Hate message : Ethiopians formed network to launch campaign to deter it

Hate speech and hate video messages have done their share of damage in Ethiopia where an institutionalized ethnic based political system led to radicalized ethnic nationalism

borkena
July 21, 2020

Ethiopians living outside of the country, mainly in the western world, have formed a network to launch a campaign to hold individuals conveying hate messages accountable. 

The action is born out of a conviction that hate speeches and messages on social media and other media outlets (like Oromia Media Network to be specific) have contributed to the latest massacre in the Oromo region of Ethiopia. Looked closely, the attacks seem to have an ethnic cleansing agenda. Yet, at some point, it meanders to what appears to be religious-based attacks in some parts of the Oromo region.

Neamin Zeleke, who is one of the coordinators of the campaign, told BBC Amharic that the network has various committees working in the areas of law, diplomacy, IT, and Social media.  It draws membership from politicians, intellectuals, activists, and civic organizations from the United States, Canada, and Europe. 

The network aims to work towards contributing to the stability of Ethiopia by holding individuals and organizations that disseminate hate messages responsible through a number of ways.  

Background

Savage massacre of at least 240 innocent civilians in the days following the assassination of Hachalu Hundessa in the Oromo region has shocked Ethiopians in the country and abroad.

It is impossible to say that it came as a surprise for an aggressive and radicalized ethnic nationalism that has been raging in the region for quite some time now.  There have been numerous ethnic-based attacks in several universities in different parts of Ethiopia to a point where the government was compelled to close universities temporarily well before the coronavirus pandemic.

In October 2019, another incident targeting non-ethnic Ethiopians unfolded in the Oromo region of Ethiopia just because a radical activist, Jawar Mohammed, claimed that his life was in danger because the government withdrew security details. More than 86 people who have nothing to do with the alleged decision of withdrawing his security detail were massacred in the Oromo region while the activist was living in an affluent neighborhood in the capital Addis Ababa. 

The latest round of massacre which claimed over 240 lives and caused the destruction of properties worth billions of birr bears the same trait. The victims are non-ethnic Oromo. If they are not Oromos, they are followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox church based on the investigation from the region’s security authorities.

Why these victims had to be attacked when they have nothing to do with the assassination of Hachalu Hundesa in the capital Addis Ababa seems puzzling on the surface. However, looking at the pattern of hate preaching that has been going on for years which framed  a certain group of people living in the Oromo region (the buzzword is neftegna), it is clear that there the attacks are inspired by a radical ethnic nationalist ideology which many tend to fame as “Oromo revolution.”

More dangerous than those who carry a sharpened machete are those radical nationalists who live in the Diaspora. When the news of Hachalu Hundessa killing was heard, it did not take them hours to frame the tragic incident as the “works of neftegna” although police investigation revealed evidence later that points that the singer was killed in the course of a power struggle between radical Oromo nationalists and the moderate one who profess that they struggle for equal rights of the Oromos within a united Ethiopia. Findings from the preliminary police investigation revealed that Oromo Liberation Front-Shane (the radical Oromo group that is the rallying point for “Oromo revolution” and Oromo protest)  have orchestrated the killing of Hachulu Hundessa, an Oromo himself, who was said to have a conviction for respect for the rights of others living in the Oromo region and for United Ethiopia.

Dozens of hate messages (both in video and text formats) were shared on social media by radical ethnic Oromo activists hours after the news of Hachalu’s killing was confirmed. They openly called for burning “neftegas” alive. As it turns out, the radicalized, heartless and gullible youth in the Oromo region carried out what they were advised to do. It is confirmed from state media that five family members are among those savagely massacred.



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