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Amnesty: Tigrayan fighters deliberately gang-raped women and killed civilians

ADDIS ABABA, FEBRUARY 16, 2022 — Tigrayan fighters affiliated with the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) deliberately killed civilians, gang raped and sexually assaulted women and girls, and looted private and public property in two localities in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region, according to a report from Amnesty International.

Amnesty International said on Wednesday, it has found after interviewing 30 rape survivors -- some as young as 14 -- and witnesses in Chenna and Kobo, Amhara region, who were held under TPLF occupation from August up to September 2021.

In Kobo, a town in the northeast of the Amhara region, according to the report, Tigrayan fighters deliberately killed unarmed civilians, seemingly in revenge for losses among their ranks at the hands of Amhara militias and armed farmers. 

Ten residents of Kobo told Amnesty International that on the afternoon of 9 September 2021, after briefly losing control of the town to armed farmers, Tigrayan fighters summarily killed the farmers’ relatives and neighbors outside their homes. 

Twelve other residents told Amnesty that they found the bodies of local residents and laborers who had been killed execution-style — shot in the head, chest or back. Such deliberate killings of civilians (or of captured, surrendered, or wounded fighters, if any were such) are serious violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war), constituting war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

In and around Chenna, a village north of the Amhara regional capital Bahir Dar, Tigrayan forces raped and sexually assaulted at least 30 women and girls as young as 14, often in their own homes after having forced them to provide food and cook for them, said the report by Amnesty International. Fourteen of the 30 survivors interviewed by Amnesty International said that they were gang raped by multiple Tigrayan fighters, who often threatened them and used racial slurs. 

Such acts are serious violations of international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity, said Amnesty. 

"These are not the first or only cases of rape and sexual assaults against Amhara women and girls by Tigrayan forces. Amnesty International previously documented similar atrocities by Tigrayan fighters in Nifas Mewcha and has received credible reports from other areas of the Amhara region," read the report.

“Tigrayan forces have shown utter disregard for fundamental rules of international humanitarian law which all warring parties must follow. Evidence is mounting of a pattern of Tigrayan forces committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in areas under their control in the Amhara region from July 2021 onwards. This includes repeated incidents of widespread rape, summary killings and looting, including from hospitals,” said Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes at Amnesty International.

Nevertheless, the report Amnesty International documented still fails to cover large portions of Amhara and completely ignores TPLF atrocities in Afar which is still on going after it occupied the northern zone, Kilbati Rasu Zone, of Afar region last month.

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