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Tension in Konso, Ethiopia

September 14,2016

Burned down hamlets in Konso Photo Credit : Obang Metho
Burned down hamlets in Konso
Photo Credit : Obang Metho

Toronto – Civilians killed following Tension in Konso, Ethiopia. At least 14 people are killed in the past couple of days in Konso area of Southern regional state of Ethiopia – according to Gemechu Gense , an elected committee member of of Konso. In an interview he gave to Voice of America Amharic serice, Gemechu says that defense force deployed in Konso launched attack on civilians and entirely burned hamlets in many neighborhoods.

In addition to the number of deaths, close to 1000 households are reportedly disappeared according to VOA Amharic report.

Intimidation and harrasment of those who were unable to move to other areas is still going on in based on information shared by Gemechu Gense.

Background to the crisis in Konso

Popular for its elaborated terraces and as tourist attraction, Konso is located in South Ethiopia and is part of Southern People’s regional state – region home to many language speaking groups.

People and region of Konso is reduced to district level of administration while they region has, claim representatives of Konso peopole, population size enough to form Zonal level of administration. The difference has implications, among other things, in budgetary allocations from the regional and federal government.

People of Konso elected a committee composed of twenty three members to pursue the question of administrative status of Konso. Consequently, in an effort to fulfill what seem to be constitutional requirement to lodge question at the federal level, the committee members seem to have collected well over 80,000 signatures of Konso people and were in good legal standing to pursue the matter.

From what one of the committee members, Gemechu Gense, says, Federal and regional state bodies rather moved to crush Konso movement. As a result of it, public servants in Konso closed down public offices. Deployment of defense force to the region, it seems, is the federal government’s ultimate forceful response.

Further more, Voice of America Amharic service report indicates that government safety net programs in the area was discontinued – in an apparent retaliatory measure against political demands of the people in the region. But that was the least of the trouble for people in Konso. As in Amhara region of Ethiopia, the regime mobilized and deployed the defense force against unarmed civilians. Dozens are confirmed dead. Regime admits only 6 people are killed.

From what regional state spokes person, Hikmet Keyredin, told to the Voice of America Amharic service, it seems that elders , new mother and children were burned alive when many hamlets were burned down. It is like a scorched earth measure.

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