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News: Women’s Association of Tigray demands thorough investigation into recent brutal killing in Mekelle

The late Zewdu Haftu (Photo: obtained from her family)

Addis Abeba – Women’s Association of Tigray is calling for a thorough investigation into the recent brutal killing of a woman in Mekelle, the capital city of the Tigray region. On 20 August Zewdu Haftu, a 32-year-old woman living in Mekelle, was killed by unknown individuals while walking in the street with her girlfriend.

Yesterday, the association held a press briefing addressing the matter. Abeba Haylesilasse, the head of the association, stated that despite the signing of the Pretoria Peace Agreement in November 2022, atrocities against women in Tigray continue to occur.

In an interview with Addis Standard, Zewdu’s younger sister, Birtukan Haftu, shared details about the tragic killing. According to her, Zewdu returned home in the evening of 20 August accompanied by her friend, Semhal Gebrezgher. Later, Zewdu informed Birtukan that her friend had invited her to a birthday party but did not mention her friend’s name. Zewdu then changed her clothes and left with Semhal. Approximately one hour later, Birtukan received a call from Ayder Referral Hospital informing her of Zewdu’s death.

Birtukan said she later spoke with Semhal, who is currently receiving medical treatment at Ayder Referral Hospital after losing consciousness upon witnessing the killing. According to Semhal’s account, after leaving their home, they ate cactus in the neighborhood and continued walking towards the birthday party. Near Zewdu’s house in Adi Hawsi, particularly close to Desta Hotel, a white car approached them from behind and someone from the car grabbed Zewdu’s hand, dragging her into the car, while the car continued to drive away.

Semhal attempted to follow the car but was unsuccessful. Later on Zewdu’s injured body was found on the street with severe head injuries and bleeding. Semhal could not clearly see the car’s occupants or the extent of Zewdu’s injuries, except for the color of the car.

A week after this tragic murder, the Tigray Disaster Relief Fund (TDRF) issued a statement on 27 August, 2023, calling for an immediate and thorough investigation into these acts. The TDRF also demanded the identification, apprehension, and accountability of those responsible, regardless of their affiliations. The statement emphasized the importance of protecting the rights of victims and their families and sending a clear message that violence will not be tolerated in society.

The TDRF urged concrete action to protect witnesses of crimes and stressed the need for the interim regional government of Tigray to prioritize security and civilian safety in the post-war context. The statement called for collaboration and support from strategic partners to restore law and order, enhance security measures, facilitate the restoration and rehabilitation process, and assure the community that their well-being is of utmost concern.

Abeba, the head of the association, stated that Tigray women have endured difficult atrocities during the war and emphasized that such treatment is undeserved. She further highlighted the occurrence of tragic incidents, including the killings of women, pregnant women, and youths, in various areas of Tigray. Abeba stressed the need for justice and urged concerned authorities to enforce the law, as these atrocities contradict their culture. The association is currently collecting data on the exact number of women killed in these atrocities across Tigray.

Addis Standard’s attempts to gather more information from Mekelle Zone Police Commander Welday Mawcha regarding the investigation into Zewdu’s case were unsuccessful, as they did not respond. Similarly, efforts to reach the regional Women and Social Affairs Bureau were fruitless. AS

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