The Government of the National State of Tigray unequivocally denounces all atrocities perpetrated against civilians, calls for UN-mandated independent investigation into all alleged crimes on civilians in the Amhara regions and firmly repudiates unfounded allegations published by The Telegraph.
Since the Ethiopian Government and its allied forces declared a genocidal war on Tigray on November 4, 2020, the world has witnessed egregious atrocities, war crimes, and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the people of Tigray. The crimes continue unabated, and civilians in Western Tigray, still occupied by Eritrean and Amhara forces, face human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, looting, harassment, and massacres.
In August 2021, The Humera massacre where mutilated and bound bodies were thrown into the Tekeze River only to surface on the Sudanese side of the river is evidence of continued war crimes against the Tigrayan people. While ethnically based arbitrary detention, mass arrest, torture, and closure of Tigrayan businesses have been ongoing throughout Ethiopia, the targeting of Tigrayans has intensified after the hate speech given by Abiy Anmed as he equated Tigrayans to a “cancer” and “invasive weeds.”
Vitriolic rhetoric has also been amplified further by Abiy Ahmed’s appointees, including the Amhara Regional State President, who made statements that unambiguously labeled the people of Tigray as enemies to be eliminated.
The safety and security of Tigrayans, including former members of the defense forces, security, and police officers, remain at grave risk as they are sentenced to death and life in prison in a so-called military tribunal. Furthermore, Tigray remains besieged by those who continue to use mass starvation as a weapon of war.
Meanwhile, the Abiy administration has called on all capable civilian Ethiopians to join the federal army and regional forces as it prepares for another round of invasion of Tigray to inflict more damage yet again to an already war-torn region.
The Government of Tigray will not allow for further atrocities in Tigray, and the Tigray Army (TA) have now advanced to strategic positions in the Amhara and Afar regions.
The Government of Tigray has been on record in stating that the sole purpose of these operations is to ensure that the blockade imposed on the people of Tigray is removed and that the genociders do not get a second chance to commit further atrocities.
While doing so, the Government of Tigray reassures all that the Tigray Army (TA) strictly observes all rules of engagement and international laws, including the protection of civilians provided by the Geneva Conventions, consistent with their long-standing reputation as shown by their treatment of thousands of prisoners of war. The TA is deploying all efforts to safeguard civilians and civilian infrastructures in all territories under its control.
Moreover, the TA collaborates with locals, is not dismantling existing civilian administrative structures outside of Tigray, is not disarming non-government allied civilians who traditionally carry guns for protection, and has invited those who fled in panic to return to their homes.
Therefore, the Government of Tigray is saddened and shocked by the unfounded allegation published by The Telegraph on August 17, 2021, that the TA vengefully inflicted damage on civilian settlements in Agamsa, near Kobo in the Amhara regional state.
We vehemently reject these severe and groundless allegations. We send our deep and sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and call for immediate, UN-led independent investigations. We are ready to cooperate and facilitate such investigations in all areas currently under our forces’ control.
Meanwhile, we call on The Telegraph to carefully scrutinize the so-called satellite-based evidence and analysis used to support the allegations, as this will also jeopardize its reputation. Satellite imagery can be used to document the “before and after” of a destroyed locality. Yet, the claim made in The Telegraph regarding the perpetrator is supported solely by interviews done with half a dozen internally displaced people.
Deceit, lies, and pernicious propaganda has been the modus operandi of the Abiy Administration and its appointees in the Amhara region for the past nine months. Their propaganda has only scaled up as they suffer consistent defeat at the hands of the TA. For example, before TA controlled Woldia, a large town in the Amhara region, Amhara leaders left no stone un-turned to characterize the TA as “monster-killers.”
Also, they attempted to incite unarmed civilians to fight. Still, the TA, consistent with its track record, conducted its operations professionally, avoided civilian casualties, and is now in total control of the town, which is peaceful and its inhabitants leading their everyday lives uninterrupted.
Given the level and nature of propaganda and blame systematically spread against the TA over the past nine months, it would not be shocking for fleeing interviewees to blame the TA.
Yet, we believe that the intentional internet and communication blockade and restrictions imposed on critical media outlets, including international media by the Abiy regime are at the heart of the problem. The telecommunications blockade has forced the media to build their evidence and narrative through triangulation rather than open investigations.
This is also the case with the current allegations in The Telegraph, which tries to create a false equivalence between TA forces and those of the invading genociders.
Finally, the Government of Tigray reiterates its commitment and full cooperation for an independent UN-mandated and verified investigation into the atrocities alleged by The Telegraph and others in the Amhara and Afar regions. The August 17, 2021,article in The Telegraph has given us reason to be concerned and probe further to get into the truth.
However, without establishing facts on the ground, we demand withholding premature and unsubstantiated accusations.
Finally, the Government of Tigray asks The Telegraph to retract this hasty, sensational and uncorroborated article, and we forcefully reject the allegations again therein.
The Government of the National State of Tigray
19 August 2021