ON GAMBELA MASSACRE

The Killing of A People - The Gambela Case
By J. Ojoch
December 31, 2003
No human conscience will accept that a clash or a gun fight, in the middle of towns such as Gambella, would kill only members of one ethnic group, burning and looting their homes. Not just members but selected educated men [no women]. Has a miracle like this happened anywhere on earth?

The genocide process and goal is quite clear. The plan has been in the making for a long time going back to 1995. The EPRDF government gripped and dominated the region and made life difficult for the Anyuak tribe that helped the same government to topple the Mengistu regime to bring about democracy and federalism. The EPRDF took charge of local administrative powers systematically in preparation for future action seen today as genocide.

The process of domination include disarming of farmers making the Anyuaks vulnerable to other tribal attacks. Dismissal of Anyuak employees, imprisonment of intellectuals, handpicking successive presidents and associates, beating of any group of Anyuaks seen talking and greeting each other in the streets of Gambella without curfew were methods of threats. The general Anyuak population live under terror and daily intimidation. The Anyuak people asked only for their constitutional rights to handle their local affairs under the federal government of Ethiopia and for the other tribes to be granted the same rights in their territories. This constitutional request is not new in Ethiopia. This right goes as far as secession. Tigray, the country of Meles Zinawi, is enjoying the local affairs freedom and can break away if they find it necessary. The Anyuaks wanted simple management of their local affairs. This and only this alone caused the EPRDF government to massacre the Anyuaks in cold blood. The Anyuak wanted to avoid conflict with the Nuer in the management of local government and to develop without obstacles. Relocation of refugees to another location close to the Nuer territory was a welcome idea. The Anyuak see it as part of conflict resolution even though the UNHCR and the Ethiopian government reported the contrary. The game was and is that the EPRDF sees the Anyuak as a rival for Gambella power and therefore it must be leveled down before getting stronger. The future of Gambella is full of oil revenue and the environmental questions that will follow. The Ethiopian government has signed agreements with foreign firms to explore the rich oil in the very near future. Somebody will talk. To prevent that talk this is time to shut up the mouths.

The Anyuaks are a brave and peaceful people. Traditionally they have no history of confronting governments or invading the lands of the neighboring tribes. They are a law-abiding people who fight in retaliation as a self defense mechanism. The Sudan government has killed large numbers on that side, through the civil wars, directly or indirectly by arming and pitting the Nuer against them, divide and rule order of the Sudan now adopted by the Ethiopian government.

The process of genocide reached climax in Gambella on the infamous day of December 13,2003 killing more the 500 Anyuak men in the course of three days, not just 57 dead that the Ethiopian government made the world to believe. The said reprisal, triggered by the ambush of a government car, just happened at a wrong time and it became a pretext to kill a people. If that was the case a killing list would not have been suddenly available to carry from door to door pulling out designated educated Anyuak men from their homes to kill them in bright daylight in front of their wives and children who are now in deep trauma. The handpicked president was pulled along against his will to see the demise of his own people who ate with him not too long ago. He could not talk at this time because he would have been dead like his brothers and friends. Note that the killing program is being implemented in the villages as we speak.

Now the Ethiopian government is gripped and condemned by guilt and is running out of cover-up tactics in reporting to the world. It reported clashes between Nuer and Anyuak tribes. That was not true and not possible because the ambush was not on the Nuers. The Nuers are being used as escape goats. The ambush was blamed on the Anyuaks unfoundedly. Later they said the ambush was carried out by some unknown gangs. The UNHCR followed government reports without proof usually sought by an international body. It is not surprising as the UNHCR members in Gambella are highlanders who suffered the unfortunate losses during the ambush. Later again the government accused the OLF and Eriteria being behind the scene. Anyuaks are not part of the OLF nor do they have a group waging war against the government. It is the Nuers who are members of the OLF together with their leader, the Derge criminal and fugitive, who recruited his tribesmen. Where were the federal troops if the OLF masterminded the chaos? Did the OLF infiltrate into the ranks of government troops? Will the government ever investigate that? Assume that the OLF was involved, was the reprisal on the law-abiding Anyuaks warranted and lawful? If the government at this time is sure of the OLF involvement why not kill all the Oromos who are in the Ethiopian government and on the farms? The Meles government reported smashing of anti-peace elements. Did his government exhibit the their dead bodies and where did his government bury them? How many did his government capture? Those claims are deceptive and empty. It is a typical way of a racist and discriminatory regime. The OLF has been fighting for a long time. Did Meles kill the Oromos at home? Can Meles Zinawi explain this killing to the world?

The death of the Anyuak is not over. Widows are being beaten and threatened not to mourn the dead in an attempt to conceal evidence. More than three quarters of the town is mourning: the Anyuak widows, their children and relatives. Government investigators will not see them. The current investigation by the government is not genuine. It is a process of more and more intimidation of the general public in Gambella to threaten telling the truth and evidence. The report that 56 participants in the killing are in prison is not true. There are more than 300 persons in prison at this time including those highlanders who sympathized and hid some Anyuak men in their homes under beds and tables. Those in prison are some who escaped death by the help of those highlanders, and intellectuals caught earlier before the killing game. All this action is an attempt to hide witnesses to the massacre. A lot of people are dying in the bushes of hunger and thirst hiding for fear of death. These include women and children not only around Gambella town but also around villages and Anyuak little towns across the region. So the death toll is rising by the day. The numbers will never be known soon. All this information is true and authentic because it came from relatives who got away from the theater of death.

Let the world know that the Anyuak ethnic group is fading away from the face of the earth due to slaughter by the Sudan and the Ethiopian governments. The only hope is the intervention and protection by the international community and governments. It is a call for rescue. It is a direct call to the American Government which saw the Anyuaks face to face in the streets of Minnesota Capitol. It is a call to the United Nations, the NGOs and all reporters of goodwill to bring the truth to light and to condemn the Ethiopian government. The Anyuak voice will never be heard if an independent body is not involved in the investigation to uncover the Ethiopian government cover-ups by meeting the Anyuak widows and the fatherless; those who lost sons, uncles, cousins, brothers and male relatives. The independent investigators will find truth in the prisons; they will see the Anyuak homes in ashes; they will visit with the Anyuak dead in mass graves; they will witness which society is mourning in seclusion and in fear in Gambella town. The Anyuaks as a whole have no intention to arm any helpless persons in Gambella nor will the remaining Anyuaks [if any] abandon Gambella region. It is their land and birth-place. Any people have a place on earth they call home where they have the freedom to live. Gambella and adjoining Akobo regions are such examples. The Anyuaks are being denied this freedom by those who hate them as an integral group of humans.


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