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Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Report on Ethiopia’s Wolkait Region: Biased and Tendentious

Ethiopia _ Amnesty _ HRW

 April 26, 2022

We, the undersigned, strongly protest against the joint report of Amnesty International (“AI”) and Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) issued recently accusing the Federal Government of Ethiopia, the Amhara Regional Government and the Amhara militia and Fano of committing human rights violations in what the report refers to as “Western Tigray.”  

As argued below, we affirm that the findings and recommendations of the report are fraught with inconsistencies and biases and lack methodological rigor and objectivity.

Flagrant Perpetuation of the TPLF Narrative of “Western Tigray”

Although the report acknowledges the fact that the so-called Western Tigray was known as Welkait –Tegede –Humera (collectively “Wolkait”) and was part of the Province of Begemeder (Gondar) before the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) annexed it, for its strategic attraction, to Tigray in 1991, it prefers to perpetuate the use of the misnomer so as to confer international and political legitimacy to TPLF’s claim to the territory. If that had not been its apparent purpose, there is no reason to prefer a newly minted name that does not exist in the lexicon of the local population or the history of the region. This fact, along with the report’s evocative title (“We will erase you from this land”), presages the heavily biased and tendentious nature of the report.

Biased and One-sided Reporting of Atrocities 

While the report is replete with numerous citations, it nowhere makes even as much as a passing mention of the animus toward Amharas the TPLF has harbored since its inception as a liberation movement in 1975 by openly declaring the Amhara people as its sworn enemy in its founding document. Notably, the report blithely ignores the atrocities the TPLF has committed while forcibly annexing Wolkait to Tigray in the mid-70s and during almost three decades of its brutal rule. Thanks to the work of a team of scientists in Gondar University, however, TPLF’s atrocities have recently come to light for the world to see. This team of scientists has reported that the remains of fifty-nine thousand Amhara victims have been discovered in several mass graves in Wolkait. Yet, the joint report does not reference the team’s report, nor have its authors bothered to consult the team about these findings. 

In rare instances, the report begrudgingly acknowledges that the TPLF security forces abused the rights of Amharas “over many years.” Yet, it makes absolutely no effort to describe in any detail the gravity of these abuses as it has done on behalf of members of the Tigray community residing in Wolkait. Because it does not take these abuses as seriously, it does not call for any accountability of TPLF officials in the same way that it has been quick to do so against Amhara officials currently administering the Wolkait region. Indeed, the report recommends the suspension of these officials pending investigations into their actions, in utter disregard of their right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. 

While the report is quick to call for the demobilization of Amhara security forces, there is no similar call for the demobilization of thousands of militia the TPLF has mobilized to wage war and wreak havoc in the Amhara and Afar regions. The TPLF and its militia have shown by their actions and public statements that they are still waiting in the wings to forcibly retake Wolkait and in the process to cause even more death, mayhem and destruction than they have already caused. We would like to note in this regard the atrocities the TPLF has continued to inflict on the inhabitants of the Afar region.

Intrusiveness and Violation of Ethiopia’s Sovereign Rights

The call by the report for the disarming and demobilization of Amhara security forces, such as the Fano and militia, is totally unacceptable, for it is a clear violation of Ethiopia’s sovereign right to organize its security forces in any manner it deems fit. As enunciated in the UN “Declaration on Principles of International Law, one of these fundamental principles concerns the sanctity of non-intervention in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of another state. It is interesting, although not too surprising, that the report’s call for demobilization of the Fano and Amhara militia echoes the position declared by the US Secretary of State a year or so ago, suggesting that AI and HRW do seem to be acting in concert with the US Government. 

Further, the joint report’s recommendation that calls for a peacekeeping force to be deployed to the region strikes us as especially egregious as it appears to be intended to make it easier for the TPLF to gain direct access to its foreign backers – regional and international. Not only will such a move constitute a blatant violation of the country’s sovereignty but also has the potential to prolong rather than to defuse the tension in the region.

Flawed Research Methodology: 

Particularly unpersuasive and disconcerting about the report is that its findings and recommendations are based on an egregiously flawed research methodology. As the report itself makes clear, its findings are based on information and data largely gathered by sending “five separate research missions” to interview Tigrean refugees in the Sudan. In fact, many of these so-called refugees are the very same individuals who fled the country after participating in the gruesome MaiKadra massacre. We would be too credulous to believe that the very perpetrators of such a horrendous crime would come forward to tell the truth about their own involvement or what really happened in Wolkait. On the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that they would prevaricate or shade the truth in order to avoid their own accountability for the crime of mass murder they committed in Mai-Kadra. 

