Recent human rights violations include the killing of 100 peaceful protestors by direct government gunfire in the Oromo and Amhara regions in 2016. The UN has called for UN observers on the ground in Ethiopia to investigate this incident however the EPRDF-dominated Ethiopian government has refused this call. The protestors are protesting land grabs and lack of basic human rights such as the freedom to elect their representatives. The TPLF-dominated EPRDF won 100% in an election marked by fraud which has resulted in Ethiopian civilians protesting on scale unseen in prior post-election protests.
Merera Gudina, leader of the Oromo People’s Congress, said the East African country was at a “crossroads”. “People are demanding their rights,” he said. “People are fed up with what the regime has been doing for a quarter of a century. They’re protesting against land grabs, reparations, stolen elections, the rising cost of living and many things. “If the government continues to repress while the people are demanding their rights in the millions that (civil war) is one of the likely scenarios,” Merera said in an interview with Reuters.
According to surveys in 2003 by the National Committee on Traditional Practices in Ethiopia, marriage by abduction accounts for 69% of the nation’s marriages, with around 80% in the largest region, Oromiya, and as high as 92% in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region. Homosexual acts are illegal in Ethiopia.
Among the Omotic Karo-speaking and Hamer peoples in southern Ethiopia, adults and children with physical abnormalities are considered to be mingi, “ritually impure”. The latter are believed to exert an evil influence upon others; disabled infants have traditionally been murdered without a proper burial. The Karo officially banned the practice in July 2012.
In 2013, the Oakland Institute released a report accusing the Ethiopian government of forcing the relocation of “hundreds of thousands of indigenous people from their lands” in the Gambela Region. The report describes the Ethiopian government’s “plans to move over 1.5 million people” by the end of 2013, in order to allow foreign investors to develop the land for large scale industrial agriculture. According to several reports by the organization, those who refused were the subject of a variety intimidation technique including physical and sexual abuse, which sometimes led to deaths. A similar 2012 report by Human Rights Watch also describes the Ethiopian government’s 2010–2011 villagization in Gambella, with plans to carry out similar resettlements in other regions. The Ethiopian government has denied the accusations of land grabbing and instead pointed to the positive trajectory of the countries economy as evidence of the development program’s benefits.
Before 1996, Ethiopia was divided into thirteen provinces, many derived from historical regions. The nation now has a tiered governmental system consisting of a federal government overseeing ethnically based regional states, zones, districts (woreda), and kebeles (“neighbourhoods”).
Since 1996, Ethiopia has been divided into nine ethnically-based and politically autonomous regional states (kililoch, singular kilil) and two chartered cities (astedader akababiwoch, singular astedader akababi), the latter being Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. The kililoch are subdivided into sixty-eight zones, and then further into 550 woredas and several special woredas.
The constitution assigns extensive power to regional states, which can establish their own government and democracy according to the federal government’s constitution. Each region has at its apex a regional council where members are directly elected to represent the districts and the council has legislative and executive power to direct internal affairs of the regions.
Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution further gives every regional state the right to secede from Ethiopia. There is debate however, as to how much of the power guaranteed in the constitution is actually given to the states. The councils implement their mandate through an executive committee and regional sectoral bureaus. Such elaborate structure of council, executive, and sectoral public institutions is replicated to the next level (woreda).