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Requesting urgent intervention to uphold the rights of Benshangul Gumuz civilians

(A4O, 8 May 2019, Press Release) We have confirmed that Benshangul Gumuz civilians are increasingly targeted and executed by the highly armed and well-trained Amhara militia. They were trained, radicalized and fully armed with modern machine guns by a National Movement for Amhara (NAMA).


According to the eye witnesses, over 500 Shinasha people in Benshangul-Gumuz Region, Jawi Woreda, were suddenly executed; tens of thousands of civilians were also made to flee their own villages for their lives between May 1 and 2, 2019. The main victims were civilians including children, women and elderly. Homes were also torched in that outbreak of violence.
We have also observed that the civilians are getting killed for no apparent reasons by a highly armed Amhara regional special force in Benshangul Gumuz regional state. This armed group is not only targeting solely indigenous and legitimate owners of the land; but also, hundreds of children and elderly are getting summarily executed for a simple reason of being different from their killers in the aspect of their culture, skin colour and political beliefs.
The Ethiopian Government neither condemn the killings of civilians nor asked for apology for failing to safeguard them. Although some authorities claim the restoration of the order, this is far from the truth as the Government hasn’t so far take any justifiable action against the killers and forces behind these tragic executions.

Background information
Recently, the Amhara Special force further threatened the Oromo people in relation to the ownership claims of Finfinnee (Addis Ababa). These group further vowed to repeat their success in Benshangul in Wallo and other parts of Amhara-Oromia borders.
In 2003, for instance, between 430 and 500 unarmed civilians were massacred by those who colonised their land for a simple reason of silencing them whilst expropriating their resources and land in Gambella region. The same massacre is now unfolding in Shaka zone on a Shakacho people by the same highlanders. Tens of thousands of Oromo, Ogaden Somali and Sidama civilians were executed in the last 27 years alone.
Call of Action
Advocacy for Oromia, a non-profit advocacy organisation working to ensure that the people’s rights and wishes are respected, has deeply admired much of the work done by both regional and federal government to restore peace and stability in the region.
In fact, political differences may divide some of the regional states in the country. But upholding human rights is in the interest of every state. Peoples of these regions also seek a common agenda: rights, peace, security, justice, freedom, and sustainable development.
We firmly believe that human rights are a powerful medicine, which heals wounds and develops resilience. Thus, we show our consistent and unrestricted solidarity until justice is served on their behalf by bringing those who have killed and maimed their sons and daughters to an independent justice.
Advocacy for Oromia, therefore, unanimously condemn with the strongest possible terms such barbaric actions toward the unarmed civilians, children, women and elderly of Benshangul Gumuz.

Furthermore,
1. We urge the Amhara’s regional state to exercise utmost restraint and lawfully handle its anarchically behaving special forces that has been primarily trained to maintain law and order. There won’t be any peace and security as long as some groups are fighting to dominate and dehumanise fellow mankind.
2. We demand the federal government to immediately intervene and stop the on-going execution of powerless civilians whose lives are put at the mercy of their barbaric assailants.
3. We urge the federal government to immediately investigate and bring those responsible for such horrific and inhumane actions to civilians to justice.
4. We advise the international human rights group and western countries politicians to earnestly bring this unsettling massacre of civilians to the attentions of obliviously sleeping Ethiopian authorities by urging them to take meaningful and corrective measures as a matter of urgency.
5. We call up on all Ethiopian peoples to unconditionally condemn such barbarism and demand the Amhara regional state to stop its inhumane actions to the unarmed civilians.
We will always continuously work for and speaks up for the voiceless people.
Press Release by Advocacy for Oromia,
May 8, 2019.

For PDF format:Press Release 8 May 2019

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Grave Human rights violation in the Guji area of Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia

‘Why is it so brutal, immoral, inhuman, and so atrocious.’

Oromia Support Group Australia
Issue 2, April 2019

Oromia Support Group Australia (OSGA) grievously worries about the severe human rights violation in Guji area, State of Oromia. The Ethiopian military forces, regional and zonal administrations are, in collaboration, committing a grave violation of human rights that include mass killing, incineration of people alive, mass detention, burning of villages, and confiscation of properties, torture and starvation of villagers. The action of brutality has been carrying out only in the name of stamping out OLF (Oromo Liberation Front) forces from the area.

