Evidence of Targeted Ethnic Discrimination Against Tigrayans

Not a “Law-and-Order Enforcement Operation”
  • On November 4, 2020, unelected Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed waged a war on Tigray. He claimed that the war was a domestic “law-and-order enforcement operation” that intended to target a few political rivals from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Abiy claimed the operation would not disrupt the daily lives of Tigrayan civilians.
  • Six months into the war with reports of great civilian casualties, ethnic based indiscriminate murder, rape, and other human rights violations – it is undeniably clear that this isn’t a ‘‘law-and-order enforcement operation’’ targeted at a few Tigrayan politicians, but rather a genocidal war on Tigray and Tigrayans as a whole.
Destroying Tigray’s Infrastructure
  • Invading armies targeted various civilian institutions such as: hospitals, universities, power dam, sugar factory, textile factory, cement factory, and several others.
  • The looting and destruction of civilian institutions highlight the true intent behind the war: disenfranchising Tigrayans for generations.
Destroying Tigray’s Infrastructure
  • The medical crisis in Tigray has been exceptionally difficult for women in the region.
  • Some of the destroyed institutions include:
    • Ancient religious institutions such as Al-Nejashi Mosque, St. Amanuel Orthodox Church, and Debre Damo. Not only were these religious sites bombed, but numerous artifacts and manuscripts were also stolen.
    • Hospitals in Mekelle, Shire, Adigrat, Adwa and other Tigrayan cities have been looted and destroyed. In Adigrat alone, Adigrat Hospital has been decimated with only 10 out of the 400 healthcare workers, working to serve the city. In February 2021, “almost 85-90 percent of health centers were non-functional, and about 90 percent of ambulances were either destroyed or looted.”
    • Alameda Textile Factory in Adwa, one of the leading textile manufacturers in Tigray.
    • Universities throughout Tigray have been destroyed and looted. On November 19, 2020, there was an Ethiopian government airstrike targeting Meles Academy University. There have also been reports that there were airstrikes targeting Mekelle University. In addition, several universities, such as Adigrat University and Axum University, have been looted and set on fire.
Evidence of Targeted Ethnic Discrimination and Violence
  • Since the war began, many Tigrayans who live in Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia say they have been treated like criminal suspects and subjected to various forms of discrimination, harassment and abuse by government officials.
  • Ethiopian Airlines:
    • Previous staff report being removed, banned or placed on leave from employer Ethiopian Airlines on the basis of their Tigrayan identity.
    • “Security officials took over our workplace and told me to leave, ” says Kebede Girmay, who did not want to use their real name. “I love my job. I even rejected offers to go elsewhere. But I was treated like a foreign enemy.” — Telegraph, December 2020
  • World Food Programme:
    • In November 2020, Ethiopian police went to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) office and requested a list of Tigrayan staff. The police chief told the WFP office of “the order of identifying ethnic Tigrayans from all government agencies and NGOs.”
Evidence of Targeted Ethnic Discrimination and Violence
  • Attack on Tigrayan peacekeeping members of Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF):
    • In November 2020, Tigrayan peacekeepers serving on an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia had been disarmed due to security issues and the belief that the TPLF had infiltrated “various entities.”
    • The UN also reported in November that three Tigrayan origin peacekeepers in South Sudan were withdrawn and deported back to Ethiopia without explanation. The UN expressed concerns that the dismissal of the Tigrayan peacekeepers might constitute human rights violations.
    • In February 2021, 15 Tigrayan origin ENDF members who were part of a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan refused to board a flight back to Ethiopia from South Sudan. The peacekeepers sought asylum in Sudan because they were fearful of being targeted due to their ethnicities if they returned back to Ethiopia. An ENDF official accused the peacekeepers to be representatives of TPLF.
Evidence of Targeted Ethnic Discrimination and Violence
  • Tigrayan journalists jailed:
    • November 30, 2020: Ethiopian federal police arrested and imprisoned journalist Dawit Kebede along with 6 other journalists in Addis Ababa on the grounds of disseminating false information that tarnished the image of the Ethiopian government. Dawit, who worked for Tigray TV, was not formally charged with a crime when he was imprisoned.
    • January 19, 2021: Journalist Dawit Kebede Araya and his friend, Bereket Berhe, were shot and killed in Mekelle near his home.
    • February 8, 2021: Armed and plain clothed officers raided the house of Tigrayan freelance journalist Lucy Kassa. They took her laptop and destroyed her belongings in her apartment accusing her of spreading lies and supporting the cause of the Tigray Junta. Her crime? Reporting about the crisis in Tigray to several foreign media networks.
    • March 2021: Four journalists and media workers were arrested in Tigray without any explanation. Fitsum Berhane, one of the arrested translators who worked for Financial Times, reported that soldiers accused him of being a TPLF member and accomplice. They stole his cellphone and laptop and accused him of lying about the situation in Tigray.
Evidence of Targeted Ethnic Discrimination and Violence
  • Tigrayan civil servants at Ethio Telecom targeted:
    • “In the days after the conflict began in November, officers arrived at a branch of Ethio Telecom in Addis Ababa and detained a maintenance manager and a senior director, both of Tigrayan descent, according to an employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.” — New York Times, December 2020
  • African Union (AU) affiliates of Tigrayan descent:
    • The AU head of security and lecturer at the Federal Defense Engineering College was fired without any warning or letter outlining the cause of termination. He was simply told not to show up. Of that experience, he has stated “It’s not just me, several dozens of others have faced the same situation.” — New York Times, December 2020
  • Targeted destruction of Tigrayan owned businesses:
    • There are growing reports of raids where Tigrayan personal belongings and properties are being destroyed by Ethiopian officials.
    • According to Sharon, a Tigrayan in Addis Ababa, he recounts his experiences in such raids. He states “The problem here now is if you have any blood from Tigray, you are being discriminated [against].” — New York Times, December 2020
Evidence of Targeted Ethnic Discrimination and Violence
  • Freezing Bank Accounts:
    • The National Bank of Ethiopia froze all bank accounts opened in Tigray and also called for branches in Tigray to close. This left many Tigrayans unable to withdraw money from banks.
    • In late December, the National Bank reactivated accounts opened in Tigray and resumed banking services in an effort by the Ethiopian government to “restore normality.” However, many businesses are still struggling to open in Mekelle due to transaction limits and birr shortages. Some banks are still closed in other parts of Tigray.
    • The Office of the Attorney General on November 16, 2020, also froze assets and bank accounts of 34 companies that were part of the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT). EFFORT is composed of many companies that are based in Tigray and owned by the Tigray regional government. The accounts are still suspended due to claims from the Attorney General’s office that the companies are supporting the TPLF and are involved in acts of terrorism.


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