The Silent Suffering of the Amhara People in Ethiopia

The Silent Suffering of the Amhara People in Ethiopia

By ECLJ1714143600000

The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) has recently published a comprehensive report titled "The Silent Suffering of the Amhara People in Ethiopia." This document provides an in-depth examination of the severe human rights challenges and abuses faced by the Amhara community in Ethiopia, whilst highlighting the intertwined persecution of Christians within these crises.

Based on this report, the ECLJ submitted a brief for the 47th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), in order to discuss the status of human rights in Ethiopia. Indeed, the ECLJ holds Special Consultative status before the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

The report documents several significant incidents that happened in the country, including a series of attacks on Christians, the Burayu massacre, the Shashemene massacres, and multiple targeted killings in Wollega and the Metekel zone. Further delving into the violations, the report also sheds light on the forced displacement of the Amhara community, particularly in areas around the capital. This displacement, often justified by the government under the guise of urban development projects, has disproportionately affected non-Oromos, raising concerns about ethnic discrimination.

Additionally, the document outlines military operations in the Amhara region, particularly following the declaration of a state of emergency in August 2023. These operations have been marked by drone attacks on civilian populations in towns such as Finote Selam[1], Quarit, and Dembecha[2], resulting in significant civilian casualties, including women and children. The use of drones against non-combatant populations in these areas raises grave concerns about the Ethiopian government’s adherence to international human rights and humanitarian law.

The report also highlights extrajudicial and summary killings, with numerous accounts of such incidents occurring during military operations. These operations often involve door-to-door searches, where individuals suspected of supporting opposition groups are executed without trial. Disturbingly, these actions have also targeted religious figures and students[3].

Mass arrests have aggravated the situation, with thousands of Amhara individuals detained under the pretext of maintaining security. These arrests, often lacking proper legal basis, have led to overcrowded detention facilities, where detainees allegedly face harsh conditions and limited access to medical care. Reportedly, this inadequate healthcare provision contributed to a cholera outbreak in September 2023, leading to several hundred fatalities within these detention centers[4].

The report also addresses the persecution of Christians. It notes the burning and destruction of more than 30 churches between 2018 and 2019. The schism in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in January 2023 has exacerbated this persecution, causing significant casualties among believers, and illustrating the entanglement of religious and ethnic tensions in Ethiopia. Moreover, the report documents recent violent incidents against Christians, notably in the Arsi zone of the Oromia region where, in November 2023, a series of attacks resulted in the death of 36 Orthodox Christians[5]. Similar attacks continued into December 2023, resulting in the death of a dozen more believers[6]. Furthermore, on February 16, 2024, four clergymen were abducted and murdered, with the church attributing these acts to the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)[7]. These acts of aggression against Christians, which are detailed in the report, constitute serious violations of the fundamental right to religious freedom.

The European Centre for Law and Justice advocates for an impartial investigation conducted under the auspices of the United Nations, aimed at shedding light on the grave human rights violations reported. It calls upon the international community to ensure accountability, justice, and the protection of human rights for all affected communities in Ethiopia. Such an endeavor necessitates a thorough and credible inquiry into the alleged abuses that provides a foundation for further actions. The ECLJ hopes that this report will contribute to such investigation.


[1] Le Monde with AFP, "Air strike kills at least 26 in Ethiopia's Amhara," August 15, 2023.

[2] Ethiopia Observer, "Air strike kills at least 30 in Dembecha, Quarit," September 19, 2023.

[3] Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, "አማራ ክልል ለወራት የቀጠለው የትጥቅ ግጭት እና የሰዎች መገደል," October 30, 2023.

[4] APA News, "Ethiopia: Cholera Outbreaks Hit Several Concentration Camps," September 16, 2023.

[5] Voice of America Amharic, "በሺርካ ወረዳ ሃይማኖት የለየ በተባለ ጥቃት 36 ምእመናን ሲገደሉ ቀሪዎቹ እንደሸሹ ተገለጸ", published November 30, 2023, accessed March 13, 2024, https://amharic.voanews.com/a/east-arsi-killing/7378932.html.

[6] Addis Standard, "News: 45 believers killed in two separate attacks in Arsi and Kellem Wollega zones, Oromia region," published December 1, 2023, accessed March 12, 2024, https://addisstandard.com/news-45-believers-killed-in-two-separate-attacks-in-arsi-and-kellem-wollega-zones-oromia-region/, See also, Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE, "Gunmen Target Ethiopian Orthodox Pilgrims Returning from an Annual Feast," published January 1, 2024, accessed March 14, 2024, https://ocpsociety.org/gunmen-target-ethiopian-orthodox-pilgrims-returning-from-an-annual-feast/.

[7] Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Patriarchate Head Office, "በግፍ የተገደሉት የዝቋላ ደብረ ከዋክብት አቡነ ገብረ መንፈስ ቅዱስ ገዳም አባቶች አስክሬን ተረሽነው ከተቀበሩበት ከጊዳ ተክለሃይማኖት አካባቢ ተነስቶ በገዳሙ በክብር ሥርዓተ ቀብር ተፈጸመ።" published February 23, 2024, accessed March 12, 2024, https://eotceth.org/a/በግፍ-የተገደሉት-የዝቋላ-ደብረ-ከዋክብት/.


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