ETHIOPIA: More than 200 Ethiopians have been killed in what has been referred to as “ethnic cleansing” by the members of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). OLA is currently the second-largest ethnic group in the nation. The majority of the victims were from the Amhara ethnic bloc.
Transcontinental Times research indicates that more than 230 people were slaughtered in an invasion carried out by the rebels near Tole, a village in Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia.
However, the OLA fighters refuted claims naming them to be responsible for the carnage. According to a tweet by Odaa Tarbii, the terror group’s spokesman, the killings were perpetrated by another group loyal to “the regional government supporting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed,” a popular Ethiopian politician who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
“The attack you are referring to was committed by the regime’s military and local militia as they retreated from their camp in Gimbi following our recent offensive,” Tarbii said in a statement.
“They made their way to Tole, where they attacked the locals and looted their homes in punishment for what they believed to be their support for the OLA. The attacks happened before our soldiers had even gotten there.”
The Exacerbating Genocide
Although the attack on Tole village appeared to be the first since the incursion began two years ago, villages like Abala and Galicoma in the Afar region have been repeatedly invaded. The invasion has forced many civilians to seek refuge in IDP camps and equally forced the government to encourage civilians to enlist in the military.
For instance, in December 2021, nearly 7,000 refugees left Abala for IDP camps in Tigray, another at-risk region. Most of these were women and children, including 26 girls who were supposedly the victims of sexual exploitation, one of the situations that human rights organisations severely condemn.
The genocidal conflict started in November 2020 when Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister, sent troops to Tigray, a state in Ethiopia’s north, to topple the government of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). TPLF is a party the prime minister had accused of attacking a military base in Sero, a village in the Misraqawi Zone and bordering Eritrea.
According to Al Jazeera, this emboldened the crisis that resulted in the displacement of more than 900 million people in desperate need of humanitarian aid and the killing of thousands of Ethiopians.
Transcontinental Times’ further findings showed that carnage predominantly occurs between two major ethnic groups — the Tigrayans and Amharas. In addition, Transcontinental Times understands that the latter group had suffered more petite incursion than the former.
‘Death, Sexual Exploits, Detention’ — Through the Eyes of Tigrayans
Townlets like Adi Goshu, Humera, Ruwassa, Adebai, and Baeker among others in western Tigray have suffered mindless execution, detention and rape by the Ethiopian allied forces and militia groups, according to two global freedom organizations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
“In communities across the region, Amhara security forces acting under newly appointed Amhara and Walqayte officials have been responsible for extrajudicial executions, rape and other acts of sexual violence,” said the group in a co-authored report titled ‘We Will Erase You from This Land’ — Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia’s Western Tigray Zone, and published on April 6.
“The widespread pillage of crops and livestock, and the looting and occupation of Tigrayan homes, destroyed sources of livelihood. Tigrayans have faced mass arrest and prolonged arbitrary detention in formal and informal detention sites where detainees were killed, tortured, and ill-treated. Regional authorities have also imposed discriminatory rules that deny Tigrayans basic services and access to humanitarian aid, and measures that seem designed to suppress their rights and presence in the area. Tigrayans endured ethnic-based slurs that targeted their Tigrayan identity and were banned from speaking their language, Tigrinya. People with disabilities and older people have been especially affected,” the report partly reads.
“The organizations found that since November 2020 in Western Tigray, civilian authorities, and Amhara regional security forces, with the acquiescence and possible participation of Ethiopian federal forces, committed numerous grave abuses as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Tigrayan civilian population that amount to crimes against humanity as well as war crimes.”
Following the presentation of their arguments, the rights organisations advised the Ethiopian federal government and regional authorities to publicly order federal and regional security forces to stop all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law against the Tigrayan population in Western Tigray and elsewhere.
Secondly, they suggested that forces used against villages in western Tigray immediately demobilised and disarmed.
The government was also urged to “suspend civilian officials, including interim Amhara officials, and security force members from the Amhara Special Forces and Ethiopian federal forces implicated in serious abuses in Western Tigray pending investigations into their actions,” according to their request.
The groups suggested, among other things, “Discipline or prosecute as appropriate individuals proven to be accountable for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Western Tigray Zone since November 2020.”
Meanwhile, Daniel Bekele, the chief commissioner for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, while reacting to the June 19 massacre, “urged authorities in a tweet to undertake all necessary measures to protect civilians,” The New York Times quoted him. “All law enforcement operations should exercise maximum caution to avoid direct or indirect targeting of civilians.”
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