ADDIS ABABA – A joint preliminary investigation report conducted by Ministry of Justice and the Federal Police Commission on crimes committed by the TPLF in Amhara and Afar regions was released on Friday.
In a statement today, the Ministry of Justice said the TPLF, a group designated as terrorist by the Parliament, launched a large-scale offensive against Afar and Amhara regions following the declaration of unilateral ceasefire by the federal government in June 2021.
After invading several areas of South and North Gondar zones of the Amhara as well as Galykoma Kebele of Afar, the ministry said the TPLF offensives targeted “civilians in gross violation of international human rights and humanitarian law”.
Federal Prosecutors and Federal Police, in collaboration with regional authorities, have been investigating the human rights violations starting from September 15, 2021 – soon after the areas were recaptured by federal and state security forces.
The joint prob has so far received statements and testimonies from 790 victims and witnesses in South Gondar, 285 in North Gondar, and 148 in the Afar Region.
The investigators were also able to gather documentary evidence, circumstantial, exhibits, and technical evidence “pertaining to serious crimes committed against civilians in each of the areas”, said the ministry.
‘Serious rights abuses’
Their preliminary report released today revealed that 483 people were killed, 165 injured and 109 raped in three zones of the regional states.
Briefing the media, State Minister of Justice Fekadu Tsega described the victims as innocent citizens who had nothing to do with the war and were not involved in the war.
“The victims had never been involved in the conflict and stayed in their homes during the conflicts. Some had of course fled in fear….. In this regard, our investigation indicated that the human rights abuses were serious.”
Fekadu underscored that the main purpose of the terroristic attacks was to incite ethnic hatred and retaliation.
“These horrific crimes do not, however, represent the values of Ethiopians,” he said.
The state minister revealed horrific inhumane acts like gang rape of a woman by 15 members of the terrorist TPLF group and simultaneous raping of a mother and her daughter.
He further added that a seven month pregnant woman was gang raped.
Speaking on murder and related offenses, Fikadu pointed out that 30 days old infant and 70 years old man were killed and six members of a single family massacred in cold blood.
According to him, more than 100,000 people have been displaced in Afar region alone while 135,310 were displaced in North Gondar zone and another 47,000 in South Gondar.
‘Inflicted economic harms’
The report also said the teams found indications that the leaders of the TPLF ordered their foot soldiers “to inflict as much economic and moral harm against members of certain ethnic communities”.
The terrorist group killed domestic animals in the occupied territories, looted vegetables and grains with the view to destabilizing the community by destroying the basic necessities of the farmers, according to the report.
They committed widespread and systematic looting and destruction of public and private institutions, including schools, health posts, cooperatives, churches, mosques and non-governmental organizations in both regions, Fikadu stated.
The group also targeted historical and religious sites, as well as the premises and properties of USAID, Action Aid, and a Chinese roadworks contractor, says the report.
The ministry of justice said the investigations, its scope is limited to crimes targeting purely civilians and civilian objects, did not include crimes committed against those who are considered Hors de combat. It said further information will be provided from time to time as the investigation advances.