Toronto – The U.S. government on Friday said it is “deeply concerned” about reports of killings in Merawi town of the Amhara region. The reaction came days after the Ethiopian Human Rights Council released a statement earlier this week confirming that at least 80 civilians who have no involvement – including women, elders and children – were killed on January 29, 2023 in Merawi shortly after a battle between Fano Forces and government troops.
The statement from the U.S. The Embassy in Addis Ababa, attributed to Ambassador Ervin Massinga , shared on X (formerly Twitter) , highlighted the need to ensure justice by bringing perpetrators to justice. The statement said :
“The U.S. government is deeply concerned by the reports of targeted civilian killings in the town of Merawi In Amhara regional state. We call for unfettered access by independent human rights monitors as well as an impartial investigation to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. These Follow numerous disturbing reports of other violations and abuses in Amhara, Oromia and elsewhere in Ethiopia, reports which implicate government and non-state actors alike. Dialogue – not violence – is the only way forward.”
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deployed senior party officials and his cabinet members to the Amhara region to engage the public in `15 towns in the region days after the massacre in Merawi.
There are omens that seem to suggest that the Ethiopian Prime Minister could be leaning to more violations of rights as he has entirely lost legitimacy. During his parliamentary appearance on Tuesday this week, he said “it is human nature that when you kill ten, hundreds would go silent.” His view does not seem to reflect the reality on the ground as far as resistance to his government is concerned. More and more young people are reportedly joining Fano forces in the Amhara region.
The Prime Minister was entertaining the idea of further repressive measures. He was drawing a comparison of his government to the military government of Colonel Mengistu and with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated government which came to an end in 2018. In his parliamentary speech he implied it was easy to kill. He made a reference to impunity that someone would be shot in the evening and will be announced through government media the next day. He also made a reference to the TPLF era whereby TPLF forces were freely killing civilians. “We do not kill. Let alone killing, it is not even easy to arrest,” he said. His administration has been criticized, including by Human Rights Organizations, for arresting tens of thousands of ethnic Amhara civilians in the capital Addis Ababa soon after introducing a state of emergency in August 2023 and detainees were taken to detention camps outside of the capital where they were kept for months under harsh circumstances.
Last week, the Ethiopian Parliament extended the state of emergency for another four months in connection with the security situation in the Amhara region. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has expressed its concern about it.
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