Ethiopia: Thousands arrested in Addis Ababa following ethnic clashes


Security forces in Ethiopia have arrested thousands of people following ethnic clashes in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Dozens of people were killed in ethnic violence last week, prompting protests in the capital demanding for the government to take action. The government has responded to the clashes with sweeping arrests, reminiscent of Ethiopia’s previous regimes and new prime minister Abiy Ahmed is facing questions from rights groups for the first time.

Thousands arrested in Addis Ababa

Officials in Addis Ababa say more than 1,200 people who were “directly involved” in last week’s ethnic clashes have been arrested. A further 2,000 people were arrested in relation to the sporadic violence but most of them were apparently released shortly after being taken in by security forces.

The sweeping arrests are the first authoritative intervention by the government since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came into power in April. The country’s new PM has impressed rights groups for his progressive reforms since stepping into office, including the release of thousands of political prisoners.

However, ethnic violence has spread across the country during his short time in power and the government’s response has raised concern with rights groups that Ethiopia could be returning to old habits.

Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lake, expressed her concern about the nature of the arrests in Addis Ababa.

“The majority of people were arrested for perceived offences which are not recognised criminal offences under international law, such as smoking shisha or consuming khat. They must be either charged with a recognizable criminal offence or released. Those arrested for taking part in protests on the recent ethnic clashes must all be released immediately and unconditionally.”

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About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.