International rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) have called on the Ethiopian government to arrest a rising spate of insecurity in the country. Maria Burnett, HRW’s director for East Africa and the Horn, said ethnically and religiously-charged killings particularly in the Oromia and Somali regional states were a huge cause for worry. In a statement titled: ‘Ethiopia Violence A Concern Despite Reform Promises,’ she stressed that the only way Ethiopians could genuinely benefit from Prime Minister Abiy’s bold agenda for change was for the killings to be curtailed, investigated and perpetrators brought to book.
Bringing perpetrators swiftly to justice is the only way to not only stem the violence, but also signal to Ethiopians that the country is changing for good.
It detailed recent events especially in Jijiga, capital of the Somali regional state, where deaths, injuries, looting and burning of public and private properties were reported in the wake of a security standoff between federal and regional forces. It specifically mentioned the involvement of two regional groups, Heego and Liyu police as complicit in the violence. Heego is a youth group loyal to deposed regional president Abdi Mohamud Omar and the Liyu police – a paramilitary force.
“Ethiopian authorities established the Liyu police in 2007 to combat the insurgent Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF); the paramilitary force has frequently been implicated in extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape,” the statement added. It also enumerated instances of violence resulting in deaths across other parts of the country. At least 15 people in other parts of the country – DireDawa city, Shashemene, Tape town, and Adama city – were also killed in ethnically-charged mob justice and rioting in August.
“The political and ethnic dynamics around these recent killings show that despite reforms and improved rhetoric on human rights from the federal government, insecurity is still a problem – particularly where Liyu police roam unchecked. “Bringing perpetrators swiftly to justice is the only way to not only stem the violence, but also signal to Ethiopians that the country is changing for good,” the statement concluded.
by Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban