Speaking to CNN on condition of anonymity because of security concerns, sources said the troops had released all but a few “fists” that Ethiopian and Eritrean forces were operating in the area on Monday.
A CNN report published on Thursday found that hundreds of people had gathered in Shire, a town in Tigre, on Monday this week. Witnesses described how the men were beaten and tortured by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers. He also said that soldiers had broken into at least two shelters for people displaced by the conflict, including abandoned schools before shouting: “We now see if America will save you!”
An aid worker told CNN that the soldiers accused the detainee of being a member of the Tigris People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a rebel group that resists Ethiopian government forces and their allies.
“The soldiers are telling us that they did it because those people were TPLFs, but the raid was relentless. How did you know who the TPLF was and who was not?” Aid workers said.
One released detainee described the physical abuse of Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers in their custody.
“They took us out one by one and tortured us,” the man said. “This is the third time I’ve been beaten by this type of soldier. People here are running away and every time they see someone wearing a military uniform they get scared. The world should listen to our cries and do something – we are living in terror.”
Witnesses and aid workers report credit media reports and the forthcoming international outcry over the men’s release.
“The fact that CNN reported on it, the United Nations and then the senator [Coons] “Speaking about it, it made it clear that he was observing them,” he said, referring to Chris Koons of the U.S. Senate, who visited Ethiopia in March as President Joe Biden’s personal envoy.
CNN shared its report with the Koons on Thursday. The Senate raised the issue during a hearing on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Ethiopia, calling for “accountability” for public detention.
Babar Baloch, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, told reporters in Geneva on Friday that authorities had signaled the release of more detainees in the coming days and that the news of the refugee agency’s arrest was “deeply troubling”. The United Nations has said it is unable to independently verify the claim.
“As the agency responsible for the protection of internally displaced persons, the UNHCR was in immediate contact with the Ethiopian authorities and we are raising immediate concerns with the authorities for the safety of those evacuated from the camps,” Baloch said.
Baloch called on all parties to the conflict to ensure that the displaced refugees remain safe there.
How it opened
Witnesses said four military vehicles surrounded the Wenfitto and Teshe camps for the displaced, and that the soldiers forcibly put the young men on buses and took them to the outskirts of Shire. Soldiers break up homeless schools for refugees. Witnesses there shouted, “We see that America will save you now!”
“They forced the door open, they didn’t even get a chance to put on their shoes. The soldiers closed their guns,” he said. [ready to shoot]One witness said.
One woman said she had dragged her two sons, aged 19 and 2, out of the house around 9:00 p.m.
“They didn’t say why they took them, they just surrounded them, beat them and took them away,” she told CNN, fearing what would happen if she asked her son some questions.
Many of the people who were in the roundup after they were identified as helpers were released on Tuesday afternoon. He told CNN that hundreds of young people have been arrested at the Guna distribution center, with aid and food storage facilities that have now been converted into a military camp.
One man was beaten for hours by Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers.
“Most of us are young but there are a lot of people who are very mature who can’t stand the beatings for long,” he said.
Rejecting the report, Eritrean Information Minister Yemeni Gebremeskel dismissed the previous CNN report as saying: “How long will you recognize the value of the face and all the ‘witness statements’ … we have heard so many fabricated or false stories.”
President Biden said in a statement Wednesday night that he was “deeply concerned” by the escalating violence in Ethiopia and condemned “the massive human rights violations in Tigris.”
Ethiopia and Eritrea should expect “further action” from the United States if the conflict “does not turn upside down,” said Robert Godek, acting assistant secretary of the African Bureau of Investigation.
“Despite the violence and atrocities in Tigris, this cannot be a normal business,” Godek told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
For more than 200 days, the Tigre conflict has pitted the TPLF against the Ethiopian National Security Forces, Eritrean soldiers and the Amhara ethnic militia. Since the beginning of last year’s conflict, Ethiopian government forces and allied Eritrean and militia forces have targeted civilians.
The story follows research by Nima Elbagir, Barbara Arvanitidis, Katie Polglass, Gianluca Mezofiore, Bethlehem Felek and Elijah McIntosh.