It has been 40 long days since the July 2020 Genocide against Orthodox Christians in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.
Ethiopian Christian Tradition holds the fortieth day Memorial Service for a Christian in high esteem. It is occasion for one of the greatest memorial prayers after the passing of the Orthodox faithful. The fortieth day is seen as a culmination of the mourning and an occasion for all who missed the burial or third day prayer to pay their final respects to the deceased. In Ethiopian tradition, people are as much concerned for the manner of their death and burial as they are concerned for their life. There are even sayings such as ከሞቴ አሟሟቴ and አሟሟቴን አሳምርልኝ where the faithful express fear, not of death itself, but the manner of dying (and burial).
While those who were killed may not be thought of as suffering (by unbelievers) their manner of burial, we can all agree that the survivors will experience terror and trauma, having witnessed what happened to their dead kin and expecting the same sad fate for themselves.
So, most of the victims were deprived of a proper Christian burial. Many had to collect severed body parts and bury their loved ones with still missing body parts. Many were buried together in a hastily dug trench. Still several others had to carry the body of their kinsfolk hundreds of miles outside their birthplace as they were refused burial on their native ground. Others who had arrangements and expressed wills to get buried in holy Orthodox shrines in other parts of the country were refused the privilege as the condition of the mutilated body was believed to expose the atrocious gang. The case of murdered unborn babies snatched from their mothers’ machete-sliced womb is also another source for an agonizing mourning.
While it is understandable that a government whose policy naturally leads to such atrocities will not mourn the victims, what terrorized the Ethiopian church from ordering a national prayer service or even a week of mourning is hard to fathom. It only strengthens the suspicion of many that the state, itself captured by extremists, has captured the church hierarchy and silenced it. It has been reported that government soldiers and local police refused to stop the slaughter of the Christians or the looting and burning of their properties. In some instances, they even supplied the attackers with weapons, according to eyewitness accounts. That the government failed to honor the lives of the victims by observing a period of national mourning was seen as yet another sign that the genocide was sanctioned by the highest authorities of the ruling party.
Massacring Christians is one inhumane act, depriving their loved ones of the right to mourn their lost ones is another even more inhumane atrocity.
May their soul rest in peace. May God soothe the bereaved.
Prayers and condolences to all who mourned the victims of the July Genocide