The plight of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians continues and appears to be deliberately perpetrated by government officials and institutions.
- On January 9, 2022 – Orthodox Christians gathered inside and outside St. Stephen Church near Mesqel Square in Addis Ababa were attacked with tear gas by law enforcement officers at the direction of the mayor of Addis Ababa – Adanech Abebe. This gross and inhumane act and infringement of the believers’ rights to worship took place at the very moment another religious program sponsored by a protestant pastor was being held at Meskel Square – a site that is historically and practically reserved for the celebration of the Founding of the Cross by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The mayor was a guest or keynote speaker at this event and declared that this was the people’s square – clearly and arrogantly defying the church’s historical ownership of this site.
- On January 19, three young Orthodox Christians were murdered by Oromia region security forces who prevented the procession of the Tabot of Weybla Mariam Church in the outskirts of Addis Ababa. The procession of the Tabot with thousands of the faithful was blocked from returning to the church after celebrating Epiphany simply for wearing and displaying the Ethiopian flag. The Oromia Security forces stood in defiance of this historical religious procession – intimidating the faithful with brutal fire force and military-grade armored vehicles.
- To date, no official or individual has been held accountable for the atrocities against the church and the faithful for the last three years – with empty promises of investigations.
These persecutions against Ethiopian Orthodox Christians have been largely ignored by the international community and by local and international human rights organizations, including UNHCR. The legal system at every level seems to protect the perpetrators instead of holding those responsible accountable. Parliament and elected officials at every local, regional and federal level have failed to denounce these atrocities. We call on parliament, political leaders and human rights watch groups denounce these coordinated and targeted atrocities against the Orthodox Tewahedo Church hold all perpetrators and enablers within government institutions.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission investigation concluded that the June 29 – July 01, 2020 atrocities committed following the death of artist Hachalu Hundessa in several municipalities and towns of the Oromia region were “Crime against humanity and Atrocity Crimes”. The commission released a 64 page report detailing the massacre against innocent citizens where 123 people were killed, 500 were seriously injured and 6,468 citizens have been displace from their homes due to destruction of property and fear for their safety. The investigation highlighted that the atrocities were committed by well organized mob driven from place-to-place and directed against ethnically Amhara people in cities and Christians in Muslim dominated towns. The report also confirmed that in some localities the atrocities begun before the news of Hachalu’s killing was aired, suggesting the targeted attack was pre-planned. The report also found that regional security officials failed to respond to victims’ pleas and in some instances stood silently while the attacks were going or provided cover for the assailants. Shortly after these crimes, the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church issued a press release demanding for government authorities to protect the targets of the crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Christians are believed to be the targets of the recent violence that followed the death of Artist Hachalu Hundessa