“Accuse the other Side of that which you are Guilty” NaMA to Amnesty and HRW joint report

Statement on the Joint Reports of the Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) on allegations of Human Rights Violations in Wolkait “Western Tigray”

“Accuse the other Side of that which you are Guilty” – the quote that perfectly portrays the modus operandi of terrorist TPLF.

Having a firm stand on the respect and protection of human rights, the National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) read thoroughly the joint “Investigation” reports of Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), released on April 06, 2022. Though NaMA supports and respects any genuine fact finding missions for the protection and respect of human rights by any party including AI and HRW, NaMA strongly condemns any sinister and concerted effort to weaponize allegations of human rights violations and to intentionally help a war effort waged by a notorious terrorist organization such as TPLF.

The report released by the twin human rights organizations is severely short of universally recognized standards of investigations in its data collection methods, presentation of facts, analysis, findings, conclusions and recommendations. It is an “investigation” entirely relied on hearsay, with no relevant documentation, lacks material evidence and is full of unverified wild statements that would have been rectified had there been a little good will and diligence.

In a nutshell, it is an arbitrary ruling than an “investigation” report that acquits and awards the aggressor while it blames the victims, jeopardizing decades’ long struggle for the restoration of identity and a quest for survival of Wolkait Amharas. It is directed towards enabling the aggressor, suppressing the victims and a substitute to achieve a political goal which TPLF failed to materialize through violence and war. Given the deficits of the report, it is possible to write hundreds of pages refuting and exposing countless and sever deficits of the report. However, this statement focuses on prima facie deficits of the report as a manifestation of the substantive flaws of the “investigation”.


Investigation reveals killing of over 60,000 Amharas

  • Over 60,000 ethnic Amharas were killed by TPLF during the past 40 years in Welkait Tegede, and Telemt areas

1. The Joint Report takes a position on Wolkait (Wolkait, Tsegede and Humera Zone) and awards Wolkait to TPLF’s Greater Tigray project

Even though the report stated that the twin organizations didn’t take a position on the dispute between the warring parties or which group or authorities should control a territory, it failed to manifest its neutrality and impartiality from the outset. The expression used in the title of the report is “Western Tigray” betraying the millennia old names of the territory i.e., Wolkait. Except the last three decades where the TPLF forcefully annexed Wolkait naming the territory as “Western Tigray”, nowhere in the history of Wolkait that the territory was associated with Tigray and Tigrayans in name and in practice. Hence, the joint report took a stand in favor of expansionist TPLF’s war efforts by addressing Wolkait with an expression designated by the aggressor and jeopardized decades’ old identity restoration struggle and survival quest of the Wolkait Amharas.

2. A Misleading Premise and a Misinforming Background

The joint report provided a misleading premise of the report and misinforming background of the “investigation”. The Report premised on a false account of the incorporation of Wolkait into Tigray as if Wolkait was incorporated following the formation and decision of a Boundary Commission in 1992 by the Transitional Government of Ethiopia. There was never been a Boundary Commission created and went functional in 1992 and thereafter till the downfall of TPLF. The fictitious statement was intentionally inserted in a deliberate attempt to legitimatize the annexation of Wolkait. The only act that formed the boundary of regional governments was Proclamation No 7/1992 a Proclamation that provides for the Establishment of National/Regional Self Governments signed by none other than Meles Zenawi, the then Chief priest of TPLF.

Proclamation No 7/1992 established no Boundary Commission and to the dismay of expansionist TPLF it didn’t list and incorporate Wolkait and Wolkait Amharas as an integral part of Tigray while it lists Tigray, Saho and Kunama as constituents of Region One, Tigray [Article 3 of the Proclamation]. Article 4 of the Proclamation introduced criteria for the Delimitations of National Self-Governments’ Borders. In all the three accounts of the criteria set by the proclamation, Wolkait Amharas can’t be incorporated into Tigray and none of the criteria allowed Tigray to legitimately claim Wolkait, let alone incorporating it in to its territory. Consequently, even the Proclamation enacted by TPLF itself failed to justify and legitimize the forceful annexation of Wolkait into Tigray. This is a material fact which the “Investigation” report skipped and invented a fictitious “Boundary Commission Decision” as a background in a desperate attempt to legitimize a forceful annexation and to provide an artificial “Disputed Territory” narration.

