Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE) has issued this press statement based on the key Human Rights situations and violations witnessed over the past month.
In a series of press releases, Associations for Human Rights in Ethiopia has put-forth that identity-based attacks in different parts of the country are increasing and worsening. Other Human rights advocates in their statements have also raised serious concerns over the large number of people becoming victims of these attacks. Meanwhile two weeks ago, war broke out in the Northern part of the country Tigray region putting the county’s human rights situation in dire straits.
Although the horrific attack by Tigray Special Forces on members of the Northern Command in the region’s camp is the main reason for the war breaking down; international conflict experts have expressed that the rift between the region and federal government including back and forth statements from both parties could lead to conflict. In addition to the horrific surprise attack by the TPLF-led Regional Special Forces, in a place called Mai-Khadra more than six hundred civilians were massacred by Tigrayan Regional State affiliated groups based on their ethnic identities. This was confirmed by different sources including Amnesty International, Ethiopian Human Right Commission and the Federal government of Ethiopia. Our organization is deeply concerned about the recurrence of such similar inhumane attacks in different parts of the country.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region and according to some international media outlets, more than 20,000 residents of the Tigray region are fleeing the conflict to Sudan and other neighboring countries.
As a result of the conflict, roads have been closed and security has been compromised, with basic supplies such as food and health supplies not being available to the people. As a result, many international aid organizations, including the United Nations are expressing concern that more lives are at stake. The federal government on its behalf says some of those who attacked and involved in the massacre of innocent civilians in Mai-Khadra have also fled to Sudan.
There were serious abuses in various parts of the country, both before and after the war. Specially:
In the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region, Bench Sheko Zone, Guro Ferda Woreda, on October 18 and 19, scores of civilians were killed, disabled and their property destroyed in ethnic based attacks by unidentified assailants. According to reports coming from the area, up to 4 to 5 members of one family were brutally killed. Children, the elderly, and women were also attacked.
Similarly, in the areas under the Oroia National Regional State, in the West Shoa Zone, West Welega and Huru Gundru Zones, unidentified group of individuals repeatedly taken the lives of civilians in the areas. In particular, in Western Wollega Zone, Guliso Wereda, Dila Gogota Tanta Kebele on November 1, 2020 ethnic Amhara residents in the areas were called in and were brutally attacked by armed militants, gruesomely killings as many as 40 to 60 innocent people. Moreover, large numbers of people were maimed due to the attacks. The fact that the attacks took place on the day the defense force left the district indicates the seriousness of security in the area. After the attack, Amhara living in the area still repeatedly told various media outlets that they were concerned about their safety.
Conflict in neighboring Afar and Somali regions has resulted in numerous deaths, and displacements. It can be recalled that previous conflicts in the area have led to the deaths of numerous people.
In addition to this, on the road from Bahir-Dar to Addis Ababa in some areas of the Oromia Region, Northern Shoa Zone passengers and drivers, especially at night, have been attacked resulting in injuries and death of some drivers.
The freedom of assembly and the right to peaceful demonstration is recognized as a fundament al human right and recognized in Article 30 of the FDRE constitution. In October, the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA)party called for a peaceful rally in various parts of the country to condemn the ongoing ethnic based violence against the Amhara people. However, this was prohibited by government authorities.
Therefore, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, urges the government to take the following remedial measures:
- Prompt resolution of the ongoing war and the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians and members of the National Defense forces of Ethiopia.
- To provide adequate support and protection to displaced citizens in Tigray Region and those who fled to neighboring countries. Facilitating the speedy recovery of humanitarian assistance to the people in the region whose lives are at risk due to lack of their basic necessities.
- The federal government, Benshangul Gumez Region and the Oromia Region should provide protection to citizens to make sure similar ethnic based attacks do not happen and make sure displaced citizens return back to their villages and get the proper compensations. Moreover, for those who are directly or indirectly responsible for ethnic based attacks in different areas be legally held accountable for their actions.
- As we repeatedly stated before, the government should identify the possible causes of conflicts in different parts of the country and establish monitoring systems and take corrective measures before the conflicts occur.
- To avoid ethnic-based conflicts and territorial disputes in Somali and Afar region as well as some regional boarders in parts of the country, the government must find a comprehensive solution that involves the regional governments and the people.
- The right to assemble and protest is recognized by the FDRE constitution and is supported by international human rights treaties. The government should not restrict the right of peaceful demonstrations, citing various obstacles, as the restriction of this right on various grounds is an obstacle to democracy building.