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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

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 ACCOMMODATION: A mechanism of change in nonviolent action in which the opponents resolve, while they still have a choice, to agree to a compromise and grant certain demands of the nonviolent resisters. Accommodation occurs when the opponents have neither changed their views nor been nonviolently coerced, but have concluded that a compromise settlement is desirable. The accommodation may result from influences which, if continued, might have led to the conversion, nonviolent coercion, or disintegration of the opponents’ system or regime.

AUTHORITY: The quality of leadership which enables the judgments, decisions, recommendations, and orders of certain individuals and institutions to be accepted voluntarily as prudent or wise and therefore should be implemented by others through obedience or cooperation. Authority is a main source of political power, but is not identical with it.

BOYCOTT: Refraining from patronizing a service, buying a product, having contact with certain people, or having transactions with certain institutions or businesses.

CIVIC ABSTENTION: A synonym for acts of political noncooperation.

CIVIC ACTION: Nonviolent action by civil society conducted for political purposes.

CIVIC DEFIANCE: Assertive acts of nonviolent protest, resistance or intervention conducted for political purposes.

CIVIC RESISTANCE: A synonym for nonviolent resistance by civil society with a political objective.

CIVIC STRIKE: A shut-down of economic and social space conducted for political reasons. Not only workers may go on strike, but importantly students, professionals, shopkeepers, white-color workers (including government employees), and members of upper classes can participate.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE: A deliberate peaceful violation of particular laws, decrees, regulations, ordinances, military or police orders, and the like.

These are usually laws which are regarded as inherently immoral, unjust, or tyrannical. Sometimes, however, laws of a largely regulatory or morally neutral character may be disobeyed as a symbol of opposition to wider policies of the government.

CONVERSION: A change of viewpoint by the opponents against whom nonviolent action has been waged, such that they come to believe it is right to accept the objectives of the nonviolent group. This is one of four mechanisms of change in nonviolent action.

DISINTEGRATION: The fourth mechanism of change in nonviolent action, in which the opponents are not simply coerced, but their system or government is disintegrated and falls apart as a result of massive noncooperation and defiance. The sources of power are restricted or severed by the noncooperation to such an extreme degree that the opponents’ system or government simply dissolves.

ECONOMIC SHUT-DOWN: A suspension of the economic activities of a city, area, or country on a sufficient scale to produce economic paralysis. The motives are usually political.

This may be achieved with a general strike by workers while management, business, commercial institutions, and small shopkeepers close their establishments and halt their economic activities.

FREEDOM (POLITICAL): A political condition which permits freedom of choice and action for individuals and also for individuals and groups to participate in the decisions and operation of the society and the political system.

GRAND STRATEGY: The broadest conception of how an objective is to be attained in a conflict by a chosen course of action. The grand strategy serves to coordinate and direct all appropriate and available resources (human, political, economic, moral, etc.) of the group to attain its objectives in a conflict.

Several more limited strategies may be applied within a grand strategy to achieve particular objectives in subordinate phases of the overall struggle.

GRIEVANCE GROUP: The general population group whose grievances are issues in the conflict, and are being championed by the nonviolent resisters.

HUMAN RESOURCES: A term that is used here to indicate the number of persons and groups who obey "the ruler" (meaning the ruling group in command of the state), cooperate with, or assist the ruling group in implementing their will. This includes the proportion of such persons and groups in the general population, and the extent, forms, and independence of their organizations.

A ruler’s power is affected by the availability of these human resources, which constitute one of the sources of political power.

MATERIAL RESOURCES: This is another source of political power. The term refers to property, natural resources, financial resources, the economic system, means of communication, and modes of transportation. The degree to which the ruler controls, or does not control, these helps to determine the extent or limits of the ruler’s power.

MECHANISMS OF CHANGE: The processes by which change is achieved in successful cases of nonviolent struggle. The four mechanisms are conversion, accommodation, nonviolent coercion, and disintegration.

METHODS: The specific means of action within the technique of nonviolent action. Nearly two hundred specific methods have thus far been identified. They are classed under three main classes of nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation (social, economic, and political), and nonviolent intervention.

NONCOOPERATION: A large class of methods of nonviolent action that involve deliberate restriction, discontinuance, or withholding of social, economic, or political cooperation (or a combination of these) with a disapproved person, activity, institution, or regime.

The methods of noncooperation are classified in the subcategories of social noncooperation, economic noncooperation (economic boycotts and labor strikes), and political noncooperation.

NONVIOLENCE (RELIGIOUS OR ETHICAL): Beliefs and behavior of several types in which violent acts are prohibited on religious or ethical grounds. In some belief systems, not only physical violence is barred but also hostile thoughts and words. Certain belief systems additionally enjoin positive attitudes and behavior toward opponents, or even a rejection of the concept of opponents.

Such believers often may participate in nonviolent struggles with people practicing nonviolent struggle for pragmatic reasons, or may choose not to do so.

NONVIOLENT ACTION: A general technique of conducting protest, resistance, and intervention without physical violence.

Such action may be conducted by (a) acts of omission — that is, the participants refuse to perform acts which they usually perform, are expected by custom to perform, or are required by law or regulation to perform; or (b) acts of commission — that is, the participants perform acts which they usually do not perform, are not expected by custom to perform, or are forbidden by law or regulation from performing; or (c) a combination of both.

The technique includes a multitude of specific methods which are grouped into three main classes: nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation, and nonviolent intervention.

NONVIOLENT COERCION: A mechanism of change in nonviolent action in which demands are achieved against the will of the opponents because effective control of the situation has been taken away from them by widespread noncooperation and defiance. However, the opponents still remain in their official positions and the system has not yet disintegrated.

NONVIOLENT CONFLICT: A conflict in which at least one party uses nonviolent action as its means to wage the conflict.

