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News: Rights Commission prelim report confirms extrajudicial killing of dozens by security forces in Amhara state

Merawi city in East Gojam zone witnessed the heavy toll of the extrajudicial killings of civilians by security forces. Photo: Merawi City Communication

Addis Abeba – A preliminary report by the government’s own Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) confirmed that at least 45 civilians were recently killed in extrajudicial executions in different parts of Amhara regional state’s east Gojam zone, confirming multiple media reports including by Addis Standard.

The Commission’s preliminary report, pending additional investigations, uncovered that at least 45 civilians were killed in extrajudicial execution “by government security forces” because they were accused of “supporting Fano”.

The killing also extended to civilians who were arrested on suspicion of being members of Fano and whose number could not be confirmed for the time being,” EHRC said.

Last week, residents in Merawi town in the North Gojjam zone of the restive Amhara region who were in state of shock a week after Told Addis Standard that the killings were “execution-style.”

From the list of names of civilians gathered from various sources, the Commission has been able to identify and confirm the killing of only 45 civilians. “However, it is possible to take a reasonable estimate that the extent of the damage may be greater than this.”

Of these at least 18 civilians were killed while in hiding in one place after they left their homes for works following a fighting in the early hours on 20 January between government security forces and the local armed forces, commonly known as Fano, in Marawi town, east Gojam Zone of Amhara regional state.

Furthermore, government security forces who were searching for one missing member in a settlement commonly known as Millennium around Keble 02 have executed eight civilians accusing them of not cooperating in the search. They have also set ablaze 12 three-wheeled bajajs, the report said.

The Commission “has not yet received the information it requested” from the relevant authorities and other stakeholders, it said, and due to the security situation and various related reasons, it has also not yet been able to gather the full information on the extents of the killings, hindering the compilation of the full investigations, it cautioned.

On 09 February, the US government has called for “unfettered access by independent human rights monitors as well as an impartial investigation to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Despite EHRC’s incomplete report however, it has also uncovered another killing of civilians dated 19 January in East Gojam Zone, Shebel Berenta District, Ye’edwha City, where the bodies of at least 15 people (including women) were found on the street extrajudicially killed by government security forces during a house-to-house search after the Fano militants left the city following a shootout with government security forces. Two other people were also injured.

Similarly, six civilians were executed in an area called Absara in West Gojam Zone, Quarit District, Woybeyign Kebele, on 15 January during a house-to-house search by government security forces deployed in the area for a military search. They were killed after being pulled out of their homes, EHRC said.

EHRC Chief Commissioner Dr. Daniel Bekele said that the suffering of all parties, especially local residents and civilians, is intensifying in the course of the conflict, the Commissions “calls on all parties to accept that the only lasting solution is peaceful dialogue and to implement it with determination.”

Amhara regional state under a federally declared state of emergency first imposed in August last year. Last week, the Commission said it was “gravely concerned” after the extension by lawmakers of the six emergency rule on accounts of its “implications on human rights, [including] the conflict casualties, humanitarian crisis & prolonged pre-trial detentions.”AS

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