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U.S. says war crimes committed by all sides of Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict

March 20, 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration announced Monday that it has determined all sides in the brutal conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The move carries no immediate U.S. policy implications but lends weight to calls for such allegations to be prosecuted.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the determination less than a week after he returned from a visit to Ethiopia during which he met with Ethiopian government and Tigrayan officials as well as victims of the conflict, but said little about the U.S. view of prospects for accountability.

His determination covers members of the Ethiopian and Eritrean national armies as well as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and forces aligned with the Amhara region. Blinken said those responsible for atrocities must be held accountable.

He said after “careful review of the law and facts” he had determined that members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces and Amhara forces committed war crimes during the conflict in northern Ethiopia.

Members of the Ethiopian, Eritrean and Amhara forces also committed crimes against humanity, “including murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and persecution,” Blinken said. “Members of the Amhara forces also committed the crime against humanity of deportation or forcible transfer and committed ethnic cleansing in western Tigray.”

Blinken announced the determination as he rolled out the State Department’s annual global human rights reports, which cover 2022 and also called out Afghanistan, China, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar and Nicaragua for abuses.

“I condemn the unspeakable violence against civilians and destruction that occurred in northern Ethiopia,” he said. “Recognizing the atrocities committed by all parties is an essential step to achieving a sustainable peace. Those most responsible for atrocities, including those in positions of command, must be held accountable.”

The formal determination is more measured than his assertion early in the two-year conflict that “ethnic cleansing” was taking place in parts of Tigray.

Last year, a United Nations commission of inquiry said it had turned up evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Ethiopian government forces, Tigray forces and Eritrea’s military. But the commission also said Ethiopian forces had resorted to “starvation of civilians” as a tool of war and that Ethiopian and Eritrean forces were found to be responsible for “sexual slavery” — while Tigray forces were not.

The conflict, which ended with a peace deal in November, killed an estimated half-million civilians in Tigray alone, according to Ghent University researchers, a death toll echoed by U.S. officials.

Blinken called on all sides to respect the agreement and follow through on pledges “to implement an inclusive and comprehensive transitional justice process.”

He said Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban, which took power after the U.S. withdrawal from the country two years ago, “relentlessly discriminates against and represses women and girls” and has taken action that threatens humanitarian assistance to all Afghans.

On China, Blinken said Beijing continues abuses, including genocide and crimes against humanity, against Uyghur Muslims in it western Xinjiang area. It also continues the repression of Tibetans and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, along with mainland Chinese citizens who have tried to exercise basic freedoms.

In Myanmar, also known as Burma, Blinken said human rights “have further eroded,” and in Nicaragua, he said “the authoritarian government continues to detain political prisoners and hold them in appalling prison conditions.”

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Cara Anna contributed from Nairobi. Kenya/AP

4 Comments

  1. Prof Dr Neamin Zeleke is a terrorist . Zehabesha.com editors are not exceptions. amharic will neverb ever be used in UN, AU even in ethiopia.
    Mahibrekidusan amhara political party is a terrorist too, some say it is an arch terrorist.

    zehabesha.com editors terrorists

  2. Blinken or Blinking does not give a darn about justice, accountability or human dignity. His selective blame for selective crimes is just part of the political arm twisting the State Department under his leadership has shamefully chosen to engage itself in.

    How come Blinken or Blinking can never utter a single word abut the Amhara genocide that has been raging before, during and after the TPLF-PP war? How come he does not talk about accountability there? Is he continuing the legacy of Herman Cohen and others in championing genocide against Amhara? Thirty years of silence in the face of incriminating material evidence including (video recordings) has to stop unless the State Department is proud of the genocidal work of the forces it unleashed on Ethiopia 3o years ago.

  3. With this statement you can say goodbye to AGOA. Let me put it to you bluntly. China will never let that country with such huge work force to be its fierce competitor in the global market. It will haul away raw material but will not let another country giving it a throbbing headache on the international market. It has enough such headaches from its southern neighbor Vietnam since the early 2000’s. The best arrangement could have been the market in the West staying open for finished and semi finished goods manufactured at factories there. But that is not to happen. Stupid individuals started and waged stupid war where close to a million citizens lost their Allah Blessed lives, our women were raped and millions others driven away from their homes. AGOA is shut tight now and from what I hear the latest there are legitimate reasons to keep it closed. As the country’s own EHRC(Ethiopian Human Rights Commission) pointed out many times already war crimes have been committed and still being committed by all sides. So the regime must set an example in admitting that some of its soldiers had carried out crimes against humanity and the opposing forces should also admit that they also have similar criminals. Then those brutes who committed the crimes should be made to answer for what they did in a court of law and in transparent ways. I remember reading stories before in which the regime had arrested soldiers caught in the commission of such repulsive crimes. There weren’t any names and did not tell us where and when it took place. Raping women and mass killing should not go unpunished. Every one over there should stop dragging their feet and keep the ball rolling.

  4. Secretary did not absolve anyone that participated in the stupid war. He accused all parties committed war crimes which means including the TPLF. The only group that came out clean are the Afar regional forces. I came up with a checklist like this one:

    1) Were our women raped? Check!
    2) Were there mass killings of innocent civilians? Check!
    3). Were hospitals, schools and valuable infrastructures senselessly destroyed? Check!
    4) Was the stupid and destructive war avoidable? Yes it was possible!!!
    5). Were the forces mentioned present in areas where and when the crimes committed? Check!
    6) Has anyone held accountable for these repulsive crimes by anyone of these groups? None!
    All the check marks are yes. Let’s be wise. Shenanigans will never help further the accord for those besieged people. The rebuilding of those regions has begun in earnest and we should all join in the sacred huge task. We should pitch in the last red cent in our pocket to help those glorious people of Amharas, Afars and Tigrayans in the massive work of rebuilding in front of them.

    Peace y’all!!!!!!

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