Ethiopian Human Rights Commission Reports to Ethiopian Parliament on Human Rights Violations in Gondar, Kemant and Oromia

Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) reported to the Ethiopian Parliament its inquires on human rights violations in Gondar/ Kemant, Amhara Region and Oromia Region on June 11, 2016. The EHRC had conducted investigation in both regions following December 2015 Kemant Genocide and human rights violations in Oromia Region. The EHRC reported that death of 97 people including a Chief Commander and a Deputy Commander of the regional government special forces/paratroops and sustaining of sever and light injuries on 86. Also, the EHRC reported devastating property destruction in the Kemant area. Regard to Oromia, the EHRC disclosed the death of 173 people including 14 security personnel plus 14 administrative personnel, as well as, sever and light injuries of on 956 people. Nevertheless, Human Rights Watch reported 400 people death in Oromia. wlka will publish a separate article on Oromia when it receives detailed information. Now it has focused on the Kemant Genocide issue.

Regard to Kemants, EHRC’S report summarized and recommended as indicated below.
1. The report states that Kemant’s quest for self-rule and recognition was constitutional. The causes of conflict are as follows:
• Delay in a resolution for self-rule and recognition demand.
• The Regional Council’s unconstitutional decision on June 10, 2015, planned self-rule to be limited only in 42 kebeles while the request has been submitted for 126 kebeles.
• The House of Federation inability to act constitutionally: Kemants rejected the Regional Council’s decision of 42 kebeles and appealed to the House of Federation, in the meantime, at the Federation hearing, the regional government promised for the House of Federation, it would address the issue shortly. Subsequently, the Federation ceased hearing and left the issue again for the regional government rather than treating the matter on a basis of constitution. The report states whilst the issue was at this stage, conflict eventually erupted and resulted in life loss and devastating property destruction.
2. On both sides, a large number of members of Amhara National Democratic Movement(ANDM) and people in a government structure partiality to their respective ethnic has contributions to the bloodshed.
3. The report emphasized the use of excessive force against Kemants during the crisis.
4. The report describes the EHRC has proved involvement of ordinary soldiers and commanders of Special Forces/paratroops in illegal execution and killings at Aykel and Mawura, June 13, 2015 and October 6, 2015, respectively. The report also described killings of children and old people especially in Mawura. Neither the commanders ordered killing nor ordinary soldiers who implemented the order were held legally accountable for life loss and property destruction in both cases.
5. The report describes the constitution prohibits carrying arms during public demonstration. The report emphasizes despite they [leadership] knew what was going on, no measure was taken to stop when 500 armed persons conducted demonstration at the Aykel town on November 23, 2015 and thousands of armed forces conducted rally at the Shinfe town on December 9, 2015, [hours before invasion]. This indicates association of leadership every level [in the region] with illegal acts.
6. The report states Tigreans and other nationality living in North Gondar could be provided governmental protection and failure to do so exposed specially Tigraens for harm.

EHRC’s Recommendations

• The report recommends those involved in illegal killing, detention and destruction to be brought to justice
• The victims to be granted compensation for property losses
• Kemant children who lost their parents/caregivers due to this conflict to be granted permanent support.
• EHRC reported a challenge it faced during the investigation due to tension and fear in the area following conflict. Subsequently, it has recommended further investigation by any independent party in the case.
• Since the cause of conflict is resulted from failure to resolving Kemant’s demand constitutionally and promptly, the Regional Government shall apologize the people of the region and Kemants in particular for the consequences of the conflict.

Finally, the parliament passed resolution in overwhelming majority in authorizing Justice Ministry to bring offenders to justice. Only 10 parliament members were abstains in voting on the issue, 8 of them were Amhara Regional ruling party, ANDM members.

Contradictory Phrase in Report

wlka is aware that close observers described EHRC’s current report as an objective and mirror to the reality regard to Kemant genocide. However, those observers do not agree with EHRC’s one sentence regard to the regional government. As indicated above, the EHRC has reported military and political leadership involvement in the conflict as described above, despite, it inserted a conflicting phrase in the report, which reads, the regional government “didn’t order” or took part in the said killings and destruction.

The observers’ point of view, It is fact that actual killing and destruction is conducted by Special Forces, Regional Paratroops and militia. They argue that it is only the Regional Government which has the Special Forces/Paratroops and equipped militia called “Tateki” in the region. The Special Forces and militia are under strict command of the Head of Amhara Regional Government. Special Forces and Militias’ immediate boss is Head of Regional Security and Militia Bureau also called Security and Administrative Bureau. In Regional Government system, Special Forces/Paratroops act on an order of the Head of the Regional Government, at least under a directive of Head of Regional Security and Militia Bureau. In an urgent situation, a field commander of Special Forces contacts directly the Head of Regional Government bypassing its immediate boss, the Head of Security and Militia Bureau.
Critics say once EHRC has proved the involvement of Special Forces and their commanders in killing, detention and property destruction, EHRC’s phrase, the Regional Government didn’t give order is pointless and contradictory to the reality for some reasons.

The observers say that when Mr Ayalew Gobeze, the predecessor of Mr. Gedu Andargachew, (incumbent) Head of the Regional Government, was the Head of the Regional state, North Gondar Governors’ attempt to detain Kemants was without success due to disproval of Ayalew Gobeze as the Head of Regional Government. Detention and killing Kemants started following Gedu Andargachew’s assumption of the Regional Government Head post. This relationship is the indication of more or less the role of the Head of the Regional Government in the genocide.

An independent human rights observer report in Diaspora has already listed five regional officials including incumbent Head of Regional Government, Gedu Andargachew and two North Gondar then Governors as key suspects in Kemant Genocide. Now the regional government officials are lucky. They have got relief from external intervention because of the Ethiopian Parliament’s decision to charge offenders. The UN system in the process of accepting the application on the same issue said now the Ethiopian Parliament has taken an important step. We have to see whether they will implement decision or not including setting a neutral and competent court system.

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