Stop the Genocide and Use of Rape as a Weapon of War in Tigray

Stop the Genocide and Use of Rape as a Weapon of War in Tigray

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Rahwa Gebre-Egziabher started this petition to United Nations Security Council and

Ethiopia:

Early November 2020, the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military operation in Tigray in Northern Ethiopia after accusing the regional government TPLF of attacking a military base - a claim that the TPLF has denied. The TPLF is a political party responsible for overthrowing Ethiopia's military government in 1991 and has since then played a controlling role in Ethiopian politics. Since Abiy became prime minister in 2018 and broke apart the powerful ruling coalition led by the TPLF, tensions between Ethiopia's federal government and the Tigray regional forces have been rising. The conflict quickly escalated and turned into a war against Tigrayans, a minority group of 7 million from the Tigray region, which make up 6 % of the Ethiopian population. The people of Tigray have been suffering massacres and abuse at the hands of the Ethiopian National army who is supposed to protect them, as well as Eritrean forces and the Amhara nationalist movement militia FANO, which have been fighting on the side of the Ethiopian government.

In the last five months, thousands of Tigrayans have been killed. Over 2 million have been displaced internally, and more than 75 thousand have fled to neighbouring country Sudan. Testimonies of gross human rights violations, including looting, executions of civilians, rape and other war crimes, have continued pouring out of the region. Reports by CNN, BBC, Sky News, British Channel 4, the New York Times and Amnesty International, among others have been reporting crimes against humanity strategically targeting the civilian population in Tigray, such as

  • Burning of crops and cattle, which are the people's primary source of food
  • War- fleeing civilians, were denied safe passage out of conflict areas and to the Sudanese border
  • Massacres being carried out on adults, adolescents and children as young as 3, over 90% of the victims were Male Tigrayans
  • Use of rape and other forms of sexual violence as a weapon of war. Testimonies include ethnic cleansing remarks by the perpetrators to "cleanse them [the women] of their Tigrayan blood" while raping Tigray women and men forced to rape their family members

Humanitarian aid workers were only allowed in limited numbers into the region four months after the war started. Moreover, Tigrayans in the rest of the country have been ethnically profiled and suspended from civil service jobs and the government-owned Ethiopian Airlines. There have also been reports of harassment by security forces, house raids and detainment without warrants. 

Amid reactions from the international community, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has in the past five months

  • Denied the presence of Eritrean forces in the region until he admitted it on March 23, 2021
  • Downplayed reports of human rights violations
  • Imposed a complete media blackout to limit the flow of information, and journalists have been banned and imprisoned. Humanitarian aid has been restricted in the region, leaving Tigrayans to suffer in the dark.
  • Shut down telecommunication networks which he blamed on the TPLF, the internet remains completely inaccessible, and telephone lines have only been partially accessible.

The past five months have demonstrated that the concerns and political condemnation expressed by the international community are not sufficient to protect the civilian population from the genocide they are being subjected to.

Ethiopia has signed and ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) in 1991 and Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) in 1994. The crimes committed against the people of Tigray in the past five months are in violation of both protocols in addition to the 1949 Geneva Conventions as well as resolution 2417 of the United Nations condemning starving civilians, unlawfully denying humanitarian access as warfare tactics.

We call for the international community to react and implement concrete actions to protect the people in the region and hold those committing crimes accountable to prevent the history of genocide, as in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, from repeating itself in Ethiopia. We call for this issue to be put in the official and formal agenda of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and send UN Peacekeeping Forces to the Tigray Region.

We call upon leaders of the permanent member countries of the UNSC,

  • President of the United States of America Joseph R. Biden,
  • President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin,
  • Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Boris Johnson,
  • President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron,
  • President of People's Republic of China Xi Jinping

And the leaders of the current member countries

  • Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway Erna Solberg,
  • Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland Micheál Martin,
  • Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia Kaja Kallas,
  • Prime Minister of the Republic of India Narendra Modi,
  • President of Republic of the Niger Mohamed Bazoum,
  • President of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta,
  • President of the United Mexican States Andrés Manuel López Obrado,
  • Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves,
  • President of the Republic of Tunisia Kais Saied and
  • General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

to stress the urgency of the humanitarian crisis and gross human rights violations and breach of international humanitarian law that are being committed under the Ethiopian government's eyes led by Abiy Ahmed.

We also call upon the Special Adviser of the Secretary-general on the prevention of Genocide Alice Wairimu Nderitu, to emphasise the need for the international community to take action to put an end to the genocide of the people of Tigray. We further call upon Under-Secretary Pramilla Patten to highlight the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war in the ongoing conflict. Finally, the Secretary-General of the UN António Guterres to support our appeal and urge the UNSC to take action and put an end to the continuing genocide and sexual violence Tigrayan civilians are suffering.

Photo credit: EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Al Jazeera

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