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News: Amnesty International accuses Ethiopian Defense Force of ‘extrajudicial executions’ in Amhara region

In its most recent statement, Amnesty International has accused the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) of unlawfully killing civilians in Bahir Dar City, the capital of the Amhara region (Photo: Bahir Dar City Culture & Tourism Bureau/Facebook).

Addis Abeba – Amnesty International has accused the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) of “extrajudicially executing” civilians in the Amhara region and denying families the “right to bury their loved ones.”

In a new briefing titled “We Thought They Would Fight With Those They Came To Fight,” released today, 26 February, 2024, the human rights group details incidents in August and October 2023 where ENDF soldiers allegedly shot and killed civilians without due process in Bahir Dar, the regional capital of Amhara, during fighting against non-state militia, Fano.

Amnesty says its investigation found that ENDF troops executed six civilians in the Abune Hara and Lideta neighborhoods on 08 August, 2023. Two months later, on 10–11 October, ENDF soldiers allegedly executed another six men, including at least five civilians, in the Seba Tamit area.

According to Amnesty International, in the Kebele 14 neighborhood of Bahir Dar City on 08 August, 2023, ENDF soldiers allegedly fired indiscriminately into residential compounds while chasing unknown individuals down the streets.

Fifty-five-year-old trader Aynew Defresh and his two sons, Kassahun and Abraham, were among those killed, according to relatives.

Amnesty International said it has verified the “extrajudicial execution of six people by ENDF soldiers” on 10 and 11 October, 2023. Among them was a patient inside a health center being treated. ENDF soldiers also beat and threatened health workers at gunpoint in the same health center, according to rights group.

The organization also disclosed that ENDF soldiers extrajudicially executed three brothers and one of their neighbors on the morning of October 11 in the same area after entering the home of 69-year-old Tadesse Mekonen.

Three different people interviewed by Amnesty International said that ENDF soldiers killed Tadesse’s three sons and one person who rented a room inside his compound.

Multiple eyewitnesses reported that soldiers left the bodies lying in the street for nearly eight hours before allowing the family to retrieve them for burial.

The human rights group stressed “this is a time to bring Ethiopia back to regional and international scrutiny.”

“The country’s partners, including members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, must take immediate steps to resume their scrutiny of the human rights situation in Ethiopia and establish a process to follow up on the findings of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE),” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

Chagutah added that the alleged executions may amount to war crimes under international law and represent violations of the right to life under human rights law. He called for an end to impunity and for impartial prosecutions of any violations.

Amnesty International states that the impact of the conflict in Amhara has been obscured by an internet shutdown, communications blackouts, and emergency rule limiting media and speech.

Amnesty is calling for an independent probe into abuses by all sides and for accountability for perpetrators. AS

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