Civil society organizations in Ethiopia on Wednesday called for a peaceful resolution to conflicts in the country that have caused thousands of deaths over the past 12 months.
Dan Yirga, executive director at the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, said this request was directed to all stakeholders in the country’s peace-building process.
He said that most of the conflicts were started or aggravated because of a long-standing culture of using force to settle tensions. To create a lasting solution for this problem, a nationwide peace convention that includes all members of society needs to create a road map for solving current conflicts and avoiding new ones.
The call by the organizations highlighted the past year's many clashes, as well as encouraging steps toward peace building.
Over 1,000 political conflicts have been reported over the past year, according to data from the Ethiopian Peace Observatory, a local data collection project run by the U.S.-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
Meseret Ali, from the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, said fighting had displaced a lot of people from their homes. Civilians have died. Women and children have been raped. In the Benishangul-Gumuz region, elections were bypassed for a sixth time.
Armed opposition in the country’s Oromia and Amhara regions, referendums held for the creation of new regional states, and protests over a schism in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church were some of the conflicts that took place.
The civil society organizations also addressed the government’s common response to these conflicts, such as partial or full internet shutdowns; widespread, unlawful arrests; and restrictions on the rights and freedoms of citizens.
In April, Ethiopian government officials attended peace talks in Tanzania with members of the Oromo Liberation Army, a rebel faction. The talks ended with no agreement reached.