The Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) are facing fresh allegations of committing atrocities in the Amhara region, just one month after authorities in Addis Ababa declared a state of emergency in response to a local rebellion.
The Amhara Association of America (AAA), composed of Amhara professionals residing in the United States, claims to possess substantial evidence of ENDF involvement in a door-to-door massacre in Majete and the surrounding areas within Efrata Gidim Woreda and North Shewa Zone, resulting in the deaths of at least 33 individuals on September 3.
According to the organization’s report, the ENDF, currently engaged in conflict with the Amhara Fano Militia, allegedly killed unarmed civilians, injured an additional 13, and sought assistance from Oromo Liberation Army (Ola) fighters from the neighboring Dawa Chefa Woreda. While the organization is based outside of Ethiopia, it asserts that it used local representatives to conduct interviews.
The report claims that the attack followed an unexpected assault by the Fano on the ENDF stationed near the town’s outskirts. After the Fano’s departure, ENDF soldiers reportedly entered the town and nearby villages with orders to execute anyone they encountered.
The Ethiopian government has not yet responded to the report but has previously denied allegations that the crackdown on the rebellion constituted human rights violations. Nonetheless, the operation has faced criticism at the United Nations, with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stating that Ethiopian authorities had abused their powers in dealing with the Fano group’s rebellion.
In Amhara region, a state of emergency was declared on August 4 following clashes between the Ethiopian military and the regional Fano militia. The UN reports that at least 183 people have been killed in clashes since July. The state of emergency grants security forces the authority to make arrests without court orders, impose curfews, ban public gatherings, and detain individuals for extended periods.
The AAA alleges that during the door-to-door attacks, 18 victims were shot to death in their homes, and an individual known as Yosef and his child died from an artillery round fired by the ENDF. An unnamed ENDF General disclosed that he had initially called in Oromo militias for assistance to prevent government soldiers from perishing in Majete, but they have since been withdrawn.
The report also indicates that when witnesses mentioned Oromo militias conducting door-to-door killings of civilians, the general responded by warning cooperation or facing severe measures. He ordered the Oromia militias to retrieve the bodies and apprehended those who followed the militias to loot and returned the stolen cattle.
The AAA, situated in North Carolina, investigates and documents human rights abuses and repression against Amharas in Ethiopia. The Fano militias resisted the government’s decision to disband regional security forces, arguing that it threatened the Amhara region’s identity.
They also protested their exclusion from the November 2022 peace agreement between Addis Ababa and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Interestingly, Amhara militias had supported the ENDF against the TPLF during the two-year war leading up to the peace deal.
The recent Majete Massacre comes just a week after Amnesty International released a report accusing Eritrean forces aligned with the Ethiopian government of committing ‘war crimes’ in the Tigray region shortly before and after Addis Ababa signed a peace deal with rebels.
The report revealed extrajudicial executions of more than 100 people by the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF) in the Mariam Shewito district between October 25 and November 1, 2022.