The Tigray Genocide: concrete action required to defend humanity.
Isaac M. (from Mekelle) 15.04.21
Eritrea’s letter to the Security Council
Despite Eritrea’s overdue ‘admission’ of its illegal intervention in the Ethiopian civil war, it has denied the well-documented mass atrocities, systemic sexual abuses and wanton destruction and looting of property by its savage army in Tigray. This contradicts the many reports and accounts of gross human rights abuses by international bodies and the limited admission of bloodsheds and sexual abuses by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and Mr. Ahmed himself.
In its ‘admission’ of military intervention, Eritrea also made a bogus promise to withdraw its forces from Tigray. This is not a new promise. Isaias Afewerki’s partner in crime, Abiy Ahmed, told the world on 26 March that Eritrea has agreed to withdraw from the Ethiopian ‘border’. The UN Humanitarian Affairs chief, Mark Lowcock, told the United Nations Security Council on 15 March that there is no sign of Eritrean army’s withdrawal. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the US told the same meeting that Eritrean soldiers are wearing Ethiopian army uniforms, further evidence that they intend ‘to remain in Tigray indefinitely’.
Genocidal acts on the increase
Clearly, Eritrea’s ‘admission’ is just a diplomatic tactic, and therefore should not be trusted. A recently leaked 27 pages long Eritrean presidential order signed by Yemane Gebremeskel, advisor to dictator Isaias Afewerki, instructs Eritrean commanders fighting in Tigray to intensify their eradication of the Tigray youth and the total obliteration of Tigray’s remaining infrastructure and property without mercy.
The renewed wave of mass atrocities in western, central, northern and southern Tigray in the last couple of days and weeks appear to align with such a tripartite criminal plan by the Eritrean, federal and Amhara forces.
Credible reports are continuing to emerge, following human rights and media groups’ reports of atrocities and abuses, confirming the extrajudicial killings, the use of rape and starvation as weapons and systemic looting and destruction of property in the Tigray conflict, by the Eritrean, federal and Amhara forces, in their trilateral mass atrocity operations in Tigray and against Tigrayans.
A UK based independent media outlet namely Tortoise reported that 150,000 and over 10, 000 Tigrayan civilians have been murdered and raped respectively in the Tigray hidden conflict.
The Belgian Ghent University’s preliminary study documented the names of 1900 Tigrayan civilians that have been killed in 150 massacres by the three genocidal forces. Tigray opposition parties has estimated that over 50,000 civilians have been massacred in Tigray. behind these estimates there are human-beings, families and loved ones; these numbers also tell the magnitude of the crimes committed by the tripartite criminal operation.
Mr Lowcock’s recent report to the UN Security Council expressly refers the fact that humanitarian workers have reported new atrocities, rapes and gang rapes against civilians; these are committed by Eritrean and Ethiopian armies, Amhara special forces and affiliated militia.
The use of rape and starvation as methods of warfare by the three forces in the conflict are well-documented, including by the UN. Mr Lowcock has also reported to the Council that he received a report of the death of 151 people as a result of hunger in the Ofla district, close to the capital of Tigray, Mekelle. The Ethiopian government was quick to deny this, despite the fact that the Tigray interim administration and local sources tell similar stories.
0ver 91% of the Tigray population require relief—yet the Ethiopian regime and the Eritrean and Amhara forces are hindering and denying humanitarian assistance in Tigray. This will make the human toll from hunger most likely to be catastrophic.
Terrorising and ill-treating civilians
It has to be recalled that the Tigray population leaving under the control of federal, Eritrean and Amhara forces in Tigray is constantly terrorised and abused by the forces –this includes sexual assaults, random and terrifying searches and arrests, shooting and kidnapping the youth. The same thing is happening against Tigrayans in central Ethiopia, including in Addis Ababa. Hundreds of Tigrayan youth and peaceful media workers have been rounded up in Addis Ababa in the last few days alone. Civil servants of Tigrayan origin are continuing to suffer ethnic profiling, harassment and forced indoctrination and political training with the purpose of humiliating and terrorising them.
The responses of the international community to the mass atrocity crimes against Tigrayans range from siding with the genocidal forces, in particular with the Ethiopian regime, to not doing anything more than expressing concerns and demanding the withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces.
