Ethiopia faces litany of human rights abuses
Human rights were among the first casualties of the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia. While both sides continue to accuse each other of atrocities, independent organizations find it increasingly difficult to monitor abuses.
March 15, 2022
A video of uniformed men burning a civilian alive in western Ethiopia has sparked widespread outrage on social media, renewing condemnation and fear over the ongoing violence.
The state-affiliated Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) — an entity appointed by the Ethiopian parliament to protect human rights — identified the perpetrators as government security forces. Addis Ababa has pledged to punish the culprits.
An unidentified armed group attacked a civilian convoy and its military escort in the Benishangul-Gumuz region on March 2, killing 53 people.
The next day, 11 more people were killed by government soldiers. Eight Tigrayan civilians were beaten and shot, along with two men from the local Gumuz ethnic group.
Another man was tied up and burned to death, according to the EHRC.
The violence in the Benishangul-Gumuz, home to several ethnic groups, is separate from the ongoing war in the northern Tigray region, where Tigrayan forces have been fighting against central government rule since November 2020.
More damning reports emerge
In a report on the human rights situation in the Amhara and Afar regions released on Friday, the EHCR claimed that at least 750 civilians have killed in attacks or in extrajudicial killings since July of last year.
EHCR head Daniel Bekele told DW that these killings were carried out “mainly by Tigrayan forces.”
Bekele listed a slew of human rights abuses being inflicted upon the civilian population, including “widespread brutal and systematic individual and group rape of women, children and the elderly.”
“Their sexual abuse and exploitation of women is a systematic strategy to achieve their goals in the war,” he said.
More than 2,400 health facilities in the two regions have ceased operation as a result of the violence, while more than 1,000 schools have been destroyed and another 3,220 damaged, Bekele added.
Denials and accusations
The report followed a joint investigation by the UN Human Rights Office and the EHRC covering November 2020 to June 2021, which detailed a vast array of rights abuses. Most were blamed on Ethiopian forces and Eritrean troops, who provided military support to Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian government has regularly denied targeting civilians, while the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has previously said it would welcome independent investigations into war atrocities. It accuses the Ethiopian rights commission of bias — a charge the EHCR denies.