The conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region continues to draw the attention of the world community as Amnesty International and the United States accused Asmara and Addis Ababa of engaging in human rights violations in the region.The controversial report by Amnesty International last week faced strong criticism from Eritrea and Ethiopia which claimed AI employed wrong methodology in producing a report in relation to incidents in Axum city of Tigray region.
AI reported horrific crimes in Tigray’s Axum city, including “extrajudicial executions, indiscriminate shelling and widespread looting after Ethiopian and Eritrean military forces led an offensive to take control of the city.”
Eritrean troops “systematically killed hundreds of unarmed civilians, opening fire in the streets and conducting house-to-house raids in a massacre that may amount to a crime against humanity,” according to the report.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Amnesty International’s report depended on scanty information gathered from refugees in eastern Sudan and phone interviews with individuals in Axum.
For instance, one of the sources cited in the report is found not to be a priest as he claimed but a deceptive person who lives in Boston, USA, the ministry’s statement said.
Therefore, this kind of report based on such sources will not serve the purpose of justice but has the risk of further reinforcing the misinformation and propaganda by TPLF and its cohorts, the Ministry said. Similarly, Eritrea denied the presence of its troops in Tigray.
Addis Ababa also rejected the statement by the United States which expressed its grave concern over alleged killings, forced removals and displacements, sexual assaults, and other extremely serious human rights violations.
“An attempt by the United States to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically, the reference to the Amhara regional forces redeployment in Ethiopia’s Tigray region is regrettable,” Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said.
Aid workers on the ground had reported hearing gunshots from the main cities in Tigray including the region’s capital Mekelle, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recently reported.
Ethiopia’s federal government has denied the presence of soldiers from neighboring Eritrea. However, dozens of witnesses, diplomats, and an Ethiopian general have reported seeing them there.
The state-run Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said in a statement that preliminary investigations indicated that Eritrean soldiers had killed an unknown number of civilians in Axum, in retaliation for an earlier attack by Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) soldiers.
The security problem in western part of Ethiopia remains fragile and at least 11 people were killed and more than 20 others wounded by members of the rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in Keremu district in east Wellega zone of Oromia Regional State.
Eyewitnesses said OLF-Shene shot dead 11 civilians last Thursday afternoon at a place called Nechelo area where their bodies remained uncollected until late Friday.
The government of Ethiopia said it had reshuffled officials of the Metekel zone administration in the Benishangul Gumuz Regional State of Ethiopia as part of an operation to end ethnically motivated attacks in the region.
The incidence of targeted attacks have reduced in this region after the state-run Metekel Integrated Task-force, which is enforcing law and order in the zone, carried out the reshuffling and declared a new administration in which members of different ethnic groups are represented.
The task force that comprises high ranking officials from the government and national army fully commenced its law enforcement operation late December last year after more than 1000 ethnic Amhara, Agew Shinisha people were massacred in different districts of the zone.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia is facing an open military conflict with neighboring Sudan over territorial dispute even though both are grabbed with domestic unrest in recent months and are going through their delicate political transitions. Their border war is feared to be a serious threat to regional security.