DECEMBER 25, 2021  ETHIOPIANEWSTIGRAY

Source: Gebremeskel Gebremariam

Today, I reveal a story that I have kept private to myself for several months about what were the events that finally led to the murder of Maria, Yohannes, & Tedros.

I interviewed my friend who escaped the murder & here I share the story as told to me by him [medical doctor] whose name & whereabouts I will never share publicly but only privately to those who have a sincere desire to hear directly from him.

Today marks the 6th month of the murder of María Hernandez, emergency coordinator; Yohannes Halefom, assistant coordinator; & Tedros Gebremariam, driver.

My friend has sent me some photos in which I can clearly see Maria, Yohannes, & Tedros, posing next to other staff of @MSF at Abiyi Adi Hospital, central #Tigray, days before they were murdered.

My friend told me that Abiyi Adi Hospital had been occupied by the joint Ethiopian & Eritrean troops for several months. No civilian patients nor health professionals could enter the hospital.

The hospital was completely vandalised & changed into a trench. When my friend & other MSF staff arrived at Abi Adi, they were denied access to the hospital. So, they had to start serving the people at a health centre across one corner of the town.

Finally, they went to the hospital after the invading forces left and found it empty — no medicines & medical equipment inside — expensive medical equipment was found to be irreversibly damaged.

On behalf of the people of #Tigray, my sincere gratitude goes to @MSF  for making Abi Adi Hospital give medical service by rebuilding & fixing everything starting from zero. Everyone of the staff was equally a hero, & of course, the selfless Maria was at the core.

My friend [MD] had the chance of knowing all 3 of the victims very well. He can’t find enough words to describe each one of them. Maria was very selfless & always at the forefront; Johannes was very determined to serve his people no matter what; Tedros was always there day & night to help every one of the @MSF  staff.

So, who dared to steal these beautiful souls? Why were they savagely murdered? Here I start revealing the mysterious ordeal …

My friend is a passionate medical doctor who never hesitated to go to one of the darkest places on earth in March 2021 to serve people who’re languishing to death due to the absence of medical service thanks to the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops who destroyed Abi Adi Hospital.

When my friend was heading from Mekelle to Abi Adi in early March 2021, he was stopped by a group of Ethiopian soldiers at a checkpoint on the highway that connects Mekelle-AbiAdi. After they thoroughly searched his bag, they interrogated him arrogantly but let him pass.

He joined the team of MSF staff who had been serving there in a small health centre due to the destruction & occupation of Abi Adi Hospital by the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops on multiple periods of time. The MSF team was being led by an Indian expert at that time.

Then, Maria Hernandez arrived & replaced the Indian coordinator. She & her team managed to rehabilitate & fix everything starting from zero after the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops left the hospital in an absolute mess, having looted & vandalised it beyond repair.

However, things were not always smooth with the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops roaming throughout the town & its vicinity every now & then. The MSF team had their own camp where they get rest & food. But, their camp was not safe either.

On one night, my friend, having spent a very stressful day treating so many mothers, headed to the camp. During the night, he got an emergency call from his assistant at the hospital.

One of the cars of MSF was sent to pick & bring him to treat a mother who was on the verge of death due to complications of her pregnancy. It was past midnight.

As the car was rushing to the hospital, a dozen of men in Ethiopian military uniforms appeared on the road from nowhere pointing their Kalashnikovs at the car which had an @MSF  logo & flag.

They approached the car & ordered both the driver & my friend to get off the car. They did as they were told to do so. A dozen Ethiopian soldiers encircled my friend & his driver & started fiercely interrogating both of them, especially my friend.

The interrogation lasted for 45 minutes. For the whole period, a Kalashnikov was planted on the neck of my friend and he could feel the tip of the Kalashnikov putting pressure on his neck.

They asked him who he is? He answered that he is a medical doctor & a staff of @MSF . Mind you, the car had the flag & logo of @MSF  and the driver & my friend had dressed in @MSF  jackets & had badges on them.

They ordered him to show his ID. He took out an @MSF  ID on which it was clearly written that he is a medical doctor & staff of @MSF . Then, the soldiers started mocking & demonising him, accusing @MSF  of being a TPLF agent.

He tried to explain to them that he & @MSF  have no political affiliation except helping & providing health services to the helpless civilians in the area and that the organisation is neutral to the ongoing war and does not take sides.

Unfortunately, all they could respond was that @MSF  is “a TPLF spy, a TPLF supporter, a TPLF mercenary, a TPLF sympathizer, a TPLF agent, a pro-TPLF, and anti-Ethiopia.” As time went by, he lost hope & felt death was imminent.

With every minute, his heart was beating faster. But, he calmed himself down, controlled his emotions, and kept speaking softly to the gun-pointing soldiers in the middle of absolute darkness, in the streets of Abi Adi town.

Their entire focus was on the medical doctor not on the driver. The amount of demonisation that was coming out of their mouth was beyond count & their level of hate to @MSF  was immense. That was why they were not satisfied with the logo, flag, badge, jacket, ID of @MSF 

The doctor was between two deaths. On one hand, he was thinking of the mother who was already on the verge of death & badly needed his service at the hospital. On the other hand, he himself was at imminent death.

