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Tigrayan soldiers accused of raping and killing civilians in Ethiopia’s civil war | Global development

Tigrayan soldiers killed civilians and gang-raped women and girls in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region, a human rights organisation has claimed, in the latest accusation of atrocities made against fighters engaged in the country’s civil war.

Troops with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) shot dead at least 24 people in the town of Kobo in one day last September, according to Amnesty International.

The organisation also accused Tigrayan forces of raping and sexually assaulting at least 30 women and girls as young as 14 in and around Chenna, a village north of the Amhara regional capital, Bahir Dar.

Most of the alleged atrocities took place in late August and September last year, the organisation said, when the TPLF was in control of parts of Amhara as it made gains against troops loyal to the Ethiopian federal government.

“Evidence is mounting of a pattern of Tigrayan forces committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in areas under their control in the Amhara region. This includes repeated incidents of widespread rape, summary killings and looting,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s deputy director for east Africa.

“The TPLF leadership must put an immediate end to the atrocities we have documented and remove from its forces anyone suspected of involvement in such crimes.”

Amnesty said it had approached the TPLF with the allegations, but had received no reply. The TPLF has previously denied allegations of killings and rape by its troops.

In phone interviews with 27 people, described by Amnesty as witnesses and survivors of the killings in Kobo, the organisation said it had been told that on 9 September, TPLF fighters summarily shot unarmed civilians, “seemingly in revenge for losses among their ranks at the hands of Amhara militias and armed farmers”.

One person quoted in the report described seeing the bloody aftermath of the killings the following day. “The first dead bodies we saw were by the school fence,” he is quoted as saying.

“There were 20 bodies lying in their underwear and facing the fence and three more bodies in the school compound. Most were shot at the back of their heads and some in the back. Those who were shot at the back of their heads could not be recognised because their faces were partially blown off.”

Tigrayan forces ride in a truck after taking control of Mekele, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on Tuesday, June 2021
Most of the alleged atrocities took place in late August and September last year, when Tigrayan forces made gains against troops loyal to the Ethiopian federal government. Photograph: AP

The report, released on Wednesday, also contains allegations of 30 cases of rape and other sexual violence against ethnic Amhara women and girls. Fourteen of those interviewed by Amnesty in and around Chenna said they had been raped by multiple perpetrators, two in front of their children. Seven were under 18, the report noted, and 10 remained hospitalised three months later.

The cases were not isolated, said the report. “Rather, they seem to be part of a pattern of similar violations repeatedly perpetrated by large numbers of Tigrayan fighters in different locations,” it said. “Moreover, such abuses are likely underreported due to stigma within the survivors’ communities, challenges in accessing the locations, and communication blackouts that restrict and delay the flow of information.”

Raging since November 2020, the conflict in northern Ethiopia has been marked by possible widespread human rights abuses on all sides, according to a joint investigation by the UN and the country’s human rights commission, which released its findings late last year.

According to Amnesty, the majority of violations documented to date have been committed by Ethiopian and Eritrean government forces and associated militias against Tigrayan civilians, mostly in the Tigray region.

Last week, lawyers acting for Tigrayan civilians in a complaint filed to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights said that, while reports suggested abuses had been committed by different parties, Tigrayan civilians constituted “the overwhelming majority of victims”.



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A populist ex-premier who opposes support for Ukraine leads his leftist party to victory in Slovakia | International

A populist former prime minister and his leftist party have won early parliamentary elections in Slovakia, staging a political comeback after campaigning on a pro-Russian and anti-American message, according to almost complete results.

Former Prime Minister Robert Fico and the leftist Smer, or Direction, party had 22.9% of the votes, the Slovak Statistics Office said early Sunday after counting 99.98% of the ballots from some 6,000 polling stations.

Fico said he was ready to open talks with other parties on forming a coalition government as soon as President Zuzana Caputova asks him to do so. “We’re here, we’re ready, we’ve learned something, we’re more experienced,” he said.

“We have clear ideas, we have clear plans,” Fico said. “We know what exactly the government should do.”

Saturday’s election was a test for the small eastern European country’s support for neighboring Ukraine in its war with Russia, and the win by Fico could strain a fragile unity in the European Union and NATO.

Fico, 59, has vowed to withdraw Slovakia’s military support for Ukraine in Russia’s war if his attempt to return to power succeeds.

“People in Slovakia have bigger problems than Ukraine,” he said.

The country of 5.5 million people created in 1993 following the breakup of Czechoslovakia has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine since Russia invaded last February, donating arms and opening the borders for refugees fleeing the war.

Slovakia has delivered to Ukraine its fleet of the Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets, the S-300 air defense system, helicopters, armored vehicles and much-needed demining equipment.

The current caretaker government is planning to send Ukraine artillery ammunition and to train Ukrainian service members in demining.

Winning approval for sending more arms to Ukraine is getting more difficult in many countries. In the U.S. Congress, a bill to avert a government shutdown in Washington, D.C., excluded President Joe Biden’s request to provide more security assistance to the war-torn nation.

