The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission presents finding of 2016 protests to the Parliament

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On the 18th of April 2017, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) unveiled the results of the investigation it carried out following the violence in some parts of Amhara, Oromia and SNNP regional states in 2016. The report was presented to the House of Peoples Representatives (HPR).

The EHRC said a total of 669 people were killed in the unrests, 495 people (465 civilians, 33 security personnel) in Oromia, 140 people (110 civilians and 30 security personnel) in Amhara and 34 people in the SSNP regional states.

The investigation was carried out in 15 zones and 91 towns of Oromia, 5 zones and 55 districts in Amhara as well as in six zones in SNNP regional states.

Dr Addisu Gebregziabher, Commissioner of EHRC, said problems of good governance, failure to implement the special interest of Oromia in Addis Ababa as per the Constitution and the Addis Ababa Master Plan were the main causes for unrest in Oromia regional state.

During the Irreecha festival on 2nd of October 2016, security forces did not use forces against the crowd except firing tear gas and this measure was proportionate, the report said. However, the commission also recommended security officers to be held accountable for failing to contain the violence in the same area the next day.

The Commission said the illegal demonstrations orchestrated by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and Oromia Media Network caused ethnic-based attacks, ruined religious equality, violated the right to life and inflicted physical injuries on people.

The Commission further suggested the federal government and Oromia regional state to join hands in the fight against racial hatred, religious extremism and ethnic-based attacks.

Regarding the violence in Gedeo zone (SNNP regional state), the Commission mentioned bad governance as reasons for the problems.

Similarly, the main reasons for the violence in Amhara was the identity issue of Wolkait, complaints claiming that there is dominance of Tigreans and others stating that land from Amhara was given to Sudan.

While the Commission said that in most cases, measures taken by security officers were legal and proportionate, it also indicated that security officers used unnecessary force in several cases.

The EHRC recommended solutions in order to ensure good governance, create employment opportunities for young people, rehabilitate those affected by the unrest, avert ethnic-based attacks, bring responsible security forces to justice, respect and promote people’s rights and prevent movement of illegal weapons.

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