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The Bulen Masssacre

By A. Alemayehu
January 02. 2021

While supporters of Ethiopia’s ousted Tigrayan leaders are using their impressive loot and extensive international contacts to raise false alarms of a non-existent genocide against Tigrayans, successive massacres have been factually raging against the Amhara people in various parts of Ethiopia. The most recent Ethiopian Human Rights Commission report testifies to this fact. Besides the Oromia region that is dealt with in the report, the Benshangul-Gumuz region, particularly its Metekl zone, has been site of unrelenting massacres.

Metekel, Ethiopia has become the site of sequential massacres of members of the Amhara ethnic group who have not yet recovered from the shock and devastation of the infamous Mai Kadra massacre, where more than a thousand civilians were slaughtered. With the demise of the atrocious TPLF, hopes were high that such acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing will be a thing of the past. Not to be.

What happened in Bulen on December 22, 2020?

In Bulen, a sub-region of Metekel in the Benshangul-Gumuz region, armed Gumuz conducted a night-time attack on the homes of unarmed framers with Amhara, Agaw and Shinasha ethnicity.  The bodies of over two hundred civilians were buried in a mass grave last week. Those were the fortunate ones. The remaining bodies of the massacre victims were either unidentifiably scorched with their homes or lie unburied in the surrounding forest wherever death found the fleeing villagers. Unlike the Tigrayans, the Benshangul-Gumuz citizens neither have a million-member strong political party (TPLF) nor thousands of activists who tweet fake news. So, while Abiy Ahmed is being falsely accused of a genocide against Tigrayans, including by the likes of Tedros Adhanom, former boss of the genocidal TPLF, he has not been exposed of a real genocide against the Amhara under his watch.

For Ethiopians who traditionally worry as much about their manner of death and burial as they do about their manner of living, the burial of the bodies of Bulen victims with excavators was a most horrific affront to their sensibilities. The bodies of Moslems and Christians, babies and octogenarians were all dumped in a shallow mass grave. Two hundred and seven of them.

Bulen, Metkel is also site of the September 2020 Massacre, where more than 180 civilians were gathered in a schoolyard and slaughtered. While the main targets of these attacks are the Amhara, members of the Agaw and Shinasha ethnic groups have also been killed. In the most recent attack this week, entire families have been wiped out. Though the actual killing is committed by armed members and officials of the Gumuz tribe, the perpetrators of the genocide are reported to include political organizations and personnel reaching to the highest echelons of the Ethiopian government.

Unlike the fake ‘genocide against Tigray”, the real Amhara genocide neither gets international media coverage nor do the survivors get humanitarian aid and relief.

The intent of the relentless massacres seems to be to clear the region of its residents. Why else would one burn entire villages and farming communities along with their bountiful harvest? Why the savage killings and the mass graves? Why this terror against unarmed citizens?

What is taking place in Western Ethiopia is following a proven method of ethnic cleansing through genocidal terror.

Is it working?

Sure. The killing of three hundred people on Tuesday, December 22, the night after PM Abiy’s visit to the area, caused the immediate displacement of tens of thousands. The organizers of the genocidal ethnic cleansing campaigns know exactly what they are doing. The question is, despite the rich resources of the region, is the world going to allow this crime against humanity to continue unchecked?

A Comparison of the Bulen and Mai Kadra massacres.

The Mai Kadra Massacre is mainly a massacre of Amhara people that took place on November 9, 2020 in the historically Amhara territories of Wolkait-Tsegede, annexed by TPLF into Tigray.

If we have to compare two crimes of ethnic cleansing, the Bulen Massacre is even more atrocious than the infamous Mai Kadra Amhara Massacre by TPLF. There are various reasons for saying this.

  1. Even though it too targeted unarmed civilians, the Mai Kadra Massacre of over 1000 Amhara occurred after hostilities broke out in a war zone. It was committed by a defeated and fleeing force. The Bulen massacre took place in an area where there is no officially declared war.
  2. The Bulen Massacre led to the displacement of tens of thousands of people. True, there were also people that were displaced due to the Mai Kadra Massacre. Some fled the massacre and some fled a possible retaliation. However, the majority of the residents of the area (including people from the attacker and attacked ethnic groups) stayed put. On the other hand, in Bulen, entire farming communities were displaced and people could not even go back to bury their dead.
  3. In Mai Kadra, the attackers fled the site of the crime. In Bulen, the attacked fled the site of the crime. The attackers are still roaming freely, despite the government’s false reports of “45 attackers destroyed” and the like.
  4. In the Bulen Massacre, entire families have been wiped out. Sole survivors of a nine or ten-member family are all too common. While the Mai Kadra Massacre has not been studied in detail yet, including no identification of bodies left in several mass graves, cases where entire families were wiped out have not surfaced yet.
  5. While only seemingly outrageous accusations link Dr. Abiy to Mai Kadra, Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s name is inextricably tied to the Bulen Massacre. *

*The fact that the attack took place the night after his visit to Metekel, where Abiy Ahmed participated in staging a nationally televised notorious act of blame-the-victim, is only part of the reason. His failure to resolve this structural issue of terror and ethnic cleansing that has occurred from his first days in power has implicated him as a participant in the Oromo demographic engineering project on the area that the likes of Shimelis Abdissa have bragged about. If Abiy Ahmed could galvanize all his forces and militarily defeat the 45 year-old TPLF, a Gumuz militia armed with bows and arrows and semi-automatic rifles would be a non-issue. If Abiy Ahmed had the will.

Defeating the TPLF should not been seen as a trivial matter. Remember, the TPLF had militarily defeated the EPRP, EDU, ELF, OLF, Derg and EPLF. Therefore, it is clear that the Benshangul-Gumuz region’s genocidal atrocities are not outside Abiy’s intellectual, political and military might to solve. However, Abiy Ahmed has chosen to be frivolous about the bloodshed of the innocent and unarmed poor citizens of Metekel, more than one hundred thousand of whom are now displaced. He has established a committee composed of the likes of Ashadli Hassan and Tesfaye Belgige, with established track records of harassing and dispossessing the Amhara, to solve the problem.

There is a concerted government-led attempt to drown the news of the plight of the victims of ethnic cleansing with well-timed and fragmentary sensationalized news about the fugitive TPLF mafiosos on the run. That is a very cheap tactic of burying the humanitarian crisis that the government has on its hands.

The writer of this article strongly believes that if Abiy Ahmed fails to mend his ways regarding the poor, persecuted and dispossessed of Metekel, Konso and Wellega, his fate would be similar to, if not worse than, the fates of the biblical pharaoh of Egypt and Muammar Gadhafi of Libya.

An independent investigation into all these genocidal crimes against humanity should be the first step in an attempt to solve the problem and redress the wound. A lasting solution to the problem would still require an overhaul of the troublesome constitution.

May God give our leaders the wisdom to lead with fairness, humanity and justice.



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