Land of the Lawless

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A Snapshot of Tigray Under TPLF Rule Over Spring and Summer, According to Confidential UN Documents

Leaked reports marked Confidential from the UN’s Department of Safety and Security offer a picture of the TPLF’s lawless and despotic rule in Tigray over the spring and summer.

For instance, according to the UN’s own documents, the TPLF rounded up several Tigrayans on April 17 ‘who [were] not willing to send their children to join TF [Tigray Forces]. The authorities also [conducted] a house-to-house search after 18:00 hours escorted by TF members. It was also reported that TF members who deserted from TF without permission were forced for recruitment.”

And only the day before, April 16, at about 4:30 in the afternoon, “a UN staff member was arrested…in Mekelle city. The staff member was reportedly released on 17 April.” Which means that UN worker was clearly imprisoned for at least a whole evening.

What’s interesting is that while these events were going on in April, Professor Ann Fitz-Gerald of the Balsillie School of International Affairs of Canada was busy interviewing scores of Tigrayans at two IDP camps in Amhara and Afar region who told horror stories of forced recruitment, child soldiers, brutal detentions and attempts to create fake atrocity videos. Fitz-Gerald was vilified online by TPLF apologists, and Tom Gardner, The Economist’s correspondent at the time, wrote an intimidating letter to a Balsillie official, claiming her work was “far below acceptable academic standards.”

When he was exposed, Ethiopian authorities kicked Gardner out, and he then claimed he was the target of a campaign of online harassment. Well, since I’m the one who outed his antics by writing an open letter to The Economist, I don’t think I qualify as a “campaign.”

As for Fitz-Gerald’s findings, they were later confirmed by a Reuters report which didn’t even bother to acknowledge her work and relied on a far fewer number of Tigrayan interview subjects.

Now, once again, the UN is confirming what the professor told us at the end of April.

And as you may recall, leaked documents last year proved that the UN ignored and covered up incidents in which their own Ethiopian staff were kidnapped and assaulted, as well as instances where they knew the TPLF was using forced recruitment, along with cases of looting.

According to these new leaked documents, on April 24, a UN staff member was attacked and robbed by three men near the Gebar Shire hotel in Shire. One suspect “hung the staff member’s neck from behind [sic] and the other two suspects took some amount of ETB and important documents. Police have reportedly arrested two suspects, and they were under police investigation. No further details known.”

Well, why not? The report poses more questions than it answers. What were these important documents? Were they retrieved? And again, why is the UN not going public when a member of staff is violently attacked in the street and vital papers are stolen?

The Department of Safety and Security also knows that at about 2 in the morning on July 17, the house of a UN staff member in Shire town was burglarized. While the “staff member and his family members were unharmed in the incident,” several items were taken, including his “official laptop.”

Yes, crime happens in cities around the world, but such attacks can be interpreted as another sign of social breakdown in a region where terrorists are in charge — those who set the tone by forcing Tigrayans to give up family members to fight and keeping food reserves for the elite.

The WFP’s David Beasley earned a lot of attention this week by venting his rage at the TPLF fuel heist, and it’s been condemned by not only the UN but the U.S. Bureau of African Affairs and the head of USAID Samantha Power. Now Ethiopians hold their breath and wait to see if the U.S. and its EU/UN partners will finally, finally part company with a terrorist group.

But why, we might all ask, didn’t the UN go public earlier with the crimes their staff witnessed?

Why does it take leaked documents to prove how much the UN knows about what the TPLF are doing to Tigrayans in the region?

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