Archbishop Henok speaks out about massacre of Orthodox Christians

The latest string of violence in Ethiopia was painted as ethnic violence. Archbishop Abune Henok, whose diocese is in the West Arsi zone of Oromo regional state of Ethiopia, said Orthodox Christians were targeted, and that he does not agree with the assertion that the attack was an ethnic one.

Archbishop  Abune Henok
Archbishop Abune Henok. Photo : screenshot from MK Video

borkena
July 12, 2020

Abune Henok was appointed as the Archbishop of West Arsi Diocese of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church not even two years ago.

In an interview with Mahibere Kidusan this week, he said the reception of his appointment in the region was good and that he spent much of the time since his appointment by undertaking the foundational works of his dioceses in the zone which has eleven districts.

On the evening of June 29 around 9:30 P.M., singer Hachalu Hundessa (who was himself a member of the orthodox church with a baptism name Haile Gabriel) was assassinated in the capital Addis Ababa.

Before the news of his assassination was even heard in the West Arsi Zone, organized mob groups who covered their faces with cloths launched a savage attack on community members in the region. It appeared as if it was preplanned. 

The attack against Orthodox Christians in the region started as early as 4 a.m. local time.

Why Christians are attacked when the assassination of the singer has nothing to do with Ethiopian Orthodox Church followers? Believers of the church tend to think that the incident was a pretext.

“I think his death was taken as an opportune time to launch an organized and planned attack. The attack came before even we hear about news of his death,” said Archbishop Abune Henok

He confirmed 19 Christians massacred across 11 districts in Arsi are all Orthodox Christians, and they were killed savagely. Elder and youth were targeted in the killing. Somewhere hacked to death. Others were stoned and clubbed to death. The total number of deaths in the country was reported to be 239. And nearly 300 have been wounded.

In Arsi Negele, one person (who is a member of the Orthodox Church) was hanged upside down after he was killed.

As many as 3362 Orthodox Christians are displaced and taking refuge in Churches.

In terms of destruction of property, 72 cars and 934 businesses have been destroyed including clinics and four schools from Kindergarten to junior school levels (in Shashemene town and Arsi Negele).

According to Archbishop Henok, the owner of the schools are members of the Orthodox Church and many of those whose properties were destroyed were known for their social services in the church.

In addition to businesses, 493 residences have been burned – and all of them are followers of the Orthodox Church.

The Holy Savior Church in Kokosa, a district in Western Arsi Zone, is burnt down to the ground with all the Holy Icons and other sacred items in the church.

Most media outlets in the west did not depict the true nature of the attack. Some media outlets (local ones) reported the attack as ethnic violence as sources from Ethiopia painted it that way.

Archbishop Henok does not agree with that description. He said ethnic identity was used as a cover only. The targets were Christians, and that the attack was a coordinated one, he said.

In the region where the massacre took place, there appears to be intolerance towards the followers of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Minnesota based activist and owner of Oromia Media Network, Jawar Mohamed, once openly told an Islamic Oromo crowd packed in a town hall for an Islamic event that “Where I cam from 99 percent is Muslim. we do not tolerate a Christian who raises his head. We cut his neck with ‘matcha’. ”  The video of his speech is featured below.

Over the past two years, there has been a repeated and orchestrated attack against Ethiopian Orthodox Christians in different parts of the country. The problem was severe in the south and southeastern parts of Ethiopia. At least dozens of churches have been burned over in a little over two years. 

In northwestern Ethiopia, mosques were burned too in what was said to be the works of political forces who are believed to have an intention to escalate tension between Christians and Muslims in the country.



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15 Responses to "Archbishop Henok speaks out about massacre of Orthodox Christians"

  1. Abeshaw   July 13, 2020 at 10:13 am

    As long as there are politicians representing ethnic groups, there will never be peace in the country. Imagine if the US congress was filled today with senators for Hispanic people, senators for black people, senators for white people, etc… It just does not work!