The report also indicates that the interviewees were informed of the purpose of the research with the “help of trusted interpreters.” Who are these trusted interpreters?  Knowing TPLF’s tried- and- true modus operandi, we should be forgiven for surmising that these “trusted interpreters” can be none other than TPLF operatives, activists and sympathizers who populate the Sudan, Washington, DC, and the World Health Organization. Indeed, these operatives have apparently also infiltrated AI and HRW themselves, as evidenced by the fact that Fisseha Tekle, the son-in-law of TPLF’s notorious Sebhat Nega, is Amnesty International’s “researcher for Ethiopia and Eritrea” and is currently promoting the report on their behalf. In his capacity as AI’s “researcher for Ethiopia and Eritrea”, Tekle has produced multiple video accounts about mass extrajudicial executions in Tigray.

It is also noteworthy, though not surprising, that Amhara and Kunama natives of the region were systematically shunned in the interview process. There is absolutely no justification for their exclusion other than that their testimony would cast doubt on the credibility of the story spun by the TPLF. Curiously, the report offers no explanation or justification for this exclusion, leaving us to surmise that the omission must have been deliberate. 

It is on the basis of self-serving interviews conducted in the Sudan and some in Tigray that the report accuses Amhara regional authorities of having engaged in a “coordinated” and “purposeful” policy of ethnic cleansing and other human rights violations. This conclusion is totally unconvincing, meritless and unfounded.  For one thing, many of those interviewees are those who fled the area to avoid apprehension and accountability for the heinous crimes they committed in Mai-Kadra. For another, those who relocated to Tigray did so on their own fearing retaliation and accountability for the many abuses “over many years” the natives of the area suffered under TPLF rule, rather than as a consequence of an official policy of “ethnic cleansing”. As such, the allegation of “a coordinated and purposeful policy” of ethnic cleansing cannot stand close scrutiny. (One point worthy of note here is the egregious fact that the report dismisses, as a legitimate response, the November 2020 Mai-Kadra Massacres against Amharas by TPLF’s youth league.)

Also unwarranted is the report’s negative aspersion on the regional authorities of Wolkait for undertaking to resettle “hundreds of Amharas from the Amhara region and [those returning] from the Sudan.” Finding fault with the actions of the regional authorities in this regard completely ignores the fact that many of these settlers are natives of the area who were forced to leave their homes and farms by the TPLF since the mid-70s. Righting a wrong that remained unrequited for so long does not deserve to be seen in a negative light. 

Perhaps, one of the strongest indicators of the sloppiness of the report is its assertion, citing the federal interim administration of Tigray, that 723,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Western Tigray had been registered in other parts of Tigray. However, according to a report of the Federal Demographic Republic of Ethiopia Central Statistical Agency, conducted while the TPLF was in power, the projected total number of people in Western Tigray, including Amharas and other ethnic groups, for 2017 was only 410,662. This ridiculously inflated number, which cannot be justified by any known demographic principles, is indicative of the flawed and biased nature of the entire report. 

Questionable Timing of the Release of the Report

Finally, it is curious that the joint report became public at a time when both Houses of the US Congress appear to be busy considering essentially similar bills aimed at imposing sanctions on Ethiopia. Given how often the international system seems to do the bidding of the US Government and its allies, including human rights organizations, the timing of the report hardly seems to be a coincidence. It is noteworthy that the US Government took no time to endorse the report and to call for “independent investigations” into alleged violations of human rights in Ethiopia. Given the release of the joint report and consideration of the US sanctions bills are occurring at almost the same time, and when we recall the earlier effort of the US Government and its allies to employ the Human Right Council’s process to do essentially what the report calls for, we believe that the sanctions bills and the joint report have been meant to work in tandem to accomplish the same overriding purpose: to coerce Ethiopia to submit to their demands and thereby to revive the political life of a terrorist organization that the Ethiopian populace has overwhelmingly rejected. 

For all the foregoing reasons, we find the joint report of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch simply onesided, tendentious, bereft of methodological rigor, and, therefore, unacceptable.

