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HomeNewsEthiopia : U.S. government says kidnappings of civilians, students "must stop" 

Ethiopia : U.S. government says kidnappings of civilians, students “must stop” 

Ervin Massinga, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia (Photo : US Embassy Addis Ababa)

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Toronto – The United States government is responding to news of massive kidnappings in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Its Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ervin Massinga, said it “must stop.” He seems to link the prevalent kidnappings to “Prolonged conflict” in the country. 

In a statement shared on social media, the Ambassador said :

“Recent and Frequent kidnappings in  Oromia and Amhara regions show how prolonged conflict emboldens criminals and weakens the rule of law. Abductions of civilians and students for financial gains must stop. Last week, over 100 students and passengers were abducted for ransom.” 

Students who managed to escape the kidnapping last week told BBC Amharic that the kidnappers were “Shene” – a group that calls itself “Oromo Liberation Army.” 

In a “policy speech” the Ambassador made in March 2024 at the former American Gibi in Addis Ababa, the Ambassador painted the Oromo Liberation Army in a positive light for holding talks with the government.  In his remark today about the kidnappings in Oromia, he described the kidnappers ( OLA forces) as “criminals.” 

The Ambassador also omitted recent kidnappings in the Tigray region. Last week, women activists took to the street in Mekelle, the seat of Tigray regional state of Ethiopia, after news came that a sixteen years old girl who was kidnapped in Adwa was killed and buried by her captors. 

Last week, over 100 civilians and university students were kidnapped  near Gohatsion, in the Oromia regional state. They were traveling from the Amhara region to the capital Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian government or the Oromia regional state avoided remarking about the incident.

The intensity and frequency of kidnappings in the Oromia region of Ethiopia is far more serious than any parts of the country. 

Before Abiy Ahmed was named Prime Minister in 2018, kidnapping was never a serious problem in the country. Traveling the Oromia region by road transport has become a risky business for several years now. 

Politicians and activists, including ethnic Oromo nationalist politicians like Jawar Mohammed, tend to think that kidnapping for ransom has become a  state and non-state actors’ enterprise. Senior government officials in the Oromia region – who have a clandestine working relationship with Oromo Liberation Army – are said to be involved in the kidnappings for ransom. 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I share the concern of Brother H.E. Ervin Massinga. I would like to see him warn these bigots among our Diaspora who have been fanning hatred from their comfy homes in Minnesota, Toronto, LA, Oregon, Utah, Michigan, Oslo and Down Under. These may be funding those hooligans who have been doing the kidnapping. According to various sources it seems everyone has been doing the kidnapping including rowdy elements within the regime itself. Suddenly arresting citizens without warrants and not telling their whereabouts is also tantamount to kidnapping. In many areas in Oromia, Amhara including the capital itself citizens are said to be living in terror. That is not a living. Even worse yet, the leader of the regime has just issued a thinly veiled warning to the domestic human rights organizations, the last and only refuge for the beleaguered citizens. That is a big no no!

  2. My Dear Countrymen/Women,

    News of kidnappings of innocent civilians has been in the news more frequently these days. Such criminal act has been going on for many years even though we never heard of many of them until now. We have been made aware who have been snatching civilians away. It has been every group with a gun. In rural areas of both in Amhara and Oromia regions it has been the armed gangs who do the kidnappings. They have not yet arrived at major cities including the capital. It looks as if there is an agreement that goes like ‘I do the kidnapping in the rural areas and you do that in the urban areas including the capital’. There is a difference though. Those who have been aimlessly wandering around in the escarpments of the Amhara region and those who are roaming the jungles in Oromia, don’t mince their words when they kidnap you. They have the nerve to call your loved ones to present their instruments of your freedom. They put a prize on your head. If you don’t come up with the ransom money you are good as dead. So don’t you dare call these beasts ‘liberation’ this and ‘rebels’ that.

    Now let’s look at how the kidnappings have been carried out in cities and the capital itself. One day you might have said something on your mind that concerns the situation around you and the country at large. You might have been honest enough and blamed those in charge. Then one morning while you are heading to your place of work or you are just spending quality time with your family, some guys in unmarked vehicle will ask you to come along with them. When you ask the reason, you will be promised that it will be explained to you at their office. I used the term ‘office’ here to be composed about it. But no one will explain the reason but you will be told that you will remain there indefinitely. There is no need for warrants and you will be thrown in a stinking joint at their choice and your loved ones will be left in the dark about your whereabouts. To me if someone is incarcerated without a warrant from the court, it is nothing but a kidnapping.

    This is a nightmare for the innocent citizens. But I am still steadfast in my long-held conviction that this dire predicament will not be solved by armed violence because armed struggle never brought rule of law to the beleaguered but rather leading to a revolving door. One despot goes out and another one comes in. I will not waste my time to give you examples. This quagmire will only be solved peacefully and only peacefully.

    Peace y’all!!!

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