ እድል ነው! እባክሽ ከቻልሽ ፍጠኚ!

The document, obtained exclusively by the Telegraph, claims a number of mass killings have taken place over the last five months

At least 78 priests were ‘massacred’ in one zone of Tigray, according to an official church letter leaked to the Telegraph.

The letter, which was addressed to the Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, says that “priests, deacons, choristers, and monks” have been “massacred” over the last five months.

Half a dozen survivors confirmed the news to this newspaper and said that both Ethiopian national army soldiers and Eritrean troops went into their holy spaces across southeast Tigray and “shot them down”.

Ethiopia has been wracked by a horrific civil war since the Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed sent his national army into the mountainous northern region of Tigray to oust the powerful regional government there on November 4.

The news comes several days after a video was smuggled out of the country showing the head of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church Abune Mathias condemning what he calls a ‘genocide’ being committed on the ethnic Tigrayan people by the Ethiopian state.

The conflict has released an almighty humanitarian crisis and neither priests nor religious sites have not been spared.

Centuries-old monasteries and mosques, including the 6th century Debre Damo monastery and Al-Nejashi, Africa’s first Mosque, have been looted and bombed by Eritrean troops who are allied to Ethiopia’s government in Addis Ababa.

The stamped letter was sent on April 15 and lists the number of clergymen killed over the past five months in the church administrations.

Priests who survived the killings told the Telegraph the number of dead clergymen could be much higher than 78.

Gergera Maryam, Adi’Zeban Karagiorgis, Kidanemihret Bosa, Taksa and the monastery of Da Abune Ayzgi are some of the churches where churchmen were massacred, according to witnesses.

Kahsay* and his deacon son Halfom* fled their homes to the nearby mountains of Seharti after receiving news that the Eritrean and Ethiopian troops were raiding churches.

Two days later, Halfom returned back to the church in their village to see if the situation had improved. “I begged my son not to go back. He promised me he would return. But he did not return. The Eritrean soldiers killed my son” says Kahsay, an old man. “I learned a week later the villagers picked up my son’s body. I did not attend his burial. He was only 25.”

In Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, many priests and deacons gather in churchyards to celebrate Saints’ Celebration days.

Three witnesses told the Telegraph that Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers specifically target these celebration days to execute members of the church.

“In the afternoon of January 9, there were many of us in the church of Adi’Zeban Karagiorgis. We were there to celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary,” one witness who asked to remain anonymous, said. “Suddenly, eight Ethiopian soldiers entered the churchyard. The soldiers picked 12 young deacons between the ages of 15 and 20. They took them out and shot them down,” he says.

Hadera*, an old priest, survived a massacre at the church of Gergera Da Mariam. He says there have been various killings and massacres since early December 2020.

The 76-year-old says he was praying on February 1 when 12 Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers barged into the sacred room of the church.

“They entered the holy room with their shoes. They shouted over us saying; ‘You are our enemies because you have comforted and preached to the villagers that this shall pass. You should not have done that,” recounts Hadera.

“There were six priests in the room. They shot us all and left the church. My friends died. It is nothing short of a miracle I survived.”

The Telegraph approached Eritrea’s information minister, Yemane Gebremeskel and spokeswoman of the Ethiopian Prime Minister office Billene Seyoum for comment. Neither had replied at the time of going to press.

Source

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US Expresses ‘Grave Concern’ over Harrowing Reports of Atrocities in Ethiopia

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 8, 2021

Allegations of ethnic cleansing that began last fall amid a military crackdown in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region now threaten to engulf the surrounding areas and permanently tarnish the reputation of the country’s nobel prize-winning prime minister. Thousands are dead, tens of thousands have been displaced, and the Ethiopian government is on the defensive. Coletta Wanjohi reports.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister on Thursday and expressed “grave concern” over the growing humanitarian and human rights crisis in the country.

The call came after a disturbing report by The Associated Press and warnings by the United Nations that a campaign of rape and murder is being carried out against the Tigrayan people by military forces from the Amhara state of Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea.

