Over 50 members of defense force court martialed
After months of accusations forwarded by Western governments over the widespread violation of human rights and denial of access to aid in Tigray regional state, the Ethiopian government admitted that crimes against civilians were committed by the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) during the war in the region.
In a press conference called by the Office of the Prime Minister on June 3, 2021, the Head of Foreign Language and Digital Media at the PMO Press Secretariat, Billene Seyoum and Attorney General, Gedeon Themoteos (PhD), briefed both local and international journalists.
The AG provided details of crimes including sexual assaults and unlawful killings of civilians by members of the ENDF during the law enforcement operation in various localities of Tigray region.
Eritrean troops have also been implicated in the killings of civilians in Aksum in late November 2020. According to Gedion, of the 100 people who have been killed, 40 were unarmed and died in a situation where there was no active fighting.
Subsequently, 28 soldiers of the ENDF suspected of killing civilians and 25 suspected of alleged sexual violence have been detained.
Investigations into the above allegations have been carried out by different entities, including the military justice system, regional police, prosecutors, federal police, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.
According to Gedion, so far, four have been convicted and several investigations are well underway. Regional police and prosecutors have also received several complaints and sexual assault in several parts of the regional state.
In connection with the Maikadra massacre, the investigation team has identified around 200 individuals who are believed to have taken part in the commission of these crimes. While most of the suspects are believed to have fled to Sudan, around 23 suspects have been apprehended and charged at the federal high court with their trial already underway, Gedion said.
Billene Seyoum, for her part, stated that the global community has taken the existing facts in a wrong way, while the serious atrocities were committed by the “TPLF criminal enterprise.”
She elaborated on the humanitarian operation and the rehabilitation efforts that are underway in Tigray region.
“Even if the criminal enterprise had provoked the Northern Command of the country and forced the federal government to take up the operation, the far-fetched and politically motivated international accusations have been strengthened against Ethiopia,” she said.
According to her, the global community has failed to come to terms with a number of glaring facts the TPLF had done, even during its three decades of abuse of power.
“The criminal enterprise exercised three decades of abuse of power, state capture, bottomless corruption and gross human right violations on the nations and nationalities of the country, particularly ethnic Somalis, Amharas, Oromos and many other groups, without any external intervention,” Billene said.
She added “Despite the continued acts of the belligerent fragments of the criminal enterprise, the federal government over the past month has asked the group to surrender peacefully and lay down their arms with a grant of amnesty and support to return to life.”
The press secretary revealed that the continued attack on humanitarian convoys is blocking assistance meant for the very people in whose name they are fighting. Yet, she noted that all the aforementioned devilish acts of the terrorist group have been overlooked, omitted and disregarded by the international community.
Explaining why the international community is misguided on the Tigray affair, Billene said the culprits are “Lobby firms which support disinformation campaigns and false narratives lodged by sympathizers of the criminal enterprise outside of Ethiopia.”