W.H.O. Chief Tedros' Marxist Political Party Accused of Mass Rape, Murder in Ethiopia
Members and associates of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a Marxist political party that ruled Ethiopia from 1991 to 2018, have engaged in human rights atrocities including gang rapes and mass killings of civilians in the ongoing Ethiopian Civil War, Reuters revealed on Tuesday.
The civil war, which began in November 2020, has attracted accusations of human rights violations, including ethnic cleansing and genocide, on both sides. While a regional conflict, it has also attracted international attention due to the outsized profiles of some of the most prominent members of the warring factions. On the Ethiopian government’s side, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, part of the ethnic Oromo majority, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his work ending the Ethiopian war with neighboring Eritrea. The most prominent Tigrayan in the world, World Health Organization (W.H.O.) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was a senior member of the TPLF and health minister under the previous TPLF government.
Abiy has evolved from an alleged peacemaker to war champion, personally traveling to the front lines of the civil war, urging civilians to take up arms against Tigrayans, and vowing to “bury this enemy with our blood and bones and make the glory of Ethiopia high again.” Tedros, meanwhile, has endeavored to distance himself from the Ethiopian Civil War as much as possible, emphasizing the need for him to focus the W.H.O. on the Chinese coronavirus pandemic but rejecting Abiy government claims that he has been working to help the TPLF behind the scenes.
The Ethiopian government launched a war against the TPLF after its members attacked military bases and other government outposts in the Tigray region, home to the ethnic minority Tigrayan people. The TPLF justified the attack by noting that Prime Minister Abiy had launched an extensive crackdown, allegedly to combat corruption, against Tigrayan government officials and organized an imposing military building around Tigray that necessitated a preemptive attack. Ethiopia declared the previous ruling party of the country a terrorist organization in January. Reuters’ extensive reporting from inside Ethiopia on Tuesday revealed the toll the war has taken on civilians subject to mass killings and brutal gang rapes.
In the town of Belete Asrate in Amhara, where the vast majority of residents are Amharic people, locals told Reuters that Tigrayan forces brutalized the populace when they invaded in the last year, attacking churches and shops.
“Tigrayan fighters killed 27 civilian men in the town. … Townspeople said more than 70 women were raped by Tigrayan fighters,” Reuters reported. Reuters confirmed the stories with three of the women, who detailed excruciating gang rapes during the invasion.
“I want them all to be wiped out – all the Tigrayans. Let their race be wiped out!” one of the women, Abay Tsegaye, told Reuters.
The TPLF neither confirmed nor denied any responsibility in the attacks when asked, Reuters noted. While TPLF leaders have organized their side of the war on Addis Ababa, they have called for Tigrayan men to take up arms along with them, attracting many with no official membership in the political party/terrorist organization.
“Across Tigray in July, a Reuters journalist saw hundreds of young Tigrayans, males and females, joining the army. Youths trained in the early hours of the morning, jogging along the road while carrying large wooden logs,” the outlet reported. “In the small town of Nebelet, newly recruited soldiers marched under heavy rain waving flags of Tigray.”