Sullivan spoke with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen and discussed “critical steps to address the crisis, including expanded humanitarian access, cessation of hostilities, departure of foreign troops, and independent investigations into atrocities and human rights violations,” National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement.

Mr. Sullivan stressed that the United States is ready to help Ethiopia address the crisis, building on our longstanding bilateral partnership and friendship.”

The Associated Press on Wednesday published a report detailing dozens of accounts by Tigrayan refugees who described rapes, beatings, gunshot wounds and seeing dozens of corpses suggesting a massacre.

Last month, the deputy U.N. aid coordinator in Ethiopia, Wafaa Said, said five medical facilities in the region had reported at least 516 rape cases, a number she said likely underrepresented the overall number because of the stigma associated with rape and a destruction of health facilities, Reuters reported.

The AP’s report on Wednesday also said Tigrayan refugees have had their ethnic identities erased from newly issued identity cards, in what the news agency said was evidence of a concerted effort by the Ethiopian government to erase their ethnic identity.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has used the term “ethnic cleansing” to describe what is happening in Tigray, a serious charge that describes the forced expulsion of a population through violence, killings and rapes. He has also called for the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the country.

The administration previously dispatched Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to Ethiopia to carry a personal message from President Biden to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Nobel Peace Prize winner, to address the reports of atrocities.

The U.S. has had diplomatic relations with Ethiopia for more than a century. It is the second most populous country in Africa and receives one of the “largest and most complex assistance programs,” according to the State Department.

Administration officials have focused on the humanitarian crisis and allegations of human rights atrocities in the country since Biden took office.

The conflict occurring in the north of Ethiopia began in November, with government forces instituting a brutal crackdown in the Tigray region after Tigrayan officials sought to hold their own elections after national polls were delayed.

The Ethiopian government has admitted to Eritrean forces being present in the north and has committed to investigating allegations of atrocities but has criticized such reporting as “slanted” that “portray the federal government as the instigator of all crimes.”

In a lengthy statement from the Ethiopian foreign ministry responding to Wednesday’s report by the AP, the government called the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a political opposition party, a “criminal enterprise” that is “armed to its teeth.”

The violence occurring in the region is further being exacerbated by a critical lack of essential services. The U.S. announced last month it was committing an additional $52 million to aid the humanitarian crisis, providing “lifesaving protection, shelter, essential health care, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services.” That is on top of approximately $100 million provided at the outset of the conflict.

Source

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Massacre in Tigray Fuels Genocide Fears Almost 200 Civilians Killed by Ethiopia & Eritrean Military Forces in Latest Human Rights Abuse in Region

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 8, 2021

‘Their Bodies Were Torn into Pieces’: Ethiopian & Eritrean Troops Accused of Massacre in Abi Addi, Tigray

አካሎቻቸው ተቆራርጠዋልየኢትዮ ጵያ እና የኤርትራ ወታደሮች በትግራይ ዓብይ ዓዲ በተፈፀመ ጭፍጨፋ ተከሰሱ። ፻፹፪/182 ንጹሐን በአብይ አህመድ የጋላ እና በኢሳያስ አፈቆርኪ የቤን አሚር አህዛብ ሰአራዊቶች በጅምላ ተጨፍጨፈዋል።

Most corps were already eaten by wild animals. Others were half-eaten by dogs. Their bodies were torn into pieces

አብዛኛው አስከሬን ቀድሞውኑ በዱር እንስሳት ተበልቷል። ሌሎች ደግሞ በከፊል በውሾች ተበሉ፡፡ አካላቸው ተቆራርጧል

እህ ህ ህ! አይ ጋላ! አይ አማራ! አይ ኢሳያስ ቤን አሚር! እግዚኦ! እግዚኦ! እግዚኦ!

