As congressman Tom Malinowski of New Jersey introduced the H.R.6600 bill to target and sanction Ethiopians on February 4 2022, Amnesty International released a second report on February 16, 2022, with shocking evidences of atrocities committed by the Tigrayan rebels known as Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The report covers the atrocities perpetrated by the TPLF between late August and early September of 2021, including brutal mass killing of civilians, sexual violence against women and children, and looting of public and private infrastructures in and around the towns of Chenna and Kobo in Amhara region, shortly after Tigrayan forces invaded the areas in July.
Survivors told Amnesty International, Tigrayan fighters summarily killed their relatives and neighbors outside their homes in Kobo in early September of 2021, “First they shot my brother Taddese… He died on the spot. My other brother and my brother-in-law tried to move away and were both shot in the back and killed… they shot me in my left shoulder… I stayed down, pretending to be dead.” In a single afternoon on September 9 2021, 24 unarmed civilians were murdered execution style, shot on the head or back.
The report includes troubling accounts of women and girls that were raped by TPLF fighters in the town of Chenna. Fourteen of the 30 survivors interviewed by Amnesty International said that they were gang-raped by multiple Tigrayan fighters, and some were raped in front of their children. Seven of the survivors were girls under the age of 18, including Lucy, a 14-year-old seventh grade student.
Furthermore, Amnesty’s report confirmed with medical workers in Chenna and Kobo that private and public property including hospitals and health centers were entirely looted and the remaining facilities were destroyed by the Tigrayan forces which made it difficult to treat rape victims and wounded civilians that needed immediate medical attention.
Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director for East Africa’s at Amnesty International said “Evidence is mounting of a pattern of Tigrayan forces committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.”
This report exposes only the atrocities perpetrated by the TPLF in two towns in Amhara region. The widespread brutality in other Amhara regions of South Wollo, Shewa and towns in Afar have yet to be reported by Amnesty.
Despite the mounting evidence of gruesome crimes committed by the TPLF, Representative Tom Malinowski drafted the one sided H.R.6600 bill promoted by TPLF lobbyists. This bill is misleading US foreign policy and aims to sanction Ethiopia, the victims of the war crimes in this conflict – souring the long-term US-Ethiopia relationship and an ally in the horn of Africa.
The Malinowski H.R.6600 bill intentionally excludes the insurrectionist TPLF that started the conflict in late 2020, which are still the perpetrators committing brutal war crimes and crimes against humanity as revealed in the latest Amnesty’s reports.
Several advocacy groups around the world have released statements opposing the misguided H.R.6600 bill, fearing the bill adds fuel to the conflict in Ethiopia as it obscures the facts on the ground. The bill has a goal to penalize Ethiopia's ordinary families by imposing economic sanction, weakening Ethiopia’s security apparatus and emboldening insurrectionist groups such as TPLF and terrorism in the HOA.
If passed, this bill will only serve to impede the country’s ongoing endeavors to secure peace and mobilize rehabilitation efforts in the conflict regions.