A call to stop the killings and looting in Tigray by Eritrean Forces
Gradually, as the two-month-old war in Ethiopia unfolded, the evidence of the involvement of Eritrean Forces in the Tigray conflict has mounted. Despite attempts by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Government to restrict access to the war zone, news has filtered out. On Sunday, 20 December 2020 and for the first time, an independent Belgian news outlet confirmed in gruesome detail the atrocities committed by Eritrean Forces. We now have first-hand reports of what is taking place. These reports are supported by parties in Tigray like the Assimba Democratic Party, that opposes the ruling Prosperity party. Eritrean Forces are deep inside Ethiopia and fighting alongside Federal Forces and Amhara Militia. This war has become an international conflict with catastrophic ramification across the whole region and beyond.
We, the undersigned, acknowledge with heavy hearts and great sadness the evidence that Eritrean Forces have undertaken and participated in what can only be described as war crimes. Atrocities, including the killing of civilians and rape of women, have been perpetrated. This has been accompanied by widespread looting, including centuries-old religious artifacts, by organised groups that are coordinated from Eritrea. We hear of lorries being sent to accompany Eritrean units whose specific mission is to remove anything of value that they can lay their hands on. This loot has been taken to Eritrea, most of it stockpiled with some appearing in local markets.
These are illegal acts. They are a stain on the great values and tradition of the Eritrean people who fought with such courage for so many years for our independence. They bring shame to the memory of our martyrs who laid down their lives for our nation. They will also put a further strain on the relationship between Eritreans and Tigryeans that is yet to fully heal from the 1998-2000 bloody border war. We commend our people for refraining from purchasing this loot. We support the Catholic Church’s and other community leaders’ call on people not to buy stolen goods.
These vile and despicable acts are coordinated and conducted on behalf of President Isaias Afwerki and those around him. Those that carried out these crimes must be held to account. We encourage Eritreans to come forward with the names of people involved and the specific types of crimes they committed.
These crimes go against Eritrean core values of decency, respect for fellow human beings, honesty and integrity. Theft and looting are frowned upon and thieves treated as ‘outcasts’ in our society. These values are ingrained in Eritrean society and make us who we are. The abuses, looting and killings that are now being perpetrated in Tigray are a clear manifestation of the atrocities our people endured in the hands of President Isaias over the last three decades. They are cowardly, disgusting, abhorrent and shameful acts.
We call on Prime Minster Abiy, who started this war in the name of “law enforcement” to protect his own people from abuses, looting and killings by a foreign power. If the Prime Minister is unwilling or incapable of protecting his own people, we ask the international community to head the call by the UN Human Rights Commission for an international investigation into these heinous crimes. We plead with the international community to intervene before it is too late.
As Eritreans, we say this unequivocally: the people of Tigray, like all the people of Ethiopia, are our brothers and sisters. We are determined to build an Eritrea that is at peace with itself and its neighbours.
May 2021 bring peace and prosperity for the long-suffering people of the Horn of Africa.
Global Initiative to Empower Eritrean Grassroots Movement
Human Rights Concern Eritrea
Yiakl (Bayto – UK)
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