Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and BG region president Ashadli Hassan during community discussion in Metekel zone on December 22. Photo: PM Abiy Twitter page
Addis Abeba, December 24/2020 – In Benishangul-Gumuz Region’s Metekel Zone, an armed group shot at residents and set fire to their homes as they lay asleep, killing at least 100 people. The attack in Bulen Woreda’s Bekuji Kebele is a sign of a severe decline of human rights protections in the region, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said.
EHRC verified the attacks by speaking with victims and other sources in
Bekuji Kebele, an area home to ethnic Amharas, Oromos, and Shinashas, and 90
kilometres away from Bulen Woreda’s capital, also called Bulen. EHRC has
learned that Bekuji Kebele does not have a local police or security force.
The commission’s team visited 36 victims who were receiving treatment at
Bulen Hospital, the majority for gunshot wounds and others for injuries sustained
from arrow attacks. In addition to the loss of life, physical injury and
property loss, crops and harvests were burned and destroyed. One witness
described seeing at least 18 piles of harvested crops on fire.
In related incidents, the commission has also obtained testimonies of
houses being burned in Benishangul-Gumuz’s Chelenko and Doshe Woredas. In
Dibate Woreda’s Donben Kebele, residents have been fleeing their homes since
noon on December 23, 2020 fearing the spread of the attacks.
EHRC also understands that the attacks followed
the departure from the area on December 22, 2020, of National Defense Forces contingents
previously positioned in the surroundings to restore calm to allegedly
“accompany one federal and two regional officials” on their official mission. According to survivors, the attacks began in
the early hours, 4:00 am, and carried on until midday.
Survivors also believe that the majority of
the victims were ethnic Shinashas. While previous incidents involved assailants
staging their attacks from “forests and bushes”, victims told EHRC they were
able to recognize those involved in the December 23 attack “by name and sight”.
EHRC has repeatedly called for stronger
collaboration between the federal and regional governments and a greater focus
into the recurring nature of the attacks. Unfortunately, the attacks have since
only increased in scope and frequency.
Authorities should make provision of medical and humanitarian assistance to victims and those displaced by the December 23 attacks a priority and promptly start investigations to bring the perpetrators to account, both for failure to protect and aggravation of the attacks. EHRC also calls for an immediate strengthening of the security structure and forces in the region in a manner that guarantees the peace and security of residents. EHRC Dispatch News
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