Christian Solidarity Worldwide Concerned at Reports of Atrocity Crimes in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region

Refugee Camps in The Tigray Region of Ethiopia Photo Josh Brown, CSW

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (www.csw.org) is deeply concerned at reports indicating that atrocity crimes may be underway in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where a violent civil war has been taking place since the start of November.

In a Media Release, CSW says the conflict began on November 4 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive against the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) forces in response to an attack on a federal army base which the Tigrayan authorities described as pre-emptive. While the Ethiopian authorities claim their forces are only targeting the Tigrayan leadership, forces and allied militias, over the course of the conflict, egregious violations have been reported, including rape, extrajudicial killings, and the indiscriminate bombing of homes, churches, mosques, educational establishments and other civilian structures.

On November 22 UK newspaper The Sunday Telegraph reported that Ethiopia “may be on the edge of genocide,” detailing violence including the decapitation of four children, and babies being cut out of pregnant women. CSW has also received disturbing reports of house to house shootings in the town of Zalambesa that allegedly resulted in the extrajudicial executions of over 50 people.

The Ethiopian government has issued a 72-hour ultimatum calling on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces to surrender or face an all-out assault on the regional capital of Mekelle involving tanks, drones and artillery. The Ethiopian government spokesman Colonel Dejene Tsegaye also told civilians in Mekelle to “save themselves from artillery attacks and free themselves from” the TPLF within that time frame, adding that “after that there will be no mercy.”  The statement was later clarified as meaning there would be no mercy for the TPLF leadership after criticism that it illustrated intent to commit a war crime.

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Last week David Alton, an independent member of the UK House of Lords, wrote to the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab raising concerns about the conflict and encouraging the UK government to take action. He also warned that “inflammatory rhetoric that negates the rights and humanity of others” as has occurred during the course of this conflict “is often a prelude to atrocity crimes.”

In another worrying development, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Human Rights Concern- Eritrea (HRCE) has confirmed that units of the Eritrean army have been fighting in Tigray since hostilities began. HRCE Director Elsa Chyrum informed CSW that her organisation had confirmed the participation of 1000s of Eritrean troops, including conscripts, infantry, and mechanised armoured divisions.  They have been fighting on all three war fronts, and as a result, have sustained very heavy casualties.  There is even video footage of captured soldiers belonging to Division 21 of the Eritrean Army.”

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SOURCE: Assist News Service