Tigray rebels executed dozens of civilians, report says

NAIROBI, KENYA (NYTIMES) – The Tigrayan rebels fighting Ethiopia’s government carried out dozens of executions against civilians in two towns they controlled in August and September, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Friday (Dec 10), adding to the list of alleged violations committed by the forces since the civil war in Ethiopia began 14 months ago.

The fighters “summarily executed” 49 people in the village of Chenna and the town of Kobo in the northern Amhara region between Aug 31 and Sept 9, the rights group said.

In Chenna, over the span of five days, Tigrayan rebels killed 26 civilians before leaving the village on Sept 4, the report found.

Those killed included farmers, grandparents and residents who had declined to slaughter livestock for the fighters, it said.

Residents also told Human Rights Watch they were forced to stay in their homes alongside the Tigrayan forces, even as the rebels shot at and received return fire from Ethiopian troops.

The human rights group said such actions could amount to “human shielding”, which is considered a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

In Kobo, the rebels executed 23 people, including farmers returning home and men relaxing at a social joint, the report said.

The report adds to the mounting violations committed by the warring parties since the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region began in November 2020.

The Ethiopian defence forces and their Eritrean counterparts, along with Amhara regional forces and Amhara militias, have all been accused of carrying out transgressions including extrajudicial killings, sexual violence and attacks on refugees.

Getachew Reda, a spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the party in control of the rebels, did not immediately respond to questions about the latest violations.

On Friday, Human Rights Watch called for the UN Human Rights Council to establish an investigative body to probe the crimes against civilians committed by both sides.

“Unfortunately the abuses we have uncovered by all sides to the conflict are likely just the tip of the iceberg,” Mr Gerry Simpson, associate director for crisis and conflict at the rights group, said from Geneva.

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