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Tigray Government Statement on the Ongoing Mass Detention of Tigrayans



Since November 2020, tens of thousands of Tigrayans have been rounded up by the Abiy  regime, solely on account of their identity. Among those mass arrested are several thousand  retired and active members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force of Tigrayan identity.  Hundreds of those detained have been murdered, with some others dying under extremely  suspicious circumstances. The Abiy regime has also forcibly repatriated Tigrayan migrants  and refugees from the Middle East. It has done so in a flagrant violation of international  law—the principle of non-refoulement. Those that have been repatriated are being held in  concentration camps across the country and treated as either prisoners of war or saboteurs.  

Underscoring the extreme cruelty with which Tigrayans continue to be treated, the  Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued a statement on June 29, 2022  decrying the inhumane detention of 8,560 innocent Tigrayans in Semera, Afar region. It  should be noted that while this institution was established to function as an independent  entity, it is a de facto appendage of the Ethiopian state. As such, it has, in one way or  another, instigated, facilitated and glossed over the campaign of national extermination  directed against Tigrayans. It has also dutifully parroted the Abiy regime’s talking points,  amplifying its propaganda and smear campaign against Tigrayans.  

What is indisputable is that Ethiopia under Abiy Ahmed’s deplorable reign has become  hell for Tigrayans. But by focusing only on the thousands of Tigrayans being held in Afar,  while conveniently ignoring the tens of thousands of Tigrayans being held elsewhere in the  country, the Commission appears to have made a lame effort to present the former as an isolated act of rights violation, rather than as part of a systematic campaign of brutality  against Tigrayans.  

The goal of the Commission’s statement is to rewrite history and present itself as an  advocate for those facing repression, when in reality it is not. But no amount of sporadic  statement of outrage can whitewash the Commission’s disgraceful complicity in, and  legitimization of, the unimaginable atrocities being committed against Tigrayans. Its  shameful indifference to, or even championing, the suffering of Tigrayans at the hand  of a vindictive and predatory regime stands in sharp contrast to the speed with which it has been  quick to point fingers at the Government of Tigray for alleged human rights violations. In  the process, the Commission has lost whatever shred of credibility it had to act as an arbiter  of disputes over human rights.  

The Government of Tigray calls on the international community to press the Abiy regime  to comply with its domestic and international legal obligations by releasing the tens of  thousands of Tigrayans languishing in concentration camps across the country. The Abiy  regime, like all authoritarian regimes—past and present—responds to nothing but  preponderant economic, political and diplomatic pressures. Its egregious violations of  citizens’ human rights is not a bug, but a basic feature of the regime’s overall makeup. The  international community should, therefore, deploy a robust package of punitive actions to  compel this genocidal regime to desist from criminalizing Tigrayan identity and release  the thousands of Tigrayans languishing in concentration camps.

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