Press Release: On the Civil War in Ethiopia

The Eritrean Lowlanders League (ELL) has been following with great concern, the political and military developments in northern Ethiopia, centered mainly on internal conflicts between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, which have turned disputes into an all-out war. 

ELL has also observed, with utmost dismay, the meddling of the Eritrean hegemonic and exclusionary Regime in the civil war in Ethiopian, involving the State of Eritrea in a foreign war, in an illegal and unconstitutional manner, to pursue its narrow dictatorial whims that contradict with the genuine interests of the people of Eritrea. As a result of this illegal intervention, the Eritrean people are paying a high price. 

Recently released Media reports corroborated the existence of Eritrean Prisoners of War (POWs) in custody of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The publicized Video accounts reveal evidently that the regime in Eritrea has forcibly dispatched elders on their sixties along with underage boys and girls as cannon fodder for its intervention in the Tigray conflict.

The blood-thirsty Regime in Eritrea has recently forced innocent citizens to take up arms and pushed them to battle frontlines, by means of deception, without disclosing to them that they were being driven into an illegal war outside Eritrea. It is apparent that the Eritrean Regime has deliberately thrown them into the flames of war with a clear aim to get rid of them, recklessly humiliating and endangering their lives in the process. It is to be recalled that this same Regime had caused the deaths of their children in its previous wars with total impunity. It is confirmed that the Eritrean POWs were not aware of the task ahead of them, and as they discovered that they were deceived by the Eritrean Regime they have opted straight away to surrender to the Tigray Forces.

We strongly condemn all crimes against humanity committed by the Eritrean regime against defenseless Eritrean civilians, particularly the nightly attacks on homes of families aimed at forcibly recruiting underage boys and girls, and the elderly, as well as the arbitrary measures of confiscation of the homes of citizens and expulsion of families from their homes at gunpoint in revenge for the non-compliance of a member of the family with the orders to join the war in Tigray. And as a matter of principle, we equally condemn the violations being committed against the civilian population in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. 

The Eritrean Lowlanders League (ELL) is seriously concerned that the Eritrean POWs in Tigray may be subjected to harm by all military actors in the war, as they are captives at the hands of the Tigrayan forces on one hand, and on the other hand, there is a possibility that they might fall in the hands of the Ethiopian army, as a result of its recent operational advances, who will surely hand them back to the Eritrean regime. Such a situation will pose real danger to the lives of the prisoners, especially that some of them have made statements about the tragic conditions of the Eritrean people under the hegemonistic and exclusionary rule of Isaias Afewerki´s regime. Knowing that the Eritrean POWs are the weakest party in the ongoing bloodshed in Ethiopia, we call upon the relevant International Community Organizations in general, and International Red Cross and Red Crescent Organizations in particular, to intervene to ensure the wellbeing and save the lives of Eritrean POWs and to ensure their release by the parties holding them in accordance with the relevant international norms and conventions. 

The Eritrean Lowlanders League (ELL) calls upon the leadership of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front to take the accounts corroborated by Eritrean POWs that they found themselves in the midst of this war against their will and under the threat of a shoot-to-kill policy by the Eritrean regime against conscientious objectors and deserters. Therefore,  we appeal to the leadership of The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, represented by the President  of the Regional Government of Tigray Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael to treat the Eritrean POWs in its custody in accordance with the requirements of the Geneva Convention to protect Prisoners of  War and not to expose them to any harm or violation of their human rights and dignity. This could be achieved only through the release of the POWs and handing them over to the relevant international authorities.

Our sources from inside Eritrea confirms the presence of Ethiopian Government troops inside Eritrea under the pretext of encircling the Tigray region. We therefore call on the Ethiopian Government, represented by Prime Minister Dr. Abi Ahmed, to withdraw its troops from Eritrea immediately, since the presence of the Ethiopian Army on Eritrean territory is contrary to international law. It is also an intrusive and unwelcome presence as far as the Eritrean people are concerned, as it will inflame feelings of anger and resentment among the Eritrean people, thereby destroying the bridges of trust between the peoples of Eritrean and Ethiopia, given the history of massacres and genocides carried out by the Ethiopian Army against the civilian population in Eritrean during the dark era of the Ethiopian occupation.

The Eritrean Lowlanders League is also closely following the aggravation of the humanitarian, economic and security situation in Eritrea as a result of the regime’s recently increased brutality and escalated terror against the population.

We call upon the international community in general, the UN Security Council and the African Union in particular to exert maximum pressure on the conflicting parties to reach a peaceful end to the internal and regional conflicts in the Horn of Africa. We also call upon the parties to the peace talks held in South Africa to show responsibility and not to miss the opportunity to end the conflict through peaceful negotiations.

In conclusion, we remind the international community of its responsibilities with regard to the decades-long continuous violations of the rights of the Eritrean people by the authoritarian regime ruling Eritrea. We call for an end to the situation of oppression and despotism in Eritrea. We believe the demise of the chauvinistic regime of Isaias Afewerki is the sole good starting point to end the problems of constant tension and instability in the Horn of Africa. The International Community, along with regional and international powers are urged more than ever before to provide the necessary support to the Eritrean Opposition and Resistance Forces that are seeking to bring about real change in Eritrea in order to establish a democratic system of governance that contributes to the realization of peace, security and regional stability and to achieve a decent life for all its social and political components of the Eritrean people.

Eritrean Lowlanders League (ELL)

Executive Committee

Office of Foreign Relations

October 27, 2022

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