Militia Massacres Civilians in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region
11/13/2020 Ethiopia (International Christian Concern) – Amnesty International released a report earlier this week detailing a horrific attack on civilians in Ethiopia’s northwestern Tigray Region. The region has been on the news in recent weeks after declaring independence from the federal government. Since then, many have died in an armed conflict between regional Tigray forces and federal forces. The hostilities have included several bloody battles and airstrikes on the region.
Some details of the massacre are still coming out but, after reviewing video evidence and satellite imagery, Amnesty reported that “scores, and likely hundreds, of people were stabbed or hacked to death” in the border town of Mai-Kadra on the night of November 9th.
Mai-Kadra lies along a strategically important area of the Ethiopia-Sudan border and had, earlier that day, been the site of an armed conflict between the Tigray TPLF and federal troops. These federal troops entered Mai-Kadra after successfully pushing the TPLF out of the town only to find the streets littered with the dead and wounded.
The civilians, mainly ethnic Amhara from the neighboring Amhara Region according to eyewitnesses, seem to have been hacked to death by TPLF forces before their retreat from Mai-Kadra. The TPLF denies any involvement in the attack, although this denial is inconsistent with the accounts of the survivors.
The Amhara Region has contributed to the federal government’s military response to the situation in Tigray, with Amhara Special Forces fighting alongside the federal Ethiopian Defense Force. The massacre may have been a retaliation for this partnership, although this is difficult to know for certain as the identity of the attackers is as yet unconfirmed.
The Amhara are one of the major people groups in Ethiopia. Roughly 80% of them are Christians, and 20% of them are Muslims. The Tigray people are a much smaller people group by the numbers, but have historically exercised significant influence in the political and military structure of the country. They are about 97% Christians.
It is reprehensible that innocent Amhara citizens were attacked in this manner. The TPLF, the Ethiopian government, and the international community must band together to bring the perpetrators of this massacre to justice. ICC will continue to monitor the complex situation on the ground in Ethiopia, which stems from a variety of factors including ethnic and political tensions.