TPLF forcefully annexed Wolkait and incorporated it into its Greater Tigray project with no legal and institutional backup long before the adoption of the Transitional Charter, the enactment of Proclamation No 7/1992 to provide for the Establishment of National/Regional Self Governments which also failed to legitimize the annexation and with no formation of a Boundary Commission. This is why the National Movement of Amhara strongly argues that the question of Wolkait has nothing to do with law and legality. It was annexed through violence and force, and thus when the force is removed Wolkait remains Amhara and an Amhara territory. Therefore, the joint report’s futile attempt to provide a legitimate excuse for the annexation of Wolkait by framing a misleading premise and inventing a misinforming background is objectionable and needs to be rectified if AI and HRW care for their good will and reputation.

3. Fabricating Numbers and Manufacturing Evidence

The allegation of the report is “Crimes against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing”. In order to make the case presentable and convincing the authors of the report had to have enough number of people being evicted from Wolkait. Accordingly, the joint report opened its summary asserting that hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans living in Wolkait “Western Tigray” were displaced. The report, referring to the Tigrayan Interim Administration, asserted that 723,000 Tigrayans were displaced into Tigray and, quoting the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 51,207 Tigrayans were displaced in to Eastern Sudan. According to the report, a total number of 774,207 ethnic Tigrayans were displaced from Wolkait “Western Tigray”. Had the AI and HRW joint investigation purpose was fact finding and redressing alleged wrong doings, they would have easily made fact checking and get to the bottom of the truth before they publish a bogus report of which content one could easily refute and ridicule.

It is a matter of simple mathematics that in order to expel 774,207 ethnic Tigrayans from Wolkait “Western Tigray”, the total number of ethnic Tigrayans residing in Wolkait before the war erupts must be more than or at least equal to the number of expelled ethnic Tigrayans. For any prudent investigator, it is a proper procedure to make a little research on the subject of the investigation and cross-check the allegations before it announces its findings. Total number of residents, including all ethnicities, in Wolkait before the war erupts was very well known and available in the official websites of the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency as well as in the websites of the United Nations Agencies including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. However, the joint “investigation” report didn’t bother to follow simple procedure and make a simple fact-checking.

Let’s present the data regarding total number of residents in Wolkait before TPLF attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and waged war on the people of Ethiopia in the mid night of November 3, 2020. Total number of residents in Wolkait “Western Tigray Zone” was 410,662 as per the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency’s Population Projection Values of 2014. In 2017, the total number of the population was projected to be 434,879 by the Agency. The Agency reported that the total number of residents of “Western Tigray” in 2019 was 451,541. The data and reports of the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency regarding the total number of residents in Wolkait “Western Tigray” are consistent. These population projection values were made based on Population and Housing Census conducted at the time when TPLF was in charge of the Federal Government and firmly controls the National Census. Consistent with the official data, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also reported that the total number of residents in Wolkait “Western Tigray” before the war erupts was 467,890.

Please pay attention, these numbers represent all ethnicities in Wolkait not just Tigrayans only. However, the joint “investigation” unashamedly asserted that 774,207 ethnic Tigrayans were evicted from Wolkait “Western Tigray”, a number that almost doubles the total number of residents in Wolkait. Even though all these data were available online a click away at their computers, the authors of the joint “investigation” willfully and consciously skipped them and published a fabricated, unsubstantiated and unsupported data in order to qualify the bogus criminal charges of “Crimes against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing” they pressed against the victims of the TPLF’s war of aggression i.e., the Amhara people and its leading personalities. If the authors of the report fail to cross-check facts that are publicly and openly available a click away at their computers, how on earth they are able to verify and cross-check information gathered from a remote telephone interviews administered to 427 informants? The answer is the obvious. They didn’t, they don’t and they can’t.

Since the forceful annexation of Wolkait, the expansionist TPLF practiced various criminal tactics namely; physical and numerical genocide of Wolkait Amharas, killing and expelling Wolkait Amharas en masse as well as settling as many Tigrayans as possible and exaggerating the number of Tigrayans settled in Wolkait. As a result, close to 60,000 Wolkait Amharas were killed and disappeared as revealed by the findings of University of Gondar researchers who conducted their research for more than a year by physically being there and engaging the very victims at the very places and sites the crimes were committed, not a remote phone interview. Alongside the physical genocide, TPLF administered numerical genocide whereby TPLF counted Wolkait Amharas as Tigrayans in denial of their existence. Those hundreds of thousands of Wolkait Amharas subjected to the numerical genocide are the overwhelming majority of Wolkait residents; currently, well and alive living in hard won freedom in today’s Wolkait. Additionally, TPLF in a desperate attempt to change the demography settled more than thirty thousand demobilized TPLF fighters and thousands of Tigrayan refugees it brought from Sudan.

