Ethiopia Condemns Antony Blinken Week After Apologetic Visit

On Tuesday, Ethiopia issued a lengthy, angry statement condemning the US State Department for asserting that it committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during its latest civil war.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry declared the State Department’s announcement “inflammatory,” “unilateral, and adversarial,” noting that Blinken visited the country last week and noted that Washington had sought cooperation with a government it now describes as a war criminal. Addis Ababa also complained that the announcement undermined the “hope” brought by Blinken’s visit last week to resolve the dispute.

The Ethiopian government complained that the Foreign Ministry’s announcement “unfairly distributes blame on the various parties to the conflict” by accusing Ethiopian forces of committing crimes in a way it deemed more serious than the accusations leveled against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a Marxist politician. The party and the other major party in the civil war.

Associated Press

People walk from a rural area towards a nearby town where food distributions run by the Relief Society of Tigray were being distributed, near the town of Agola, in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region on May 8, 2021. Ethiopia’s chief negotiator for lasting peace The talks confirmed on Friday November 11, 2022 that 70% of the Tigray region is now under military control and aid shipments to the region have resumed, but there is no immediate confirmation from aid workers or Tigray spokespeople. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

The outrage seemed to undermine the goal Blinken set during his time in Ethiopia last week to acknowledge their “atrocities and devastating consequences” in the civil war. Blinken emphasized this point with an apparent apology that Washington had not been “frank enough” over the decades of human rights abuses in the country.

The Ethiopian Civil War began in November 2022 when TPLF forces attacked Ethiopian military positions. In response, the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has completely blockaded the civilian population in the northern region of Tigray, depriving residents of food and essential medicines and leveling global accusations of ethnic cleansing. Outside Tigray, TPLF forces have been accused of a variety of human rights atrocities, including mass rape of civilians.

The Tigray people are an ethnic minority group that lives in the northern region of Tigray; While the TPLF as a minority dominated national politics for years before Abiy, an ethnic Oromo, took power.

The conflict has largely ended, with some minor hostilities still breaking out, yet the signature Peace agreement in November 2022.

“After careful review of the law and the facts, I have determined that members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), Eritrean Defense Force (EDF), Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces, and Amhara forces committed war crimes during the conflict in northern Ethiopia,” Blinken said. He said In remarks to the press on Monday. “The Ethiopian National Defense Forces, the Eritrean Defense Forces, and the Amhara have also committed crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and other forms of sexual violence and persecution.”

Formal recognition of the atrocities committed by all sides is an essential step to achieving sustainable peace. Blinken emphasized that those bearing the greatest responsibility for the atrocities, including those in leadership positions, must be held accountable.

Associated Press

Ethiopians are protesting against what they say is outside interference in the country’s internal affairs and against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the party of Tigray’s fugitive leaders, at a rally organized by the city administration in the capital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Saturday, October 22, 2022. The demonstrations were held ahead of the expected start peace talks in South Africa next week between the warring sides, where the United States said on Friday it supports efforts by the African Union to broker talks to stop the fighting in Tigray. The Amharic writing on the banner reads: “You suffer in the hands of the enemy for me.” (AP Photo)

In the State Department’s Annual Global Human Rights Report for 2022, released This week, the US government accused Ethiopia of a series of human rights atrocities:

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, by the government; enforced disappearances by the government; torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners and detainees; grave violations in the conflict, including unlawful or widespread harm to civilians; the unlawful recruitment or use of child soldiers by government forces and militia groups; serious restrictions on freedom of expression, including violence or threats of violence against journalists, unjustified arrests of journalists, censorship, and the existence of criminal defamation and libel laws; serious restrictions on Internet freedom; interference with freedom of peaceful assembly; government corruption; lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence, including rape and conflict-related sexual violence; trafficking in persons; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting members of racial or ethnic minorities; and the existence or use of laws criminalizing same-sex sexual conduct.

“There have been reports of killing of civilians, rape, other forms of gender-based violence, forced displacement, looting and destruction of property by the Tigray Liberation Front, Amhara regional militias, and other armed groups,” the report noted.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry issued its response on Tuesday, which began by dismissing the State Department’s report as not containing “new findings” — as a review of the events of 2022, it is not supposed to — but later denounced Washington and Blinken for allegedly condemning the government more than the TPLF.

“The government of Ethiopia does not accept the blanket condemnations contained in the statement and sees no value in such a hostile and unilateral approach,” the statement read. The statement is selective because it unfairly assigns blame to the different parties to the conflict.

She continued, “Without apparent reason, the statement appears to absolve one party of certain allegations of human rights abuses such as rape and other forms of sexual violence despite clear and compelling evidence of its responsibility.” The US statement is inflammatory. Whatever the intentions of the US State Department, this statement will be used to advance highly polarized campaigns that pit one community against others in the country.”

And she concluded, “The visit of the US Secretary of State gave hope that the two countries are ready to reform their bilateral relations.” “The Government of Ethiopia hopes that despite the US statement, the frank discussions and understanding reached during the Secretary of State’s visit to Ethiopia will help restore the strategic relations between Ethiopia and the United States.”

The statement did not address the fact that Blinken accused the TPLF and other militias of committing crimes against humanity on the side of the government. Nor did he address the fact that Blinken appeared to take some of the blame for the conflict on the United States during his visit last week.

“For our part, the United States recognizes the human rights abuses and oppression of the past three decades — actions that sowed the seeds for future conflict,” Blinken said at the time. “We and others have not talked about these abuses in the past enough.”

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