Since December 2018 right after the deployment of Ethiopian military to the area, there have been many atrocities committed by the army and the zonal administration forces in the area. For instance:

1. 28 December 2018, thirteen innocent civilian from Finchawa town, Dugda Dawa district and six civilians from a village called ‘Maxxaarrii’ in Galana Abaya districts were brutally killed. The same day, around 10 pm local time many people were injured some of which died later due to their injuries. What made the killing so horrendous was that it happened at a time when the village was peaceful, and the residents of the town were on their regular daily routine. The residents in the area unsuspicious as to what was going to happen even to take a cover to avoid the spontaneous raining bullets and heavy machine guns that burned everything it hits (vehicle, motorbike, house, tree) including human being.

As a human being, no one thinks would enjoy the sight of tarred corpus and can easily imagine what the family and society would feel seeing their beloved torched in broad daylight without his or her sin.

2. Similarly, on 15 January 2019, an elderly woman who was sitting in her hut was incinerated after the door of the shelter she was living in was locked from behind and torched while she was alive. What made this killing too shockingly inhuman was the brutality of the soldiers that waited to make sure the elderly that was burning to ashes was completed and fled the scene pinching their noses due to the roasting flesh that smoked the area. This brutal killing has happened after the soldiers had indiscriminately killed at least ten and injured many in and around Karcha town and killed many unaccounted along their way including an elderly man who was riding a horse 100 meters away from the house they torched with the elderly woman.

Besides these significant incidents, without any late up, the killing rampage of two, three, five, ten, here and there across the area has continued to date including burning of villages, displacement of villagers, confiscation of properties and killing of anyone who rides a motorbike without any impunity.

3. On 19 February 2019, for instance, an indiscriminate shooting on artisanal gold miners in the Dakara village in Arero district killed six civilians on the spot and injured many who run into the thorny bush and ragged rocks that further harmed women and children.

4. Gujii area is totally under siege. Motorbike, the only means of transportation for remote villagers, is prohibited. Much of it is confiscated as such people have to walk a day or so on foot to access markets. In some areas, even those markets are restricted. The amount of food one carries is limited to less than five kilos yet if one has to have a family of ten or more which is common in Gujii area.
5. Night curfew is imposed in the rural and urban areas. One can’t walk in the night to reach the village, and he or she has to walk in the scorching sun to avoid the killing and detention that comes due to the breach of the night curfew. No one can complain about why someone is arrested and why someone is shot. The number of people who moved to the concentration camp has increased by the day. At the time of this report conducted more than two hundred and fifty people from Bule Hora, ninety-four from Qarcha, fifty-five from Malkaa Soda and many more from various areas of Gujii are on course to be transported in addition to thousands who have already been transported to some undisclosed harsh concentration camp. People have to run to bushes with their children to avoid capture. It is so hostile beyond human imagination.

6. Just recently as if all the atrocities committed by the military are not enough they have trained local militias whose task is to burn properties of families of suspected sympathisers of the rebel groups as such many suspects’ properties in many places in the area are burned to ashes. Those who objected to the tactic are taken to concentration camps. While that is one thing what is worrying is the identity of those who are burning properties. As stated these militias are locals and they are known, people. At the same time, those of who whose properties are destroyed are locals. They know who is doing this. Guji community is known for its cooperation along its lineage. If the family or sub-clans of those whose properties are destroyed respond to the action of the local militias and the families or sub-clans of the local militias counter, it is not hard to imagine what would happen in the area.

Oromia Support Group Australia urges all the concerning bodies to pay immediate attention to these grave human rights violations and instantly call for the cessation of these brutal collective punishments. All the breadwinners of their family should be released from concentration camps. Peace and stability need to be restored in the area through civilised negotiation instead of resolving the differences through military means. Those who have committed grave crimes should be brought to justice for the accountability of the evil they have committed.

For more information:OSGA April 2019 Statement on Grave Human Right Violations in Guji – State of Oromia

Oromia: Irreechaa, a Festival That Promotes Unity and Peace, is undertaking in Bishoftu.

(30 September 2018) Irreechaa, one of the intangible heritages of the Oromo nation, is colorfully happening in the presence of a large gathering by Lake Hora-Arsedi in Bishoftu town right no.

