In comprehensive new report, U.S. government exposes human rights abuses in Tigray, Oromia, and the rest of Ethiopia
By Noah Pitcher, March 30, 2021
The United States Department of State on Tuesday released its annual report on human rights around the world, shedding light on the extensive human rights violations that have been going on in Tigray, Oromia, and the rest of Ethiopia.
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken said Tuesday “We see [human rights abuses] in the killings, sexual assaults, and other atrocities credibly reported in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.”
The report on Ethiopia indicated that although there were initially some positive human rights changes following Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s assumption of office, there has recently been a dramatic increase in ethnic tension and resulting violence.“On November 4, fighting between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front Regional Security Force resulted in protracted conflict in the northern Tigray Region and reports of serious and widespread abuses,” said the report.
The report specifically listed human rights issues that have been ongoing in Tigray including indiscriminate killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, sexual violence, harassment, suppression of free expression, corruption, and ethnic violence, amongst other violations.
The State Department reported very limited access to Tigray, resulting in a general lack of reporting on human rights abuses in the region for quite some time. However, recently more human rights violations have come to light, gaining the attention of the international community, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The report found that millions of Ethiopians had been displaced from their homes over the past year, most of them having to flee due to violent conflict.
The State Department’s report highlighted many of the wrongdoings of the Ethiopian government and security forces, also noting, “The government at times did not take steps to prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses, resulting in impunity for abusers.”
The report pointed out the assassination of prominent Oromian singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa in late June and gave an account of the violence, riots, arrests, and killings that followed his death.
As mentioned in the report, several opposition leaders arrested during this time are still in detention, awaiting trial. Notably, outspoken Oromian political activist and opposition leader Jawar Mohammed is still in custody today.
The report concluded that Ethiopian and Eritrean federal forces, private militias, TPLF security forces, and other parties “all committed human rights violations and abuses, including extrajudicial killings, sexual assaults, forced displacement of civilian populations, and torture.”
The U.S. State Department also said, “There are reports that government security forces engaged in arbitrary arrests and detentions”- also asserting that conditions in prisons are often “harsh and life-threatening.”
Throughout the report from the State Department, it is consistently made clear that the prolonged conflict in Tigray and surrounding regions has not been constrained to only impact combatants and security forces. Rather, the violence, raping, and killings have arbitrarily targeted civilians, including women and children- resulting in widespread destruction, displacement, and instability.
While the report itself does not offer any practical solutions to combatting the human rights abuses in Ethiopia, it further brings to light the ongoing injustices that have encapsulated the region for some time now.
According to the report, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s assumption to office was followed by positive changes in key human rights areas, such as freedom of speech. This caused many to think that his time in office could be a turning point in the nation’s long-time struggle against authoritarianism and human rights abuses. Abiy was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
However, the nation has regressed into pervasive and heinous ethnic conflict, violence, and human rights atrocities over the past year, under his leadership.
As more reports and studies on Ethiopia come forth, exposing the humanitarian crisis in Tigray and reflecting the wrongdoings of the federal government, those responsible for these atrocities need to be held accountable for their actions.
As the truth continues to come out, the international community, human rights organizations, and world leaders must band together in order to work to rectify the situation in Ethiopia and protect those who are incapable of protecting themselves.
Source: Today News Africa