A survivor of the massacre of over 1000 ethnic Amhara in Gimbi, Oromia cries aloud. “Why did Allah Spare me?” says Ahmed (name changed), as he found himself the sole survivor of an entire family of twelve.
On June 18, 2022, armed attackers, alleged members of the Oromo Liberation Army, descended on unarmed Amhara villagers, killing everyone they found in Tole, a sub-region of Gimbi, Oromia, Ethiopia. According to some survivors, the attackers were vested in the new uniform of the Ethiopian National Defense forces. The cruelty of the massacre has been unparalleled, even by comparison to other ethnic massacres in Oromia which are known to be extremely gruesome. This most recent massacre where hundreds of women and children were slaughtered, did not even spare a three-days-old baby. Satellite images show over three thousand houses burnt in at least three villages not far from Gimbi town.
From one Tole locality attacked on Saturday, only three people survived. Five such localities were attacked and upwards of 250 bodies were buried from just one village on Sunday. In addition to driving away the cattle and looting the food supplies of the villagers, the attackers poured out even freshly prepared dough to make sure that any survivors would have nothing to eat and would starve to death. Those that were away from their villages or had escaped to the nearby woods, found only heaped dead bodies of their loved ones upon their return.
Who are the attackers?
Previous attacks on the Amhara ethnic group in Wellega, Oromia have been claimed to be the coordinated work of government forces and the Oromo Liberation Army. Government forces would disarm the local Amhara and leave the area just hours before the attacking OLA units arrive and commit the genocidal massacre. Despite repeated SOS messages from the villagers, the military or Oromia special forces typically arrive long after, their work completed, the alleged OLA attackers leave. However, both OLA and many massacre survivors name the Oromia regional government’s irregular forces as the perpetrators of these ethnic cleansing campaigns. The Oromia region then, again typically, issues a fake statement that declares, “ X number of OLA fighters” have been killed. This happens every time there is a massacre of ethnic minorities in Oromia. At times, they even show video footage of captured weapons. These videos have been exposed to show the same repeated faces and rifles from the era of King Menilik, while it is known that the OLA fighters (or Oromia Region’s irregular forces) brandish the latest Russian-made machine guns and snipers, supplied from the government’s own arsenal. This fact has been publicly admitted by General Kemal Gelchu, Oromia Region’s ex-chief of security.
It is widely believed that the ruling party, the Oromo People’s Democratic Party (Oromo PP) uses the OLA to achieve the ethnic cleansing objective of Oromo extremists both within the government and in the various fragments of the Oromo Liberation Front (including Jawar Mohammed’s OFC). The shared idea here is the establishment of a “Great Oromia” that is homogenous in cultural, linguistic and religious dimensions. (There is mounting evidence that this expanded homogenous state is going to be the Islamic State of Oromia.) That is why, despite the repeated massacres of thousands of Amhara and the forced displacement of over a million civilians, none of the Oromo political parties ever denounce these acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing.* Some of these Oromo political parties and their media outlets would even bend backward to create fabricated statements that blame the victim. So far, the only saving grace has been that, unlike the radicalized elite, the masses of the Oromo people have not been hateful towards other ethnic groups that live amongst them. However, this may not continue forever as hate messages are being intensely disseminated through the school system, political organizations and via mainstream and social media networks.
What was the casualty on the attackers?
None. Yes, in this ethnic cleansing massacres, there has never been a report of a casualty with respect to the armed killers. The killers, in the case of Gulliso, gathered the local population in a school yard and machine gunned them down. No attacker was injured. In Tole, they followed the unarmed and helpless villagers who took refuge in a mosque and slaughtered them. Again no injury on the part of the attackers, be they OLA members or OPDO irregular forces (none reported, so far). It has been this way every single time in the Wellega, Oromia massacres. If there are any armed members in the village, Oromia regional government makes sure they are disarmed, sometimes even imprisoned, before the impending attack. The only casualty that the attackers suffer following these huge massacres is on government stationery. The attacks don’t always come as a surprise. Often times, in fact, they are known well ahead of time and the local residents send their pleas to the government and the free press for help. To no avail. If anything, any armed members are disarmed, the National Defense unit deployed away and the Oromia Police just change uniform – leaving the way clear for an unhindered genocide.
