The Escalation of war of Ethnic Cleansing on the Oromo People
Press release (ULFO)
The current ruling party of Ethiopia has intensified yet again its war of ethnic cleaning on the Oromo people. Lately, it has targeted Oromo communities in Eastern Hararge. The communities directly affected in the recent campaign include those who live in the districts of Anniyyaa, Jaarsoo, and Mi’eesoo.
This latest incident of ethnic cleansing that is being perpetrated against the Oromos in Eastern Hararge zone is a continuation of a grand design of the TPLF-led regime of Ethiopia to undercut the demographic weight of the Oromo and the territorial expanse of Oromiya. This design, one which its leaders in many occasions in such a blatant bravado have spoken about, is framed to fulfill its long-term political and economic objectives.
The obvious political objective of the TPLF-led regime of Ethiopia is primarily the containment of the Oromo political life. The regime with a minority constituent base is always unnerved of the Oromo population size with its potential political weight. To overcome this fear and sense of insecurity, it has been determined to maintain its political hegemony and keep Oromiya under its occupation by all what it takes.
The impact of such a determination of the TPLF on the Oromo people is enormous. During the last 22 years, the TPLF has perpetrated what amounts to genocidal wars on the Oromo people. At various times it has targeted various Oromo communities. It has launched hidden wars and inflicted upon them a colossal loss in lives and properties. While most of such wars have directly involved the TPLF army, some have been conducted by its proxies. The proxies that the TPLF has so far involved in the war against the Oromo people are primarily ethnic groups sharing common boundaries with Oromiya and national minorities residing within Oromiya itself.
With the intent of ethnic cleansing, the TPLF has directly launched a silent war on the Oromo people over the years. However, such a war meant to extinct a community of people has often been masked under the heading of “human rights violation”. In effect, what the TPLF has been and is still carrying out on the Oromo nation should be taken as a designed action of ethnic cleansing. Its actions that clearly attest to this fact are many. For instance, the early 1990s Nazi type concentration camps that the TPLF set up in Dhedheessa, Zuwaay, and Hursoo are cases in point that speak volume of its intension. It had thrown tens of thousands of Oromos to these notorious camps. Tortured, starved, and exposed to communicable diseases and malaria, according to many accounts, not very many of them have survived the cold-blooded atrocity of the TPLF led regime. Also, hidden from the outside world, many penitentiaries, prisons, and unknown underground cells, and forced labour camps across the empire are presently filled with Oromo youth whose fate would likely be the same as their encamped kin of the 1990s.
In no less degree, other actions of the TPLF have violated the very existence of Oromo communities during its rule. Man-made famines it help created resulted in starvation that took heavy tolls in life in many parts of Oromiya and most notably in Boran, Hararge, and lush zones of Arsi that the international media once referred to it as ‘green famines’. Its barbaric act of environmental terrorism has equally brought about destruction of ecosystems and exacted an inordinate number of human lives and loss of habitats for rare flora and fauna. Suffice to mention here two notorious cases that illustrate the TPLF’s acts of brutality on the environmental resources of Oromiya: The blazing and decimation of the forests in Bale and most recently in Iluu Abbaa Boora. The immediate impact of this act on the present generation of the affected communities is enormous. Furthermore, looking at this heinous crime of the TPLF from a larger scope, it is conceivable that such a destruction of ecosystems would have far-reaching implications on generations to come. It would undoubtedly check the population growth of the communities, a desired result that the TPLF leaders are hoping to secure.
Adding to the above mix, the eviction of the Oromo people from its ancestral lands had torn apart their social fabric and exposed them to vagaries of environmental stress in which they could not cope to survive. Internal displacement with all its devastating effect aside, the eviction has also led to mass exodus of the Oromo people to unknown foreign lands where the chance of survival for many has proved to be exceedingly limited. Instigating and fueling conflicts, the TPLF has caused enormous devastation on numerous communities. The inter-ethnic conflicts between the Issa and Oromo in Hararge, the Somali and Oromo in Boran, the Gumuz and Oromo in Walagaa, the Burjii and Oromo in Boran and the Afaar and Oromo in Walloo; and the intra-ethnic conflicts between Boran and Gujii and Garrii and Boran were the making of the TPLF. These conflicts which took place at different times had exacted a huge human and property loss from the impacted Oromo communities.
Despite relentlessly working at its silent ethnic cleansing grand plan over the last two decades, the demographic weight of the Oromo people has still remained unnerving for the TPLF led-regime. As a result, it has continued with the campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Oromo with more intensity and coordination. The present war against Anniyya, Jarsoo, and Mi’eesoo in Hararge zone is part and parcel of its escalated ethnic cleansing campaign. For this campaign, it has incited a proxy war: A war that contingents of Somali force from Ogaden have been deployed against the Oromo people. This force which is known as Liyu polis (special police force) has been trained and armed by the regime. The regime has provided the force with logistical support, finance, and military operational advice. It is this force that is presently causing havoc in Eastern Hararge.
