After the 72-hour ultimatum the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed gave the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on 23 November before the military began an attack on the capital city Macallè, Amnesty International launched an appeal to all parties of the conflict to protect civilians and grant access to human rights monitors and humanitarian organizations.
What particularly concerned Amnesty International was the statement made by military spokesperson, Colonel Dejene Tsegaye, on the state-run television station,
“We want to send a message to the public in Mekelle to save themselves from any artillery attacks and free yourselves from the junta … After that, there will be no mercy.”
Amnesty International calls on all parties to the conflict to:
- Not target civilian facilities such as hospitals, schools, and religious institutions, and residential neighbourhoods.
- Avoid placing military facilities such as camps near or in civilian areas, and ensure that they do not use civilians as “human shields.”
- Avoid using explosive weapons with wide area effect — including artillery, mortars, and unguided aerial bombs – in populated urban areas and other concentrations of civilians.
- Ensure unfettered access to humanitarian organizations throughout Tigray, where access to much-needed relief aid has been hindered since the start of the military offensive on 4 November.
- Allow human rights monitors access to Tigray.
- Seek support from regional and international actors to ensure proper investigation of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.
- Immediately restore telephone and internet communications in Tigray in respect of the right to freedom to expression.