I have repeatedly focused on the tyrannized Oromos, Ogadenis, Sidamas and Anuak. It is high time to shift interest and concentrate – for a moment of great grief and remorse – on the pitilessly tyrannized and ceaselessly massacred Shekachos, a great nation that, if independent, would be a tiny (0.5 million people) but thriving society – example to many in Africa.
As closely related with the more numerous Kaffas, the Shekachos were part of the Kaffa kingdom that – following British and French consent – was invaded by the criminal and barbaric pseudo-king of the Amhara Abyssinians, Menelik in the 1890s (do not call him Menelik II, because there was never any Menelik I – it´s a criminal, racist, Amhara forgery).
Ever since, Shekachos and Kaffas have been the victims of a most appalling Genocide that was covered by the silence of the Western accomplices of the Abyssinian gangsters, the colonial Anglo-French mass media. I will focus on the Shekachos – Kushitic but different from both the Oromos and the Sidamas – in several articles.
Here, I will republish an Appeal published in one of the websites focused on the Shekacho National Cause and Drama. The Appeal demands immediate concern from the part of NGOs, as most shocking acts of barbarism and systematic genocide have been and are currently being perpetrated against the Shekachos in the Southern Region of the Cenotaph of Nations Abyssinia (fallaciously re-baptized ´Ethiopia´).
Appeal to International Community to help the Innocent Shekacho People in South Western Ethiopia
By Alemayehu Dasho
Ethiopia is one of the African countries that suffer from grave human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detention and torture. Such human rights violations in Ethiopia have been increasing in recent years. Since 1991, the Melese led government of Ethiopia has detained and executed many innocent Ethiopians. The special police and armed forces ruthlessly suppress peaceful groups that request their constitutional right to self-administration and self-expression.
The Shekacho people are one of the nationalities in south regional state. When the present government came into power in 1991, it divided the traditional lands of the Shekacho people into three regions (Southern, Gabella and Ormiya regions). The Shekacho People strongly opposed this division and repeatedly appealed for the right of self-administration and to preserve their unity. Many Shekacho people who peacefully objected the government’s actions to their constitutional rights were killed by the intervention force (Tigrean Special army), which was deployed in the Shekacho area between 1996-1997. The murdered Shekacho people include Mrs Mamite Wedo, Mr Worku Hilemicale, Mr Edeshaw Dima and Mr Tamiru Faro (Reported by Ethiopia Human rights Council 1996). The killers of these people have never been brought to justice.
The recent (March 2002) atrocity in Tepi in the Shekacho zone of southern western Ethiopia is the most recent example of the government’s harsh policies and the lack of justice in the region. The mass killing in Tepi area broke out after the Sheko-mejenger Democratic Union organisation demonstrated against the outcome of the December 2001 election. The demonstrators requested that the election should be re-run, because of unfair ballot rigging and intimidation, by means of which the government party won an unbelievable 100 % vote. This mass killing, which followed – more than 150 people are thought to have died – was carried out by the government’s special police force, which was deployed in the area along, with troops from Gambela. The government security forces knew this peaceful demonstration is going to take place. By the order of the federal government the security men and women were instructed to mix with the demonstrating and chant anti-Shekacho slogan and create chaos. They started burning houses and properties. This created the mixed communities, which coexisted for centuries to go after each other and kill. Then the government security pull out and blamed one side or another. This was a calculated murder aimed at divide and rule principal.
According to the constitution of Ethiopia, the army is under the control of the federal government and has no administrative connection with the regional and local authorities. The special police force, which is used to clampdown on any opposition within each area, is under the control of each regional government and operates according to the orders and in the full knowledge of the central government.
Our joint campaign, with other concerned groups, on behalf of the indigenous people of the region, successfully encouraged the European Union (a major donor to Ethiopian government) to request the Ethiopian government to carry out public inquiry in June 2002 into the events at Tepi. We were very encouraged by this inquiry and hoped justice would be seen to be done. However, the government of Ethiopia has dragged its feet and is doing everything it can to impede progress towards justice. It established a committee to investigate the atrocities at Tepi and to investigate who was responsible for the deaths of innocent people. This committee showed surprising independence and came up with findings and recommendations that were not palatable to the ruling party.
