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ETHIOPIA: Amhara voices of despair from East Wellega under TPLF and OLA

Amhara voices of despair from East Wellega

By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (08.11.2021) – On 4 November, the EU High Representative issued a declaration about the situation in Ethiopia in which he stressed that “the EU is particularly worried about the recent escalation of fighting in the Amhara region and the military advances of the TPLF and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) as well as aerial bombardment by the Ethiopian Airforce of Mekelle, all of which risk dragging the country further into fragmentation and widespread armed conflict and worsening the situation of the population.”

Fighters from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and their allies of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) are the main perpetrators of massacres of other ethnic groups, such as the Amharas.

 

Amharas are caught in the middle of the devastating conflict between the federal government in Addis Abeba and the Tigray Regional State which has spilled over into the Amhara Regional State and other regions. In the East Wellega zone of the Oromia Regional State, where they are in the minority, they are additionally attacked, killed and displaced by Oromos with the indirect or direct complicity of the local administration.

 

Recently, HRWF got the script of several audio messages received by Stop Amhara Genocide Association in Switzerland on 22 October 2021 from Amhara people crying for help since the massacres perpetrated in the East Wellega zone in mid-August and afterwards.

 

 

A cry of revolt

 

Witness: “We are fed up with the slaughtering of Amharas. Our lives matter less than animals. Just because we are of Amhara descent and because we speak Amharic? Why? Why is our people destroyed? Why? It is enough. They work hard every day to earn their living. How could pregnant women be murdered? Why are women murdered? Why are infants murdered? Why are they starving and are they cold? Why can’t they sleep in their houses? Why are their houses burnt? We appeal to the government to rescue us. Even if it is Allah that can create a better situation, the government has to do its part.  And the people who are hiding in the forests need to be rescued.” 

 

Dead Amharas left unburied and as preys of dogs and vultures

 

Witness 1: “The bodies of the people who were killed in Wete (Wellega) have not been removed up to now. It has not been possible to bury them. Please find an urgent way out in order to protect the ones who are still alive, to also create an escape route for them and to be able to bury the dead.”

 

Witness  2: “I greet you, my Christian brothers and sisters. Let abundant peace be with you wherever you are. Our people and our families have fallen. Until recently, there were at least some people who could bury them, but now that there is no one who can bury them. Our dead have been left to be eaten by dogs and vultures. Please be their voices, don’t keep quiet. Do not just watch the information. I beg you to be their voices. Let us all come out and cry to be heard.”   

 

TPLF and OLA kill Amharas

 

Witness: “Greetings to all of you. People of Tigray origin are the ones who select and show their neighbours’ houses or other people’s houses to be burnt by OLA. These people of Tigray descent are living  in Oromia region. They organize the attacks with Oromo people to slaughter the Amharas. The government needs to urgently put an end to this massacre. We ask all of you to make sure that this call reaches high-ranking officials. Our people are dying.”

 

All communications networks down

 

Witness 1: “In the Horoguduru in Wellega, Abedingoru Wereda, the telephone and internet network have been shut down. People are unable to communicate. The roads have been blocked. Fighters shoot at Amharas to kill them. For the past two days, we have not been able to hear from them in Abedingoru Wereda.”

 

Witness 2: “The telephones are not working in Wellega, Wete. We do not even know where and in which conditions our brothers are. They are hiding in the forests. A mother has been separated from her child and she does not know where he is. We do not know if they are hungry, thirsty or cold. We are begging for justice, we want justice.”

 

Displaced and fleeing for their survival

 

Witness 1: “Greetings. Greetings dear Amhara people. Many people are displaced. The people did not worry about their hunger, their thirst and their poverty as their first priority is to survive. They thought they would survive if they left their houses. About 50 to 100 people have left from our place every day. They usually left during the night, walking through the forests and in the dark for their security. Those who got tired were left behind… They found themselves in very difficult conditions.”   

 

Witness 2: “They were given one week only to leave the area. If they did not leave to wherever they needed to go within the week, they were told by the OLA fighters that they would come back to murder them. They told them that they would “spray” them with bullets and destroy them. The warning was given to the people from the Horo area including the rural area up to Dingoru town.  We don’t know what they did to them now because there are no more communications. We beg you to be our voices. Please make sure that our call gets the attention of the relevant authorities.”

 

The massacres went on unabated in East Wellega in September and October

 

“Hello, how are you? Are you fine? The case of East Wellega is not ending even though we talked about it a long time ago.  Haro Kebele is about 8 km away from Kiremu Wereda in East Wellega. On 10 October, there was an attack on the Amharas of the region. They were surrounded  from four directions and could not leave the area. Before the attack, the OLA militias first let the Oromos leave the area and made sure that only the Amharas were left behind. They then started the attack, which lasted until 14 October. For four days, there was heavy fighting and they did not receive any help from outside. There were many casualties, but some managed to survive by defending themselves.