Endorsed by:

  1. Dr. Abdella Usman, USA
  2. Dr. Abebech Demissie, Ottawa, Canada
  3. W/O Abekyellesh Allene, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  4. Dr. Abera Molla, Denver, USA
  5. Dr. Abiy Tadesse, USA
  6. Dr. Abraham Betre, M.D., California, USA
  7. Dr. Adam Waksor, M.D., Atlanta, USA
  8. Dr. Addisu Yilma, M.D., USA
  9. Dr. Adane Kassa, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  10. Mr. Aklilu Abraham Adeye, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  11. Mr. Aklilu Tafesse, New York, USA
  12. Dr. Aklog Birara, Maryland, USA
  13. Prof. Alemante Gebre-Selassie, Virginia, USA
  14. Dr. Amanuel Alemu Abajobir, Kenya
  15. Dr. Amelework Kebede
  16. Dr. Amir Ibrahim, Toronto, Canada
  17. W/O Amsal Woreta, Maryland, USA
  18. Mr. Amsalu Belay, Arizona, USA
  19. Mr. Andy Groum, USA
  20. Dr. Araya Amsalu, Ohio, USA
  21. Ato Ashenafi Nebro, Florida, USA
  22. Ato Assefa Adefris, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  23. Dr. Assegid Kebede, USA
  24. Dr. Awgechew Teshome, Ottawa, Canada
  25. M/s. Awlae Woldehanna, RN, Saskachewan, Canada
  26. Lt. Ayal-Sew Dessye, Arlington, Virginia., USA
  27. Dr. Bayabel Mengistu, Houston, Texas, USA
  28. Professor Eng. Bantyehun Tezazu, Toronto, Canada
  29. Dr. Beeletsega Yeneneh, Arizona, USA
  30. Mr. Belen Gizachew, Portugal
  31. Dr. Belete Alemu, M.D., California, USA
  32. Eng. Behailu Assefa, San Francisco, USA
  33. Dr. Benyam Gessesse, M.D., Philadelphia, USA
  34. Dr. Berhane Gebre-Kidan, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  35. Dr. Berhanu Abegaz, Williamsburg, VA, USA
  36. Mr. Berhanu Ayele Wurseno, CFGM, USA
  37. Professor Berhanu Alemaw, Botswana
  38. Professor Emeritus Berhanu Mengistu, USA
  39. Dr. Berhanu Tadesse Taye, Virginia, USA
  40. Ato Betru Gebregziabher, Texas, USA
  41. Dr. Bisrat Aklilu, New York, USA
  42. Associate prof. Bizu Gelaye, Boston, USA
  43. Professor Damtew Teferra, South Africa
  44. Dr. Dawit Mekonnen, USA
  45. Eng. Dawit Tesfaye, Zurich, Switzerland
  46. Engineer Dejene Eshete, Connecticut, USA
  47. Professor Demel T. Fanta, Botswana
  48. Dr. Demissie Gebre-Mariam, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  49. Dr. Demissie Tadesse, New Zealand
  50. Dr. Dereje Woreta, M.D., Maryland, USA
  51. Dr. Desalegne Bayih, M.D., Sweden
  52. Professor Desta Mebratu, South Africa
  53. Professor Enawgaw Mehari, M.D., Nashville, USA
  54. Dr. Efrem Alemayehu, M.D., Toronto, Canada
  55. Dr. Elias Kassa Mamo, M.D., Maryland, USA
  56. Mr. Ephrem Getahun Hailu, South Africa
  57. Professor Eyualem Abebe, USA
  58. Eng. Elleni Mengesha, Sweden
  59. Dr. Endale Ketefo, Sweden
  60. Dr. Erku Yimer, Chicago, USA
  61. Dr. Fantahun Degneh, Germany
  62. Dr Fassil Gebremariam, Florida, USA
  63. Dr. Fasil Melaku Wubu, M. D., Maryland, USA
  64. Dr. Fassil Tefera, M.D., New York, USA
  65. Dr. Fekadu Folle, Maryland, USA
  66. Dr. Fikre Germa, Toronto, Canada
  67. Dr. Fikru Maru, M.D., Stockholm, Sweden
  68. Dr. Fitsum Tariku, British Columbia, Canada
  69. Ato Frework Ayalew, North Carolina, USA
  70. Dr. Gabe Hamda, Washington, USA
  71. Dr. Gebeyehu Ejigu, Phoenix, AZ, USA
  72. Dr. Gebeyehu Teferi, M.D., Washington D.C., USA
  73. Dr. Gebrehiwot Lebsekal, Vancouver, Canada
  74. Professor Genene Mola, South Africa
  75. W/O Genet Abebe Ejigu, RN, Phoenix, AZ, USA
  76. Dr. Getachew Begashaw, Illinois, USA
  77. Ato Getachew Dessye, Canada
  78. Dr. Getachew Felleke, M.D., New York, USA
  79. Dr. Getnet Asrat, Ottawa, Canada
  80. Dr. Girma Aman, Kitchner, Canada
  81. Dr. Girma Lulu, Calgary, Canada
  82. Mr. Girma Mekonnen, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  83. Dr. Girma Molla, Australia
  84. Dr. Girma Tezazu, M.D., Toronto, Canada
  85. Dr. Guadie Sharew, Lesotho
  86. Professor Gulelat Desse, Botswana
  87. Dr. Haile Fenta, Canada
  88. Engineer Hizkiel Eskender, Ohio, USA
  89. Dr. Imiru Assefa, Michigan, USA
  90. Dr. Kalkidan Belaye, M.D., Toronto, Canada
  91. Professor Kassa Darge, Pennsylvania, USA
  92. Assoc. Professor Kebede Begna, M.D., USA
  93. Prof. Kebede Gessesse, Georgia, USA
  94. Mr. Kidanemariam Jembere, South Africa
  95. Dr. Kitaw Negash
  96. Dr. Lulsegged Abebe, London, England
  97. Dr. Liyew Desta, Sweden
  98. Professor Makeda Semret, Montreal, Canada
