Ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Anuak in Gambela state, Ethiopia
By Nyikaw Ochalla
July 16, 2002
The ongoing massacre of unarmed Anuak civilians at Itang and its surroundings by the armed forces that claim to fight the regional and federal regimes in the country is devastating the entire Gambela state and the war is feared to escalate across the region. The massacre of the innocent women, children, men, and elderly at Itang district is a part of an indirect ethnic cleansing and genocide by both the government in power and the armed rebels movements against the indigenous Anuak people in their own territories. This grave human rights violation and the abuses perpetuated against the indigenous Anuak and many other ethnics in the country is rapidly reducing the number of the Anuak people and is therefore putting the ethnic survival at stake.

The Ethiopian authorities indirect ethnic cleansing and genocide war against the indigenous Anuak population through policies and neglect of their security and stability is intensifying and devastating this marginalized and neglected indigenous territory. They are the most socially, politically and economically marginalized and disadvantaged groups among the Ethiopian society. The state of Gambela peoples has been suffering from long years of neglect and marginalization by successive regimes including the current regime that trades in the name of principles of democratic governance, fundamental freedoms, and respect for human dignity and human rights. Inequalities and injustices against this people prevail without limit. They are considered second class citizens in the country to which they belong and are discriminated against because of their ethnic origin and race.

The Ethiopian authorities embarked on partial disarmament policies targeted against the Anuak ethnic groups marking the beginning of ethnic cleansing and genocide policies perpetuated against the Anuak population who greatly desire peace and stability. While the Anuak farmers were disarmed, their traditional foes, the Nuer remained armed and in possession of deadly weapons in the region brining fear to the Anuak population. The government of Meles Zenawi’s ethnic cleansing and genocide policy is evidenced by the ongoing conflict between the armed Nuer rebels and Anuak and the Majaneger-Anuak conflict that resulted in property destruction, and the displacement and death of over 150 innocent civilians (Anuak and Majanger) in late 2001. The regime deliberately ignored the public call for immediate investigation and inquiry to bring those responsible for instigating ethnic conflict that resulted in death of innocent civilians, untold suffering of the displaced communities and property destruction. Even now the regime has failed to respond to the killing of civilian Anuak population at Itang and its surroundings by armed forces belonging to Thwat pal group supported by OLF and Eritrean government.

The OLF and its allies are contributing greatly to the ethnic cleansing and genocide policy of the Ethiopian authorities by providing military training and support to the most wanted individual to face trial for his human rights atrocities he committed against the same Anuak ethnic group while in power in the Gambela during the military regime. Moreover, the OLF with the military support and training from the Eritrean government is inflicting untold misery on the non-Oromo territories and people. The Gambela state and its people cannot afford any war in this region which has been neglected and marginalized for centuries.

The ongoing massacre of Anuak farmers at Itang district is the terrorism act of Thwat pal who is receiving military training and support provided by the OLF and its allies in pretext of his fight against the regional government in Gambela but in reality to eliminate the Anuak from the face of the earth. To return the favor, the terrorist Thwat group is devastating the Gambela indigenous state by allowing the OLF to fight their liberation war for the Oromo people in this non-Oromo territory.

The OLF and its allies are responsible for the terrorist military training and support they provide to the most wanted individual for his human rights records. Also they are responsible for making the non-Oromo state a war torn area against their liberation fight to liberate the Oromo people who are enjoying peace and stability in their territories.

The Ethiopian authorities are responsible for its partial and failed disarmament policies that discriminate against the Anuak community and made the Anuak ethnic defenseless and victims of aggression. While the government disarmed the Anuak, the Nuer community in Akobo and Jokau areas remained armed. Moreover, the government of Meles Zenawi is responsible for the untold human tragedy and agony perpetuated against the Anuak ethnic group. Evidence indicates that the Federal army was at the scene with little effort to intervene between the armed groups and innocent civilians at Itang district where the ethnic genocide and cleansing took place.

Hence, we call upon

A. The international community and governments engaging in the region to respond to the endless suffering of the Gambela civilian population; in particular, those victims of terror and aggression.

B. The United Nations, European Union, Organisation of African Unity, and all concern institutions and bodies to take all diplomatic and necessary measures to investigate the ethnic cleansing and genocide committed against the Anuak ethnic in the indigenous Gambela state in the western part of the country.

C. Peace loving governmental, non-governmental, and human rights organisations to put pressure on the Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa to carry out an independent investigation into the death of innocent children, women, men, and elderly peoples in the Itang massacre and the conflict between the Anuak and majanger which remains unreported both at the national and international level.

D. The international community, and indigenous peoples organisations to urge the Ethiopian authorities to respect all international treaties, protocols, and conventions with regard to minority and indigenous peoples and territories,

E. The international community and organisations to hold the OLF and its allies responsible for the terrorism military support and training they provide to ethnic Nuer-Thwat Pal group to be used against ethnic Anuak cleansing and genocide,

F. International community to hold the Ethiopian government responsible for instability and insecurity in the region and account for the death of innocent civilian children, women, men, and elderly people of the indigenous population,

For further information and inquiries, Please contact Nyikaw Ochalla at E-mail, or call him on +44(0)7754565512.