By Sewale Belew – [email protected]. December 8, 2022.
In recent months and years, many articles have been published to immediately stop the mass killing and displacement of innocent citizens just because of their identity. This concerns especially the atrocities committed In various parts of Ethiopia, like Metekel, Welga and throughout the Shewa Amhara areas. However, the government appears to be deliberately unconcerned, or pretends that the country is completely under its governmental control with a clear state of stability. The Ethiopian Diaspora, who are concerned about the issue, have been repeatedly airing statements and writing letters to the country’s top officials and explaining the problem for urgent conflict resolutions.
At this time, the crime rate committed on daily bases against innocent Ethiopian citizens have become grimmer. Thousands of poor and innocent Amhara people have been and still are hunted and massacred for mysterious reasons. Simultaneously, hundreds of thousands of families have been displaced from their homesteads. After kidnapping citizens, their offspring are selectively picked, displaced or killed by OLF-Shene bandits.
Statements made and released by the federal and state government officials frequently indicate that: “Action have been taken against OLF-Shene”, “OLF-Shene will be wiped out within a month”, “The attack is not only focused on one ethnic group alone but also focused on different ethnic groups”, “We are assembling evidence behind the crime committed by OLF-Shene”, etc. However, such unrealistic statements distract the public attention. Nor do they solve the roots of the power mongering political problem. Instead, these lame excuses simply obscure the problem and ignore the actual remedy to solve it.
One may recognize the fact that many local government officials have also been killed trying to maintain the regional security. At the same time, the OLF-Shene group has also killed many innocent residents. Yet, attempts made by the government have not yet yielded any guaranteed results for the regions safety.
Presently, it has been fully confirmed by human rights organizations and other relevant media sources that the OLF-Shene continues to commit inhuman and barbaric atrocities in all the areas it has occupied thus far.
This situation leaves us to ask PM Abiy’s administration to fulfill the following human rights, citizen security obligations, and governmental responsibilities before the Ethiopian people’s grievances against the federal government escalates to its lowest point:
First of all, for more than 3 decades, the TPLF and EPRDF have been jointly working together to weaken the Amhara in different ways by preparing their constitution and legislating and establishing that constitution as binding. According to their plan, to spread racial violence, they encouraged the ongoing large-scale anti-Amhara campaign by perpetuating, teaching and advising the Amhara not to maneuver with the danger they are facing, by openly declaring: “We have broken the backbone of the Amhara once and for all.” Citizens expressed their opinions before and after 1983, when the TPLF and EPRDF joint leader took power in the name of EPRDF-government. Consequently, those who spoke or reacted to this opinion were tortured, imprisoned, displaced and killed for fighting for their freedom and human rights. TPLF/EPRDF’s tragic and atrocious acts have continued even after TPLF/EPRDF has come down from governmental power. Although the people of Ethiopia have been subjected to brutal trials by various hitherto governments, they are still bonded with one another and linked by their social and economic networks. Most of the Ethiopian common people inhabit and inter-marry with others from neighboring and far away ethnic groups. These ties concern especially the Amhara and the Oromo people, who have lost their lives, legs, and limbs, because they opposed the killings and other crimes committed by TPLF /EPRDF-regime during the last three decades. Currently, it is well known that the TPLF /EPRDF collaborator in arms, namely, OLF-Shene, has killed local members of the Prosperity Party government and its armed forces, especially those who refused to support its fight in clandestine. As a result, it is roughly estimated that OLF-Shene has targeted, killed and displaced over half a million Amhara natives who inhabited within Oromia region to achieve its brutal acts of resistance to what it labels as: “outsiders”.
