Open Letter to Amnesty International – Asqual Teferi

By Asqual Teferi

From the outset, I would like to condemn any act of sexual brutality against women.  I strongly support a thorough investigation of the alleged sexual violence against women in the Tigray region by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian troops.    

Having said that, I would like to register my opposition to the Amnesty International report issued on August 10, 2021, titled “Ethiopia: Troops and militia rape, abduct women and girls in Tigray conflict.”  

Flawed Methodology

Amnesty International used a flawed methodology to prepare this highly accusatory hit piece to sway the American public opinion against the Ethiopian government.  Let us look at the sample and methods used by Amnesty International to prepare the report. 

  • First, the sample is meager to be reliable.  Amnesty International selected a total of 63 “survivors of rape and other sexual violence” out of the millions of Tigrian Ethiopians to recount the alleged sexual misconducts by the Ethiopian troops.  According to Amnesty International, “between March and June 2021, Amnesty International interviewed 63 survivors of rape and other sexual violence; 15 in person in Sudan, and 48 remotely on secure telephone lines.”   
  • Second, because Amnesty International has not indicated the process by which the 63 interviewees were selected, it is difficult to rule out the possible involvement of TPLF to manipulate the selection process to tilt the outcome in their favor.  
  • Third, Amnesty International did not provide the names and backgrounds of the medical professionals and humanitarian workers who helped Amnesty International corroborate the allegations of the 63 interviewees; therefore, it is difficult to prove the neutrality of those humanitarian workers and medical professionals.     

 One-Sided Story

This was simply a one-sided story to implicate the Ethiopian troops in the alleged “widespread sexual violence” and “sexual slavery” against women in the current conflict in Tigray.  

Surprisingly, Amnesty International chose not to offer the Ethiopian government the opportunity to provide their perspectives related to the serious allegations leveled against the Ethiopian troops by the 63 interviewees and others. 

This hit-piece painted a dark picture of the thousands of patriotic Ethiopian soldiers while providing a cover for the alleged atrocities committed against Ethiopian civilians and troops by the TPLF troops.

The report should be rescinded.

For the reasons outlined above, the report by Amnesty International is unreliable; therefore, the report should be rescinded. Amnesty International should do the right thing by scrapping this incredulous and one-sided report for the sake of its reputation.  It should go back to the drawing board to expand its sample size and representation to ensure that it reflects the voices of the victims in the Tigray conflict irrespective of their ethnicity.  Amnesty International should investigate the allegations of misconduct on the part of the TPLF as well as the Ethiopian troops. To produce a credible report, Amnesty International must send staff who are trained to conduct in-person interviews in conflict zones.   

Unfortunately, the report in its current form is a stain on the record of Amnesty International. Amnesty International must refrain from being perceived as an advocate of the TPLF’s agenda. Erroneous findings, such as this one, is incredulous and consequential in securing the means to exact justice to future victims of this heinous crime. I’m hopeful that Amnesty International will take swift action to correct this egregious error.  

Finally, I’d like to bring to your attention this well-researched document prepared by New Africa Institute titled, “Disinformation in Tigray: Manufacturing Consent for a Secessionist War” which relates to our request herein. 

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