Authorities in Ethiopia’s Western Tigray Zone have committed widespread abuses against Tigrayans. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch state that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Tigray.
Amhara regional security forces and civilian authorities in Ethiopia’s Western Tigray Zone have committed widespread abuses against Tigrayans since November 2020 that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.
Ethiopian authorities have severely restricted access and independent scrutiny of the region, keeping the campaign of ethnic cleansing largely hidden.
The report, “‘We Will Erase You From This Land’: Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia’s Western Tigray Zone,” documents how newly-appointed officials in Western Tigray and security forces from the neighbouring Amhara region, systematically expelled several hundred thousand Tigrayan civilians from their homes.
Using threats, unlawful killings, sexual violence, mass arbitrary detention, pillage, forcible transfer, and the denial of humanitarian assistance.
“Since November 2020, Amhara officials and security forces have engaged in a relentless campaign of ethnic cleansing to force Tigrayans in Western Tigray from their homes,” said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch.
“Ethiopian authorities have steadfastly denied the shocking breadth of the crimes that have unfolded and have egregiously failed to address them.”
Over 15 months, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch researchers interviewed more than 400 people, including in-person interviews of Tigrayan refugees in Sudan.
Researchers also consulted medical and forensic reports, court documents, satellite imagery, and photographic and video evidence that corroborated accounts of grave abuses.
A Tigrayan woman from Baeker town described threats she faced by Fanos, an irregular Amhara militia: “They kept saying every night, ‘We will kill you … Go out of the area.” Pamphlets appeared giving Tigrayans 24-hour or 72-hour ultimatums to leave or be killed.
Security forces also used gang rape, accompanied by verbal and physical abuse, abduction, and sexual slavery. A 27-year-old Tigrayan woman said that a militia member told her as the men raped her: “You Tigrayans should disappear from the land west of [the Tekeze River].
“You are evil and we are purifying your blood.”
Authorities in Western Tigray also imposed restrictions on movement, humanitarian assistance, speaking the Tigrinya language, and access to farmland to coerce Tigrayans to leave.
A 63-year-old farmer from Division village watched as a group of men destroyed his home. One of the men told him: “This is not your land. You have nothing to claim here.”
Featured Image: Yan Boechat/VOA