Weekly Update on the Ongoing War on Amhara
(December 17-24, 2023)
The Amhara Association of America (AAA) has investigated human rights violations and developments related to the war on Amhara for the period between December 17 to 24, 2023. AAA has documented ongoing fighting between Fano freedom fighters and Abiy regime forces throughout Amhara Region, ongoing mass arrests targeting prominent Amhara figures throughout the country (including opposition figures and lawyers), and continued ethnic-based attacks on Amhara civilians by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in Oromia Region. AAA has also received reports from internally displaced persons (IDPs) of regime officials pressuring them to forcibly leave their shelters in Amhara Region and relocate to Oromia Region, where they face substantial risks.
Forced Relocation of Amhara Internally Displaced Persons who Survived Genocide
AAA spoke to IDPs taking refuge in four camps across the Amhara Region and verified that Amhara Regional Food Security officials are implementing their forced relocation to zones in western Oromia Region where they survived genocide. The officials told the IDPs they would be transported south to Debre Birhan town (North Shewa Zone, Amhara Region), then together with IDPs there, would be transported to western Oromia zones including Horo Guduru Wollega, Western Wollega, and East Wollega where mass atrocities were still taking place. The IDPs were told an alternative option would be to leave the camp immediately and forfeit any humanitarian aid and shelter.
An IDP in Mekane Selam IDP camp (South Wollo Zone, Amhara Region) where 2,500 IDPs take refuge told AAA that local food security officials held a discussion session in November 2023 and told them the government set a directive that the IDPs would have to return to Oromia Region. The officials added if the IDPs do not voluntarily comply, the officials would force them to leave the camp. They were later told they would be transported to Debre Birhan and then to western Oromia or else they would have to leave the camp immediately. Another IDP from Jari, located in Tehuledere Woreda (South Wollo Zone) where over 1,400 IDPs reside, shared a similar account with AAA and stated their relocation to western Oromia was a decision that came from the federal government. He further testified they did not receive any aid since October 2023. Other IDPs from Kutaber (Kutaber Woreda, South Wollo Zone) and Jara (Harbru Woreda, North Wollo Zone) camps corroborated this information to AAA’s investigators. This report has also been corroborate by various media reports.
AAA is seriously concerned by the expected outcome of this policy especially considering the ongoing hostile situation in western Oromia Region.3 This hostility involves OLA militants responsible for most of the past abuses and local Qeerro youths are armed by the state which still operate with impunity in western Oromia Region. This action amounts to the involuntary return of IDPs in violation of international law including the Kampala Convention to which Ethiopia is a party and must adhere.
Addis Ababa: Continued arrests of Amhara politicians, lawyers and journalists
AAA has continued to follow Ethiopian Authorities’ ongoing mass arrests of Amhara opposition figures, journalists, civic society leaders, activists, and even lawyers who have been representing the arrested victims since April 2023 when widespread civil protest and armed conflict between Fano freedom fighters and the ENDF began. Most of the victims of this wave of arrests include Asst. Professor Sisay Awgichew, President of the Shewa Peace and Development Association, Meskerem Abera, an author and owner of Ethio-Nikat Media, and Dr. Wondwossen Assefa, an opposition figure are all still in jail and being denied their bail rights. The second wave of mass arrests of prominent Amhara figures happened in early August 2023 when Fano fighters were able to capture major towns in the Amhara Region and federal authorities declared a state of emergency. Continue reading ...