As Ethiopia’s Tigray region slowly seems to be returning to normal, witnesses who saw the region’s deadly horrors have started narrating their experiences. Many witnesses have claimed cases of rape, intentional mass killing, and plunder occurred in the region. One such witness, a deacon, came out of the shadows to narrate what he saw happen.
Ethiopian Orthodox Church Deacon Narrates what he Witnessed.
The deacon at Ethiopia’s most sacred Ethiopian Orthodox church in Axum told the associated press the memories of what happened to haunt him each day. The deacon has been a church member for a long time and worked at the church when the conflict began. When the massacre started, bodies with gunshot wounds lay in the streets for days. At night people hiding listened in horror as hyenas fed on the corpses of people they knew. Everyone was forbidden from burying the dead by the invading Eritrean soldiers.
Estimates revealed that several hundred people had been killed due to the conflict in the region. But because the Tigray region was cut off from the world, little could be verified about the figures. Apart from communications being cut off, journalists were also blocked from entering the area. The deacon who spoke to the press said he believed some 800 people were killed at the church and around the holy city. The deacon said he believed such a high number of people had died because he helped count the corpses or what remained after hyenas fed. When the Eritrean soldiers left, the deacon helped gather people’s identity cards and helped with the burials in mass graves. In all, the deacon said he believed thousands died in Axum due to the fighting in the area.
Other Witnesses reveal What they Saw.
Another witness told the press that he escaped by chance with a priest. He said that while he and the priest entered the holy city streets, they could hear gunfire all over. Because of this, they kept running through the town. While they ran, they kept stumbling over the dead and wounded and other people trying to find places to hide. The witness said the soldiers killed anyone they saw moving on the streets.
Another witness visiting a university lecturer in the region also reported what he saw during his visit. The witness said he watched the fighting from his hotel room. He said what happened was a horrible act to see, and he ventured out as the fighting ceased. While on the street, he saw a body in every corner with people crying in every home.
A different witness who escaped the Tigray capital, Mekele, said soldiers killed a man at his home near the Zion church. After killing the man, the soldiers left and started roaming the streets, killing anyone they saw. When the soldier left the town to pursue other fighters, the city began to smell death as some bodies went untouched for days. The witness said he saw a horse cart at one point carrying around 20 bodies for burial. According to him, Eritrean soldiers stopped the cart and ordered those pulling it to return the bodies to the streets.