This proxy war that has been declared on the Oromo people in Eastern Hararge zone is taking a heavy toll on human life. Since the war began, under the pretext of conflict over land clams between the adjoining Somali and Oromo communities, hundreds of people have been killed, tens of thousands have been evicted and displaced, properties of the communities have been partly confiscated and the rest decimated. The displaced people of Anniyaa who survived the recent mass killing are now in dire need of shelter, food and medicine. Their way of life is completely shattered, and with no one to appeal to the flagrant violation of their human rights and the right to their ancestral land they contemplate nothing but a bleak future. Undoubtedly, the long tem consequences of this Somali led incursion backed by the TPLF on the lives of the affected Oromo communities would be much more calamitous.
Ultimately, the TPLF led regime, as a mastermind of this proxy war, is responsible for the crime against humanity that has been committed on the Oromo people of Anniyaa, Jaarsoo, and Mi’eesoo. We condemn in the strongest possible term the TPLF regime for the heinous crime it has concocted and committed.
For the TPLF regime, pitting one ethnic group against another has served as a political survival means for so long. It would continue using this wild political card for as long as it is in power. Should all ethnic groups who have lived in harmony side by side for millenniums and shared a common political history fail to see its divide and conquer policy and rise up in unison and challenge it, the policy will continue serving its purpose. This would mean all oppressed ethnic groups will remain prey of this parasitic regime.
Therefore, it is worthwhile for all ethnic groups to be vigilant of every sinister move of the TPLF that can incite conflict amongst them. It is also critically important to understand that the beneficiary of such a conflict is only the TPLF. Peaceful co-existence fosters peace, prosperity, and progress in human development for the community of nations in the region. Such a co-existence can be restored and maintained only if all resist the temptation of becoming an accomplice of the TPLF for a short term gain.
With regards to the present encroachment of the Somali force in Eastern Hararge, ULFO is extremely outraged by the callus act of this force that is for all practical purposes a mercenary of the TPLF regime. They do not in any shape or form represent the brotherly people of Ogadenia who share a common history of colonial oppression and a common interest with the people of Oromiya. Sooner or later the people of Oromiya will pay the sacrifice necessary and regain its territorial integrity. Peace will prevail in the region, not if, but when the sun sets on the TPLF and it finds itself in political darkness.
The United Liberation of Oromiya(ULFO)
Oromiya shall be free!!!!
Tigire ruling elites often misleadingly frame genocidal massacres against the Oromo people in various parts of Oromia as “inter-communal violence, ethnic conflict, border conflict or water conflict” in order to absolve themselves from responsibility and possible future indictment in local and international courts.
For at least two decades, genocidal massacres against Oromo have been framed that way in order to cover-up the deliberate effort by TPLF elites to either reduce Oromo by attrition to a minority population or to destroy them fully so that Tigireans can take over Oromia and its resources. That is their long-term plan.
Aslii Oromo, an exiled Oromo political prisoner and torture survivor, cited the late Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zanawi ( from Tigray) who said, “We [TPLF or Tigrean elites] will reduce the number of Oromos from 40 million to 4000 without the knowledge of the world.” Yet, many, including some well-meaning Oromos, have hesitated calling widespread massacres against Oromo a “genocide”, and comfortably stayed on the human rights violations side of a much protracted problem.
Ethnic Tigire elites declared their intent of destroying the Oromo partially or fully and have acted on their declarations. Where they did not declare these intents, they can be inferred from the actions of singling out and massacring and displacing Oromo en masse or selling their lands to land grabbers by the millions of hectares. Even an airhead would understand that no one group will massacre other groups just out of love or to do them some favor by killing them off of their land. Calling massacres against Oromo “genocide” has been avoided mainly because some people make false strategic calculations and believe that it is enough for the Oromo to claim human rights abuses instead of claiming genocide too. Human rights violations are indicators. There are some who see the talk of genocide as an inflation or overstatement. But, connecting evidence on the ground can show us that massacres in Oromia are indeed conspicuous acts of genocide.
Let’s just go beyond routine condemnation press releases, which echo the official framing of such massacres as “border conflicts or ethnic clashes etc”, and come to grips with the reality–genocide. The methods are multi-pronged: direct massacre, displacement, landgrab, spread of lethal infectious diseases, starving, withholding services, destroying crops to just list a few. In the process, it becomes important to see these massacres as part of an ongoign genocide, “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic,racial, religious, or national group”
With absolute military, economic and diplomatic powers, Tigirean elites have ever been emboldened to destroy the Oromo nationality and its material, cultural and intellectual properties. They are accountable to no one–not to their laws, not to international law and not to moral principles. TPLF elites’ arrogance is becoming limitless, soaring. While they engage in genocidal activities in Oromia, the international community has afforded them the complete silence they so want. However, the human and material destruction caused by Tigire elites in Oromia is no short of the Syrian crisis or Darfur, but Western cameras are not focused on Ethiopia as its has been considered a regional counter-terrorism linchpin even now when Somalia is on the path of stability and reconstruction.
