Women in an occupied town in Ethiopia’s Amhara region are accusing Tigreyan fighters of raping and robbing them at gunpoint.
A new report from Amnesty International details the horrific attacks that took place in Nifas Mewcha, located in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, in mid-August.
Through interviews with 16 women, the London-based rights group detailed a pattern of gang rape, robbery, physical and verbal assault. The report also said that fighters of the Tigreyan People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, looted and destroyed medical facilities in the city. Some survivors who spoke to the advocacy group used ethnic slurs, brutal attacks. In some cases, women said that they were raped in the presence of their children.
Amnesty called on TPLF commanders to investigate the allegations and remove all perpetrators from the force.
Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard said: “We have described the ghastly acts committed by TPLF fighters in the testimony of survivors, which are war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity.” “They disregard morality or any part of humanity.”
However, the TPLF leadership rejected the report. Spokesman Getachev Reda tweeted Tuesday ahead of the report’s release that it was aimed at “establishing fairness by dividing crime” between fighters from both sides of the conflict.
Survivors told Amnesty that the attacks began shortly after the TPLF took control of the city on 12 August. Local and federal officials say 71 to 73 women were raped.
The VOA Amharic Service also interviewed victims of the attacks. A 50-year-old mother living in Nefas Mewcha said a fighter armed and threatened with violence broke into her home.
“He had a bomb, a knife, a Kalashnikov and said if I moved, he would cut my leg and then he raped me,” the survivor told VOA Amharic Service. “No one came to help. No one was coming and it was silence.”
Another survivor, a mother of three in her 30s, spoke to VOA Amharic Service on condition of anonymity. She said that the fighters who came to attack her home accused her of marrying officers and she said she was raped while her children were watching.
“There were three or four of them. And then when they came in, one of my kids started crying and said [a fighter] Said ‘I will kill you. I will kill you.’ The children’s mother, who came to help after hearing cries, was also raped by the men.
Amharic Service reporter Ester Misgnou for VOA Horn of Africa contributed to the report.