By now most of Ethiopians, both within and outside the country, must be aware of the joined operation that Oromo Liberation Movement/Army (OLF/A)-Shene and the so called Gambella Liberation Front (GLF) carried out against Gambella Regional State Government forces in Gambella town at dawn on Tuesday June 14, 2022. The operation was unsuccessful although it lasted for a couple of hours due to advance planning the rebel had made. According to the leaders of the rebels, the attack was intended to take control of Gambella town as well as the regional government. It is obvious that majority of people, especially those that are not from Gambella Region, came to learn of existence of GLF rebels after the war they waged in conjunction with their ally, OLF/A-Shene. However, these two groups have been operating around Gambella town periphery for several months committing crimes such as kidnapping and killing innocent people. Unfortunately, the Gambella Reginal State Government failed to take necessary action against these terrorists even after they tried on two occasions to provoke the government forces by attacking Federal Police station in Gambella town.
The operation was made possible because most of members of GLF are familiar with Gambella town as well as some members of OLF Shene, as they have been living and still living among people disguised as civilians. OLF/A-Shene has been in operation undercover in Gambella for a long time. Back in 2020, according to fanabc.com, Gambella security forces arrested 24 individuals who were members of TPLF and OLF as they were planning to cause chaos among people in Gambella. The news report dated November 5, 2020, has it that “The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has announced the arrest of 24 individuals for plotting to incite communal violence in Gambella regional state.” To date, there are members of OLF/A-Shene rebels living undercover in Gambella.
In his recent public address, Amharic version (he made two public addresses, the second one in Nuer), that he made a day after their an unsuccessful oppression, Gatluak Buom Pal, the Chairman of Gambella Liberation Front advised that “መማር: መቻል: አለባቹ: በስሜ: ጎሣ: በስሜ: ብሄር: የሚደርገዉ: ቅስቀሳዎች: ማስቁም: መቻል: አለባቹ: ካልሆነ: ጉዳቱ:እኮ: የእናንተ: ነዉ: ሚሆነዉ::” As true as his statement may sound, it is ironic considering it comes from a rebel leader whose one and only mission is to use his tribesmen to disturb peace to fulfil his ego. On the contrary, in the same public address, he goes ahead and appeal to members of his tribe to join his mission as it’s meant to bring freedom for them, the Nuers.
GLF and OLF/A-Shene, unfortunately, have turned to using baseless propaganda of twisting facts and disseminate false information across social media to manipulate the public, especially Oromo civilians across Ethiopia, by accusing the government forces of extra judicial killing of civilians of Oromo descends to cite violence between members of Oromo ethnic and the people of Gambella. We live in an era where we are bombarded with all sorts of information as soon as we log in our social media accounts, especially Facebook, which is believed to be what fueled the recent war between Tigray (TPLF) and Ethiopia National Defense Force (ENDF), according to npr.org, “Social media misinformation stokes a worsening civil war in Ethiopia”. It is important to verify information of its accuracy before it’s fed to other people. Like ENDF, Gambella Government forces are made up of people from different ethnic backgrounds from different parts of Ethiopia, and these are the same people who fought and many of them got killed defending Gambella town from falling into the hands of OLF/A-Shene and GLF rebels. It is unfortunate that some people who do not have access to facts are starting to believe false information that is circulating around on social media that civilians are being targeted by the government forces in Gambella. This accusation could not be further from the truth. It is only meant to cause confusion and chaos among people. GLF and OLF/A-Shene are anti-peace and development who would do anything to cause instability and stop any positive change that Ethiopia tries to make.