At least 491 ethnic Amhara civilians were killed in ethnically motivated attacks during the first three months of 2021- Amhara Association of America


Mereja Media

At least 491 ethnic Amhara civilians were killed in ethnically motivated attacks across different regions of Ethiopia during the first three months of 2021, according to the Amhara Association of America (AAA).

In its report entitle “Untold Massacres Against Ethnic Amharas in Ethiopia”, AAA said hundreds of thousands of ethnic Amharas were subjected to forced displacement during the stated period, with Amhara Region hosting at least 500,000 internally displaced Amharas by the end of March 2021.

The Executive Summary of the quarterly report on the Human Rights Violations against the Amhara People of Ethiopia reads as follows.

While the world’s attention is on the devastating Tigray Conflict in the northern part of Ethiopia, the country’s multifaceted crises elsewhere continue to worsen. These crises are abetted by Ethiopia’s defunct federal system that pits ethnic groups against each other.

The 1995 Federal Constitution of Ethiopia dictates that borders of the regional states shall be drawn along ethnic lines, thus rendering regions as ethnic homelands. In addition to antagonizing people who lived peacefully for generations, this new constitution established a system of ‘owner of the region/native’ versus ‘settler/nonnative’.

The constitutional framework denies ethnic minorities in many regions of the country adequate minority protection and rights. Thus, identity-based attacks and ethnic conflicts have risen dramatically since the introduction of the ethnic federalism system in Ethiopia. As the most dispersed ethnic group living across the country in multiple regions. Amharas have been, minoritized, by this new ethnic federalist system and have been victims of targeted massacres since the early 1990s.

Three years after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated government was replaced with Oromo dominated Prosperity Party, the targeted attacks against Amharas have intensified. Over the last two years, civilian Amharas particularly in the Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz Regions have been victims of ethnically motivated massacres by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and ethnic Gumuz militias with the support of regional administration and regional security forces.

Though it received very little attention, in February 2021, the Benishangul-Gumuz Regional government admitted that many high-ranking regional officials were supporting the Gumuz militias 1 . In addition, in cities like Addis Ababa, targeted forced evictions and arrests of Amharas have increased. This report focuses on human rights violations and abuses committed against the Amharas in parts of the Oromia, Benishangul-Gumuz, SNNP, and Amhara regions, plus the nation’s capital of Addis Ababa, in the first three months of 2021. Between January 1st and March 31st the Amhara Association of America (AAA) documented 38 incidents of targeted massacres against Amharas and other human rights violation incidents.

AAA recorded 25 incidents in the Oromia Region, eight incidents in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region, two incidents in the Amhara Region, two incidents in the SNNP Region, and one incident in Addis Ababa. As a result of these human rights violation incidents: At least 491 ethnic Amhara civilians were killed and 314 injured, mainly in Oromia, Benishangul-Gumuz and Amhara regions. Out of these 805 documented casualties, in at least 100 cases the victims belonged to vulnerable groups (children [40], women [50], elderly [9] and persons with disabilities [1]).

Hundreds of thousands of people were internally displaced. Most of the internally displaced fled to Amhara Region, which was hosting at least 500,000 internally displaced Amharas by the end of March 2021. Over 1,517 ethnic Amharas were forcibly evicted from settlements in Addis Ababa without the appropriate legal and procedural safeguards, including prior and adequate consultation, adequate notice, and the provision of adequate alternative housing.

At least 12 ethnic Amharas were kidnapped in Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz Regions, including seven children and women. • More than 60 ethnic Amhara have been arbitrarily detained in the Oromia Region. • Assets of ethnic Amhara valued in the millions of dollars have been destroyed, vandalized, or looted in the Oromia, Benishangul-Gumuz, and Amhara regions.

While state agencies were responsible for the forced evictions in Addis Ababa, most of the massacres in this report were attributed to the Oromo Liberation Army and other non-state armed groups. With the weakening state capacity since Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed came to power and the current conflict in the Tigray Region, the capacity of these insurgent groups to mount massacres against minoritized Amharas in Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz Region, and lately within Amhara Region, has dangerously grown. Survivors consistently blame the local administration in Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz regions of complacency and neglecting their responsibility to protect citizens.

AAA warns that given the weakened state capacity and lack of agency among vulnerable Amharas in many regions of Ethiopia, the massacres against Amharas will continue unabated and cost more Amhara lives.

Already, in April 2021, AAA has documented several attacks against Amharas by the OLA and Gumuz militias, killing 20 in East Wollega Zone, Oromia and killing 13 in Metekel Zone, Benishangul-Gumuz Region respectively.

The OLA carried out another large-scale attack in North Shewa Zone in mid-April that lasted several days, overwhelming the local security forces. AAA is still gathering data on the deaths and displacements from this latest attack, but whole villages and towns have been razed to the ground.

The North Shewa Zone of Amhara Region is now under a federal command post. At the time of this writing, hundreds of thousands of Amharas have protested across the Amhara Region against these massacres and against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. We therefore urge all stakeholders to take note of the detailed recommendations included in this report and publicly pressure the Ethiopian government to end the killing of innocent Amharas and ensure justice and accountability for these heinous crimes.

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