Tigray Statement on the Joint Report of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch

Statement on the Joint Report of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Atrocity Crimes Committed in Western Tigray

Tigray External Affairs Office


The Government of Tigray is grateful to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW)

for highlighting a litany of atrocities that ethnic Amhara forces, with the full backing of the

Ethiopian and Eritrean armies, committed and continue to commit against Tigrayans in Western

Tigray. The findings of their joint investigation released on April 6, 2022 have rightly shocked the

international community. The exhaustive report, entitled “”We will erase you from this land”:

Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia’s Western Tigray Zone” catalogues

horrific violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law

(IHRL). Nevertheless, these in-depth findings merely confirm what the people of Tigray have

always known: that our adversaries have committed unimaginable atrocities against Tigrayans to

create new demographic facts on the ground critical in reinforcing their baseless territorial claims

and legitimizing their forcible annexation of Tigray’s constitutionally recognized territory.

It should be noted that despite the exhaustive nature of this joint investigation and the level of

factual details and corroborating evidence included in the report, the vicious crimes committed

against Tigrayans represent only the tip of the iceberg. Given the obvious obstacles to a genuinely

independent and comprehensive investigation that have been erected by the invading forces, the

report does not even begin to scratch the surface when it comes documenting the true scale of the

barbaric crimes committed against Tigrayans. As long as occupying Amhara forces and their

foreign backers continue to roam free in Western Tigray, grave violations of internationally

recognized human rights will continue unabated, with even ferocious lethality.

Consequently, the Government of Tigray firmly believes that, given the systematic and widespread

nature of human rights violations as well as the multiplicity of actors involved in all stages of the

genocidal campaign against the people of Tigray, only a genuinely independent investigation can

provide a full accounting of what transpired and continues to transpire. But the integrity of a

comprehensive and credible investigation depends on the preservation of key forensic evidence to

be dug up by mandated entities. In this regard, the international community must condemn in the

strongest possible terms the Amhara regional government’s desecration of the remains of

Tigrayans massacred by Amhara forces for the purpose of destroying evidence, rendering

independent investigations extremely difficult, if not impossible, and evading accountability for

its involvement in this genocidal campaign.

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It is also worth noting that it has been more than a year since the U.S. State Department designated

what Amhara forces along with the Ethiopian and Eritrean armies were doing to Tigrayans in

Western Tigray ethnic cleansing, though such a designation was, sadly, not followed by robust

remedial or punitive measures. Although the brutality and scope of these crimes have shocked the

collective conscience of the international community, the world has by and large decided to dither

as to whether genocide is taking place in Western Tigray, choosing to deploy euphemistic

expressions that underplay the extent of Tigrayans’ suffering. If the legal determination of

genocide is to come after Tigrayans have been thoroughly wiped out, it would do the people of

Tigray no good. But if the international community’s pledge of “never again” is to mean

something; if the enunciation of lofty humanitarian principles is to signify something; and if the

notion that all lives, regardless of race, creed, and geography are equal is to remain true, then the

international community must rise to the occasion and call what is happening in Tigray by its

proper name: Tigray genocide. Sadly, despite their commendable efforts to highlight the

despicable atrocities committed against the people of Tigray, Amnesty and HRW refrain from

calling the murderous campaign against Tigrayans by its proper name: genocide.

All the same, still failing to act on these devastatingly exhaustive findings will be a colossal

violation of ethical, moral, and legal obligations on the part of the international community. The

Government of Tigray has from the get-go been communicating to the world that our adversaries

were planning to exterminate the people of Tigray. However, our appeal for preventive diplomacy

and early intervention went unheeded. In previous cases of genocide, such as the one in Rwanda,

the international community expressed regret for its inaction, rationalizing away its refusal to

intervene in terms of failure to see such crimes coming. In the case of Tigray, the warning signs

have been flashing red from the beginning. The international community’s pledge to never allow

another Rwanda along with the well-documented nature of the ongoing genocidal campaign

against Tigray makes the failure to intervene all the more disturbing.

Once again, the Government of Tigray urges the international community to seriously reconsider

its approach, as all of these violations and abuses occur under its watch and, tragically, despite

repeated early warnings that could have averted catastrophic human rights violations. Given the

extensively documented genocidal campaign against the people of Tigray, including the current

Amnesty and HRW report, and multiple early warning signs that went unheeded, the international

community cannot continue to invoke ignorance as a defense against failure to intervene.

In spite of the failure to act thus far, it is never too late for the international community to prevent

the rules-based architecture of global governance from being violated at will into obsolescence.

Our adversaries have added the imposition of a cruel, inhumane and morally repugnant siege on

Tigray to their list of atrocious crimes against the people of Tigray. With the siege on Tigray still

intact and over seven million people cut off from humanitarian assistance and other basic

necessities, the choice is stark: stand with humanity and prevent a full-scale extermination project

by the Abiy regime and its allied partners, or make empty rhetorical gestures while cajoling those

who planned, aided, and abetted the commission of some of the worst atrocities in human history.

