Protest in South Africa over conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray

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Members of the Tigrayan-Ethiopian community protest against the conflict in the Ethiopia's Tigray region, outside the European Union offices in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, March 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

JOHANNESBURG – Members of Ethiopia's Tigrayan community in South Africa demonstrated in the capital in a bid to bring international attention to the humanitarian crisis in the embattled region.

Thursday's demonstration in Pretoria is their second in South Africa in recent months, as Ethiopian authorities face growing pressure to end the war in its Tigray province, home to 6 million of Ethiopia's 110 million people.

The Tigrayan group in South Africa is demanding a United Nations-led investigation into the alleged atrocities and has questioned the credibility of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, a government-established agency, as an investigator of crimes in which government troops may be implicated.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission announced Thursday that they had agreed to carry out a joint investigation into rights violations in Tigray, where fighting persists as government troops hunt down the region’s fugitive leaders.

This does not appear to be enough for some members of the Tigrayan diaspora in South Africa.

“The decision to accept the offer (by the Ethiopian government) to join the investigation will reverse the call for an independent international UN-mandated investigation into the government-sponsored crime committed,” the group demonstrating in Pretoria said in a statement.

Giddy Gebrehiwet, one of the protesters, cited opposition to the involvement of the Ethiopian rights agency “because you cannot investigate your own crimes. A criminal cannot investigate their own crimes.”

Human rights groups have raised concerns about the humanitarian situation in Tigray.