Ethiopia Rebuts U.S. allegations of Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray

ADDIS ABABA – The government of Ethiopia on Saturday has vehemently rejected the U.S. government’s allegations there has been ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the northern region of the East African Nation.

Security forces in the region, including by those reportedly from Eritrea, need to respect human rights and not “commit acts of ethnic cleansing”, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

The government of Ethiopia called Blinken’s allegations made during his testimony to the US House of Foreign Affairs Committee “unfounded”.

The accusation “is a completely unfounded and spurious verdict against the Ethiopian government,” its ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement issued on Saturday.

“Nothing during or after the end of the main law enforcement operation in Tigray can be identified or defined by any standards as a targeted, intentional ethnic cleansing against anyone in the region,” it said, “the Ethiopian government vehemently opposes such accusations”.

Ethiopia’s federal army ousted the former regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), from the capital Mekelle at the end of November, after TPLF forces carried out a deadly attack on the national defence force based in the region.

Despite the end of the rule of law operation, the government has acknowledged the presence of isolated incidents of shooting in some parts of the northern region of Ethiopia.

Ongoing investigations

The number of casualties during the fighting has not yet been reported while thousands were forced to leave their home in search of security and food shortages that followed the operation.

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said it was ready to work with international human rights experts to conduct investigations on allegations of abuses.

“The Ethiopian government has demonstrated its readiness to engage positively and constructively with all the relevant regional and international stakeholders in responding to the serious allegations of human rights abuses and crimes,” it said.

The government is currently in talks with the African Union on the modalities of probing the alleged human rights abuses in the region, after the pan African bloc accepted Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s request.

The proposed probe, which could involve the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), will be in addition to the ongoing investigation works being carried out by the Federal Attorney General and the Federal Police Commission Team.

The EHRC has already started its own investigation on human rights issues, including the Mai Kadra massacre, civilian casualties, sexual violence, and allegations of discriminatory treatment.

“The outcome of these investigations will enable the government to bring the perpetrators to justice and comprehensively address alleged human rights violations and crimes that have occurred in the Tigray region,” the Ministry said.

Ready for frank discussion’

“Overblowing things out of proportion while the Ethiopian government has made its position unequivocally clear on the need for thorough investigation in collaboration with regional and international partners does not serve the purpose of justice other than unnecessarily politicizing the issue,” it said.

The Ministry, however, pinpointed Ethiopia attaches “particular importance to its longstanding and strategic relations with the United States” and its support to the ongoing reform agenda.

“It always stands ready to continue holding frank exchange of views on bilateral and regional issues of common interests and concerns,” the Ministry’s statement concludes.

Featured Image: The headquarters of Ethiopia’s Ministry of foreign Affairs

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