Ethnic Tigray people all over the country report an increase in discrimination and abuse from the authorities.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — On a bright day in mid-November, about a dozen police officers with machine guns barged into the home of Lisanewerk Desta, a theologian who is the head of the library and museum department at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and got to work.
The men, who had no warrant, Mr. Lisanewerk said, poured dried goods from his kitchen onto the floor, emptied his clothes drawers and even looked inside his clay coffee pot, seemingly searching for something to incriminate him. They confiscated only one item, he said: his Ethiopian identification card, which shows that he is from the Tigray ethnic group.
“I’m a scholar of the church, I’ve got nothing to be afraid of,” said Mr. Lisanewerk, who in an interview at his home shared photos and videos that his daughter had surreptitiously recorded of the raid. “But now I am under suspicion.”
Tigrayans belong to one of about eight major ethnic groups in Ethiopia, and for nearly three decades, they were the dominant force in the country’s politics. But life for many Tigrayans began to change in early November after Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, launched a military operation in the northern region of Tigray, whose leaders have resisted Mr. Abiy’s drive to centralize power in the federal government.
Since then, many ethnic Tigrayans who live in the capital and other parts of Ethiopia say they have been treated like criminal suspects and subjected to various forms of discrimination, harassment and abuse by government officials.
They report being detained without charges, put under house arrest, and barred from traveling outside the country. Tigrayans say they have had their businesses shut down, homes ransacked and money extorted by security officials.
Several Tigrayans who live outside Ethiopia said they hadn’t heard for weeks from family members who were taken away suddenly to police stations and prisons. Some Tigrayan members of the Ethiopian military forces are being held in detention centers around the country, their families said.
The moves have drawn concern from the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention, which said that cases of ethnic profiling constituted “a dangerous trajectory that heightens the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.” Continue Reading