Subject: The involvement of the African Union in investigating genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, massacre and rape committed on the people of Tigray
We, three opposition parties in Tigray, have been calling repeatedly for a full, independent and international investigation of the crimes committed in Tigray. Now, it has become loud and clear that the international community too is demanding that there should be a full, independent and international investigation. We strongly believe that this kind of investigation is necessary given the scale of the crime, the number of actors involved and the magnitude of the continuing destruction.
At this moment, the African Union has declared it has accepted the invitation of the Ethiopian government to jointly investigate the war crimes, ethnic cleansing, massacres, rape and all grave crimes that have been committed and are still ongoing in Tigray. If the “African solutions to African problems” motto is still in place, we would have liked to see the AU taking its own initiative; first and foremost, to prevent any conflict and war in the continent. We still believe African problems can have African solutions if the African Union can focus its resources and works genuinely on resolving conflicts and preventing wars. We hope the AU succeeds in this regard and the people of Africa live a better life. We also strongly believe that working with the international community is crucial to have a peaceful and stable Africa. Thus, it is our sincere hope to see the AU working hand in hand with the international community to stop the war in Tigray and prevent a flare up in the Horn of Africa region.
When it comes to the acceptance by the AU of the Ethiopia’s proposal for a joint investigation of the crimes committed in Tigray, we are sorry to find ourselves having reservations and limited hope for the following main reasons.
- Your Excellency, Mr. Mousa FakiMahamat, gave a clear support to Ethiopia’s genocidal war on Tigray in your speech dated December 20, 2020, at the IGAD conference in Djibouti. In this speech, you endorsed the ostensible and ironic claim of Ethiopia that this devastating war was a ‘law enforcement operation’. As it turned out, the war has been a total war on Tigray involving three African countries directly and other non-African countries. It is a pity that all the crimes, which came to the attention of the world now,were happening while this speech was delivered. In our eyes and the eyes of all independent observers, this speech of Your Excellency has made the AU to lose its impartiality in this conflict. We, therefore, do not have the trust that the AU can be an independent investigator of the crimes committed in this tragic war as it has already received the blessing of Your Excellency. Even though one of the main missions of the African Union is to stop wars and resolve conflicts, it chose to be silent while a destructive war of a magnitude that has never been seen before is raging in its backyard for the last four months. This war is still underway and the AU cared little as to even make a call for it to stop. We, Tigrayans, might have never imagined that the AU will let us down in such an outrageous manner given the huge respect and trust that we have for African brotherhood. Nonetheless, we have lived to lament this disregard of the AU to our pains and are made to seriously doubt the credibility of the AU with regards to this matter.
- We have come to know that the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) is the institution groomed to investigate the crimes in collaboration with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC). We have not seen the ACHPR investigating crimes of the nature and magnitude that is happening in Tigray to this date. For this reason, we do not believe that the ACHPR is experienced enough to investigate the extensive crimes committed by several state and non-state actors in Tigray.
- The Ethiopian government started the war and allowed the other actors to join hands and do all the horrible crimes together. Thus, we believe the Ethiopian government is the main culprit of all the crimes in Tigray. This government has also refused to provide access to a full, independent and international investigation despite repeated calls by the international community. As a suspect in those crimes, the Ethiopian government is not supposed to select investigators of the crime. Thus, the invitation of the AU by the Ethiopian government to investigate the crimes in collaboration with the EHRC; while closing doors to independent international investigators cannot be taken as a genuine initiative of investigating crimes. We suspect that this move by the Ethiopian government is an attempt to cover up the crimes. As a result of this then, we do not have the hope to see a genuine investigation of the crimes.
- The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has shown to all of us that it cannot be considered as an able and committed organization to its cause. This commission was very fast to help in ballooning the May-Kadra massacre, which happened at the beginning of the conflict, alleging the TPLF as the perpetrator. However, assessments by various relevant bodies show that the May-Kadra incident appears to take a different pattern than the one promoted by the EHRC and the Ethiopian government. Here again the Ethiopian government has refused an independent investigation in to the matter and the EHRC is dragging its feet in investigating May-Kadra itself and other horrible crimes such as the massacre in Aksum. Therefore, as the Tigrayan saying goes “You cannot look for your lost ox together with the thief who stole it and expect to find it”, we cannot expect a genuine investigation can be carried out by the AU working together with the EHRC.
Your Excellency, Mr. Mousa Faki Mahamat, we would like to express to you once more that we strongly demand there should be a full, independent and international investigation in to all the horrible crimes committed in Tigray. We also would like to express to you that we would like to continue having a strong and trustable engagement with the AU. We, thus, request the AU to distance itself from this sham investigation that looks to aim at sanitizing bloody hands. We also call up on the AU to play its proper role to ensure a full, independent and international investigation of the crimes committed in Tigray.
Salsay Woyane Tigray
National Congress for Greater Tigray
Tigray Independence Party