With all this much burden on his shoulder, he had to control & rectify his emotions and try to speak with much discipline & humility which he did. After the soldiers told him that being a staff of @MSF  would not be able to save him from the imminent execution, he begged them for his life and he pleaded with them to go with him to the hospital and see the mother who was dying if they could not believe him anymore.

They told him they would not care about the dying woman & that his relation to @MSF  was a sufficient reason for them to kill him.

Luckily he’d documents with him that proved he had worked at multiple hospitals across other regions in Ethiopia & that he had been serving not only #Tigrayans but also people across other parts of Ethiopia. And begged them that he knows nothing other than serving people.

After a horrific ordeal that lasted for over 45 minutes, some of the soldiers started showing some degree of sympathy for him, not b/se he was a staff of @MSF  but b/se of the documents that proved his service across other parts of Ethiopia.


Source: The Guardian – 25 June 2021

Three aid workers found dead in Tigray, says Médecins Sans Frontières

MSF says it condemns attack on colleagues ‘in strongest possible terms’ after bodies found near car
Convoy of trucks
A convoy of MSF trucks carrying medical supplies in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, in May. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP
Global development is supported by
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

About this content

Three aid workers who had been working in Ethiopia’s Tigray region have been found dead, their organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières, announced on Friday.

MSF said it had lost contact with the workers while they were travelling on Thursday afternoon. Their bodies were found near their empty car this morning.

The workers were Maria Hernández, an emergency coordinator from Spain, and Yohannes Halefom Reda, an assistant coordinator, and Tedros Gebremariam Gebremichael, an MSF driver, both Ethiopian.

“No words can truly convey all our sadness, shock and outrage against this horrific attack,” the MSF said. “Nor can words soothe the loss and suffering of their families and loved ones, to whom we relay our deepest sympathy and condolences.

“We condemn this attack on our colleagues in the strongest possible terms and will be relentless in understanding what happened. Maria, Yohannes and Tedros were in Tigray providing assistance to people and it is unthinkable that they paid for this work with their lives,” MSF said in a statement.

MSF has been active in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the focus of a government offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front since last year. In March the organisation said that in the aftermath of an ambush on the army, its workers had witnessed soldiers carrying out extrajudicial killings, while their own driver was beaten with the butt of a gun and also threatened with death.

Reports of rights abuses have been widespread in Tigray and the warring parties have been accused by human rights groups of occupying schools and attacking hospitals.

Earlier this month the Ethiopian aid worker Negasi Kidane was killed by a stray bullet, according to his employer, the Italian charity International Committee for the Development of Peoples. In May, another Ethiopian working with USAid was also killed.

“Every day humanitarian workers risk their own lives to help those in dire need because of man-made conflicts and natural disasters,” USAid’s chief, Samantha Power, said in a statement.

“We hope that his courage and sacrifice, and that of other humanitarian workers intimidated, threatened, harmed, or killed in the Tigray region will not be in vain, as we work with the people of Ethiopia toward a peaceful resolution and a brighter future.”

At least 11 aid workers have been killed in Tigray since November 2020.

DECEMBER 21, 2021  ETHIOPIANEWSTIGRAY

Source: New York Times

Credit…Leszek Szymanski/EPA, via Shutterstock
Dec. 20, 2021

NAIROBI, Kenya — After Ethiopia’s embattled prime minister pulled off a stunning military victory earlier this month, reversing a rebel march on the capital that threatened to overthrow him, he credited the bravery of his troops.

“Ethiopia is proud of your unbelievable heroism,” the jubilant leader, Abiy Ahmed, told his troops on the battlefront at Kombolcha, on Dec. 6. “You were our confidence when we said Ethiopia would never lose.”

In reality, the reason for the reversal in Mr. Abiy’s fortunes was hovering in the skies above: a fleet of combat drones, recently acquired from allies in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere who are determined to keep him in power.

Over the past four months, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Iran have quietly supplied Mr. Abiy with some of the latest armed drones, even as the United States and African governments were urging a cease-fire and peace talks, according to two Western diplomats who have been briefed on the crisis and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The motives of Mr. Abiy’s suppliers varied: to make money; to gain an edge in a strategic region; and to back a winner in the spiraling conflict that has engulfed Africa’s second most populous nation. But the impact of the drones was striking — pummeling Tigrayan rebels and their supply convoys as they pushed down a major highway toward the capital, Addis Ababa. The rebels have since retreated roughly 270 miles by road to the north, erasing months of battlefield gains.

On Sunday, the Tigray leader, Debretsion Gebremichael, told the United Nations he had ordered an immediate withdrawal of all forces to the borders of Tigray, citing, among other factors, “the drones provided by foreign powers.”

Credit…Maxar Technologies, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In a letter to Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Mr. Debretsion called for a cease-fire followed by peace talks. “We trust that our bold act of withdrawal will be a decisive opening for peace,” he wrote.

On Monday, his spokesman said that a wave of Ethiopian air strikes inside Tigray had killed 18 civilians and wounded 11.

An Ethiopian government spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the use of drones.

The demonstration of drone power confirmed that Ethiopia’s year-old conflict, largely a regional affair until now, has been internationalized. And it adds the country to a growing list of conventional conflicts, like those in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, where combat drones have become a significant factor in the fight, or even the dominant one.

