The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (ERCO)on Tuesday said that it has been reports of human rights abuse in the Oromia region of Ethiopia in connection with the development of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
To demonstrate its claim, EHRCO cited incidents in Shashemene, where Oromia regional forces opened fire and killed dozens of followers of the church and priests. Sources from the Church said that the death toll has reached 37. Some of the victims are priests and choirs.
The rights group also cited harassment in Yabelo where a priest and those who serve in the church were brutally abused. Crackdown on the followers of the church who support the decision from the Holy Synod and attempt to defend churches from being illegally taken by the illegal group is also reported. Extensive arrests are also happening in the region.
EHRCO expressed concern that the situation could evolve into something bigger that could cause widespread loss of human lives and destruction of properties.
It called on relevant government authorities to exercise caution to avert that from happening.
Security forces escorted the group and its representatives, which is not recognized by the Holy Synod of the church, to churches as followers attempted to protect their churches helplessly.
EHRCO pointed out that what the government has been doing in the region violates the constitution. For one thing, the government is interfering in religious affairs by way of supporting one group and attacking the other. It is also failing to enforce the rule of law and protect the security of citizens.
Earlier this week, as reported by borkena, three Bishops who belong to the legal Holy Synod were detained for hours in the Oromia region and sent back to Addis Ababa.
EHRCO called on the government to discharge its responsibility of protecting the security of citizens and ensure peaceful social interaction. It also called on the government (the federal government and Oromia regional government) to stop extrajudicial killings of those trying to protect their church, among other things.
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