Recovery of Tigrayan genocide victims downriver from Humera shows how they were likely targeted by cultural markings and suffered horrible murder.
Over the past week increasing numbers of dead bodies have been found floating in the Tekeze river which borders between Western Tigray and Sudan. At least 40 bodies have been recovered in area downriver from the Tigray city of Humera which is under control of Eritrean and Amhara militia. It is the rainy season there and the current is quite swift making recovery difficult for local fisherman so only a few bodies have been able to be collected which have been buried by the local Sudanese.
According to reports by AP and others many have been found to be bound with hands behind their back and suffered burns before death. Tewodros Tefera, a Tigrayan general surgeon refugee who is helping Tigrayan refugees in Sudan and Sudan doctors examined the bodies and recognized the characteristic Tigray facial marking on some of the bodies and identified another with a tattoo in the Tigrinya language. Some of the bodies have suffered gun shot and axe wounds.
For centuries at least the Tigrayans often called the Tegaru have practiced ritual face marking. This is not unusual in Africa although the specific way the Tegaru do it is unique. In early childhood two parallel small incisions are made lateral to the eyebrow. Locally it is called the “eleven”. Sometimes this was done at the time a child showed febrile illness. There is a cultural belief that this mark protects health. Unfortunately this mark is known to those committing genocide in Tigray such that those bearing it become the targets of abuse or murder. In previous times the Derg regime and bands of Amhara militia have gone on hunting parties to kill those with these facial scars. These markings leave no doubt that it is Tigrayans who are being killed.