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UN Human Rights Briefing Note on Ethiopia

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 7 October 2016
Source: UN Human Rights Office of the High Commission

There has been increasing unrest in several towns in the Oromia region, south east of Addis Ababa, since last Sunday when many people died after falling into ditches or into the Arsede lake while apparently fleeing security forces following a protest at a religious festival in the town of Bishoftu. The protests have apparently been fuelled in part by a lack of trust in the authorities’ account of events as well as wildly differing information about the death toll and the conduct of security forces. We call on the protestors to exercise restraint and to renounce the use of violence. Security forces must conduct themselves in line with international human rights laws and standards.
There is clearly a need for an independent investigation into what exactly transpired last Sunday, and to ensure accountability for this and several other incidents since last November involving protests that have ended violently.

Instead of cutting off access to mobile data services in parts of the country, including in Addis Ababa, we urge the Government to take concrete measures to address the increasing tensions, in particular by allowing independent observers to access the Oromia and Amhara regions to speak to all sides and assess the facts. In August this year, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights requested access to the regions to enable the Office to provide assistance in line with Ethiopia’s human rights obligations. We again appeal to the Government to grant us access.
We are also concerned that two bloggers, Seyoum Teshoume and Natnael Feleke, the latter from the blogging collective Zone 9, were arrested this week. Feleke and a friend of his were reportedly arrested for loudly discussing the responsibility of the Government for the deaths at last Sunday’s Irrecha festival in Oromia. There have also been worrying reports of mass arrests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. We urge the Government to release those detained for exercising their rights to free expression and opinion. Silencing criticism will only deepen tensions.


  1. I hope the investigation will cover assessment of the cause for such mass anti-government protest such as equality and judicial system at diffent levels. It should not be limited to the the regions of Oromiya and Amhara. And also it should not be limited to some slecific points like city master plan …etc. Because the problem in the country regarding human right violation is very diversified and long standing which attribute for the current mass anti-governmentprotest.

  2. As always it better late than absent. The United Nation when comes to human right in Ethiopia even broadly in Africa shows as a car run out of gas. Ethiopians specifically were dying in thousands jailed in ten thousands exiled in hundred of thousands under the UN’S WATCH. For me the UN needs to be dissolved and be replaced by one that capable to fix the 21st century global problems. For me the UN is like a dead King but leading it’s people by his old fame and name. Ethiopians fight for you freedom don not beg any one who are a friend to your oppressor or enemy. This can include who helped the fascist Woyane for all his bad deeds and brutality.

  3. We must depend on ourselves.We got to stop crying for help. We have to unite together. We have to be strong morally, ethically and spiritually. We have to lean on one another. We need a stand up people in this sit down world. We look small because we are sitting down but if we rise mean telling you we will look like big. Rise people!

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