Pro-Ethiopian Government Forces Behind New Wave of Violence in Tigray, Rights Groups

Pro-government forces in Ethiopia are responsible for a new wave of violence in the country’s northern Tigray region involving “mass detentions, killings and forced expulsions of ethnic Tigrayans,” two human rights groups said Thursday.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued a joint statement based on interviews with more than 30 witnesses and relatives who alleged the regional Amhara security forces carried out the abuses on Tigrayan civilians with guns, machetes and knives.

The rights groups said the forces attacked and killed Tigrayans trying to escape the renewed violence in November and December in the western part of the region. Scores of Tigrayans in detention are subjected to torture, starvation and other “life threatening conditions” while being denied medical care, the groups said.

Other civilians were taken away and remain unaccounted for, they said. 

“Without urgent international action to prevent further atrocities, Tigrayans, particularly those in detention, are at grave risk,” Amnesty International crisis response director Joanne Mariner said in the statement.

The allegations come one day before the U.N. Human Rights Council holds a special meeting to consider appointing an international team to investigate the extensive violations that have occurred during Ethiopia’s 13-month war.

The war began with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s deployment of troops to Tigray in response to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s seizure of military bases. 

The ensuing conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced several million from their homes and left more than 9 million people dependent on food aid. 

The Amhara regional government did not immediately comment on the allegations.

Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press provided some information for this report.

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