Sources consulted by investigators for the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia say they are appalled by the “unprofessional” and incomplete result of its newly released report.
The Human Rights Council sought out and invited these sources to participate in the process, to be interviewed and to provide material, yet the sources say none of what was offered to investigators was used in the report — nothing.
The final product is “completely unprofessional,” says one source, especially as the investigators themselves admitted to having a limited mandate to probe and verify conditions and openly conceded that “they had no methodology.” Instead, they admitted to being forced to take an “incident-based” approach, which as lawmakers and legal experts consulted have acknowledged, is not an acceptable way to undertake this sort of investigation.
Instead, the investigators cherry picked examples to focus on. This is, in fact, confirmed by the report itself, which states: “Although its mandate authorizes it to investigate incidents throughout the territory of Ethiopia, the Commission confined its investigations for this report to the hostilities in Tigray and Amhara regions.”
Sorry, Afar, you don’t rate in the investigators’ eyes. Let’s forget your vital evidence that the TPLF swiped corpses off the battlefield to use in staged atrocities later. Forget the artillery attacks on your homes and communities and how occupying TPLF defiled a mosque and its collection of sacred texts — a clear war crime.
Forget the displacement of hundreds of thousands from their northern districts who watched with disbelief from waterless, foodless IDP camps roasting in 42 degrees while UN trucks callously drove past them to Mekelle. Sorry, your concerns aren’t urgent enough, as far as the investigators are concerned.
Your situation is reduced to a few quick lines in a section titled “Areas meriting further education,” and even then, the report finds a way to mealy-mouth both sides, claiming, “Tigrayan civilians also appear to have been killed and detained by Afar Special Forces.”
Even the way the investigators did their job is left murky. According to the report’s own Terms of Reference:
“The scope of investigative work for the report to be presented at the Human Rights Council’s 51st session will take into account the time constraints on the ICHREE. Thus, the ICHREE will pursue investigation through an examination of a number of emblematic incidents. The choice of these incidents will be based on the gravity of the violations involved; the representativeness of the incidents in terms of the range of violations, perpetrators, and victims; the extent to which the incident is part of a larger pattern of abuses; the importance of presenting an integrated gender perspective, and the need to highlight certain issues or threats.”
This is not a methodology, as far as reputable researchers and legal experts understand it. It’s a fancy way of saying, “We’ll use our own judgment.”
And that judgment seems very wanting. Why, Ethiopians and fair-minded observers, might ask, is the Human Rights Council rushing out an “Advance Unedited Version?”
This is a report by a department of the organization that helps govern the world. Why would it bring out anything unedited?
Answer: to provide a prop for yet another staging of political theater for the United Nations itself, more specifically for its Human Rights Council session slated to run until October 7 and for any shoehorning of Ethiopia on to the agenda of the Security Council.
If you think you see WHO Director Tedros Adhanom’s fingerprints all over it, you wouldn’t be wrong. As has been shown, Tedros will sometimes tweet about Tigray, driving home TPLF messaging, eight times a day and ignoring the clear rules that he should not be abusing his position within the UN for political gain.
But perhaps the biggest disgrace in the report is what it does not include.
There is not: One. Single. Word. Dedicated to the issue of child soldiers, which has been confirmed repeatedly through Western media’s reports and independent research.
There is not a single word dedicated to the issue of the TPLF’s use of human shields or its forced recruitment.
The lack of study of forced recruitment is especially appalling as not only has the Western media confirmed it happens, but the investigators could have confirmed this by relying on the UN’s own confidential documents, including safety and security reports, which testify to this!
Why haven’t they used them?
Why did they choose not to use any of the research findings of Professor Ann Fitz-Gerald of the Balsillie School of International Affairs? Or the findings of reporter Francesca Ronchin or those of photojournalist Jemal Countess? Why is there nothing in the report from Professor Jon Abbink of Leiden University?
And it gets worse. In a disgusting, sleazy trick, the report even manages to flip the script of one of the most brazen tactics of the TPLF and accuse the Addis government of doing it: “In July 2021, Tigrayan forces began to push southwards through the neighbouring Amhara Region. On 10 August 2021, the Federal Government summoned all capable citizens to stop them ‘once and for all’, which caused the line between civilians and combatants to become increasingly blurred.”
Oh, really? If the report wants to use that ploy, we have a tall stack of TPLF exhortations, including from Debretsion’s own mouth, that the investigators should consider while they retrace those blurs. How about the time when he asked Tigrayans to send their sons and daughters? Hm?
As well, the report, while not bothering to properly dissect its evidence, casually reinforces the false narrative of the so-called “Axum Massacre,” stating, “Credible information indicates large-scale killings committed by EDF and ENDF forces between November 2020 and June 2021, including the killing of hundreds of people in Axum…”
Except as we now know, this has been debunked — several times after multiple investigations.
The probe by the Ethiopian Attorney General’s declared that fighting between the TPLF and Eritrean soldiers occurred on November 27, 2020, on a mountainous area of the city, with at least five civilians killed by artillery and with other TPLF fatalities in civilian dress. According to its report, “Forty civilians seem to have been taken out of their homes and killed in home-to-home raids conducted by Eritrean troops.”
And try as they might, not the UN, not the TPLF, can make that damning video go away of peaceful religious pilgrims coming and leaving from the church where the Junta claimed ruthless killing took place.
And the massacre at Mai Kadra? Two whole lines, neither of which directly comes out and implicate the TPLF. Again, for the report, this is another area “meriting further investigation.” Despite scores of witnesses and survivors quite ready and willing to talk, including those who can put specific names to their attackers.
There is only a single accusation in the report over the TPLF’s looting, confined to the hostilities in Kobo and Chenna in autumn of last year.
And there are these telling lines, which seem only to have been drafted to acknowledge what can’t be denied but which the investigators want to quickly skip over:
“The Commission also received information indicating that Tigrayan forces have looted or otherwise misappropriated humanitarian aid. While further investigation is required, the Commission stresses that any looting or misappropriation of aid by Tigrayan forces does not justify denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid to Tigray region by the Federal Government.”
This is a shameless excusing of conduct. And how did the Ethiopian government — which supplied 70 percent of the humanitarian effort to Tigray during the earlier months of the conflict — obstruct aid delivery? Researchers and journalists travelled to the border area where aid was delivered into Tigray and confirmed that the only combatants in this aid transit area were the TPLF fighters.
And what does the report’s excusing of TPLF conduct say for those UN workers who were assaulted and held captive recently while TPLF thugs drove away with 12 tankers and more than half a million liters of fuel?
And I haven’t even mentioned yet how the UN itself is tainted by scandal over Ethiopia, how it harassed and abused two of my whistleblower sources who were outed by the TPLF with my stolen digital recorder. How on Earth can such a report be issued without even acknowledging the organization’s own corruption in its ranks?
I came across a meme recently, a great quote attributed to Bob Marley. If he didn’t say it, he should have, and it fits just the same: “You will never find justice in a world where criminals make the law.”
My friends, the UN is now rotted to its core, with a war criminal in charge of directing global health but openly neglecting his duties and ethical guidelines. It has politicized a human rights inquiry beyond any decent recognition of the facts on the ground. And its apologists brand the Ethiopian people and their few allies — whether ferenji or diaspora — as the criminals.
There is no hope anymore in seeking redress in the General Assembly in New York. You don’t let the thief judge who stole your coat.
More than ever, Ethiopia must look to the rest of Africa to have its back and to join it in building a bloc united in common economic and security interests for the continent.