Analysis: Continuing crackdown on Tigrayans in Addis Ababa leaves many people without business; afraid to speak, hopeless

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A scene from a busy street in Addis Ababa

By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil

Addis Ababa, October 05, 2021 – Tigrayan business owners in the capital Addis Ababa say Addis Standard that their establishments have been closed and now face serious challenges after reopening.

Hana (name changed according to witness’s request) said Addis Standard, “I own a small restaurant and it is the main source of my income,” she continued, “It was closed for months, when I asked for explanations, none were was offered. I was told I was violating the Covid-19 prevention guidelines when I visited the kebele and woreda administration offices. They ignored me most of the time and when they asked me. ‘spoke, they asked me to wait patiently. She said her shop has only been open for 15 days now.

“Not to mention supporting them [TPLF], I don’t have enough to get by.

Hanna

She went on to explain the financial difficulties she faced when closing her business: “When my restaurant was closed, I struggled to pay its rents and the salaries of my 5 employees, and people accused me of supporting TPLF. ”

She continued in tears: “I was born in Addis Ababa, I grew up here, I visited Tigray twice as a child,” adding: “Not to mention supporting them [TPLF], I don’t have enough to get by. She explained the effects of the closure on her customers: “My customers are now afraid to come to my restaurant, and as a result my 5 employees and I are almost out of work.

Many witnesses Addis Standard interviewed feared that the publication of their testimonies would put them in danger because they were threatened by the authorities not to speak out.

But not Caleb (name changed according to the witness’s request) who said Addis Standard this his bar was closed three months ago. He revealed nervously and in fear of being overheard by those around him, that he and his brother were jailed for a week after his business closed.

“I opened the bar with loans and I pay these loans and the rent for the place every month. Remember, I have no income, but still have to pay the rent and the loans.

Caleb

He said: “They released us on the guarantee of identity cards but my bar is still closed”, he continued, explaining the circumstances which led to the opening of this small business which remains closed, “I opened the bar with loans and I pay these. monthly loans and rental of the premises. Remember, I have no income, but still have to pay the rent and the loans.

Asked about complaints and promises made by the authorities, he said: “Right now 17 different businesses are closed in my area. Together with the other owners, we are trying to find a solution. We have tried to contact government officials who are directly related to our case but they do not want to give us an answer, while others have told us to be patient but I think they are forgetting about us ”.

The number of complaints of closings of businesses owned by ethnic Tigray residents in Addis Ababa in the past two months that the commission has received has increased

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission report in September 2021

Addis Standard contacted the Federal Police Commission who directed the questions to both the Addis Ababa Trade and Industry Bureau and the police Commission who, according to the spokesperson for the Federal Police Commission, were responsible for the decision to shut down the businesses and fulfill the orders.

Repeated attempts to reach both the Addis Ababa Trade and Industry Bureau and the Police Commission were unsuccessful.

According to a report published in September 2021 According to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the number of complaints of closure of businesses owned by ethnic Tigrayan residents in Addis Ababa in the past two months that the commission has received has increased.

The report found that a surveillance team that focused its surveillance on two sub-cities of the capital, learned that although these companies were suspended by order of the Task Force for the Prevention and Control of Illegal Trade and recently established smuggling, many businesses remain closed due to long periods of waiting for authorities to assess and render a verdict of guilty or not guilty.

The commission called on “the city administration of Addis Ababa, the federal police and other relevant government authorities to ensure faster investigation and decision-making.”

Since the end of June 2021, the Ethiopian authorities have arbitrarily detained, forcibly disappeared and committed other abuses against Tigrayans in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The authorities should immediately report on the enforced disappearance of the Tigrayans, release those detained without credible evidence of a crime and end all discriminatory treatment.

Between July and August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) interviewed by telephone eight current and former Tigrayan detainees, four Tigrayan business leaders and 25 relatives of detainees, witnesses of abuse and lawyers. Human Rights Watch also reviewed relevant court and police documents and photos. HRW revealed that on August 11, 2021, he sent an email to Attorney General Gedion Timothewos summarizing his findings and requesting further information, but did not receive a response. LIKE



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