Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expresses its concern about the use of force by security officials against civilians attending religious festival, Epiphany, on 20 January 2017 that left at least seven people dead and a number injured.
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Date: 23 January 2018
Subject: [DRC and] Ethiopia
We are extremely concerned by the use of force by security officials against worshipers celebrating the Ethiopian Orthodox festival of Epiphany this weekend that left at least seven people dead and a number injured.
The incident, in Woldia City in Amhara Regional State on 20 January, reportedly took place when the security forces tried to stop people from chanting anti-government songs and allegedly opened fire on them. Protesters reportedly later blocked roads and destroyed a number of properties.
This incident is all the more regrettable, as it comes just two weeks after Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, officially announced its intention to undertake reforms.
We call on the authorities to ensure that the security forces take all feasible measures to prevent the use of force.
We understand that the President of Amhara Regional State, who confirmed that there had been deaths and injuries, said there would be what he termed a “careful examination” of the incident.
We urge for this to be a prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigation to ensure those responsible for any violations are held accountable. We also call on the Government to undertake the necessary legal and policy reforms, along with guidance and training, to create the conditions for law enforcement officials to operate in line with international standards.
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