Attorney General and Federal Police’s Selective Criminal Investigation and Charges:
Prejudice, Hypocrisy & the need for Credible International Inquiry
Ezana Hager 30.01.2021
On 29 January 2021, officials from the Ethiopian Attorney General and the Federal Police dishonourably gave press release on Tigray authorities and other Tigrayans’ ‘crimes’; this was expectedly lauded by diehard supporters of Abiy Ahmed and Isais Afewerki, but sturdily detested by those who advocate for justice and truth. This will, and shall, not destruct the momentum and efforts of all concerned to demand an international and impartial inquiry onto the gross war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed against Tigray and Tigrayans and hold those who led and perpetrated the crimes to account before an international tribunal.
They should know that the usual but contested narrative of an attack against the Northern Command is not, and has never been, mentioned in any domestic or international code as an excuse or a defense for committing universal crimes.
This paper argues that it should be Abiy Ahmed (along his partner in crime Isaias Afewerki and others) that ought to be investigated and charged for treason, murder, appalling sexual crimes and violently suppressing his own people. It also argues that what has been happening in Tigray (and other parts of Ethiopia) since the first week of November is not any more a domestic criminal matter nor should they be investigated by a treasonous government.
The Attorney General and Federal Police officials have spoken on the result of their investigation regarding what they called an attack against the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Army and the Mai Kadra massacre.
After detailing the human and material evidence, they have gathered on both cases they have cited the Ethiopian Criminal Code and vowed to charge those arrested and not apprehended with various counts of crimes: treason, crimes against Ethiopian sovereignty, terrorism and mass murder in Mai Cadra.
I would argue and strongly challenge the assertions and announcements of the two officials by posing several questions that demonstrate their partiality, hypocrisy, and loyalty to party or ethnic politics.
First, they alleged that the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), the Tigray Regional Government and retired and other army officials have attacked the Northern Command with full planning, preparation, and execution. They also alleged that they have done so with the intention of returning to state power by resorting to military force and mobilising others in other regions of Ethiopia.
The assertion that there is TPLF behind all ethnic and other political clashes inside Ethiopia is a well-orchestrated excuse and propaganda of the Ethiopian ruling party. Even after the Ethiopian state ‘declared victory’ over TPLF, and claiming to have eliminated it, the allegations has continued not only in relation to the Metekel atrocities but also TPLF is being blamed for all other atrocities that are happening in many corners of the country.
If these two officials are sincere and with professional integrity, they should have also asked the question: why did Tigray opt for preparing militarily and logistically? What were the Federal Government and Eritrea along the Amhara region doing in the last 2 and half years? Were they not planning, preparing and getting close to launching a military attack against the region? What was the purpose of the several visits of the notorious Isaias Afewerki, his military and security officials to Ethiopia and Ethiopian security facilities? What was the purpose of Abiy Ahmed’s visit to Sawa, a military training camp in Eritrea, among others?
If they were impartial and ethical law enforcement agencies and officials loyal to the rule of law, their profession and conscious, they should have raised these and other questions before they finger at the Tigray region and accuse them with treason.
Second, who has committed treason and crime against Ethiopia’s sovereignty? The Tigray authorities and the people of Tigray were, and still are, defending their self-rule, existence and dignity in accordance with Ethiopian and international laws. While the Ethiopian federal government colluding with Eritrea, Emirates and Somali governments waged and is fighting a war against the people of Tigray and not against the TPLF. Tens of thousands of Eritrean armed forces are engaged in fighting against Tigray forces inside Ethiopia. It was shameful to hear the prosecutor denying the presence of Eritrean army in Ethiopia and lying that Tigray has had prepared Eritrean military uniforms for propaganda purposes. This is a typical party propaganda designed and recited by Prosperity party and security officials to conceal their hidden deeds with Isaias Afewerki in Tigray.
It is now a public secrete globally that Eritrean and other foreign forces are fighting inside Tigray. History has been reversed by Aby Ahmed. More than 20 years ago the Ethiopian people fought against the aggressor, Esaias Afewerki of Eritrea, but today, Abiy Ahmed has invaded Tigray with Esaias Afewerki, the archenemy of Ethiopia. Similarly, around fifty years ago Somalia invaded Ethiopia to annex the Ogden region which was repulsed by the Ethiopian people. Today, Abiy Ahmed has deployed Somali soldiers to fight against the people of Tigray. Historically, Ethiopians has been fighting Arab invaders, especially the people of Tigray. Decades and centuries later Abiy Ahmed has invaded Tigray in partnership with the Emirates. These tell the tale of the right person or group of persons that must be charged with treason and for compromising on Ethiopia’s sovereignty.
