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- Please sign and send the following letter either by copying and pasting the content from this page bellow or by downloading the attached MS Word document to your Member of Parliament representatives in the UK, International Organisations, or any other parties who have a potential of contributing to avert the ongoing atrocities in Ethiopia.
Address of the recipient
Your address ……………….
Re: THE ONGOING ATTROCITIES IN ETHIOPIA
We are writing about the unfolding situation of killings and human rights violations in Ethiopia. We are concerned citizens, both UK citizens with an interest in Ethiopia, UK citizens of Ethiopian origin and Ethiopians living in and around Greater Manchester, disturbed by the news of the ongoing atrocities committed in Oromia, Amhara, Konso and Ogeden regions of Ethiopia by the regime of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, an appointee of Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the dominant party within EPRDF.
Barely 9 months after Ethiopian government carried out killings of more than 400 Oromo nationals and the incarceration of thousands, a similar and perhaps worse human rights tragedy in the offing in the city of Gondar, Bahir Dar and environs of the Amhara region and Konso. The ancient city of Gondar is not only one of the cultural and multi-religion hubs of Ethiopia, it is also home to a diverse population drawn from almost all ethnic groups. Most notably, Tigreans and Amhara have lived side by side and intermarried over numerous generations. It is this diverse population led by youth are spearheading the popular uprising. Their anger has never been and will never be against Tigreans. It is principally against the narrow ethnic nationalist and corrupt Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This is the group that dominates the state and government within the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Party (EPRDF) of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn in power since 1991. The assertion by the TPLF that the popular uprising is engineered by Eritrea and Ginbot-7 or any other outside group or government is utterly absurd and false. Whether in Gondar, the Ogaden, Addis Ababa, Oromia or Gambella, Konso the TPLF has an established record of accusing dissenter as terrorists. The latest accusation that the target of the Gondar uprising is against the Tigrean population is equally untrue.
What triggered the unrest?
According to social media, reliable local sources, the Voice of America, the German Amharic Radio program and Ethiopian Satellite and Radio broadcasts, the unrest in Gondar began in the second week of July when a clandestine and special armed squad from Tigray entered the city, in the wee hours of the night when no one would see, went house to house, and arrested five members of the “Wolkait committee”. This committee was elected and assigned by the community to protest and contest the decision by the TPLF on behalf of the Tigray region to annex Wolkait-Tegede and the Amhara population into Tigray. These Committee members were highly respected, trusted and peaceful interlocutors with the Federal Government in Addis Ababa. The Wolkait community has been fighting the TPLF while demanding that the federal government recognize the people’s right to remain part and parcel of the Amhara sub-region of Gondar for more than a decade. This demand is based on affinity and contiguity and is recognized by the Constitution. Instead of respecting the peaceful negation and negotiators, the TPLF’s special clandestine squad from Tigray went from house to house and arrested four Committee members. It then headed to capture a fifth member, Col. Demeke Zewde. The Colonel refused to open his door telling them to come back during the day and he would go with them wherever rule of law demanded him to go. They opened fire. He fought back killing two members of the squad. Sadly one of his children was also murdered. At dawn break, the inhabitants who heard the shooting came out in droves, defended and “liberated” the Colonel. Soon after, armed peasants and militia moved from rural areas to the city and joined the popular uprising that engulfed the city.
A pattern of repression
The TPLF has never resolved political, social or religious unrest peacefully. Instead of calming the Gondar situation through negotiation and by releasing the arrested Committee members, the TPLF sent reinforcements from Tigray to Gondar. In initiating this typical police state like action, the TPLF inflamed the situation and embittered the population and made them more resentful and defiant. When asked why the uprising, people say that “their honour, dignity, person, citizenship and humanity have been degraded.” They feel “like second class citizens in their own lands and cities.” They are “robbed of their lands and face an existential threat.” They say they have “gained little to nothing from growth.” Their lands have been “taken away from them and incorporated into Tigray.” They “have no rights.” They “can’t appeal to anyone” etc. etc. These sentiments are shared by the vast majority of the population.
