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Amhara People: The Forgotten Victims of Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia

May 1, 2024
4 mins read


Amhara People, Betrayed Persecuted And Ignored
Amhara People, Betrayed Persecuted And Ignored

Ethiopia has witnessed a notable increase in human rights violations in the past few years, particularly due to conflicts in the Tigray, Oromia, and Amhara regions. Despite receiving global recognition, the focus on the extent of abuses, particularly towards the Amhara population, remains inadequate. This report aims to rectify this gap by providing a comprehensive analysis of the grave human rights issues confronting the Amhara community.

The ECLJ has submitted a brief to the 47th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) based on this report. The purpose of this submission is to address the human rights situation in Ethiopia. It is important to note that the ECLJ holds Special Consultative status before the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

The report highlights several significant incidents that have occurred in the country. These include attacks on Christians, the Burayu massacre, the Shashemene massacres, and targeted killings in Wollega and the Metekel zone. Furthermore, the report sheds light on the forced displacement of the Amhara community, particularly in areas surrounding the capital. The government often justifies this displacement as part of urban development projects, but it disproportionately affects non-Oromos, raising concerns about ethnic discrimination.

Moreover, the document provides details about military operations in the Amhara region, especially after the declaration of a state of emergency in August 2023. These operations have involved drone attacks on civilian populations in towns like Finote Selam, Quarit, and Dembecha. As a result, there have been significant civilian casualties, including women and children. The use of drones against non-combatant populations in these areas raises serious concerns about the Ethiopian government’s compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law.

The report also brings attention to extrajudicial and summary killings, with multiple instances of such incidents occurring during military operations. These operations frequently entail door-to-door searches, where individuals suspected of supporting opposition groups are executed without due process. Alarmingly, these actions have also targeted religious figures and students.

The situation has been further exacerbated by mass arrests, with thousands of Amhara individuals detained under the guise of maintaining security. These arrests, often lacking a proper legal basis, have resulted in overcrowded detention facilities, where detainees reportedly endure harsh conditions and limited access to medical assistance. Allegedly, the inadequate healthcare provision contributed to a cholera outbreak in September 2023, leading to several hundred fatalities within these detention centers.

Additionally, the report highlights the persecution of Christians, citing the burning and destruction of over 30 churches between 2018 and 2019. The schism in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in January 2023 has intensified this persecution, resulting in significant casualties among believers and underscoring the intersection of religious and ethnic tensions in Ethiopia. The report also documents recent violent incidents against Christians, particularly in the Arsi zone of the Oromia region where, in November 2023, a series of attacks led to the deaths of 36 Orthodox Christians. These attacks persisted into December 2023, claiming the lives of a dozen more believers. Moreover, on February 16, 2024, four clergymen were abducted and murdered, with the church attributing these acts to the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). These acts of aggression against Christians, as detailed in the report, represent grave violations of the fundamental right to religious freedom.

The European Centre for Law and Justice advocates for an impartial investigation conducted under the auspices of the United Nations, aimed at shedding light on the grave human rights violations reported. It calls upon the international community to ensure accountability, justice, and the protection of human rights for all affected communities in Ethiopia. Such an endeavor necessitates a thorough and credible inquiry into the alleged abuses that provides a foundation for further actions. The ECLJ hopes that this report will contribute to such investigation.


[1] Le Monde with AFP, “Air strike kills at least 26 in Ethiopia’s Amhara,” August 15, 2023.

[2] Ethiopia Observer, “Air strike kills at least 30 in Dembecha, Quarit,” September 19, 2023.

[3] Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, “አማራ ክልል ለወራት የቀጠለው የትጥቅ ግጭት እና የሰዎች መገደል,” October 30, 2023.

[4] APA News, “Ethiopia: Cholera Outbreaks Hit Several Concentration Camps,” September 16, 2023.

[5] Voice of America Amharic, “በሺርካ ወረዳ ሃይማኖት የለየ በተባለ ጥቃት 36 ምእመናን ሲገደሉ ቀሪዎቹ እንደሸሹ ተገለጸ”, published November 30, 2023, accessed March 13, 2024, https://amharic.voanews.com/a/east-arsi-killing/7378932.html.

[6] Addis Standard, “News: 45 believers killed in two separate attacks in Arsi and Kellem Wollega zones, Oromia region,” published December 1, 2023, accessed March 12, 2024, https://addisstandard.com/news-45-believers-killed-in-two-separate-attacks-in-arsi-and-kellem-wollega-zones-oromia-region/, See also, Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE, “Gunmen Target Ethiopian Orthodox Pilgrims Returning from an Annual Feast,” published January 1, 2024, accessed March 14, 2024, https://ocpsociety.org/gunmen-target-ethiopian-orthodox-pilgrims-returning-from-an-annual-feast/.

[7] Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Patriarchate Head Office, “በግፍ የተገደሉት የዝቋላ ደብረ ከዋክብት አቡነ ገብረ መንፈስ ቅዱስ ገዳም አባቶች አስክሬን ተረሽነው ከተቀበሩበት ከጊዳ ተክለሃይማኖት አካባቢ ተነስቶ በገዳሙ በክብር ሥርዓተ ቀብር ተፈጸመ።” published February 23, 2024, accessed March 12, 2024, https://eotceth.org/a/በግፍ-የተገደሉት-የዝቋላ-ደብረ-ከዋክብት/.


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