In other countries, including Germany, France, and Spain, populist parties skeptical of intervention in Ukraine also command significant support. Many of these countries have national or regional elections coming up that could tip the balance of popular opinion away from Kyiv and toward Moscow.

With no party winning a majority of seats in Slovakia, a coalition government will need to be formed.

The president traditionally asks an election’s winner to try to form a government, so Fico is likely to become prime minister again. He served as prime minister in 2006-2010 and again in 2012-2018.

A liberal, pro-West newcomer, the Progressive Slovakia party, was second, with 18% of the votes.

Its leader Michal Simecka, who is deputy president of the European Parliament, said his party respected the result. “But it’s bad news for Slovakia,” he said. “And it would be even worse if Robert Fico manages to create a government.”

He said he’d like try to form a governing coalition if Fico fails.

The left-wing Hlas (Voice) party, led by Fico’s former deputy in Smer, Peter Pellegrini, came in third with 14.7%. Pellegrini parted ways with Fico after the scandal-tainted Smer lost the previous election in 2020, but their possible reunion would boost Fico’s chances to form a government.

Pellegrini replaced Fico as prime minister after he was forced to resign after major anti-government street protests following the 2018 killing of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee.

Pellegrini congratulated Fico on his victory but said that two former prime ministers in one government might not work well.

“It’s not ideal but that doesn’t mean such a coalition can’t be created,” he said.

Another potential coalition partner, the ultranationalist Slovak National Party, a clear pro-Russian group, received 5.6%.

Those three parties would have a parliamentary majority if they joined forces in a coalition government.

Fico opposes EU sanctions on Russia, questions whether Ukraine can force out the invading Russian troops and wants to block Ukraine from joining NATO.

He proposes that instead of sending arms to Kyiv, the EU and the U.S. should use their influence to force Russia and Ukraine to strike a compromise peace deal.

Fico’s critics worry that his return to power could lead Slovakia to abandon its course in other ways, following the path of Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and to a lesser extent of Poland under the Law and Justice party.

“It can’t be ruled out that he will be looking for a partner who uses similar rhetoric, and the partner will be Viktor Orbán,” said Radoslav Stefancik, an analyst from the University of Economics in Bratislava.

Orbán welcomed Fico’s victory.

“Always good to work together with a patriot,” he posted on X, the former Twitter. “Looking forward to it!”

Hungary has been sanctioned by the EU for alleged rule-of-law violations and corruption, while EU institutions say Poland has been on a slippery slope away from the EU’s rule-of-law principles. Fico has threatened to dismiss investigators from the National Criminal Agency and the special prosecutor who deals with the most serious crimes and corruption.

Hungary also has — uniquely among EU countries — maintained close relations with Moscow and argued against supplying arms to Ukraine or providing it with economic assistance.

Fico repeats Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unsupported claim that the Ukrainian government runs a Nazi state from which ethnic Russians in the country’s east needed protection. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust.

Known for foul-mouthed tirades against journalists, Fico also campaigned against immigration and LGBTQ+ rights.

The populist Ordinary People group, the conservative Christian Democrats and the pro-business Freedom and Solidarity also won seats in parliament while the far-right Republic failed to do so.

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Slovakia election pits a pro-Russia former prime minister against a liberal pro-West newcomer | International

Voters in Slovakia cast ballots Saturday in an early parliamentary election that pits a populist former prime minister who campaigned on a pro-Russia and anti-American message against a liberal, pro-West newcomer.

Depending on which of them prevails, the election could reverse the small eastern European country’s support for neighboring Ukraine in the war with Russia, threatening to break a fragile unity in the European Union and NATO.

Former Prime Minister Robert Fico, 59, and his leftist Smer, or Direction, party have vowed to withdraw Slovakia’s military support for Ukraine in Russia’s war, if his attempt to return to power is successful.

Smer’s main challenger is Progressive Slovakia, a liberal party formed in 2017 and led by Michal Simecka, 39, a member of the European Parliament.

Referring to his rival, Fico said Saturday he wished his country would not be run by “amateurs” without experience in politics.

Fico, who served as prime minister from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2012 to 2018, opposes EU sanctions on Russia, questions whether Ukraine can force out the invading Russian troops and wants to block Ukraine from joining NATO.

He proposes that instead of sending arms to Kyiv, the EU and the U.S. should use their influence to force Russia and Ukraine to strike a compromise peace deal. He has repeated Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unsupported claim that the Ukrainian government runs a Nazi state.

Fico also campaigned against immigration and LGBTQ+ rights and threatened to dismiss investigators from the National Criminal Agency and the special prosecutor who deal with corruption and other serious crimes.

Progressive Slovakia sees the country’s future as firmly tied to its existing membership in the EU and NATO.

The party vowed to continue Slovakia’s support for Ukraine. It also favors LGBTQ+ rights, a rarity among the major parties in a country that is a stronghold of conservative Roman Catholicism.

“Every single vote matters,” the party’s head, Michal Simecka, said on Saturday.

