Omens of ethnic cleansing in Western Ethiopia

Source : GoogleMap
Source : GoogleMap

(Borkena) Clear early omens of ethnic cleansing are unfolding in Western Ethiopia. Gimbi, a small town west of Wellega, in what is now Oromia regional state, was a scene of attack this week.  Residents of the town who happened to be Amharic speakers are targets of the attack and the attackers seem to be Oromigna speaking youngsters.

A victim who was speaking to Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) anonymously recounted his experience of harassment in Gimbi just for being Amharic speaker. Based on testimony of the victim, Amharic speakers who have been living in these areas for decades are even openly told to leave the area as “they do not belong there.”

Indeed, recently young protestors in the region were ranting “Oromia for Oromos only” – a tone that is more like the political creed of radical ethnic political elites – both within government structure and the young ethno-radical advocacy group based in the diaspora which appear to be doing all the mobilization work in a very subtle way. The mobilization work usually takes a pattern of advocacy for freedom.

And the political context for mobilization is “historical grievance” which they trace back to the times of Menelik II’s reunification campaign a little before Menelik II’s engagement with Italian colonialists at the battle of Adwa  over a century ago.

Omens of ethnic cleansing didn’t happen unexpectedly.

Although young people who subscribe to the ideology of radical ethnic politics seem to manifest what appears to them “revolutionary rage” , the unfolding appetite to attack Amharic speaking Ethiopians is rather a product of evolutionary political process work by the ruling TPLF party and radical ethnic politics elites in the opposition and coalition members of the ruling party.

The core of the ruling coalition party’s , TPLF, political engineering was informed by sentiment to ethnicity as opposed to national political agenda – which is evident in the current constitution of Ethiopia. TPLF was insidiously mobilizing against Amharic speaking Ethiopians since its guerrilla times as witnessed by some of its former members.

The country is divided into ethnic based Federal states. While TPLF is known to have intervened in the affairs of Federal Regional States, some regional states have taken their power to far so much so that they are arbitrarily evicting farming communities from their respective ethnic regions – an incident which has happened recurrently.

Incidents unfolding in states like Oromoia makes it appear like it is already de facto sovereign state and Ethiopians from other parts of Ethiopia are being treated like “illegal migrants” in another country.

The Amharic and Oromo speaking Ethiopians are the most intermingled than any other language speaking groups in the country.

By Dimetros Birku

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