Sadly, some Superpowers appear to have sided with the criminal regime of Ethiopia in the name of sovereignty but for geopolitical and economic reasons. They are doing their best to hinder any collective and meaningful action against Isaias Afewerki, Abiy Ahmed and the Amhara criminal elite to investigate and stop their crimes. Despite the breach of Ethiopia’s sovereignty by Eritrea’s intervention in the conflict, they are using the non-interference rule undermining the mass atrocity crimes continued to be committed against the people of Tigray.
In contrast, Western Powers have been consistently raising their concerns over civilian massacres, systemic rape, starvation and the involvement of Eritrea in the conflict and its gross crimes against civilians and their property. They are also showing their generosity by allocating funds, humanitarian equipment and by sending aid workers.
The US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has, for example, expressed her ‘grave concern over the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region’ and called upon the immediate withdrawal of the Eritrean forces, investigating the crimes, delivering sufficient aid and the secession of hostilities in Tigray. The EU envoy for Tigray, Pekka Haavisto, said the same thing after his second visit to Ethiopia in early March.
Defend humanity, don’t politicise the Tigray war
What is odd, however, is that some powers appear to be sending confusing messages to the Abiy Regime and its partners in crime –planning to undertake joint criminal investigations involving the Ethiopian regime, supporting elections in Ethiopia while the country is in turmoil and imagining Abiy Ahmed to ensure Eritrea’s withdrawal from Tigray can only prolong the Tigray conflict and mass crimes.
If the international community is serious about protecting Tigrayan civilians, it must prioritise defending humanity more than politics and national interests. Although national interest could not be ignored, partnering with these criminal forces would not be in the interest of anyone. It is extremely unlikely that Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afewerki are going to pacify the Horn of Africa and promote economic growth as current situations indicate. Irrespective of this, they are implicated in gross war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and therefore, are not trustworthy and sustainable partners.
In contrast, the people of Tigray (and not the TPLF) are fighting to defend themselves from the genocidal war waged against them by the Eritrean, Amhara and Abiy Ahmed forces; uphold their right to self-rule and gain freedom from internal repression.
The international community has the responsibility to protect the people of Tigray from such collective punishment by the savage Eritrean, Amhara and federal forces. Tens of thousands of civilians have lost their lives. Thousands have been sexually abused and assaulted. Millions have been displaced and exposed to huger. Stopping these crimes is a matter of defending humanity and not of politics. Siding with those who are massacring, raping and assaulting civilians and adopting a policy of double standards are inexcusable.
Concrete action needed.
1. The United Nations and other organisations must take firm measures to stop mass atrocity crimes in Tigray. If a UN-led action proved to be impossible like-minded countries must do something to defend humanity.
2. The Eritrean army must withdraw from Tigray (and other parts of Ethiopia) immediately and without delay. This has to be monitored and verified by the UN, EU, the AU and Tigray community leaders. When leaving the Ethiopian territory, the Eritrean army must not be allowed to take any looted Tigrayan property.
3. The Amhara special forces, their affiliated militia and armed groups must leave Tigray without any condition. This has to be verified by neutral bodies.
4. Unhindered and unconditional access to humanitarian relief must be ensured to all civilians in rural and urban Tigray. Aid delivery must be undertaken by UN and other neutral bodies.
5. All communication lines, in particular, telephone and internet, and other essential services such as electricity, water and banking must be reinstated in Tigray without delay.
6. Independent and credible criminal investigation must be conducted on the mass crimes being committed in Tigray. The UN and like-minded countries have to re-visit their policy of joint investigation with an Ethiopian institution. Treat the Tigray case similar, for example, to the Darfur, former Yugoslavia and Rwanda cases.
7. Targeted sanctions against those who are leading, commanding and coordinating the atrocities, rapes, starvation, ethnic profiling and destruction must be imposed. This should include those who are involved in a state-sponsored cover ups of heinous crimes.
8. Arms embargo against the Eritrean and Ethiopian dictatorial regimes ought to be imposed. Weapon provision to both regimes would amount to complicity in universal crimes, which offends humanity.
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