Ethiopia: radical Oromo nationalist Jawar claims in court he is Amhara

“I am not a murder,” Jawar Mohammed told the court in Addis Ababa during his last appearance 

Jawar Mohammed. ( Photo : The Ethiopian Reporter)

August 3, 2020 

In jail after the assassination of Oromo musician Hacalu Hundessa, Jawar Mohammed has now begun highlighting his Amhara heritage in a clear effort to extricate himself from impending legal consequence for the role his media, Oromia Media Network (OMN), played for what a report by Minority Rights Group called ethnic cleansing in the Oromo region of Ethiopia. The attack in the region targeted non-Oromos and the followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

In the first week of July 2020, over 200 ethnic and religious minorities died. In addition to civilians, some Oromo militants — armed Qeerroo — were also killed by police and by federal security, who were deployed due to the lack of response by the local security.

Jawar told the court that the charge is “untrue” and that his mother is ethnic Amhara and Orthodox, and his wife is a protestant. The issue is not about crime, he said.  “It is a political issue”, he told the court as reported by the Ethiopian Reporter on Sunday, August 2, 2020. 

Jawar’s latest revelations of his Amhara identity have triggered social media parody, particularly since Jawar’s supporters used to mock Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s mixed-Amhara heritage, often using the derogatory term “Dikala” referring to ethnically mixed residents of Addis Ababa and other towns.

Furthermore, he told the court that he reached places that are not accessible to the government in the interest of creating peace and helped disarm over one thousand armed men. “I am not a murderer,” he said. 

In addition to Jawar’s alleged role in inciting riots by politicizing Hacalu’s funeral; his Oromia Media Network (OMN) has been accused of broadcasting hate speech against Amharas, Orthodox Oromos and non-Oromos living inside Oromia. 

Jawar’s defense lawyers are reportedly scrambling to fend off multiple charges, including an old one from another ethnic cleansing in October 2019. At least 86 people were killed in Oromo region of Ethiopia when Jawar Mohammed wrote a facebook post claiming that his life was in danger as the government had removed the security details. 

Nine defense lawyers are hired. Based on a report by Ethiopian Reporter, the lawyers opposed the extension of time for investigation. However, investigators, whom Jawar Mohammed described as professionals, said the crime was complicated which requires a complex investigation process. 

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