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African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) 79th Ordinary Session (Hybrid Day 11 - May 24th, 2024)



African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) 79th Ordinary Session (Hybrid Day 11 - May 24th, 2024) [full session] 


Transcript of Robel Alemu’s oral intervention delivered on Friday, May 24th, 2024 


Hello, my name is Robel Alemu and I am speaking on behalf of the Amhara Association of America (AAA) and I am thankful to speak on this panel on the situation of human rights defenders and their protection in Africa. 


Our organization closes monitors and documents the human rights situation in Ethiopia. 


In Ethiopia, human rights defenders have historically played a significant role in raising awareness of human rights issues, advocating on behalf of victims, and at times organizing non-violent protests including civil disobedience campaigns, hunger strikes and other forms of protest. 


However, since the start of war in Amhara Region last year protection of HRDs has deteriorated. 


Since this time, AAA has documented an alarming increase in attacks and persecution of HRDs which has threatened civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in Ethiopia.  


And these ongoing attacks against HRDs often involve targeting on the basis of ethnic or religious identity, and political beliefs. 


On April 2nd, 2023, millions of people held large-scale protests in more than 30 cities and towns in Amhara Region of Ethiopia calling for an end to genocide against the Amhara people, fair political representation, end to house demolitions and end to identity-based travel restrictions and many key issues. 


These protests broke out on the 5th anniversary of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office, a day which the Ethiopian people have called the day of darkness. 


And instead of addressing the legitimate grievances of the people, Abiy sent his military to shoot and kill unarmed protesters and by the end of the month declared war on the Amhara people. 


Over the last 12 months, the Abiy regime has used drones, heavy artillery and other weapons to bomb and shoot thousands of innocent men, women and children committing atrocities which have hallmarks of war crimes and crimes against humanity. 


In parallel, the regime has arrested tens of thousands of Amhara people across the country and these arrests intensified following announcement of a state of emergency last August. 


The primary targets were the human rights defenders who denounced the regime’s human rights violations against the Amhara people. 


These include prominent Amhara opposition figures, journalists, civil society leaders, medical doctors, lawyers, students and social activists who have been subject to ethnic profiling and arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearance, dehumanizing treatment, ethnic slurs, physical and psychological torture, denial of medical care by government authorities. 


This campaign followed a similar mass arrest campaign against Amhara human rights defenders in May 2022. 


Prominent figures include member of parliament Christian Tadele, Dr. Wondwossen Assefa,- 


[Interruption] Can you conclude please? 


Thank you and several journalists including Belay Manaye, Gobeze Sisay, Abay Zewdu, Meskerem Abera, Genet Asmamaw, Sisay Awgichew, Dawit Begashaw, Zerihun Gessesse, Sintayehu Chekol, Ermias Mekuriya, Natnael Yalemzewd, Abinet Tamrat, Tewodros Zerfu, and the list goes on. 


So to conclude the situation is very dire, and we had actually submitted a complaint to the commission regarding the situation in Ethiopia last year, this needs to be reviewed, and we hope that more action can be taken to address the situation including potentially a more robust response specific to this issue, as I mentioned it goes beyond human rights defenders to everyday people and this could potentially involve a specialized commission or inquiry.

 

[Interruption] Please stay in contact with the special rapporteur on human rights defenders on the situation in Amhara 

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