UTE Demands Immediate Release of Detainees and Accountability for Security Forces
September 9, 2023
In a strongly-worded statement released today, the Union of Tigrayans in Europe (UTE) expressed its shock and outrage over recent events in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray. On September 7, 2023, footage emerged showing the excessive use of force and the imprisonment of peaceful demonstrators who were exercising their civil rights.
UTE has been closely monitoring the situation, including the intimidation and imprisonment of leaders and members of alternative political parties who were preparing to denounce injustice through a peaceful demonstration. The organization, however, never anticipated that such force would be employed against peaceful demonstrators, resulting in numerous civilians being wounded, bloodied, and hundreds detained.
The victims of these actions are often the youth who have already suffered immensely during the two-year genocidal war in Tigray. Their suffering continues, and their right to lead peaceful daily lives remains elusive.
Peaceful demonstration is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Ethiopian Constitution and international human rights declarations. Furthermore, UTE notes that President Getachew Reda of the Tigray Interim Regional Administration (TIRA) acknowledged these rights in a televised press statement on September 6, 2023. This statement should have been the basis for collaboration between security forces and the demonstration organizers. However, the subsequent use of force by Tigray’s security apparatus contradicted the president’s message.
In response to these concerning events, UTE issues the following demands:
1. Immediate Release: UTE calls for the safe and immediate release of all detained civilians, leaders, and members of alternative political parties.
2. Public Explanation: TIRA must provide a public explanation for the use of force, especially after the president’s statement affirming the right to demonstrate as a basic civil right.
3. Accountability: UTE demands that security force members who engaged in violence against peaceful demonstrators be held accountable for their actions.
4. Commitment to Democracy: UTE expects TIRA to demonstrate its commitment to paving the way for the establishment of a democratic Tigray by engaging with the questions and demands of Tigrayans in a peaceful manner.
The statement by UTE highlights the deteriorating security situation in Tigray, with incidents such as killings, kidnappings, organized robberies, rape, and physical violence becoming alarmingly common since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Tigray (COHA) 11 months ago. UTE emphasizes that TIRA’s passive approach over the past six months could potentially lead to further instability and the establishment of anarchy in Tigray.
The Union of Tigrayans in Europe calls for urgent attention to these issues and the need for a peaceful, democratic, and stable Tigray region.