Civilians 'hacked' to death in Tigray, Ethiopia – Amnesty
CAPE TOWN – Amnesty International, with the help of the rights group’s Crisis Evidence Lab, has revealed evidence that shows the gruesome murder of “likely hundreds” of civilians in Mai-Kadra, a town in the south-west area of the Tigray regional state in Ethiopia, the international human rights group has said.
Satellite imagery shows a large number of civilians were killed in Tigray state during ongoing conflict there. The federal government points the finger at Tigrayan loyalists targeting non-Trigyayans.
A spate of photographs and videos have been verified of the massacre which ensued in Mai-Kadra, a number of civilians were brutally hacked to death on Monday night. The rights group used satellite imagery and geolocation to find out where the incident occurred.
Witnesses say the bodies, which were mainly found in the town centre, had no gunshot wounds but rather gaping wounds. Later, the organisations pathologists determined knives and machetes were responsible for the injuries which led to the civilian’s death.
Bikila Hurissa, an Ethiopian minister, has accused the Tigray government loyalists of targeting civilians on the basis of ethnicity who allegedly had a list of non-Tigrayans that were targetted, BBC reports.
"There was a law enforcement operation in that area in a place called Lugdi on the route to Sudan and the forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) fugitive were severely defeated and these forces were escaping and on their way they entered a civilian village and changed their clothes from the military to civilian clothes and they massacred all the people in the area who are not Tigryans by ethnicity," Hurissa said.
Most of the civilians who were slaughtered were day labourers.
Michelle Bachelet of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has said in a statement on Friday that “there is a risk this situation will spiral totally out of control, leading to heavy casualties and destruction, as well as mass displacement within Ethiopia itself and across borders”.
Bachelet says Amnesty International’s report is not independently verified, and has called for a full investigation into the incident at Mai-Kadra.
She has warned that once the incident is verified, the massacre will amount to war crimes, BBC reports.
Tigrayans are the minority in Ethiopia, yet have dominated politics in recent decades before Abiy Ahmed was elected as prime minister in 2018.
Abiy is from the Oromos, the dominant ethnic group in the country at 34 percent of the population. Amharas make up 20 percent of Ethiopia’s population, according to Reuters.
The Amhara Special Force joined forces with the federal Ethiopian Defence Force (EDF) shortly after the conflict began on November 4.
Amnesty International cannot confirm whether the perpetrators were, in fact, Tigrayayn loyalists, however, witnesses have said they are responsible for the massacre, the rights group’s statement says.
The conflict could be escalated even further after top Tigray officials warrants for arrest were issued, along with a number of TPLF members, BBC reported.
In addition to the appointment of the Tigrayan regional state’s new chief executive, Mulu Nega, ultimately nullifying the legitimacy of the TPLF government, Ethiopia’s federal government launched a military offensive in Tigray on November 4.
It also declared a six-month state of emergency after the TPLF was blamed for an attack on a federal camp and attempting to loot military equipment, African News Agency (ANA) reported.