Even though the criminal intent of all invading forces to annihilate Tigrayans and their rightful

properties has never been in doubt, the international community’s passivity has only emboldened

the perpetrators.

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It is not mere coincidence that the supposedly independent Ethiopian Human Rights Commission

(EHRC) attempted to cast doubt on the latest report’s credibility in its press release issued on April

6, 2022. As an appendage of the genocidal Abiy regime, the EHRC has echoed the regime’s talking

points. It has been the regime’s dependable instrument in evading accountability by manufacturing

fictitious narratives about rights violations, selectively emphasizing some alleged violations while

ignoring others depending on the identity of the alleged perpetrators and victims. The people and

Government of Tigray have consistently expressed their objections to the EHRC’s involvement in

any investigation of alleged rights violations on account of its lack of impartiality and

independence—principles indispensable for a human rights body. The EHRC has essentially been

serving as the propaganda arm of the genocidal Abiy regime, blaming Tigrayan victims while

exonerating their tormentors.

What is more, the Government of Tigray has copious amount of evidence that the EHRC, through

its Chairman, Daniel Bekele, is advising the criminal Abiy regime on how to evade accountability

for massive human rights violations. The EHRC’s tattered image confirms the idea that a stateappointed

entity cannot be an independent and impartial adjudicator of disputes concerning crimes

committed by the appointing state, and ensure a measure of justice for the victims.

A case in point is the EHRC’s whitewashing of the regime and its Amhara partners’ record in the

massacre of Tigrayans in May-Kadra. The EHRC, fulfilling its mandate as the propaganda arm of

the genocidal Abiy regime, made unconscionably false claims about Tigrayans brutally murdered

for no other reason than their identity. Having had no ability or willingness to conduct independent

investigations into the May-Kadra massacre, the EHRC was reduced to playing its role as an

amateurish propaganda arm of the genocidal regime. By saturating the regime’s media ecosystem

with false claims, the EHRC legitimized the genocidal regime’s mendacity, although the

international community has subsequently found adequate evidence to counter the regime’s

manufactured narratives. Even so, the genocidal regime, along with its domestic partners, and the

EHRC have, through the spread of lies, muddied the waters, thereby creating the impression that

hundreds of Tigrayans viciously murdered are, in fact, the perpetrators of phantom crimes. In the

Orwellian world in which these vicious criminals inhabit, up is down and down is up. Similarly,

victims are criminals and criminals are victims. The EHRC has, in short, betrayed its foundational

mandate, and fatally undermined its credibility and, thus, should not be taken seriously as an

institution capable of adjudicating disputes with a degree of impartiality and independence that is

the hallmark of its counterparts elsewhere.

Furthermore, despite the documentation of multiple heinous crimes in Western Tigray, the

disturbing references to “contested areas” and “disputed territory” will surely incentivize the

invading forces to ramp up their repression of Tigrayans as they seek to rid the area of any vestiges

of Tigrayans ever having been there and legitimize their illegal annexation. In fact, in its April 7

response to the joint report, the Abiy regime sought to have it both ways. On the one hand, it made

references to a constitutional process for adjudicating territorial disputes. On the other hand, it

refers to Western Tigray as Wolkait, adopting the same name as the Amhara expansionist forces.

Furthermore, in a sign of where its loyalties lie, the Abiy regime castigates Amnesty and Human

Rights Watch for their putative reliance on the testimony of “some groups”, which in their coded

parlance is a clear reference to Tigrayans whom they hold in contempt. What this genocidal regime

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is getting at is that people belonging to a community subjected to vicious mass murder should

never be allowed to provide testimony about their ordeals, and that victims and criminals should

be treated equally.

The Government of Tigray has been consistent in its insistence on an independent investigation to

be conducted by an impartial international entity as the only viable mechanism for getting to the

bottom of all atrocities committed during the war on Tigray. In this regard, unlike the genocidal

Abiy regime, the Government of Tigray has fully accepted the mandate and legitimacy of the

International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia established by the UN Human

Rights Council. We urge the international community to compel the Abiy regime to allow the

Commission to do its work without any hindrance. The genocidal regime and its criminal partners

cannot continue to assert their innocence vis-à-vis alleged rights violations, levy countervailing

accusations against Tigray, and still strenuously object to independent investigations. The

international community should not fail the people of Tigray again and again. It has failed

Tigrayans by not intervening early to prevent massive rights violations from being committed. It

should not fail them now by not holding the perpetrators of heinous crimes accountable. In this

regard, the international community should condemn the illegal exhumation of the remains of

Tigrayans massacred by Amhara Special Forces, Amhara Militia, the vigilante group Fano, the

Ethiopian National Defense Forces, and the Eritrean Defense Forces in Western Tigray Zone as

an act of evidence tampering.


  1. I couldn’t agree more. The comparison with Rwanda is telling. When will the “International community” finally act?

  2. It must be made clear that there has never been a “West Tigray”. The tplf has annexed the alleged “West Tigray”, known as Wolkait, which belonged to the Gonder region. You can shout out to the world and create pity, Wolkait remains and belongs to Gonder, thus also a part of the Amhara.

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