Ethiopia vows probe into gruesome video of man on fire

AFP , Saturday 12 Mar 2022

Ethiopia on Saturday vowed to investigate and take action against uniformed soldiers and others seen in a gruesome video burning a man alive in the country's northwest.

Afar Special Forces
File Photo: A member of the Afar Special Forces holds a gun next to a damaged house in the village of Bisober in Ethiopia s Tigray region, on December 9, 2020. AP

The widely shared video, which sparked outrage on social media late Friday, shows an unarmed man being set on fire as a group of people, including some wearing Ethiopian army uniforms, taunt him in Amharic.

Ethiopia's government communications service said on Saturday that the incident appeared to have occurred in the northwestern region of Benishangul Gumuz, which borders Sudan and South Sudan.

"The video of the extremely savage act being circulated on social media outlets shows innocents being burned alive," it said in a statement, vowing to "investigate and take legal measures on those...who committed this inhumane, and savage act."

The video could not be independently verified by AFP and it was not immediately clear if the atrocity was connected to the ongoing 16-month war in northern Ethiopia.

The conflict in Africa's second-most populous country between government forces and Tigrayan rebels has killed thousands of people, with widespread reports of atrocities including mass killings and sexual violence.

According to the UN, the fighting has also displaced more than two million people, driven hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation and left more than nine million in need of assistance.

At least 750 civilians were killed or executed in the northern regions of Amhara and Afar after they became caught up in the war last year, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said Friday.

The state-affiliated independent rights body also catalogued a litany of abuses, including torture and gang rape and enforced disappearances, saying some may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The report said that Tigrayan rebels sexually assaulted girls and elderly women. It also accused federal and local security forces in Amhara and Afar of widespread arbitrary detentions.

A joint investigation by the UN and the EHRC published last November detailed a vast array of rights abuses, mostly blamed on Ethiopian forces and Eritrean troops, who provided military support to Addis Ababa.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council announced that Fatou Bensouda, a former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), would head a UN investigation into a wide range of alleged violations committed by all sides in the war.

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