GSTS Position Statement on the Vital Interests of Tigray
Tigrai Online December 26, 2021Official Correspondence GSTS-O.C-2021-144 The Global Society of Tigray Scholars and Professionals (GSTS) Classification: OPEN
- The Global Society of Tigray Scholars and Professionals (GSTS), representing more than 3500 Tigrayan scholars and professionals worldwide, takes note of the recent letter from HE Dr Debretsion Gebre-Michael, President of the Government of Tigray (GoT), to HE Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN).
- GSTS supports the efforts of peace-loving governments, and the international community and the call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a peaceful dialogue to resolve the political differences. However, initiatives for peace have yielded no concrete outcomes so far.
- GSTS believes that for sustainable peace and peaceful coexistence between Tigray and other peoples of Ethiopia, and Eritrea, the following non-negotiable vital interests of Tigray should be fully respected:
- For Tigray, security is a survival issue and it has been proved that the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) are the sole provider of the security of Tigray. TDF is a popular resistance army of hundreds of thousands of members and it is the only guarantor of the non-repetition of genocide against Tigrayans. With experienced leadership, its iron discipline and tight command, control and communication make it an effective security force in the region. TDF has also the potential to become an effective and reliable security partner of peace and security in the Horn of Africa.
- In a protracted armed struggle of decades, Tigray has paid dearly for its right to self-determination and self-rule. The 1995 Constitution has clearly stipulated the right to self-determination reiterating Article 1 of the UN Charter, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. All stipulate that "All peoples have the right to self-determination." Respect for the will of the people of Tigray constitutes another vital interest.
- Furthermore, Tigray's territorial integrity, as provided in the 1995 Constitution, remains the bedrock for peace and stability in the region. Without respect for the internal boundary established by the Constitution, the war would be interminable, turning civilians into permanent combatants. As proven in other similar cases, acquiescing to the annexation of territories would make the war an open-ended conflict. Redrawing internal or external boundaries by force should never be rewarded, and it will only set a precedence that engulfs the entire Horn of Africa. For this purpose, the total withdrawal of all external forces, including Eritrean and Amhara forces from all parts of Tigray and their deployment lines to the areas before November 4th, 2020 is a precondition for any peace agreement.
- In this regard, the return of the Tigrayan administration and the rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees to return to their places of origin (pre-war places) and access to and restitution to their homes, land, business, properties, and other entitlements is an essential part of peaceful coexistence.
- Equally essential and related to the territorial integrity of Tigray is access to international borders, and the right of access to and from the sea and freedom of transit as provided in article 125 of the Law of the Sea. These constitutional and international rights are non-negotiable vital interests of Tigray.
- Another essential interest of Tigray is accountability and effective remedies and reparations to the victims of atrocities including victims of rape and sexual violence. Victim-centered independent legal avenues and mechanisms should be prioritized and explored irrespective of political dividends and considerations.
- An all-inclusive dialogue, transitional arrangements and democratic elections remain the only viable route to sustainable peace, security and constitutional democracy in Ethiopia. The core purposes of the transition should be to develop and implement a transitional roadmap with realistic timeline towards all-inclusive dialogue, and referendum for the people of Tigray at the end of the transition period.
Sincerely, The Global Society of Tigray Scholars and Professionals (GSTS) 23rd December 2021
The people of Tigrai are fighting for their existence and survival.
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