Ethiopian military suspected of committing war crimes in Amhara region | Conflict News

Human Rights Watch said the Ethiopian military “summarily executed” dozens of civilians in the country’s northwestern Amhara region in January.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said earlier this year that Ethiopian forces “summarily executed dozens of civilians” and committed other war crimes in northwestern Amhara, prompting the United Nations to call for an independent investigation. asked to start.

The New York-based human rights group said in a report Thursday that the incident in the city of Merawi in late January was the first civilian attack since fighting began between Ethiopian federal forces and the Fano militia in the rebel region in August. He said it was one of the deadliest incidents in human history.

“Civilians are once again bearing the brunt of an abusive military operating with impunity,” said Leticia Bader, deputy Africa director at HRW.

“The brutal killing of civilians by Ethiopian forces in Amhara has undermined the government’s claims that it is trying to bring law and order to the region.”

There was no immediate comment from the Ethiopian government or military, but a separate investigation conducted by the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission estimated that at least 45 people were killed by government forces in Merawi.

HRW said it could not determine the total number of civilians killed in Merawi, adding that some reports put the figure at more than 80.

More than a dozen witnesses, including victims and their families, told human rights groups about abuses allegedly carried out by the military in the city.

HRW said it also analyzed and verified videos posted on social media after the Jan. 29 attack and examined satellite imagery that corroborated eyewitness accounts.

“Looting” of private property

HRW called on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to lead an investigation into the alleged abuses.

It also called on the African Union to suspend all deployments of Ethiopian federal troops to peacekeeping operations until “commanders responsible for gross human rights violations are held accountable.”

“Under international humanitarian law applicable to the armed conflict in Amhara, the deliberate killing and abuse of civilians, as well as the pillaging and plundering of civilian property, is prohibited and may be prosecuted as a war crime.” said HRW.

Testimonies collected by HRW revealed that soldiers shot and killed civilians on the streets and during raids over a six-hour period after Fano fighters withdrew from Merawi following an attack on Ethiopian forces.

“Soldiers also looted and destroyed civilian property,” HRW said in a statement.

Several residents also told HRW that the remaining soldiers in the town also refused to allow the community to collect and bury their dead.

Bader said the Ethiopian government’s failure to ensure accountability for human rights violations “contributes to a continuing cycle of violence and impunity.”

In early February, Ethiopia’s parliament extended the state of emergency introduced in August 2023 in Amhara, the country’s second most populous region.

Last April, Fano fighters took part in a week of violent protests across Amhara after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered security forces in 11 Ethiopian regions to be integrated into the police or national army.

Protesters felt the order was intended to weaken Amhara, the country’s second-largest region. The federal government denied this.

Fanos and other Amhara ethnic groups are long-time enemies of Amhara nationalists, who claim parts of Ethiopia’s northernmost region as their ancestral lands.The Tigray regional government and opposition leaders signed a November 2022 agreement. I felt betrayed by the peace agreement. [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

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