 

I told you previously that it was at Kiremu Wereda that my brother died. Around 22 September, 18 of our neighbours were taken away during the night and killed. Their bodies were burnt. My brother tried to pick their mortal remains in order to bury them but he was also murdered.” (Testimony collected by HRWF currently in Zanzibar on 7 October)

 

Reaction and feelings of an Amhara in exile

 

“Those of us who are in exile, outside our country, are extremely heart-broken. Our families that we deeply care about are being killed. We miss them and we are anguished about them. In Wete all the houses and the crops were burnt to make any return impossible. The attackers also destroyed their money. Now our families are scattered around in the forests. Why is the government saying and doing nothing about it? Why?” 

 

See article published by the European Times:

https://www.europeantimes.news/2021/11/amhara-voices-of-despair-from-east-wellega/

Photo credits: SM/Borkena – TPLF militia





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ETHIOPIA: Massacre of about 300 Amhara civilians in East Wellega, inquiry commission is needed

The massacre of about 300 Amhara civilians in East Wellega in August urgently needs to be investigated

Human Rights Without Frontiers calls upon the international community to set up an independent investigation commission

 

HRWF (30.10.2021) – At the end of October, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee passed an amended version of H.Res. 445, condemning all violence and human rights abuses in Ethiopia and calling for all combatants in the conflict in Northern Ethiopia to cease all hostilities. A number of massacres of civilians urgently need to be investigated by an international commission, according to Human Rights Without Frontiers. This is the case of the massacre of about 300 Amharas in East Wellega (Central Oromia Regional State) on 16-17 August last as reported hereafter by Wondwossen Teklu, a political and human rights activist in Baro Tube:

 

 

“The massacre took place in East Wellega, in an area called Oguduro, and took the life of more than 300 Amhara people. Among the dead, about 72 of them were immediately identified by some of the people who survived this slaughter.

 

The massacre could not be stopped by the Oromia Command Post in Nekemet, led by Brigadier General Bacha Debele together with Dr. Alemu Seme, from the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of the political leadership of the area.  This was not because they could not stop it but because they did not have the will to put an end to it.

 

Most of the 72 identified victims were religious leaders, women and small children. It is to be noted that prior to the massacre, the victims had asked for help on a number of occasions because they had feared for their life.

 

It all started in the middle of the week when the defence force helicopter took multiple surveillance flights around the area. After that, there was a complete shutdown of phones and internet services in the area and the massacre of Amharas by an armed unit operating under the name of OLF Shene started. As a result, 40,000 Amharas were displaced while more than 300 were massacred in a horrifying way.

 

What happened was a silent genocide meant to cleanse the area of any Amhara minority in the Oromia Regional State. According to accounts of eye-witnesses who survived the massacre, the armed militia was referred to with its nickname ‘OLF Shane’ (a term used by government officials to refer to Oromo Liberation Army, OLA). In fact, the national Defence Force and the Oromia Special Forces worked together to first disarm the Amharas living in the area and take away the small number of weapons that they had kept hidden.  They subsequently urged them to go back to their own Amhara region.  Not long after that, when the armed unit came to commit the massacre, the soldiers and the Oromia Special Forces did not come to protect us; instead we saw that they were helping them. This shows that the massacre was executed according to the plans and with the blessing of the regional president Shimeles Abdissa and his superior Aby Ahmed.

 

In particular, the main reasons that point to the fact that the massacre was planned and sanctioned by Aby’s Prosperity government was that it took place in an area close to Nekemt, where the Command Post is based. There was no shortage of soldiers there. Moreover, the massacre took place in full view of the national Defence Force, without them intervening. They just watched passively this horrifying massacre.

 

The region has trained close to 100,000 Special Forces in more than 40 rounds of training.

As it was the case in previous massacres, the participation of Shimeles Abdissa’s Special Forces in this one was not limited to just watch it. They were the ones who disarmed the Amharas and organized multiple surveillance helicopter flights to prepare the area for the massacre. They also directly participated in the carnage by looting, setting alight the houses of the Amhara people and instructing them to leave the area.

 

The actions of the Special Forces was not the result of individual initiatives but they took place on direct instructions from their leaders, Shimeles Abdissa and Aby Ahmed, although the terrorist armed unit, OLF Shane, was responsible for the implementation of the massacre. We can see that the Prosperity government is hiding behind this armed unit to fulfil its objectives. 

 

The leader of the Amhara regional government Agegnehu Teshager who claims to represent the Amhara people is always silent on such matters, not only today when the region is at war but even during the peace period.” 