What has been the trend of the ethnic violence?
Although there have been sporadic attacks against Amhara civilians in Wellega for over four decades, the attacks have escalated to ethnic cleansing proportions only after the coming of Abiy Ahmed to power. In fact, the most recent attack occurred only a few days after Abiy Ahmed made a very inciting and coded hate speech against the Amhara in parliament. Abiy Ahmed intentionally falsified and misconstrued facts when he made those well-prepared and rehearsed inflammatory statements in parliament. Abiy has been known to use such tactics to incite the massacre and destruction of Amhara civilians. Two cases in point are a televised program he staged in Benshangul-gumuz that was followed by a gruesome massacre and a mass grave the very evening. The second one was during a parliament session regarding the burning down of an Amhara town, Ataye and Abiy again staged an orchestrated presentation that immediately led to Oromo extremist violence against the victimized Amhara community.
Preceding the current bout of violence, in addition to Abiy’s calculated hate speech in Parliament, a provocative and seditious video was circulated in social media. This doctored video released from the government’s security archives, showed people being taken off some trucks and killed, execution style. The video was edited to make it look like the work of Fanno, a traditional, non-government affiliated defensive force of the Amhara. Although, EHRC (Ethiopian Human Rights Commission) later exposed the video as one showing government forces, and not Fanno, committing extrajudicial killings of captured POWs, the damage has already been done. In just one area of Gimbi, Oromia, 3000 people have been unaccounted for and upwards of 1000 bodies of victims have been buried in various mass graves. The entire group that took refuge in a village mosque had been massacred. According to a survivor, even members of the National Defense Force, that characteristically arrive after the mayhem is over, said they were too tired from burying victims all day and left many bodies unburied.
What is the ideological basis for the ethnic violence in Oromia?
Oromia Region constitution clearly states that the region belongs to ethnic Oromos. Oromo political parties compete with each other in how well they uphold this constitution. Xenophobia has become the measure of Sabbonumma. Thus, it is only a matter of time until everybody else is cleared away, sent to their graves or to wherever their ancestors are believed to have come from. Being born from non-Oromo parents born in Oromia or having one Oromo parent had not spared civilian victims from the violence. So, unless the constitution and political system are revised, the source of the ethnic violence remains to be structural and systemic.
What is the lot of the survivors?
The saddest thing about the survivors of massacres in Wellega has been that all their escape routes are blocked. All the roads that lead out of Wellega expose the survivors to slaughter by armed Oromo extremists. Recently, a group of people that managed to escape the Gambella massacre by the OLA made it to Metu town in Illubabor (Illu-Aba- Bora). However, they could not get to safety from Metu. There was no road they could take out of Metu that would spare them from an OLA attack. During a recent attack in another Wellega region, busses filled with the empty-handed survivors were stopped near Ambo and most of the male survivors taken down and massacred. The busses with the mostly women and children was not allowed to stop in Addis Ababa and the survivors ended up in Debre Birhan, 1000 Km away from their home and the place of their birth.
While thousands of trucks filled with food and medical supplies head for Tigray, the Amhara survivors of the Oromia attacks are denied any governmental or international aid. In fact, a quarter million displaced Amhara have been hidden away by the government that forced them to camp in a forest in Gojjam, in the middle of nowhere. Their attempt to send delegates to the city and publicize their ordeal was met with a brutal reprisal from government forces that coerced them to go back to their forest refuge. This is why many have expressed their belief that the ruling party is part of this ethnic cleansing and genocidal campaign against the Amhara.
What does the OLA say?
Here is a quote from AP.
“OLA spokesman Odaa Tarbii denied the allegations, claiming in a tweet that Abiy’s government was once again blaming the OLA for crimes it had committed itself. “The attack you are referring to was committed by the regime’s military and local militia as they retreated from their camp in Gimbi following our recent offensive,” he said in a message to the AP. “They escaped to an area called Tole, where they attacked the local population and destroyed their property as retaliation for their perceived support for the OLA. Our fighters had not even reached that area when the attacks took place,” he added.”