    Reply
  2. Setme   July 13, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Hachalu was a very dedicated church going Orthodox Christian , he went to church regularly all throughout his life . He stayed as an Orthodox Christian without converting to another religion during his lifetime . He served in the Orthodox church as s Qolo Temari since he was a little child then continued being a preacher is prison for five years. After he came out of prison he continued being a church going Orthodox Christian even the day before he passed away he spent the whole day in a church fund raising event .

    Reply
  3. Tedros   July 13, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    According to your biased ethnical propoganda “in oromia region it is a planned attack” but in north west it is a political forces”. What a trush talk.

    Borkena.com is not a news outlet, it is just another ethnically based mouth pieace just like omn, tigraionline and the rest.

    Killing innocent civilian is wrong period. It does not matter the religion.

    The only way out of this mess is for every ethnic group to go there separate way peacefully and those who want to have a merger can do that with understanding.

    Unfortunately Amhara and orthodox church just wants to control others. It aint going to happen, get that through your thick head.

    Reply
    • Abeshaw   July 14, 2020 at 10:24 am

      Ethiopia was there before history was written and will be there forever. Unfortunately it became economically poor lately, so every ethnicity thinks they can leave and prosper. If it was a wealthy one, even ethnic groups from Kenya and Sudan would claim to be part of Ethiopia.

      Your solution to go their separate way is wrong. They can live under a non-ethnic federal govt without being forced to change their culture. In the end, where there is money and power, that is the center of gravity.

      Reply
  4. Al   July 13, 2020 at 11:15 pm

    It’s despicable, it’s embarrassing, it can only happen in Africa ,a pure savagery at best in this 21st century, Jawar Mohammed is a straight up walking two legged human like animal, and a terrorist with a lots of innocent blood In his hands, who should remain in jail all his life and or even must be executed for treason and terrorism, and therefore he would not terrorize the Population ever again. Such a terrorist would not get a chance to be set free any where in the world, not even in a so called western democracies.

    Reply
  5. Brook   July 14, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    Come on, This is not correct and very misleading one sided report. I just came from Shashemene and Awasa area two months ago. People like Archbishop Henko are trying really hard to start religious war and divide the oromo people. I am not even oromo but they are using religion to dived the country. This is false misinformation and needs to stop.

    Reply
  6. Tedros   July 14, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Abeshaw

    I do agree with you whole heartedly, thats what we want (one federal goverment with basic civil liberties) but practically it is no working. We have tried this before and the result is marginalization of other ethnic groups by whoever is in power.
    I really dont think having Othordox church as a supreme religion in the country is the way to go forward.
    The so called solomonic DYNASTY ruined the good name of the orthodox church and unfortunately the church leaders let them with domination of other religious groups.

    Currently Ethiopia is ruled like a military state, you have to ask yourself for how long. It might be 1, 2, or 3 years but at some point the goverment will fall and that is for sure.

    As a personal opinion i think it is better if we disintegrate peacefully and some how buy allmighty GOD direction find a common ground to coexist together peacefully.

    When is the last time you went to Arsi, Harar, Bale, Jijiga, wellega. It is sad ! ! ! In the year 2020 their towns looks like a set of 1920.western movies. It is pathetic. Oromo people need to in control of their own destiny.

    Abeshaw ! You said that the country is poor, true that but oromo people have nothing to loose. They are already in a miserable condition it cannot get worse than what it is currently.

    I want one country if peace and self dignity is guaranteed but i dbout it will ever happen.

    You mentioned kenya

    In kenya ethnic groups do exist ( The kikuyus and the Luos) are the majority , they have their difference and disagreement from time to time, they shed bloodshed sometimes but most of the.time their leaders find common ground to stabilize the cpuntry.

    The animosity between the oromos and the amharas runs deep into their vains, the orthodox church hasn’t helped for the past century and it wants to consolidate power again. The muslims of ethiopia are totally neglected in the process. 35 to 45% of the popultaion. Good luck in controlling them.

    Peace to all

    Reply
    • Abeshaw   July 15, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Your analysis has good intentions but many incorrect premises.

      First and foremost, there has never been “animosity that runs deep into the veins” of Oromo and Amhara before TPLF and OLF came to the front stages. These parties had animosity towards Amhara so they fabricated stories of Oromo being subjugated by Amhara. Didn’t Shewa Oromo rule Ethiopia along with Menelik? Didn’t Wello Yejju Oromo rule Ethiopia during Zemene Mesafint? That history has been erased on purpose!

