UN commissioner condemns Woldiya tragedy

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Just days after the killings of six civilians including a 13-year-old teenager in Woldiya town, North Wello Zone, Amhara Regional State, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, chaired by Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein expressed its concerns over what claims to be use of force by security forces against unarmed civilians.

“We are extremely concerned by the use of force by security officials against worshippers celebrating the Ethiopian Orthodox festival of Epiphany this weekend that left at least seven people dead and a number injured,” the statement issued by the commissioner read.

It is to be recalled that the city Woldiya, with the exception of recent small clashes between football fans, was mostly peaceful in the past two years. The city particularly, and in general the North Wello Zone remain unaffected by the larger public unrest which rocked parts of the Amhara Regional State, particularly Gondar and Bahir Dar, the capital city of the region, two years ago.

The recent tragic incident in Woldiya occurred in the afternoon of January 20, 2018. As the incident intensified it was reported that security forces which were deployed in the city killed Yosef Eshetea, 13, and Gebremsekel Getachew, 40, and a father of one.

These two killings later agitated the public to attack businesses as well as properties of officials.

“It reportedly took place when the security forces tried to stop people from chanting anti-government songs and allegedly opened fire on them,” according the statement from the commissioner.

“This incident is all the more regrettable, as it comes just two weeks after Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, officially announced its intention to undertake reforms,” it added.

The commissioner finally urged for independent, impartial and effective investigation. In addition, it also asked for those responsible for any violations to be held accountable.

It also demanded that the Ethiopian government should take possible legal as well as policy reforms in order to support the law enforcement bodies to act in line with international standards.

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