Last Year, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission found itself under pressure from the government of Abiy Ahmed in relation to reports on human rights abuses
Toronto – Commissioner of Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, Daniel Bekele on Friday expressed “grave” concern over House of People’s Representatives (HPR) approval for an extension of the state of emergency in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.
In a message on X (formerly Twitter) after confirmed news of extension of state of emergency, Daniel Bekele said Ethiopian Human Rights commission is “gravely concerned about extension of emergency powers & implications on human rights incl. the conflict casualties, humanitarian crisis & prolonged pre-trial detentions. HPR & Gov. should duly consider necessity, legality & proportionality of #SoE. Dialogue is the key!”
The Ethiopian Parliament on Friday approved a government proposal to extend the state of emergency. Initially, it was declared in August 2023 with the aim to disarm Fano forces in the region. Despite recurring claims of restoration of normalcy in the region, the government extended a state of emergency on alleged grounds that there are “unfinished works” in the region and “security threats” from other regions. One of the stated purposes of the state of emergency was to disarm Fano forces but reports from local sources seem to suggest that Fano forces are more armed than they were as they have made reported gains in ambush attacks and guerrilla warfare over government troops. Frustrated with the outcome of the military operations, government forces have been engaged in artillery shelling of civilian areas, arbitrary killings and recurring drone strikes in different parts of the Amhara regions.
Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has been reporting egregious human rights abuse – including extrajudicial executions – in the Amhara region of Ethiopia during the implementation of the state of emergency. Mass detention of ethnic Amhara and the deplorable detention condition is also something that EHRC reported during the It had been advising the government to avoid unnecessary and excessive use of force in the course of implementing the state of emergency rules.
In the latest string of massacres of civilians in Amhara region, Federal government forces reportedly executed between 80 and 100 civilians in Merawi town – about 35 kilometers from Bahir Dar – seat of the Amhara regional state. The incident happened this past Monday following the withdrawal of Fano forces from the town after completing their military operation. Residents from the city confirmed that a six months pregnant woman was among those executed, as reported by BBC Amharic. EHRC has confirmed that it has received reports of it and is gathering information about it.
The Ethiopian government has been advised to resort to peaceful negotiation to resolve the conflict in the region. However, it has not been taking practical steps in that direction. In fact, the extension of the state of emergency signals determination on the part of Abiy Ahmed’s government to continue the military operation in the region which may mean – among many other things – continuation of rights abuse and civilian casualties in the region.
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