Shadowy Ethiopian massacre could be tip of the iceberg – The Associated Press

UMM RAKOUBA, Sudan (AP) — The solely factor the survivors can agree on is that lots of of folks had been slaughtered in a single Ethiopian city.

Witnesses say safety forces and their allies attacked civilians in Mai-Kadra with machetes and knives or strangled them with ropes. The stench of our bodies lingered for days throughout the early chaos of the Ethiopian authorities’s offensive in the defiant Tigray area final month. A number of mass graves have been reported.

What occurred starting Nov. 9 in the agricultural city close to the Sudanese border has turn out to be the most seen atrocity in a battle largely performed in the shadows. However even right here, a lot stays unclear, together with who killed whom.

Witnesses in Mai-Kadra instructed the Ethiopian Human Rights Fee and Amnesty Worldwide that ethnic Tigrayan forces and allies attacked Amhara — one of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic teams however a minority in Tigray. In Sudan, the place almost 50,000 folks have fled, one ethnic Amhara refugee gave The Associated Press an analogous account.

However greater than a dozen Tigrayan refugees instructed the AP it was the different manner round: In strikingly related tales, they stated they and others had been focused by Ethiopian federal forces and allied Amhara regional troops.

It’s attainable that civilians from each ethnicities had been focused in Mai-Kadra, Amnesty now says.

“Anybody they discovered, they’d kill,” Tesfaalem Germay, an ethnic Tigrayan who fled to Sudan together with his household, stated of Ethiopian and Amhara forces. He stated he noticed lots of of our bodies, making a slicing gesture at his neck and head as he remembered the gashes.

However one other refugee, Abebete Refe, instructed the AP that many ethnic Amhara like him who stayed behind had been massacred by Tigrayan forces.

“Even the authorities doesn’t suppose we’re alive, they thought all of us died,” he stated.

The conflicting accounts are emblematic of a battle about which little is actually identified since Ethiopian forces entered Tigray on Nov. 4 and sealed off the area from the world, limiting entry to journalists and assist staff alike. For weeks, food and other supplies have run alarmingly low. This week Ethiopia’s security forces shot at and briefly detained U.N. staffers making the first evaluation of easy methods to ship assist, a senior Ethiopian official stated.

Ethiopia’s authorities and the Tigray one have crammed the vacuum with propaganda. Both sides has seized on the killings in Mai-Kadra to help its trigger.

The battle started after months of friction between the governments, which now regard one another as illegitimate. The Tigray leaders as soon as dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, however Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sidelined them when when he got here to energy in 2018.

Lengthy-held tensions over land in western Tigray, the place Mai-Kadra is situated, between Tigrayans and Amhara have added gas to the fireplace.

Amnesty Worldwide stated it confirmed that no less than scores, and certain lots of, of folks had been killed in Mai-Kadra, utilizing geolocation to confirm video and images of the our bodies. It additionally remotely performed “a restricted set of interviews.”

However Mai-Kadra “is simply the tip of the iceberg,” Amnesty researcher Fisseha Tekle instructed an occasion on Tuesday as fears develop about atrocities elsewhere in Tigray. “Different credible allegations are rising … not solely in Mai-Kadra but in addition” in the close by city of Humera, the city of Dansha and the Tigray capital, Mekele.

In Mai-Kadra, witnesses instructed the visiting Ethiopian rights fee they noticed police, militia and members of a Tigray youth group assault Amhara.

“The streets had been nonetheless lined with our bodies but to be buried” days later, the fee stated. One man who checked out identification playing cards of the lifeless as he cleared away the our bodies instructed Amnesty Worldwide that many of them stated Amhara.

However a number of ethnic Tigrayans who’ve fled blamed Ethiopian and allied Amhara regional forces for killings in the similar city at the similar time, saying some requested to see identification playing cards earlier than attacking.

In some circumstances, they stated they acknowledged the killers as their neighbors.

Samir Beyen, a mechanic, stated he was stopped and requested if he was Tigrayan, then crushed and robbed. He stated he noticed folks being slaughtered with knives, and dozens of rotting corpses.

“It was like the finish of the world,” he recalled. “We could not bury them as a result of the troopers had been close to.”

Lower off from their houses, refugees now wait in Sudan in naked concrete homes or beneath shelters lashed collectively from plastic and branches, taking part in checkers with Coca-Cola bottle caps or stretching out on mats to sleep, in search of a quick escape from ghastly recollections.

The AP has been unable to acquire permission to journey to the Tigray area and has been unable to independently confirm the stories of the massacre. Neither Amnesty Worldwide nor the Ethiopian Human Rights Fee agreed to requests to talk with witnesses they interviewed.

The Ethiopian fee, an entity created beneath the nation’s structure, referred to as its findings preliminary. Its researchers had been allowed by the federal authorities to go to Mai-Kadra, however when requested whether or not it was being allowed to additionally examine different alleged atrocities, spokesman Aaron Maasho replied, “We’re engaged on it.”

The U.N. human rights workplace this week referred to as for unbiased investigations into the battle, however Ethiopian officers have rejected what they name interference, saying this week the authorities doesn’t want a “babysitter.”

To imagine the authorities can’t do such work itself “is belittling,” senior Ethiopian official Redwan Hussein instructed reporters on Tuesday.

The prime minister has referred to as the killings in Mai-Kadra “the epitome of ethical degeneration” and even expressed suspicion that the perpetrators could have fled to Sudan and be hiding amongst the refugees. Abiy supplied no proof, solely pointing to the quantity of younger males amongst the refugees — although roughly half are ladies.

The prime minister additionally has rejected allegations of abuses by the Ethiopian protection pressure, saying it “has not killed a single individual in any metropolis” throughout the battle.

However the Tigray chief, Debretsion Gebremichael, blamed the “invading” federal forces for the killings, telling the AP that “we’re not individuals who can commit this crime, ever.”

The ethnic frictions and profiling should cease, the U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned this week, saying they’re “fostering divisiveness and sowing the seeds for additional instability and battle” — in a area already rife with each.


Associated Press writers Samy Magdy in Cairo and Haleluya Hadero in Atlanta contributed.

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