The Human Rights Council (HRCO), one of the few independent civic society organizations, in its latest report revealed that the government had used excessive force to control the recent unrest in the Oromia Regional State.
According to the report, the excessive measures taken by the government’s security officers resulted in the death of 103 innocent civilians. In addition, 59 were injured, 22 were beaten and tortured, 226 were illegally detained, the whereabouts of 12 individuals is not known, 800 people have been displaced from their homes and 892 homes were burnt down, the report stated.
The Council revealed its report earlier this week at its head office in the presence of local and international media outlets, members of the diplomatic corps and various civic society organizations.
Though there are 18 administrative zones and 342 weredas in the region, the report only covered 33 weredas due to lack of resources.
“According to the information obtained from sources in the region, several peasant association offices, police sub-stations, farmers’ training halls in various parts of the region and over ten trucks belonging to Dangote Cement Factory and one public transport bus estimated at 1.7 million birr were burnt down,” the report stated.
The report also revealed that there were incidents of rape by government security forces in areas such Ambo Jeldu and Gindeberet. In some areas of the region, government security forces conducted door-to-door searches during the night and have allegedly insulted and humiliated residents, the report stated.
In addition to that, some demonstrators in Ameya wereda – on their way back after protesting – burnt down and destroyed the homes of Amhara residents who were living in the area for over 30 years and in retaliation to that the Amharas burnt down 96 homes of the Oromos, the report stated.
According to the report, such conflicts occurred because of a very few selfish residents of the region who were supported by very few administrators of the area.
The government has repeated by stated that the legitimate questions of the public were hijacked by some anti-peace elements and terrorists; however, the Council in its report revealed that it did not witness such elements.
The Council also warned that the unrest is not yet over and that the problem might escalate. In that regard, the Council called on the government to respond to the demands of the students and the people as soon as possible and bring to justice those who are responsible for the loss of lives, injuries and damage to property. The Council also called for the release of those detained illegally and compensate the families of the victims for the extra-judicial killings and for those who sustained injuries.