Wollo Ethiopian Heritage Society (WEHS), a rights-based civic organization, is shocked and saddened by the brutal killings and mass arrests of peaceful demonstrations in several towns in North Wollo during and after the annual Epiphany celebrations. We are at the same time encouraged by the civil disobedience well underway to finally remove the 27year-old, tyrannical, and supremacist Tigrean People’s “Liberation” Front (TPLF).
The facts in these fast-developing events of the past two weeks are clear enough:
- • The recent uprisings emerged in the aftermath of the violent suppression of the peaceful demand by the Muslim community for the government to cease its interference in Islamic affairs, followed by the government-orchestrated attack by the TPLF-led Afar militia on the town of Kobo.
- • The Woldia massacre (reportedly 13 killed and 7 injured) and mass arrests (of hundreds of youths, many taken to Tigray) continues to be perpetrated by the Agazi sharpshooters of the ruling party. Sadly, this was done against the advice of the Church and on one of the holiest days in Ethiopia—the Timket Festival (Epiphany).
- • Subsequent public demonstrations by the youth in the nearby town of Kobo in support of the defiant youth of Woldia resulted in the killing of 7-13 youths, including a 12-year old boy on his way to the church festival.
- • A solidarity demonstration against this egregious abuse of power against peaceful protestors in the nearby town of Mersa escalated the toll with over 20 killed and hundreds of youths, businesspersons, and community elders were all taken to desert camps in the Afar region.
- • The popular uprising has since spread to the nearby towns of Girana, Sirinqa, Meqet, and Wurgesa.
- • It is also reported that the TPLF is distributing weapons to the Tigrigna-speaking Wolloye in the illegally-annexed districts of Alemata and Korem. This desperation act to incite civil war by implicating all Tigreans in its genocidal and economic crimes against all Ethiopians is being categorically rejected by the people of North Wollo.
- • That the entire Dessie-Alemata corridor is in a potentially explosive situation is indicated by the massive mobilization of the security forces in this sub-region of Wollo which contains some 3 million residents.
The bottom line is that Wollo, Gonder, and Gojam have now fallen into a de facto emergency military rule. The civilian population is being subjected to warrantless searches, illegal house-to-house searches, preemptive mass roundups, indiscriminate assassinations, and confiscation of property—all done with impunity by crack troops trained in a diet of ethnic hatred and intolerance for any signs of dissent.
The underlying grievances of the mercilessly oppressed people of Wollo are ones that are widely shared by all regions of Ethiopia. The ruling TPLF regime is irremediably ethnicist, militarist, anti-Ethiopian, and totalitarian. For the past 27 years, the clique has acted as a foreign occupation force by insulting Ethiopian nationalism, especially but not exclusively targeting the Amhara for ethnic cleansing and genocide, meting out gratuitous violence and psychological torture to instill fear as a method of internal colonial rule, and looting public assets to build its proclaimed “home base” of Tigray and to enrich its core supporters.
The people of Wollo needed only a spark or two to engage in wide-ranging civil disobedience against the capture of their church and mosque, business centers, and local administrative institutions by the agents of the much-despised regime. They are also emboldened by similar defiant movements of popular resistance calling for a total systemic and regime change in Gondar, Gojam, Shewa, and large parts of Southern Ethiopia.
This is clearly the beginning of the end of an odious regime. We must brace ourselves for a tragedy preceding the end at least this dictatorship. To their credit, the savvy resisters have targeted the regime’s economic centers, military bases, and extensive networks of local spies. The struggle must, and will be, sustained. However, we should all be deeply worried that the calamity of the past two years may sooner than later turn into a catastrophe with the massive militarization of society.
WEHS, therefore, asks with a great sense of urgency:
- 1) The United Nations Security Council to take up the sordid case of the intensifying massacres and arrests of peaceful demonstrators in every part of Ethiopia. In this respect, we are encouraged by the unequivocal demand for access to prisons and camps issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
- 2) The misguided supporters of the regime to stand on the side of the 100 million Ethiopians to force the TPLF and members of its coalition to transfer power to a legitimate transitional government to avert the slide of Ethiopia into civil war and even state failure. Moreover, the regime should be told immediately to stop deploying Humvees and helicopter gunships (supplied by the U.S.) and sharpshooters (trained by the United Kingdom) against schoolchildren.
- 3) Ethiopians at home (especially the civil-society organizations and opposition parties) and in the Diaspora to generously provide financial, diplomatic, publicity and moral support to speed up the demise of an evil regime.
- 4) The satellite group calling itself Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) to purge itself of Anti-Amhara elements, enforce the rule of law by protecting peaceful demonstrators and end the military occupation and kidnapping of the children of Wollo, Gonder, Shewa, and Gojam.
- 5) The long-suffering residents of the Afar regional state to openly resist the occupation of the state by TPLF forces and join the national struggle for a genuinely democratic Ethiopia.
- 6) The Armed and Security Forces to transform themselves from the disturbing image of being praetorian guards of an anti-Ethiopian group into truly national defense forces who take a clear stand to defending the basic rights of citizens and the territorial integrity of Ethiopia.
- 7) Notable elders of all faiths to speak out publicly and courageously in defense of the internationally-recognized rights of all Ethiopians, and thereby pave the way for peace and national reconciliation.
On behalf of the families of the victims, we wish to thank all who have expressed their outrage publicly, are undertaking solidarity marches and strikes, and have initiated fundraising campaigns. Please work with us to ensure proper targeting and accountability of the financial support. Thank you!
We stand fully behind the courageous people of Northern Wollo in their darkest hour!
The struggle for a united, democratic Ethiopia shall triumph against all the odds!
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