Secondly, in order to protect a lasting peace in Ethiopia, the PM Abiy’s administration must show its willingness to change the current TPLF-established constitution. As this constitution is purely based on ethnicity, it has to be revised and reformed instantly. In particular, Article 29 and Article 39 should be removed from this constitution. This action would allow the freedom to all Ethiopian citizens indiscriminately, to live and move freely in their choice of habitation and work. If this is not the case, then it means the PM Abiy’s government will continue to carry on the same old legislated constitutional system established by the TPLF/EPRDF. If the PM Abiy government takes an immediate decision on this matter to reform it, then this contribution by the Prosperity Party will be recognized by every Ethiopian citizen who is passionate about justice, human rights, and equality to all Ethiopians. Despite these issues, given the governmental platform within the Ethiopian politics, promising that they “… will fight for their ethnic based rights peacefully; we stand up for human rights”; all these claims are simply propaganda ploys that go down beyond denying and downplaying the violence being committed by OLF-Shene against the Amhara ethnic inhabitants. To one’s dismay, they have gone to claim that the people who were actually attacked were from their own Oromo-ethnic group and the perpetrators of such attacks were the Amhara ethnic groups. An example worth mentioning here is the claim made by the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFECO) leadership group, which is legally registered and operating in the country. To add fuel to a burning fire, local government’s security enforcement officials within Oromia are also distorting the truth on the ground in an attempt to confuse and convince the general public by officially claiming that: “the government and the Amhara FANO jointly massacred the innocent Oromo residents in Wollega”. The narrative stated above as that of the legitimate OFECO or OLF-Shene spokespersons are no different. Similarly, with indifference attitude, some influential Ethiopians at home and in Diaspora abroad, claim: they want to fight for human rights and the peace and prosperity of Ethiopia. Yet, they seriously think that providing constructive advice and criticizing the government whenever detecting weaknesses may bring disservice consequences to the government. Or they simply chose to remain silent because arguing for the rights of the Amhara natives would give them label as racists. But the burning issue at stake is: “Don’t human rights concerns include the Amhara?” Is criticizing the weak points of the ethnic based federal government considered as: “not supporting the government? Is that really the issue to shy away from? The result of such types of silence by concerned citizens and the reluctance shown by government officials to reveal the actual identity of the ethnic-led perpetrators of sudden attacks committed on innocent citizens have become challenges not to reach peaceful settlements of matters that bother the public at large. It seems that the PM Abiy government is not willing to resolve this problem with firm determination, strength, and tenacity. Eventually, it exposes the Ethiopian people to ethnic-based division and confusion. This reminds me of the once upon a time described approach that goes as: “confuse and convince”.
Thirdly, it means, the currently sitting PM Abiy government should take immediate actions to stop the mass killing of Amhara farmers, especially in the Oromia and Metekel regions. Although the government has repeatedly claimed to have taken actions against OLF-Shene, its actions have not been satisfactorily effective to halt the persisting tragic havocs. The atrocities still linger in a more spread manner within these two regions. This is so, because the government’s and the party’s local officials who support OLF-Shene have advanced and penetrated in clandestine deep down into the government structure from the top-central federal level, down to the bottom of the Zonal and the community (Kebele) levels. The fact that clandestine supporters of OLF-Shene are still present within the entire government structure has been attested openly not only by high ranking government officials, but also by the victims themselves of the OLF-Shene attacks, by local residents and by local authorities. Yet, for fear of revenge to be taken by OLF-Shene and its supporters, no local residents nor officials are willing to reveal freely what just happens on the ground. Everyone seems onlooker of the tragedy happening everywhere. Similarly, the police also don’t reveal the reality on the ground to the wider public. Besides, although the PM-Abiy government has extended its hands for forging peace with OLF-Shene, the latter has not been willing to stop its brutal and, inhuman and immoral atrocities against poor rural civilians inhabiting within the Oromia and Benshangul regions. By simply using innocent poor rural population as their scapegoats to achieve any kind of political aspiration for power and to meet their strategically well set agenda to quench their desires is the worst human rights crime of all. This matter should not be ignored or overlooked. If the government does not fulfill its responsibility to stop this openly waged banditos’ crime, then, it will be held responsible in history for having not taken the necessary urgent steps to save lives and regional livelihoods. For this reason, it is high time for PM Abiy’s government to urgently adhere to the above-mentioned points and take the necessary steps to maintain Peace, civic security and save innocent people from sudden havocs and death. To this effect, in order to overcome the ongoing adversity, reach the remedy points to the lingering public trauma in time, and to maintain civic equality, freedom of movement and habitation, the government has to plan with high determination, resolve, strength, and tenacity. The relevant political organizations and influential Ethiopians are also required to support and/or exert pressure on PM Abiy’s administration so that its actions are timely implemented with the aim to stop the tragic havocs in the country. If not addressed in good time, the public trauma would become dangerously damaging the government, and the country’s healthy territorial integrity. The government must prioritize some advocacy work for the reforms of the TPLF-established constitution, for the rehabilitations and integrations of communities for mutual progress, prosperity and national progress.
Fourthly, at one time, the war in North Ethiopia regions has completely occupied the attention of PM Abiy’s regime as well as those of the general Ethiopian public. In February 2020, when the TPLF-executive committee intentionally initiated the unexpected sudden attack on the Ethiopian Armed forces stationed in Northern Tigray and around Mekele City, it did so based on: (1) its already well-built huge defense forces of 250, 200 armed infantry in Tigray, (2) possessing previously looted national defense weapons, (3) taking advantage of the propaganda and economic power it had built during its time in power betwixt 1990 and 2017; and (4) by making large-scale infantry movement to the regions and to recapture Abiy’s elected government power to which it was forced to relinquish. As a result, TPLF’s sudden attacks demanded the full attention and preparation of the government and the people to fight this unexpected TPLF-invasion. On the other hand, the tactic chosen by OLF-Shene has been purely to achieve its political objectives through bandits’ tactics. This group attacks any community of its choice, by using hit-and-run conventional fighting tactics and by temporarily controlling the invaded areas in order to amassing wealth to its possession. Usually, it doesn’t the risk to fighting face-to-face with the national defense forces of Ethiopia. Where they have been roaming and invading, OLF-Shene bandits, mainly focuses on: (a) killing innocent rural dwellers of other races (ethnic-groups) other than the Oromo, (b) evicting the inhabiting rural communities and towns, especially, those where the innocent Amhara people have been settled for generations, (c) destroying their farming resources and other household items and even saved wealth found within the Oromia region.
