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Statement on the Appointment of Members of the International  Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia

Tigray government expresses appreciation to the President of the Human Rights Council  for appointing the three members of the International Commission of  Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, its readiness to work with them and call on the Ethiopian government to cooperate.



The Government of Tigray expresses its appreciation to the President of the Human Rights Council  for appointing Fatou Bensouda of the Gambia, Kaari Betty Murungi of Kenya, and Steven Ratner  of the United States of America to serve as the three members of the International Commission of  Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, which was created to undertake independent investigations  into any and all atrocities committed in Tigray and elsewhere during the ongoing war on Tigray.  

The existential threat to the people of Tigray posed by the Abiy regime’s declaration of an all-out  war on Tigray, viciously prosecuted in collaboration with Amhara regional forces and the Eritrean  military since November 2020, has dramatically increased since the convening of the 33rd Special  Session the UN Human Rights Council on December 17, 2021 that resulted in the passage of  Resolution S-33/1 establishing an International Commission of Human Rights Experts on  Ethiopia.  

At the moment, there does not appear to be an end in sight to the Ethiopian Federal government’s  enforcement of a “de facto humanitarian aid blockade” of Tigray, which is characterized by the  aggressive obstruction of humanitarian aid delivery, the denial of life-saving medical supplies and  fuel, and the suspension of basic services, such as banking, electricity, and telecommunications,  among others. Various aid agencies have established and categorically stated the fact that the Abiy  Ahmed government has imposed a vicious siege designed to starve the people of Tigray into  subjugation and/or out of existence. As a result of this deadly siege, hundreds of thousands of  Tigrayans have already perished from starvation and, with the chokehold continuing unabated,   

millions are at an elevated risk of perishing. In short, the Abiy regime continues to violate the core  tenets of applicable International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law  (IHRL).  

Unfortunately, the international community’s response to this manmade calamity has been  incomprehensibly inadequate. Indeed, the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs  and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, had as far back as late September  characterized the international response to the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe as woefully  inadequate, describing the failure to act as “a stain on our conscience.” In the face of this staggering  humanitarian crisis, shying away from doing what is necessary to save the people of Tigray from  a genocidal assault is an abdication of moral and legal obligations. A coordinated, targeted and  robust package of measures is indispensable to compel a change of course on the part of the Abiy  government and its domestic and foreign allies, and stem the tide of this unfolding humanitarian  tragedy. Continuing to appease a regime that is determined to starve the people of Tigray into  submission by taking seriously its deceptive promises to do better will never bring about  meaningful changes for the better on the part of the Abiy regime. In fact, authoritarian regimes  around the world seeking to punish “nettlesome” ethnic minorities within their borders through  mass starvation would see the international failure to come to the aid of Tigrayans while they are  being subjected to sustained genocidal assault as a greenlight to act with impunity.  

By contrast, holding the Abiy regime and its domestic and foreign allies accountable for the  atrocities committed against the people of Tigray would reaffirm the principle that no state is above  international law, and that starving and bombing one’s citizens into submission are not acceptable  state conducts in this day and age. In so doing, it would prevent massive human rights violations  by making would-be genocidaires think twice about setting about to exterminate their own  citizens. Silence and appeasement in the face of such devastating rights violations would surely  lead to the unraveling of the architecture of global governance.  

The Abiy regime continues to unleash a campaign of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and other  systematic measures to exterminate the people of Tigray, such as through starvation, airstrikes and  drone attacks, and arbitrary mass arrest of Tigrayans across Ethiopia solely on account of their  identity. In the context of these shocking atrocities, the appointment of members of the  International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia is a necessary first step in the  

international community’s attempt to stop the commission of further atrocities as well as hold the  perpetrators of these heinous crimes accountable.  

Given the distinguished pedigree of the newly-appointed members of the Commission in the legal  and human rights arena, the Government of Tigray is confident that they will discharge their  responsibilities with the utmost integrity, in accordance with the Council’s established working  methods and procedures.  

As the legitimate representative of the People of Tigray, who have borne the brunt of the Abiy  regime’s ongoing genocidal campaign, the Government of Tigray appreciates the necessity of  meaningfully engaging all parties to the conflict. For its part, the Government of Tigray has  established a high-level task force with full authority to manage all pertinent issues on this matter.  The people and Government of Tigray are committed to cooperating with the Commission, as it  fulfills its mandate.  

Finally, the Government of Tigray joins the international community in strongly urging the  Ethiopian Government to reverse its opposition to an independent investigation and accept,  without reservations, the legitimacy and mandate of the International Commission of Human  Rights Experts on Ethiopia, which was created pursuant to Resolution A/HRC/S.33/L.1 of the UN  Human Rights Council passed on December 17, 2021. If the Abiy regime persists with its  unjustifiable objection to the Commission and, by extension, the very of idea of independent  investigations into atrocities committed throughout the conflict, the international community  should interpret this intransigence as an admission of guilt on the part of the Abiy regime. The  international community should not allow the Abiy regime to levy baseless accusations against  the Government of Tigray for rights violations, whitewash its own criminal record in Tigray and  still strenuously object to independent investigations.

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