Nairobi, Kenya-The family woke up in the middle of the night at the gate of their home on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.
Police officers looted the living room and looked under the bed without a warrant. They confiscated three members of the family. Among them, a 76-year-old amputee was pulled out of bed and begged his sons to go in his place.
“They didn’t show mercy to him even after he shouted,’I’m disabled and diabetic,'” said his nephew Kilbel, who gave him only his name for fear of retaliation.
The family is among the hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of Ethiopians belonging to the Tigrinya ethnic group, who have been detained in the capital and later rounded up in recent weeks.
Over the past year, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has fought a fierce war against Tigrinya rebels in the northernmost region of the country. The Tigrayans have ruled the Ethiopian government and army for decades until Mr. Abby came to power in 2018 and resigned as a leader. However, since the beginning of the war, the Tigrinyas have sent Ethiopian troops to Tigray, swept south, recently occupied two strategic towns and threatened to advance towards the capital.
On November 2, the government declared a state of emergency, and the resulting summarization wiped out the Tigrinya descendants who had no relationship with or even an affinity for them. According to interviews with human rights advocates and about 12 families and detainee friends, they were not only young men and women, but also mothers with children and the elderly.
They were confiscated on the streets, at home, and at workplaces such as banks, schools, and shopping centers, and taken to overcrowded cells in police stations and detention centers.
Tigrayans have been targeted by police based on a variety of tips, including names, identification and driver’s license details, and speaking styles. Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia.
Arrest campaigns targeting members of several other ethnic groups have hit people in cities across the country, according to information provided by police, rights groups and opposition parties. At least 10 UN personnel and 34 subcontracted drivers were also confiscated.
“With the state of emergency in force in Ethiopia, there is a risk that the country’s already very serious human rights and humanitarian conditions will deteriorate,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN Human Rights Chief Executive Officer, on Tuesday. Said through the woman. “The provisions are very broad and vague bans are in place until they include” indirect moral “support for what the government calls” terrorist groups. ” “
Ethnic detention occurs in the face of a significant increase in online hate speech. This only adds fuel to the civil war that tears Africa’s second most populous country. Reports of genocide, ethnic cleansing and widespread sexual assault on all sides of the conflict undermine the vision of Ethiopia’s unification that Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Abby promised when he came to power more than three years ago. I made it.
The war between the Ethiopian Federal Army and its allies and Tigrayan rebels killed thousands, at least 400,000 lived in famine-like situations, and millions were evacuated. It risks swallowing the entire Ethiopia and the wider Horn of Africa.
Mr Abby’s determination to prosecute the war appears to have been strengthened only by the economic threat from the Biden administration, which imposed sanctions on neighboring Eritrea’s military allies and suspended tax-free access to the US market in Ethiopia.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who is traveling to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal this week, has expressed concern that Ethiopia may “collapse.”
When rebels rushed within 200 miles of the capital earlier this month, Mr Abby promised to protect the capital “with our blood”, even when African and Western envoys attempted to mediate the ceasefire. bottom.
Police have defended the arrest for capturing supporters of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the former ruling party of the country that Ethiopia currently classifies as a terrorist organization.
However, activists say that the state of emergency is so vague that it gives security authorities free freedom. This provision allows the search and arrest of anyone’s home without a “reasonable suspicion” warrant of working with a terrorist group.
“The state of emergency is to legalize and legalize illegal activity,” said Leticia Bader, Horn of Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, creating a “climate of real horror.” rice field.
Many Tigrinyas say they are afraid to leave the house. Almost everyone who agreed to the interview refused to be identified by name for fear of being arrested or retaliated.
Some Tigrinyas inside and outside Addis Ababa said they were staying with non-Tigrinya friends to avoid arrest. Others said they stopped speaking Tigrinya in public and deleted music and documents on mobile phones that could identify their ethnicity.
If they can’t reach their relatives, they’re afraid of the worst.
A Tigrinya in Nairobi learned that five relatives and friends had been confiscated and said he was “afraid to even call.” “It’s always bad news.”
Arrests spread to other parts of the country, including other ethnic groups, but most targeted Tigrayans.
Understanding the Ethiopian Conflict
Year of war. On November 4, 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military operation in the northern Tigray region of the country in hopes of defeating his most troublesome political enemy, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
In Addis Ababa, security guards require the landlord to identify Tigrinya residents. At one junior high school, one teacher said four Tigrayan teachers were detained when they ate lunch after police officers arrived with a letter from an intelligence agency containing their names.
A 38-year-old Addis Ababa merchant was picked up by security guards after opening a cell phone accessory shop. The owner of a nearby store called the news to the wife of the confiscated merchant. My wife left her two children to her neighbor and hurried to the store, but the store was closed and her husband was gone.
After a three-day search, the wife said she had found her husband in a crowded Addis Ababa detention center without proper bedding and food.
According to Addis Ababa’s rights group, the police station is full of detainees, so authorities have moved the overflow to a tightly guarded temporary facility. Among them are a youth recreation center, a warehouse and one major prison. Due to lack of contact with lawyers, some relatives of detainees say they will not approach these facilities for fear of being arrested.
According to three reports, many detainees are housed in bathrooms, food, and packed concrete cells without abusive sentry called terrorists. Some detainees use PET bottles to urinate. People who are lucky enough to receive food from family and friends share it.
With Fiseha Tekuru, a researcher at Amnesty International in Ethiopia …