On this day (normally falls at the end of September or beginning of October), many Oromos come to the river or the sea or the lake with an outlet that has since long been chosen to be the place for such thanksgiving celebration.

Irreechaa comes on the following of Meskel, which comes in tandem with New year. September proves a month where cultural and religious festivals are celebrated one after the other. Hence Irreechaa is one of the jewels in the crown of September.

In the traditional religion of the Oromos, the spirit is the power through which Waqaa (The Almighty God) governs all over the world. Thus, Oromos believe that every creation of Waqaa has its own spirit.

Twice a year

Traditionally, the Oromo practise Irreechaa ritual as a thanksgiving celebration twice a year,on autumn and spring, to praise God for peace, health, fertility and abundance giving regards to people, livestock, harvest and the entire Oromo land.

Irreecha is celebrated as a sign of reciprocating God in a form of providing praise for what they got in the past. It is also a forum of prayer for the future. In such rituals, the Oromo gather in places with symbolic meanings, such as hilltops, riversides and shades of big sacred trees. Irreechaa is celebrated on Sunday that comes following Maskal, the finding of the True Cross. Irreechaa is one of the intangible heritages of the Oromo people. It is an open air festival where millions gather to thank “Waaqa “or God.

Oromo National event

Irreecha is one of the most colourful and beautiful Oromo National Cultural event that has been celebrated throughout Oromia. At State level Irreechaa is celebrated in Bishoftu Town in Oromia at Lake Hora Arsedi.

It is important to note the Oromos celebrate the Irreecha irrespective of their religious backgrounds. Whether they are Waaqeffataa, Christians or Muslims they participate in the festival.
On the festival Community leaders and Aba Gada’s praise God for the blessed transition from the rainy season which is normally considered gloomy to the bright and colorful season autumn. The costumes the Oromos put on in different designs lend color to the vibe of the festival. This is one of the things that make the ceremony worth attending.

Most of all, they believe that this spirit (through which Waqaa is supposed to govern all over its creature) wallows over the sea and the great rivers of our world. And also, they do believe that the peak of the mountain is holly in nature, and that it serves as a host to the spirit of Waqaa.

Thus, the Oromos usually go to the river or to the mountain during the time of their worshiping rituals, or during Irreessaa celebration. The celebration is an indigenous Oromo knowledge which has been practiced for centuries now.

The winter, rainy season

The Oromo People consider the winter rainy season of June to September as the time of difficulty. The heavy rain brings with it lots of things like swelling rivers and floods that may drown people, cattle, crop, and flood homes. Also, family relationship will severe during winter rain as they can’t visit each other because of swelling rivers.

In addition, winter time could be a time of hunger for some because of the fact that previous harvest collected in January is running short and new harvest is not ripe yet. Because of this, some families may endure food shortages during the winter. In Birraa (Spring in Oromo land), this shortage ends as many food crops especially maize is ripe and families can eat their fill. Other crops like potato, barley, etc. will also be ripe in Birraa. Some disease types like malaria also break out during rainy winter time. Because of this, the Oromos see winter as a difficult season. It does not mean the Oromo People hate rain or winter season at all. Even when there is shortage of rain, they pray to Waaqa (God) for rain.

The Oromo People celebrate Irreecha not only to thank Waaqa (God) but also to welcome the new season of plentiful harvests after the dark and rainy winter season associated with nature and creature. On Irreecha festivals, friends, family, and relatives gather together and celebrate with joy and happiness. Irreecha festivals bring people closer to each other and make social bonds.

Moreover, the Oromo People celebrate this auspicious event to mark the end of rainy season, known as Ganna, was established by Oromo forefathers, in the time of Gadaa Melbaa in Mormor, Oromia. The auspicious day on which this last Mormor Day of Gadaa Melbaa – the Dark Time of starvation and hunger- was established on the Sunday of last week of September or the Sunday of the 1st week of October according to the Gadaa lunar calendar has been designated as National Thanksgiving Day by modern-day Oromo People.

In Waqeffannaa religion thanksgiving-Irreecha, the Qaalluus (spiritual leaders) and the Abbaa Malkaas (lineal chiefs of the areas) are at the top hierarchies. In the Qaallu religio-ethics, the Qaalluus give religious instructions and directives of the where-about and the time of the implementation of the rituals.