Mass Killings In Ethiopia

Amnesty International has confirmed reports that numerous and likely hundreds of people were stabbed and/or hacked to death in Mai-Kadra on November 9. Amnesty elaborated that they had examined and “digitally verified gruesome photographs and videos of bodies strewn across the town or being carried away on stretchers” as they spoke about the victims who appear to be civilians not embroiled in the conflict currently occurring in the Tigray region. Mai-Kadra is a small town located in the Tigray region of Ethiopia currently undergoing intense warfare between the regional and federal government.

Ethiopia’s federal government has long been in dispute with the ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), with the feud erupting in recent months as the federal government declared war on the party. These recent combats first began in August when the federal government postponed the scheduled elections due to the risk posed by Covid-19, however, the Tigray region ignored the postponement by going ahead, drawing more than two million people to vote in the election in September. As a result, the federal government held back funding for the TPLF leadership, stating that they would send it to local leaders instead. This ignited a back-and-forth between the two governing parties building off a tension that had been building for years.

The recent warfare however was sparked by an attack from the federal government earlier in November. They launched a military operation against the TPLF in retaliation for allegedly attacking a military camp, an event which is denied by the TPLF. Since then, the conflict has significantly increased driving thousands of civilians to seek shelter in Sudan. Half of these refugees are estimated by the UN refugee agency to be children. The UN has stated that the aid supplies that are vital to the thousands of peoples in Northern Ethiopia are currently at risk. This is due to the intense conflict occurring and the blocking of internet and communication lines within the Tigray region by the federal government.

There has currently been no confirmation of responsibility for this attack or the death toll. Both the federal government and TPLF have denied responsibility, with the federal government claiming fighters with TPLF conducted this rampage following the liberation of the western part of Tigray by federal troops. This claim has been denied by TPLF as they insisted the accusations were “baseless.” Witness accounts however have stated that soldiers loyal to the TPLF were responsible for the mass killings, allegedly after their defeat by the federal forces. Individuals also stated that survivors of the carnage revealed to them that they were attacked by members of Tigray forces and TPLF members.

This recent warfare displays a whole new side of Prime Minister Abiy to the world. He won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in mediating regional combats between different nations, including Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and many other countries. Since his rise to power just two years ago, he preached his vision of a unified Ethiopia. This swiftly changed over the last year as his government has faced intense criticisms over the detainment of opposition leaders, and accusations of mass killings following unrest involving different ethnic groups. These criticisms have only been responded to in an old tactic often utilized by dictator-like governments as they shut down the internet and censored journalists through arrests. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been heavily criticized for his handling of the situation, with international powers such as the UN, United States and the United Kingdom urging him to de-escalate the situation. So far, he presses on the same route continuing military operations.

Peace Olanipekun
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