NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Thousands of people have been detained in the Ethiopian capital since the government declared a state of emergency following the intensification of the war in the country, the Ethiopian Rights Commission said on Wednesday. human rights created by the government, while Tigrayans claim to be targeted for their identity alone.
The human rights group’s estimate is the largest of the detentions to date since November 2 as teams of volunteers roam the streets of the capital in search of Tigrayans suspected of supporting the Tigrayan forces fighting the Ethiopian army in a year-old war.
The commission expressed “grave concern” at not being able to collect complete data on detainees, and said at least 714 people had been detained in a single sub-city of Addis Ababa. He said another surveillance team discovered that up to 300 people had been detained in the eastern town of Dire Dawa.
Authorities are not doing enough to justify the reasons for the detentions, he said.
“A large number of detainees were of Tigrayan origin,” the statement said, noting that the elderly and nursing mothers were among those detained. In the detention centers, the commission’s monitoring teams were able to visit, some were overcrowded and did not have toilets, and many did not have access to health care, he said.
The Ethiopian government has said it is detaining people suspected of supporting Tigray forces, but witnesses, lawyers and human rights groups have expressed concern that the extensive powers of the states of emergency were used to arrest people of ethnic origin alone.
The PA confirmed that American and British citizens were among those detained, as well as United Nations staff.
“Propaganda is part of their war,” one of the community police volunteers in Addis Ababa, Leul Hassen, told the AP earlier this week, referring to Tigrayans suspected of supporting rival forces, as volunteers checked people’s identity documents. “We don’t have time for this.”
The United Nations human rights office on Tuesday cited reports that authorities have detained at least 1,000 people in Addis Ababa, the northern towns of Gondar and Bahir Dar, and other locations. Spokeswoman Liz Throssell described the state of emergency provisions as “extremely broad, with vague bans going so far as to include” indirect moral “support for what the government has called” terrorist groups. “
“We need to see the detainees released,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Wednesday during a visit to neighboring Kenya as part of diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire, talks and humanitarian access to the war which left thousands dead and displaced. over 2 million and drove hundreds of thousands of people into starvation.
But the Ethiopian government and the Tigray forces that have long dominated the national government have publicly shown little sign of stopping the fighting.