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Rally calls for the end of rape and assault of the women of Tigray

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On March 6, hundreds of Seattle residents amassed to protest the ongoing atrocities committed against women in Tigray, Ethiopia.  The rally called for the end of rape and assault of Tigray’s mothers and daughters, who have become casualties in the ongoing war fought between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), aided by the Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF).

Jordan Somers | The Seattle Collegian In November 2020, longstanding tensions between the Ethiopian government and Northern leadership of Tigray erupted into war after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive against regional forces in Tigray.
Jordan Somers By November 20, the federal government seized control of the region’s capital, causing unrest and insurgency to spread throughout the northern Ethiopia region.
Jordan Somers Over 60,000 refugees have fled the country to date, while millions more are in desperate need of humanitarian aid and/or have been displaced.
Jordan Somers Eritrean soldiers are also supporting the Ethiopian federal forces to combat the insurgency.
Jordan Somers In 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed rise marked a shift in political power from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), who refused to join the successor.  This led to exponentially rising confrontations between both parties.
Jordan Somers Ethiopian and Eritrean military, as well as ethnic militias are reported to have been committing widespread acts of sexual violence, targeted ethnic attacks and looting.

On January 4, the Europe External Programme with Africa (EEPA) reported large numbers of women who had been sexually assaulted and raped.  Weyni Abraha, a member of the Tigrayan women’s rights group Yikono, asserted that sexual violence is being weaponized as a biproduct of the Tigrayan war.  She states, “this is being done purposely to break the morale of the people, threaten them, and make them give up the fight.”

Jordan Somers  More than 100 women in the largely remote northern region have reported being raped amid the conflict.
Jordan Somers It’s been reported that women in the region have been forced to have sex with soldiers in exchange for basic necessities.
Jordan Somers The UN said last month it had received “disturbing” reports of sexual violence in Tigray, including of individuals forced to rape members of their own family.
Jordan Somers A media blackout across the region is making it more difficult for humanitarian groups to access certain areas and for journalists to accurately report on the atrocities being committed.
Jordan Somers Humanitarian groups are calling for the UN to intervene and for the Ethiopian government to allow health and emergency intervention.
Jordan Somers A priest takes some moments to say prayers for the women of Tigray.

Tigray, the northernmost region in Ethiopia, has seen thousands of its residents flee due to the escalating violence and limited access to basic needs, including electricity, water and medicine.  At least 4.5 million residents are in need of humanitarian assistance. 

Jordan Somers Hundreds of protestors gathered in the Central District, including friends and relatives of those involved in the Tigrayan conflict.
Jordan Somers Speakers took turns reciting poetry, reading names of those wounded or murdered, and informing the gatherers about the Tigrayan conflict.
Jordan Somers Speakers took turns reciting poetry, reading names of those wounded or murdered, and informing the gatherers about the Tigrayan conflict.
Jordan Somers A woman uses the megaphone to reiterate the words and sentiments of the speakers.
Jordan Somers Protestors took to the streets in the Central District and made their way to Broadway Avenue to march for the women of Tigray.
Jordan Somers Tigrayan flags coated the gathering of hundreds of protestors during the Saturday march.

Jordan Somers is currently in his second year of Visual Media at Seattle Central College. He specializes in photojournalism and documentary work, with a particular emphasis on social movements happening throughout the city. His 2020 documentary, Hope is Not Cancelled, was an official selection at the Local Sightings Film Festival, and won an award for best editing at the Oregon Documentary Film Festival. Jordan is an avid traveler when granted the opportunity, and has a keen interest in psychology and existential philosophy.

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