  99. Prof. Mamo Muchie, South Africa
  100. M/s. Martha Gebreselassie, USA
  101. Professor Mekibib Altaye, M.D., Ohio, USA
  102. Dr. Mekdim Ayana, Eswatini
  103. Dr. Mekonen Bayissie, Maryland, USA
  104. Dr. Melaku Berhane, M.D, California, USA
  105. Dr. Melaku Game, M.D., Canada
  106. Professor Emeritus Melaku Lakew, Sweden
  107. Dr. Melaku Teshome, USA
  108. Dr. Mengistu Yemane, M.D., Tennessee, USA
  109. Ato Menelik Andargie, Bay Area, CA, USA
  110. Dr. Mesfin Seifu, M.D., Ohio, USA
  111. Professor Messay Kebede, Ohio, USA
  112. Dr. Mengiziem Emiru, M.D., USA
  113. M/s. Meron Ahadu, USA
  114. W/O Metassibia Mulugeta, Seattle, USA
  115. Dr. Mezegebu Effa
  116. Dr. Million Belay, Stockholm, Sweden
  117. Dr. Minwiyelet Mussie, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  118. Dr. Moges Sisay, M.D., Indiana, USA
  119. Professor Mulatu Fekadu, South Africa
  120. Dr. Mulu Geletu, Toronto, Canada
  121. Professor Mulugeta F. Dinbabo, South Africa
  122. Dr. Mulugeta Yilma, Sweden
  123. Prof. Muluneh Yitayew, Tucson, Arizona, USA
  124. Professor Nega Debela, Ohio, USA
  125. Mr. Negash Abdurahman, USA
  126. Engineer Negesse Gutema, USA
  127. Dr. Negussie Nega, Maryland, USA
  128. Dr. Rahel Alemu, USA
  129. Engineer Samson Engeda, California, USA 130. Mr. Samson Getu, Sweden
  130. Dr. Samuel Tenaw, Durban, South Africa
  131. Professor Seid Hassen, Kentucky, USA
  132. Dr. Shiferaw Adilu, Alberta, Canada
  133. Dr. Shiferaw Gessesse, Washington, D.C., USA
  134. Dr. Solomon Afework, London, UK
  135. Professor Solomon Aklilu, Ottawa, Canada
  136. Dr. Solomon Basore, Calgary, Canada
  137. Dr. Solomon Bokre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  138. Mr. Solomon Lema, USA
  139. Professor Sissay Asefa, Michigan, USA
  140. Dr. Solomon Gashaw, Minnesota, USA
  141. Dr. Solomon Haile-Mariam, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  142. Professor Solomon Harrar, Kentucky, USA
  143. Dr. Solomon Kibret, USA
  144. Professor Solomon Negash, Georgia, USA
  145. Mr. Solomon Teffera, USA
  146. Dr. Tadesse Desta, M.D., California, USA
  147. Dr. Tariku Teshale, M.D., Sweden
  148. Dr. Tegegnework Getu, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  149. Mr. Tekesteberhan Tefera, Minnesota, USA
  150. Mr. Terefe Zeleke, USA
  151. Dr. Tesema Meganasa, Addis Ababa. Ethiopia
  152. Mr. Tesera Moges, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  153. Dr. Tesfalem Tegegn, South Africa
  154. Dr. Tesfaye Biftu
  155. Mr. Tesfaye Engida, Minnesota, USA
  156. Professor Tesfaye Kidane, South Africa
  157. Ato Teshome H. Tesema, Seattle, Washington, USA
  158. Mr. Tewodros Teklearegay, Arizona, USA
  159. Dr. Theodros Mengesha, M. D., Alabama, USA
  160. Dr. Tihut Asfaw, M.D., Ottawa, Canada
  161. Dr. Tikikil Mekuria, M.D., USA
  162. Professor Tilahun Adera, Virginia, USA
  163. Prof. Tilahun Eneyew, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  164. Dr. Tsehaye Atlaw, London, England
  165. Mr. Tsehaye Demeke, Tennessee, USA
  166. Dr. Tsegaye Metz,M.D., Germany
  167. Dr. Tsegaye Tegenu, Uppsala, Sweden
  168. Dr. Umer Kssa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  169. M/S Wassy Tesfa, USA
  170. Dr. Wessenu Abitew, Florida, USA
  171. Dr. Wondimu Mekonnen, UK
  172. Dr. Wondwossen Gebre, M.D., New York, USA
  173. Professor Wondwossen Gebreyes, Ohio, USA
  174. Dr. Worku Abera, Montreal, Canada
  175. Dr. Yacob Hailemariam, Virginia, USA
  176. Dr. Yared Hailemariam, M.D., Kentucky, USA
  177. Dr. Yemisrach Hailemeskel, Toronto, Canada
  178. Dr. Yeshimebet Retta, M.D., Virginia, USA
  179. Engineer Yeshitila Mulugeta, California, USA
  180. Dr. Yeshiwas Amsalu, M.D., Canada
  181. Professor Yilma Gultneh, Springfield, VA, USA
  182. Dr. Yilma Tekle-Mariam, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  183. Mr. Yilma Zerihun. Texas, USA
  184. Dr. Yohanes Dawd, M.D., Atlanta, USA
  185. Dr. Yohannes Negash, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
  186. Professor Yohanes Tiruneh, San Diego, USA
  187. Mr. Yonas Tafesse, Atlanta, GA, USA
  188. Mr. Youm A. Fesseha, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  189. Dr. Zebaye Baye, USA
  190. Mr, Zerfu Takele, Seattle, Washington, USA
  191. Dr. Zergabachew Asfaw, New York, USA
  192. Dr. Zewdu Lisanu, M.D., Kentucky, USA