That Odaa Tarbii is lying through his teeth is clear from the underlined piece in his statement. The attacked population involved several villages of ethnic Amhara who could not be “perceived as supporters of OLA”, their very killers! Thus, the OLA is caught red-handed.
What has been the Wahabi response?
The present massacre of ethnic Amhara in Oromia involved a great number of Moslem victims. Wahabi Oromo Clerics characteristically remained quiet and refrained from their orchestrated and loud protest that they let go whenever there is a perceived attack of Moslems in other regions of Ethiopia. This came as no surprise for these same Wahabi Oromo extremists were quiet after gunmen wiped out an entire Amhara community inside a mosque during a worship prayer in Gura Ferda. This same group also exercised silence when the machete-chopped bodies of 200 Amhara Moslem residents of Benshangul-Gumuz were bulldozed into a mass grave along with the bodies of Amhara victims. On the other hand, the these same Wahabi almost “burnt the country down” when eight Gondar Moslems were killed in a religious strife that the Wahabi themselves orchestrated.
What has been the Turkish response?
Why Turkey? Or Turkiye? Well the Turks have been meddling in Ethiopian affairs on and off since 500 years ago. Recently, when eight Moslems were killed in Gondar during this year’s Ramadan, where also six Christians died during a religious strife, the Turkish government issued its concerns that Moslems were being attacked in Gondar. However, the Turkish government is quiet when the majority Moslem community in Tole, Gimbi (Oromia) is wiped out. In both cases, the victims were ethnic Amhara Moslems. The perpetrators, however, were different. In the first case, the attackers were believed to be unarmed Orthodox Amhara. In the second case, it was armed Oromo extremists. The second incident involved the death of a hundred times more Moslems. Could we then say that the Turks seem to be okay with a massacre of Moslems when the killers are Oromos?
What has been the response of the Biden Administration?**
Consistent with its Anti-Ethiopia stance, Biden Administration has practically ignored the June 2022 Oromia Massacre of ethnic Amhara. The US embassy in Addis Ababa is known to issue immediate statements even over little disturbances in the country. However, three days into the gruesome massacre, the embassy had still remained mute. This US government silence on the massacre is a harbinger of doom, an indicator of US government role in the prospective Grand Ethiopian Genocide that Oromo extremists are purposefully directing the nation towards. Yet, it is understandable. Why would the US government waste words over the massacre of a mere one thousand civilians when it is in the know that a genocide of tens of millions of Amhara is underway?
What has been the response of the local media?
The coverage of the local media, most of it government controlled, has so far been shameful. Practically no coverage to speak of.
What has the coverage of the international media been like?
Coverage of the massacre by the international media, compared to coverage of earlier Amhara massacres in Oromia and Benshangul-gumuz, has been most encouraging. Several international media outlets published news articles covering the attack on civilians.
What was the response of the Ethiopian parliament?
The Ethiopian Parliament was asked to observe a moment of silence and declare a day of mourning for the victims. It refused both requests to honor the victims. The Parliament has clearly shown that it approves of the attack and that it stands with the attackers.
*After this article was completed, the OFC, for the first time, has issued a declaration denouncing violence against ethnic minorities. OFC’s statement seem to be prompted by the concurrent violence on unarmed ethnic Oromos in Gambella by Gambella regional forces following the attack on the city by the Oromo Liberation Army.
** Again, after this article was completed, the US government and embassy in Ethiopia have issued cooler than lukewarm, perfunctory statements. One of their statements called the massacre of a thousand civilians an “incident” and they totally failed to allude to the ethnic violence against civilian Amhara. The Biden administration is a shame to the people of the United States!
Also after this piece was completed, regional administrators captured by the military have publicly admitted that they collaborated with the OLA units under the orders of their superiors. The question now, is how far up does this go? All the way to Abiy Ahmed?