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  • World - Africa
  • Updated: June 01, 2023

Ethnic Cleansing Continues In Ethiopia Despite Peace Agreement

Ethnic Cleansing Continues In Ethiopia Despite Peace Agreeme

Members of Amhara special forces walk during a patrol along a street in Humera town, Ethiopia in July 2021.

Forces in Ethiopia's Amhara region are continuing a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" of part of neighbouring Tigray under their control, despite the end of the conflict and peace agreement in the region's northern Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

The November cease-fire agreement in northern Ethiopia "has not put an end to the ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans in the Western Tigray zone," according to Laetitia Bader, deputy Africa director of the human rights organization, in a press release.

Regional paramilitary units and Amhara "Fano" militiamen who fought alongside the Ethiopian federal army during the brutal two-year war against Tigray's rebel regional authorities have taken control of this area, which is administratively attached to Tigray but is considered the Amhara's ancestral homeland.

HRW accuses "Amhara forces" in the region of "continuing to forcibly evict Tigrayans as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign."

"Since the beginning of the armed conflict in Tigray in November 2020, the Amhara security forces and interim authorities have carried out an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Tigrayan population in West Tigray, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity," HRW says, citing "arbitrary detentions, torture, and forced deportations."

According to HRW, 35 people were interviewed by phone between September and April of this year, including witnesses, victims, and members of humanitarian organizations.

"According to the interviewees, local authorities and Amhara forces imprisoned over a thousand Tigrayans" in official and unofficial prisons in three West Tigray towns "on the basis of their identity, before forcibly deporting them in November 2022 and January 2023," HRW explains.

The exact number of Tigrayans driven out of West Tigray is unknown, but according to the organization, "by 2021, it was estimated that hundreds of thousands of people had been displaced from West Tigray to other parts of Tigray."

"Militias in West Tigray continued to threaten and harass Tigrayan civilians in March," it added.

HRW claims to have submitted preliminary findings to the Ethiopian government in May but has received no response, accusing it of showing little eagerness "to bring to justice those responsible for abuses in Western Tigray" and of "opposing independent investigations into atrocities in Tigray."

The peace agreement signed in November in Pretoria between the federal government and Tigray authorities calls for the establishment by Ethiopian authorities of a "transitional justice" mechanism to identify and prosecute those responsible for the numerous atrocities committed by both sides during the two years of war in northern Ethiopia.

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