By Abel Eshetu Gebremedhin (PhD Candidate, AAU)
As the world is focused on Israeli-Hamas war, a grave genocide is taking place in Ethiopia. Increasing atrocities and mass killings aimed at ethnic Amharas have been occurring since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took power. Thousands of innocent civilians, many of them women and children, were killed in different parts of Ethiopia. The diplomatic community and media did not give the required level of attention for not openly expressed reason. A little is spoken about by some international vocal though yet to be disclosed. Summary of the few is presented below.
Human Rights Watch in the 2022 events report stated that “On June 18, heavily armed gunmen killed about 400 Amhara civilians, many women and children and destroyed homes and businesses in villages in West Wellega Zone, in Oromia, and in neighboring Benishangul-Gumuz region. Two weeks later, on July 4, assailants attacked Amhara civilians in Kellem Wellega Zone in Oromia, killing scores”
According to Tamil Guardian reported on June 21, 2022 “More than 250 people mostly from the Amhara ethnic group, have been killed in an attack in the Oromia region of Ethiopia on Saturday.”
On June 19, 2022 the New York times reported that “at least 230 Amhara ethnic group were killed when members of the Oromo Liberation Army attacked Tole, a village in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region”
VoA Africa ( June 20, 2022) reported that “Hundreds of people belonging to the Amhara ethnic group were killed by rebels in Ethiopia’s Oromia region over the weekend, survivors said Monday, but the insurgents denied the claims, blaming government forces for the deaths.”
A recent report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission that covers 2022/23 highlighted that “Conflict, insecurity, attacks by armed groups, and security measures by government forces continued to cause civilian deaths, bodily injury and displacement in all regions of Ethiopia. The military skirmish between Fano militia and Federal defense force instigated by the government’s decision announced in April 2023 to disarm Amhara region special forces which many argue to be unfair. Since the outbreak of the widespread war huge human and material loss is reported. Quite lots of inhabitants in Amhara rural places have been targeted and killed on everyday basis.”
United Nations Human Rights Counsel on September 21, 2023, reported that “it was deeply concerned about the conflict now occurring in Amhara regional state, with a state of emergency declared, large-scale arrests, and reports of significant civilian casualties. The blocking of humanitarian access by various parties had led to a medical emergency and acute food insecurity; it was urgent to ensure that humanitarian actors had unhindered access to people in need. The crackdown on civil space and the arrests of several journalists covering the human rights situation was also deeply worrying.”
UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Seif Magango stated that “ On 6 November, a drone allegedly launched by Government forces struck a primary school in the Wadera district, killing seven people, including three teachers. Reports also suggest Fano militias had occupied some parts of the campus. Another drone attack hit a bus station in Waber town on 9 November, killing 13 people who were waiting to board a bus. Fano militias were reportedly active in the area and attacking ENDF camps in Debre Markos and other smaller towns in East and West Gojjam zones, when the drone struck. Such attacks amount to arbitrary deprivation of life under international human rights law. In an earlier incident, six people were killed and 14 others injured when Government forces shelled residential areas in Chuahit town, in Central Gondar Zone on 4 November. Many of the victims were killed in their homes.”
Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention reported on September 23, 2023 mentioned that “federal forces were reported to have fired mortars and anti-air guns at residential areas in the town of Delgi and the surrounding kebeles (wards) of Takussa Woreda, Central Gonder Zone, in the Amhara region on September 5, 2023. During the attack, 5 civilians were killed while 17 others were injured. As of September 11, 2023, the Amhara Association of America has identified 4 of the victims, including two 35-year-old pregnant women.”
On September 8, 2023 the Guardian reported that “Ethiopian soldiers killed more than 70 civilians and looted properties in a town in Amhara, multiple witnesses have claimed. The killings took place in Majete, a rural town in north-eastern Ethiopia, after two weeks of heavy fighting between federal soldiers and the Fano, an Amhara militia.
On August 29, 2023, Reuters reported that “Fighting between Ethiopia’s military and militiamen in the Amhara region has killed at least 183 people, the UN human rights office said on Tuesday, providing the most comprehensive independent death toll to date of the month-long conflict. More than 1,000 people have been arrested nationwide, many of them reported to be young people of ethnic Amhara origin, under a state of emergency the government decreed to respond to the violence, the UN added in a statement”.
On October 10, 2023, UN news presented that “Following reports of continued fighting between government troops and local militias in Ethiopia, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide is sounding the alarm about the heightened risk of genocide and related atrocity crimes in the Tigray, Amhara, Afar and Oromi regions.”
On October 3, 2023, UN reports revealed that “there is “an overwhelming risk” atrocity crimes “will continue” in Ethiopia. In the report, the International Commission of Human Rights Experts expressed alarm about the deteriorating situation in the Amhara region, including emerging reports of extrajudicial killings and mass arrests. Most, if not all, of the structural drivers of violence and conflict remain unaddressed.
The report from the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia released on September 18, 2023 revealed that “in the Amhara region, where the Government announced a state of emergency the Commission said that it was receiving reports of “mass arbitrary detention” of civilians and “at least one drone strike” carried out by the State—An advocacy group, the Amhara Association of America, puts the death toll at 378 and says it has identified 176 victims by name. Another witness told the BBC that in addition to those killed on the spot, some were abducted by the attackers.”
According to U.S department of state press release on November 17, 2023 “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed about efforts to consolidate peace in northern Ethiopia and the importance of regional cooperation. The Secretary expressed concern about ongoing violence in Amhara, Oromia and elsewhere in Ethiopia and stressed the importance of dialogue and negotiation to resolve conflict.”
According to ‘the africa report’ ( June 22, 2023) “Oromo-speaking gunmen massacred hundreds of unarmed civilians in Ethiopia’s Oromia region on 18 June – part of a broader cycle of ethnic-based killings in the country’s western periphery, whose victims have been Oromo, Amhara, Gumuz and Sinaasha”
According to AP ( August 29, 2023) “ The United Nations human rights office says at least 183 people have been killed in clashes in Ethiopia’s Amhara region since July as Amhara fighters resist efforts by the federal government to disband them.”
“Fekade and his Oromo forces have been accused by witnesses of involvement in several mass killings. In the ethnically mixed town of Agamsa, for example, Fekade’s fighters, wearing the long braids favored by Oromo rebels, killed dozens of civilians from the Amhara ethnic group last summer, according to witness accounts that have not been previously reported.” The Washington Post, May 21, 2023
The CONVERSATION newsletter stated on September 6, 2023 that “During and after the civil war between the Federal forces and TDF, massacres and mass displacement of Amhara occurred in the Oromia region, the Benshangul Gumuz region and other regions of Ethiopia. There were numerous reports of rapes, arbitrary arrests, abductions, forced evictions and people being burned alive”.