Tigrayans who have been recently released from the Awash Arba Military Camp, have accused the management, and by extension, the government, of acts of torture and subjection to inhumane conditions of incarceration. Most of the released prisoners were arrested as a result of the governments offensive in the Tigray region, where a nearly year-long conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TLPF). In this conflict, there has been accusations and counter-accusations between the two sides- allegations of gruesome sexual violence, torture, mass executions and random acts of violence. There have long been accusations of human rights abuses at Awash Arba, including enforced disappearances. Those who are victims of these disappearances are people who the government has apparently earmarked as dissidents and troublemakers. Once detained, they are denied access to lawyers and healthcare, and many fall through the cracks, and disappear without a trace.

Eyob, a father of two who was detained for a week in Awash, has described the conditions as deplorable. He was detained by police in Addis Ababa in September, held in a police station for two days and was then transferred to Awash Arba for a week. “It was very hard there. They tortured a lot of people. There is not enough food or water. It was very hard.” He recounts of his time there. He and other released detainees have claimed they were only provided with at most one cup of water a day, as well as just one or two pieces of bread for each meal, if they were so lucky. They were kept in large halls, with very thin blanket-like mattresses to sleep on, and no blanket to cover.

Some detainees were allowed out of their halls/cells for fresh air once a day, but others say they were not afforded even this little privilege. While detained, throughout the day detainees would be called at random for interrogation, which could be as simple as questioning, ranging up to full blown torture. Eyob himself says his interrogations were not as bad as others, “my interrogations were quite simple because they couldn’t get information on me. They take your phone and go through all your social media, looking for any mention of Tigray… [The interrogations] lasted only 15-20 minutes. But others would be taken for more than an hour”, he says, with some coming back bleeding or with broken hands or legs. “Several times the guys didn’t come back at all.” After a week in Awash, he was able to raise 15 000 Birr (R4679) to pay the soldiers for his release. He claims some had to pay up to 200 000 Birr (R62 391) for their release, claiming that the length of their detention is essentially an extortion business, with those able to pay being released, and those not being able to afford it staying indefinitely detained.

Another victim of clandestine rendition, Gebre, has also recounted his experience. He was detained in mid-August after being heard speaking Tigrinya at a café in Addis Ababa. He claims his hair was cut before he was put on a bus, which traveled for 10 hours. He only found out days after being transported to Awash that that was his destination. In his account of his time there, he says prisoners were only allowed to shower with a jerry can once every 10 days, and were allowed access to a toilet twice a day, at 6AM and 6PM. This caused a lot of people health problems, with stomach problems, diarrhea and malaria. He was subjected to beatings, of which he has mainly healed. He heard rumors of women and girls, held in a separate wing, being raped by soldiers. His own detention ended unceremoniously when after a month at Awash, soldiers called out a list of 25 names, his being one of them; loaded the detainees on a bus, drove them to a town in Afar and dumped them out there, with a warning that they are still under surveillance and can be grabbed up again at any point.

There are many such accounts by people who were detained without trial at Awash, sometimes for months on end. These accounts are mainly by native Tigrayans living in Addis Ababa, who are detained on suspicion of collaborating with the TLPF to overthrow the government of Ahmed Abiy.

There have been further airstrikes in the Tigray region. On 25 October, two airstrikes were reported on a textile factory in Adwa and May Tsebri towns. 3 civilians are reported to have been injured in the attack on May Tsebri.

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