Open Letter to African Heads of Governments attending the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) summit, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Open Letters

Tigrayan Advocacy & Development Association (TADA)

211 Clapham Road

London

SW9 0QH

Email: info@tadauk.org

Website: www.tadauk.org


The African Union (AU) summit, February 5-6, 2022

Excellencies,

The UK based Tigray Advocacy and Development Association calls upon you, African leaders, assembled in Addis Ababa, to give the utmost attention and priority to addressing the genocidal war, the complete siege and starvation of millions of Tigrayans in the Tigray Regional State of Ethiopia by the Ethiopian Federal Government, forces of the Amhara Regional Government , the armed forces of the State of Eritrea and their foreign allies, in flagrant violation of the foundational norms of international law, including the pillars of the Constitutive Act of AU.

The conflict is now regionalised with a devastating impact on millions of civilians mainly in Tigray, but also in the Oromia, Benishangul Gomez and Afar regions of the Country. Some parts of the Amhara region, specially the Kimant and Agow ethnic groups have been significantly impacted by the armed violence.

In Western Tigray, 1.2 million people have been forcibly evicted from their homes; tens of thousands of women and girls were exposed to systemic and widespread gang rape and many other forms of sexual violence; 6 million people are under total siege without access to food, medicine, electricity, telephone services, fuel or cash; and 70,000 Tigrayans, mostly women and children, have fled in to the Sudan, they are living there as refugees for more than a year.

Tens of thousands of Tigrayan civilians who live in all parts of Ethiopia, including in Addis Ababa have been detained and abused en masse under the disguise of a state of emergency law of the Country. While the Government has released a handful of detainees in recent weeks, tens of thousands of Tigrayans and Oromo civilians are arbitrarily detained under the country’s ethnically motivated state of emergency, remain in an informal and formal detention sites throughout the country, including the detention of thousands of civilians in private and public facilities in Addis Ababa, in the backyards of the AU headquarters and where you leaders are holding your summit. The conditions of detention of these civilians are appalling and inhumane amounting to grave breaches of international law, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

We would also like to bring to your attention the fact that Tigray civilians and their civilians’facilities have been subjected to deliberate drone and airstrikes in flagrant breach of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols.  For example, during the first two weeks of January 2022, at least 129 civilians were killed by airstrikes in Tigray, including 58 innocent civilians in a January 7 airstrike on an internal displaced people (IDP) site in the town of Dedebit, bringing the total number civilian deaths by air and drone attacks to 1570. The involvement of foreign forces (and operators) from Eritrea, Iran, UAE and other powers, in violation of the United Nations Charter and the AU Constitutive Act is resulting incatastrophic loss of lives and destruction in the country.  

We call upon the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Heads of State and the Peace & Security Council of the Union to:

  1. Take immediate action to protect civilians from mass atrocity crimes, starvation and sexual violence thereby uphold the founding principles of the Union. We urge you to work closely with the UN to maintain peace and security in Ethiopia and the wider region of the Horn of Africa. We stressed that there is an urgent need for life saving emergency food and other critical items’ provision in Tigray. You must initiate, support and facilitate humanitarian action in Tigray as a matter of at most urgency, through triggering all your available mechanisms, guidelines and emergency procedures.
  2. Urgently make recommendations to the Assembly, pursuant to article 4(h) of the AU Constitutive Act, intervention, on behalf of the Union, in respect of current grave circumstances, namely, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide in Ethiopia as defined in relevant international instruments, case law and customary norms.
  3. Acknowledge the failure of the Union with respect to the dire situation in Ethiopia and actdecisively to prevent international crimes, resolve disputes that led to armed violence in Ethiopia and initiate inquiry into the genocidal policies and practices of the Ethiopian and Eritrean regimes and their internal and external partnersThis should include holding his Excellency Musa Faki Mehmet, the incumbent AU Commissioner, to account for his irresponsible statement of November 9, 2020, calling the genocidal war on Tigray as law and order operation. The Commissioner’s skewed and opaque judgment, of unclear motive, has costed hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian, Eritrean and Somali lives. We demand transparent investigation on the conduct of the Commissioner’s integrity. We also demand full investigation on the military interventionof the Eritrean, Somali, UAE and Turkish governments in Ethiopia.
  4. Openly and unequivocally denounce the mass atrocity crimes committed in Tigray. As a decision-making organ of the AU for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the AU should take its responsibility seriously and make an equivocal statement into the atrocities committed by the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments and their Amhara allies.
  5. Maintain the independence of the African Peace and Security architecture in accordance with relevant agreements and protocols. Human Rights Advocates and the international community at large have recognised the failure of the AU collective security and early warning arrangement which are designed to facilitate timely and efficient responses to the conflict in Ethiopia. We urge that the key pillar of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), which is the framework for promoting peace, security and stability in Africa, should not be compromised to satisfy the interests of external powers, such as China, Iran, Turkey, and UAE. To this end, we ask the Commission to make clear statements to the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments and their drone and armamentsuppliers to stop their use of deadly weapons against Tigray civilians and their civilian objects.  We demand the AU to follow up on the protection of fundamental human rights and fundamental freedoms in Ethiopia, and respect for the sanctity of human life and international humanitarian law.
  6. Expressly call upon Eritrea and other foreign forces end their illegal occupation of Ethiopian territories. Clearly, the occupation of Ethiopian Territories by Eritrea violates the cardinal principles of non-intervention and sovereignty as codified in the AU’s Constitutive Act and other treaties of International Law.

Crucially, the AU must denounce the occupation of Western and North-Eastern Tigray by Eritrean Forces and shall order their immediate withdrawal. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and peoples’ rights should restore its integrity and make clear statements about the atrocities committed in Tigray and support the United Nations Human Rights Council’s international criminal prob into the mass atrocity crimes committed in Tigray so thatperpetuators face the force of justice.  

Excellencies,

We do hope that President Macky Sall of Senegal will ensure the respect for civilian immunity during armed conflict and basic human rights. We note that justice and accountability are the focus of the African Union’s agenda as he takes over the Chairmanship. We also demand that the AU, under President Sall’s leadership, act swiftly and decisively by triggering its prevention and protection mandate to end hostilities and mass crimes. The Union has to callup on all warring parties in the Ethiopian war to end mass abuses and armed hostility, and press the government of Ethiopia to lift its inhumane and illegal siege of Tigray.

End

1 thought on “Open Letter to African Heads of Governments attending the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) summit, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

  1. Thank you all TADAUK for bringing up such article for the voiceless people Tigray. Lets keep push forward in creating awareness globally.

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