Rights activist flees Ethiopia fearing for his life

Seb-Hidri Civil Society of Tigray legal team coordinator and executive member Teshager Teijab

An Ethiopian human rights activist has claimed his life is in danger for highlighting the needs of people affected by fighting in the country’s Tigray region.

Teshager Tsigab, who is also the legal team coordinator and executive member of Seb-Hidri civil society, has since fled Ethiopia fearing for his life.

Addressing a press conference in Nairobi, Tsigab claimed armed people raided his home in May- Kadra in Tigray destroying his house and property.

He said his family was forced to seek refuge at a home of a relative in the area.

Tsigab said it is now over 100 days since fighting started with the Tigray militia on one side and the Ethiopian National Army on the other.

“What started as a political crisis ended up in a bloody war. It is the first conventional war on African soil conducted with such a massive scale of high-precision fighter drones,” he said.

Tsigab demanded that armed troops be withdrawn from areas where “ethnic cleansing was conducted” on the natives of Tigray and now occupied by people from distant areas.

“We call for independent investigations into all acts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide. We also call for those individuals, countries and parties involved in the gross violation of human rights to be held responsible,” he said.

Conflict in Ethiopia started in November after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) seized federal military bases in the region following a breakdown in relations with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in Addis Ababa.

TPLF has been challenging the authority of the federal government for several months.

The region in Ethiopia’s north, has been an area of heavy fighting between its dissident authorities and the federal government.

The European Union has warned that the crisis in Ethiopia could be getting out of control.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has said the needs of people affected by deadly fighting are “overwhelming”.

Ethiopia’s government had earlier said food and medical supplies were being delivered and nearly 1.5 million people had been reached.

Thousands of people are reported to have been killed and about two million have been internally displaced.

About 100,000 Eritrean refugees, who had been living in UN-run camps in Tigray, have also been caught up in the conflict.

Tsigab further accused the Ethiopian government of blocking access to humanitarian aid and restricting international media

“Heb-Hidri demands that telecommunication services, including Internet and electricity be restored throughout Tigray,” he added.

Tsigab called for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and withdrawal of soldiers from Eritrea.

He said UNESCO, a specialised agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture, should investigate destruction of ancient heritage in Tigray.

“We call on the international community to act decisively to stop the conflict in Ethiopia,” he said.

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