Four military vehicles first surrounded the Adi Wenfito and Tseye camps, witnesses said, before the soldiers began to surround the youth, forced them on buses and were taken to a location on the outskirts of the Shire. As the soldiers entered an abandoned school of refugees, the witnesses said they shouted, “We’ll see if America will save you now!”
“They forcibly opened the door, the men didn’t even get a chance to wear shoes. The soldiers took off their guns, [ready to shoot], “A witness said.
A woman said that her two sons, aged 19 and 24, were dragged from their house at around 9.30 pm. “They didn’t explain why they were taking them, they just surrounded them, beat them up and took them away,” she told CNN, adding that she was too afraid that someone with her sons would What will be done to ask the question.
Many of those who were rounded up were released late Tuesday afternoon, when they identified themselves as aid personnel. He told CNN that hundreds of youths have been detained at the Guna distribution center, an aid and food storage facility, which has now been turned into a military camp.
One person described hours of beatings by Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers. “Many of us are young but there are people who are very large who will not be able to withstand beating for much longer,” he said.
Eritrean information minister Yemen Ghebremeskel denied the reports and dismissed previous CNN reporting, saying “How long will you continue to believe the face value of any and all ‘witness statements’ … We have fabricated too many or false Have heard the stories. “
US President Joe Biden said in a statement late Wednesday that he was “deeply concerned by the escalating violence” in Ethiopia and condemned “massive human rights abuses in Tigre”.
Acting Assistant Secretary of the African Affairs Bureau Robert Godek said on Thursday that if the conflict does not take the “reverse path”, Ethiopia and Eritrea should expect “further action” from the US.
“It cannot be business as usual in the face of violence and atrocities in Tigray,” Godek said during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
Godek refrained from calling the conflict and humanitarian abuses in the region a “war crime,” but said the State Department is conducting a review to determine whether actions in Tigray should be named as such.
The United Nations on Thursday also condemned what it called an arbitrary and brutal arrest and called for the immediate release of those detained.
“International humanitarian and human rights law strictly prohibits the arbitrary arrest and misconduct of any person,” said Dr. Catherine Sozzi, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Ethiopia. “Serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law should be investigated immediately, and criminals should be brought to justice.”
Elizabeth Haslund, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an agency working with displaced people, told CNN, “We have received very disturbing reports that Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers have taken to the IDP sites carrying many youths Entered. Vehicles. How many reports range from a few hundred to 700 youth. “
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) released a statement on Wednesday confirming the accounts of eyewitnesses given to CNN. MSF East Africa tweeted, “On Monday night, the army forcibly moved hundreds of people from camps where internally displaced people are seeking asylum in the shire.”
200 days of violence
The conflict in Tigray has been going on for more than 200 days against Tigray’s regional leaders, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the Ethiopian National Defense Force, Eritrean troops, and the Amhara ethnic militia. Civilians have been targeted by Ethiopian government forces and allied Eritrean and militia forces since the beginning of the conflict last year.
This latest incident, however, is a significant escalation described by human activists and witnesses in the Shire as an ongoing, extra-judicial campaign targeted at young men perceived as “fighting age”.
Humanitarian activists told CNN that Eritrean and Ethiopian troops have been blocking a major aid route to the Shire for months, restricting supplies, even as displaced people continue to flow into the city.
An aid worker told CNN that tens of vehicles carrying aid to Shire were returned on Saturday alone. In April, a CNN team in the area was able to camera the Eritrean soldiers who obstructed aid on the route.
CNN has contacted the Prime Minister’s Office of Ethiopia and the Information Minister of Eritrea for comment, but has not received a response.
The United States late Sunday announced “far-reaching” financial sanctions and visa restrictions against officials in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Amhara and the TPLF, who find it “participatory” in abusing or hindering the resolution of the crisis. A State Department spokesman told CNN that the sanctions would be enforced by the US as a “unilateral action”. CNN has sought comment from the State Department on Shire’s latest report.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry rejected US sanctions in a statement. Many witnesses see this latest increase in violence as a statement of defiance in the face of growing international condemnation.
In a video sent to CNN on Tuesday morning, which was secretly filmed, desperate parents can be seen gathering on the premises of the local UNHCR office. In one video, Ethiopian soldiers can be seen addressing parents inside the compound.
CNN was able to place the video geographically at a location in the center of the shire by examining metadata in raw files and matching key landmarks in surrounding footage such as the Khulafa e Rashidin Mosque. CNN analysis reveals that the metadata also revealed the date and time the video was filmed – around 7:45 am local time on May 25, 2021 – along with the direction of sunlight and the length of the shadows in the video It fits. One of the videos also features a UNHCR logo supporting the accounts.
The audio in the video is unclear but witnesses say the parents were told: “We can kill you right here and the United Nations will do nothing except help you.”
This story has been updated.
Reporting contributed by DJ Judd.