Eritrean soldiers continued to rape and execute civilians in Tigray after the signing of an agreement ending the conflict in this region of northern Ethiopia, Amnesty International (AI) said in a report published on Tuesday.
The conflict in northern Ethiopia, which pitted the rebel authorities of Tigray against the Ethiopian federal government, supported by militias from the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar as well as the army of Eritrea, has been marked by countless atrocities attributable to all the belligerents.
“The Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF) committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity” in Tigray “just before and just after the signing” on November 2, 2022 of the agreement ending two years of conflict, explains AI, based on 49 interviews carried out by telephone with survivors, relatives of victims or witnesses.
Around the town of Kokob Tsibah, approximately 20 km from the border with Eritrea, Eritrean soldiers “held captive at least 15 women for almost three months in their camp”, between November 1, 2022 and January 19 2023, date on which Eritrean forces left the area, according to the NGO.
“During their captivity, these women were repeatedly raped by members of the EDF, in conditions amounting to sexual slavery. They also suffered physical and psychological violence and were deprived of food, water and care", details AI.
Eritrean soldiers in Kokob Tsibah also "engaged in gang rape and rape of women held prisoner in their own homes".
Amnesty also claims that Eritrean forces summarily executed more than 40 civilians in total in and around the localities of Kobob Tsibah and Mariam Shewito, around 100 km further west and around 60 km from the Eritrean border.
Witnesses, survivors and relatives of victims claimed that Eritrean forces executed at least 20 civilians, mainly men, in Mariam Shewito between October 25 and November 1, 2022, and 24 civilians in Kobob Tsibah between November 2022 and January 2023.
Amnesty International denounces "the stubborn resistance of the Ethiopian government to regional and international investigations", which "obstructs justice being done for the crimes and human rights violations committed by Eritrean forces".
The Ethiopian federal authorities claim to be working on a “transitional justice” mechanism provided for in the peace agreement, intended to identify and judge those responsible for the multiple atrocities recorded in Tigray, but also in Amhara and Afar.
Led with an iron fist by Issaias Afeworki since its de facto independence from Ethiopia in 1991, Eritrea, an internationally recognized state two years later, is one of the most closed and repressive countries in the world.