The detention and imprisonment of ethnic Tigray is not a just a recent phenomenon but has gone on for most of the duration of current Ethiopian Tigray conflict. The soaring number of Tigrayan(Tegaru) detentions in Addis Ababa in recent months reported by the Globe and Mail in detention camps in Afar and outside Addis Ababa is just the tip of the iceberg. Much more has been going on for the past year.
After the occupation of Tigray by Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Amhara militias completed by the end of November 2020 already thousands were forced off their farming homes and many were placed in concentration camps in Western Tigray. Numerous video clips taken by these occupying forces taken as trophies of their orders from superiors to rape, destroy, and kill Irob and Tigray especially in the Western region and border have been documented. In Northwestern Tigray we know that multiple concentration camps were occupied by hundreds with daily rape and execution.
As the Abiy Ahmed government began to permanently shut down universities in Tigray it offered many of the Tigray a false chance to go to Addis Ababa and transfer to institutions there. This was a lie for many who instead found themselves not meeting relatives in Addis but ending up in prison camps in the Southern Regions and Afar. Many photographs have emerged falsely claiming them as captured Tigray fighters. Like those reported in Globe and Mail some of them have managed to pay thousands of birr to leave the camps.
Even in Addis, Tigrayan faculty members at universities and employees in government offices were offered special trips to discuss “peace proposals”. They were to show up for bus pick up which turned out to be to detention camps. Many physicians became wary and avoided this ploy. Unfortunately now Addis Ababa police have began just showing up at these same facilities over the past two weeks and taking custody with no discussion allowed.
We know that thousands of Tigrayan businessman had their businesses closed down, assests confiscated, and many also imprisoned. Official government reports that there may be in excess of 80,000 individuals affected by this process.
Although these activities have been ongoing the past year the progressive defeats of the Eritrean and Ethiopian forces have accelerated this human rights violations exponentially. Some estimates reach as high as 50,000 or more currently detained. Some analysts ponder whether Abiy Ahmed wants to use them as abargaining chip.