Human rights groups report wave of abuse of Tigray people in Ethiopia

As the government offensive intensifies, the scars of war dot the Amhara region of Ethiopia
Civilians walk past a destroyed military tank during fighting between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) by the roadside in Damot Kebele in the Amhara region , Ethiopia, December 7, 2021. REUTERS / Kumera Gemechu / Files

December 16, 2021

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Armed forces from Ethiopia’s Amhara region have stepped up killings, mass detentions and deportation of ethnic Tigray people in western neighboring Tigray, Amnesty International and the Organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

Regional spokeswoman Amhara Gizachew Muluneh did not respond to a request for comment. Ethiopian government spokesman Legesse Tulu said Tigrayan forces were responsible for any atrocities, although there were no reports of Tigrayan forces in the area.

West Tigray has seen some of the worst violence in the year-long conflict pitting the federal government and its allies from the Amhara region against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which once ruled Ethiopia.

Both Amhara and Tigray claim fertile fields west of Tigray, now controlled by Amhara forces and the Ethiopian army. The United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs says 1.2 million people have been forced out of western Tigray since the conflict began, including more than 10,000 in the final week. of November.

Amnesty and HRW said they interviewed 31 people in western Tigray by phone in November and December who described an increase in abuses by Amhara security forces and militias.

“Civilians of Tigrayan trying to escape a new wave of violence were attacked and killed. Detainees face life-threatening conditions including torture, starvation and denial of medical care,” the groups said in a joint statement.

They said Amhara regional police and a volunteer militia called Fano were expelling Tigrayans from the towns of Adebai, Humera and Rawyan. Six witnesses said Amhara forces opened fire on Tigrays fleeing the encirclement in Adebai.

“As people tried to escape… (Fano) attacked them with machetes and axes,” the statement quoted a 34-year-old farmer as saying.

“We walked past the bodies and we were all shocked… After we calmed down, we noticed that there were more bodies there. Wherever you turn, there will be five, 10 corpses. ”

Legesse, a government spokesman, told Reuters that any abuses were committed by Tigrayan forces.

“There is no Amhara security force west of Tigray responsible for the above allegations,” he said.

Human rights groups say all sides in the conflict have engaged in abuses. In the days following the outbreak of war in November 2020, mass murders were reported in western Tigray, including the Mai Kadra massacre, when the Tigrays killed hundreds of Amhara civilians and subsequently the Tigray were killed in retaliation.

HRW last week reported that Tigrayan forces had rapidly executed dozens of civilians in two towns they controlled in the Amhara region between August 31 and September 9.

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold a session on Friday on possible war crimes in the conflict.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema, editing by Estelle Shirbon and Philippa Fletcher) Human rights groups report wave of abuse of Tigray people in Ethiopia


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