“Increasingly, unmanned systems are becoming a game changer,” said Peter W. Singer, an expert on drone warfare at New America, a research group in Washington. “It’s not just about the raw capability of the drones themselves — it’s the multiplying effect they have on nearly every other human and system on the battlefield.”

For Mr. Abiy, the drones arrived just in time.

He launched a military campaign in Tigray in November 2020, a year after he won the Nobel Peace Prize, in coordination with the leader of neighboring Eritrea. But his forces suffered a humiliating defeat last summer when Tigrayan rebels forced them from Tigray, then started to push south. By late November the Tigrayans were approaching the city of Debre Birhan, about 85 miles north of Addis Ababa.

Credit…Amanuel Sileshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But they could go no further. Swarms of drones appeared overhead, striking soldiers and supply convoys, Gen. Tsadkan Gebretensae, a leading Tigrayan commander, said in an interview with The New York Times.

“At one time, there were 10 drones in the sky,” he said. “You can imagine the effect. We were an easy target.”

Mr. Abiy built his drone arsenal by tapping the sympathy of foreign autocrats and a booming segment of the global arms trade.

Even as he talked about negotiations, Mr. Abiy was turning to other countries to bolster his military. Nearly every day, cargo flights arrived from a military base in the United Arab Emirates, one of Mr. Abiy’s closest allies.

The Emiratis had trained Mr. Abiy’s Republican Guard and provided crucial military support at the start of the war, running drone strikes that took out Tigrayan artillery and weapons depots, a Western official and a former Ethiopian official said.

Credit…Aly Song/Reuters

The Emirati strikes stopped in January after President Biden came to power, under pressure from Washington. But they have resumed in recent months, largely in the form of the latest Chinese-made drones, the officials said.

The Emirati drone strikes, under the direction of the national security adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan, appear to be a snub to American diplomatic efforts to end the war. American officials say they are trying to draw the U.A.E. into peace efforts as an ally, but that cooperation is limited.

In a meeting with the United States regional envoy, Jeffrey Feltman, earlier this week, Sheikh al-Nahyan denied that his country was shipping weapons to Ethiopia, an American official with knowledge of the meeting said.

By contrast, Mr. Abiy’s dealings with Turkey have been relatively open.

He signed a military pact in August with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Bayraktar TB2 drone played a decisive role in Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is manufactured by a company run by Mr. Erdogan’s son-in-law.

Turkish drones are attractive to many African countries seeking battle-tested, relatively cheap hardware with few strings attached. “Even in Africa, everywhere I go, they want U.A.V.s,” Mr. Erdogan boasted in October after a tour of Nigeria, Togo and Angola. (Drones are also known as unmanned aerial vehicles).

After Bayraktar drones appeared in Ethiopia recently, Turkish officials insisted the drone sale was a purely commercial activity —  defense and aviation exports to Ethiopia rose to $95 million this year, up from $235,000 in 2020, the Turkish Exporters Assembly reported.

Understand the Conflict in Ethiopia


Card 1 of 5

A year of war. On Nov. 4, 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed began a military campaign in the country’s northern Tigray region, hoping to vanquish the Tigray People’s Liberation Front — his most troublesome political foe.

But in recent days, Turkish officials have privately claimed to have frozen exports to Ethiopia, apparently in response to international pressure over a war that has become a byword for atrocities and starvation.

At least 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, according to the United Nations.

Credit…Amanuel Sileshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In response to reports of civilians killed, detained or expelled, the United Nations Human Rights Council agreed on Friday to set up a commission to investigate abuses and identify perpetrators — the latest of many international initiatives that, until now, have failed to stop the suffering.

Mr. Abiy, meanwhile, is focused on his military campaign and its foreign sponsors. On Friday he landed in Istanbul for the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit — a two-day gathering of leaders from 39 African countries that, analysts say, is also a forum for Turkish arms sales.

His embrace of Iranian drones, although much less powerful than the Chinese or Turkish-made models, has further strained his relations with Washington.

Since August a number of cargo flights have arrived in Ethiopia operated by Iranian airlines that the U.S. has accused of being fronts for the Quds Force, the expeditionary wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Flight-tracking blogs have made note of the shipments as well.

American officials in Addis Ababa have made private representations to Mr. Abiy about the Iranian flights, urging him to cut them off, a United States official said.

Mr. Abiy’s drone army remains modest: By several estimates, he has no more than a few dozen combat drones at his disposal, and they can be expensive to run, repair and supply with weapons. But they remain a potent threat to the Tigrayan forces, which themselves have no access to drones.

Mr. Singer, the drone expert, said the experimentation with drone warfare in Ethiopia and Libya has parallels with the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, when outside powers used the fight to test new military technologies and to gauge international reaction to determine what they could get away with. “It’s a combination of war and battle lab,” he said.

But, he added, technology is no guarantee of victory. “The U.S. had drones in Afghanistan, yet the Taliban managed to hold out for 20 years,” he said. “Human will is what determines the outcome of war.