የአክሱም ጽዮን ልጆች የትግራይ ወገኖቼ ቅዱስ የሆነውን ቍጣ ተቆጡ! በጣም ተቆጡ! ግን በእነዚህ ምስጋና-ቢስ አረመኔ ወገኖች አትበሳጩ፣ አትዘኑ፤ እነርሱ ወደ ጥልቁ የሚገቡ ናቸውና እንዲያውም ለእነርሱ እዘኑላቸው! አዎ! ምንም ወለም ዘለም እያሉ እራስን ማታለል የለም፤ እግዚአብሔር ሁሉንም አይቶታል፤ በወገኖቻችን ላይ ግፍ እየሰሩ ያሉት ኦሮሞዎችና  አማራዎች ናቸው። እየሠሩት ባሉት ወንጀል ትንሽም እንኳን ቢሆን ተጸጽተው ንስሐ ለመግባት ወደ ቤተ ክርስትያን በመሄድና ተድብቀውም በማልቀስ ፈንታ የትግራይን እናቶች እንባና ጩኸት በድፍረትና በፈሮዖናዊ ዕብሪት ለመንጠቅ ሲሉ ሰሞኑን ሰልፍ ወጥተው በመጮኽ ላይ ናቸው፤ በጣም ነው የሚያሳዝነው፤ ግን ምን ይደረግ የአቤል ደም ጩኸት እያቅበዘበዛቸው እኮ ነው! ገና ምኑን አይተው!

In an exclusive investigation, witnesses tell of 182 civilians killed in cold blood as reports of human rights abuses in the region escalate

In early February, the crash of shells and bullets in the remote Jawmaro mountains in northern Ethiopia seemed to have stopped.

Civilians in Abi Addi, a town in the Temben region of Central Tigray, were relieved. At last, a small measure of peace.

But on February 10, all the terrors of Ethiopia’s civil war descended on the town and at least a dozen surrounding villages.

In exclusive testimony shared with the Telegraph, 18 witnesses told how Ethiopian federal soldiers and Eritrean troops surrounded the area and went from house to house killing a total of 182 people.

“I saw dead bodies scattered, bodies half-eaten by dogs. The soldiers did not allow anyone to get close to the corpses,” said 26-year-old Tesfay Gebremedhin from the village of Semret, who fled into the mountains along with many other terrified young men.

“But later, they started to feel disturbed by the terrible smell of the dead bodies. So they covered the bodies with dust.”

One of those who survived the massacre in Wetelako village was five-year-old Merhawit Weldegebreal. She was shot in her leg. Her uncle, Abrha Zenebe, died trying to shield her from the bullets.

“The soldiers came and shouted at my uncle. They also shouted at my father. But dad ran away. The soldiers hit my uncle in his leg with their guns. And then they shot him in his belly. They also shot me in my knee,” the little girl told the Telegraph on the phone from her hospital bed in the Ayder hospital in the regional capital Mekele.

Since the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the most powerful military in Africa into the country’s northern Tigray region to oust its ruling party in November, all hell has been unleashed on the ethnic Tigrayan people.

Mr Abiy sided with forces from Eritrea and ethnic militias from Tigray’s neighbouring Amhara region to crush forces loyal to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in a three-pronged attack.

Now a deluge of credible reports pointing towards a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing, rape and man-made starvation are emerging.

This is one of the largest massacres to have been reported so far. In February, AP and Amnesty published accounts of several hundred people being killed by Eritrean soldiers in Tigray’s holy city of Axum.

In response to the violence, the European Union has suspended some €88m of development aid to Ethiopia and imposed sanctions on Eritrea.

But attempts to rally broader condemnation at the UN have failed due to objections from China as well as India and Russia.

Survivors told the Telegraph that civilians, mainly farmers, had been massacred in Abi Addi and the villages of Adi Asmiean, Bega Sheka, Adichilo, Amberswa, Wetlaqo, Semret, Guya, Zelakme, Arena, Mitsawerki, Yeqyer and Shilum Emni – villages about 60 miles from Tigray’s capital.

Four brothers in their 20s were among those killed at Adi Asmiean. Gaebraemaedhin, Kibrom, Gueshaya and Taesfamariyam Araaya were at the family farm, harvesting their sorghum crop when Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers arrived.

Witnesses told the Telegraph they were shot and their bodies were dumped in a nearby crater. It took five days for their father, Arraya Gaebraetaeklae, and his eldest son, Maebrahten Arraya, to find the bodies of their loved ones.

