Thursday, June 30, 2022

Washington Update: Reports of Atrocities in the Amhara Region

Ethiopians demonstrated last week at the US State Department

Ethiopian-Americans demonstrated last week to denounce the Abiy government’s failure to maintain the rule of law and protect the lives of Ethiopians. The Abiy government has not made any attempts to hold the perpetrators of massacres of Amhara people accountable for their actions, nor has it acted against the OLF/Shenne group, which has committed atrocities and destroyed property in Wollega province. The TPLF has committed atrocities with impunity in the Afar region, including killing innocent civilians and destroying hospitals, schools, mosques, and churches.

The demonstrators called on Congress to enact H.R. 6600, the Ethiopia Stabilization, Peace, and Democracy Act. H.R. 6600 seeks to hold all parties who have committed crimes against humanity, including the TPFL, accountable for their actions and promote civil society and the rule of law. The act specifically notes that the TPLF sparked the war that is devastating Ethiopia when “in the early hours of November 4, 2020 [it] carried out an attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.” It also describes how hundreds of “ethnic Amhara people were stabbed or hacked to death in the town of Mai-Kadra in the Tigray region” in a criminal act that witnesses attributed to the TPLF.

The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has started producing electricity

The GERD has started to produce electricity, which will bring power, prosperity, and hope to millions of Ethiopians. The improvement that will be made in the lives of ordinary people is difficult to imagine. Today 83% of Ethiopians lack access to electricity, 94% rely on wood for daily cooking and heating. The struggle to survive has left them mired in poverty and forced them to destroy the environment and their health. Electricity, something people worldwide take for granted, will be their path toward decent lives.

Amnesty International accuses Tigrayans of rape and murder.

Voice of America reported: “Amnesty International is accusing Tigrayan forces of deliberately killing dozens of unarmed civilians and gang-raping dozens of women and girls in the northern Amhara region of Ethiopia. This report comes as the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan rebel forces remain at war. Just last year, Amnesty similarly accused the Ethiopian government of subjecting Tigrayan women and girls to rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, sexual mutilation, and other forms of torture. “These are deliberate attacks which constitute war crimes and possibly may also constitute crimes against humanity,” says Amnesty’s Donatella Rovera. 

“Tigrayan forces have shown utter disregard for fundamental rules of international humanitarian law which all warring parties must follow. Evidence is mounting of a pattern of Tigrayan forces committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in areas under their control in the Amhara region from July 2021 onwards. This includes repeated incidents of widespread rape, summary killings and looting, including from hospitals,” said Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes at Amnesty International. “The TPLF leadership must put an immediate end to the atrocities we have documented and remove from its forces anyone suspected of involvement in such crimes.”

On February 22, the U.S. State Department issued a statement about the Amnesty report. “The United States is gravely concerned by the reports of atrocities, including sexual violence, committed by fighters affiliated with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in the Amhara region of Ethiopia in late August and early September 2021, as described in a recent Amnesty International report. We call on all armed actors to renounce and end all human rights abuses and violence against civilians. It remains our firm position that there must be credible investigations into and accountability for atrocities as part of any lasting solution to the crisis.” 

“Continued reports of atrocities underscore the urgency of ending the ongoing military conflict. We continue to engage parties to the conflict to urge a halt to the violence, an end to atrocities, the unhindered provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance, and a peaceful resolution to the conflict.”

Author profile
Mesfin Mekonen

Mesfin Mekonen is a Washington, DC based Ethiopian-American writer.

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