Amidst the ongoing crisis in Tigray, a group of determined individuals planned to gather at Romanat Square to express their commitment to justice, peace, and change. However, their peaceful gathering was disrupted by the police, who not only prevented them from assembling but also used force, beating some of them.

Even though these individuals couldn’t gather as planned due to police interference, their intention to stand up for justice and peace remains clear. This incident underscores the challenges and obstacles faced by those seeking positive change in Tigray.

The protesters’ demands resonated deeply with the collective suffering of Tigray’s population. Foremost among their calls was an impassioned plea for the withdrawal of Amhara and Eritrean forces, whose presence has exacerbated the region’s instability. Their message was clear: the departure of these foreign troops is crucial for achieving lasting peace in Tigray.

The demonstrators also fervently championed the safe return of those displaced by the conflict to their homes. This demand is especially urgent given the widespread internal displacement caused by the ongoing strife. Additionally, the protesters emphasized the need for the interim government to address issues related to theft and embezzlement, calling for the responsible use of Tigray’s resources for the benefit of its people.

Arrested protesters, image: Haftom Berhe, Twitter page

Transparency and good governance were central themes in their discourse. They stressed the imperative of separating party and government functions and forming an inclusive government that genuinely represents the diverse voices of Tigray’s population. The protesters also passionately called for an end to the abhorrent scourge of sexual violence against women, affirming their unwavering commitment to the safety and security of Tigray’s people.

Regrettably, the response to this peaceful assembly was marked by repression and brutality. Police and military forces arrested 37 individuals, and many others, whose names remain unknown, were forcibly taken to undisclosed locations. These detainees included demobilized army members, journalists, writers, and ordinary citizens – all united by their love for Tigray and their dreams of a brighter future.

The demonstration was organized by three major nationalist opposition parties: Salsay Weyane Tigray (SaWeT), Tigray Independent Party (TIP), and National Congress for Great Tigray – Baitona. Later, the Arena Tigray for Democracy and Sovereignty Party also joined the call for radical change. Notably, the Assimba Democratic Party distanced itself from the event just one day before, describing it as non-peaceful.

Amidst adversity, the people of Tigray continue to seek justice and peace, unwavering in their resolve despite the challenges they face. Their determination serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Tigray, offering hope for a brighter future for all its inhabitants.

Simultaneously, Amnesty International’s recent report, titled “Today or Tomorrow, They Should Be Brought Before Justice,” casts a chilling shadow over this narrative. The report exposes horrific atrocities committed by Eritrean forces, in alliance with the Ethiopian federal government, in Tigray. It lays bare cases of rape, sexual slavery, extra-judicial executions, and pillaging, all perpetrated by these forces. Witness testimonies and survivor accounts provide a harrowing glimpse into the suffering endured by the people of Tigray.

Amnesty International reinforces this call for justice, urging the renewal and extension of the mandate of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) during the upcoming UN Human Rights Council’s 54th session, commencing on 11 September 2023. This extension is imperative to ensure the thorough investigation of grave human rights violations in Tigray and to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions. The people of Tigray deserve nothing less than justice and lasting peace.

In the face of such unspeakable crimes and inhumane actions, the voices of Tigray’s peaceful demonstrators become even more poignant. Their call for justice and radical change is not merely a plea for their own well-being but a resounding cry against the gravest injustices. The world must not avert its gaze from the suffering in Tigray; instead, it must fervently strive to hold those responsible for these heinous crimes accountable.


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