Kerkasha Project, Eritrea – Alpha Exploration Ltd

Tuesday, 14 December 2021 09:31 Written by

DECEMBER 12, 2021  NEWS

Eritrea Focushttps://i1.wp.com/eritreahub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Eritrea-Focus-1.png?resize=300%2C140&ssl=1 300w" sizes="(max-width: 329px) 100vw, 329px" data-recalc-dims="1" style="box-sizing: inherit; border: 0px; max-width: 100%; height: auto; clear: both; display: block; margin-right: auto; margin-left: auto; margin-bottom: 1em; text-align: center;">

2 Thorpe Close, Ladbroke Grove, London, W10 5XL

Press Release

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Habte Hagos

Kerkasha Project, Eritrea – Alpha Exploration Ltd

On 9 December 2021, Alpha Exploration Ltd based in Alberta, Canada and listed in the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSXV: ALEX) announced the results of a recent “diamond and reverse circulation drilling at the Anagulu gold-copper porphyry prospect part of the Company’s 100% owned Kerkasha Project, Eritrea[1]”.

In November, porphyry expert Dr. Richard Sillitoe spent six days studying the drill core and chips from Anagulu with Alpha geologists in Eritrea and confirmed that “Anagulu is undoubtedly a porphyry gold-copper system centered on a distinctive, dyke-like porphyry intrusion”.

Michael Hopley, Alpha President and CEO said, “We are very happy with these latest drill results because they extend the zone of known gold and copper mineralization with gold equivalent values of over about 1 g/t to approximately 400-meter strike length; this is very encouraging given that the rock-chip and soil-sample gold and copper results at Anagulu suggest it is at least 2,000 meters long. In addition, with Richard Sillitoe’s insights into the style and controls of mineralization at Anagulu, Alpha staff will have the knowledge to continue exploration to expand the size of Anagulu.”

Eritrea Focus is deeply concerned by yet another Canadian mining company’s involvement with the hermetic and pariah regime in Asmara that has been repeatedly accused by the UN of committing crimes against humanity on its own people over three decades. The regime is currently involved in a “war pact” with the Ethiopian government and executing the largest war in the world, causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people, displacement of millions of people, endemic and systematic rape of women and girls, and other heinous crimes that will leave a lasting stain on our country.

In the light of these crimes, Eritrea Focus has consistently advocated for a total divestment from Eritrea and calls upon Alpha Exploration Ltd to do so immediately. To this end, Eritrea Focus has written to Mr Hopley asking for an urgent meeting to demand the Company divests from our country forthwith. The Eritrean people have made it abundantly clear over the years that they wish their natural resources to remain unexploited until such time a responsible and accountable government is installed in Eritrea.

We appeal to all human rights groups and individuals to help us in this endeavour by emailing or calling Mr Hopley; E:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Telephone: +44 207129 1148.

Thank you.

12.12.2021

[1] Alpha Exploration Reports 95 M of 1.30 G/t Aueq from Anagulu Porphyry Gold-Copper Prospect, Kerkasha Project, Eritrea (yahoo.com)

DECEMBER 6, 2021  ETHIOPIANEWSTIGRAY

Source: US State Department

The following is the text of a joint statement signed by the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Begin Text:

We, Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, are profoundly concerned by recent reports of the Ethiopian government’s detention of large numbers of Ethiopian citizens on the basis of their ethnicity and without charge. The Ethiopian government’s announcement of a State of Emergency on November 2 is no justification for the mass detention of individuals from certain ethnic groups.

Reports by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Amnesty International describe widespread arrests of ethnic Tigrayans, including Orthodox priests, older people, and mothers with children. Individuals are being arrested and detained without charges or a court hearing and are reportedly being held in inhumane conditions. Many of these acts likely constitute violations of international law and must cease immediately. We urge unhindered and timely access by international monitors.

We reiterate our grave concern at the human rights abuses and violations, such as those involving conflict related sexual violence, identified in the joint investigation report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the EHRC, and at ongoing reports of atrocities being committed by all parties to the conflicts. All parties must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including those regarding the protection of civilians and humanitarian and medical personnel.

It is clear that there is no military solution to this conflict, and we denounce any and all violence against civilians, past, present and future. All armed actors should cease fighting and the Eritrean Defense Forces should withdraw from Ethiopia.  We reiterate our call for all parties to seize the opportunity to negotiate a sustainable ceasefire without preconditions. Fundamentally, Ethiopians must build an inclusive political process and national consensus through political and legal means, and all those responsible for violations and abuses of human rights must be held accountable.

End Text

DECEMBER 3, 2021  NEWS

We note the statement on 12 November by the US Treasury that they have sanctioned four entities and two individuals. Sanctions are most effective when countries act together. International cooperation is at the heart of UK sanctions policy, and the UK will continue to work with the US and other international partners to tackle shared global challenges.

Brendan O’Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether her Department is coordinating with the US, and other key strategic partners, on the use of Magnitsky sanctions against Eritrean individuals and organisations responsible for a destabilising presence in the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia.

Photo of Vicky FordVicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We are deeply concerned by Eritrean involvement in the conflict in Tigray. The UK continues to consider the full range of policy tools at our disposal to protect human rights and deter violations of international humanitarian law. It is longstanding practice not to speculate on future sanctions designations as to do so could reduce the impact of the designations.

We note the statement on 12 November by the US Treasury that they have sanctioned four entities and two individuals. Sanctions are most effective when countries act together. International cooperation is at the heart of UK sanctions policy, and the UK will continue to work with the US and other international partners to tackle shared global challenges.

DECEMBER 1, 2021  ETHIOPIANEWSTIGRAY

Lord David Alton, a Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea in the UK Parliament, asked the British government about the plight of Tigrayans, thousands of whom have been arrested and held in Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia.