Endorsing Organizations:

  1. Adwa Great African Victory Association (AGAVA)
  2. All Shewa Ethiopian People Multipurpose International Association
  3. American-Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC)
  4. Amhara Dimtse Serechit
  5. Amhara Wellbeing and Development Organization
  6. Bay Area Ethiopian Community Association, California, USA
  7. Communities of Ethiopians in Finland
  8. Ethio-Canadian Human Rights Association
  9. Ethiopian-American Development Council (EADC)
  10. Ethiopian Community Association in Atlanta
  11. Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago
  12. Ethiopian Community Association in Milwaukee
  13. Ethiopian Community Association of Minnesota
  14. Ethiopian Community in Seattle
  15. Ethiopian Dialogue Forum (EDF)
  16. Ethiopians for Ethiopians
  17. Ethiopians in Tennessee
  18. Ethiopiawinnet: Council for the Defense of Citizen Rights
  19. International Ethiopian Women’s Organization (IEWO)
  20. Global Alliance for Justice – The Ethiopian Cause
  21. Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians (GARE)
  22. Global Amhara Coalition
  23. Global Ethiopian Advocacy Nexus (GLEAN)
  24. Global Ethiopian Scholars Initiative (GESI)
  25. Gondar Hibret for Ethiopian Unity
  26. New York/New Jersey Tri-State Hope for Ethiopia, Inc. (H4E)
  27. Major Lemma Woldetsadik Memorial Foundation
  28. Menelik Hall Foundation
  29. Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES)
  30. People To People, Inc. (P2P) 31. Radio Yenesew Ethiopia
  31. Selassie Stand Up, Inc.
  32. The Ethiopian Broadcast Group
  33. Tibibir
  34. United Ethiopians
  35. Vision Ethiopia (VE)
  36. Worldwide Ethiopian Civic Associations Network (WE-CAN)


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  1. It is indeed heartening to see so many distinguished individuals and organizations standing up to the West’s we-know-what’s-best-for-the-black-man mentality and standing for the sovereign rights of Ethiopia. The TPLF goons should never be allowed to rule the whole of Ethiopia ever again. The consequences of that could be indescribable.


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