Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls for an international investigation into the “ongoing” atrocities, as well as the exit of Eritrean troops.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned acts of “ethnic cleansing” in Ethiopia’s besieged Tigray region, calling for “full responsibility” and the departure of troops from neighboring Eritrea and other fighters.
Testifying before Congress on Wednesday, Blinken said he wanted security forces in the region “who will not abuse the human rights of the people of Tigray, nor commit acts of ethnic cleansing that we have seen in the west. of Tigray ”.
Citing “very credible” reports of ongoing human rights violations and atrocities, he called for “an independent inquiry into what happened there” and “a process of reconciliation so that the country can move forward politically”.
“We have, as you know, Eritrean forces there, and we have forces from a neighboring country [Ethiopian] region, Amhara, who are there. They have to get out.
After months of tensions, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced in early November military operations against the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), accusing them of attacking camps in the region. federal army.
Several reports citing witnesses and survivors have troops involved from neighboring Eritrea, which denies a military presence, in massacres, rapes and other crimes in the region of northern Ethiopia.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet, meanwhile, said last week that her office had corroborated serious violations that could amount to “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” while aid officials warned that a growing number of people could starve in Tigray. .
“I fully understand the concerns, for example, that the Prime Minister had about the TPLF and its actions, but the situation in Tigray today is unacceptable and must change,” Blinken said.
Blinken’s comments came hours after Berhane Kidanemariam, the deputy chief of mission of the Ethiopian embassy in Washington, DC, resigned from his post, accusing Abiy of leading Ethiopia “down a dark path to peace. destruction and disintegration ”.
“I am resigning from my post to protest the genocidal war in Tigray and to protest all the repression and destruction the government is inflicting on the rest of Ethiopia,” he said.
“I have loved serving as a diplomat for my country, but I cannot do it at the expense of my values, and certainly not at the expense of my people. There is a cost in acting on its principles, but there is a greater cost in abandoning them, ”said Kidanemariam, who is believed to be the first Ethiopian diplomat to resign due to concerns over the conflict in Tigray.
He also accused the government of distorting conditions on the ground and of failing to reveal “the presence of foreign powers” – a reference to Eritrean troops.
The resignation of a senior diplomat will put pressure on Abiy, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his efforts to make peace with Eritrea after decades of hostilities.
Kidanemariam, who is from Tigray, said in his statement that thousands of Tigrayans have been harassed, assaulted and arrested in what he called “a witch hunt that is taking place against Tigrayans in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora”.
There was no immediate comment from the Ethiopian government.
In a statement delivered to an African Union council on Tuesday, Abiy said the Ethiopian government had taken “concrete steps to address alleged human rights violations” and signaled “its willingness to collaborate with the relevant UN agencies for the purposes of these investigations ”.