Ethiopia’s parliament approved a state of emergency on Monday following a week of violence in the country’s Amhara region. The state of emergency gives the government sweeping powers to arrest and detain people, and to restrict freedom of movement and assembly.
The state of emergency was issued last week by the office of the Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed (CoM).
Amharas Targeted in Ethiopia’s Widespread Arrests
The approval of the state of emergency comes as the Associated Press reported that Ethiopian authorities have arrested hundreds, even thousands, of ethnic Amharas in the capital, Addis Ababa.
The AP said that the arrests were part of a government crackdown on dissent in the wake of the recent violence, as fighting broke between local militia called Fano and the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF).
The AP report cited ethnic Amhara witnesses. One man, an ethnic Amhara, said he was picked up off the street last week by plainclothes police officers who overheard him discussing the recent unrest on the phone. He said he was held at a school building with hundreds of others and was later released without any charges.
Another man said his brother was arrested in Addis Ababa a day before the state of emergency was declared and is being detained at a school with several hundred others. Most of the detainees there are young boys, said the man, who has visited his brother twice.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) also cited the widespread arrest of civilians in Addis Ababa city administration.
“There has been widespread arrest of civilians who are of ethnic Amhara origin, as well as widespread detention of irregular migrants from Eritrean, some of whom might be seeking asylum status in Ethiopia,” the rights body said in a Monday statement.
EHRC has received multiple reports from families and friends of detainees, however, they have not yet been granted access to monitor the conditions of detentions since the declaration of the State of Emergency.
The state of emergency is the latest sign of the growing instability in Ethiopia. The country has been in a state of civil conflict for years, and the violence in the Amhara region is the latest flare-up. The government’s crackdown on dissent is likely to further fuel the unrest.
On Monday, an Ethiopian military airstrike on Amhara region killed 26 people and injured dozens.