Amnesty International condemns Eritrean massacre in Tigray

15 Ethiopian peacekeepers in South Sudan refuse to return home
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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Amnesty has condemned the alleged human rights abuses by Eritrean troops in Axum, Tigray Region Ethiopia, said to have taken place between November 10 to November 20, 2013.

According to the institute’s 25-page report, hundreds of civilians were massacred by Eritrean forces in retaliation.

According to the report, when the Ethiopian Defense Forces entered the city, heavy artillery shelling was reported in the city, resulting in civilian casualties.

In the early hours of November 19, 2013, TPLF forces and militias attacked the Eritrean army with the help of locals armed with knives, machetes, and sticks, in a battle in the area known as Mai-Koho.

Eritrean soldiers who returned later that afternoon carried out massacres of civilians in military vehicles and tanks, witnesses told Amnesty.

One eyewitness told Amnesty he had seen 400 dead on November 20 alone, while another eyewitness had seen 200 dead at various funerals.

Despite this, the Ethiopian Defense Forces did not attempt to block Eritrean troops other than guarding government buildings.

Amnesty compiled their report by interviewing eyewitnesses, locals, and a number of individuals who know the area, and referring to satellite imagery. The organization presented its findings to State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and Ambassador Redwan Hussein, a spokesman for the Emergency Task Force, but has not yet received a response. Amnesty also called on the UN to investigate the killings, kidnappings and robberies committed by Eritrean soldiers in Axum.

Eritrea has rejected the Amnesty report.

By Henok Alemayehu

ICC rules past trauma not a defense against the war crime of forced pregnancy

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The international court concluded a case against a former child soldier whose defense included that he had been a victim himself when he was abducted and conscripted into Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army at the age of 10. The acts for which he was tried took place later on, when he was a high ranking commander of that force.

The ruling establishes for the ICC that “suffered victimization in the past is not a justification, nor an excuse to victimize others,” as was argued by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in her opening statements of the trial in 2016.

The ruling is considered to be somewhat of a landmark because it expands the ICC’s definition of war crimes and crimes against humanity to include forced pregnancy and forced marriage.

By Milan Sime Martinić