How long is Oromo region of Ethiopia allowed to be a hell for non-Oromo?

In the latest string of planned massacre against non-Oromo in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, more than 200 Ethiopians had been savagely massacred. In stead of working on a plan to avert another round which is manifesting itself in the form of extensive mobilization by radialized groups, leaders in the region are covering up the nature of the attack. They are even after journalists who are describing the latest attack as ethnic-cleansing, rightly so. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government is still silent on the issue.

Oromo region President _ Shimeles
Shimeles Abdissa, Oromo region President. (Photo file/ ENA)

August 7, 2020
Updated on August 8, 2020

As more details about the savage nature of the ethnic cleansing in the Oromo region of Ethiopia emerges, authorities in the region assert that the killing does not constitute ethnic cleansing. They also denied that the followers of Ethiopian orthodox Church were not targeted and massacred. Communications affairs head of the region, Getachew Balcha, spoke this week with a tone that the killing did not have neither features of ethnic cleaning nor attacks against religious groups.

A group of journalists, actors and religious leaders in the country traveled to the region last week to document damages and investigate as to how the massacre started and how it manifested itself. Interviews with the families of the victims whose parents were killed as aliens, in the place where they were born and grew up, tell a story of politically motivated massacre by heartless savages who consider themselves as defenders of the “Oromo cause”. 

All the videos released are shocking if that is not an understatement.  Yet, what happened to Meron Tesfaye is beyond words. She was married for over twenty years and she was nine months pregnant with her third child. “Around 9:00 a.m. in the morning they came and knocked saying it is the house of Amhara and christian,” her husband told visitingjournalists and religious leaders . They took 480,000 Ethiopian birr from the residence and Jewelry but that was not enough. “Then they [radial Oromo attackers] said that the baby she is pregnant with is an Amhara and should not be born, and they beheaded her in front of her children,” he said. That happened in Shashemene. The incidents in other parts of the region are essentially similar. In Chiro, a man was stoned to death in front of his children, but his family was not allowed to collect the dead body. It was left in the open air for days until members of the defense force entered the town to “restore order.”

“Before the visit, I had the impression that maybe narratives of the massacre were exaggerated. After my trip, I found out that what was revealed was only about 10 or 20 percent of what happened,” said Berhanu Tekleyared who was among the group of journalists who traveled to the region. It is not the killing per se but the manner in which most of the killings were executed is beyond imagination.

What is also revealed is that within the framework of radical ethnic Oromo nationalism struggle against “neftegna,” (which is now clearly known to be a code word for Amhara), a sociological basis for an extreme form of barbarism and savagery is created. 

Partly, it is meant to instill fear and make the region a hell for non-Oromos (mainly Amharas) to that they would leave the region. Partly, it seems more like vengeance to politically motivated narratives of history which were meant to produce a generation that is divorced from rationality – among other things. A young man who considers himself Oromo nationalist is now uprooted from his sociological base without leaving his village and linked to “Oromo leaders” or Oromo activists on social media (usually based in the Diaspora) with whom he has little or nothing in common except the Oromo language.  When “his leaders” from oversea (or even from Addis Ababa) call for a massacre against “neftegna” (in their mind all the problems in the world is linked to neftegna), he does not hesitate to join a group of agitated radical groups to go on a killing rampage against “neftegna.” 

In the mind of radicalized ethnic Oromo nationalists vandalizing and destroying businesses and government facilities including schools and health centers is essential for Oromo people – another evidence that seem to suggest that youth in the region are uprooted from their sociological bases and blinded to see their own economic realities. A radical young qeerroo is uprooted from his community through radicalizing “Oromo activists” and Oromo leaders’ messages.

Apart from Oromo youth whose common sense is robbed by hate propaganda of radical Oromo activists, a considerable part of the leadership in what is known as Oromia is governing at the mercy of “activists.” In fact, a good number of the leaders tend to believe in the hate creed which they which they project as “Oromo struggle.” Shimeles Abdissa, currently administrative head of the Oromo region, is a good example. He was speaking the same political language of hate when he addressed a big ethnic Oromo crowd that gathered to celebrate ethnic Oromo traditional religious practice – Irreecha – in September 2019. In consequence, they are nurturing a savage mentality and the worst form of barbarity – as manifested recently.

The latest string of massacre against non-Oromos in the region started hours after the killing of Hachalu Hundessa on June 29, 2020. Findings from the trip to the region confirmed, however, that the killing was planned well before the killing of the singer. 

It was also an orchestrated one. The attackers had a list of people, residential houses and businesses to be attacked. As they started the attacks in towns like Shashemene, Batu, and Ziway (among others), a pickup vehicle was supplying fuel to be used for burning the houses and businesses of non-Oromos (mostly Amharas.) The mobility of attackers from towns to towns, which required logistical coordination including transport, is also something that attests to the fact that the attack was pre-planned. More than 40 district towns in the region were attacked at the same time. Authorities in several cities of the region who could have stopped the attack rather played a supportive role for the attackers through a combination of inaction and facilitation.

The number of people massacred and displaced people and the extent of the destruction of property in the recent attack in the Oromo region of Ethiopia is much higher than what the explosion caused in Lebanon this week.  Turning a deaf ear to the horrific massacre in Ethiopia is additional evidence that the rhetoric about human rights in the world is partisan, politically motivated, and hypocrite too.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government is yet to speak clearly as to what it is intending to do in the line of helping Ethiopians who lost loved ones and livelihood ( sometimes both at the same time) to the rising ethno-fascism in the Oromo region. Justice has to be served. His government has to make it clear also how it is going to protect the security and safety of non-Oromo Ethiopians in the region. They are Ethiopians. They are living in their own country. Defending the rights and safety of non-oromo Ethiopians should never be seen as an act of benevolence for Ethiopians citizens have a constitutional right to live in dignity in any part of the country. And the government, regional or federal, has a duty to defend that.

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