November 04, 2020
We, members of Oromia Global Forum (OGF) – a global alliance of Oromo Civic, Professional, and Faith-Based Organizations and individual proponents of Human Rights, residing in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa – are saddened by the reported tragic loss of innocent lives in Gulliso District, West Oromia Regional State. It seems this is another example of the more and more innocent civilians caught in conflicts that the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) is manufacturing and encouraging everywhere in the country to hang on to power illegally by pitting one ethnic group against another to which we would like to draw the attention of the international community.
Gulliso is a small town in West Oromia where Amhara and Oromo communities lived together in peace with each other for years despite the GoE’s imposed illegal ‘Command Post’ resulting in daily abuse and killing of the population by the government’s security forces.
According to reliable reports received from the area, on November 01, 2020, agents of the Abiy government massacred a score of people after they lured them in to a building under the pretext of a meeting. According to our sources:
- A week prior to the killings in Gulliso, an Oromo Orthodox priest from the same locality was gunned down in Sabbata, near Finfinnee (Addis Ababa).
- On Saturday, October 31, government forces in the area abruptly evacuated their post.
- Within an hour, a killing squad disguising itself as the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) took up positions.
- Alerted by the unusual movement, some residents left the town and took shelter in near-by bushes.
- On Sunday, as people gathered, the killing squad threw explosives at them and then opened fire, killing a score of people.
- Local and federal government officials falsely accused the Oromo Liberation Army before any independent investigation is undertaken.
- On Tuesday, the Abiy government declared war on the TPLF using the reported Gulliso massacre as one of the pretexts.
- The OLA has been operating in this area for decades and never attacked civilians.
- The OLF (Oromo Liberation Front) and the OLA (Oromo Liberation Army) have condemned the killing of innocent civilians and called up on the international community to exert the maximum pressure on the Abiy Ahmed’s regime to allow internationally supervised independent investigation into the recent incident, as well as all previously committed crimes and political assassinations
- To our knowledge, up to now the government didn’t produce a single evidence of the incident. We believe that such an evidence will expose the true nature of the incident.
Regrettably, the Abiy administration has been using the same tactic for years – committing atrocities and falsely accusing the OLA without providing any evidence. This is nothing but another attempt by the Abiy administration to tarnish OLA’s reputation and to portray OLA’s conflict with the regime as an ethnic and religious conflict.
However, what makes this different from similar previous massacres which the GoE committed and blamed on OLA or others, is the timing, and the GoE’s use of the tragedy as one of the pretexts for its declaration of war on the Tigray regional State. By all indications, this is a politically motivated killing committed by agents of the GoE, very likely meant to pit Oromo and Amhara people against each other, to deceive the international community and the general public at home, and justify war against its own citizens to continue holding onto power illegally, unconstitutionally.
This urge to kill its own citizens for political gains by the Abiy administration has now become a familiar pattern. The following partial list of incidents that occurred over the last two years unambiguously establish how the Abiy administration conducted clandestine criminal operations, but, repeatedly, falsely accused the Oromo Liberation Front/Army for crimes it committed without providing any evidence.
- On June 29, 2010, Artist Hacaaluu Hundessa was assassinated in the Capital city, Finfinnee. Abiy’s government blamed the “OLF-Shanee” and TPLF before it conducted any investigation.
- In 2020, the regime fabricated kidnappings of students of Dambidollo University, allegedly from the Amhara ethnic group, which it blamed on “OLF-Shanee”. The alleged abduction was debunked; Some of the supposedly abducted girls refuting their abduction publicly.
- In September 2018, Benishangul Gumuz’s four higher officials were killed while travelling across Oromia at a place called Ayira Gulliso that led to clashes between the Oromo and Benshangul and led to more than 240,000 Internally Displaced Oromo People.
- Around early 2020, a group of 5 people that included foreign citizens were killed around Najjo area. The government instantly blamed “OLF-Shane” as soon as the news hit the airwaves without conducting any investigation.
- In early 2019, national news outlets reported several Oromia Banks located in West Wollega were robbed. The government, as usual, blamed it on the insurgents in the area without presenting a shred of evidence. Not long after the government’s accusation, Oromia Regional State’s head of security at the time, General Kemal Gelchu, publicly admitted that they were orchestrated by security forces of the GoE impersonating the OLA;
- A Mayor of Najjo was burned alive when his house was lit on fire. Consistent with many other high-profile killings in Ethiopia, no one was ever brought to justice for killing the Mayor of Najjo. One should wonder what the government is hiding.
- In October 2019, Abiy’s administration tried to strip Mr. Jawar Mohammed of his personal security detail in the middle of the night. Fortunately, the security personnel refused the order for it came under the cover of darkness, which probably saved his life. Unfortunately following the attempt more than 87 people lost their lives for which no one was brought to justice.
The Oromo Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Army have, on various occasions, appealed to the international community for an independent investigation by a third party and expressed that they would fully cooperate with such investigations. Unfortunately, the international community has failed to heed their appeals.
Once again, OGF strongly condemns the killings of civilians, political assassinations and manipulations by Ethiopia security forces, instigating inter-communal strife all over the country. The OGF also calls up on the international community, governmental and non-governmental human rights organizations to conduct an independent investigation into all the crimes that have reportedly been committed in the last two years in Oromia regional state, including the most recent ones at Gulliso District and the assassination of Artist Hacaaluu Hundessaa.
We believe that the Abiy administration has been doing this to rachet up support by the Amhara to his ill-advised war against the Oromo people and now with the TPLF by fabricating animosity between TPLF and Amhara, the Oromo and Amhara. By doing so, the Abiy’s administration is inching the country closer to a civil war.
Oromia Global Forum