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21 June 2021
We, the undersigned civic organizations in Europe and North America, have learned that a group of human rights non-governmental organizations are urging UN Human Rights Council (HRC) member states to adopt a resolution at its upcoming 47th session (HRC47) on the situation in Tigray, Ethiopia.
As concerned Ethiopians in Europe engaged in Defending Ethiopia’s interest, we are the first to be appalled by the reports of atrocities as a consequence of the necessary and legitimate measure in November 2020 to restore rule of law in the Tigray Region by the Federal Government. This operation was a response to an unprovoked attack on the Ethiopian National Defense Forces by the armed terrorist group named Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF).
We neither accept nor condone any form of human rights violations including sexual attacks, extrajudicial killings, and endangerment of civilians’ lives under any circumstances, anywhere and by anyone. In that regard, we believe that Ethiopia as a sovereign country with a federal jurisdiction should take the necessary steps to investigate alleged human rights abuses, associated crimes and bring perpetrators to justice. As a sovereign state, the Ethiopian Government is discharging its responsibility to its citizens effectively under an extremely challenging environment and limited resources.
As you know, there is an on-going joint investigation of the alleged abuses by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In a first letter addressed to her Excellency Mrs Bachelet on 4th of Jaunary 2021, and second one dated the 15th of March 2021 Ethiopians have been calling and rallying in Geneva for such a collaboration and were pleased that it materialized few days later on the 25th of March 2021. We understand that the investigations are proceeding well and that the reports of findings and recommendations will be released in due course.
The Ethiopian Federal Attorney General recent reports and prosecutions against members of the TPLF as well as members of the National Defense Forces demonstrate the government’s commitment in serving justice. Here are some of the investigations underway:
- The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Attorney General, Military Court Prosecutors, Regional and Federal Police Prosecutors conducted their own investigations of all the allegations. To date:
- 28 Soldiers are being prosecuted for killing and endangering civilian lives by Military Courts.
- 25 Soldiers are being prosecuted for suspicion of committing sexual attacks.
- 3 Soldiers received their sentences for rape.
- 1 Soldier is sentenced for civilian killing.
2. The United Nations Human Rights Commission and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission are currently conducting their own joint independent investigation, the result of which we are also waiting eagerly.
3. The African Union has also officially commenced its own independent investigation on 17 June 2021 to investigate such human rights violations.
Whilst there is hard evidence of a concerted endeavor to protect Ethiopians in Tigray and bring those who committed violations, the call for a resolution by the group of human rights non-governmental organizations is counterproductive to the extreme. It contains unverified and unsubstantiated allegations which attempt to sensationalize facts and challenges on the ground. The call echoes the exact narrative of remnants of the moribund TPLF, a group systematically using lies about human rights for political gains. Some NGOs take over uncritically these falsehood and allegations trying to exert undue pressure on Ethiopia through the Human Rights Council.
This demand is riddled with disruptive narrative and sweeping conclusion rather than a well-rounded understanding of the circumstances and all mitigating actions to help ameliorate the situation. Help in averting the immediate suffering of our people in Tigray is what we expect from human rights organizations and NGOs and not unfounded gross accusations and dismissiveness of the efforts of many Ethiopians.
Needless to say such a resolution is also prejudicial to the victims as there is a joint investigation being carried with the utmost scrutiny and independence. Moreover, we believe such a call is intended to impair the effective collaborative relationship between the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and a member state (Ethiopia) engaged in exemplary institutional transformations to improve its human rights records.
We would like to invite UN Human Rights Council Member states to reiterate their support for the on-going joint investigation and for the government of Ethiopia in ensuring accountability and preventing human rights violations in Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia. Furthermore, we would like to bring to your attention the recent press briefings by the Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the statement of the Deputy Prime Minister that we believe will help in clarifying the many misconceptions on the situation in Tigray as a result of coordinated misinformation campaigns by TPLF agents abroad who are trying to misguide member states as evidenced by the aforementioneda call from the group of NGOs.
We sincerely hope that this letter will prove useful in clarifying the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
Please accept the assurances of our highest consideration.
- The Defend Ethiopia Task Force in Europe organized in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
- Network of Ethiopians in Geneva for Action Taskforce (NEGAT)
- Association of Ethiopians in Scotland
- Voice for Ethiopia, Ireland
- Ethio Canadian Network for Advocacy and Support
- Global Ethiopian Advocacy Nexus (Glean)
- World Ethiopians Federation