Sanction all Genocide Cronies in Tigray, Ethiopia

Fitih Silehizb, 22.03.21

If the international community is serious about halting the on-going horrific atrocities, sexual violence, total destruction of livelihoods, famine, forced displacement of millions of Tigrayans and the continued armed violence in the region, they should impose sanctions targeting the Eritrean, Ethiopian and Amhara war crime and genocide cronies without delay.

The deliberate killings, enforced evictions, rape, starvation and cruel repression are on the rise, as recently reported by several media outlets, including by Sky News and Channel 4 .  Hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans, most of them women and children, who survived the killings and extreme abuses by the Amhara, Eritrean and federal forces are now homeless, telling their stories from streets of towns of Tigray; they are facing hunger and some of them have begun to die already.

Disturbingly, it is now common to see children as small as 4 years with amputated legs and/or arms, killed parents and siblings, left to live in the streets of many towns of Tigray. The BBC recent report from Shire has documented so.

Most importantly, in addition to the mass killings and horrendous human rights abuses, the Eritrean and Amhara forces are now diverting and expropriating relief for selfish and political reasons- starving the people to submission.

The Executive Director of UNiCEF , Henrietta Fore, on her 19 March statement affirmed that ‘schools and health centres have been looted, vandalised, and occupied by armed forces and groups’. She also affirmed the continued killing and abuses reported by aid workers, including the fact that ‘The reported murder of at least 20 children at Maryam Dengelat Church last November will continue to haunt families and communities. This massacre was exposed by CNN in early March.

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This dire situation is comparable to the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda mass crimes. It seems that the Tigray case is the nastiest than these two cases given the full involvement of a foreign power in the crimes and the magnitude of the displacement and livelihood destruction there. Although the international community have not yet taken a decisive action to protect the Tigray people, the US, EU and Britain have called the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Tigray. The US also strongly called for the Amhara forces to leave Tigray as necessary first steps.

The Ethiopian and Eritrean regimes are pre-occupied with totally denying the mass crimes they have planned, coordinated and are executing. The Ethiopian regime in particular has deployed its entire diplomatic and state machinery to blame victims, survivors, witnesses, their families and the people of Tigray, instead of suppressing the massacres, offering sincere apology and support to those who have sustained physical and psychological trauma.

It is therefore sensible to impose sanctions of all forms against the ring leaders of Eritrea, Amhara and Federal forces. If any sanction is going to have a meaningful effect - i.e., to end or mitigate the deplorable human suffering in Tigray, the following points must be taken very seriously:

First, only a comprehensive action or sanction can bring positive results of mitigating human suffering and ending atrocities, hunger and mass displacement; this necessitates taking action against the three actors without fear or favour . The Eritrean, Amhara and federal authorities are jointly organising and committing the crimes. Singling out and taking action against Eritrea would be a significant step; yet it will not mitigate the unfolding human catastrophe without targeting the others. In fact, it would only lead to a change of tactic to sustain the crimes, including obstructing aid delivery and criminal investigations.

Secondly, all key members of the Eritrean criminal gang must be targeted , including: (i) the despotic leader; (ii) the army chief of staff and defence minister; (iii) the intelligence head and his key staff who are masterminding the atrocities, kidnapping, looting and destruction; (vi) the army generals deployed to Tigray, including division or brigade commanders; (v) the presidential advisor and ministry of information for being part of the planning and executing of the crimes and for impairing justice through denial, diplomacy and propaganda.

Thirdly, the Ethiopian criminal gang must also be targeted , including: (i) the head of the government and his deputy; (ii) federal army chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, and the other generals who commanded/commanding the war in Tigray; (iii) other key generals that are involved in committing, condoning war zone crimes and masterminding the collective punishment of Tigrayans outside the war-zone; (vi) the head of intelligence and federal police officials; (v) key ministers, advisors and those who are behind the war effort and crimes; (iv) the ministers and officials who are fully engaged in hindering international effort to investigate and stop crimes, starvation and evictions, through a deliberate policy of mis-information, diplomacy and attacks against reliable human rights and media groups, countries, activists, witnesses and survivors; (vii) those who are offering intellectual and technical advice at the higher level regarding the war and the treatment of Tigrayans; and (viii) the key officials of the interim administration of Tigray who are either part of the main plan of mass atrocities or facilitate the execution of such crimes.

Some democracies are hesitant to target the Ethiopian elite despite their full knowledge of its crimes in Tigray and elsewhere . They use the excuses of the northern command ‘attack’, ‘reform’ and some forced acceptance of conditions such as opening up Tigray for humanitarian assistance. Prioritising things maybe legitimate.

However, a leader and his regime who is implicated in serious international crimes must not be excused for whatever reason. At least, he must be investigated and pressured to stop his crimes. The world also know that the Ethiopian leader is not a reformer. He is a dictator committing state-sponsored and condoned mass crimes with his fellow/mentor dictator from Eritrean. How is he a reformer while killing, evicting, raping, starving, looting and bombarding his own people deploying multiple actors? Thus, the West must not make a mistake -imposing sanctions on Eritrea without doing same on Ethiopian key leaders would only be seen as double standards.

Finally, Amhara leaders must be targeted too , including: (i) the former and current regional presidents; (ii) the head of justice and peace Burau; (iii) the heads of the regional police and Amhara special forces; (vi) key commanders of the special forces, Amhara militia and the vigilante group called Fano ; and (v) leaders of other organised groups that are actively and brutally executing the ethnic cleansing policy who are fully supported by the regional government.

As The Washington Post rightly asks however it remains to be seen whether the West can take such a comprehensive and necessary measures to stop the civilian massacre and associated destruction in Tigray by the axis of evil.

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