      Indeed, past monarchies marginalized minority groups. But it was not simply because they spoke a different language. Any monarchy or dictatorship is going to oppress some groups anyway. In Ethiopia, it was mainly because of religion. But ethnicity was the least of these reasons. Ethnicity started to become a political game after 1991. Period.

      Reply
  7. Tedros   July 15, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    Abeshaw

    I respect your opinion and i wish their was more like you. You didnt insult nor did you force your fact on me.
    I stand corrected, the animosity i was talking about was not about th regular people in Gondar, Gojam or Harar, Bale, or Ambo but the elite who want to divide us for their own political goal. For most of us we want to work, raise our kids in peace and struggle through life.

    The country would be in a better condition if people would loyal to it rather than their ethnicity.

    I take your point about history but the same people have marginalized the same people they reprsent.

    We people of this nation know how to talk about our problems more than how to solve it .

    Solution:
    1. Complete separation of state and church, no religious institutions should at any point have anything to do with state, symbol of any religion should be removed from public and goverment institution, monuments of any religious figures should be kept in church, mosque or synagogue. Once you strengthen religious freedom and laws the rest will follow. In times of turbulence all religious institutions should be protected.

    2. Complete separation of state and power.

    3. Inciting violence should be banned, but independent authorities should oversee this because of goverment abuse.

    4. Ethnic political parties should not be registered, they should provide proof they have percentage of members from other community, naming parties in parties with name of their ethnicity should not be allowed federally.

    5. Complete and true federalism if the country wants to rule through federal system.

    Reply
    • Abeshaw   July 17, 2020 at 10:43 am

      I agree with the solutions. Their status in Ethiopia right now…

      – Separate state and power: work in progress
      – Separate state and church: almost done
      – Separate ethnicity and politics: not even started

      Reply
  8. Tedros   July 15, 2020 at 7:20 pm

    Abeshaw

    I respect your opinion and i wish their was more like you. You didnt insult nor did you force your fact on me.
    I stand corrected, the animosity i was talking about was not about th regular people in Gondar, Gojam or Harar, Bale, or Ambo but the elite who want to divide us for their own political goal. For most of us we want to work, raise our kids in peace and struggle through life.

    The country would be in a better condition if people would loyal to it rather than their ethnicity.

    I take your point about history but the same people have marginalized the same people they reprsent.

    We people of this nation know how to talk about our problems more than how to solve it .

    Solution:
    1. Complete separation of state and church, no religious institutions should at any point have anything to do with state, symbol of any religion should be removed from public and goverment institution, monuments of any religious figures should be kept in church, mosque or synagogue. Once you strengthen religious freedom and laws the rest will follow. In times of turbulence all religious institutions should be protected.

    2. Complete separation of state and power.

    3. Inciting violence should be banned, but independent authorities should oversee this because of goverment abuse.

    4. Ethnic political parties should not be registered, they should provide proof they have percentage of members from other community, naming parties in parties with name of their ethnicity should not be allowed federally.

    5. Complete and true federalism if the country wants to rule through federal system.

    Peace to all

    Reply
  9. Amhayes Kebede Gualu   July 16, 2020 at 1:41 am

    We need information to resolve the issue behind Hachalu’s killings and why he was targeted need to be made public knowledge.
    In February of 2020 an Oromo musician whose identity was not disclosed got shot and wounded while City of Burayu’s police chief ,Solomon Tadesse and other officials were gunned down during a lunch meeting at a public restaurant in Burayu. Many suspect this musician was Hachalu and he was recently killed by those same killers who killed Burayu City’s police commisioner, it was said these killers are angered at Hachalu for willing to testify against them as the killers of Burayu city’s police Commissioner , Solomon Tadesse.

    borkena.com/2020/02/21/ethiopia-burayu-police-commissioner-shot-dead-in-the-town/

    Borkena 2020/02/21 ethiopia-bu..
    Web results
    Ethiopia: Burayu Police Commissioner shot dead in the town – Borkena

