Press Statement

August 02, 2020

AHRE calls upon the Ethiopian government to conduct an independent and impartial investigation by a body composed of independent experts, Ethiopian Human Rights CSOs, and the Ethiopian Human Right Commissions, in to the atrocities, including the role of the security forces (Federal and Regional),

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Following the coming to power of Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopian government has undertaken remarkable reforms in the country. Most importantly, it has revised restrictive laws and widen up the space for freedom of speech and expression. This enabled individual citizens and Civil Societies Organizations to express their views freely and work with their full capacity.  Nevertheless, the government has been highly criticized for its failure to reign in armed groups and secure order across the country.  Hundreds of innocent individuals have been killed, many Ethiopians injured as a result of riots and violence targeting ethnic and religious minorities in various parts of the country.

As it has been admitted by the government itself and stated in its State Media on October 23, 2019 and the following days around 97 innocent individuals were killed and thousands displaced in Oromia region. The incident was triggered by an announcement by an activist and media owner Jawar Mohammed, stating that Government security forces had attempted to vacate his security guards. The government failed to take appropriate measures to investigate the atrocities, hold the perpetrators accountable and provide reparation for the victims, secure the safety and security of citizens living in the region. Such failure has allowed for similar violations to take place on a larger scale.

Different media outlets took advantage of the enabling environment and the absence of appropriate control, to preach hate among the different ethnic groups of the country. Most recently, following the shooting of a renowned Oromifa singer and activist Hachaallu Hundesaa in June 29, hundreds of innocent citizens living in Oromia region were killed, thousands lost their properties and displaced and tens of citizens living in Addis Ababa were killed. Reports indicated that an organized and large group of predominantly young people from the Oromo community killed members of ethnic minorities in the region and burned down hotels, schools, business centers and residential homes belonging to these ethnic minorities in the region, though the properties of Christian Oromos were also damaged. Many of the attackers were not from the areas, suggesting that transportation had been arranged to go from town to town.

It has been widely reported that the cruel and inhuman killings and destruction of properties including dwelling houses of innocent citizens are done based on ethnicity and religion. The murders of these ethnic minorities in the region were celebrated by attackers, with reports indicating that victims’ bodies were displayed in the streets. More than one thousand survivors were still displaced and no house to go back to; most fearful to do so; and sheltered in confined places –with greater exposure to Covid 19. 

The government fails to deploy security forces in time. Worse still, it has also been reported that, in some parts of the region local officials including the security forces participated in and facilitated the killings and destruction of properties of citizens. As a result, citizens in the region, particularly those ethnic groups which constitute minorities in Oromia region, have lost their trust on the local government and are feeling a high level of insecurity. Because, while the main role of government is providing protection, the officials there have resorted to attack them directly and indirectly. 

The government has promised to restore peace and order in the country and has reportedly claimed to take various measures including arresting thousands suspected for committing the above mentioned crimes against innocent citizens. However, in order to serve justice truly and ensure the fact that such kind of human rights violations will not reappear in the future and there by ensure the safety and security of citizens in the area the cases shall be investigated by an independent body. Otherwise, given the direct and indirect involvement of local officials in the attacks, deeply rooted sense of ethnicity and the fact that the attack was against those from other ethnic groups and Christian, real justice can never be served. 

Hence AHRE call upon:

The Ethiopian government (Federal and Regional):

  1. To provide basic humanitarian assistance and protection for those who have lost their properties and exist in various religious institutions with higher risk of contracting COVID-19,
  2. To conduct an independent and impartial investigation by a body composed of independent experts, Ethiopian Human Rights CSOs, and the Ethiopian Human Right Commissions, in to the atrocities, including the role of the security forces (Federal and Regional),
  3. To ensure that the on-going investigations are conducted promptly and within the bounds of due process and those charged are brought to trial,
  4. Prompt action to disband organizations that are not legally registered under the CSOs or political organizations’ law and use violence, extremism and hate speech to further their goals; identify and take appropriate legal action against their sources of finance,
  5. To take measures on broadcasts which deliberately disseminating hate speech to encourage inter-ethnic hatred and violence,
  6. Disarm armed opposition groups and paramilitary groups,
  7. Develop and publish clear guidelines on the role and responsibilities of security forces (both federal and regions),
  8. To serve justice for the victims and ensure safety and security of every citizen living in the region irrespective of any ground, 
  9. To prevent the occurrence of human right violations, to investigate violations, to take appropriate action against the violators, and to afford remedies and reparation to victims.
  • The International Community and Human Rights Organizations: To urge Ethiopian government to set up an independent inquiry body to inspect the gross human rights violations in Oromia region and also secure safety and security of citizens living in every corner of the country,   

Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)

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https://ahrethio.org/

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