“When they took my sons, I was in town with Mebrahten purchasing some goods. Returning home, I heard neighbours saying the Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers took many young men from the village. That was when I also learned my sons were among those taken,” says Mr Araya.

Mr Araya was only able to identify his sons by their clothing. “They asked me if I was sure the bodies belonged to my sons. I told them I was sure. How can I not know my sons?” he says.

In the village of Adi Asmiean near Abi Addi, parents and elders say that they begged Ethiopian soldiers to allow burials to take place.

Solomon Gebremaryam, a 32 year old civil servant and survivor of the massacre

“On February 15, the Ethiopian soldiers showed us the whereabouts of the dead bodies they threw into the crater. We went there with some parents of the dead. When we arrived, all villagers could not move an inch towards the bodies because of the terrible smell,” says Hadush Meruts, a local priest.

Mr Meruts and three other priests managed to retrieve just seven corpses.

“It was difficult to pull them out. Most were already eaten by wild animals. Others were half-eaten by dogs. Their bodies were torn into pieces; their faces were filled with insects. We splashed fuel on the bodies to cleanse the insects,” he says.

When asked for comment about the massacre, Eritrea’s information minister, Yeamanae Gaebraemaeskael, could not address the events of Abi Addi specifically.

“The government of Eritrea has zero tolerance for and never targets civilians in war. But in the past four months, we have seen a barrage of fabricated accusations mainly from TPLF remnants,” he said.

The Telegraph asked the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s office to comment but had received none at the time of going to press.

Source

👉 From The Week

Massacre in Tigray Fuels Genocide Fears | 200 Civilians Killed by Ethiopia & Eritrean Militaries

A deadly attack on Tigrayan people in northern Ethiopia has triggered warnings that violence against the ethnic group threatens to escalate into genocide.

Witnesses in Abi Addi, in the Temben region of Central Tigray, told The Telegraph that Ethiopian federal soldiers and Eritrean troops killed a total of 182 local people in a house-to-house massacre in the town and surrounding villages.

The paper reports that most of the victims were said to be farmers, whose bodies were then “dumped in a nearby crater” until their families and village elders “begged Ethiopian soldiers to allow burials to take place”.

One survivor who escaped into nearby mountains described seeing “dead bodies scattered, bodies half-eaten by dogs”, after returning to his village.

“The soldiers did not allow anyone to get close to the corpses,” 26-year-old Tesfay Gebremedhin continued. “But later, they started to feel disturbed by the terrible smell of the dead bodies. So they covered the bodies with dust.”

Ethnic Cleansing’

The claims about indiscriminate violence against Tigrayans in Abi Addi are the latest in “a deluge of credible reports pointing towards a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing, rape and man-made starvation”

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Norwegian Professor Received Death Threats From Ethiopians in Exile

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on February 11, 2021

የአረመኔው አቢይ አህመድ የሽብር ጁንታ በአዲስ አበባ፡፡ ኖርዌይ የኖቤል የሰላም ሽልማትን ለአብይ አህመድ ሰጠች አሁን ደግሞ አንዱን ዜጋዋን ለመግደል እየዛተባት ነው በተመሳሳይ መልኩ ከድህነት ያወጡትን ፣ መግበው ያሳደጉትንና አስተምረው ልክ ከሦስት ዓመታት በፊት ለስልጣን ያበቁትን የትግራይ ተወላጆችን በመጨፍጨፍ ላይ ይገኛል፡፡ “ሲኦል በምስጋናቢሶች የተሞላች ናት።” ፥ የስፔን ምሳሌ

Evil Abiy Ahmed’s Terrorist Junta in Addis. Norway gave the Nobel Peace Prize to Abiy Ahmed – now he is threatening to kill one of its citizen – the same way he is massacring Tigrayans who brought him out of poverty, fed and educate him, they even brought him to the current power exactly three years ago. “Hell is full of the ungrateful.” ― Spanish Proverb

One of the world’s leading experts on Ethiopia, professor Kjetil Tronvoll, is being harassed by Ethiopian authorities, and has received death threats from Ethiopians in exile.

Tronvoll is professor of peace and conflict studies at Bjørknes University College in Oslo and has done research on Ethiopia and Eritrea since the beginning of the 1990s.

He also has a background as a professor of human rights from the University of Oslo and has as a researcher been connected to the London School of Economics in the UK, Columbia University in the US, and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.

The ethnic and political divides are strong in Ethiopia and this isn’t the first time Tronvoll’s received harassment and threats.

However, when the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed – who in 2019 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – launched an offensive military operation against The Tigray People’s Liberation Front in November 2020, the agitation and threats against Tronvoll reached another level.

Organized Campaign to Discredit

The Norwegian professor’s analysis of the offensive was not well received in Addis Ababa. Authorities there started what Tronvoll calls a well-organized campaign to discredit him.

The leader of the Ethiopian intelligence service INSA, Shumete Gizaw, among other things accused Tronvoll of being paid by the The Tigray People’s Liberation Front to spread disinformation about the war in The Tigray Region.

The accusations are firmly rejected by Tronvoll.

Still, they were distributed by the Ethiopian national news agency ENA, and quickly reached Ethiopians in exile, also in Norway. This unleashed a storm of threats, including death threats.

Asked Norwegian Foreign Services to Help

Toward the end of December, Tronvoll contacted the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and asked them for help.

“There’s an active coordinated campaign of hatred against me, from Ethiopian activists who are spreading false information and unfounded accusations, and which seemingly is coordinated with Ethiopian authorities,” he said.

Tronvoll asked that his case be brought up with Ethiopian authorities, and demanded that the accusation from the head of INSA was retracted.

The Norwegian MFA confirmed that they were taking the case seriously, and promised mid-January that the Norwegian embassy in Addis Ababa would address the issue “on a general basis” with Ethiopian authorities.

Hit back at Critics

The harassment against Tronvoll however didn’t cease.

“I can inform you that the formal “campaign” against me in governmental media, where unfounded accusations are being promoted, continues,” he wrote in a new letter to the Norwegian MFA.

Recent statements from prime minister Abiy Ahmed do not suggest that the Ethiopian regime will stop at their attempts to discredit researchers like Tronvoll. At the beginning of this month, the Ethiopian prime minister tweeted to Ethiopians abroad to “hit back” at those who criticize the development in the country.

Had to Cancel Event

There is little doubt that this message was well received. Few days laster Tornvoll was supposed to appear in a debate together with experts from Egypt and Somalia, organised by the Norwegian Council for Africa. The topic of the debate was the conflicts that have arisen between Ethiopia and neighbouring countries as a consequence of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia.

News about the debate resulted in renewed death threats against Tronvoll, allegedly from Ethiopian nationalists and Amhara-activists. The Norwegian Council for Africa found it safest to cancel the event.

“We had to prioritize the safety of the participants and their experience of the situation”, says leader of the Council Aurora Nereid to the newspaper Bistandsaktuelt (link in Norwegian).

Norwegian Partner Country

“To receive threats when you analyze war and human rights abuses is an experience I have lived with for years. But that activists who are encouraged by the Government in one of Norway’s so-called partner countries manage to limit freedom of speech here in Norway, is remarkable,” Tronvoll says.

“I hope the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security will handle this issue with the level of seriousness that it demands”, he adds.

Ethiopia is one of ten countries that are deemed so-called partner countries in Norwegian development policy. They are selected as partners for long-term development cooperation with Norway, and have for the past 20 years received around 6,3 billion NOK, so close to 744 million USD, of Norwegian development funds. This is according to figures from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (link in Norwegian).

According to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (link in Norwegian), Ethiopia received around 500 million NOK last year, and 700 million NOK the year before that.

A Case of Politics or Police?

The Norwegian News Agency NTB have requested to see the communication between the Norwegian embassy in Addis Ababa and Ethiopian authorities concerning the harassment and threats that Tronvoll has been subjected to. They have yet to receive an answer.

