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Eastern Africa Ethiopia News

Tigrayans in other parts of Ethiopia claim to be ethnically targeted

Nov 19, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — Some Tigrayans in other parts of Ethiopia are allegedly being dismissed, suspended and even arrested from various positions in the military, police and civil service since the start of offensives in Northern Tigray region.

Ethiopian PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed (Photo credit: File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)
Ethiopian PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed (Photo credit: File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

Some say that they have not worked since the government announced a military operation against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Gebremariam Hagos, a civil servant in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, says he has not worked for two weeks.

“I have been suspended from work ever since the conflict broke out,” said Hagos, a father of three who has been working as a civil servant for almost 30 years. “However, my superiors in order to keep track of me oblige me to sign a daily work attendance letter.”

He added that his colleagues and friends have suddenly begun to cast a suspicious eye on him, often questioning him about his “suspected sympathy to TPLF”.

He feels pain that his ethnicity has suddenly become the measure of his loyalty.

“I have always been a staunch defender of Ethiopian identity. However, for the last two weeks, my name, my native language I speak has been a source of suspicion over my alleged disloyalty,” he said.

Abel Berhane, a private small-scale businessman, said he was among those who have suffered discrimination after the start of the fighting nearly two weeks ago.

He said he had been prevented from boarding a flight twice after security forces at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport checked on his kebele (locality) identification card.

“They told me I will only be able to fly out of Ethiopia once ‘my people’ win the war, while my friend from another ethnicity was allowed to board the same flight,” said Berhane.

The Reuters news agency last week reported that Ethiopian police had visited a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) office in the Amhara region neighbouring Tigray to request a list of ethnic Tigrayan staff. 

According to the internal UN security report cited by Reuters, the local police chief informed the WFP office of “the order of identifying ethnic Tigrayans from all government agencies and NGOs”.

The Ethiopian government denied that ethnic profiling had taken place during the visit. Instead, it said the police were looking for suspects linked to the TPLF, not Tigrayans, and warned against any “misrepresentation” of the visit to the WFP.

Even with the government denying ethnic profiling, the Tigrayans say they have experienced discrimination and feel pessimistic about the future regardless of the conflict’s outcome.

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