Arena Tigray accused Eritrean troops and other “forces who took part in the war” of looting and destroying infrastructures and public properties. Called for the establishment of a commission to identity damages and bring those responsible for it to justice
Arena Tigray, an opposition party based in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, on Monday released a four pages statement in Amharic. The party reflected on the genesis of the war in Tigray, how it broke out and what the war did to the region.
It said that there had been preparation for war for about three years and that the party did all it can to oppose mobilization for war under the slogan “Mehete” (a tigrigna for that could translate as “defend”). Arena Tigray Party was labelled as “Banda” and “mercenary” for opposing the war. It is implied that it was TPLF that was hassling the party for opposing imminent war.
Among the actions it took,Arena claimed, is that it called for a peaceful resolution of the confrontation between the Federal government and Tigray regional government.
For Arena, as stated in the statement, the war became imminent when TPLF organized and conducted an election in August 2020 against the Federal government authorization.
Arena Tigray is also unequivocal when it comes to the question as to who started the war. “When the northern command of the Ethiopian army was attacked on November 4,2020, the war broke out openly.” The party is also explicit that TPLF leaders made the decision for war unilaterally without consulting and engaging people in the region. The regional parliament itself did not discuss it and approve the war.
It went on to say that the war was disastrous. Thousands of militia and civilians were killed. Hundreds of thousands of people displaced in the region. Millions faced a humanitarian crisis including food shortage and infrastructures worth billions of a birr were destroyed, said the statement.
Arena Tigray also said that the number of people killed in the region is not made public except the Maikadra Massacre and rape cases against women.
The party asked for disclosure of human casualties and material damages due to the war. It took the Ethiopian government only three weeks to complete the war after it was started on November 4 following the attack on Northern command of the Ethiopian Defense Force. The claim on the part of the Federal government is that it has made all the necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties and destruction of properties during the course of what government call “law enforcement operation.”
Last week, Ethiopian government invited international experts to be part of investigations in the alleged human rights violations in Tigray region.
There are still security challenges in the region, and this is something that aligns with reports of security incidents from last week which claimed at least the lives of seven Adigrat University students who were travelling by bus from Mekelle to Addis Ababa. Ten others were wounded. The attack was said to have been carried out by TPLF remnants.
Arena Tigray said there are gunfire and killings in different parts of the region, and that killings of civilians are happening, and that security constitutes to be one of the main challenges in the region.
Territorial claims over Wolkait and Raya
Arena Tigray related worsening security challenges in the Tigray region to two factors. One of them is that “parts of Tigray”, according to the party, that are now under the control of Amhara forces. The reference is to Wolkait and Raya.
The statement made accusations that these regions are under the Amhara region without legal and constitutional basis, and it was not excluded from Tigray democratically.
Arena Tigray that is making claims about the region said that identity questions and claims should be handled democratically. And this is part of the statement that angered many activists and politicians. These regions were included in the Tigray region by TPLF forceful measures without any legal basis. Also, the pursuit of identity questions democratically (both in Raya and Wolkait) were met with TPLF’s brute forces. Speculation by many political analysts is that an attempt to impose Tigray identity on these regions again is likely to ignite a devastating conflict.
Arena Tigray also linked security challenges in Tigray region with the presence of Eritrean troops ; they are also referred to as “foreign powers.”
The statement made claims that people in Tigray region and some defense forces confirmed the presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray region, especially in North Tigary, although Ethiopian and Eritrean governments are denying it.
It alleges that Eritrean troops were engaged in killings of civilians and looting in areas like Atsebi, Edega Hamus and Aksum among other areas. Furthermore, it made claims that they took away what they looted ( it is implied that they took it to Eritrea) and destroyed what they cannot take away.
Arena Party criticized the House of Federation and the House of People’s Representative over silence on what it called ongoing destruction by Eritrean troops.
Call for Actions :
Arena Tigray party statement made several recommendations which it thinks will help resolve the challenges in the region.
1) Wants “international donors” to enter and operate extensively in the region. This call for action is predicated on the view that assistance from local sources could not cater for existing humanitarian needs due to the enormity of the challenge. Ethiopian government announced last week that more than 3.1 million people were assisted, and that 34 of the 36 districts have been covered through the assistance program.
2) Called for reopening of public institutions in areas where there are government structures to bring the lives of the people to normalcy. The party demanded that the Federal government provide necessary resources – human or otherwise.
3) Demanded for the Tigray region to remain intact territorially. It said that any identity questions in the region needs to be handled “constitutionally and democratically.”
4) The formation of a task force to investigate destruction of properties and “looting by Eritrean troops.”
5) Saying that “all forces who took part in the war were engaged in looting and destruction of property,” made a call for the establishment of a commission to identify damages and bring culprits to justice.
6) Called on citizens to play the part to ensure that what happened in Tigray is not happening elsewhere in Ethiopia again.
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