Ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans may prolong Ethiopia’s civil war

Evidence emerges of war crimes by forces allied to Abiy Ahmed’s government

Source: Economist

Since the start of Ethiopia’s bloody civil war 18 months ago, there have been frequent allegations of ethnic cleansing targeting people from the northern region of Tigray. Antony Blinken, America’s secretary of state, first levelled this charge more than a year ago, infuriating the government of Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister, which strongly denied it. Because the government has imposed a tight blockade of the region, it has been hard to assess the claims of atrocities. But some horrifying hints have emerged, such as the corpses with their hands bound that have washed up on river banks in Sudan.
Now a thorough investigation by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, two pressure groups, leaves little doubt of the enormities committed by government forces and their allies. The joint report, published on April 6th, concludes that authorities from the Amhara region have systematically killed or evicted hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans from territory seized from Tigray since the start of the war. The campaign, carried out with the connivance of federal authorities, was as methodical as it was brutal. Notices ordering Tigrayans to leave were pinned around towns. Freshly appointed Amhara officials handed out title deeds for plots of stolen land. Identification cards were given to new Amhara arrivals, but denied to Tigrayans, who were prevented from receiving aid and government services. The new authorities even granted permits for shipments of looted sesame, a lucrative cash crop at the heart of the territorial dispute between the two regions.
This matters not only because of the frightful human toll. The contested area, known officially as Western Tigray before the war, is now arguably the biggest obstacle to ending the conflict. “It’s definitely the thorniest issue,” says a senior official of the ruling party. Both sides have long claimed this land. Both are hardening their stances. Just days before the report was published Amhara investigators announced the discovery of mass graves, which they allege contain the remains of Amharas murdered decades ago by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (tplf), the party-cum-militia that runs Tigray.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans are starving. A “humanitarian truce” that started on March 24th is already teetering. The government has allowed just one aid convoy to enter Tigray (the first since mid-December) and has been withholding permission for more until the tplf withdraws to Tigray. The tplf wants aid to flow freely before it pulls back entirely, ideally in tandem with the withdrawal of Amhara forces from Western Tigray. Without a breakthrough to ease the blockade, the horror of ethnic cleansing will be matched by an equally grotesque abuse: deliberate, mass starvation.


  1. Watch now, Abiy is having serious problems paying salary to the armed and the security that he believes will stay loyal. His solution will be a quick fix to replace civil servants by the security and armed forces to make it plausible for corruption. He is saying it is now your time to succ hel of the people as much as you want. This will be done at the cost of the civil servants that have been loya up to now, he is throwing them away, he does not need them. This will happen soon.

  2. Every committed crime has its own doer and that one will face accountabile if the real peace comes by any means. So the criminals choose to stay in a war state.

  3. The map of Tigray and Ethiopia by Handteks from 1849 is available at the authorised workplace in the national Library of Estonia. Download at and click the zoom icone+ to expand. Spread this information, may be few Amhara elites may get some insight. Walkite has always been part of Tigray, in any ways there was no reason to fight to destruction for this piece of land. If the people who live in walkiet want to be in the Amhara region this could have been negotiated. The war is not about a pies of land, the war is about jealousy and revenge. It is really sad to see the livelihood and the life a population of over 50 million (Amharas and Tigrians) being destroyed by a few selfish and sick in Diaspora.

  4. Your last statement bears the hallmark of the ills that is destroying the horn of Africa now. The common man and woman be it in Tigray ,Eritrea , Ethiopia,Somalia do not even know the existence of the other let alone to be consumed with hatred to want to destroy the other. There is nothing to gain from the destruction.

    But, to borrow your words ,the very few and sick be it in Diaspora or in their respective countries are gambling with the lives of innocents who just want to live one day at time. Most of them are not even prepared to shed a drop of blood in the destruction and misery that ensues .

    It pains me tremendously.

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