U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s allegations of ethnic cleansing in Ethiopia’s Tigray region are “unfounded and spurious,” the African nation’s foreign ministry said while welcoming calls for a probe into any human rights violations in the northern province.
The U.S. is pressing Ethiopia’s government to end a war that’s been raging in the region for four months, drawing in troops from neighboring Eritrea, leaving thousands of people dead and forcing millions of others to flee. Last month, an Amnesty International report accused Eritrean soldiers of war crimes in Tigray for an alleged massacre of hundreds of unarmed civilians in the town of Axum in November.
Both Ethiopia and Eritrea criticized the report. Their governments have previously denied Eritrean troops are involved in the fighting.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an incursion into the north on Nov. 3 after regional forces attacked a state military camp there, the culmination of months of tension between the federal government and provincial authorities. While Abiy declared victory on Nov. 28, fighting has persisted and the United Nations warns there is a growing risk of starvation.
The accusations during Blinken’s testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on March 10 were a “completely unfounded and spurious verdict against the Ethiopian government,” the ministry said on Twitter.
“Nothing during or after the end of the main law-enforcement operation in Tigray can be identified or defined by any standards as a targeted, intentional ethnic cleansing against anyone in the region. That is why the Ethiopian government vehemently opposes such accusations,” it said.
The government is conducting its own investigations into the alleged human rights violations and is ready to cooperate with the African Union and others on further probes, the ministry said.
“Overblowing things out of proportion while the Ethiopian government has made its position unequivocally clear on the need for thorough investigation in collaboration with regional and international partners does not serve the purpose of justice other than unnecessarily politicizing the issue,” according to the statement.
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