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Thousands of Eritrean refugees stage rally following UN report linking Ethiopian officials to crimes against humanity
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
More than 3,000 Eritrean refugees staged a demonstration in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in support of a recently-released UN inquiry report that unmasked involvement of Eritrean officials in crimes against humanity.
The refugees urged the African Union to take action in light of the report’s findings.
According to the UN Commission of Inquiry’s report released on June 8, higher-ups of Eritrean government had allegedly carried out crimes against humanity for the last 25 years.
The alleged crimes include enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and enslavement of people.
The Eritrean government had rejected the report, calling it baseless and politically motivated.
The demonstrators carried banners and placards calling for Eritrean officials, in particular President Isaias Afeworki to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
“The findings of the commission have established what we, the victims, had already known and felt for years,” Tewodros Aregay, vice president of Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia, said.
“We urge the African Union to address, promote and protect human rights, and condemn grave violations of human rights, thus ending impunity in Eritrea,” Tewodros said.
Similar demonstrations were being held at six refugee camps in different parts of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is home to some 155,000 Eritrean refugees, according to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR.
Zeray Wolday, an Eritrean who came to Addis Ababa from the U.S. to take part in the rally, said: “We are here to request the AU to save Eritrea. The AU should support the report of the commission and stop the sufferings of Eritreans.”
He added: “We need justice and the criminals should be brought to court.”
Later, the refugees presented their demands to a representative of the African Union.