A Call for Impartial Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in Ethiopia

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On November 3, 2020, the Abiy Ahmed led Ethiopian government declared war on Tigray. Abiy has deployed the entire armed forces of the country, and the special forces and militia of the Amhara region on the western, eastern and southern parts of Tigray. To squeeze Tigray from all directions, Abiy has teamed up with the Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki and the Eritrean military is fully engaged in the war against Tigray.

In other parts of Ethiopia outside of Tigray, people of Tigray origin are ethnically profiled, placed in internment camps, fired or suspended from their civil or military positions. Tigrayans in the war zones of Tigray are forced to flee to the Sudan to save their lives from the indiscriminate shelling by Abiy and Isaias forces and aerial bombardments by the Ethiopian air force. Tigrayans in areas captured by Abiy and Isaias forces are indiscriminately and brutally murdered and their properties looted. Undefended civilian dwellings and infrastructure are indiscriminately bombed by fighter jets. The international media has reported the gross human rights violations that amount to a targeted genocide against Tigray, and here are few examples:

  • In Mai Kadra (Moya Khadra ), a survivor said “They killed anyone who said they were Tigrayan. They stole our money, our cattle, and our crops from our homes and we ran with just the clothing on our backs”.  The survivors who fled to Sudan said the victims are Tigrayans, however, Amnesty wrongly blamed the victims, Tigrayans, as perpetrators of the gruesome violence. 
  • Employers are instructed to fire/suspend Tigrayans. An example of an official instruction to suspend Tigrayans is available here
  • The UN reported that the Ethiopian police was seeking lists of ethnic Tigrayans. See Reuters report on this matter. 
  • The European Union on its Nov 12 Joint Statement said “Ethnically targeted measures, hate speech and allegations of atrocities occurring in Ethiopia are deeply worrying. The demonisation of ethnic groups is a vicious and lethal cycle from which Ethiopia must be spared.” 
  • In their own words, Tigrayans fleeing to The Sudan said, “I saw women giving birth on the road, but then continuing to walk because they feared the Ethiopian soldiers would kill them…. "It is a war against the Tigrayan people. It is not a political war. It is a war to exterminate us." 

The list can go on a and on!

Despite the glaring evidence on the brutal attacks and witch hunt perpetrated by forces loyal to Abiy Ahmed on Tigrayans, Amnesty International chose not to report on them. It is imperative that Amnesty International conducts impartial investigations and let the world know the truth. However, it is our firm belief that Amnesty International cannot be impartial with Netsanet Demissie Belay’s leadership of research advocacy work in Ethiopia. For reasons that are not well understood, the Research and Advocacy unit of Amnesty that Mr. Belay leads did not report on the state sponsored collective punishments, brutal murders, indiscriminate bombings on undefended civilians and civilian infrastructure, lootings and willful destruction of properties perpetrated on the people of Tigray. Some say that Mr. Belay thinks Tigrayans were responsible for his incarceration in 2005 along with the leadership of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy party following the general election and that he may have an axe to grind. At the very minimum, this is a gross dereliction of duty and an abuse of position on the part of Mr. Belay. It condones the actions of the perpetrators and further places the lives of Tigrayans in danger.

Therefore, we call upon Amnesty International to:

  1. Assign an impartial person to lead and report on justice, truth, and dignity that are denied by any party in Ethiopia especially as it relates to Tigray. 
  2. Investigate the Mai Kadra massacre by an impartial person not associated or supervised by Mr. Belay.

Thank you

Coalition for Stopping the War Against Tigray