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War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Context of the Abiy Regime’s Genocidal War On Amhara



War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Context of the Abiy Regime’s Genocidal War On Amhara (August 4, 2023 to January 31, 2024): Preliminary Report of Casualties Documented by AAA


Updated February 14, 2024


Overview


This report details atrocities against civilians in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia since the Abiy Ahmed-led Oromo Prosperity Party (OPP) regime declared a State of Emergency (SoE) in August 2023, following the takeover of many towns and cities by Amhara Fano freedom fighters (Fano).1 While the conflict is primarily within the Amhara Region its historical roots and impact extend across the country. The introduction of ethnic-based homeland regions in the 1990s by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Oromo Liberation Front/Army (OLF/A) and their allies caused the minoritization of ethnic Amharas inhabiting various areas throughout Ethiopia. When the new ethnic federalism “apartheid” system was imposed on Ethiopia, newly established regions deliberately annexed areas historically inhabited by Amharas such as Welkait-Tegede, Telemt and Raya (to Tigray), Metekel (to Benishangul-Gumuz) and Dera (to Oromia).


The power shift in 2018 to the OPP led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has seen an escalation in persecution and widespread violence against Amhara people, even in areas where they constitute the demographic majority such as in Addis Ababa city and the Amhara Region. The Abiy regime, instead of protecting the Amhara, has deployed forces like Oromia Special Forces (OSF) to massacre Amharas in parts of Oromia and has allowed the OLA to massacre and ethnically cleanse Amharas from various parts of Oromia and Amhara Regions. In response to ongoing abuses, Fano, and the Amhara Special Forces (ASF) defended against invasions by the OLA and TPLF in 2020, 2021 and 2022.


In November 2022, a cessation of hostilities agreement was signed between the Abiy Government and the TPLF which experts argued was an exclusionary process that failed to include Amharas and would inevitably lead to further conflict.345 Following the deal, the Abiy regime dissolved the ASF and attempted to disarm the Fano in early 2023 which became one of the triggers for widespread protests in April 2023.6 The regime declared war on the Amhara Region by the end of the month, and deployed the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) seeking to render the Amhara defenseless. The first stage of the war concluded in late July 2023 when Fano pushed regime forces out from major cities, forcing Abiy in early August 2023, to declare a SoE in the Amhara Region and throughout other areas where Amharas were feared to engage in resistance against the Abiy regime. Despite significant military efforts since then, the Abiy regime has failed to secure effective control in virtually all administrative districts, with Fano continuing to administer many parts of the region and mounting operations against regime forces in urban cities like Gonder, Debre Birhan and outskirts of the regional capital Bahir Dar. In a public acknowledgment of its forces’ failure to regain control, the Abiy regime extended the SoE on February 1st, 2024 for an additional four months, signaling the continuation of massacres, property destruction, and mass incarcerations of Amharas witnessed in the last six months under the SoE.


This report summarizes a small percentage of widespread gross violations including mass killings, extrajudicial executions, bodily injuries, rape, other forms of sexual violence, mass arrests, ethnic profiling, internal displacement, and property pillaging, looting, and destruction across the Amhara Region and Addis Ababa city by Abiy regime forces since the declaration of the SoE in early August 2023 up to the end of January 2024. It does not include killings and rights violations before the declaration of state of emergency. The reported figures are what AAA’s investigative team was able to verify amidst persecution of sources, investigators and telecommunications shut down. As such, the report documents a small percentage of the actual casualties, and the actual number of people killed, injured, and extent of property loss is much larger than reported. This is what AAA with a relatively small team was able to discover and verify.


In the 6 months following declaration of the SoE in Amhara Region (between August 4th, 2023 and January 31th, 2024), AAA documented that the Federal Government, ENDF and allied forces:

  • killed at least 1,606 civilians, predominantly unarmed civilians, including women, children, and elderly persons. At least 96 of these incidents could be classified as massacres, meaning at least three civilians were killed in a single incident;

  • conducted at least 37 verified drone strikes targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure( e.g marketplaces, clinics, ambulances, and schools resulting in at least 333 civilian killings and 89 bodily injuries. AAA is aware of dozens more reported drone strikes targeting civilians and /or civilian infrastructure which are under active investigation;

  • raped at least 210 young girls and women;

  • mass arrested over 10,000 ethnic Amharas in Addis Ababa city administration, and Amhara Region alone, including members of the Federal Parliament and council members of Amhara Region and Addis Ababa city. Those arrested were relocated to various detention sites (and concentration camps) across the country under deplorable and harsh conditions;

  • continued to violate the rights of detained Amharas including frequent torture, denial of family visits, and medical attention and poor sanitary conditions that have caused communicable diseases;

  • prevented aid into Amhara Region while by regime’s count, nearly 2 million Amharas require lifesaving urgent aid and dozens of Amharas have died from starvation;

  • pillaged and caused extensive damage to private and public property that is yet to be estimated in monetary values;

  • imposed a telecommunication blackout in Amhara Region with a shutdown of both mobile network and internet communications to impede reporting on the ongoing violence;

  • incited ethnic-based violence and discrimination against Amharas across the country with arbitrary stop and searches and extortionate bribes to be released from custody or risk being sent to jail;

  • terminated employment of an unknown number of Amharas from their jobs (particularly within the Addis Ababa city administration) accusing them of supporting or spying for Fano;

  • annexed at least one district (Awra Godana) from Amhara Region to Oromia Region and imposed an occupation by OSF and allied Oromo militias;

  • are implementing forced relocation of internally displaced persons who escaped genocidal massacres in Oromia Region and fled to Amhara Region.




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