Ethiopia rejects ‘ethnic cleansing’ accusation in western Tigray

The Ethiopian government has re­jected a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that alleges an “ethnic cleansing” campaign is under way in western Tigray despite a truce signed in November.

The allegations are “not substantiated by evidence”, Ethiopia’s Government Communication Service said in a state­ment on Tuesday.

“This distorted and misleading portrayal of the situation attempts to undermine peaceful coexistence and fuel inter-ethnic conflict and obstruct the national efforts for peace and reconcilia­tion,” it said.

The war, which broke out in Novem­ber 2020, has pitted regional forces from Tigray against Ethiopia’s federal army and its allies, including forces from other regions and neighbouring Eritrea.

It stems from grievances rooted in pe­riods of Ethiopia’s turbulent past when particular regional power blocs held sway over the country as a whole.

Fighting has raged on and off since then, killing thousands of civilians, up­rooting millions and leaving hundreds of thousands on the brink of famine.

The HRW issued a report last week saying the November peace agreement to end the two-year conflict in Tigray had not stopped “ethnic cleansing” in the dis­puted western part of the region, known as the Western Tigray Zone.

“The Ethiopian government should suspend, investigate, and appropriately prosecute commanders and officials implicated in serious rights abuses in Western Tigray,” the report said.

“Since the outbreak of armed conflict in Tigray in November 2020, Amhara security forces and interim authorities have carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Tigrayan popula­tion in Western Tigray, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

It was not the first time forces aligned with Ethiopia’s federal government have been accused of forced expulsions and other rights abuses in western Tigray.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, called for troops from the Amhara region to leave Tigray in 2021, accusing them of committing “acts of ethnic cleansing”. An Amhara spokesman at the time dis­missed the allegations as propaganda.

Western Tigray – fertile land under Tigray’s authority but also claimed by ethnic Amharas as ancestrally theirs – was swiftly captured by federal and Amhara forces during the war.


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