Amnesty International & Human Rights Watch Show Pro-Tigray & Anti-Amhara Bias Yet Again.

Amnesty International & Human Rights Watch Show Pro-Tigray & Anti-Amhara Bias Yet Again.

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Petition to
Amnesty International & Human Rights Watch

Why this petition matters

Started by Sisay Melesse

We, Ethiopians in the diaspora and in Ethiopia, write this petition to show our dismay to the recently published joint Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports on alleged atrocities in the so-called “Western Tigray” -- pseudonym to Welkait, Tegede, Telemt and Humera, Begemeder/Gondar.  

To those who are familiar with Ethiopian history, there is no question that the so-called “Western Tigray” zone has never been part of mainland Tigray before its forcible annexation to Tigray by the TPLF in 1991, the year it assumed state power in Ethiopia. Through the creation of the “Western Tigray” zone, the TPLF gained  direct access to the Sudanese border while separating the Amhara region from Eritrea. It is worth noting that this was done even before the Stalinist constitution which the TPLF imposed on the Ethiopian people was proclaimed in 1995. Even a cursory review of the historical record is quite clear and reveals that Welkait, Tegede, Telemt and Humera areas were sub-districts of the erstwhile Province of Begemeder (otherwise known as Gondar) (maps showing the administrative regions before and after 1991 are attached for reference.) The inhabitants of these regions were predominantly Amhara and have repeatedly petitioned the Ethiopian House of the Federation to restore the status quo ante of the region as it existed prior to 1991. These petitions, however, could not go anywhere because the TPLF, being in full control of the central government, was able to stifle or otherwise block any form of redress.

While there are several methodological flaws in this report, we are highly  disappointed in your call for the withdrawal of Amhara forces from the region comprising of Welkait, Tegede, Telemt all territories which you incorrectly seem to regard as being part of Tigray. It is regrettable that the statement takes as a fact the blatant lie that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (“TPLF”) has been peddling for several decades. Calling for the withdrawal of Fano and Amhara forces from the region inappropriately puts Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in a position of putting its thumb on the scale and giving credence and recognition to TPLF’s rewriting of the history and demography of the region as well as that of historical Tigray. Taking sides without closely examining the history, geography, culture, physiological makeup and wishes of the local population is not only unfair and unjustified but also unhelpful as it tends to inflame – rather than to reduce – passions among the affected population.

In addition, we are disappointed that the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have chosen to put unfair and unfounded allegations on icons of the Amhara Resistance against the TPLF like Colonel Demeke Zewdu, Major Dejene Maru and Mr. Belay Ayalew, who led the struggle and freedom of Amhara people from TPLF’s brutal colonial style suppression. The report squarely blames the Amhara forces, Fano, Amhara militia and special forces for alleged atrocities without mentioning any of the other actors in the conflict. This shows that the report is politically motivated and biased. The report also unfairly requests the international community to deploy African Union led peacekeeping forces as if this conflict is between two sovereign nations. 

We fully agree that neither the state nor its officials at any level should be allowed to act with impunity and avoid accountability as was the pattern during the TPLF’s reign. We are compelled to wonder, however, why Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch remained largely silent when many Ethiopians of AmharaSomali,  Gambella, etc.  descent were butchered by the TPLF during its reign of terror for27 years. Why didn’t Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch voice any public concern when more than 1,550 Amharas were massacred by the TPLF in  Mai Kadra (Welkait) even as recently as in November 2020? Ironically, the perpetrators of the massacres who fled to Sudan were used as source of data/evidence this report almost exclusively relied on. 

Mai-Kadra is only the latest episode of mass atrocities against Amharas since the TPLF singled out the Amhara ethnic group as its sworn enemy from the day that it was founded as a “liberation” movement back in 1976. The initial victims of mass atrocities were the people of Welkait, Tegede and Telemt beginning in 1977. The TPLF then presided over a government that saw many mass atrocities against Amharas over the years in various regions of the country including Hararghe, Wellega, Arussi and Gura Ferda. These atrocities have continued unabated even today as we write these lines. In 2021 alone, thousands of innocent Amharas have been massacred and buried in mass graves in different parts of Ethiopia while hundreds of thousands more have been internally displaced in Ben Shangul-Gumuz, Wellega, Ataye and the surrounding towns and villages, and other places in the south of the country. In many places the killings have continued to this day.

Yet, the news of these mass atrocities has received no investigation from Amnesty international or Human Rights Watch, no mention, let alone condemnation, by Western Governments or media. This leads us to wonder whether Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch investigates violations under a double standard and on a selective basis: one standard for those, like the TPLF, who have powerful friends in the highest offices of Western governments and within Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and another for those, like other Ethiopians, who have no such allies.

Hence, taking in to account the flaws in the methodology of investigation, the complete disregard to cause of the conflict and current situation on the ground, the unwarranted conclusions and recommendations, and observable bias against the Amhara, we request this joint report to be corrected or withdrawn altogether. 

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