Amnesty says Scores of Civilians killed in Massacre in Tigray

ADDIS ABEBA – Amnesty International said today it has confirmed that scores, and likely hundreds, of people were stabbed or hacked to death in Mai-Kadra town of Ethiopia’s Tigray Region on the night of 9 November.

The organization’s Crisis Evidence Lab has examined and digitally verified “gruesome photographs and videos of bodies strewn across the town or being carried away on stretchers, Amnesty said.

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“We have confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians, who appear to have been day labourers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

“This is a horrific tragedy whose true extent only time will tell as communication in Tigray remains shut down,” said Muchena.

Amnesty told the government to restore all communication to Tigray as an act of accountability and transparency for its military operations in the region, as well as ensure access to humanitarian organizations and human rights monitors.

“Amnesty International will regardless continue to use all means available to document and expose violations by all parties to the conflict,” Muchena said.

Amnesty also spoke with witnesses, who visited the town immediately after the deadly attack, on the morning of 10 November, to find dead bodies strewn all over the town, as well as injured survivors.

Most of the dead bodies were found in the tow​n centre, near the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, and along a road that exits to the neighbouring Humera town, according to the witnesses and images verified by Amnesty International.

The witnesses told Amnesty that the deads had gaping wounds that appear to have been inflicted by sharp weapons such as knives and machetes, reports which have been confirmed by an independent pathologist commissioned by Amnesty International.

They said there were no signs of gunshot wounds.

The witnesses said that together with the Ethiopian Defence Force (EDF) soldiers, they found some wounded people among the dead and took them to nearby hospitals in Abreha-Jira and Gondar, before removing dead bodies from the streets.

“Those wounded told me they were attacked with machetes, axes and knives. You can also tell from the wounds that those who died were attacked by sharp objects. It is horrible and I am really sad that I witnessed this in my life,” one witness said.

“The Ethiopian authorities must immediately, thoroughly, impartially and effectively investigate this blatant attack on civilians and bring those responsible to justice in fair trials,” said Deprose Muchena.

Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) officials should also :make clear to their forces and their supporters that deliberate attacks on civilians are absolutely prohibited and constitute war crimes”, Amnesty said.

“All parties in the Tigray conflict must ensure full respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law in their operations.  The safety and protection of civilians must be paramount,” it added.

While the official death toll in Mai-Kadra is not yet known, media reports say there were around 500 victims, adding that they were primarily non-Tigrayan residents of the town.

The attack came after the federal government ordered the federal army to militarily engage with the Tigray Regional Paramilitary Police and militia loyal to the TPLF in what the government said was a response to multiple attacks by the Tigray security forces on the EDF North Command base in Mekelle and other military camps in Tigray Region.

 

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