Third, the attorney general’s official revealed their findings of an ‘investigation’ and accused of Tigrayan ‘perpetrators’ for the Mai Kadra massacre. There is no doubt that this appalling massacre must be investigated and those who are involved in planning, ordering and executing it be hold to account. The questions to the officials are numerous, however. Why don’t they interview those who tell and different story about Mai Kadra, including those who were attacked by machetes and fled to Sudan with their scars? What would they say to the reports of Human Rights Watch and other international reports about the different version of the massacre? Why do they rush to finger at some groups or an ethnic group? These are, certainly, not the only questions they must answer.
Fourth, why have they not announced any other investigation on the heinous crimes committed against Tigrayans not far away from Mai Kadra such as Dansha and Humora? Why was it necessary to kill women and children, pregnant and nursing mothers and the elderly in many towns and villages of western Tigray? It must be noted that even the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has acknowledged that ethnically targeted crimes have been committed in this part of Tigray. Most importantly, international organisations and media agencies have reported sickening crimes perpetrated by the Amhara forces and the vigilante group called Fano led by regional leaders, in western Tigray, including broad-day light looting and vandalism against Tigrayan properties.
Fifth, it is now an open secret in the world that there are several Mai Kadras in Tigray, including the Axum massacre of 28 and 29 November where 750 innocent city dwellers were murdered, the Adi Grat, Wikro, Hawzen, Adiyet, Shire, Rama, Zalambesa, Abiy-Adi, Mekele, Edaga Arbi, etc. civilian massacres often carried out in the form of house-to-house, street-to-street and village-to-village extrajudicial killing and forehead or chest execution. The youth is getting killed like a chicken in the whole of Tigray by the Eritrean army condoned by the Ethiopian army. Why not announcing any investigation on these cases and the on-going massacre across Tigray?
It is important to mention here that the official from the Attorney General is a human-being who lost sight for natural or other causes which is sad. Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afewerki recently declared the killing of three TPLF leaders claiming that they resisted to surrender—this includes Asmelash Weldeslasse, a blind man who lost his sight fighting the Derge and one of his hands by Isaias Afewerki’s bombs dropped on Aider elementary school in Mekele in 1998. It is now emerging that Asmelash and the other leaders were caught and murdered by the Eritrean forces and there were not Tigray forces or others around them. Have the prosecutors and the investigators done any probe on such cold-blooded murder and war crimes? It is difficult to predict how the prosecutor who gave the press briefing yesterday feel about the murder and subsequent release of the body of Ato Asmelash Weldesslase and the other humans on the internet?
How do they accept all these as human beings let alone as legal experts? Where do their courage of defending the Eritrean regime as a friendly nation come from while Isaias Afewerki’s regime in collaboration with the Ethiopian army is committing atrocities against their own people and terrorising the entire population?
Six, the attorney general or the federal police have said nothing about the extremely disturbing reality that Tigray women and girls have become subject to widespread and systematic gang rape and other forms of sexual violence as reported by the United Nations, the European Union and other impartial media outlets. Such abuse of mothers and their daughters by the Eritrean, Ethiopian and Amhara forces is well-documented, including in Mekele city where the government fully controls. Why don’t they launch an investigation on such heinous crimes against woman by foreign and domestic forces? How is a foreign army abusing sisters and mothers, looting and destroying wealth of the public a friendly army or a friendly nation?
Seventh, do the Attorney General and Federal Police not wish to investigate the deliberate and widespread looting, vandalism and destruction of private and public property across Tigray? This includes in western Tigray not far away from the Mai Cadra area. Most of the looting and destruction was carried by the Eritrean army. The Abiy region appears to be happy with this or is coordinating such a livelihood and economic destruction with the Eritrean rouge regime.
Lastly, do the Attorney General and Federal Police offices know, or wish to accept, the fact that people have begun dying in Tigray as a result of hunger? Do they not know or don’t wish to know more than 2 million children have been subject to malnutrition?
For these reasons and an unanswered question, the press release undertaken yesterday by the Attorney General and the Federal Police officials was totally biased, unethical and cheap propaganda which can only appease Abiy Ahmed and Esaias Afewerki diehard supporters. In fact, it’s the federal officials that need to answer crimes of treason, terrorism, massacres and wanton destruction of property.
Hence, what we really need include the following: (i) impartial inquiry onto all atrocities, looting and complete destruction of property and utilising starvation as a weapon in Tigray, by an international body, such as the United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council; this should include the act/crime of aggression by Eritrea and the complicity of the Emirates and Somalia in the crimes. (ii) Parallelly and when the time comes, we also need an impartial domestic investigation onto the national treason committed by Abiy Ahmed and his cronies against Ethiopia’s sovereignty and its people. Whether we like it or not, these are coming sooner or later. And (iii) a UN urgent intervention to rescue the people of Tigray from the jaws of the dictators and criminals of the Horn of Africa and their internal and foreign backers.
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