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Killings by Government Forces Reported in Oromia, Government Blames Insurgents

The late Amsalu Gudeta. Photo : SM

By Bernabas Shiferaw
May 29, 2020

In the last few days, killings by government forces in West Wollega, Oromia have been reported. The killings reported in Oromia region are related with the ongoing conflict between government forces and the armed force commonly known as “Shene Oneg.” Government has denied responsibility for such killings. 

Days ago, a killing of a youth named Lelisa Teferi was reported. He was arrested by security forces on the 8th of May. No reason was given for his arrest. He also had not been taken to court. Lelisa’s mother told BBC Amharic that although she went to the nearby prison carrying food, she could not find him. She was mistreated by the guards and told that he had been moved elsewhere. She was on her way to the place where they told her he had been moved when she found him, shot and dead, in the streets, his body covered by plastic sheets. 

Days later, a woman named Amsalu Gudeta was killed while working on her farm. Her Husband, Mr. Mirete Imana, says that she had been shot by security forces. She had four children. Her husband told BBC Amharic that he had also been arrested by security forces a week before her death. He said that they beat him badly in an attempt to get from him information about the whereabouts of “Shene.”

“After that,” he said, “I was not able to work and thus the burden of feeding the family fell on my wife’s shoulders. And now, they took her away, my helper and the mother of my children.”  He said that although there had been conflicts between the government and the insurgents in the area, there was no conflict at the time his wife was killed. Afterwards, nobody from the government came to investigate the death of his wife. He expressed his belief that his wife’s killing was intentional.

Mr. Gibril Mohammed, the head of the regional Security and Administration Bureau, however, said that these accusations are groundless and perpetrated by the insurgents themselves. According to him, government security forces have never killed civilians. Shene is the only one who is responsible for the death of civilians. 

In the first place, Mr. Gibril said, the insurgents rejected the government’s peace offer. Secondly, they often attack government forces from among civilians, and when people die in these situations, they falsely accuse the government of the killings. They also accuse the government of killing civilians when their members are killed. 

On a related note, Amnesty International has released a report yesterday that highlights killings by government forces and affiliates in Amhara and Oromia regions in the last one year. As with the recent reports of killings, the conflict with Shene is at the heart of the killings and atrocities Amnesty described as having been committed in Oromia. In addition to killings, Amnesty says it has received reports of arbitrary arrests, torture, and rape by government forces. 

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