In response to recent reports that the Ethiopian Government will begin negotiations with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), also referred to as OLA-Shene, an organization labelled a terrorist by the Ethiopian Parliament, the American Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC) has issued the following statement:
Negotiations that have a chance to bring about peace and stability in Ethiopia are always welcome; even with groups like OLA-Shene that have committed abhorrent acts and atrocities on innocent people in the country.
However, negotiations cannot meaningfully take place, while the population and many communities in Ethiopia still face the risk of attack by such forces. Primarily, there must be a guaranteed cessation of all hostile acts by OLA-Shene, which has constantly committed crimes against humanity and engaged in the massacre of innocent unarmed civilians.
Genocidal acts of ethnic cleansing in Western Oromia, most notably against ethnic Amhara minorities, are well documented and reported by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and several international organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
It is essential to make sure remedial and preventive measures are in place to protect civilians, before the group’s representatives are welcomed for talks. It is hard to expect they will change their inhuman and criminal behaviours overnight, without sustainable and verifiable measures for accountability.
Ethiopians who have suffered under the violent aggression of this terrorist group must see justice done. Proper investigations by independent and neutral international, as well as local human rights organizations must be conducted; and criminal prosecutions be brought against the violators, especially those who committed gross crimes and atrocities against civilians.
In addition, a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ needs to be established. Peace is long overdue and vital for the country, but there must also be a moment of reckoning for victims; those killed, displaced and who had their homes destroyed by the terrorist group.
Genuine peace and stability in Ethiopia can only be achieved by facing the truth and passing through a moment of truth and reconciliation with proper justice for victims.
Ethiopians are a diverse people with a rich history, language, and culture, where over eighty ethnic groups lived in harmony for ages. They had always managed their issues and social conflicts effectively by traditional means and lived in peaceful coexistence until their social fabric was broken apart by narrow ethnic politics in the last three decades.
It is important to heal the wounds so that this ancient nation recovers with peace and unity. The conflict resolution process must take this into consideration.”
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The American-Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee is dedicated to promoting a positive, synergetic relationship between the United States and Ethiopia. AEPAC’s core mission is to strengthen and enhance the century-old relationship between the United States and Ethiopia. AEPAC strives to build a strong partnership based on the common interests and mutual benefits of the two countries.
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