Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: Amnesty International reports massacre

Refugee camp {photo: Reuters UK]

Nov, 13th 2020 – Amnesty International says scores and possibly hundreds of laborers were stabbed and hacked to death in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, as federal troops claimed major advances in their offensive against local forces.

Amnesty said in a gruesome report that the killings had taken place in the town of Mai Kadra in Tigray’s southwest and that witnesses described bodies with gaping wounds that appeared to have been inflicted with knives or Machetes.

Earlier, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had accused his foes of committing atrocities during a week of fighting that threatened to destabilize the Horn of Africa. There has been tension between the Ethiopia’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front
(TPLF) which controls Tigray, the country’s northernmost state which has escalated into military clashes including air strikes by federal forces.

As a result of these clashes, thousands of civilians have crossed the border to seek refuge in Sudan, where they say that they will shelter them in a refugee camp.

According to Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, it is a horrific tragedy and he has urged the government to restore communications and allow monitors access. Amnesty says that witnesses spoke of wounds inflicted by sharp weapons such as knives and machetes. Some witnesses said that the attacks were carried out by the forces loyal to the TPLF after being defeated by federal troops in Lugdi.

He said, “We have confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians, who appear to have been day labourers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive. This is a horrific tragedy whose true extent only time will tell as communication in Tigray remains shut down.”

The government must restore all communication to Tigray as an act of accountability and transparency for its military operations in the region, as well as ensure unfettered access to humanitarian organizations and human rights monitors. Amnesty International will regardless continue to use all means available to document and expose violations by all parties to the conflict,” said Muchena.

A civilian who entered the town says that he was shocked at the site before him. Speaking to Amnesty International, he said, “There was a military operation by the EDF and Amhara Special Force against the Tigray Special Police and militia at a place called Lugdi during the daytime on 9 November. After they defeated the Tigray forces, the EDF (Ethiopian Defense Forces) spent the night on the outskirts of Mai-Kadra town. When we entered, we saw a lot of dead bodies, soaked in blood, on the streets and rental dormitories frequented by seasonal workers. The view was really debasing, and I am still in shock struggling to cope with the experience.”

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