War on the Amhara: Report on International Human Rights Violations
Gross International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Violations in the Context of the Ongoing War on the Amhara
The Amhara Association of America (AAA) has been monitoring the situation and investigating reported gross human rights and serious international humanitarian law violations in the context of the ongoing war on the Amhara people mainly by the Abiy regime forces known as the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) and in some incidents by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) militants. AAA has interviewed tens of eyewitnesses, family members of victims and survivors to get first-hand information as well as examining reports of media and both local and international human rights organizations to get secondary data.
Our investigation reveals between August 3 and October 3, 2023, at least 807 civilians including women, children, elderly persons and a few hors de combat were killed, 634 more were injured and at least 3 women were raped and sexually assaulted in the Amhara Region and the neighboring Oromia Region in relation with the ongoing war on the Amhara in serious violation of international law. All recorded causalities occurred in the Amhara Region except 94 deaths and 9 injuries occurred in Dera Woreda, annexed into the Oromia Region though it is inhabited by ethnic Amhara residents. All the violations were perpetrated by the ENDF while 94 killings and 9 injuries were committed by OLA militants aiding the ENDF. The Oromia Special Force (OSF) was also responsible for 2 killings and 3 injuries. Most of the mass and extrajudicial killing and bodily injuries were committed while the victims were accused of supporting, hosting and being Fano fighters and hiding firearms. As part of the ongoing war on the Amhara, the regime forces mass arrested tens of thousands of ethnic Amhara citizens across the federal capital, Addis Ababa city and the Amhara Region and concentrated them in deplorable and harsh conditions in unacknowledged sites located in different parts of the country. Our investigations confirm several incidences of large-scale property pillaging and destruction in the Amhara Region and the annexed Dera Woreda by the ENDF, OSF and OLA militants. The government has shutdown both network and internet communications to hinder reporting about the ongoing violence. Government officials and their allies have continued inciting ethnic-based violence and discrimination against the Amhara. The violations amount to gross violation of human rights, serious violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Criminal Law (ICL).
Contrary to principles of genuine federalism, a divisive ethnic federalism was imposed and constitutionalized in the Ethiopian political landscape in 1991 by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) after overthrowing the Derg regime. Driven by extreme anti-Amhara sentiments, the ethnic system is apartheid-like exposing the Amhara, taken as an enemy, to decades-long abuses. Since then, the Amhara have suffered an increasing and unimaginable persecution, forced displacement in the millions, mass killings and its livelihood destroyed in many parts of the country mainly in its ancestral lands of Welkait, Raya, Metekel, Dera and throughout the Benishangul-Gumuz and Oromia Regions where the Amhara are considered as settlers and non-owner of the lands in their own country. Since the 2018 power shift from TPLF to the Oromo Prosperity Party (OPP), the persecution and deadly violence against the Amhara people have increased both in scale and frequency even in Addis Ababa city and Amhara Region where is the Amhara are the majority but are subject to discriminatory policies. The Abiy regime forces not only refused to protect the Amhara from violent armed groups such as the OLA and TPLF, they have enabled such actors and in many instances have been complicit with them and independently carried out attacks against the Amhara civilians.
To protect the unabated abuses on the Amhara people, Fano fighters groups have taken up arms reinforced by contingents of the Amhara Special Force (ASF). These two forces
were able to protect their people by defending against successive invasions by OLA and TPLF into the Amhara Region since 2021. While the apartheid-like system is still functioning, the Amhara persecution by both state and non-state actors has continued unabated and both the TPLF and OLA continue to threaten the security of the Amhara. The Abiy regime dissolved the ASF and attempted to disarm Fano fighters in early April 2023. This action led to popular protests in all towns of the region. In response to the protests, the Abiy-led federal authority declared a war the same month to disarm the Amhara people. The first stage of the war ended in last days of July 2023 when Fano fighters were able to push the regime forces out of major cities of the Amhara Region.
In August 3, 2023, the federal government declared a state of emergency and began a
full-blown war with all kinds of weapons including heavy artillery and war drones opened indiscriminate attacks on both the armed Fano fighters and unarmed Amhara civilians.
This report thus covers widespread gross human rights and serious international humanitarian law violations, mass killings, extra-judicial executions, bodily injuries, rape and other forms of sexual violence, mass arrest and ethnic profiling, internal displacement and property pillaging, looting and destruction across the Amhara Region and Addis Ababa in the context of the war by the regime forces for the two months since the declaration of the state of emergency in August 3rd up to October 3rd, 2023.