Ethiopia slams Amnesty report on rape in Tigray

tigray ethiopia

People wait in a line to enter a bank in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 25, 2021. 

Photo credit: Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP

The Ethiopian government on Wednesday dismissed a fresh report by Amnesty international which details how Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers are systemically committing large-scale rape in the country's northern Tigray region.

The report said soldiers have raped hundreds of women and girls there, while also subjecting many to sexual slavery and mutilation.

According to Amnesty's report, the large-scale rape atrocities have inflicted irreversible psychological and physical damage to victims.

But Addis Ababa immediately responded, saying Amnesty's report is based on flawed methodology.

"The report relies heavily on interviews conducted in refugee camps in Sudan and remote interviews facilitated by community workers," said a statement issued by the country's Foreign Ministry.

It further accused the rights group of a "continued smear campaign" against the Ethiopian government.

"Amnesty International seems bent on engaging in sensationalised attacks and smear campaigns against the government of Ethiopia," the ministry said.

"The current report reinforces these apprehensions," it added.

Previously, sources from hospitals and local NGO's working in Tigray told that at least 1,400 rape cases were reported from across the region.

This figure excludes those raped in more remote areas and who never made it to health facilities for treatment.

The Amnesty report, which documented accounts of 63 rape victims and health workers, reveals how hundreds of Tigrayan women and girls were routinely subjected to mutilation, gang rape, sexual slavery and other forms of torture by Eritrean soldiers as well as by members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and its allied Amharan militia fighters.

Some survivors said they were held captive for weeks after being raped.

Other victims said they were raped in front of their family members.

Amnesty said rape has been used as a weapon of war in Tigray since conflict broke out in November last year.

"The severity and scale of the sexual crimes committed are particularly shocking, amounting to war crimes and possible crimes against humanity," said Amnesty's secretary-general Agnes Callamard.

Amnesty's report comes a day after the Ethiopian government called on civilians to join the military to destroy TPLF forces “once and for all”.

"Now is the right time for all capable Ethiopians who are of age to join the Defense Forces, Special Forces and militias to show your patriotism," the PM's office said on Tuesday.