Ethiopia Criticizes Amnesty Report on Massacre in Tigray

Ethiopia’s government criticized a report by Amnesty International that alleged war crimes in the northern town of Axum last year.

Amnesty said on Friday that Eritrean troops massacred hundreds of unarmed civilians in November. It based its conclusions on interviews with 41 survivors and witnesses.

The methodology used to produce the report had “limitations” as it relied on information gathered from refugees in eastern Sudan and phone interviews with individuals in Axum, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“It would have been appropriate for Amnesty International to undertake the necessary fieldwork by visiting the region and talking to the competent Ethiopian authorities to uncover the truth,” the ministry said.

Amnesty said in a statement on Sunday that it requested access to Tigray in December 2020 to investigate reports it received of human-rights and international humanitarian-law violations.

“To date, we have not received a response from the Ethiopian government,” it said. “More than a week before publishing our investigation on the massacre in Axum, we reached out to the relevant Ethiopian authorities to share our main findings and ask a series of probing questions that would have allowed them to provide their perspective. They declined to do so.”

Humanitarian Access

The government announced separately on Friday that it will allow humanitarian agencies “unfettered access” to the Tigray region. Aid groups have been trying to provide relief to the area since conflict erupted there in November, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

Eritrea’s government described the Amnesty report as “transparently unprofessional,” according to a statement posted by Information Minister Yemane Meskel.

Amnesty International “makes no effort to get the facts right and cross-check the veracity of the allegations,” he said.

The human-rights group said it stands by its findings and the methodology used. In addition to witness and survivor testimonies gathered in different locations, the group said it corroborated key allegations using methods including satellite-imagery analysis and digital verification of videos recorded in Axum.

“Extensive field investigations are always preferable to expose the entirety of a situation, but to date the Ethiopian authorities have refused to allow any independent human rights monitors into Tigray since the conflict began,” it said.

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