News: Commission exposes disturbing human rights abuses across Ethiopia

Headquarter of EHRC (Photo: Addis Standard)

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued a statement outlining severe human rights abuses affecting civilians in Ethiopia’s Amhara, Benishangul Gumuz, and Oromia regions.

The Commission, after thorough investigations in the affected zones and districts, has documented incidents including attacks leading to loss of life, physical harm to non-combatants, property destruction, and widespread displacement.

In the Amhara region, ethnic clashes in November 2023 within the Awi and West Gojam zones resulted in multiple casualties, as verified by the Commission. Subsequent attacks in the Ambala Kebele area of the Ayehu Guagusa district in Amhara’s Awi Zone on 09 November resulted in multiple causalities, including the deaths of civilians.

According to the commission, the instability continued on 9 and 11 November, when a non-state local militia raided West Gojam Zone’s Bure District, situated along the Oromia region border, resulting in the deaths of several dozen individuals. Thousands of terrified locals were displaced, seeking refuge in makeshift camps in nearby districts.

The Benishangul-Gumuz region also witnessed violence in Asosa Zone’s Oda Biligu district on 29 November, where militants targeted the Belmili, Alkeshafi, and Beladeru kebeles, resulting in 17 fatalities and seven critical injuries. The attacks also led to the destruction of nearly 100 homes, along with the theft and devastation of crops and cattle stocks.

In Oromia, a series of attacks within a week in the Arsi and Qellem Wollega Zones claimed the lives of numerous civilians. On 13 November, unidentified individuals opened fire in Tijo Lebu Kebele, Sherka district, Arsi Zone, resulting in the deaths of seven family members and three neighbors. On the same day, at least 12 civilians lost their lives in a similar attack in Sole Digelu Kebele. The EHRC confirmed that the victims in both incidents were non-combatants.

Four days later, on 17 November, militants attacked Kogne Kebele, killing eight members of the same family. Witnesses reported victims being dragged from their homes and killed, with pregnant women, infants, and individuals over 80 years of age among the deceased. An undisclosed number of additional individuals were injured and are currently receiving medical care.

In Qellem Wollega, on 24 November, nine church members were killed in Gidami district’s Manako Menamo Kebele’s Mekane Yesus church. The EHRC indicated that the victims were targeted while praying inside the church. While two women and an elderly man were spared, the assailants identified nine people by name, took them to a nearby forest, and killed them before disposing of their bodies. Some of the victims were found to be family members.

EHRC Commissioner Daniel Bekele has urgently called for government intervention to prevent further civilian casualties. He appealed to officials to prioritize political solutions to alleviate rising ethnic tensions, advocated for transitional justice, and emphasized the need for security provisions to facilitate the safe return of displaced populations. The EHRC reiterated its commitment to ongoing monitoring and evidence gathering in the affected zones. AS

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