Popular among young people, the party won the 2019 European Parliament election in Slovakia in coalition with the Together party, gaining more than 20% of the vote. But it narrowly failed to win seats in the national parliament in 2020.

No party is expected to win a majority of seats Saturday, meaning a coalition government will need to be formed. The party that secures the most votes typically gets the first chance to put together a government.

Polls indicate that seven or eight other political groups and parties might surpass a 5% threshold needed for representation in the 150-seat National Council.

Among them is the left-wing Hlas (Voice), led by Fico’s former deputy in Smer, Peter Pellegrini. They parted ways after Smer lost the previous election in 2020 but their possible reunion would boost Fico’s chances to rule.

“It’s important for me that the new coalition would be formed by such parties that can agree on the priorities for Slovakia and ensure stability and calm,” Pellegrini said after voting in Bratislava.

The others include the Republic, a far-right group led by former members of the openly neo-Nazi People’s Party Our Slovakia whose members use Nazi salutes and want Slovakia out of the EU and NATO.

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“The Creator”: A Glimpse Into A Future Defined By Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

By Cindy Porter

In “The Creator” visionary director Gareth Edwards thrusts us into the heart of a dystopian future, where the battle lines are drawn between artificial intelligence and the free Western world.

Set against the backdrop of a post-rebellion Los Angeles, the film grapples with pressing questions about the role of AI in our society.

A Glimpse into a Future Defined by Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

A Glimpse into a Future Defined by Artificial Intelligence (AI) Warfare

While the narrative treads familiar ground, it is timely, given the rising prominence of artificial intelligence in our daily lives.

A Fusion of Genres

Edwards embarks on an ambitious endeavor, blending elements of science fiction classics with contemporary themes.

The result is a cinematic stew reminiscent of James Cameron’s “Aliens” tinged with shades of “Blade Runner” a dash of “Children of Men,” and a sprinkle of “Akira” This concoction, while intriguing, occasionally veers toward familiarity rather than forging its own distinct identity.

Edwards’ Cinematic Journey

The British filmmaker, known for his foray into doomsday scenarios with the BBC docudrama “End Day” in 2005, has traversed a path from indie gem “Monsters” (2010) to the expansive Star Wars universe with “Rogue One” (2016).

“The Creator” marks another bold step in his repertoire. The film introduces compelling concepts like the posthumous donation of personality traits, punctuated by impactful visuals, and raises pertinent ethical dilemmas. It stands as a commendable endeavor, even if it occasionally falters in execution.

Navigating Complexity

In his pursuit of depth, Edwards at times stumbles into the realm of convolution, leaving the audience grappling with intricacies rather than immersing in the narrative.

While adept at crafting visual spectacles and orchestrating soundscapes, the film occasionally falters in the art of storytelling.

In an era where classic storytelling is seemingly on the wane, some may argue that this approach is emblematic of the times.

AI: Savior or Peril?

“The Creator” leaves us with a question that resonates long after the credits roll: Will artificial intelligence be humanity’s salvation or its undoing? The film’s take on machine ethics leans toward simplicity, attributing AI emotions to programmed responses.

This portrayal encapsulates the film’s stance on the subject – a theme as enigmatic as the AI it grapples with.

“The Creator”

Director: Gareth Edwards.
Starring: John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Madeleine Yuna Boyles, Ken Watanabe.
Genre: Science fiction.
Release Year: 2023.
Duration: 133 minutes.
Premiere Date: September 29.

WATCH: TRAILER

Top 5 Movies by Gareth Edwards:

1. “Monsters” (2010)

– A breakout hit, “Monsters” showcases Edwards’ talent for blending intimate human drama with towering sci-fi spectacles. Set in a world recovering from an alien invasion, it’s a poignant tale of love amidst chaos.

2. “Rogue One” (2016)

– Edwards helms this epic Star Wars installment, seamlessly integrating new characters with the beloved original trilogy. It’s a testament to his ability to navigate complex narratives on a grand scale.

3. “End Day” (2005)

– This BBC docudrama marked Edwards’ entry into the world of speculative storytelling. Presenting five doomsday scenarios, it set the stage for his later exploration of dystopian futures.

4. “The Creator” (2023)

– Edwards’ latest venture, “The Creator,” immerses audiences in a future fraught with AI warfare. While not without its challenges, it boldly tackles pertinent questions about the role of artificial intelligence in our lives.

5. Potential Future Project

– As Edwards continues to push the boundaries of speculative cinema, audiences eagerly anticipate his next cinematic endeavor, poised to be another thought-provoking addition to his illustrious filmography.

“The Creator” stands as a testament to Gareth Edwards’ unyielding vision and his penchant for exploring the frontiers of speculative cinema.

While it doesn’t shy away from the complexities of AI, it occasionally falters in navigating its intricate narrative.

As we peer into this cinematic crystal ball, we’re left with a stark question: Will artificial intelligence be our beacon of hope, or will it cast a shadow over humanity’s future? Only time will unveil the answer.


We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— By Cindy Porter

— For more information & news submissions: info@VoiceOfEU.com

— Anonymous news submissions: press@VoiceOfEU.com


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