Below is the response, which – in line with recent British statements – is a vague generalisation. It is worth noting that there has been no ministerial contact with the Ethiopian government since 18 November, despite the pace of developments in recent weeks.

Martin


Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL4248):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate, if any, they have made of the number of Tigrayans who have been detained in Addis Ababa; and what assessment they have made of reports of landlords checking their tenants’ identification cards, including UN staff other relief agencies. (HL4248)

Tabled on: 22 November 2021

Answer:
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park:

We are extremely concerned by reports of widespread human rights violations and abuses in Ethiopia committed by all sides to the conflict. The Minister for Africa spoke with the Ethiopian State Minister Redwan on 18 November and expressed her concern over ethnic profiling and mass arrests and detentions across the country and stressed the need for all parties to the conflict to engage in meaningful talks. The British Ambassador to Ethiopia also raised our concerns about ongoing detentions with President Sahle-Work on 12 November.

The Foreign Secretary, our Ambassador in Addis Ababa and the Minister for Africa continue to raise human rights issues in our discussions with the Ethiopian Government and more broadly we have reminded all warring parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Our priority is to ensure that Ethiopians, irrespective of ethnicity, religion and political affiliation, receive life-saving aid and that humanitarian access to areas affected by conflict and insecurity is restored.

Date and time of answer: 01 Dec 2021 at 12:03.

AFRICAETHIOPIAHORN OF AFRICA

The Globe talked to several victims of sexual violence by Tigrayan forces in Geregera. The village is about 100 kilometres southwest of Lalibela, a popular tourist town in the Amhara region, famous for its ancient churches hewn into the sides of mountains. The interviews were obtained independently, without the involvement of government officials. To ensure the security of the victims, The Globe is not revealing their identities. The survivors described how some Tigrayan soldiers went from village to village and raped the women and girls they found, until they retreated from the area in mid-September.

Source: Globe and Mail

LUCY KASSAGEOFFREY YORKAFRICA BUREAU CHIEF

Ethiopian government soldiers ride in the back of a truck on a road near Agula, north of Mekele, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on May 8.BEN CURTIS/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

As Tigrayan fighters march relentlessly closer to Addis Ababa in a military offensive that threatens to topple the Ethiopian government, disturbing evidence of brutal abuses is emerging from some of the towns and villages captured by the rebels.

The evidence, gathered by human-rights researchers and The Globe and Mail, suggests that Tigrayan soldiers have perpetrated the same kind of sexual violence documented among the Ethiopian and Eritrean troops the rebels have been fighting for the past year.

The Tigrayan military advances, sometimes in co-operation with Oromo insurgents, have already led to the evacuation of many foreign diplomats and United Nations staff from the Ethiopian capital.

The rebels are now reported to be about 220 kilometres from Addis Ababa – possibly closer. Many Western governments, including Canada’s, have urged their citizens to leave the country as soon as possible because of the risk of fighting in the capital.

To corroborate the reports of rape and sexual assault, and to see if such abuses have spread to other regions, The Globe interviewed women and girls in the village of Geregera, in the Amhara region.

The village was captured by Tigrayan troops in late August. Soon afterward, four Tigrayan soldiers broke into the home of a 12-year-old girl.

“They ordered me to take off my clothes,” the girl told The Globe. “When I refused, one of them slapped me in the face and stripped off my clothes. My father tried to defend me, but they beat him and threatened to kill us all.”

For hours, until she lost consciousness, the soldiers took turn raping her, she said. She recounted the attack with difficulty, speaking between sobs and long pauses. Her mother gave permission and was present for the interview.

“They raped me in front of my father,” the girl said. “They would get angry and beat me when I tried to fight back, so I stopped. I was so scared they would kill me and my father.”

The Globe investigation found that the girl was one of many to suffer sexual assaults by Tigrayan troops. But all sides in the worsening war have been guilty of similar attacks.

The war began in November, 2020, when the Ethiopian military, supported by Eritrean troops, launched a massive offensive in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The region had defied the federal government by demanding autonomy and refusing to cancel a scheduled election last year.

Almost from the beginning of the war, human-rights researchers and United Nations agencies have documented the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. The earliest reports emerged in Tigray in late 2020, revealing frequent sexual assaults by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops, along with Amhara militias, as part of their offensive to gain control of the region.

More recently, the war has expanded to new regions, including Amhara, after Tigrayan forces launched a counteroffensive. After regaining control of much of their home region, the Tigrayans have advanced into Amhara and closer to Addis Ababa – reportedly exhibiting a similar pattern of sexual violence along the way.

Many of the victims have been unable to get medical treatment or mental health care, largely because of the fighting, the growing number of military checkpoints, the shutdown of electricity and telecommunications, the destruction of health centres and a government blockade of humanitarian supplies to some regions.

“One year since Tigray’s devastating conflict began, survivors of sexual violence – from gang rape to sexual slavery – remain in desperate need of health care and support services,” Nisha Varia, women’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said in a report this month.

In the village of Geregera, the 12-year-old girl has received no medical treatment for her injuries, nor any other health support, not just because of the social stigma that surrounds sexual assaults but because of the shortage of health facilities in the area. Almost three months after the brutal attack, some of her internal injuries persist – she still suffers from urinary incontinence.

