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Tigray People’s Democratic Movement

The Tigray People’s Democratic Movement [TPDM] remained the most significant Ethiopian opposition group being trained, financed and hosted inside Eritrea as of 2015. The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea. reported extensively on the continued support by Eritrea for TPDM in violation of paragraph 15 (b) of resolution 1907 (2009) (see S/2014/727 and S/2012/545).

TPDM, also known by its Tigrinya acronym “Demhit”, is an armed Ethiopian opposition group founded in 2001 by dissidents from the Ethiopian ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. TPDM says on its website that its aim is “to establish a popular democratic government of Ethiopia where the rights of nation and nationality are respected”. In 2014, the UN Monitoring Group found that TPDM was being trained on Harena, an island in the Red Sea off the eastern coast of Eritrea, as well as in smaller military training outposts close to the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Moreover, in 2014, the Group reported that TPDM had become the most important Ethiopian opposition group inside Eritrea, with a dual function as an Ethiopian armed opposition group and a protector of the current regime. Its fighters, who hail from the same ethnic group as the President, are seen to be personally loyal to him. The support of Eritrea for TPDM appears to be more sustained and organized than its support for other Ethiopian armed groups (see S/2014/727).

In its report of June 2015, the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea noted the presence of TPDM in Eritrea and reported its role in round -ups against Eritrean citizens who had failed to report to their national military (A/HRC/29/CRP.1, para. 1213). The findings were echoed by Europe-based activists in contact with Eritreans inside Eritrea who told the UN Monitoring Group that TPDM foreign fighters were involved in sweeps to round up people for conscription as recently as February 2015.

The Government of Eritrea facilitated and supported a move to unite a disparate group of armed Ethiopian opposition groups ahead of the Ethiopian general election that was held on 24 May 2015. The Group also received reports that a conference bringing together a number of Ethiopian opposition groups was held in western Eritrea. During the meeting, the groups, which included TPDM, the Patriotic Front, Ginbot Sebat and Arbegnoch, agreed to unify politically and militarily. The level of success and internal cohesion of the newly formed group is unclear.

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Page last modified: 16-06-2016 18:33:09 ZULU