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Preliminary Report on the Merawi Massacre

Updated February 5, 2024

The Amhara Association of America (AAA) has verified that on January 29, 2024, Abiy regime forces massacred at least 89 unarmed civilians in Merawi town (Amhara Region, Ethiopia). On that day, heavy gunfire exchange took place in Merawi town and surrounding villages between Amhara Fano freedom fighters (Fano) and the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and allied forces (e.g. state militias and police). Merawi town is located 35-km away from Bahir Dar city, in the North Mecha Woreda of the newly formed North Gojjam Zone of Amhara Region (formerly administered under the West Gojjam Zonal administration). The fighting was initiated by an offensive operation undertaken by Fano against regime forces encamped inside Merawi town and China Camp. The confrontation began in the early morning and lasted until midday, at around 12:00 p.m. According to sources, combatant casualties were reported on both sides, with particularly significant losses incurred by the regime forces, including members of the ENDF and local militias.

Fighting stopped at around 12:00 pm, when Fano withdrew from the town and retreated to the outskirts. Following their withdrawal, reinforcement units from the regime entered Merawi town and began indiscriminate killing of civilians. It was reported that members of the regime forces conducted widespread executions, shooting anyone they encountered on the streets of Merawi town. Among the victims, AAA has received credible accounts that regime forces killed a 13-year-old child when they encountered him on the street as he was walking to a store. The child’s body was subsequently found in a nearby ditch. In another shocking case, regime forces killed a mother carrying her 2-year-old infant. The soldiers also killed many civilians through house-to-house searches, targeting mainly young men. Among the deceased victims were 18 young men, predominantly daily laborers, who came to Merawi for employment opportunities but were found dead after waiting for hours hiding themselves in a single house. In another case the regime forces killed a father who was cradling his infant child by the entrance of their home after the soldiers forcibly separated them.

On the day of the incident, [ENDF] prohibited town residents from retrieving the bodies of the deceased for burial. It was on the following day that the perpetrators permitted residents to retrieve bodies and hastily bury them. Eyewitnesses revealed that 34 bodies of the deceased were buried at the cemetery of St. Mary’s Church and an additional four bodies were buried at the cemetery of the Medhanialem Church. The bodies of another 20 victims were buried in Muslim graves. And the bodies of many others were taken to surrounding rural areas for burial. Though there are various figures indicated through various media sources, AAA’s sources have confirmed that at least 89 civilians were executed, including 3 women and a child. Sources also confirmed that a woman named Kedija was shot and killed by regime soldiers while carrying her 2-year-old child. It was indicated that her child was also found dead the following day, possibly from starvation. Some media sources indicated various death tolls of civilians up to as high as 115. AAA also received credible reports that mass burials were conducted and eyewitnesses discovered bodies on the roads indicating they were killed by gunshots to the head. The executions mainly took place in Kebeles 1 and 2 of Merawi town, where the town administrative building is located.

In addition to civilian casualties, regime forces deliberately destroyed private properties belonging to town residents. Among these, over 11 bajaj vehicles (three-wheeled autorickshaw) were destroyed (burned), and an unknown number of residential homes sustained damages due to artillery shelling.

AAA was able to identify the names of 47 victims who were killed in the January 29, 2024 massacre of civilians by Abiy regime forces in Merawi town, as follows: (See the pdf file)


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