Ethiopia. The stalemate in the Tigray conflict continues, both militarily and diplomatically. Last week Debretsion Gebremichael, the leader of the TPLF, had said that peace talks with Premier Abiy Ahmed had begun and hopes of resolving the conflict peacefully seemed to be lifting again. However, on February 22, Abiy announced to parliament, in what was his first parliamentary speech since his post-election reappointment speech in October: “I hear a lot of talk about a dialogue, however there has been no dialogue so far [with the TPLF,Ed]. However, it’s not like because we said we haven’t talked means we won’t talk at all.”
Meanwhile, a report by Amnesty International and one by Al Jazeera bring to light possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the contenders.
On February 16, Amnesty International made it known that it had conducted an investigation in the villages of Chenna and Kobo, in the Amhara region, which were occupied last summer by TPLF troops. Tigrinya soldiers appear to have used physical and sexual violence on about 30 victims, some as young as 14 years old. The investigation continued after the publication in November, always by Amnesty, about sexual violence committed by TPLF soldiers in Nifas Mewcha, another town in Amhara. According to Amnesty were also conducted gang rapes and summary executions of unarmed civilians, in a kind of revenge against the Amhara troops.
A report by Al Jazeera of February 25 shows instead the action of federal forces in the town of Abala, on the border between Afar and Tigray. Desta Gebreananya’s testimony dates back to December 24, 2021, when the government forces were in the course of the counteroffensive in Afar: “The soldiers protected civilians of other ethnic groups and eliminated Tigrayans. They killed, gang-raped, looted, and arrested every Tigrinya they found in town. Only if you knew an Afar could you hide or get help to escape and save yourself.”
The woman of Tigrinya origin then hid for a week with her five children and managed to escape to Tigray and currently lives in a reception center in the suburbs of Mekelle. In this camp for displaced persons as many as 7000 tigrinyas are refugees and while sexual abuses by federal soldiers are denounced, one of the testimonies even evokes the crime of crimes in the international order: “They exterminated us all. Not a single Tigrinya left in the city. They committed genocide.”
Last December the UN Human Rights Council had passed a resolution to establish an independent investigation on the violations committed by the various parties to the conflict, however the Ethiopian government has decided not to cooperate as it considers the committee “an instrument of political pressure”. Probably only with the end of the conflict we will have certain answers about the various atrocities committed, however as evidenced by the statements of Abiy in Parliament it seems that the road is still long.