The Genocidal war on Tigray: an opinion by Prof. Dr. Kjetil Tronvoll

Note: This is an opinion piece directly published from twitter thread (Feb 27, 2021):

“As a professor of human rights, one should be very careful to use the term genocide, the most serious international crime existing.”

Professor Kjetil Tronvoll is professor of peace and conflict studies at Bjørknes College in Oslo and has researched Ethiopia and Eritrea since the early 1990s. In recent months, he has been hotly and publicly criticized by representatives of Ethiopian authorities and his life was threatened by Ethiopians in Norway and other countries. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB

Are we witnessing a genocidal campaign by Eritrean forces in the war in Tigray Ethiopia? The atrocities committed and the apparent intent may seem to point in that direction. In this thread I will outline the argument supporting such possible claim, genocide.

First, it is important to distinguish between Eritrean and Ethiopian forces, although ENDF is also allegedly responsible for mass atrocities. But in genocide the intent of the atrocities is also important to consider, which appears more ambiguous in relation to ENDF.

It has been documented widespread and systematic massacres of civilians by EDF throughout Tigray, targeted as Tegaru. Many witnesses also claim that Eritrean troops have admitted to orders to kill Tigrayan men and boys, so they shall not later revenge the atrocities.

Systematic and widespread rape and SGBV of Tegaru women and girls by Eritrean troops. Consciously impregnating enemy women aims to disrupt the reproductive capacity of the group, one characteristic of a genocidal campaign.

Conscious, systematic, and widespread destruction and looting of civilian infrastructure like hospitals by Eritrean forces in Tigray Ethiopia, apparently to obliterate the capacity of self-administration.

Conscious, systematic, and widespread destroying, torching, looting of crops and harvest, and wells/water supplies by Eritrean forces, apparently to induce starvation and mass death of Tigrayans.

Conscious, systematic, and widespread destruction and looting of cultural/religious heritage sites by Eritrean forces, apparently in order to obliterate the deep-rooted historical cultural identity of the Tigrayans.

Each of the atrocities mentioned above can be characterized as war crimes and likely also crimes against humanity. Seen together, a pattern of intent by Eritrean forces is emerging which may substantiate the claim of a genocide of the Tegaru population of Tigray in Ethiopia.

As a professor of ruman rights, one should be very careful to use the term genocide, the most serious international crime existing. I have never ever before entertained such a classification in my 30 years of research in Ethiopia on conflicts and wars.

Neither Eritrea nor Ethiopia are parties to the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court. Hence, in order for President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, as Commander in Chief, and his Generals to be held accountable, United Nations Security Council has to refer the case to International Criminal Court.

The responsibility of Ethiopian government in z atrocities in Tigray has to be investigated separately. However, the Ethiopian government has invited and accommodated the Eritrean forces to undertake their war campaign in Tigray, hence they may be responsible by implication.

And let me add, as I assume all of the above will be blatantly rejected by both Eritrean and Ethiopian authorities (as well as their internet trolls) denial of events is considered a marker of genocide.

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