Tigray rebels executed dozens of civilians, report says

NAIROBI, Kenya – Tigrayan rebels fighting the Ethiopian government carried out dozens of executions against civilians in two towns they ...


NAIROBI, Kenya – Tigrayan rebels fighting the Ethiopian government carried out dozens of executions against civilians in two towns they controlled in August and September, Human Rights Watch said in a report Friday, adding to the list of alleged violations committed by the forces since Ethiopia’s civil war began 14 months ago.

Fighters “summarily executed” 49 people in the village of Chenna and the town of Kobo, in the northern Amhara region, between August 31 and September 9, the human rights group said. man.

In Chenna, in the space of five days, Tigrayan rebels killed 26 civilians 15 times before leaving the village on September 4, according to the report. Those killed included farmers, grandparents and residents who had refused to slaughter cattle for the fighters, he said.

Residents also told Human Rights Watch that they were forced to stay in their homes alongside Tigrayan forces, even as rebels fired and received fire in return from Ethiopian troops stationed in nearby hills. The human rights group said such actions could amount to “human protection”, which is considered a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

In Kobo, rebels executed 23 people, including returning farmers and men resting in a social joint, according to the report.

Report adds to growing violations by warring parties since the start of the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in November 2020. The Ethiopian Defense Forces and their Eritrean counterparts, as well as the Amhara regional forces and Amhara militias, have all been charged with commit transgressions including extrajudicial executions, sexual violence and attacks on refugees.

Getachew Reda, spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray, the party that controls the rebels, did not immediately respond to questions about the latest violations.

Much of northern Ethiopia has been difficult to access since the start of the conflict, and a communication failure made it difficult to verify information or communicate with victims and their families. Human Rights Watch’s latest report was based on remote interviews with 36 people, as well as documents obtained.

Human Rights Watch on Friday called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish an investigative body to investigate crimes against civilians committed by both sides.

“Unfortunately, the abuses that we have uncovered by all parties to the conflict are probably only the tip of the iceberg,” said Gerry Simpson, associate director for crisis and conflict at the human rights group. man, during a telephone interview from Geneva.

The report comes a month after Amnesty International published a report accusing Tigrayan forces of raping women, robbing them at gunpoint and looting health facilities in the town of Nifas Mewcha, Amhara region, in August.

The Tigrayan forces won battlefield victories against government forces from June, take over the big cities and the extension of the war to the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara.

At the end of October, they took control of two towns on a critical highway connecting the landlocked nation to the ports of neighboring Djibouti and began advancing on the capital, Addis Ababa. This prompted Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to declare a state of emergency and then go to the front line. lead the troops.

Since then, the Tigrayan forces have suffered losses on the battlefield, including the strategic towns of Dessie and Kombolcha, according to the government.

Billene Seyoum, spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s office, accused the rebels on Tuesday of destroying hospitals, hotels and commercial banks, and of ransacking the airport in the historic town of Lalibela, which they had captured in August but lost earlier this month.

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General António Guterres, said on Wednesday that the World Food Program had suspended food distribution to Dessie and Kombolcha after staff members were held at gunpoint and food was looted .

“The small-scale theft of food has turned into massive looting of warehouses across Kombolcha in recent days, apparently by elements of the Tigrayan forces and some members of the local population,” Dujarric said. said during a briefing with reporters.

In a statement released on Friday, the Tigrayan forces denied the looting the warehouses of Kombolcha.

Looting of food resources threatens to worsen malnutrition in Ethiopia, where the United Nations estimates that at least 9.4 million people are food insecure.

Delivery of aid continues to face challenges due to the conflict, Dujarric said on Thursday, with the number of aid trucks reaching Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigray, falling to 44 between 1 and 7. December, compared to 157 a week earlier. The United Nations has said a minimum of 100 food trucks per day must arrive in Tigray to alleviate the hunger crisis.

After claiming major advances on the battlefield, Mr. Abiy returned to the capital, his office said this week. But his government continues to be criticized for its handling of the war, for continuing to lead a detention campaign targeting Tigrayans and for his treatment of the media.

This week, the Committee to Protect Journalists listed Ethiopia as the third jailer of journalists in Africa behind Egypt and Eritrea.

Muthoki Mumo, the committee’s representative for sub-Saharan Africa, said the media environment in Ethiopia has become hostile since the start of the war. Authorities, she said, have detained journalists without formal charge and controlled the language and terminology used in reporting, while many journalists have been viciously harassed online for their coverage.

“The situation remains really dire,” Ms. Mumo said in an interview.

Rick gladstone contributed to New York reporting.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Tigray rebels executed dozens of civilians, report says
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