Human rights advocates on Thursday said that Ethiopia has been committing “crimes against humanity,” including the torture, murder, rape, and forced eviction of civilians, in its crackdown on insurgents in the country’s isolated eastern Ogaden desert region.

The group Human Rights Watch, in a 130-page report released in Nairobi, Kenya, and posted online at, cited independent analysis of satellite photographs by an American scientific group as support for its conclusion that many villages had been razed.

The Ethiopian government has routinely rejected such claims. Calls and e-mail messages to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington were not returned.

The image analysis was led by Lars Bromley, the director of the science and human rights program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, based in Washington.

Guided by eyewitness accounts gathered by the human rights investigators, the scientists tracked down satellite images of particular villages in the region from before the most recent army campaign and commissioned private providers of satellite images to take fresh satellite photographs of the locations.

Comparisons confirmed that dozens of structures in eight communities identified as attacked by witnesses had vanished, and the images also revealed signs that buildings had been burned, Mr. Bromley said.

“The Ethiopian authorities frequently dismiss human rights reports, saying that the witnesses we interviewed are liars and rebel supporters,” Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “But it will be much more difficult for them to dismiss the evidence presented in the satellite images, as images like that don’t lie.”