Ethiopia. The chilling denunciation of sexual violence against Catholic nuns in Tigray
Within the crimes against humanity committed by Eritrean and Ethiopian troops in Tigray, comes the shocking news of sexual violence inflicted systematically against dozens of Catholic nuns. Experts think it is revenge against the Catholic Church’s information work on the crimes taking place in Tigray. Blasphemous violence against Catholic nuns invalidates all propaganda attempts by the Addis Ababa central government to deny the horrendous reality in Tigray
In the context of generalized violence and ferocious repression of information in Ethiopia, comes the testimony of a Catholic priest from Adigrat diocese, (northern region of Tigray), published by the National Catholic Reporter, the prestigious Kansas City, Missouri catholic newspaper, founded in 1964 by journalist Robert G. Hoyt. The first American journalist to oppose the war in Vietnam and editor of the ecumenical newspaper Christianity & Crisis.
The Ethiopian priest, protected by anonymity to ensure his physical safety, confirms that mass killings, kidnappings, and rapes against the civilian population in Tigray are still ongoing. The targets are two categories of the Tigrinya population. Men and young people to prevent any enlistment in the TPLF-controlled Tigray Defense Forces and women who suffer daily sexual violence and gang rape to weaken any resistance to Premier Abiy’s regime and Eritrean occupation troops.
Unfortunately, the Ethiopian priest informs us that Eritrean and Ethiopian troops are regularly committing systematic sexual violence and gang rape against dozens of Catholic nuns in Tigray. A very rare blasphemy in an African conflict. This inhuman, gratuitous, and infernal violence against women of faith has been confirmed by the historic Washington newspaper Catholic News Service.
Our local sources suspect that this violence committed against Catholic nuns is a retaliation to the Ethiopian Catholic Church’s denunciations of crimes against humanity committed in Tigray. Last but not least, the denunciation of a Catholic nun, published on May 14 in the British newspaper The Guardian. Complaint concerning the systematic sexual violence against women and even girls used by the Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers as a weapon of war.
The Catholic Church, alongside the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, is practically at the forefront, denouncing these horrendous crimes. As happened between 2016 and 2018 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Catholic Church pays a heavy toll of blood in defending democratic values, human rights, and populations battered by authoritarian governments.
The priest continues with the chilling testimony of him. “The fighting is continuing in at least three areas of Tigray. Eritrean forces are carrying out most of the brutal acts, ostensibly to take revenge for the humiliation they suffered during the 1998–2000 border war with Ethiopia.
Near the city of Aksum, many young people were killed while in the village of Bora last January 160 civilians were massacred. Hundreds of priests and thousands of believers have been killed, as stated by the Interreligious Council of Tigray. Churches, monasteries and mosques, were destroyed by heavy bombing. The holy relics were stolen; the objects of worship were burned.
Men and boys, who cannot attend school or work because of the war, cannot find food and fear being executed. Now they enlist in the ranks of the TPLF, angry at the atrocities. “
The Association of Episcopal Conferences of East Africa, shocked by the level of violence that has not spared even the nuns, has launched a humanitarian appeal for the diocese of Adigrat. The bishop of Zambia Charles Kasonde, president of the association, supports the request of the Catholic bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin for urgent humanitarian assistance for the people of Tigray.
“People in affected communities need food, medicine, shelter, water, and sanitation and sanitation items. The church in Ethiopia and its Caritas partners are doing their best to assist the suffering communities with the scarce resources at their disposal “, informs Monsignor Kasonde with the alarming cry:” The local church has been overwhelmed by the growing number of needy cases “.
The news of the mass rapes against Catholic nuns comes simultaneously with the launch by the Ethiopian central government of a movement called “National Dignity” and a “Hands off Ethiopia” campaign led by some pro-government activists of the Amhara diaspora in Europe and America.
The newborn movement, which the Ethiopian regime tries to make believe that it is a spontaneous popular initiative, was created to oppose human rights associations and Western journalists accused of “spreading sectarian news for TPLF and Fake News”. Now Premier Abiy’s propaganda portrays Ethiopia as a Free Country under attack from internal, regional, and Western powers. This is a classic example of complot theory transformed in reality.
According to the paranoid mentality now prevailing within the Ethiopian government, the European Union and the United States, using as a pretext “false” accusations of crimes, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, intend to subjugate Ethiopia, keeping it weak and vulnerable to easily impose their interests economically and cultural.
The news of these inconceivable and inhuman acts of blasphemy seriously jeopardizes the credibility of the official declaration of the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry sent to all diplomatic representations present in Addis Ababa and the main international media on May 17, 2021. An attempt to refute the heavy accusations of genocide in Tigray launched in April (but disclosed in May) by the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Abune Mathias.
His condemnation is now supported by several international organizations that accuse Ethiopian, Eritrean troops, and fanatical fascist Amhara militias of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Tigray. Accusations reported by many international media.
“On several occasions, the Ethiopian government has made it clear how it takes allegations of human rights violations and crimes extremely seriously. This is why it acted swiftly to undertake the necessary investigations to verify these allegations and bring the perpetrators to justice. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission investigated and reported on human rights issues, including the Mai Kadra massacre, civilian casualties, sexual assault, and allegations of discriminatory treatment. The outcome of these investigations will surely enable the government to bring the perpetrators to justice and fully address the alleged human rights violations and crimes that have occurred in the Tigray region.
In addition, the Ethiopian Commission on Human Rights and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have decided to conduct joint investigations. At the invitation of the Ethiopian government, the African Commission on Human and Citizens’ Rights undertakes its investigative work.
Therefore, continually complaining about human rights violations, while the Ethiopian government has demonstrated its unconditional commitment to get to the bottom of the matter and apply the full force of the law to ensure accountability and justice, has no other purpose than to unnecessarily politicize the matter and exercise excessive pressure. “ Reads the press release from the Ethiopian central government.