To Permanent Representatives of
Members and Observer States of the
UN Human Rights Council
19 November 2019.
Re: Addressing concern regarding Ethiopia’s escalating ethnic and religious violence.
The undersigned human rights groups and CSOs, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), consortium of 27 Ethiopian Civil Society Organization know with the name TIBIBIR and a group called ‘WE Are Ethiopia’ (WAE) wish to address your office and all concerned bodies expressing our grave concern regarding Ethiopia’s escalating ethnic and religious violence.
The country saw, according to government figure, the death of 86 individuals last October following a Facebook post by a controversial Oromo activist and media owner Jawar Mohammed on the 24th of October. His post said that police had encircled his house and was trying to remove his security. This was followed by large scale protest across Oromia against the alleged police intervention. The protests quickly turned violent leading to the killings of 67 individuals, according to initial reports. Fifty-four were stoned to death and the remaining were killed from gun shot by police.
The past week witnessed another round of violence, killings, rape, property destruction in different parts of the country, mainly in Oromia. The violence reemerged when 2 students were killed by mob in Weldia Universisty. This escalated to more violence in Jimma University, Dembi Dolo University, Ambo University, Bulu Hora University, Haramaya University, Dire Dawa University and Wollo University. In all these universities, students are in fear of their lives, hundreds have left the university premises and have since then taken shelter in churches. In general, tensions and conflicts still remain. The most recent casualty was a student in Dire Dawa University who lost his life from “falling of a building”; this is the fifth student to have died after the incident in Weldia University. Furthermore, we have just learned that another student had reportedly died from similar kind of “accident” in Wello University this week.
The past week also saw burning of two churches by extremists in East and West Hararghe Zones. In addition, two other churches were attacked, Christian homes in different places of Hararghe Zone have been burned down, and unknown number of individuals were beaten and robbed.
AHRE has already released a statement on the 27 of October expressing its grave concerns of the very volatile situation the country has taken. That concern remains very high; violence and tension are soaring each passing day, and citizens are still assaulted, killed and displaced because of their religious and ethnic identities.
The signatories below cannot stress enough the high risk of full-blown civil war in Ethiopia. We urge the international community and all concerned bodies to act quickly and decisively. We urge your office to discuss these pressing concerns with the Ethiopian government; offer to provide all necessary assistance; offer to send your team to conduct independent investigation, and to curb the looming threat of civil war.
At this time and age, the world should not witness such catastrophe. The country and the horn of Africa region cannot afford a failed state. Recovering from such calamity would not be possible for a country of over 100 million citizens. We reiterate our call to urge your good office to use everything at your disposal to stop that from happening.
- Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
- Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons
- Special Rapporteur on minority issues
- Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
- Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
- Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings