24th May 2021
The Bishop of Southwark: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement by Patriarch Abuna Mathias in April (1) that the government of Ethiopia and its allies are committing genocide in Tigray, and (2) that rape is being used as a weapon of war in that region.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office): We note the statement by Patriarch Abuna Mathias recently released on 8 May and his comments on genocide. As the Minister of State responsible for human rights issues for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, I tweeted on 11 May to express my deep sadness at the reported murder of priests in Tigray. This is one of a deluge of reports of atrocities coming out of Tigray. Civilians must be protected and the violence must stop.
The UK’s longstanding position is that determining whether a situation amounts to genocide is an issue for competent national and international courts, not governments: our focus is on seeing an end to violence and protecting civilians. The UK is appalled by reports of widespread gender-based violence, including rape, in the Tigray region. The G7, under the UK Presidency, issued a communique on 5 May which condemned rape and sexual exploitation, and other forms of gender-based violence, and called for all parties to cease hostilities immediately, ensure respect human rights and international law and hold those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, including sexual violence, accountable. The UK will support the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure that their joint investigations into atrocities in Tigray with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission are independent, transparent and impartial and that those responsible for these human rights abuses are held to account.