Ethiopia investigation reveals sexual violences, torture by TPLF

The latest investigation by Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) revealed sexual and gender-based violences,torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment against civilians committed in Amhara and Afar region by what it calls the Tigray forces.

The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) and Ethiopian National Defense force have been fighting for over one year since the former launched an attack on the later in November 2020.

“Tigray Forces committed these acts of sexual and gender-based violence to demoralize, dehumanize and punish communities; often indiscriminately and sometimes in a targeted manner. The attacks were often perpetrated in a premeditated and cruel manner including through gang rape, rape in front of family members of victims/survivors, and insertion of foreign objects into the vagina,” the investigation report stated.

“Often times, these acts were committed with the knowledge of military commanders and officials of the Tigray Forces who, despite pleas from communities under their control, failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to stop violations and hold perpetrators to account.”

“The EHRC believes the information and evidence it gathered strongly indicate a calculated and systematic use of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) (mostly indiscriminately but also selectively) for warfare by Tigray Forces,” it said in its report.

The report stated that because the war was conducted largely in towns and rural areas with dense civilian populations, a significant number of civilians have died, suffered physical and psychological injuries as well as sexual and gender-based violence as a direct result of acts of violence committed by parties to the conflict.

“The findings show parties to the conflict carried out indiscriminate attacks on civilians who are vulnerable in particular women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons. These attacks on civilians and civilian objects were committed in violation of the principles of distinction, necessity, precaution, and proportionality.”

“By using civilians as human shields, conducting military operations from civilian homes and in urban areas, the parties have caused civilian deaths, physical injuries, and property destruction. Without including the extrajudicial killings, at least 403 civilians have died and 309 have suffered minor to serious physical injuries as a result of acts of violence in the context of the conflict,” the report stated.

It stated that the parties to the conflict include Tigray Forces and allied militia (in some locations including the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)- aka “OLF-Shane”) on the one hand, and the security forces of the government of Ethiopia (Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) and allied security forces, Afar and Amhara security forces and allied militia) on the other.

“Tigray Forces committed acts of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment against civilians they accused of refusing to hand over cash or to disclose information, of refusing to handover private weapons, or other similar accusations,” stated the report of EHRC.

“Many civilians were displaced and suffered physical, mental, social, economic and other injuries following the expansion of the conflict into Afar and Amhara Regions. Insecurities resulting from the war and human rights violations including large-scale looting and destruction perpetrated by Tigray Forces were the main drivers of displacement from Afar and Amhara regions,” the 110 pages investigation reveals.