The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) urges the government to investigate the damages and deaths caused by the conflict in Bahir Dar, Kombolcha, Kobo, Woreta, Merawi, and other areas of Amhara regional state.
As residents and units of the Amhara regional special force opposed the government’s decision to disband all regional special forces, a series of clashes erupted in the region. Conflicts between regional and federal government security forces have shaken the region’s major cities.
Local youth also put up roadblocks in a bid to curtail the federal government’s movement. In addition to the disconnection of essential services, including the Internet, economic and social activities were also curtailed.
“Several civilians, including humanitarian workers, have been kiled. Some of these actions are taken by government security forces, while other attacks are conducted by unidentified people,” the EHRC statement issued on Thursday, April 13, 2023, reads.
The United Nations reported on the same day that two Catholic Relief Service employees were killed in the Amhara region on April 9, 2023, bringing the total number of humanitarian workers killed in Ethiopia since 2019 to 36.
The most recent conflict in the Amhara region began as the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) assumed the roles of special forces in all regional states. The federal government determined that all regional states’ special paramilitary forces must be reorganized under ENDF, federal police, or regional police.
Nevertheless, up to 30 percent of the special paramilitary forces in Amhara regional state have abandoned their camps in opposition to the federal government’s decision, according to Girma Yeshitila, the leader of the Amhara Prosperity Party, a regional branch of the ruling party.
Amhara region officials stated that communication gaps were to blame for the fallout involving a portion of the region’s special force units.
Yared Hailemariam, executive director of the Ethiopian Human Rights Defender Center, believes that the government should consult with special forces and the public prior to implementing the decision.
“The political situation in the country is already at a tipping point. There are several issues that remain unresolved. There are several frictions and horizontal conflicts. Every issue is sensitive now. So the government should refrain from rolling out policies and making new decisions arbitrarily,” Yared said.
The Director asserts that forcibly enforcing government policies only exacerbates conflicts and results in a new round of conflict. “Before making such crucial decisions, the government should consult with the public and relevant parties. Such decisions cannot be implemented simply by announcing them in the media.”
The EHRC also urged the government to explain the decision to all affected parties and to refrain from using unjustified force that could result in the death of individuals.