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Terrorism in Awassa and the Silence of the Federal Government

April 22, 2019

By Damo Gotamo

It has been a year since Sidama extremists have been terrorizing the people of Awassa.
Ethnic entrepreneurs who used to harass and intimidate non-Sidamas using only their positions in various government institutions before prime minster Abiye came to power are now openly terrorizing and physically attacking people of the city. They have been committing heinous crimes and getting away with impunity.

During last year’s Fiche Chembella holiday, Sidama extremists burned people alive and displaced thousands of city residents. They destroyed houses and looted properties belonging to ethnic Wolitas. The terrorists who perpetrated the crimes are still at large and are engaged in committing more crimes.

A few months later, the terrorists blazed to the ground shops owned by non-Sidamas. People who worked hard to own small businesses were left penniless overnight. Many are out on the streets begging to survive. So far no one has been apprehended to face justice.

Several times during the past few months the Sidama terrorists forced government institutions, schools, banks and others businesses to close. As a result, for many days government institutions couldn’t give services to their customers. Banks lost in millions. Children couldn’t attend schools on a regular basis affecting their progress. Nothing has been done to bring those responsible for the illegal acts.

Many times in the last few months, the emboldened Sidama extremists have tried to extort business men in the city. They handed letters to hotel owners demanding that they contribute money to their cause. At the time when many businesses in the city are struggling to survive, Sidama extremists are forcing them to pay money for their lost cause.

Few weeks ago Sidama ethnic entrepreneurs had forcefully entered into the meeting that was taking place between the members of the Souther Nations and Nationalities and People’s Region. They removed the country’s flag and placed their rag, and beat many members of the party. A government official sustained serious injury to his body. The perpetrators of the cowardice act have never been brought to justice.

A couple of days ago, the terrorists unleashed another terrorists act against football fans who entered into a football stadium to watch a match between Wolita Dicha and Awassa Kenama.
The criminals were well prepared days before to attack people in the stadium with help of the city’s police and well known leaders of the group. Before the start of the match, the terrorists beat and injured many peaceful spectators including off duty members of the military who entered the stadium to watch the game. Then, they continued their crime spree outside the stadium.

Right after the beatings that took place inside the stadium, the terrorists went out into the streets and engaged in mass looting and destruction of properties. The terrorist act has continued till now, and fighting is taking place between the terrorists and patriotic Sidamas who oppose the actions of Sidama extremists.

The police force of the city has been an active participant in all the crimes and does nothing to stop the perpetrators. When people ask members of the police force to stop the looting, they would respond saying ‘Let them loot. What do you want them to do if they don’t have anything to eat’.

People in Awassa are dealing with an organized terrorist group which hails from a small Sidama town. Benesa is the source of Sidama extremists who are new to city life and suffer from a cultural shock. They never get along with the people in the city including their Sidama brethren who live in the border areas of Awassa. Citizens in the city are dealing with people who don’t care about human life.

Leaders of the terrorist acts in the city are known to the government and people. Extremists who hold key positions in the government are responsible for the crimes in the city. The organizer and spokesperson of the terrorists in Awassa is an individual by the name of Tariku Kima. He operates openly and tries to deflect the crimes of his group on others.

It should be clear also that nothing happens without the knowledge and blessing of the region’s president and the mayor of the city. Every terrorist act in the city is coordinated among various top government officials. Instead of rebuking the criminals, Million Mathewos is making a futile attempt to restore the badly tarnished image of the terrorist Ejjeetto. Last week, in a meeting he called to ask for money from business men in the city for what Miilon calls the Sidama cause, he tried to blame bogeymen for last year’s massacre of innocent Wolitas in the city. He must be accountable for all terrorist acts in the city.

When the Sidama extremists have committed all kinds of terrorist acts against residents in Awassa, the federal government chose to keep quiet. The deafening silence of the government and its inability to protect its citizens from the terrorists has baffled many people. Many are wondering if the government is tacitly encouraging the criminals. The extremists are getting more energized to commit the next act of terror when no one holds them responsible for their past deeds. They are even boldly claiming that they will declare their own Kelil before the end of the year.

So many terrorist acts of Sidama extremists were unthinkable under the previous governments. Why is the government is showing too much patience and sympathizing with proven terrorists while mobilizing its army to squash terrorists in Wollega and Somali regions? Why are government medias are silent when people in Awassa are suffering under Sidama extermists? When will the government carries out its responsibility of protecting its citizens from terrorists?

It must be known that people in Awassa are tired of the silence of the government. Residents of in the city mustn’t be expected to pay taxes when their property is being vandalized and destroyed. No government in the world would tolerate, for so long, such blatant terrorist acts that affect the lives of millions of people.

The government must tell its citizens why it has failed to action against terrorists in Awassa. What should parents tell their children when they are removed from school every other day? If the government is incapable of acting, let citizens know the reasons. People are tired of living in the hope that things will improve.

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