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News: Ethiopian government denies reports of extrajudicial killings in Merawi town, Amhara region amid domestic, international outcry

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian government has denied reports of recent extrajudicial killings by state security forces in the town of Merawi, located in the Amhara region.

Legesse Tulu, the Minister of State for Communication Services, confirmed that there was a clash between the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and the non-state militia, Fano, in the town but says that the defense forces “did not target any civilians.”

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, he stated that the military acted in “self-defense.”

According to Legesse, the insurgents attacked the army camp from “four directions in an attempt to loot equipment and supplies”.

“The military forces exercised their right of self-defense and responded with necessary action,” he claimed.

He further says that when the defense forces took defensive action and “they subsequently entered civilian homes.” He did not deny members of the military conducted a search, but says it was “according to the authority given by the law,” and yet “they were fired upon again.”

However, a preliminary report released earlier this week by state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) confirmed that at least 45 civilians were recently killed in “extrajudicial executions” across parts of the Amhara region’s East Gojjam Zone. The report stated that civilians were targeted based on suspicion of “supporting the armed Fano group.”

According to EHRC, the exact number of casualties remains unconfirmed, pending further investigation.

When asked about these allegations, the minister responded, “There is no verified information regarding such actions being taken.” “Not only would civilians never be targeted, even surrendering combatants would not be killed, as there are no systems in place allowing that.”

Legesse added that if the reports were true, the government itself would have take action.

The corroborated reports of the extrajudicial killings have generated sharp criticism internationally.

The US government has called for “unfettered access by independent human rights monitors as well as an impartial investigation to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Similarly, the European Union (EU) expressed serious concern about the alleged targeted killings of civilians in the town of Merawi. The EU has also called for an independent investigation into the matter.

Yesterday, the British Embassy in Addis Abeba expressed concern, stating, “Reported killings of civilians in Merawi are disturbing and follow reports of other violations. Civilians should never be targets.”

Likewise, the Canadian Embassy in Ethiopia called the killing of civilians “deeply concerning,” adding that the protection of the civilian population is a fundamental element of humanitarian law.

Legesse stated that the State of Emergency Implementation Inquiry Board in the Amhara region is currently handling the matter.

He also dismissed that there would be no investigation by any “other party,” though he added that the EU and the US “have always voiced concerns” about Ethiopia. “We have our own institutions. If any party commits an offense or causes damage, legal and procedural action will be taken,” he stated. AS


Adis Standard, 2024


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