News: Government rights commission breaks silence on displaced ethnic Amharas, says it dispatches team to investigate

Displaced members of ethnic Amharas currently sheltered in Bahir Dar city

Etenesh Abera

Addis Abeba, May 15/2018Addisu G. Egziabher (PhD), Head of the Ethiopia Human Rights Commission, a government led rights commission, told state affliated media that the commission has dispatched a team to “investigate” the displacement of hundreds of ethnic Amharas from the Kemashe zone of the Benshangul Gumz regional state. The commission broke its silence for the first time since October 2017, when the victims were first displaced following ethnic-based local attacks against them.

Victims of the attacks were first sheltered inside St. Michael church in Bahir Dar city, the capital of the Amhara regional state, where they were receiving community help from volunteers in the city and members of the church. Through their representatives they have also met with Gedu Andargachew, President of the Amhara regional state. However, authorities in the region have told them that they can either go back to where they were displaced from in Benshagul Gumuz region or re-settle in their ancestral lands in Amhara regional state, according to a report by the BBC Ahmaric service.

Now, the state-led rights commission said its team will investigate the cause and determine whether the victims have experienced rights violations during their seven months ordeal. It also said its team will be speaking to both the victims and the regional authorities and present their findings to the national parliament.

Despite repeated media coverage, two weeks ago, the Benshangul-Gumuz region communication bureau head, Shiferaw Chelibo, told the Amhara mass media agency that the regional state doesn’t have any information on the displacement of the victims. He also said such incidents were instigated at individuals level. “At the government level, we have no knowledge of the displacement. If we know anything, we will let you know,” Shiferaw.

On May 07, in a statement it released followed by an interview with DW Amharic service, the opposition party, All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP), expressed its grave concern about targeted attacks against ethnic Amharas both in Benishagul-Gumuz region and the continued pattern of “attacks & ethnic cleansing” in others parts of the country during the last 27 years. AS
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