Members of the Tigray Community of Illinois Express Outrage over War Crimes Committed in the Tigray Region by Ethiopian Government and its Allies
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, November 23, 2021--The Tigray Community of Illinois, on behalf of its members who reside in the great state of Illinois, is writing this Press Release to bring to your attention the on-going state-led ethnic genocidal campaign on ethnic Tigrayans in Ethiopia. This ethnic cleansing is being carried out in Tigray in the name of restoring “law and order” as a disguise by Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s unelected prime minister. The irony here is that the Tigray region, under its elected regional administrators, was the most peaceful and law abiding state among all states in Ethiopia before the war started.
In early November, 2020, while much of the world was still waiting anxiously for the results of the U.S. presidential election, he was quietly concocting war against the Tigray region and ultimately waged an all-out war on the people of Tigray for exercising their constitutional rights in electing their leaders. The timing of the declaration of war was no accident. It was done so for maximum effect while media and humanitarian agencies were paying utmost attention to the presidential election and its outcome.
In the subsequent days, as part of his military offensive against the Tigray region, Abiy Ahmed ordered his military to bombard cities in Tigray, including the region’s capital city Mekelle, killing civilians indiscriminately. Instead of stopping the senseless slaughter of civilians, he promised for more airstrikes on national TV. As military offensive and airstrikes continued, the Tigrayan people endured an unprecedented level of threat and continuous intimidation from their government that was supposed to safeguard their safety.
In a clear breach of the Ethiopian Federal Government’s duty under its constitution and international law, Aby Ahmed invited the Eritrean Government to actively engage in the war in Tigray. He also deployed thousands of soldiers from neighboring Somalia as mercenaries and employed drones from the United Arab Emirates to hunt down civilians sheltering in places--even in Churches and mosques. It is important to note that the Eritrean army has been and is committing heinous crimes such as targeted-killings; rampant looting; destroying Churches, mosques and historical sites; raping innocent women and young girls; abducting Eritrean refugees stationed in Tigray; and burning life-saving crops in Tigray. These are clearly war crimes committed mainly by the Eritrean army with the support and tacit approval of its actions from the Ethiopian Federal Government.
In line with his hidden agenda of ethnic cleansing and to cover-up the gruesome atrocities committed by his invading army, he ordered the blackout of all communications links to Tigray and the region remains largely cut off from the rest of the world. Civilians in Tigray have no access to banks, clean drinking water, markets, internet, phone, electricity, transportation and other necessities. Due to the communications blackout, members of our community are unable to locate the whereabouts of their loved ones in the Tigray region.
Furthermore, Abiy intensified his detention and killings of peaceful Tigrayans in Addis-Ababa and elsewhere in the country just because they are ethnic Tigrayans. He removed all military officers and other military personnel from their positions and accused them of bogus allegations. Some of them are in jail. The truth behind the jailing of military officers that hail from Tigray by fabricating false accusations against them is that Abiy Ahmed fears they may not obey his order to shoot and kill innocent Tigrayans, or any people for that matter. The whereabouts of many Tigrayan military officers is still unknown.
Now, we are witnessing the ugly effects of a full-blown state-backed war on ethnic Tigrayans—with all the hallmarks of the 1994 Rwandan genocide on minority Tutsis targeted by majority Hutus. It is believed that thousands of innocent Tigrayans have been killed in the state-led war already and counting. The European Union reported, “ethnic-targeted violence, massive looting, rape, forceful returns of refugees, and possible war crimes,’ that have been committed by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces stationed in Tigray. Ethiopian military personnel confirmed women and young girls were raped by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces in Tigray Region’s capital, Mekelle. Hundreds of thousands are starving to death. Ethiopia’s government-run Tigray Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) reported 4.5 million people need emergency food. But the UN said the federal government restricted access to parts of Tigray even for humanitarian aid purposes.
The crisis has spilled over borders as civilians from the Tigray Region desperately fled to Sudan in droves. More than 55,000 civilians have arrived in Sudan as refugees so far. The conflict has become a regional one-- with the potential of affecting the Horn of Africa region and beyond.
Hence, we ask the international community to intervene in the situation and demand the Ethiopian Government:
1. Grant unrestricted access to international humanitarian aid agencies to distribute food assistance.
2. Allow a UN mandated investigation of the war crimes, including rape and targeted killings of innocent civilians, committed by the Eritrean army, Amhara militias and the Ethiopian army in Tigray!
3. Give Access to domestic and international media to report on the situation from within Tigray.
4. Urgently stop the war and the on-going silent genocide in Tigray Region
5. Immediately withdraw Eritrean and Somalia invading forces from Tigray; and
6. Stop using mass starvation as a weapon in Tigray.
Tigray Community of Illinois
REFERENCES (in brief)
1. AFP (2021); “Disturbing”Allegations of rape in Ethiopia’s Tigray Conflict: UN; https://news.yahoo.com/disturbing-allegations-rape-ethiopias-tigray-092045017.html
2. Reuters (2021); “Choose”—I kill you or rape you”: Abuse Accusations Surge in Ethiopia’s War https://news.yahoo.com/choose-kill-rape-abuse-accusations-195552701.html
3. The Economist (2021); After two months of war, Tigray faces starvation; https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2021/01/23/after-two-months-of-war-tigray-faces-starvation
4. Apnews (2021); In Somalia, mothers fear sons were sent to Ethiopia conflict; https://apnews.com/article/eritrea-abiy-ahmed-africa-ethiopia-somalia-6f0f97e18bef1d6e4a20a1cde75d0acb
5. The Washington Post (2021): ‘Extreme urgent need’; Starvation haunts Ethiopia’s Tigray https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/extreme-urgent-need-starvation-haunts-ethiopias-tigray/2021/01/17/3d219faa-589e-11eb-acc5-92d2819a1ccb_story.html
6. Apnews (2021); Ethipian army official confirms Eritrean troops in Tigray; https://apnews.com/article/eritrea-abiy-ahmed-ethiopia-united-nations-kenya-9d12e2af8c22926dd6b6b0c2d67473bf
7. Reuters (2020); U.S. says reports of Eritrean troops in Tigray are ‘credible’; https://www.reuters.com/article/ethiopia-conflict-eritrea-usa-exclusive/exclusive-u-s-says-reports-of-eritrean-troops-in-ethiopias-tigray-are-credible-idUSKBN28L06R
8. The Guardian (2020); ‘Slaughtered like chickens’ ; Eritrea heavily involved in Tigray Conflict; https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/dec/21/slaughtered-like-chickens-eritrea-heavily-involved-in-tigray-conflict-say-eyewitnesses
9. The New York Times (2020); Fleeing Ethiopians Tell of Ethnic Massacres in Tigray War; https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/09/world/africa/ethiopia-tigray-sudan.html
10. Catholic news agency (2021); Hundreds reportedly dead after massacre at Oriental Orthodox Church in Ethiopia; https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/hundreds-reportedly-dead-after-massacre-at-oriental-orthodox-church-in-ethiopia-51752