Ethiopian authorities should prevent deadly violence during Sidama referendum, says Amnesty International

As Sidama referendum for a separate ethnic based statehood is happening on Wednesday November 20, rights group express concern for the security of minority ethnic groups in the region, among other issues.

Sidama  _ Ethiopia
Photo file / via Reuters

November 19, 2019

Amnesty International is calling for Ethiopian government ahead of Sidama referendum, which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, to “take all steps” to ensure deadly violence like the one that happened in July 2019 in the region is not happening again. 

The organization’s Deputy Director for East Africa, Seif Magango, has called on the Ethiopian government not to use excessive force,guarantee freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and protect the rights of ethnic minorities in Sidama region are protected.

As many as 170 people were killed when Election Board of Ethiopia disclosed in July of this year that the date for Sidama referendum were postponed. Ejeto, youth groups of radical Sidama ethnic nationalists, are believed to be behind the massacre.

Amnesty International’s statement issued on November 19,2019 reads as follows :

Ethiopia: Authorities must prevent violence and protect rights during Sidama referendum

Spokespersons available to take media interviews

Ahead of tomorrow’s referendum on a separate state for Ethiopia’s Sidama ethnic group, Amnesty International called on the Ethiopian authorities to take all steps to ensure there is no repeat of the deadly violence that broke out when the referendum was postponed in July.

“The Ethiopian authorities must take all appropriate measures to ensure a peaceful vote, including preventing excessive use of force by the security forces. They must guarantee freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and ensure that the rights of members of minority ethnic groups in Sidama are fully protected,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“The referendum comes at an especially tense time when violence based on ethnic differences is breaking out all over the country and people are being killed simply for expressing their opinions.”

No official death toll has been published from the clashes in July when protests broke out following the postponement of the plebiscite, but Sidama activist groups put the figure at almost 170.

Campaigners are calling for a separate state for the Sidama ethnic group, which is currently part of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region. The Ethiopian constitution requires the government to organize a referendum for any ethnic group that requests a separate state.

Public Document

For more info or to arrange an interview please contact Amnesty Press Office:

+44 20 7413 5566
twitter: @amnestypress

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