The Globe talked to several victims of sexual violence by Tigrayan forces in Geregera. The village is about 100 kilometres southwest of Lalibela, a popular tourist town in the Amhara region, famous for its ancient churches hewn into the sides of mountains.

The interviews were obtained independently, without the involvement of government officials. To ensure the security of the victims, The Globe is not revealing their identities.

The survivors described how some Tigrayan soldiers went from village to village and raped the women and girls they found, until they retreated from the area in mid-September.

Zewde, a mother of two in Geregera, said her 14-year-old daughter was among those who were gang-raped by Tigrayan troops.

On the afternoon of Aug. 28, she said, her daughter disappeared. A group of villagers found the girl dumped in a nearby forest and carried her home.

“She was bleeding and unconscious,” Zewde told The Globe tearfully. “She was scratched and beaten.”

Her daughter, still in shock, could barely speak for days. Only weeks later did Zewde learn what had happened, although her daughter is still uncertain of how many soldiers were involved in the attack.

“She has nightmares,” Zewde said. “Sometimes she counts them as five. Other times she said they were six. But she is certain about one thing: Her abusers were uniformed fighters from Tigray.”

Others from the same village gave similar accounts to The Globe. None of the victims, they said, had received any medical or psychological help after the soldiers attacked them.

“At first they said they would not harm the women and that their targets are only armed men,” said Meteke, one of the villagers. “But afterwards they raped and tortured our girls mercilessly.”

Meteke said she knows several of the victims, but most would not talk about their ordeals because of the stigma surrounding sexual assault.

The Globe could not independently verify the number of cases in the village. But separate witnesses estimated that dozens of women and girls, at least, were raped by Tigrayan fighters.

The Globe contacted Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the main Tigrayan fighting force, to ask about the allegations of sexual violence in Geregera. He did not respond to the message.

Amnesty International, in a report on Nov. 9, documented how 16 women were raped in mid-August by Tigrayan fighters who had captured another Amhara town, Nifas Mewcha, about 50 kilometres from Geregera.

The women told Amnesty that they were raped at gunpoint, robbed, physically assaulted and subjected to dehumanizing verbal attacks during the nine days when the Tigrayan soldiers controlled the town. The attacks amounted to war crimes, Amnesty said.

Fourteen of the 16 told Amnesty that they were gang-raped. Some said the Tigrayans told them that the rapes were revenge for earlier rapes of Tigrayan women by Ethiopian soldiers.

Almost all of the women had suffered physical and mental health problems as a result of the attacks, but most were unable to receive any health care because the Tigrayan soldiers had damaged and looted the town’s hospital and health clinic, the report said.

An independent humanitarian agency that normally provides health services told Amnesty that it cannot enter the area because of security concerns caused by the government’s verbal attacks on relief agencies.

A joint investigation by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the UN human rights office found strong evidence of widespread sexual assaults by all sides in the war in northern Ethiopia. It found a continuous rise in the number of survivors visiting hospitals to seek treatment for sexual and gender-based violence, with more than 1,320 hospital visits in Tigray alone in the first six months of the war.

The joint investigation, in a report released on Nov. 3, found that Ethiopian, Eritrean and Tigrayan troops were implicated in multiple reports of gang rape in more than a dozen cities and towns. The assaults were so widespread and systematic that they could be defined as crimes against humanity, it said.

“Some of the reported accounts of rape were characterized by appalling levels of brutality,” the report said. “Acts of rape were frequently intended to degrade and dehumanize an entire ethnic group.”

Some governments and activists are proposing an international convention to make sexual violence as universally prohibited in wars as chemical weapons or land mines.

“It is grotesque that sexual violence and rape is used as a weapon of war, and it’s used to exercise power over women,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a speech last week.

She cited a study in South Sudan that found that about a third of all women had suffered conflict-related sexual violence.

“It’s wrong that it’s treated less seriously than chemical warfare or land mines,” she said.

INTER PRESS SERVICE

From the early days of UN peacekeeping to some of today’s most vital operations, Ethiopian men and women have played an important role in the UN’s efforts to advance peace in the world’s hot spots. The country’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations dates back to 1951, as part of the UN multinational force in the Korean War. Credit: United Nations

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 25 2021 (IPS) - In Hollywood movies, the legendary Wild West was routinely portrayed with gunslingers, lawmen and villains—resulting in the ultimate showdown between the “good guys and the bad guys”.

Linda Thomson-Greenfield, US ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council early this month that the warring parties in the devastating 12-month-long civil war in Ethiopia involve the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, the Eritrean Defense Forces, the Amhara Special Forces, and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front.

And invoking a Hollywood metaphor, she remarked “there are no good guys here”.

The battle is perhaps best characterized as a showdown between one set of bad guys vs another set of bad guys –despite the fact that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is currently leading the conflict, triggering accusations of war crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.

As in many ongoing conflicts and civil wars—whether in Afghanistan, Yemen, Myanmar, Syria, Palestine, Iraq or Ethiopia, the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, namely the US, UK, France, China and Russia, are sharply divided and protective of their allies — and their prolific arms markets.

But the conflict in Ethiopia has also resulted in a “monumental humanitarian disaster” where UN agencies and relief organizations are being hindered by the Ethiopian government from delivering food and medical supplies for political reasons.

