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Why Did the ICC Issue an Arrest Warrant Against Putin, But Not Abiy and Debretsion? 

Editor’s note : the views in the article reflect the views of the writer, not the views of 

Yonas _IIC_ Putin _ Abiy
Yonas Biru

Yonas Biru, PhD 

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for war crimes for Vladimir Putin and another Russian official, accusing both of abducting and deporting Ukrainian  children to Russia, since Russia unleashed a full-scale aggression and invasion on Ukraine. 

The ICC stated: “There are reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears  responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful  transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.” 

It warrants noting that Russia has withdrawn its ICC signatory status, in 2016. Keeping this in  mind, let us turn to Ethiopia and compare the crimes of PM Abiy Ahmed and Debretsion  Gebreselassie (Chair of TPLF and President of the Tigray regional state) during the Tigray war. 

Let us start with the crimes of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) aided by  Eritrean, Amhara, and other Ethiopian regional forces. The US formally accused the ENDF, as  well as Eritrean and Amhara forces of committing crimes against humanity in Tigray. Similar  allegations are echoed by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty  International (AI). 

Two points need to be mentioned. First, Ethiopia, like Russia, is not a signatory of the ICC  statute. Second, neither the US government, nor the AI mentioned Ethiopian regional forces  other than Amhara forces, even though all regions have sent regional special forces to the  Tigray war front. 

The US government accused all sides including the ENDF, Tigray People’s Liberation Front  (TPLF), Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) as well as Eritrean and Amhara forces of committing “war  crimes, including rapes, massacres of civilians, forcible deportations and ethnic cleansing.”  Antony Blinken stated: “Many of these actions were not random or a mere byproduct of war  – they were calculated and deliberate.” 

There are equally sadistic crimes committed by TPLF and TDF against Tigrayan children that  the international community has willfully ignored. The Chair of the TPLF, Debretsion  Gebreselassie is on the record, announcing the TPLF would make the conflict a “people’s war starting with the children.” The Organization for World Peace, has confirmed “the TPLF uses  child soldiers for the purpose of human shields against attacks.”

As reported by BBC, Getachew Reda, TPLF’s spokesperson during the war confirmed that  there were underage fighters among TPLF’s military ranks. An investigative report by  Professor Ann Gerald-Fitz revealed: “A family would be denied any aid, and family members  will be imprisoned if they refuse to offer their children for war.” A recently intercepted  military communication exposed that the standing order is to shoot those who retreat or run  to save their lives. 

Most of the hundreds of thousands of Tigrayan combatants who died were children – many  of them under the age of 16. 

The question is: What explains the decision to issue an arrest warrant against Putin for  abducting thousands of Ukrainian children and taking them to Russia when TPLF and the  ENDF, Eritrea and Amhara forces are accused of committing far more heinous crimes? 

Are the lives of hundreds of thousands of Tigrayan, Amhara and Afar children valued less  than the human rights of thousands of Ukrainian children? Evidently, this is a factor. But this  is not all. 

In June, the AP News reported “the African Union quietly dropped its own probe into the  war’s atrocities, after extensive lobbying by Ethiopia.” 

Today, the Guardian reported the UN is allowing the mandate of the International  Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia to expire later this month, after a deadline  passed to table a resolution renewing it to the UN Human Rights Council. The newspaper  noted: “The deadline expired a day after investigators had stressed the need to continue the  work, saying there was ‘an overwhelming risk human rights atrocities would continue in Ethiopia’ without them.” 

The most important question is why aren’t Ethiopians (most importantly Amhara and  Tigrayans) not protesting? 

Sadly, Tigrayans do not do anything without getting a campaign cue from the TPLF. The TPLF  leaders do not want the investigation to continue because they know the heinous crime  they have committed. 

How about Amharas? Amharas are prisoners of “the #NoMore” idiocy. They are suspicious  of the international community. Their fear is that Amhara Special Forces and Fannos will be  unfairly accused by international investigators. How stupid! How idiotic! How hermitized! 

Unless Ethiopians launch an international campaign for international investigation,  Ethiopians will continue to suffer crime against humanity, war crime and even genocide.

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of  


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  1. Dr. Birru
    It’s important to note that the ICC can still assert jurisdiction over non-signatory states if the alleged crimes occurred on the territory of a signatory state Or if the United Nations Security Council refers the situation to the ICC. In the case of Russia, the situation in Ukraine was referred to the ICC by Ukraine itself. Dr. Birru, you fail to acknowledge that these allegations and accusations against the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean, and Amhara forces in Tigray are still under investigation.
    Also Ethiopians are or may be concerned about the potential consequences of international investigations, such as the targeting of specific groups or forces.

  2. I am amazed by the doctors disappointment by the inaction of the ICC for not issuing arrest warant against Abiy and Debretsion.

    I think the good doctor knows very well that ICC is an entity controlled by the United States of America and the west and its actions are political. The west uses ICC to stop leaders in the south they think are challenging or are not obdient.

    Why has ICC not issued any warant against any western leaders when we know what happend in Iraq, Syria, Libya ……..Putin has not done anything worse than them The good doctor knows that ICC is a tool used by the west. Its victims are people in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Please do not pretend that ICC stands for justice.

    In a twisted way your essay exposes the injustices TPLF committed against child soldiers using them as shields.

    The obvious answer why ICC did not issue warant against Abiy and Debretsion is political decision.


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