State Secretary Jens Frølich Holte writes in a general answer to Tronvoll that he should consider reporting the threats he has received to the police.

“Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, has expressed concern about hate speech and has raised the issue of respect for human rights during talks with Ethiopian authorities. We will continue to do this. Serious threats that are presented through social media is something the police should look at. Such issues should be reported to the police,” Frølich Holte says.

Tronvoll is not too happy about this response. He points to the fact that such a police case most likely ends up being suspended.

“This is why I’ve sent a note of concern to The Norwegian Police Security Service in November last year, asking them to do a risk assessment of my situation. They however declined this, as they claimed it was not within their mandate,” says Tronvoll.

The Ethiopian embassy in Sweden, which is also accredited in Norway, denies any knowledge of death threats against Tronvoll.

Source

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Ethiopia: Journalist Attacked and Threatened With Death

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on February 11, 2021

Evil Abiy Ahmed’s Terrorist Junta in Addis

Ethiopian freelance journalist Lucy Kassa was attacked at her home in Addis Ababa on 8 February by three unidentified armed men in plain clothes who threatened to kill her for her reporting. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the attack and demands the government take urgent steps to ensure her safety.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger, said: “The attack on Lucy Kassa is a cowardly and deliberate attack on freedom of expression. The only intention of the attackers is to silence Lucy, so that she will not report on the horrendous atrocities that are being committed in Tigray by both government forces and the TPLF. Journalists must be allowed to do their jobs without any form of intimidation and harassment”.

I Reported On Ethiopia’s Secretive War. Then Came a Knock at My Door

Around 10:30 Monday morning, there was a knock at my door. When I answered, I saw three men I did not recognize. They barged in, knocking me to the floor.

They did not introduce themselves; they didn’t produce any kind of ID or search warrant. They began to ransack my house.

For nearly two years I have been reporting on Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, where government forces last November launched an operation to oust the regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF.

As an ethnic Tigrayan, I have roots in the region. But as a freelance journalist based in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, my motivation is to uncover the truth of a war that has gone mostly unreported because the Ethiopian government has severed communication lines and blocked media and humanitarian access to much of Tigray since the start of its offensive in November.

I had just filed a story to the Los Angeles Times about a Tigrayan woman who was gang-raped by soldiers from Eritrea, who are fighting alongside Ethiopian forces, and held captive for 15 days with almost nothing to eat. The story wasn’t published until today, but it quickly became clear that the men in my house knew about it.

They were wearing civilian clothes but carried guns. They asked me if I had relationships with the TPLF. I told them I had nothing to do with them and don’t support any political group.

In the shadow of the war, Addis Ababa is a tense place for ethnic Tigrayans these days. In Tigray itself, at least six journalists were arrested in the first week of the fighting, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Last month, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a reporter from a state-run TV station in Mekele, the regional capital. The reporter, Dawit Kebede Araya, had previously been detained by police and questioned about his coverage of the war.

The men in my home threatened to kill me if I kept digging into stories about the situation in Tigray. They also harassed me about my past coverage.

They took my laptop and a flash drive that contained pictures I had obtained from a source in the Tigrayan town of Adigrat, which showed evidence of Eritrean soldiers in several villages. Ethiopia and Eritrea officially deny that the troops are inside the country, but my reporting and many other accounts indicate otherwise. The photos I received showed uniformed Eritrean soldiers in their makeshift camps in Tigray, including some in houses they’d seized.

A few days earlier, a therapist who has been treating the rape survivor I wrote about told me that the woman had also received a threatening phone call, warning her not to identify Eritreans as her assailants. The therapist told me to take as much care as possible with the woman’s safety, and pleaded with me to reveal little of her identity in the article.

Before the men left, they warned that things would be harder for me the next time. On Thursday the Ethiopian government issued a statement saying I was not a “legally registered” journalist, an attempt to discredit my work.

I no longer feel safe here. I have only my Ethiopian passport, and leaving the country is difficult anyway because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I worry the men might return, searching for more evidence of a war Ethiopia has tried to keep quiet.

Source

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