Still, who are the merchants of death in this vicious conflict which has “already claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced upwards of 2 million people,” and where rape is being increasingly used as a weapon of war.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is providing emergency food assistance to more than 800,000 people affected by conflict in the Afar and Amhara regions of northern Ethiopia. Credit: WFP/Claire Nevill

According to figures released by international aid organizations, tens of thousands of people are reportedly displaced in Amhara and Afar regions because of active fighting in multiple locations; about two million rendered homeless overall and about seven million urgently in need of humanitarian assistance.

Ambassador Thomson-Greenfield told delegates it is time for all parties to immediately halt hostilities and refrain from incitement to violence and divisiveness.

The bellicose rhetoric and inflammatory language on all sides of this conflict only aggravate intercommunal violence. It is time for the Government of Ethiopia, the TPLF, and all other groups to engage in immediate ceasefire negotiations without preconditions to find a sustainable path toward peace, she said.

And it is long past time for the Eritrean Defense Forces to withdraw from Ethiopian territory.

“It is time to put your weapons down. This war between angry, belligerent men – victimizing women and children – has to stop,” she declared.

But one lingering question remains: where are these weapons coming from?

China and Russia, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, have been identified as the primary arms suppliers to Ethiopia.

“The time when the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) almost solely relied on aging Soviet armament, mixed in with some of their more modern Russian brethrens, is long gone.”

“Over the past decade, Ethiopia has diversified its arms imports to include a number of other sources that presently include nations such as China, Germany, Ukraine and Belarus”.

Arguably more surprising is the presence of countries like Israel and the UAE in this list, which have supplied Ethiopia with a number of specialised weapon systems, according to a Blog posting in Oryx.

Alexandra Kuimova, Researcher, Arms Transfers Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), told IPS in terms of volume (measured in SIPRI’s TIVs), Russia and Ukraine were the largest supplies of major arms to Ethiopia over the last two decades, accounting for 50 per cent and 33 per cent of Ethiopia’s imports in 2001-2020, respectively.

Deliveries from Russia included an estimated 18 second-hand combat helicopters and combat aircraft transferred to Ethiopia between 2003-2004.

The most recent deliveries included an estimated four 96K9 Pantsyr-S1 mobile air defence systems imported by Ethiopia in 2019. Deliveries from Ukraine included an estimated 215 second-hand T-72B tanks received by Ethiopia between 2011-2015.

She said there are also European states transferring major arms to Ethiopia since 2001. For example, Hungary supplied 12 second-hand Mi-24V/Mi-35 combat helicopters to Ethiopia in 2013. French Bastion vehicles delivered to the state in 2016 were financed by the US. Deliveries from Germany included 6 trainer aircraft in 2019.

Stephen Zunes, a professor of Politics and chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, who has written extensively on the politics of the Security Council, told IPS: “The perception of such conflicts as being simply an African problem ignores the fact that much of the killing would not be possible were it not for Western arms sent to the combatants.”

In most civil wars, however, small arms and light weapons were critically important, and were often backed up by major conventional weapons.

Since 2011, China has emerged as one of the largest arms suppliers to Ethiopia. Some of the known deliveries from China included a single HQ-64 air defence system delivered in 2013 and 4 PHL-03 300mm self-propelled multiple rocket launchers received by Ethiopia in 2018-2019.

Ethiopia also imported about 30 armoured personnel carriers from China between 2012 and 2014, said Kuimova.

Other media reports have provided information on the presence of Chinese Wing Loong and Iranian Mohajer-6 drones in Ethiopia. In addition, several media outlets claim that Turkey is negotiating arms deals on selling an identified number of Bayraktar TB-2 armed drones to Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, in one of the world’s worse conflict zones, namely Yemen, the air attacks are mostly by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, equipped with arms primarily from the US and UK, two permanent members of the Security Council.

According to SIPRIs Kuimova, there is not much known about transfers of major arms to Eritrea. She said it appears that the country has not received any major weapons since 2009 when the UN arms embargo on Eritrea came into force. The embargo was lifted in 2018, however, no deliveries of major arms have been documented since then.

Between 2001-2007, Eritrea’s imports of major arms included two second-hand modernized S-125-2T air defence systems supplied by Belarus in 2005. Bulgaria supplied 120 second-hand T-55 tanks in 2005. Between 2001-2004 Russia delivered 4 combat aircraft to Eritrea, and an estimated 80 Kornet-E anti-tank missiles between 2001 and 2005. Deliveries from Ukraine included 2 second-hand combat aircraft.

“We are currently collecting, analyzing and verifying open-source information on deliveries of major arms to both Ethiopia and Eritrea over the last year,” she said.

But lack of transparency in armaments in the cases of both importer states and exporters make it difficult to determine the order and delivery dates and the exact numbers and types of weapons transferred over the last years.

For example, Ethiopia has not been submitting reports on its imports of arms to the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA), the main UN transparency instrument on conventional weapons, since 1997.

And China, one of the largest exporters to Ethiopia over the last decade, does not appear to have reported to UNROCA, information about its arms transfers to Ethiopia.

Source=Ethiopia’s PM has gone to the battlefront: State-affiliated media | News | Al Jazeera

Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday promised to lead his country’s army ‘from the battlefront’ after Tigrayan rebels threatened to march on Addis Ababa.

