UN condemns Christian-Muslim riots in Ethiopia

UN condemns Christian-Muslim riots in Ethiopia

UN condemns Christian-Muslim riots in Ethiopia
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The UN human rights director expressed concern Saturday over recent violent conflicts in Ethiopia between Muslims and Orthodox Christians, urging authorities to investigate and bring offenders to justice.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she was “very disturbed” by the violence that erupted late last month in northern Ethiopia, killing at least 30 people and wounding more than 100 others.

The confrontations began on April 26 in Gondar, Amhara region, apparently over a land dispute, before fast expanding to other regions and the Ethiopian capital Addis Abeba, she claimed.

The Islamic Affairs Council of Amhara said the funeral of a Muslim elder had been attacked, describing the scene as a “massacre” by heavily armed “extremist Christians.”

The cemetery where the attack occurred neighbors a mosque and church and has been the subject of an ongoing dispute between Muslims and Orthodox Christians, who are the dominant group in Ethiopia.

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“I understand two mosques were burnt and another two partially destroyed in Gondar,” Bachelet said in her statement.

“In the apparent retaliatory attacks that followed, two Orthodox Christian men were reportedly burnt to death, another man hacked to death, and five churches burnt down” in the southwest of the country, she said, adding that other regions had since seen clashes.

In all, police had reportedly arrested and detained at least 578 people in at least four cities in connection with the clashes, she said.

“I call on the Ethiopian authorities to promptly initiate and conduct thorough, independent and transparent investigations into each of these deadly incidents,” Bachelet said.

Authorities should strive to “ensure that those found to be responsible are held to account,” she said, stressing that “individual accountability of perpetrators is essential to prevent further violence.”

At the same time, “those arrested must be fully accorded their due process and fair trial rights in accordance with international human rights law, without discrimination.”

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The UN rights chief also called for broader action to reconcile communities in Ethiopia, where Muslims make up about a third of the population.

“To prevent further inter-religious violence, it is crucial that the underlying causes of this shocking violence are promptly addressed,” she said, urging “meaningful participation of survivors, families and affected communities.”

 

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