Though TPLF desperately tried to change the Wolkait demography through settlement of Tigrayans, the more important tactic it employed was inflating and exaggerating the number of Tigrayans it settled. It repetitively claimed through formal and informal channels that it had settled close to a million Tigrayans in Wolkait convincing unsuspecting people left and right. TPLF deployed this tactic with a goal to settle as many Tigrayans as possible under the guise of internally displaced people and to reclaim Wolkait. It is this fake number, propagated for long by TPLF, which the joint “investigation” bought and reported as evicted Tigrayans, not actual Wolkait residents.

Having reported a non-existing and fictitious number that incriminates victims and serves the interests of the aggressor, AI and HRW failed the cause they professed to uphold and defend. The National Movement of Amhara calls on both organizations to withdraw their “Investigation” report, cancel their findings and recommendations.

4. Only Wolkait “Western Tigray”

The scope of the investigation is one of the many indicators that demonstrate the bias and partiality of the “investigation”. The timeline the report covers is from early November 2020 up to December 2021. In this timeline, the war was fought in several territories including most parts of Amhara Region and Afar Region where TPLF committed atrocious crimes killing thousands of unarmed civilians. In addition, TPLF used rape as a weapon of war in multiple places such as Chena, Kobo and Afar’s Kalikuma on the people of Amhara and Afar amounting Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes as established by the findings of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. In fact, in much of this timeline, no military conflict happened in Wolkait “West Tigray” except in the first few weeks of early November 2020, where TPLF-led militias and Samri Group committed massacre of more than 1,600 ethnic Amharas in MaiKadra before they left behind Wolkait. However, the joint report skipped all other places that, if investigated, would have exposed TPLF and its atrocious crimes. For this and other countless reasons, the joint report proved itself selective and partial.

5. “Accuse the other Side of that which you are Guilty”

The findings of the “investigation” are “Crimes against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing” of which standard of proof is usually a standard of “beyond reasonable doubt” in order to ensure accurate, impartial and non-arbitrary findings. However, the evidences presented in the “investigation” report were well below possible standard of evidence that any genuine fact finding mission could never rely on to justify an allegation of “Crimes against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing”. The entire “investigation” report seemed to revolve around an aphorism “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” in a desperate attempt to establish a case of “Crimes against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing” at any cost.

The authors of the report stated that they conducted 427 remote telephone interviews between March 2021 and March 2022. As per the report, the respondents of the interviews were only ethnic Tigrayans and all other ethnicities are excluded. There is no wrong to make ethnic Tigrayans respondents of the “investigation”. However, to administer the whole lot of 427 remotely administered interviews exclusively to ethnic Tigrayans for alleged crimes committed in a territory where other ethnicities reside and where ethnic Amharas constitute the overwhelming majority is a self-evident compromise on the integrity, fairness and credibility of the investigation process. Add to that the subjects of the “investigation” are ethnic Amhara leaders who championed the Wolkait Amhara Identity Movement and helped to topple down TPLF.

Moreover, it was established in the report that TPLF settled its thirty thousand demobilized fighters in Wolkait. It’s these former TPLF fighters who fled to Sudan and Tigray, not ordinary Tigrayans, who are the respondents of the interview and become the basis for the findings of the “investigation” report. Most importantly, it is a public knowledge that TPLF-led militias and members of Samri Group who committed the Maikadra massacre of well above 1,600 ethnic Amharas fled to Sudan, took refuge and live in refugee camps found in Sudan. These are the very people who happened to be informants and respondents of the fact finding mission of the joint investigation team sent to the refugee camp in Sudan. This is where the quote “Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty” comes into picture. These are the “strongest” evidences the “investigation” presented in the report and the rest is event reconstruction animations. This is why NaMA believes the joint investigation report used the lowest possible standard of evidence; and, its conclusions are unsupported, its findings are cynical and its recommendations are unjustified.