NONVIOLENT INSURRECTION: A popular political uprising against an established regime regarded as oppressive by use of massive noncooperation and defiance.

NONVIOLENT INTERVENTION: A large class of methods of nonviolent action which in a conflict situation directly interfere by nonviolent means with the opponents’ activities and operation of their system. These methods are distinguished from both symbolic protests and noncooperation. The disruptive intervention is most often physical (as in a sit-in) but may be psychological, social, economic, or political.

NONVIOLENT PROTEST AND PERSUASION: A large class of methods of nonviolent action which are symbolic acts expressing opposition opinions or attempting persuasion (as vigils, marches or picketing). These acts extend beyond verbal expressions of opinion but stop short of noncooperation (as a strike) and nonviolent intervention (as a sit-in).

NONVIOLENT STRUGGLE: The waging of determined conflict by strong forms of nonviolent action, especially against determined and resourceful opponents who may respond with repression.

NONVIOLENT WEAPONS: The specific methods of nonviolent action.

PILLARS OF SUPPORT: The institutions and sections of the society which supply the existing regime with the needed sources of power to maintain and expand its power capacity.

Examples are the police, prisons, and military forces supplying sanctions, moral and religious leaders supplying authority (legitimacy), labor groups and business and investment groups supplying economic resources, and similarly with the other identified sources of political power.

POLITICAL DEFIANCE: The strategic application of nonviolent struggle in order to disintegrate a dictatorship and to replace it with a democratic system.

This resistance by noncooperation and defiance mobilizes the power of the oppressed population in order to restrict and cut off the sources of the dictatorship’s power. Those sources are provided by groups and institutions called "pillars of support."

When political defiance is used successfully, it can make a nation ungovernable by the current or any future dictatorship and therefore able to preserve a democratic system against possible new threats.

POLITICAL JIU-JITSU: A special process that may operate during a nonviolent struggle to change power relationships. In political jiu-jitsu negative reactions to the opponents’ violent repression against nonviolent resisters is turned to operate politically against the opponents, weakening their power position and strengthening that of the nonviolent resisters. This can operate only when violent repression is met with continued nonviolent defiance, not violence or surrender. The opponents’ repression is then seen in the worst possible light.

Resulting shifts of opinion are likely to occur among third parties, the general grievance group, and even the opponents’ usual supporters. Those shifts may produce both withdrawal of support for the opponents and increased support for the nonviolent resisters. The result may be widespread condemnation of the opponents, internal opposition among the opponents, and increased resistance. These changes can at times produce major shifts in power relationships in favor of the nonviolent struggle group.

Political jiu-jitsu does not operate in all cases of nonviolent struggle. When it is absent the shift of power relationships depends highly on the extent of noncooperation.

POLITICAL POWER: The totality of influences and pressures available for use to determine and implement official policies for a society. Political power may be wielded by the institutions of government, or in opposition to the government by dissident groups and organizations. Political power may be directly applied in a conflict, or it may be held as a reserve capacity for possible later use.

SANCTIONS: Punishments or reprisals, violent or nonviolent, imposed either because people have failed to act in the expected or desired manner or imposed because people have acted in an unexpected or prohibited manner.

Nonviolent sanctions are less likely than violent ones to be simple reprisals for disobedience and are more likely to be intended to achieve a given objective. Sanctions are a source of political power.

SELF-RELIANCE: The capacity to manage one’s own affairs, make one’s own judgments, and provide for oneself, one’s group or organization, independence, self-determination, and self-sufficiency.

SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE: A source of political power. The ruler’s power is supported by the skills, knowledge and abilities that are provided by persons and groups in the society (human resources) and the relation of those available skills, knowledge and abilities to the ruler’s needs for them.

SOURCES OF POWER: These are origins of political power. They include: authority, human resources, skills and knowledge, intangible factors, material resources and sanctions. These derive from the society. Each of these sources is closely associated with and dependent upon, the acceptance, cooperation, and obedience of the population and the society’s institutions. With strong supply of these sources the ruler will be powerful. As the supply is weakened or severed, the ruler’s power will weaken or collapse.

STRATEGIC NONVIOLENT STRUGGLE: Nonviolent struggle that is applied according to a strategic plan that has been prepared on the basis of analysis of the conflict situation, the strengths and weaknesses of the contending groups, the nature, capacities, and requirements of the technique of nonviolent action, and especially strategic principles of that type of struggle. See also: grand strategy, strategy, tactics, and methods.

STRATEGY: A plan for the conduct of a major phase, or campaign, within a grand strategy for the overall conflict. A strategy is the basic idea of how the struggle of a specific campaign shall develop, and how its separate components shall be fitted together to contribute most advantageously to achieve its objectives.

Strategy operates within the scope of the grand strategy. Tactics and specific methods of action are used in smaller scale operations to implement the strategy for a specific campaign.

STRIKE: A deliberate restriction or suspension of work, usually temporarily, to put pressure on employers to achieve an economic objective or sometimes on the government in order to win a political objective.

TACTIC: A limited plan of action based on a conception of how, in a restricted phase of a conflict, to use effectively the available means of action to achieve a specific limited objective. Tactics are intended for use in implementing a wider strategy in a phase of the overall conflict.

VIOLENCE: Physical violence against other human beings which inflicts injury or death, or threatens to inflict such violence, or any act dependent on such infliction or threat.

Some types of religious or ethical nonviolence conceive of violence much more broadly. This narrower definition permits adherents to those beliefs to cooperate with persons and groups that are prepared on pragmatic grounds to practice nonviolent struggle.

* Source: Gene Sharp, There Are Realistic Alternatives, (Boston: The Albert Einstein Institution, 2003). pp. 31-38. Some modifications have been made to Sharp’s definitions.