It appears that the Ethiopian province of Tigray has witnessed violations committed by the Ethiopian army and Eritrean forces in a more tragic manner than has been disclosed so far, and a recent report revealed allegations of systematic rape crimes against Tigray women in what is described as ethnic cleansing.
The accusations against the Ethiopian army of committing violations against the region’s residents amount to war crimes issued by several international bodies, including the United Nations, the European Union and the American Administration, despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government denying those accusations, but the continued prevention of neutral media outlets from entering the region after government forces took control of it. Credibility of the accusations, according to observers.
And Abiy Ahmed had issued orders at the beginning of last November to launch a comprehensive military attack on the region governing the “Tigray People’s Liberation Movement” after he alleged that a government military base had been attacked by the regional forces The Ethiopian Army managed Gain control of the provincial capital, Mikkeli and its other major cities in less than a month.
Eritrea was accused of supporting the Ethiopian army, which helped to end matters militarily in favor of Abiy Ahmed’s forces, who declared victory last December. Most of the region’s leaders They fled and sought refuge in the mountains in the region and insist that the battle has not ended, which is confirmed by media reports indicating the continuing street war inside the region, which explains Addis Ababa’s insistence on a media blackout on what is happening so far, according to analysts.
“Rape” is a weapon in the Tigray War
Despite the atrocities reported by scattered reports through the testimonies of the displaced from the region, whether in refugee camps on the borders of Ethiopia or inside Sudan, the reports of the use of “rape” against Tigray women as a weapon by the Ethiopian army and the Eritrean forces seem to be politics Systematic and not just individual incidents, according to a report by Shabaka CNN Al-Amerca published on Saturday 20 March with the title “This is ethnic cleansing,” which quoted doctors treating victims as their testimony that rape is used as a weapon of ethnic cleansing.
The American Network report monitored the testimonies of women from Tigray who were raped, and the testimonies of doctors inside Ethiopia and in refugee camps from the region who treated dozens of women and reached the same result, although the allegations that many Tigray women have been raped are not new.
According to medical records seen by CNN and recorded testimonies of victims and doctors, women in the region are subjected to gang rape, anesthesia and various means of being sterile, and one of the victims was exposed to soldiers placing stones and nails in her genitals, according to a video clip seen by the correspondents of the American Network.
Network correspondents spoke with ten doctors, 9 of them in Ethiopia and the tenth in a refugee camp in Sudan, who unanimously agreed that what they are seeing represents a disturbing increase in sexual assaults and mass rape since the Ethiopian army launched its attack on the Tigray region.
And in the testimony of a rape victim in a refugee camp in Sudan, she said that the soldier pushed her to the ground and told her: “You, the people of Tigrayans, have no history or culture, and I can do to you whatever I want without anyone caring.” , Which indicates that the matter is not just a deviation from one of the soldiers, according to the report.
This was not the first time that the issue of the use of “rape” as a weapon by Ethiopian forces in Tigray has been raised. The BBC has published BBC Reports of the same violations in mid-February.
The report monitored several accounts of rape in Tigray, which was referred to by Pramila Patten, the United Nations envoy on sexual violence in conflicts, saying that there were “disturbing reports of people being forced to rape members of their families under threat.”
“It is also reported that military elements have forced some women to have sex in exchange for basic commodities, while medical centers have indicated an increased demand for emergency contraception and a request for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) testing, which is often indicative of violence. Sexual conflict. “
Three opposition parties in Tigray said extrajudicial killings and gang rape have become “daily practices”, citing the case of a father who was forced to rape his daughter at gunpoint. A doctor and a member of a women’s rights group said; They both prefer not to be identified, to the BBC, in January, they recorded at least 200 cases of rape of girls under the age of 18 in various hospitals and health centers in Mikkeli.
Most of the girls said that the perpetrators were wearing Ethiopian army uniforms, and that they were warned not to seek medical help from any party. The doctor said, “There were bruises on the girls’ bodies, and some were gang-raped. One of them was detained and took turns raping her for a week. The girl knows something, there is no police, and therefore there is no justice. “
What does the government of Abi Ahmed say?
The American administration headed by Joe Biden had called in a statement late last January for the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces from the Tigray region, adding that Eritrea “apparently launched artillery attacks from its borders, and it has forces in Tigray, although the exact number is not clear.” .
“The United States has made clear its position that all Eritrean forces must withdraw from Tigray immediately, given reliable reports of looting, sexual violence, attacks in refugee camps and other human rights violations.”
The US State Department statement added at the time that “there is evidence that Eritrean soldiers have forcibly returned Eritrean refugees from Tigray to Eritrea,” as nearly 100,000 Eritreans live in four camps in Tigray after fleeing political persecution over the past decade.
With the increase in reports about what civilians are exposed to within the region, especially reports of the widespread use of rape as a weapon against Tigray women, pressure is increasing on the US administration to exert more pressure on the Ethiopian government to allow access to United Nations representatives and impartial media to investigate these allegations.
But a few days ago, the Ethiopian government rejected the accusations that it was practicing ethnic cleansing in the Tigray region, after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken accused Abiy Ahmed’s government of committing human rights violations in the region, calling for an international investigation to be opened.
In an official statement, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said that “these accusations are without any basis of truth,” and indicated Addis Ababa’s willingness to cooperate with any fair and transparent investigation into allegations of human rights violation on its territory on the condition that it be handled by the African Union, while the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry did not respond to Blinken’s request for the forces. The Eritrean withdraw from the Tigray region.