    Reply
  10. Ittu Aba Farda   July 16, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Just imagine what could have happened if those who snatched away the body of that young artist’s body were successful in holding a funeral service and burial in the capital. They were asking millions to swarm into the capital for the service. Just imagine the bloodletting and wanton pillage!!! Just photocopy Mogadishu in 1991 on steroid. But also you extrapolate other possibilities from then onward. There would have been a complete breakdown of law and order that would render the government out of action. Then and then these punk rockers and Martin Luther Jr. wannabe’s would proclaim a formation of a government or call it a republic amid floods of human blood and wasteland. That is what ivy schools teach you these days, I guess. That is why I have been telling you all over the years that these are not ‘freedom fighters’ or ‘human right advocates’ but dreamers of creating personal fiefdoms. I did not see them as such without compelling evidence. I’ve had close and personal encounters with others who were just like them. You cannot start to imagine the depth of hatred they harbor against others. Their solution is the final one ala The Third Reich. Do not be deceived by their meek demeanor. You have to look and be like one of them and then just tickle them. That is how you can find out their true colors. All I can say is those innocent citizens are extremely fortunate that these bigots did not get their wishes. That gem of the colored has been spared from the wrath of demons one more time. We mourn now the death of about 230 very dear countrymen/women. But we could have been mourning the death of tens, hundreds of thousands and may be millions by now. That is not a walk in the park. And it is not funny, ok!!!!!

    Reply
  11. Yenenesh Kassa   July 16, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    What got Hachalu killed is nothing but his own attitude towards all Oromos. All fanatic one ethnic supporters while excluding others should learn from Hachalu’s mistakes, his mistake was trying to appease all competitor Oromo politicians and also by appeasing all “ethnic Oromo competitor violent systemic capitalists”. REMEMBER GURAGES ARE TARGETED CONSIDERED ENEMIES OF OROMOS VICTIMIZED ZED IN THE RECENT ATTACKS , ALL BECAUSE GURAGES ARE KNOWN TO BE SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS PEOPLE IN ALL PARTS OF ETHIOPIA. In Ethiopia there are more business owners who evaluate their success by counting how many similar businesses went out of business each day than by their own internal successes . Many make it their mission to monopolize the trade they are in, they don’t think they are successful unless they achieve absolute monopoly of the market. Same as one ruling party (EPRDF) monopolized the government and all the amenities for long.

    Hachalu was literally caught up in the middle of the Oromos shootout when Burayu Police Commissioner, Solomon Tadesse was shot and killed by OLF Shane in 02/2020 as the court records indicated.

    OLF Shane wanted to kill Commissioner Solomon Tadesse because OLF Shane wanted the investigation on the previously orchestrated Burayu Massacre የቡራዩ ጭፍጨፋ to die down. During the Burayu Massacre የቡራዩ ጭፍጨፋ many Oromo muslims were killed which is the main reason OLF did not want to be outed as the perpetrator of the Burayu massacre የቡራዩ ጭፍጨፋ::

    Until his death Hachalu tried to side with anyone who is an Oromo, many different Oromo groups ( OPDO , OLF , OFC , OMN , Shane , Aba Torba …) all used Hachalu as a spy . Hachalu unknowingly was going back and forth among these different Oromo groups who were violently competing each other, he was leaking ones secret to the other, before he realized what he was doing he was in too deep in the espionage game which the Oromo groups were playing.

    When OLF picked up arms military style , when Jawar’s Querro picked up macchettes Jihadist style , when OPDO start being busy about national issues by letting only Takele Uma accommodate Oromo’s issues with federal govt. concentrating on international issues , when the original Querro who fought TPLF went back to its hungry lifestyle Hachalu was not able to appease all anymore, this Hachalu was lost not wanting to take sides or not wanting to believe there were serious fractures amongst Oromos , the more he tried to bring understanding and the more he tried to play a diplomat amongst all Oromos the more secrets he leaked about one another which got him killed.

    Reply
    • Dagim Asrat   July 17, 2020 at 10:37 am

      Moral of the story: Oromo elites can barely handle power within themselves let alone run an entire nation.

      Reply

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