Led and orchestrated by OLF-Shene armed bandits, Oromo extremists are becoming frequently busy with their banditos operations each day. They are busy collecting money from innocent travelers; they are busy killing heavy truck drivers and burning cars in all direction of the Amhara inhabitants throughout the Shoa Amhara zones. They are busy illegally preventing Amhara travelers from reaching and entering into Addis Ababa, the capital city. So for how long are we remaining silent and stare at the disturbing havocs implanted within the Ethiopian hinterlands? Cognizant of the fact that our ancestors paid dearly to maintain the integrity and peaceful existence of Ethiopian citizens in the country for centuries. During difficult fighting times, Indiscriminately, they all shaded their blood, broke their bones, lost their legs, limbs and their dear lives to secure this nation intact. As responsible citizens, we deserve to take quick actions, discuss about the root causes of the ongoing massacres committed on the Amhara communities, organize and overturn the tide of this ugly threat once and for all, and ensure the survival and sustenance of peaceful farming community life of the rural population.
Ten points of conclusion – with explanatory comments: –
- 1) Believing that the history of the Amhara people has been a victim of a misinterpretation by the current political wing is of great importance to correct ethnic conflicts and massacres. OLF-Shene and other racist organizations have been committing atrocities against the Amhara for quite a while now. This is a very legitimate and important reason why the government should fulfill its civic duties to protect the peace and security of innocent citizens with full preparation, determination and efficiency. This is indeed a highly sought-after issue these days.
- Without any reluctance, criminal gangs and individuals, who kill innocent-citizens and displace their homesteads, must be arrested and brought to criminal justice; armed bandits like OLF-Shene must be legally disarmed. In light of this, the government should take urgent legal actions to prevent the access to possessing illegal weapons.
- Regarding ethnic attacks committed within Oromia and Benshangul regions, the federal and regional authorities, as well as the relevant media managers, have to explain the truth to the public, visit the affected citizens, comfort them and provide them with all the necessary assistance. This must be agreed upon and concluded for taking immediate actions.
- Political parties that are established at the ethnic or sub-ethnic levels, should also, on their part, call ethnic-specific violence in their apt names, and put pressure on the government to take responsibility for resolving such conflicts and massacres. This has to be agreed upon and concluded for taking immediate actions.
- In the administrative structure of the government stretching (extending) from the federal level at the center, down to Zonal and Kebele levels, government officials and security officers who failed to fulfill their responsibilities or who are complicit in the crime, should be removed from their tasks or responsibilities and be held accountable for the crimes committed against the law.
- It is the government’s prime duty to organize sufficiently armed defense forces equipped with required weapons for utilization within the Oromia and Benshangul regions. Government must also immediately deploy troops in all places where repeated attacks are taking place, and where the OLF-Shene banditos groups have continuously been moving and invading homesteads in rural areas. An assigned military wing must hold its genuine responsibility for upholding persistent peace and stability and fulfill its national militaristic duties.
- 7) The government should ensure that a reliable armed force is permanently stationed in Oromia and Benshangul regions to calm the people living in these troubled areas. They should also be given government guidelines and special coordination points.
- In order to ensure lasting peace in Ethiopia, the right of all Ethiopian citizens to freely move from one place to the other; to live and generate wealth; to be treated on the bases of equality, where all citizens are equal in the eyes of the national law; to have access to build a democratic Ethiopia. When these parameters are met, that is when the public gets the outcomes of the necessary corrective measures it takes at the appropriate time; and that is when the constitution is corrected, by inputs from both the government and the competing parties, as well as by scholars, religious and civil institutions involved in the production of a reformed constitution for apt legislation and establishment. In this regard, government authorities who are stakeholders in this matter should start an urgent discussion for the success of this important legislative pillar meant to secure national peace, security and territorial integrity.
- In order to save the citizens of Ethiopia from endless ethnic conflicts and war situations, the general people of Ethiopia demand the government to prepare an urgent constitutional amendment. In particular, about removing Article-29 and Article-39 from the constitution that is now in force. And instead, the constitution should include a provision on civil liberties. The two articles that formed the ethnic led divisive foundation of the nation should be replaced instantly by articles of law that promote the freedom, equality and fraternity of Ethiopian citizenship. Also, the constitution should include provision of access to resources.
- Yes! As long as all Ethiopian citizens stand together in brotherhood and togetherness, our motherland Ethiopia, the unity and strength of its Ethiopian citizens, its existence will be preserved forever. And yes! our motherland will be honored forever.
Happy reading and understanding!
Sewale Belew – December 8, 2022
Email: [email protected]