The “Koree Nageenyaa’s” Brutality Echoes Gestapo Tactics: members of Ethiopia’s State Terror group must be held accountable

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The Oromia Global Forum (OGF) strongly denounces the abhorrent actions perpetrated by the Ethiopian government against the Oromo populace under the guise of quelling the insurgency. An investigative report by Reuters has laid bare the existence of a clandestine committee operating within Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest and most densely populated region, orchestrating extrajudicial killings and arbitrary, illegal detentions intended to crush the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), the liberation front advocating for the self-determination of the Oromo people.

The committee, identified as the Koree Nageenyaa (Security Committee) in the Oromo language, was established in 2018 within a few months after Abiy Ahmed’s nomination as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister. Led by Abiy’s former chief of staff, Shimelis Abdisa, the committee comprises high-ranking political and security officials, covertly operating with impunity, flouting legal mandates, subverting the judiciary, and resorting to torture and intimidation tactics against perceived opponents or members, supporters, or relatives of the Oromo Liberation Army. The Reuters news agency listed Shimalis Abdissa, Prosperity Party’s (PP) Oromia Region President; Awalu Abdi, PP’s Deputy President of Oromia Region; Feqadu Tasema, PP’s government representative and Oromia region head of PP; Ararsa Merdasa, a security official and former Oromia Region Police Commissioner; and Gizachew Mekuria, a military commander as members of the clandestine killing group and noted the committee also had half a dozen other members.  Mr. Feqadu Tasema is notably quoted as stating, “Drain the ocean to kill the fish,” a declaration of the government’s policy that advocates for the extreme measure of exterminating Oromo civilians who support the OLA with food and shelter in pursuit of a decisive defeat of the OLA. Not surprisingly, the Reuter report simply confirms, with hard evidence, how Mr. Fequadu and his colleagues have been executing this publicly declared genocidal policy against the Oromo people. 

The Reuters investigation has cataloged numerous atrocities, including extrajudicial killings and mass arrests, directly linked to the committee’s directives. Among these, the massacre of 15 Karrayyuu Aba Gadas in Oromia in December 2021, falsely attributed to the OLA by the government, stands as a gruesome testament to their brutality. Besides perpetrating criminal extrajudicial killings, the Ethiopian government has shamelessly attempted to exploit these heinous acts to tarnish the image of the OLA, callously playing with the lives of innocent citizens to further its political agenda. Such reprehensible actions demand immediate accountability and condemnation from the international community.  

According to sources from Oromia, the government’s clandestine killing apparatus is accountable for the deaths of over 13 youths in Naqamte city, eleven individuals in Chobi West Shawa zone, hundreds of Oromos in North Shawa zone, and countless others throughout the region in 2022 and 2023, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. Additionally, the committee’s preemptive measures to stifle dissent, unlawful incarcerations sans due process, and the absence of legal representation or familial contact for detainees paint a harrowing picture of repression.

A Gestapo Comparison:

Drawing a parallel between the Koree Nageenyaa and the Gestapo of Nazi Germany, the OGF underscores the stark similarities in their utilization of brutal tactics, surveillance, and terror methodologies against perceived dissenters. Just as the Gestapo perpetrated atrocities during the Holocaust, including the roundup and deportation of Jews and other marginalized groups, the Koree Nageenyaa is complicit in the displacement, destruction, and systematic persecution of the Oromo community. The OGF warns that the Koree Nageenyaa represents a grave menace to the peace and stability of Oromia,  Ethiopia, and the broader Horn of Africa region, necessitating immediate intervention by the international community to curtail its reign of terror. This is evidenced by the imprisonment of the Oromo Liberation Front high-ranking opposition leaders, Abdi Ragassa, Mikael Boran, Kennesa Ayana, Dr. Gada Oljira, Gada Gebisa, Lami Benya, and Dawit Abdeta,  for more than three years despite regional and federal courts ordering their immediate release. Tens of thousands of Oromo youths are jailed in concentration camps throughout Oromia and some of them are dragged out of jail cells and murdered in public under the command of this terror group. 

Echoes of Historical Repression:

The regime’s systematic persecution of the Oromo people echoes past atrocities and underscores that nothing has changed for the Oromo despite the coming and going of Ethiopian brutal rulers. Ethiopia’s history of clandestine security apparatuses echoes through Koree Nageenyaa’s actions. From Haile Selassie’s “listeners” to Meles Zenawi’s pervasive surveillance network infamously known as “One to Five”, repression has remained a standard governing feature in that country. The Koree Nageenyaa represents a disturbing continuation of this legacy, perpetuating a cycle of violence and oppression. For the perpetually marginalized Oromo people, the Koree Nageenyaa’s brutality is a stark reminder of ongoing injustices. Despite hopes for change under Abiy’s leadership, disillusionment has deepened as protests are met with violence and perceived opponents face persecution. The Oromo struggle for self-determination and demand for justice, equality, and respect for basic universal human rights faces horrific and barbaric state-sanctioned terror. As Ethiopia grapples with internal strife and historical legacies of oppression, the Koree Nageenyaa stands as a stark reminder of the perils of unchecked power. 

In addition to the activities of the secret security committee, the Ethiopian federal government regularly conducts aerial bombardment of towns and cities in Oromia with drones and military helicopters killing hundreds of innocent Oromo citizens who were going about their regular lives. Recently, such attacks were carried out in Mandi town, Billa town, Buno Beddelle district, Meta-Walkite, Adea Berga town,  and Kamise city.

Call for International Action:

The OGF implores the international community to hold the Ethiopian government accountable for these egregious human rights violations and exert pressure to cease the brutal suppression of the Oromo people. It is incumbent upon the international community to heed the cries of the oppressed Oromos and stand in solidarity against tyranny. The members of the killing squad are the prominent officials of the Ethiopian government and are identified. They must be held accountable at the UN Criminal Court of Justice, International Criminal Court or other similar international court of justice. We call on democratic nations such as the US, EU, and UK and global financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF to desist from resuscitating and emboldening the Ethiopian criminal government by providing funding that the government will use to perpetuate its tyranny.  Only through collective action can the shadows of the past be dispelled and a brighter future of peace and justice be realized for the Oromo people. Moreover, the OGF advocates for genuine dialogue between the Ethiopian government and the OLA to address the legitimate grievances and aspirations of the Oromo populace.


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