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The United Nations Security Council is Painfully Slow vis-à-vis the Tigray Genocide.

IDEA Editorial                                                                       March 2, 2021

The war that was declared on Tigray on November 4, 2020 has been going on unabated despite the massive Tigrayan protestations and demonstration worldwide, and despite European Union repeated admonishment to the Eritrean and Ethiopian governments, and as of late the Biden Administration call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict via his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

There is overwhelming evidence on the Tigray genocide perpetrated by the so-called Ethiopian Defense Forces, The Amhara militia, and the Eritrean troops, but for some unknown reason the UN Security Council is painfully slow to decide or consequently act, to either send observer investigative body or a peacekeeping mission to Tigray.     

Genocide was first recognized as a crime against humanity in international law in 1946 by the UN General Assembly (A/RES/46-1), and the International Court of Justice repeatedly stated that the Convention embodies principles that are part of a general customary international law. This, means, whether states have ratified the Genocide Convention or not, they are all bound as a matter of law by the principle that genocide is a crime prohibited under international law.

Genocide, thus, includes anything of the following crimes: killing members of an ethnic and/or religious group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

All the above traits of genocide, except the one on the prevention of births that we don’t have any credible information, have been inflicted on the people of Tigray by the combined forces of the EDF, the Amhara militia, and the Eritrean troops. There is now fear that the Eritrean invading army can use chemicals of mass destruction in Tigray while the Amhara militia concurrently massacre Tigrayan people in Western Tigray; they have already reignited the genocide by threatening the victims and telling them, “We will kill you and dump you on the Tekezze River, and even America cannot save you!”

We have credible evidence on the genocide in Tigray, including eyewitness accounts of massacres, videos of rampant killings and wanton destruction of villages, and largescale sexual violence against women, not to mention the mass murder of worshippers in churches reported by international media, including CNN. Simon Ateba, writing for Today News Africa, states that “confidential US government report concludes Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed leading ethnic cleansing in Tigray region.” “While villages were severely damaged or completely erased” the report, first obtained by the New York Times, says, “a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for.”

Amnesty International, reporting on February 26, 2021, brought to the our attention the crimes against humanity committed by Eritrean soldiers: “Eritrean troops fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray state systematically killed hundreds of unarmed civilians in the northern city of Axum on November 28-29, 2020, opening fire in the streets and conducting house-to-house raids in a massacre that may amount to a crime against humanity.

Satellite imagery analysis by the organization Crisis Evidence Lab also corroborated reports of indiscriminate shelling and mass burials near two of the city’s churches.

“The evidence is compelling and points to a chilling conclusion. Ethiopian and Eritrean troops carried out multiple war crimes in their offensive to take control of Axum. Above and beyond that, Eritrean troops went on rampage and systematically killed hundreds of civilians in a cold blood, which appears to constitute crimes against humanity” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director of East and Southern Africa. “This atrocity ranks among the worst documented so far in this conflict. Besides soaring death tall, Axum’s residents were plunged into days of collective trauma amid violence, mourning and mass burials.”

So, what is the United Nations Security Council waiting for? It is time to act and act soon. Next week, the Security Council will consider two important agendas, that of Yemen and Tigray, and it is expected to reach certain consensus and decide, and we hope that it will unequivocally condemn the genocide in Tigray and resolve to take a swift action accordingly, by either dispatching an investigative observer commission or a peacekeeping mission. That will be the day!

On behalf of the Institute of Development and Education for Africa (IDEA)

Ghelawdewos Araia, PhD