Reports of Human Rights Abuses, Atrocities, and Destruction in Amhara and Afar Regions of Ethiopia

The United States has recognized and made a statement through the State Department regarding the unrest and possible human rights abuses, atrocities, and destruction in Amhara and Afar Regions Ethiopaia.

Ned Price, Department Spokesperson said, “The United States notes with grave concern unconfirmed new reports alleging egregious human rights abuses, atrocities, and destruction of civilian infrastructure by Tigrayan forces in the Amhara and Afar regions of Ethiopia. We call on all armed actors to renounce violence against civilians. We also urge authorities to investigate these reports to determine their veracity and to commit to inclusive, transparent processes to hold responsible parties accountable.”

“The United States reiterates our support for diplomacy as the first, last, and only option to cease hostilities, just as we call for an end to human rights abuses and violations; negotiations without preconditions; unhindered humanitarian access; and the start to inclusive national dialogue.”

The Tigray War is an ongoing civil war that began on 3 November 2020 in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.The local Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) are fighting the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), the Ethiopian Federal Police, regional police, and gendarmerie forces of the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions with the involvement of the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF). All sides, particularly the ENDF, EDF, and TDF have committed war crimes during the conflict. Due to the onset of the war, a deep humanitarian crisis has developed.

After the social movements of 2014–2017, Amhara nationalism developed strongly in the region, with a discourse that includes both issues of power balance between elites and territorial claims. Several local politicians, such as Dejene Maru backed by General Asaminew Tsige, were able to control armed factions.

On June 22, 2019, factions of the security forces of the region attempted a coup d’état against the regional government, during which the President of the Amhara region, Ambachew Mekonnen, was assassinated. A bodyguard siding with the nationalist factions assassinated General Se’are Mekonnen – the Chief of the General Staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Force – as well as his aide, Major General Gizae Aberra. The Prime Minister’s Office accused Brigadier General Asaminew Tsige, head of the Amhara region security forces, of leading the plot, and Tsige was shot dead by police near Bahir Dar on June 24.

Click here for more news. Click here for the personal side of the battle. It’s one man’s story of his sacrifice against warring forces.

A joint statement was released by Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States on December 6, 2021.

“We, Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, are profoundly concerned by recent reports of the Ethiopian government’s detention of large numbers of Ethiopian citizens on the basis of their ethnicity and without charge. The Ethiopian government’s announcement of a State of Emergency on November 2 is no justification for the mass detention of individuals from certain ethnic groups.

Reports by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Amnesty International describe widespread arrests of ethnic Tigrayans, including Orthodox priests, older people, and mothers with children. Individuals are being arrested and detained without charges or a court hearing and are reportedly being held in inhumane conditions. Many of these acts likely constitute violations of international law and must cease immediately. We urge unhindered and timely access by international monitors.

We reiterate our grave concern at the human rights abuses and violations, such as those involving conflict related sexual violence, identified in the joint investigation report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the EHRC, and at ongoing reports of atrocities being committed by all parties to the conflicts. All parties must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including those regarding the protection of civilians and humanitarian and medical personnel.

It is clear that there is no military solution to this conflict, and we denounce any and all violence against civilians, past, present and future. All armed actors should cease fighting and the Eritrean Defense Forces should withdraw from Ethiopia.  We reiterate our call for all parties to seize the opportunity to negotiate a sustainable ceasefire without preconditions. Fundamentally, Ethiopians must build an inclusive political process and national consensus through political and legal means, and all those responsible for violations and abuses of human rights must be held accountable.

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