Whether in Gondar, Gambella, the Omo Valley, the Ogaden, Beni-Shangul Gumuz, Afar, Oromia or other, the Ethiopian people are unable to redress their grievances through the judicial system. This is the reason why they are desperate and increasingly defiant. They no longer trust the federal or regional police, institutions or officials. They seem to be convinced that the only option left is direct democratic action at the grassroots level. In Gondar, we confirm that the unrest is a grassroots level initiative. Accordingly, we are strong-minded that, contrary to the TPLF/EPRDF claim, there is no evidence whatsoever that the unrest is stimulated by external groups. Neither the Eritrean government nor opposition parties are involved. It is desperate people standing up for their rights against formidable odds. It is tragic that the TPLF labels ordinary and peaceful citizens as terrorists. This is a typical behaviour of the regime.
We are of course deeply saddened by loss of innocent lives, disappearance and persecutions, forcible evictions of indigenous people, systemic prison burn and gun down of inmates, annexation of lands, destruction of property and the deliberate and systematic implantation of ethnic division, hate and fear. All these tragedies are sponsored and implanted by the TPLF. The TPLF-led Police State and government have been relentless in applying the draconian Anti-Terrorism and CSO laws to inflict pain and agony on the population of Wolkait Tegede, Gambella, the Omo Valley, the Ogaden, Oromia, Konso and Addis Ababa. In today’s Ethiopia, political killings, arrests, maiming, disappearances and forcible evictions from ancestral lands have become routine. In this regard, it is incomprehensible to us that political deaths have become sheer statistics.
The regime is using snipers armed with the Dragunov semi-automatic machine guns designed as a squad support weapon, only to be used on enemies during war. The Ethiopian regime killing squad aims at the head and kills school children, women, young, old … indiscriminately. So far, the murder in Gojjam and Gondar Provinces of the Amhara region has mounted into hundreds, while 600 people have been mowed down in the Oromia region.
The Independent newspaper reported on the fire at Kilinto Ethiopia’s high security prison[i]. This tragedy took place on 03 September 2016. It is now established that the fire was deliberately established by the security men. Although the regime admitted 23 inmates were burned down and 2 were shot dead while trying to escape, the number is far higher. As if that was not enough, those in power kept families in the dark for one week, with regards to the fate of their loved one. When family members went to the prison to enquire, the regime deployed its army and went on beating spree. Many were left injured, some arrested and tortured, while others were chased away with baton and tear gas. At last they have secretly arranged the release of 60 bodies to the family to bury their loved ones without any noise, but the family are telling us that there were no burns on most of the bodies but bullet ridden.
The VOA Amharic Service reported that a fire destroyed an open market place with 420 shops in it. The habitants are saying it was the government that deliberately set the fire to the biggest open market to cripple the economic backbone of Gondar city, where there is PM Hailemariam Dessalegn had declared war on the people of Amhara and set the region under the Emergency Military Administration. The report can be listened to on ethioalert.com with subtitles. The suspicion of the deliberate burning down of the market place was confirmed by two arsonists surrounded caught by the citizens in Gondar when they returned to burned more on 21 September 2016, according to EthSat television and radio report. The two had been handed over to the regional police. The suspects admitted they were members of the 52 clandestine forces deployed from Tigray by the TPLF with the mission to burn down particularly the open market.
For us government sponsored killing of innocent people who demand justice is likely to deepen and broaden conflict in one of the most conflict-ridden parts of the world. It is within this suffocating environment of constant repression and assault on civil liberties and degradation of human dignity that the current state of siege in Gondar and environs is taking place. We believe the popular unrest in Gondar is a turning point; because peasants and other ordinary people are willing to die.
