Ethiopian authorities must investigate ethnic Amhara massacre

Ethiopian authorities have an urgent need to launch an impartial investigation into the summary murder of more than 400 ethnic Amhara on June 18, 2022.

Hundreds of people were killed in Tole Kebele in the Oromia region that day, and dozens were injured. The attack was committed by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), according to survivors and relatives of the victims. A local official who spoke to Amnesty International said at least 450 people had been killed in the attack.

Eyewitnesses

Amnesty International interviewed ten people, including five eyewitnesses, survivors, relatives of the victims and a local official. Everyone told the same story about massacres, house fires and looting. Analysis of satellite images from Amnesty’s Crisis Evidence Lab also confirms allegations that fires broke out in Tole Kebele on 18 June.

“These horrific murders in Tole, allegedly committed by the Oromo Liberation Army, show the perpetrators’ complete disregard for human life,” said Amnesty International’s Deprose Muchena. “This heartless massacre, which also killed women and children, must be investigated independently and thoroughly. The Ethiopian authorities must ensure that the perpetrators of these murders are brought to justice. ‘

‘Mostly women and children killed’

According to nine witnesses, the attack started on June 18 around noon. Many adults had by that time left their homes to go to work or do other things. Witnesses said OLA troops first surrounded nearby villages. It was mainly mothers and children who had remained in the villages. They could not escape from the attackers. All the witnesses Amnesty spoke to said they had lost several relatives, most of whom were women and children.

Jamila *, who received gunshot wounds, said: “I was plowing around 9am when they suddenly attacked us. They hit me with bullets and slaughtered my mother. I lay among six dead until I was rescued. They slaughtered my husband with banga The others were killed with bangs and bullets. ‘

Hussein *, a 64-year-old man, said he had lost 22 children and grandchildren. He said he ran for his life when the shooting started and that the women and children stayed home, assuming they would be spared. Hussein: ‘They killed 42 people in one place. There was only one grown man among them, the others were women and children. We found their corpses stacked somewhere. Newborn babies were among the dead. ‘

Jemal *, a local official, lost his three children and his wife, who was seven months pregnant. “When I was looking for them on the street and in the bushes … I found 28 dead bodies next to my wife and children. I found them in the area of ​​the Silsaw Mosque. Near Chekorsa, 104 people were killed. Only “Five of them are adult men. The others are women and children. 112 people were killed in the Silsaw district… many of the victims were children, even newborn babies and toddlers.” He said their bodies were filled with bullets.

According to witnesses, some residents of the villages were armed, but they were outnumbered and unable to defend themselves. Witnesses said they knew the attackers were from the OLA because of their characteristic long braided hair, their military camouflage suits and because they spoke the Oromiffa language.

‘They set fire to my neighbor’s house’

In addition to the massacre, OLA soldiers also set fire to houses and looted livestock, money and grain. Dawud * said he saw OLA troops attack his neighbor: “They also set fire to my neighbor’s house while the family with his children and grandchildren and others (twelve people in total) were inside. One of them was seven months pregnant “and was with his two children. They were buried together because they were completely charred.”

Witnesses said OLA has been active in the area for at least 4 years. “This is not the first time ethnic Amhara has been attacked in the Oromia region. The Ethiopian government must protect the ethnic Amhara in Oromia from illegal killings and other human rights violations, “Deprose Muchena said.

The authorities do not respond

According to a local official, the attack was immediately reported to authorities, who said they were unable to respond because the road was closed. According to nine witnesses, government forces did not intervene during the 5-hour attack. It is only 49 km drive from the town of Gimbi, where the local district administration is located, to Tole. Still, residents said government forces did not arrive until hours after the OLA soldiers had left.

“The widespread impunity in Ethiopia is at the root of the cycles of violence. The authorities must immediately order a credible and independent investigation into all atrocities committed in the country. And they should facilitate access to the International Commission of Human Rights Experts set up by the UN Human Rights Council,” Deprose said. Muchena.

Background

The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) split from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) after the OLF entered politics in 2018. Public authorities refer to the OLA as the OLF Shane. Since 2018, there have been regular armed clashes between OLA troops and the government army in western and southern Oromia.

Amnesty International has previously documented attacks on ethnic Amhara allegedly carried out by OLA forces. But OLA officials denied the allegations and instead blamed government forces.

* Names have been changed to protect their identity.

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