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CNN EXCLUSIVE: Leader of Tigray’s forces accuses Ethiopian and Eritrean governments of genocide

In a uncommon and unique interview with CNN, President of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front Debretsion Gebremichael referred to as for an impartial probe into alleged killings, rape and violence, together with these revealed in a CNN investigation printed on Friday final week.

Eyewitnesses informed CNN {that a} group of Eritrean troopers opened hearth in November on Maryam Dengelat church in Dengelat village, in Tigray’s east, whereas tons of of congregants have been celebrating mass. Dozens of individuals died over three days of mayhem, with troopers slaughtering native residents, displaced individuals and pilgrims, they stated.

Thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a army operation towards leaders within the Tigray area, sending in troops from the neighboring Amhara area. CNN has beforehand reported that troopers from neighboring Eritrea have perpetrated lots of the extrajudicial killings, assaults and human rights abuses within the Tigray area.

After seizing management of Tigray’s predominant cities in late November, Abiy declared victory and maintained that no civilians have been harmed within the offensive.

“They are killing our people in this country, they are killing children, all ages of the population and they are conducting rape,” Debretsion informed CNN in a telephone interview from an undisclosed location.

“All sorts of acts of genocide have been committed in Tigray. So, the most important thing is that an investigation must be conducted,” he added.

“We are calling for an investigation into the CNN findings on the ground in Tigray.”

Ousted Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael in Mekelle, Ethiopia, on June 8, 2019.

Ethiopia’s international ministry on Monday rejected a name from the United States for the Ethiopian federal authorities to drag forces out of Tigray, saying it was “regrettable” that the US had tried “to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically, the reference to the Amhara regional forces redeployment.”

“It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” the ministry stated in a press release.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated Saturday that the US was “gravely concerned by reported atrocities and the overall deteriorating situation,” and referred to as for Eritrean and Amhara regional forces to withdraw instantly. Blinken’s assertion got here at some point after CNN’s investigation, in addition to one other by Amnesty International, each detailing eyewitness accounts of civilian massacres in two separate assaults in late 2020.

Ethiopian refugees fleeing Tigray line up to receive supplies at the Um Rakuba camp in Sudan's eastern Gedaref province, on November 16, 2020.

Eritrea’s authorities denied involvement within the atrocities reported by Amnesty, however has but to answer CNN’s request for remark in relation to the Dengelat bloodbath.

Debretsion stated he was making an pressing name to the Biden administration to maintain the stress on the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments.

“We want to have peace in this region, in this country so we want [the US] to continue to push [for the withdrawal] of invader forces from Tigray to stop the atrocities, genocide and destruction,” he informed CNN.

“We need, you know, humanitarian assistance as well … The whole Tigray is in social and economic crisis. Our people need assistance, they need humanitarian support. So, it’s an urgent call. We need this push from the [US] President.”

Repeated denials of Eritrean involvement

The Amnesty International report charged that Eritrean forces killed tons of of unarmed civilians within the metropolis of Axum, additionally in Tigray area, in November by means of indiscriminate shelling and capturing and extrajudicial killings, in what the human rights group stated may quantity to against the law towards humanity.

The Ethiopian international ministry’s assertion Monday didn’t point out the presence of forces from neighboring Eritrea throughout the current offensive. It added that it was “fully committed” to investigating any human rights violations. Prime Minister Abiy has additionally denied that troopers from Eritrea crossed into Tigray to help Ethiopian forces.

Blinken had referred to as for a “full, independent international investigation into all reports of human rights violations, abuses and atrocities.”

US calls for withdrawal of Eritrean forces in Ethiopia following investigation into massacre

“We strongly condemn the killings, forced removals and displacements, sexual assaults, and other extremely serious human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have reported in Tigray,” he stated.

Blinken additionally acknowledged Abiy’s acknowledged dedication to permit humanitarian assist to the area, and stated that the US Agency for International Development would ship a catastrophe help response workforce to Ethiopia. On Monday, Ethiopia’s international ministry stated it was working to make sure unfettered entry to Tigray for the supply of humanitarian help.

TPLF troops seized energy in Ethiopia in 1991 with the backing of Eritrea. TPLF chief Meles Zenawi grew to become the nation’s chief, with Debretsion serving as his deputy. The TPLF dominated till 2018, when members of the Oromo and Amhara ethnic teams united towards the celebration. Abiy was appointed prime minister in 2018 and gained a Nobel prize final 12 months for his peace cope with Eritrea.

Violence flared within the area final 12 months after Tigray went forward with native elections that the Abiy authorities had banned due to the pandemic.

CNN’s Angela Dewan, Emmet Lyons, Bethlehem Feleke, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Katie Polglase contributed to this report.

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