Afar’s People’s Party (APP) in Ethiopia is calling upon the government to swiftly investigate what they describe as police brutality against residents of the region, during the recent consultative visit by the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed.
APP claims that up to 125 youth were arrested by the police, as they prepared to receive the prime minister who was hosted in the region’s state capital, Samara on Thursday. APP says the arrest are part of a ‘well planned, orchestrated anti-reform’ movement championed by the region’s leadership of Afar National Democratic Party (ANDP).
In a statement issued on Thursday, APP says the youth who for four months, have been protesting against bad governance, corruption and exclusion from decision making in the region, have supported Abiy’s reforms and participated in the pro-reform rally in Addis Ababa last week.
We call upon the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to investigate atrocities committed in the Afar region.
The party calls upon Abiy to establish an enquiry commission to investigate human rights abuses in the region, and also release all prisoners including Rashid Salih, a staffer at Samara University who has been missing since December last year.
‘‘We call upon the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to investigate atrocities committed in the Afar region,’‘ the statement reads.
Pushback against Abiys reforms
The developments comes in the wake of a grenade attack at a rally in support of Abiy’s reforms last week in Addis Ababa. The government has since said the grenade attack was part of a plot to disrupt the economy and slow down reforms, adding that it was preceded by a power outage and disruption in the telecommunications network.
The government’s communication office warned on Wednesday that the forces behind the attack could strike again in different parts of the country.
On Thursday, the prime minister’s office announced that it had established committees to investigate activities being organised to deter ongoing reforms in the country.
Since taking office in April, he has tried to open Ethiopia up to the outside world, after decades of security-obsessed isolation, by pardoning dissidents and partly privatising key firms among other changes.
Abiy is also trying to resolve a border dispute with Eritrea, leading to a visit by a high-level delegation from Asmara to Addis Ababa on Tuesday for the first time since the two countries fought between 1998 and 2000.
The committees are expected to investigation ‘oragnised attempts to cause economic harm, create inflation flare-up and disrupt service delivery of public enterprises’, and bring perpetrators to face justice when investigations are completed.