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Rights Commission expresses concern over Gumuz attack

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) expresses its deep concern regarding the security events unfolding in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region.

In a statement the Commission sent to The Reporter, it indicated that it has received disturbing reports from the Region’s Metekel Zone, Bulen Woreda, Apar Kebele, and Wonbera Woreda, Melkan Kebele where “at least two instances of violence occurred on 6 September 2020 and between 7 –13 September 2020.”

“An official source on the ground has informed the Commission that there have been at least two rounds of killings of civilians, and hundreds of civilians have also been displaced,” the Commission said.

Condemning the attacks, killings and displacement of civilians and appreciating the effort by the security force to restore stability, the Commission said “given the patterns of such similar killings in the past, the Commission urges regional authorities to carry out impartial, prompt and effective investigations into the circumstances that led to the killings, and hold perpetrators accountable.”

It also called up on authorities to ensure that victims and their families obtain full redress; and urged authorities to take all the necessary measures to uphold peoples’ fundamental human rights, particularly the right to life.

“The Commission encourages all political groups and stakeholders in the region to engage in constructive dialogue, and to refrain from any form of incitement and acts of violence,” the statement reads.

In a statement the Ministry of Defense released on September 16, 2020, it blamed unnamed forces for perpetuating the violence in the areas. Indicating that the military entered the area on September 6, 2020 following a call from the regional government, 27 civilians kidnapped by these unnamed forces were released and restored to their normal life. The incident happened on September 4 and 5 according to the statement from the defense forces.

On the other hand, in a presser the Defense Forces’ Indoctrination Director Mohammed Tessema (Maj. Gen.) said that these perpetrators are people evicted from various security forces because of disciplinary measures and they have mobilized themselves to disrupt areas like Benshangul Gumuz and border lines intending to affect the peaceful coexistence between the people of Amhara, Oromo, Gumuz, Shinasha and Agaw people. He also appreciated the public’s cooperation to hand over perpetrators to security forces.

Although the number of victims of this specific incident was not indicated, more than 300 displaced people have been restored to their community.