Ethnic profiling in Ethiopia

Ethiopian woman, Addis Ababa Ethiopian woman, Addis Ababa Photo by Erik Hathaway on Unsplash

16 December 2020

The Ethiopian national government is enabling an ethnic persecution of the Tigray-speaking population.

The New Humanitarian (TNH) has reported ongoing ethnic persecution of the Tigray population in Ethiopia, with a drastic increase in violence in the Tigray province in the northern part of the country. The government, led by Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has ordered the national defense department to carry out military operations in the province with an aim to target the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). 

Ahmed has denounced the TPLF and labelled it a terrorist organization that wants to divide the country in half. Unfortunately, innocent civilians are paying the price of these armed confrontations. According to TNH, more than 1 million Tigrayans have been displaced from their homes as well as forced to flee to Addis Addaba and Sudan. Tigrayan refugees have also accused the Ethiopian army and allied militias of conducting cold-blooded attacks on civilians. 

This conflict encompasses blatant violence towards an ethnic community coupled with a pattern of ethnic discrimination. Namely, the Ethiopian government is virtually encouraging authorities and non-Tigrayan civilians to profile anybody who looks Tigrayan or speaks the dialect. For example, there have been numerous reports by Tigrayans living in Addis Ababa and other areas outside of Tigray being taunted on the street, profiled at restaurants and markets, and their homes unlawfully searched by Ethiopian police forces. 

One could argue that Ethiopian leadership is justifying a systemic ethnic profiling campaign against the Tigray population with clashes against the TPLF out. Such a situation clearly showcases the lack of state accountability and should alarm the  international community. The actions of the Ethiopian military results in the loss of jobs, forced displacements, and deaths. It is up to the world leaders to inflict political pressure on  the Ethiopian government to cease this ethnic profiling.


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Author: Sergio Gomez; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

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