Ethiopian rights body says security forces killed at least 76 in summer unrest after musician’s killing
NAIROBI(Reuters) – Ethiopia’s state-appointed human rights commission said on Friday that security forces killed at least 76 people and wounded nearly 200 during violent unrest in June and July that followed the killing of a popular singer.
The commission also detailed brutality by civilians involved in the clashes, saying some attackers beheaded and tortured people after dragging them from their homes and using ethnic slurs.
The “widespread and systematic attack” on civilians by attackers constituted crimes against humanity, the commission said.
Its report on the violence, some of the worst in Ethiopia since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018, said a total of 123 people were killed and at least 500 injured.
Abiy’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
Ethnic violence has surged in many parts of Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation, since Abiy took office and lifted the lid on long-repressed tensions between more than 80 ethnic groups. Abiy has urged national unity, but powerful ethnic-based movements are opposed to this.
The summer violence began amid protests triggered by the killing of Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group, the country’s largest. Oromos, including Haacaaluu himself, were a strong force in the anti-government protests that piled pressure on the former ruling coalition and eventually led to Abiy being selected as premier in 2018.
The street protests after the singer’s death spread from the capital Addis Ababa to the surrounding Oromiya region.
The commission’s report found that attackers “moving in groups and armed with knives, stones, flammables, electric cables, sticks, axes and machetes; beat, injured and killed people in a gruesome manner, including through torture and beheading.”
In October, Ethiopia’s attorney general charged four suspects with terrorism in connection with the killing of the singer.
The rights commission the proportionality of the force employed in some parts of the response by security forces to the unrest was “highly questionable”.
The violence in June and July was not related to a conflict since November between federal forces and a rebellious force in the northern Tigray region that is believed to have killed thousands and displaced around 950,000 people.
Most Significant Ethiopia Events in 2020
From a deadly pandemic, the killing of Oromo pop star Hachalu Hundeessa and to the war on Tigray, the year 2020 has certainly experienced its fair share of Ethiopia -shifting events.
Here is a list — and timeline — of the major events that have happened in this year so far:
-14 February – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo begins a visit to Senegal, Angola, and Ethiopia.
– March 13 – 1st case of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia was reported.
– 24 April – One million people in Ethiopia face hunger due to crop destruction by locust swarms that destroyed their farms and grazing land.
– May 8 – Bereket Simon, former Communications Minister for the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, was convicted of corruption and sentenced to six years of prison. Tadesse Kassa, a former TIRET Corporation board member, was also convicted.
– 1 July – 166 people are killed in protests after the death of Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa, which later led to the arrest of Jawar Mohamed and Bekele Gerba
– 29 August – 2020 Ethiopian general election was to be held but the government unilaterally postponed it indefinitely due to COVID 19. This has caused the opposition parties to question the legitimacy of the ruling party.
– 9 September – The 2020 Tigray Regional Election was held in Tigray, even with the federal Government of Ethiopia condemning and referring it illegitimate.
– 4 November – Abiy declared war on TPLF after he claimed that they have attacked the northern command and looted the military equipment. Following this reckless war “Scores, probably thousands” of civilians are killed in the conflict of Tigray Region, northern Ethiopia.
– 7 November – the Ethiopian parliament voted to endorse the creation of an interim government for the northern Tigray region
– 9 November – Up to 500-700 civilians were alleged to have been killed in a massacre in the town of Mai Kadra. There are conflicting reports regarding the aggressors, Amnesty International suggesting that both Tigrayan forces and Ethiopian federal forces were involved in the massacres.
– 14 November – multiple rockets launched from Tigray hit Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea. UN Secretary-General António Guterres warns the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia may destabalize the entire Horn of Africa.
– 18 November – The Prime Minister was reported as saying that the Ethiopian Army was advancing on Mekelle, and had captured the cities of Shire and Axum.
– 25 November – The Organization of African Unity sends ex-presidents Joaquim Chissano (Mozambique), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia), and Kgalema Motlanthe (South Africa) to Addis Ababa to negotiate a peace.
– 15 December – Sudan says that “Ethiopian forces and militias” ambushed Sudanese army forces near Jabal Abutiour, Sudan. Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok visited Ethiopia briefly on December 13 to discuss the security situation.
– 23 December – The Amhara Mass Media Agency reported that more than 100 people have been killed along ethnic lines in Benishangul-Gumuz Region.