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Amnesty Accuses Tigray Forces of Atrocities in Ethiopia’s Amhara

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FILE - Amhara militia men, that combat alongside federal and regional forces against northern region of Tigray, receive training in the outskirts of the village of Addis Zemen, north of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on Nov. 10, 2020.

Rights groups Amnesty International says Tigrayan fighters have committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity as they were withdrawing from Ethiopia’s Amhara region.

Amnesty International’s report released Wednesday says fighters affiliated with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) killed scores of Ethiopian civilians in northern Amhara region, looted property, and gang-raped women and girls as young as 14.

Amnesty says the Tigrayan forces committed the atrocities around Chenna and Kobo last August and September after taking control of the areas.

The rights group says interviews with survivors indicate the Tigrayan forces were acting in revenge against Amhara militias that were fighting alongside Ethiopian federal forces to push them back.

Sarah Jackson, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes, said in a press release that evidence was mounting of a pattern of Tigrayan forces committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in areas that were under their control.

Jackson called on the TPLF leadership to put an immediate end to the atrocities and remove from its forces anyone suspected of war crimes.

Fisseha Tekle, a Nairobi-based researcher for Amnesty International, told VOA’s Amharic Service that Amnesty had interviewed roughly 30 people who allegedly were raped in September in Chenna, a village north of the regional Amhara capital of Bahirdar.

The victims included a 14-year-old and her mother, who reported that their rapists claimed to be retaliating for attacks against Tigrayans, Fisseha said. The daughter claimed their attackers said, “Our families were raped, and now it is our turn to rape you.”

The rapes and killings could constitute both crimes against humanity and war crimes, Fisseha said.

Pledge of accountability

VOA could not reach the TPLF for comment about Amnesty’s accusations.

But “we take the allegations seriously and will hold anyone involved responsible,” TPLF spokesman Getachew Redda wrote in a Twitter exchange Wednesday with a person identified as Goodluck, a human rights activist who does not appear to be affiliated with Amnesty.

The Amnesty report appears to support a December Human Rights Watch report that said Tigrayan forces executed scores of civilians in Amhara in late August and early September.

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch released a joint December report that accused Amhara security forces of killing ethnic Tigrayan civilians in western Tigray region.

Throughout Ethiopia’s 14-month war rights groups have accused both sides of gross rights abuses and war crimes, including raping and killing civilians.

Amnesty called on the international community to investigate crimes committed by both sides and try to bring those responsible to justice.

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