Ethnic killings in Ethiopia deepen crisis

The violence in Oromia is a thorny challenge for Mr. Abiy, who is himself an ethnic Oromo. He was catapulted to power in 2018 during a ...


The violence in Oromia is a thorny challenge for Mr. Abiy, who is himself an ethnic Oromo. He was catapulted to power in 2018 during a wave of protests in the region against the previous government. These protests were fueled by the Oromos who felt they had been politically and economically marginalized, despite being Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.

But as Mr Abiy, who was born in Oromia, sought to centralize his authority, observers said his actions had isolated many people in the region, especially those who had advocated for more autonomy. Mr. Abiy’s government responded by quell protestsclosing offices linked to Oromo political groups and arresting prominent activists, including Jawar Mohammed, prominent critic of the Prime Minister.

The crackdown has prompted many young Oromo nationalists to “turn from peaceful protests and registered political parties to rebellion” led by the Oromo Liberation Army, said William Davison, senior Ethiopia analyst at the International. Crisis Group.

Mr Abiy’s new allegation that the Oromo Liberation Army carried out another massacre this week has been confirmed by the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which said the militant group had killed ethnic Amhara civilians in two villages in the Qellem Wollega area, about 370 miles west of the capital, Addis Ababa.

Neither Mr Abiy nor the commission provided a toll, but Hone Mandefro, advocacy director for the Amhara Association of America, said more than 300 people had been killed, including 120 buried in one of the villages on Tuesday. . Dozens more were abducted in the attack, he said, and their fates remain unknown.

The Oromo Liberation Army, in a Twitter post on Tuesday, instead put the responsible for attacks on militias aligned with Mr. Abiy’s government.

Their claim was bolstered late Tuesday night, when a lawmaker from Mr Abiy’s ruling Prosperity Party challenged the official account, saying in a Facebook Live video that senior Oromia government officials, including the head of the region and the commissioner of police, had helped organize the attacks.

Prosperity Party MP Hangaasa Ahmed Ibraahim called on Abiy to take action against Oromia leaders and protect civilians.

“We are tired of seeing statements of rest in peace and condolences,” he said in a program that lasted nearly two hours, in which he urged Mr. Abiy: “Do your job to lead the country”.

The communications manager for the Oromia region did not respond to requests for comment.

Telephone networks in remote villages remained down on Wednesday, making it difficult to reach residents.

But Tolasa Raga, head of Hawa Galan Hospital in the town of Gaba Robi, about 10 miles from where the killings took place, said the hospital had received 35 injured people.

“They all suffered gunshot wounds, and some are in critical condition,” Raga said in a telephone interview.

Mohammed Sied, a 45-year-old farmer from Gaba Robi, said he and other villagers gathered 30 bodies outside a mosque in one of the villages and buried them.

The latest murders come on the heels of another massacre, in western Oromia in June, when armed assailants stormed the village of Tole, which also has a majority Amhara population, and began firing indiscriminately at civilians. The attack left hundreds dead and at least 2,000 others fleeing their homesaccording to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ethiopia is also grappling with one of the worst droughts to hit the country in four decades, leaving millions of people hungry. Last week, UNICEF said that child marriage in Ethiopia has more than doubled last year in the most drought-affected areas because parents were marrying off their young daughters for financial reasons.



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