‘Ethiopian forces accused of extrajudicial executions’

Image copyright Reuters Image caption HRW says scores of civilians in May and July were slaughtered in Tigray, East Africa

The US human rights group Human Rights Watch has accused Ethiopian forces of summarily executing civilians, including children, in May and July last year.

The Tigray Liberation Front (TLF) has been battling Ethiopia’s government for decades.

Ethiopia denies summary executions are taking place, saying the reports are “wrong and misleading”.

It says the alleged killings were perpetrated by rebels backed by Eritrea and Somalia.

“Forces loyal to the Federal government of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) routinely commit acts of deliberate, systematic, and egregious human rights abuses,” Human Rights Watch says in a statement.

“During its armed conflict with the SLF and other anti-government rebel groups, the government has unlawfully killed dozens of civilians and thousands of civilians arbitrarily detained in detention centres throughout the country.

“The SLF claims it has executed hundreds of prisoners in revenge for alleged government attacks, but most evidence indicates that Tigrayan rebels have committed summary executions at times supported by elements of the Ethiopian military.”

Ethiopia says TPLF rebels killed 1,400 civilians from April to June 2010 in the northern Tigray region of east Africa, mostly for the roles they had allegedly played in helping Somalia’s al-Shabab movement.

It has repeatedly blocked rights organisations access to areas in the Tigray region for investigations.

“The latest allegations of the use of extrajudicial executions by the TPLF’s alleged allies in government is appalling,” the HRW director for Ethiopia, Leila Zerrougui, said.

“The Ethiopian government should bring these alleged unlawful killings to an end and investigate them fully.”

Ethiopia’s government says there is no evidence that Tigrayans have committed mass killings in the region.

It also points out that many of the dead had been killed by rebels.

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