Prisoners in Ethiopia have experienced a long history of abuse and mistreatment, and new witness testimony and evidence show the brutal treatment of Tigrayans in Ethiopia to the point where this can be considered genocide.

Tigrayans, an ethnic group that has dominated the Ethiopian government and military for nearly three decades, have been particularly vulnerable to violence and abuse by prison guards.

In 1974, when a Marxist military junta overthrew the government, it intensified the repression. Thousands of people were arrested and held without trial in appalling conditions. In 1977, Amnesty International published a report on prison conditions in Ethiopia, which described torture, lack of food and medical care, and executions.

The Tigrayan ethnic group has played a prominent role in Ethiopian politics and society for centuries. But that changed after Abiy Ahmed was appointed Ethiopia’s prime minister in 2018. Ahmed is from the Oromo ethnic group, the largest in the country. As a result, tensions between the TPLF—the political party associated with the Tigrayan ethnic group—and Ahmed’s government quickly escalated.