Ethiopian security forces had committed “horrendous human rights violations including burning homes to the ground, extrajudicial executions, rape, arbitrary arrests and detentions,” according to the document.
An Ethiopian soldier shot a man dead in front of several people after his phone rang during a public meeting, Amnesty International says.
Ariti Shununde, 32, was killed during operations to suppress an armed group, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), according to witnesses quoted by Amnesty International.
The army called for a public meeting in one local area in Oromia and collected all the phones of those who had turned up.
One of the phones then rang and when soldiers asked for the owner to identify himself Mr Ariti stepped forward, an eyewitness is reported to have said.
He was then shot in the back twice, the witness added. The rights group says that it has corroboration from other witnesses.
His family was told to bury Mr Ariti immediately.
A serious human rights violations- UN
In Oromia, security forces are waging a counter-insurgency campaign against rebels from the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), an armed guerrilla movement demanding more autonomy for Oromos, which returned from exile in 2018 after Abiy removed it from Ethiopia’s list of terrorist organisations. And at least 10,000 people under suspicion were detained between January and September, with most “subjected to brutal beatings,” by the government security forces.
The report also highlights the alleged role of security forces in inter-communal violence in January 2019 in Amhara state, north-west Ethiopia.
It says that at least 130 people were killed in fighting between the Amhara and Qimant communities after local militias were deployed against the Qimant.
Federal soldiers, who were stationed nearby, did not intervene, Amnesty International alleges.
The report by Amnesty International accused Ethiopian security forces of committing “grave violations between December 2018 and December 2019 despite reforms which led to the release of thousands of detainees, expansion of the civic and political space and repeal of draconian laws, such as the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which were previously used to repress human rights.”
The official statement rejected “malicious claims”
In a statement late on Friday, the country’s Foreign Ministry said the report was a “one-sided snapshot security analysis” that failed to appropriately capture the “broader political trajectory and security developments in Ethiopia” since reform efforts began.
“While the reform process has at times experienced bumps, the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) has proven that it remains committed to build a consolidated democracy. For the GOE the loss of a single life is one too many,” it said.
The statement also pledged an independent investigation, which it noted had been recommended by the Amnesty International report, “at the appropriate time.”
It added that the country’s security forces had strong community support “to ensure law and order” at the locations of human rights violations alleged in the Amnesty International report.
“Apparently, communal issues across different parts of the country, including in the areas where the report is focused, have been largely resolved. And as the report also indicates, the political space is wide and open. The security problems identified are more of banditry than communal.”
As Amnesty International now urges Prime minister Abiy Ahmed to investigate allegations of serious human rights abuses, whom before now has been lauded for his democratic reforms.
The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was awarded the peace prize in December for sweeping political reforms and restoring ties with neighboring Eritrea after two decades of hostilities.
Two opposition groups reacted to the new report with further allegations
However, two political parties operating in the most populous regional state of Oromia, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Oromo Federalist Congress issued a joint statement calling on the government to take Amnesty International’s report seriously.
“The report covers the period up to the end of 2019. However, the situation in the Oromia region specifically has gotten progressively worse in 2020 with a substantial rise in mass incarcerations, extrajudicial killings and destruction of property in provinces that were not previously affected,” said a joint statement issued by the Oromo Liberation Front and Oromo Federalist Congress.
“The report is further proof that the new administration has not parted ways with the practice of forcefully stifling dissent.”
Is Ethiopia one-sided country?
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a 2019 Nobel peace laureate, was elected to office in April 2018 and immediately embarked on wide-ranging political, social and economic reforms.
There was hope that past crimes would finally be addressed under Abiy. In his inaugural address, he apologized for massive rights abuses and welcomed opposition groups back home. He’s since taken steps to resolve the lengthy border conflict with Eritrea and ushered in domestic reforms, actions that resulted in his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I call on us all to forgive each other from our hearts to close the chapters from yesterday, and to forge ahead to the next bright future through national consensus,” Abiy said in one address.
But to truly break with the past, Ethiopia needs to meaningfully pursue truth, justice, reconciliation, and redress —and not embrace one approach to the detriment of others.
The Oromos, despite being Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, had long complained that they were marginalised from political and economic power.
Although ethnic related violence seems to have relatively subsided in 2020, it remains one of the key challenges facing Mr Abiy’s administration, political analyst says.
Political tensions were increasing ahead of elections scheduled for August and their indefinite postponement, because of coronavirus, has not helped matters.