UN urges Ethiopia to address causes of “religious” clashes

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet urged the Government of Ethiopia to address the underlying causes of the recent “inter-religious clashes in in the country”.

“I am deeply distressed by the recent violent clashes between Muslims and Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia in which at least 30 people were reportedly killed and more than 100 others injured. The inter-religious clashes first reported in Gondar city, in the northern Amhara region on 26 April, reportedly in connection with a land dispute, appear to have quickly spread to towns and cities in multiple other regions, and to the capital Addis Ababa,” she said in a statement her office issued today.

“I understand two mosques were burnt and another two partially destroyed in Gondar. In the apparent retaliatory attacks that followed, two Orthodox Christian men were reportedly burnt to death, another man hacked to death, and five churches burnt down in Silt’e Zone, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region, located in the southwest of the country. There was further violence on 28 April in Debark town in the Amhara region, and Dire Dawa city in the north-eastern Afar region.”

She noted that police have reportedly arrested and detained at least 578 people in at least four cities in connection with the violent clashes.

“I call on the Ethiopian authorities to promptly initiate and conduct thorough, independent and transparent investigations into each of these deadly incidents and ensure that those found to be responsible are held to account. Individual accountability of perpetrators is essential to prevent further violence. Those arrested must be fully accorded their due process and fair trial rights in accordance with international human rights law, without discrimination,” she said.

“To prevent further inter-religious violence, it is crucial that the underlying causes of this shocking violence are promptly addressed, with the meaningful participation of survivors, families and affected communities,” said Commissioner Michele Bachelet.