On May 2nd, Ethiopia’s state-appointed rights commission announced that it was looking into a video that shows Ethiopian army fighters abusing and then shooting a young boy. The fighters accused this boy of being from the Tigray region which remains under the threat of violence from the Ethiopian government to this day. The boy is shown being stoned, taunted, and kicked before he was brutally killed by the men in question. Although the identity of the fighters has not yet been confirmed, according to Reuters, the video shows badges on their chests which read “Ethiopian Army.”
The video devastatingly picked up the conversation of the killers who said to one another “Don’t kill him, let him suffer,” and “He can’t talk now, we were first supposed to get information from him,” in a display of complete cruelty and disregard for human life. “We are trying to gather information on the distressing incident,” Daniel Bekele, the head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said to Reuters in a text message that same day that the investigation was announced.
The cruel language of the fighters is indicative of a wider and warped mindset that portrays those in Tigray as lesser beings than other ethnic groups in Ethiopia. The language and actions of these individuals in question is only one example of this mindset. Their opinions elucidate how this continuous war is consumed by countless, unnecessary civilian deaths and how it is ultimately a genocide of a certain ethnic group by definition. Each and every one of these cruelties should be investigated as a violation of human rights, not just by the country, but by international organizations including the UN that can truly hold the Ethiopian government accountable for this genocide and its future reparations. In addition, international communities should donate and help where they can to provide relief to Tigrayans.
In March alone of this year, the EHRC reported that soldiers and other Ethiopian forces had shot ten civilians. These civilians were all Tigrayans and ethnic Gumuz and were killed in response to a military struggle. This loss of civilian life has been prevalent to Tigrayans since November 2020 when the Ethiopian government began operations against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in the region of Tigray, according to the Human Rights Watch. They have targeted numerous civilian structures since then including hospitals, schools and factories which have been bombarded with shells and destroyed when targeted.
Now, 2.3 million people remain in need of assistance — according to the Human Rights Watch — because of the continued fighting which has restricted access for many to humanitarian aid. An additional 2 million civilians in the region have been forced to flee the region since then as well.
The Tigrayan civilians cannot continue living under this threat of targeted violence and poor access to humanitarian aid. Allowing this threat to grow is to allow a genocide to take place without any consequences. It is true that many other tragedies like this in history have been stopped and countries have been punished for similar inhumane actions — the universal eradication of these genocides, however, have typically been to help oppressed White or European populations. Without downplaying the fact that those genocides did happen and that they were — and still are — unjustifiable and cruel, it is also important to recognize this trend and ensure that Tigray is given the attention it needs in order to escape its own oppression with an equally strong effort from the international community.