Those of us living in Greater Manchester and surrounding areas, connected through family or another to Ethiopia are outraged by the recurring behaviour that the TPLF believes that it has the license to kill and maim, jail and torture, intimidate, disenfranchise, evict, displace, accuse and imprison on false premises, demonize specific ethnic groups, implant a culture of ethnic hate and fear using public resources; and turn around and accuse someone as a troublemaker. There is no doubt that Ethiopians with reasonable cause are unable to use the law in addressing their grievances. There is practically no rule of law. The latest popular uprisings in Oromia, in Gondar and environs which is spreading around the country against the TPLF government that is led largely by youth epitomizes a systemic and structural governance problem. For example, the uprising in Gondar and environs is unlike any other for the following reasons:
- The entire city and its environs feel demeaned, dejected and outrage.
- The revolt was prompted by a callous and arrogant miscalculation by the TPLF that inhabitants would continue sit idle when peaceful people representing them are hunted down, jailed, tortured and ultimately killed by the TPLF. This not the first time that the TPLF has arrested or killed peacemakers. Members of a delegation to discuss reconciliation and peace among stakeholders including the government were arrested upon arrival at the airport and some jailed for several years. Given this sad patter, citizens in Gondar have determined that there must be an end to 25 years of human degradation and suffering.
- The revolt in Gondar is a grassroots level, spontaneous and popular uprising that has brought a broad spectrum of the population together. Armed peasants from rural areas have moved into the city to protect the civilian population. This uprising is not prompted by any outside political group or government as claimed by the TPLF. Nor were the Committee members whose homes were stormed by the special TPLF clandestine squad were not “terrorists.” We confirm too that the government of Eritrea had nothing to do with the current uprising.
- Eye witnesses confirm that there was not a single incident of looting or theft or targeting a Tigrean national for attack. This in itself is remarkable in a region where unemployment and poverty is among the highest and deepest in the country.
- The one common narrative that best explains the indomitable spirit, unity of purpose and solidarity of the revolt in Gondar is the public outcry for all Ethiopians to rise up against oppression by the TPLF. Protestors revolted in unison by shattering ethnic, religious, income, demographic and other barriers. This is a compelling and trend-setting theme of one country and one people that Shengo has been defending and promoting since its formation.
- Young people barricaded roads and bombarded police and spies with stones; and torched specific properties owned by members and sympathizers of the TPLF only. Shengo understands the underlying causes for these incidents; but urges protestors in Gondar and the rest of Ethiopia to refrain from targeting individuals or from destroying private properties on the basis of ethnic or religious affiliation.
- Similar to the uprising in Oromia barely 9 months ago, this popular uprising is the cumulative effect of 25 years of ethnic cleansing, deliberate annexation of lands, rent seeking, corruption, ethnic nepotism, displacements and marginalization, divide and rule, killings and imprisonment of notable leaders, demonization of the Amhara and gross violations of human rights. Shengo believes that public anger is not against the Tigrean population but against the TPLF and its surrogates.
- This is the first time that protestors were able to speak with one voice for the immediate release of those arrested as a precondition for peace and order in Gondar and environs.
- The root causes of the unrests emanating from poor and repressive governance are unlikely to be resolved unless there are radical reforms, including National Consensus, Reconciliation and Peace and a Transitional Government of National Unity that involves all stakeholders.
In light of ominous signs, we seek your assistance to urge the government of the United Kingdom, the pillar of financial, military, intelligence, logistics and diplomatic support to the TPLF/EPRDF – to demand that the government of Ethiopia should refrain from using special or other security of military forces to suppress peaceful protest or to kill innocent citizens in Gondar, Gojjam, Konso, Oromia or anywhere in the country.
We request that you ask Prime Minister Theresa May’s government use diplomatic and political means to persuade Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam’s government to release committee members and tens of thousands other political prisoners held by authorities immediately, refrain from further killings, bring all stakeholders including the ruling party to a National Conference on National Consensus, Reconciliation and Peace. The Ethiopian government must recognize that it cannot hold the country together through the barrel of the gun for too long.
Please act to do whatever is in your capacity to avert a disaster in the making in Ethiopia by the Ethiopian Government.