The findings were that:
The Shekacho people were divided into three regions (Gambella region, Oromia region and the Southern region) without their consent and as a result have suffered immensely.
Unlike other ethnic regions, the area was neglected and had no proper infrastructure and none of the services that other Ethiopians take for granted. They had to travel hundreds of kilometres to obtain simple documents such as a birth certificate.
The people are subjected to a regime of corrupt bureaucratic practices, which leads to many grievances. * The Shekacho people are forced to learn foreign languages to obtain education and the most basic social services and, as a result, are losing their own language and culture.
The committee felt that the divided Shekacho people should have a single zone of their own, as the current situation led to their lack of representation and impoverishment.
The government was shocked by these findings and reacted aggressively, as the recommendations were against their system of divide and rule. The committee could not make an independent investigation into responsibility for the deaths and the government does nothing – indeed, actively discourages – attempts to establish who ordered the army to carry out the mass killings in the Shekacho area of South-western Ethiopia.
Annoyed at the findings of the committee, the government of Ethiopia is currently trying to re-write history by appointing a second investigative committee which will stick more closely to the government’s agenda. The government clearly wants to divert the responsibility for the deaths from central and regional government leaders to lesser local authorities. The government of Ethiopia cannot be trusted – it has ignored the demands of the international community to carry out a fully independent public inquiry on this atrocity. The government’s investigative approach and its procedures are quite blatantly subject to political interventions by regional officials and the prime minister’s office.
The second investigative committee has also been assigned to arrest members of opposition parties and those individuals who opposed the mass killing in the Shekacho area. There is a great fear among the people because government is stirring up further inter-ethnic clashes in order to create instability in the area , so that it can continue to delay bringing the authorities responsible for the atrocities to justice. We accept and welcome the inclusion of some local government officials in the list of those detained, as there is considerable evidence that they were involved in numerous killings in the Shekacho area over the last 10 years.
However, the new investigative committee, far from properly investigating who was responsible for the atrocities, has also detained many innocent people who opposed the atrocities! What is given with one hand is snatched away by another! We call upon the EU, the USA, the UK and other governments to act now and demand that the Prime Minster of Ethiopia should institute a genuinely independent enquiry into recent events and that he should be prepared to take responsibility for events that have taken place in the Shekacho region at the direct initiative of the central government.
It is tragic that, in the name of justice, the new government investigation committee has brutally attacked innocent farmers in Shekacho area. More than three hundred peasant farmers have been detained in Mizan town, hundreds kilometres away from their area. Currently the Shekacho zone is under tight military curfew. The Shekacho administrative council is being dissolved. The people live under continuous fear and uncertainty. The people view the army as an army of occupation and as a government tool that is there to harm them. As a result many people are leaving their land, fleeing into exile or becoming internally displaced. This has allowed the government to bring subservient people and allies into the area, to be settled on the lands that have been abandoned because of this climate of fear. As a result people from other regions are populating this conflict stricken, but coffee rich, area. The government’s policy closely resembles the practice of gradual ‘ethnic cleansing’ practiced by the Russian Soviet government towards their subject peoples during the Cold War.
Such government intervention in the Shekacho people’s affairs is the violation of the Ethiopian government’s own constitution, which grants to all Ethiopian ethnic groups self-administration in their area. The army and the security forces continuously harass the majority of the Shekacho community – the only individuals who feel safe in Ethiopia are those who are prepared to be ‘yes-men’.
We request – with all our heart – that the international community to put pressure on the Ethiopian government:
To establish a truly independent public inquiry into the atrocities carried out in the Shekacho land, both recently and in the past.
To bring to justice those individuals from the federal and regional governments who are responsible for the death of more than 150 innocent people in the Tepi area.
To pull out the politically motivated security forces from Shekacho Zone and to respect the people’s constitutional right to self-rule.
To acknowledge the findings of the first investigative committee, who made some attempt to get to the roots of the problems in the region.
We ask the EU, the British government, the US government and other peace loving nations and individuals to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to bring justice to the Shekacho people.