The TPLF dominated government for nearly three decades, until Abiy came to power in 2018 [File: AP Photo]

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has gone to the front lines to lead his troops in the battle against forces from the northern Tigray region, state-affiliated media reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen Hassen would take charge of routine government business in Abiy’s absence, Fana news outlet said on Wednesday.

Other senior government officials have also immediately responded to the call made by the prime Minister to save Ethiopia and joined the campaign, he added.

State media has shown no images of Abiy, a 45-year-old former soldier and winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, at the battlefront. The government has not disclosed his location but a spokesman said he had arrived at the front on Tuesday and was joined by other government officials who heeded the call to “save Ethiopia”.

“The time has come to lead the country with sacrifice,” Abiy had said in a Twitter post late on Monday. “Those who want to be among the Ethiopian children who will be hailed by history, rise up for your country today. Let’s meet at the battlefront.”

Northern Ethiopia has been racked by conflict since November 2020 when Abiy sent troops into the Tigray region to topple the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after months of tensions with the region’s governing party. The TPLF had controlled national politics for three decades until Abiy came to power in 2018.

Abiy promised a swift victory, but by late June the TPLF had regrouped and retaken most of Tigray, including its capital, Mekelle. Since then, the Tigrayan forces have pushed into the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions and this week claimed control of Shewa Robit, just 220km (135 miles) northeast of the capital, Addis Ababa, by road.

On Tuesday, US Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman said the Ethiopian military and regional militias had been able to hold back Tigrayan attempts to cut the corridor but Tigrayan forces had been able to move south towards Addis Ababa.

Much of northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and access for journalists is restricted, making battlefield claims difficult to corroborate.

Later on Wednesday, during a joint news conference with Colombia’s President Ivan Duque, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for an end to the fighting.

“The peace process in Colombia today inspires me to make an urgent call to the protagonists of the conflict in Ethiopia for an unconditional and immediate ceasefire,” Guterres said, referring to the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC rebels.

‘Risking his life’

Mustafa Ali, co-founder and chairman of Horn International Institute for Strategic Studies, said Abiy’s decision to move to the war front was a “big gamble”.

“Aby is risking his life and he’s also risking the lives of those who are going to be alongside himself,” Ali told Al Jazeera.

“The calculation here from Aby’s administration is because … that many armed grounds are converging around Addis Ababa, he sees it fit as part of a psychological operation to inspire other Ethiopians to join the [national army] and fight this war and push back the Tigrayans,” he said.

“Ethiopia is a huge country; if it descends into anarchy then we are going have a huge problem of stability in the entire Horn of Africa,” Ali warned.

On Wednesday, hundreds of new army recruits took part in a ceremony held in their honour in the Kolfe district of Addis Ababa.

“I was amazed when I heard” Abiy planned to join soldiers in the field, one of the recruits, 42-year-old driver Tesfaye Sherefa, told AFP news agency.

“When a leader leaves his chair… and his throne it is to rescue his country. His focus is not to live, but to rescue this country, and I sobbed when he said ‘follow me’ and went to the front line.”

At least one prominent distance runner – marathoner and Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa – has joined thousands of ordinary Ethiopians keen to follow Abiy’s lead.

The marathoner gained political prominence by raising and crossing his arms as he finished the marathon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro – a gesture of solidarity with fellow ethnic Oromos killed while protesting against abuses committed during nearly 27 years of TPLF rule.

In the state media interview which aired Wednesday, Feyisa said he would relish the chance to fight the TPLF himself.

“When a country is violated, there is no way I will stand by and just watch,” he said.

A separate state media report quoted Ethiopia’s most famous distance-running champion, Haile Gebrselassie, as saying he, too, would fight at the front.

“What would you do when the existence of a country is at stake? You just put down everything. Alas, nothing will bind you. I am sorry!” Haile told Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

In an interview in his office in Addis Ababa, where he runs more than a dozen companies engaged in hospitality, real estate, agriculture and education, Haile, who set 27 long distance running records, spoke of the role he was willing to play in the war.

“You expect me to say until death? Yes, that is the ultimate price in a war,” the 48-year-old said. “There is no way that I can sit here due to fear because it will come to my door. It will come to my house. We wouldn’t know when it comes. We wouldn’t know who will do what.”

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

NOVEMBER 25, 2021  ETHIOPIANEWS

This information is from an Eritrean friend of mine. It comes against the background of reports of arrests of Tigrayans in Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia.

Martin


Friends are telling me about how Eritreans are suffering as a result of the mass arrest of Tigrayans. My friend  sent me the message below about her husband.

“My husband was in the 3rd police station Piassa. (Sostegna). There were 300 prisoners there were only three toilets and there was no water. There were 18 Eritreans some of them were elderly.

They eventually charged him with illegal money transfers, not terrorism or supporting terror.

Many of the others are simply charged with supporting terror and simply kept under arrest even after the courts discharge them.

My husband told me there were even disabled people held at the police stations and a lot of elderly people too.

One woman who refused to be separated from her blind daughter, so she was simply taken to prison with her.

Another woman who used to work for the UN and is a mother of twins.

The numbers rise almost exponentially. There are areas of Addis such as Cherkos where nearly every household has been affected.

Even Tigrayans with exit visas are too scared to go to the airport, as this would expose them.

Many people are in hiding but often their neighbours give them away them. When caught all they have to be is Tigrayan to be taken away.”

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