Ethiopia requires independent investigation after serious attacks on civilians

A crowded market place in northern Ethiopia A crowded market place in northern Ethiopia Lesly Derksen via Unsplash

Last June 2022, an armed group set fire to five villages and killed hundreds of people. Serious investigations are required in the Oromia region.

On June 18, 2022, an armed group massacred hundreds of Amhara civilians in the western Oromia region of Ethiopia. The attackers entered the villages of Tole Kebele, Gutin, Silsaw, Chekorsa and Begene, shooting for eight hours straight and killing many women and children. The episode of violence was repeated on July 25, when 480 civil and commercial structures were destroyed by fire, looting livestock and private property. Despite the immediate requests for help, the Ethiopian armed forces did not provide support in time, delaying their intervention by about two hours after the incident and thus not guaranteeing adequate protection. In a press conference on June 30, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office said 392 people were counted killed.

Civilians were not protected not only from a military point of view but also from an institutional point of view. Indeed, independent investigations have been requested, but there is no evidence of concrete results. Moreover, three months after the episode, the Ethiopian government has not addressed the ensuing problems, such as providing safe and adequate shelter. Survivors say they continue to fear further attacks, and given the lack of protection and insufficient humanitarian aid, many residents have been forced to leave Oromia. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has estimated that more than 500,000 have been displaced to western Oromia as a result of the conflict.

Since 2019, government forces and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) armed group have faced each other in western Oromia, causing serious damage to minority communities in the region. Ethiopian authorities have confirmed that OLA is responsible for the June massacre and other attacks prior to and after that date. For its part, OLA accused a government militia of carrying out the attacks and requested an independent investigation. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the President of the African Union, Moussa Faki, have also advanced this request, with the help of expert investigators to support them. Laetitia Bader, director of the Horn of Africa at Human Rights Watch, said: “This is just the latest massacre of its kind for which the Ethiopian government must do more to ensure credible and independent investigations, identify those responsible and ensure that adequate assistance reaches all those in need".

 

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by Sofiya Dmytrivna Rinci Zubok

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