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Enforced disappearance of ethnic Amharas after arrest by government security forces in Addis Ababa

The Amhara Association of America (AAA) has conducted investigations into the arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of ethnic Amharas in the Bole-Bulbula neighborhood of Bole sub-city of Addis Ababa city. Between February 1st and 10th, 2023, security forces of the Addis Ababa city administration and the Federal Government in collaboration arrested more than 30 ethnic Amharas in Woreda 12 of Bole sub-city. The arrest was conducted by persons who were not wearing police uniforms. The reason for the arrest was arbitrary allegations of traveling in groups; supporting Fano, and other reasonings. At the time of the arrest there were neither court warrants nor police summoned to effect the arrest of the individuals.

These individuals who were arrested between February 1st and 10th were first detained in a police detention center in Bole Bulbula. After they were held for days without being presented before a court of law, security forces transported them to unknown areas. During the detention, the rights of the detainees such as the right to be visited by family, speedy trial, presentment before court of laws within 48 hours and the right to know the reason of arrest were all violated. On February 13th, 2023, these 30 individuals who were arrested in the Bulbula Police Station had been taken to unknown areas outside of Addis Ababa. AAA’s sources suspected that the area might be Awash 7 Detention Center. Hence, the government detained these individuals without stating the reason for their arrest, without respecting any due process rights and without communicating the whereabouts of the arrested individuals to their family, these elements can establish the crime of enforced disappearance.1 Further when family members asked the police officer and any concerned government officials about the whereabouts of the detained individuals their response was “we don’t know where they are”.

One of AAA’s sources, witnessed the arrest of Simachew Tefera.

“On February 10th, 2023, security personnel who did not wear police uniforms arrested Simachew behind his house. They arrested him together with Abraham and 4 other ethnic Amharas whose names I don’t know. They took them to the Bulbula police station. After 3 days, they transported them to unknown areas and we don’t know the whereabouts of these victims who have been detained for a week.”

Another source, a relative of Ayimro Yeneneh, confirmed to AAA that on February 9th, 2023, Ayimro was arrested in his home by three individuals who were not wearing uniforms. At the time, Ayimro was looking after his 3-year-old child. They did not state the reason for his arrest; they had not shown their identification cards nor possessed a court warrant for the arrest. They took him to Bulbula police station and he was in the police station for four days. Families were prohibited from visiting him, he was prevented from contacting a legal advisor, and he was not presented before a court. On February 13th, 2023 they transported him to an unknown detention center. AAA’s source added that they were not informed of the whereabouts of Ayimro despite repeatedly asking police officers.


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