Admitted rapist from Ethiopia’s Tigray region carried out rape that caused ‘nearly four-dozen deaths,’ Amnesty says

As one of Ethiopia’s 5.5 million ethnic Tigrayans, resident of the country’s northwest, Shiferaw Shigute has suffered discrimination for most of his life. Now he may need to contend with another indignity: accusations by…

Admitted rapist from Ethiopia’s Tigray region carried out rape that caused ‘nearly four-dozen deaths,’ Amnesty says

As one of Ethiopia’s 5.5 million ethnic Tigrayans, resident of the country’s northwest, Shiferaw Shigute has suffered discrimination for most of his life.

Now he may need to contend with another indignity: accusations by the international human rights organization Amnesty International that he was part of a gang rape that led to the deaths of a “nearly four-dozen women and girls, including infants and children.”

On June 20, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front-Regime Protection Force, which is made up of ethnic Tigrayans, raided the town of Afar and carried out “hundreds of abductions, rapes and killings,” Amnesty said in a report posted online.

The group accused the rebels of “raiding, assaulting and assaulting women and girls including underage girls and pregnant women; looting and destroying houses, churches and civilian property; and shooting dead scores of men.”

Many of the women who were raped were “ghosts,” witnesses said, not living at the location they were raped. Once a public attacker was caught, however, the rape came to an end.

One Ethiopian Human Rights Commission official who has investigated the incident told BBC that the militias collected the victims “and then had them executed.” A witness, who pleaded to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the issue, told Amnesty that the rape victims were among scores of men killed by Tigrayan troops after they had been taken to the outskirts of the town.

A military spokesperson defended the Tigrayan forces, telling BBC that “foreign militias are using this incident to vilify Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front and normalize their terrorist activities.”

Opposition parties in Ethiopia have denied any involvement with the massacre.

Amnesty International has accused two different armed groups of wrongdoing in Ethiopia.

In 2015, the rights group released a report accusing the army and opposition militias of widespread atrocities. In 2016, another report concluded that members of the army and militias had murdered an estimated one-fifth of ethnic Oromo voters during that year’s election. The government has rejected the allegations.

Amnesty International called for the United Nations to carry out an independent investigation.

“Ethiopia’s determination to suppress one of the most consistent human rights violations in the region, the gross and systematic violation of women’s rights and women’s right to determine her destiny and choose her fate, simply because they are women, seems increasingly arbitrary,” the report said.

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