Conflicts: UN: Human rights violations in Tigray by forces – politics
Hardly anyone has come to the embattled region of Tigray in northern Ethiopia since the fighting began. UN human rights activists were there – and are now documenting brutal violence.
Geneva – According to an investigation by the United Nations, serious human rights violations have begun in the conflict over the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia.
Most of them were perpetrated by the armed forces of Ethiopia and Eritrea, which interfered in the conflict, said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in Geneva on Wednesday. Recently, however, there have been increasing reports of human rights violations, including on the part of the Tigray independence movement.
“Some could be war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said Bachelet. There had been disturbing evidence of ethnically based violence, but not enough evidence to speak of genocide, she said. The investigation is taking place together with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. This gave the team access to large parts of the Tigray region, which has been largely sealed off by the government, but not all parts. The team documented killings, torture, sexual violence, violence against refugees and the displacement of civilians.
Conflict after repression
The conflict began in early November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed began ousting the People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which ruled the Tigray region. Since the beginning of August, the conflict has spread to the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara. The situation of the people is devastating because humanitarian workers hardly ever come to the region.
“The Tigray conflict is characterized by extreme brutality,” said Bachelet. The perpetrators on all sides must be held accountable. The Ethiopian authorities have given assurances that a good dozen perpetrators have been punished and that a further 20 are being investigated. However, there is no transparency in these processes. If national authorities are unable to pursue all violations, an independent commission must be set up to collect evidence for litigation.
The human rights activists documented, among other things, that civilians in the rebel-held city of Mekelle were killed by shelling by Ethiopian forces. Tigray militias killed civilians of the Amhara people. The Eritrean armed forces could kill civilians in Tigray and once 600 men from Tigray were driven naked or wearing only underpants through the streets of a city in order to humiliate them. A 70-year-old man reported that Eritrean women soldiers mocked them and took photos. Tigray fighters had also displayed and insulted Ethiopian soldiers who were brought under their control.
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