Press Release Issued on the Proscription of ‘TPLF’ and ‘Shene’ as Terrorist Organizations (May 10, 2021)

In the last three years, there have been violent attacks perpetrated against civilians in various parts of the country. Those who have orchestrated these attacks were motivated by the desire to reverse the reform measures that have been implemented in these three years. These attacks were intended to endanger the very existence of the state by undermining public trust and confidence on the government. The attacks have been perpetrated against innocent citizens and public infrastructure to advance the political ideology of division and in the pursuit of political goals or objectives.

Although these attacks have been carried out by different actors in different parts of the country, there have been groups that have played a leading role behind the scenes by planning and financing the attacks and by providing training, media and technical support in the commission of the violent crimes. It is also clear that these groups are working with foreign forces who want to destabilize, weaken and destroy Ethiopia.

It is to be noted that prior to the reform, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was in power since 1991. However, the top leadership of the TPLF, whose illicit personal interest have been affected by the reform measures, chose to stand against the reform and obstruct the process in order to protect their hegemony and privileges. Though they took all sorts of measures to derail the reform from its course, they did not succeed. In pursuit of their sinister interest, the TPLF Executive Committee decided in 2011 E.C. (2019 G.C.) to form an illegal armed force, known as the “Tigray Central Military Command”, believing that it was necessary to overthrow the government that brought about national change by any means including armed force. In order to organize the military command, a new unit called the Force Deployment Unit was established under the Regional Security Bureau. This unit was led by retired generals and colonels from the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF). The military officers prepared a military doctrine to build the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) and presented it to the TPLF Executive Committee. The committee discussed on the doctrine and decided to implement it. TDF recruited members from the Tigray Regional State Special Forces police and VIP guards and provided them with extensive military training to prepare for war. The regional government divided the militia into different grades or levels and organized a high-level military unit called Grade One militia, which was provided with advanced military training. This militia unit, consisted members who are less than 40 years of age, fully fit, and able to engage in war. This unit is organized to move from place to place under any circumstances, and its members were paid while they were on active duty.

In addition to extensive training in the region’s Special Forces and Grade One militias, the Unit continued to organize and recruit members who retired from the ENDF and the Federal Police for various reasons on a temporary and permanent basis. In particular, they mobilized veterans with various military skills to organize a Mechanized Weaponry Unit. All of these activities were wantonly and manifestly in grave violation of Ethiopia’s constitutional order and all relevant laws. This force was equipped with the different weaponry including artillery and rockets.

In the meantime, the Executive Committee of the TPLF was closely following the level of preparation of its rogue forces and provided directions. Besides the military preparations, TPLF mobilized its cadres for a series of war propaganda directed on the People of Tigray. In the early months of 2012 E.C., TPLF publicly declared its intention to wage war, claiming that the time had come to mobilize the people of Tigray so that to make sure the federal government has no control over the region. They set up checkpoints to prevent the ENDF from operating properly in the region.

Realizing that the TPLF’s acts in Tigray region alone will not weaken the federal government, it began working with rebel groups operating in different parts of Ethiopia in order to weaken the federal government, In this regard, TPLF begun providing fund and weapon for the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF) to destabilize the Afar region. TPLF was also working with various groups to also destabilize the Amhara region. They provided financial support and weapons to Qemant committee to intensify the conflict in the area. At the same time, TPLF has tried to provoke conflict in Gambella region by providing weapons and financial support to a group called Peace, Development and Democracy, in an attempt to provoke civil unrest in the region. The Benishangul-Gumuz People’s Democratic Movement (BPDM) and the Benishangul Gumuz People’s Liberation Movement (BPLM) have also been financially and materially supported by TPLF. These groups are responsible for the death, bodily injury and displacement of innocent civilians and destruction of public infrastructure in the region. TPLF committed all these with a view seizing the power of the federal government by force and violence against the will of the people.

On October 29, 2020, the TPLF Executive Committee convened a meeting of the party’s central committee. On this meeting a document was presented which showed TPLF’s plan after the fall of the federal government. According to this document, a transitional government for two to three years will be established and then election will be conducted by which TPLF will return to power with a coalition of so called “federalist forces” under its control. It was explained that the war itself would start earlier. Finally, on the night of 03 November 2020, TPLF force launched an offensive attack against the Northern Command of ENDF, while cutting of electricity and telecom services in the entire region. Group of Youth organized by the TPLF in the city of Maikadra had also lodged gruesome attacks against innocent civilians of Amhara ethnic group, claiming hundreds of lives and injuring many more.

TPLF also launched rocket attacks into populous metropolitan cities of Bahir Dar and Gondar of Amhara Regional State. Similarly, TPLF had also launched rocket attacks on Sovereign nation’s capital, Asmara. These attacks resulted in the killing of innocent people and damaging civilian infrastructure.

On the other hand, a group called Shene which was implored by religious and community elders to lay down arms had intensified its vicious, cowardly and heinous attack against civilians and local administrators. For instance, on 2020/21 alone, 463 people were killed by the attacks of this group in the Oromia region. 112 police officers, 57 militia members and 18 government leaders at various levels were killed. 76 police officers, 36 militia members and 2 leaders were injured. 160 houses, 44 vehicles and 84 government offices were set on fire. The criminal investigation established that on November 01, 2020, in the West Welega Guliso Woreda, Gawa Kanka Kebele, in an attempt to harm innocent civilians, the group killed 36 civilians and burned several houses, displacing a large number of people. This so-called Shene group, which claims to be fighting for the people has formed an assassination squad called Abatorbe to kill and attack civilians residing in cities. The squad targets government officials and innocent people who they perceive as being opposed to the objective or the tactics of this group.

In line with the findings of our criminal investigation, significant number of criminal cases were brought before courts of law against members of this group. The defendants in these cases are believed to have been involved in various illegal activities as leaders and members of a militant group commonly known as Shene. They are being prosecuted for Organizing an armed force to oust the current regional government and the federal government, and arming Abatorbe, an urban death squad in the region, particularly in the West Welega Zone, East Welega Zone, Kelem Welega Zone, and Horo Gudru Zone.

From the above-mentioned, it is evident that the aforementioned acts of TPLF and Shene are clearly acts of terrorism. In this regard, in accordance with the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 1176/2012, it has become an imperative measure to designate these two groups as organizations of terror in order to better maintain peace and security of the country, its inhabitants and the region at large. The purpose of designating these entities as terrorist organizations is primarily to stop the ongoing terrorist activities in the country and to create more capacity for law enforcement agencies to prevent and control the crime. It is a criminal offense to support and assist an organization designated as a terrorist group, and to participate in it. Therefore, when we designate an organization or group as a terrorist organization, it is important to remind the public not to cooperate with the organization and to refrain from providing any support to it. Recognizing this can help prevent people from collaborating with such an organization, since individuals who provide various forms of support to a designated terrorist organization and those who provide assistance or members to the organization will face criminal liability. If an organization is designated as a terrorist organization, its assets will be confiscated, creating an opportunity to weaken the terrorist group’s financial capacity. Pursuant to Proclamation No. 1176/2012, the House of People’s Representatives has the authority to proscribe organizations as terrorist. Procedurally, a group will be proscribed as a terrorist organization when a resolution to this effect is presented to the Council of Ministers by the Federal Attorney General and approved by a two-thirds majority of the members of the House of Representatives. An organization can be designated as a terrorist organization if it fulfills the alternative conditions set out under Article 19 of the Proclamation.

  • The first condition is that when a terrorist organization operates by carrying terrorist activities as its objective or
  • The second condition is if the management or the decision-making body of an organization practices or officially accepts the crime of terrorism or leads its operation or
  • The crime defines the organization’s nature through its operation and conduct or most of its employees carry out its activities with knowledge of the crime.

Although meeting just one above-mentioned requirement suffices to proscribe an organization as a terrorist, TPLF and Shene met all the three conditions. Therefore, they have been duly designated as terrorist organizations by the House of Peoples Representatives and are hereby considered proscribed organizations.

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