Reductionists may say, “oh yea, ethnic clashes have been going on between Oromo and others for decades, so what is the big deal about what is happening now?”
As stressed earlier, these are not just ethnic clashes between equally armed or unarmed groups trying to settle their differences violently. To understand what is going on, we have to make the links between the different events of massacres in Oromia. Briefly comparing the recent genocide hotspots in eastern Oromia, southern Oromia and western Oromia will offer a much needed deep perspective.
Patterns of Genocide
1. The Case of Massacre and Displacement in Eastern Oromia
The mass atrocities against Oromo in Eastern Oromia (Qumbi county) started in 2011 when TPLF elites provided advice to armed bands of Ogaden militants to lay claim to six districts that traditionally belonged to Oromia region. Land claims are TPLF incentives to another group to get the group to indirectly commit genocide on their behalf. Who does the planning of the genocide–TPLF elites–are more important than the agents on the ground hired to do the depraved job of massacring and looting. This violence has been intensifying over the last six months. The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa describes the massacre and the displacement in the following terms:
….this government-backed violence that has been going on in the name of border dispute around the Anniya, Jarso and Miyesso districts between the Oromia and Ogaden regional states has already resulted in the death and/or disappearance of 37 Oromo nationals and the displacement of about 20,000 others. Around 700 different types of cattle and other valuable possessions are also reported to have been looted. The reports indicate that the violence has been backed by two types of armed forces (the Federal Liyou/Special Police and the Ogaden Militia) from the Ogadenis side, while on the side of the Oromos, even those who demonstrated the intentions of defending themselves in the same manner were disarmed, dispossessed and detained.
BBC reported in July 2012 that scores of unarmed Oromos were massacred and over 20,000 were displaced by the same force from the neighboring Ogaden region. Like the Eastern Hararge massacre, the Moyale massacre was a result of cross- border raid into Oromia from the neighboring Somali region. This group was also heavily armed with military convoys, trucks, AK47s, machine guns, and other kinds of heavy weapons that only a group armed by the Ethiopian government can afford to have. Tigrean leaders have provided Oromo lands as incentives upon a successful completion of massacre in this area as well. The Oromo got displaced and the land was occupied by the armed settlers from a neighboring region. The attackers fulfilled their short-term goals of sharing the spoils of genocide, while their TPLF elites master-minding this massacre have made progress toward their goal of destroying the Oromo nation. TPLF elites do not care because the violence against Oromo does not affect their co-ethnics in Tigray region who are far removed from the actions. We are talking about the distance between Mekele and Moyale here (951 miles or 1530kms). Tigreans are sheltered from the kind of genocidal violence their elites unleash on Oromos everyday.
3. The Case of Massacre and Displacement in Eastern Wallega
The massacre in eastern Wallega (western Oromia) began in 2008 and went on for over 5 years. This also shares the features of the two other massacres and massive displacements. The only difference is the difference of another neighboring group from Benishangul Gumuz that Ethiopia trained and supplied to do the same job of perpetrating genocidal violence on behalf of Tigire elites. These elites are capable of extremely evil schemes that no rational person can contemplate. The same applies here—they don’t care because the violence doesn’t affect their Tigrean co-ethnics who live removed far from the actions–we are talking about a distance between Nekemete and Mekele (675.5 miles or 1087km).
Oromia Support Group describes eastern Wallega massacre in the following way:
….the slaughter of defenceless Oromo by Benishangul Gumuz militia in the Didessa and Hanger valleys, Eastern Wallega, from 17-19 May.Well-trained and armed by the government with AK47s and heavier machine guns, Gumuz militias attacked unarmed Oromo villagers as they slept, slaughtering men, women, children and babies, cutting throats, dismembering bodies and casting body parts aside – limbs, breasts and genitals.
Overall Picture of Genocide in Oromia
The cases above, among others, show us how the ruling Tigrean elites are aggressively hiring, training and supplying Oromo neighbors to perpetrate genocide on their behalf foolishly thinking that that would absolve them from responsibility. The arrogance of Tigrean power in Ethiopia is growing by the day. It’s an unrestrained power of a hate-intoxicated minority elites who would stop at nothing short of wiping out Oromos slowly as their leaders have claimed or implied in the past. The misrepresentation of these massacres and displacements targeting the Oromo are promoted by both TPLF elites as well as the international media that relies on Tigirean sources for their news reporting and opinions.
Since Ethiopia prohibits journalists and the press direct access to these sites of genocide, the act is often wrongly labelled inter-ethnic clashes over borders, pasture and water. They did not or could not see what it really was. Looking at the nature of the state-backed heavily armed militia groups makes the cases rise above ordinary clashes between civilians of equal power.
The Desire for the World to Know