Rights groups accuse Ethiopian officials of genocide, US calls for peace

by Will Tubbs

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

With so many eyes cast upon Eastern Europe, there is a growing concern among human rights advocates that atrocities in other parts of the world are not receiving due attention. This week, multiple groups amplified their call for intervention in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.

Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused Ethiopian officials of engaging in ethnic cleansing dating to at least November 2020. The two groups had warned the international community last December that there had been an uptick in the mistreatment of ethnic Tigrayans.

Now, an exhaustive report, titled “‘We Will Erase You From This Land’: Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia’s Western Tigray Zone,” outlines a situation that is even more desperate than previously thought.

“Since November 2020, Amhara officials and security forces have engaged in a relentless campaign of ethnic cleansing to force Tigrayans in Western Tigray from their homes,” Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, said in a joint press release with Amnesty International.  “Ethiopian authorities have steadfastly denied the shocking breadth of the crimes that have unfolded and have egregiously failed to address them.”

The report includes depressing tales of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans being forced from their homes and into new regions under threat of or following murders, sexual violence, mass detention, and theft.

Amnesty International and HRW say these same civilians have been denied humanitarian aid, and that the government of Ethiopia has prevented international humanitarian workers from accessing the Amhara region as a means of hiding the extent of the atrocities.

“The response of Ethiopia’s international and regional partners has failed to reflect the gravity of the crimes that continue to unfold in Western Tigray,” Agnès Callamard, Secretary General at Amnesty International, said. “Concerned governments need to help bring an end to the ethnic cleansing campaign, ensure that Tigrayans are able to safely and voluntarily return home, and make a concerted effort to obtain justice for these heinous crimes.”

Friday, the U.S. State Department expressed concern and called for peace, but stopped short of committing to additional intervention.

“The United States reiterates its grave concern over continuing reports of ethnically-motivated atrocities committed by Amhara authorities in western Tigray, Ethiopia, including those described in the recent joint report by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “In particular, we are deeply troubled by the report’s finding that these acts amount to ethnic cleansing.”

Price later added, “[We] renew our call on all armed actors to renounce and end human rights abuses and violence against civilians. The United States reiterates its call for all foreign forces to withdraw from Ethiopia as well as for the regional state authorities to remove their security forces from neighboring regions. We continue to urge all parties to take necessary steps to ensure the cessation of hostilities, unhindered and sustained humanitarian access, transparent investigations into human rights abuses and violations by all actors, and a negotiated resolution to the conflict in Ethiopia.”