Stop War Crimes in Ethiopia Today

Source: African Arguments

By Alex de Waal

On 10 December 2019, the same day that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received the Nobel Peace Prize, the 1991 winner of the prize, Aung San Suu Kyi was in court in the Hague, defending her government against accusations of genocide.

Abiy Ahmed is racing down that same road.

Over the weekend, the spokesman for the Ethiopian army, Colonel Dejene Tsegaye said that the army planned to encircle the Tigrayan capital Mekelle with tanks and begin shelling the city:

“We want to send a message to the public in Mekelle to save yourselves from any artillery attacks and free yourselves from the junta … After that, there will be no mercy.”

That would be a war crime. Abiy gave a 72-hour ultimatum to the residents of the city. Using artillery against a city (a civilian target) is a gross violation of international humanitarian law.

There is good reason to suppose that the leadership of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) may have committed war crimes too. In fact the casus belli for the offensive by the Ethiopian army is an alleged mass killing of Ethiopian army officers on 3-4 November as TPLF units overran army bases. In response, Abiy launched ground and air attacks.

The TPLF’s reported action was also reckless. Its military leaders may have believed too much in the myth of their own invincibility in the face of an all-out attack.

As the war has proceeded, government aircraft have bombed Mekelle town, including the university. The TPLF has fired rockets at cities outside Tigray. Amnesty International has reported large-scale killings of civilians by Tigrayan militia, and refugees entering Sudan speak of killings by Amhara militia. Violations by one side don’t excuse violations by the other. In a war the two sides are bound by the same standards.

Abiy has refused to call it a war and has instead called it a police action with the intent of bringing criminals to justice. That may have served him well in public relations in Ethiopia and have convinced the U.S. Ambassador and Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, but it’s not how the law works.

The Federal Government is at war with the TPLF. Airstrikes, tank battles, artillery barrages against a belligerent that controls territory and exercises command and control over armed forces, constitute a war. And in war, international humanitarian law and international criminal law apply. If the federal forces commit war crimes, the court won’t accept the plea that the other side fired the first shots.

The African Union has appointed envoys to mediate between the warring parties. The world should support them in calling for an immediate ceasefire and referring the case of the Tigray war for an independent international investigation.

7 comments

  1. LIBERTÀ E AUTONOMIA,AUTODEÞERMINAZIONE DEI POPOLI, E DELLE ETNIE.PREMIO NOBELL STAI FACENDO UN GENOCIDIO,SARAI GIUDICATO DALL’AIA,TRIBUNALE INTERNAZIONALE, FERMATI E VADE RETRO,LASCIA IN PACE IL POPOLO DI CRISTIANI,CROSTIANI,DIO TI MALEDIRA’ PER SEMPRE

  2. Agreed – and what is Eritrea doing in this trying to take advantage of a situation he has no business being in just as Isaias always does! Shame on him…

  3. To accept the Ethiopian PM propaganda that the war started November 4 because of TPLF attack on federal forces show lack knowledge of Ethiopia political development the last 2 years or laziness from the side of the writer.

    The unelected Ethiopian PM and his mentor, the sadist Eritrean dictator has been preparing for this war for a long period. Tigrai has been blocked from the Amhara region of Ethiopia and Eritrea for more than a year. Civil war is going in most part of Ethiopia because the PM is putting in jail leaders of federalist political parties and activists. The same fate is facing critical journalists and activists. Any stakeholders in the country that don’t accept the ideology of the PM is at risk.

    The Eritrean dictator is highly involved in the various civil wars that are going on in Ethiopia.

    The world should stop this PM. He is not capable to solve Ethiopian problems peaceful. He is traitor by all standards.
    He betrayed the EPRDF party that elected him has transitional PM.
    He betrayed all federalist activists in the country who trusted him when he came to power and supported him.
    He betrayed the Eritrean people by supporting the Eritrean dictator by all means and prolonging the suffering of the people.
    He betrayed humanity by misusing the highest prize of the world for peaceful action – The Nobel peace prize.

  4. To accept the Ethiopian PM propaganda that the war started November 4 because of TPLF attack on federal forces show lack knowledge of Ethiopia political development the last 2 years or laziness from the side of the writer.

    The unelected Ethiopian PM and his mentor, the sadist Eritrean dictator has been preparing for this war for a long period. Tigrai has been blocked from the Amhara region of Ethiopia and Eritrea for more than a year. Civil war is going in most part of Ethiopia because the PM is putting in jail leaders of federalist political parties and activists. The same fate is facing critical journalists and activists. Any stakeholders in the country that don’t accept the ideology of the PM is at risk.

    The Eritrean dictator is highly involved in the various civil wars that are going on in Ethiopia. Eritrean soldiers are attacking Tigrai in all fronts as part of the offensive of the Ethiopian PM. The aims of the attack is to destroy federal system in Ethiopia at the expenses of the poor soldiers. But the suffering of the people of Tigrai due to this war is immense the world should stop it.

    The world should stop this PM. He is not capable to solve Ethiopian problems peaceful. He is traitor by all standards.
    He betrayed the EPRDF party that elected him as transitional PM.
    He betrayed all federalist activists in the country who trusted him when he came to power and supported him.
    He betrayed the Eritrean people by supporting the Eritrean dictator by all means and prolonging the suffering of the people.
    He betrayed humanity by misusing the highest prize of the world for peaceful action – The Nobel peace prize.

  5. Ethiopia is soveriegn as every nation. Spain enforced the rule of law on its territory in Catalonia. Sirilanka did same on Tamil rebels. Nageria crashed Biafra rebels to maintain the territorial integrity of the country. Same here. Back off! We are dealing with Juntas.

  6. Dear Eritrean hub, truth will not be buried forever despite the false cries of organised criminals that had been even ruling the country for nearly three decades. The TPLF had been conducting systematic genocide on Ethiopians especially the Amharas. They were ruling the country by orchestrating and igniting ethnic clashes among the nations and nationalities of Ethiopia. Millions are left being dead and displaced in different parts of the country since they came to power than any worst time of Ethiopia. The TPLF leaders and their keen ships have turned into billionaire over night and invest billions by laundering the incomes of the country. The TPLF have even upgrade themselves into the superpowers and invisible warlords in the horn of Africa. Some influential media and officials in the developed nations have even been contaminated and fall under their traps of corruption. That’s why they had been neglecting and ignoring the cries of Ethiopians for years as long as they were benefiting from the TPLF. But time exposed the truth and realities on the background with the help of God. The UN, EU and Nations of the world, please stand by the side of millions of Ethiopians and the government of Ethiopia in their efforts to serve justice and avoid the traps of genocide purposefully set by the TPLF and enemies of Ethiopia. TRUTH AND JUSTICE SHALL PREVAIL IN ETHIOPIA.

  7. The federal government is the one who is acting responsibly here,tge irresponsible tplf leadership on the other hand has started the hostilities by carrying out attacks against friendly ENDF forces by racially profiling them.This is the second ultimatum given by the government and already substantial number of tplf loyalists have surrendered despite this the leadership remains defiant so out of precaution government helicopters have sent out leaflets to prevent unecessary casualties I don’t see any other thing the federal government could do to prevent a disaster that being said I is clear that the end of the criminal junta is near.

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