6. Disarm Amharas and Reverse the Gains Won by the Wolkait Amhara Identity Movement

The recommendations forwarded by the joint “investigation” report are as partial and biased as its fact presentation, analysis and findings. Even though the “Investigation” report didn’t deny the Maikadra massacre of ethnic Amharas albeit with lesser number of victims, no accountability on any Tigrayan person nor a single leader of TPLF was recommended despite the Maikadra massacre was directly monitored and directed by the terrorist TPLF, of which accounts are well documented; as opposed to, the phony evidence comprised of a remotely administered phone interviews and event reconstruction animations which the joint investigation found adequate to prosecute Colonel Demeke Zewudu & Co. To the surprise of impartial observers, the joint report called for the demobilization and disarmament of Fano Amhara militias who are acting in self-defense; but not TPLF, a designated terrorist organization in action displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians, actively fighting as we speak now and committing heinous crimes in Amhara and Afar regions and terrorizing the entire Horn of Africa.

Most objectionably, the joint report recommended deployment of an AU-led international peace keeping force in Wolkait as if Wolkait is a contested international territory between sovereign countries with a goal to reverse the gains won by decades’ long struggle for the restoration of identity and a quest for survival of Wolkait Amharas. The report didn’t stop there; it went as far away as to require the prosecution of the leaders of the Wolkait Amhara Identity Movement including Colonel Demeke Zewudu a well decorated veteran of a UN peace keeping forces, an established pacifist and peace preaching leader between various ethnicities including the Amharas and Tigrayans. NaMA found the recommendations cynical, denounces the recommendations in the strongest terms and calls on AI and HRW to pullback their report and to withdraw their findings and recommendations.

In conclusion, the National Movement of Amhara once again expresses its sincere commitment to support any genuine fact finding mission for the protection and respect of human rights by any party including AI and HRW. However, NaMA strongly condemns any apparent, sinister and concerted effort to weaponize allegations of human rights violations. As we have said in the opening remarks of our statement, it is possible to write hundreds of pages refuting and exposing countless deficits of the joint “Investigation” report. What we presented in this statement is only the tip of the iceberg.

In general, NaMA found the joint “Investigation” report severely short of universally recognized standards of investigations in its data collection methods, presentation of facts, analysis, findings, conclusions and recommendations. The report is directed towards enabling the aggressor, suppressing the victims and a substitute to achieve a political goal which TPLF failed to materialize through violence and war. The report jeopardized decades’ long struggle for the restoration of identity, a hardly won freedom and a quest for survival of Wolkait Amharas. For all reasons, facts and material data we presented in this statement, NaMA asserts the joint investigation report used the lowest possible standard of evidence; and, its conclusions are unsupported, its findings are unsubstantiated and its recommendations are cynical & unjustified.

Hence, the National Movement of Amhara:

• Calls on the Federal Government of Ethiopia to denounce the “Investigation” report and officially reject its findings and recommendations;

• Calls on Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to withdraw their “Investigation” report released on the 6th April 2022, and use a universally recognized standard of investigation in their future fact finding missions’ data collection methods, presentation of facts, analysis, findings, conclusions and recommendations;

• Calls on the African Union not to recognize the report as valid and reject its findings and recommendations;

• Urges the United States of America State Department and the European Union not to recognize the “Investigation” report as worthy, discard its findings and recommendations;

• Calls on the United States of America Senate and Congress not to base any of its decisions on the findings and recommendations of the joint “investigation” report as worthy, discard its findings and recommendations.

• Calls on the joint investigation of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to expand their scope; and, investigate Crimes against Humanity, Ethnic Cleansing and the Crime of Genocide against the people of Wolkait Amharas in the thirty plus years where TPLF forcefully annexed and ruled over the territory;

• Calls on the Amhara Regional Government and the Federal Government of Ethiopia to provide full support to the Interim Administration of Wolkait (Wolkait, Tsegede and Humera Zone), restore all basic services to Wolkait and fully legitimize the Interim Administration; and

• Calls on all Ethiopians to stand guard over Wolkait and Wolkait Amharas in defense of a looming danger coming from the terrorist and vassal TPLF, the nation’s Achilles heel, which would consume the entire nation if allowed to materialize.

National Movement of Amhara (NaMA)

Addis Ababa, Shewa, Ethiopia

April 16, 2022

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