 

Photo credits: Wikipedia.org





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ETHIOPIA: In the shadow of the elections, Amharas are massacred in silence

Ethiopia: In the shadow of the elections, Amharas are massacred in silence

 

 

Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

 

The European Times (21.06.2021) – https://bit.ly/3cXcUvb – In the shadow of the national and regional elections and behind the smokescreen of the Tigray conflict, Amharas are victims of repeated massacres in total silence and impunity, several Amharas said at a press conference held on 16 June at the Press Club in Brussels.

 

Quite a number of such incidents already took place well before the war between the federal and the Tigray regional governments started but failed to sufficiently mobilize the international community. Examples:

 

In November 2019, 18 Amhara students – 14 young women and 4 young men – from Dembi Dollo University in Kelam Wellega Zone of the Oromia Region were abducted by unidentified people as they fled by bus a fatal ethnic-based attack on Amhara university students. They’re still missing, and we can fear the worst. This stoked anger at the federal government over its inaction and lack of transparency.

 

Ethnic violence including rape then affected more than 20 other university campuses in 2019 in the Oromia region and continued in 2020 prompting an estimated 35,000 students to flee.

 

In early November 2020, at least 100 people from the Amhara ethnic group were killed in an attack by suspected members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) group.

 

The attack on Gawa Qanqa village in Guliso District of West Wellega Zone took place just a day after Ethiopian Defense Forces troops surprisingly, unexpectedly & without explanation withdrew from the area. This abrupt withdrawal has raised several questions that have remained unanswered by the government. Witnesses said dozens of men, women and children were killed, property looted and what the militants could not carry away, was set on fire.

 

In the last few months, a spate of deadly attacks particularly targeted civilians of ethnic Amharas.

 

On 25 February 2021, at least 12 people, including a seven-year-old child, were hacked to death in two particularly brutal attacks in the villages of Boka and Nechlu, in the eastern part of Oromia, multiple sources told Al Jazeera.

 

On 6 and 9 March, 42 people were killed in two separate attacks that targeted Amhara civilians in Oromia’s Horo Guduru Wellega zone, according to Ethiopian state media.

 

On 31 March, gunmen killed at least 30 civilians in an attack on a village in the West Wellega Zone of Oromia. The victims were ethnic Amharas. A resident of the Babo-Gembel district where the attack took place told AFP news agency that gunmen arrived after 9pm, forced residents to gather outside in a group and shot them dead. The place had no security cover from government security forces at the time.

 

On 4 April, suspected OLF militias killed more than 17 Amharas in two separate attacks in the Oromia region.

 

On 16 April, Ataye and surrounding towns in the Amhara Region were destroyed resulting in 300 deaths and 256,000 people becoming homeless.

 

On 30 April, an armed group identified as the OLA (Oromo Liberation Army) attacked a transport bus traveling from Bure to Nekemte. The attackers rerouted the bus towards the Abay river gorge, took the passengers out and killed 15 of them.

 

Tewodrose Tirfe, chairman of the Amhara Association of America based in Washington DC, said “in the month of March well over 300 Amharas, including women and children, have been massacred by the OLA”. He also accused the government of being silent and inactive on killings.

 

Amhara victims frequently testify the massacres on fighters belonging to the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and regional special forces that are well armed and coordinated.

 

Societal violence is now undoubtedly on the rise. President of the Genocide Prevention in Ethiopia (GPE) Dr. Senait Senay says, “From 2 September 2020 to May 2021 alone, 2024 ethnic Amharas were targeted and horrifically killed and 2 million displaced in different regions of Ethiopia”, mainly in the Benishangul-Gumuz & Oromia regions. The list also includes over 1000 ethnic Amharas that were murdered in Maikadra by a retreating pro-TPLF militia, a few days after the war between the federal government of Ethiopia and the regional Tigrayan forces broke out, as Amnesty International has reported.

 

The successive federal governments of Ethiopia since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) assumed power in 1991, Ethiopia was transformed to nine new regional states designed according to Article 46 of the 1995 constitution, but the borders of the new regional states crisscrossed former administrative delineations and were simply imposed without popular consent through a referendum or election. The result was Ethiopian citizens were ethnically identified on government issued residence IDs.

 

The elections in Ethiopia will not be held in 102 of the 547 constituencies, including the 38 constituencies of Tigray due to war, but also in parts of Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia and Amhara regions, due to the massacres and massive displacement of Amharas.

 

In the meantime, the EU has withdrawn its Electoral Observation Mission accusing the Ethiopian authorities of not giving assurances on the independence of the mission. After the election, the EU should increase the implementation of its peace-making policies & humanitarian aid in Ethiopia and urge the “new federal government” to address the structural sources of the targeted ethnic attacks, the Amharas said at the Press Club in Brussels.

 

Photo credits: europeantimes.news


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