Photo: IDP families and children at Primary School in Mekelle IDP center, April 15, 2021. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2021/Mulugeta Ayene
Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian federal government rejected a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) detailing accounts of continued ethnic cleansing being committed in Western Tigray as a ” distorted and misleading” and said it is “not acceptable.”
The government also accused HRW that it has chosen “a specific area and repeatedly prepared reports to achieve a different political mission under the guise of human rights agenda.”
HRW’s latest report released on 01 June revealed that ethnic cleansing, human rights abuses and forcibly expelling Tigrayans from Western Tigray persisted despite the November 02, 2022 peace agreement, and urged the federal government to suspend, investigate, and appropriately prosecute commanders and officials implicated in serious rights abuses.
HRW named two officials, Col. Demeke Zewdu and Belay Ayalew, who were previously implicated in abuses, to have continued to be involved in arbitrary detention, torture, and forced deportations of Tigrayans from western Tigray, which remained under the occupation of Amhara forces, and urged for investigations of serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law to be conducted on them.
In a statement the federal government issued this afternoon in response to the report, it also said the report was “not trustworthy” in view of the fact that it has not been properly investigated and is not “substantiated by evidence.”
The government further accused HRW of being “only interested in one area” and that report it presented is “distorted and does not describe the current situation in the area”; it also accuses the rights group of a “distorted and misleading portrayal” the situation and undermining “the values of coexistence of people who have been together for centuries,” and provoking “conflict between peoples,” whereas it questioned the timing as “manufactured to advance its agenda against Ethiopia in the international forum.”
of the situation attempts to undermine peaceful coexistence and fuel inter-ethnic conflict and obstruct the national efforts for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia.
The government further argued that the report has a “negative impact on the reconciliation and consultation process” that the country is currently undertaking. And although the war has “caused damage to various sections of the society living in the Afar, Amara and Tigray regions, the organization has selected one area to issue a report” the government said, adding it is “an indication” that HRW is “working to promote its hidden agenda against our country and to make the international community have a distorted view.”
The global rights watchdog has said its attempt to include a response from the Ethiopian government before issuing the report went unanswered, but urged the government to suspend and investigate civilian and military officials implicated in the rights abuses, the rights group also urged the AU to ensure that the AU Monitoring Mission publicly reports on protection concerns, rights abuses, and humanitarian access in Western Tigray during its proposed visit in June.
In the past, a joint HRW and Amnesty International report titled ‘We Will Erase You From This Land’ had documented extensive accounts of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing inWestern Tigray by the then newly-appointed officials and security forces from the neighboring Amhara region, “with the acquiescence and possible participation of Ethiopian federal forces.” The report reveled officially have “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.”
A different report March this year by the US State Department has corroborated the existence ethnic cleansing in western Tigray by Amhara forces and determined that they have “committed the crime against humanity of deportation or forcible transfer and committed ethnic cleansing through their treatment of Tigrayans in western Tigray.” AS