SWE-IPDM strongly condemns the current escalating massacre against the marginalized indigenous Gumuz people of Benishangul Gumuz region
Press Release, May 6, 2019
The Southwest Ethiopia Indigenous Peoples Democratic Movement (SWE-IPDM) strongly condemns the current escalating massacre against the marginalized indigenous Gumuz people of Benishangul Gumuz region. It is sad reminder of informed Ethiopian government’s extermination measure practices to extinct already endanger indigenous populations, particularly the dark-skin Nilotes and partly Omotic tribes in the Southwestern Ethiopian. The three days massacres spread across various Metekel zone in Benishangul Gumuz reminiscence the December 13/2003 Anuak genocide in the Gambella region and many other parts in the Southwestern Ethiopia by the Ethiopian defense forces leaving thousands innocent indigenous members dead. The Gumuz genocide was well coordinated ethnic cleansing plan by well-armed Amhara people endorsed by the Ethiopian government as it delayed its response to what it could be contained beforehand. Preliminary report suggests that death toll could reach over 400 including infants, women, and men. Numerous houses were burned to ashes which may escalate to many parts of the region.
We are appalled by the evidence on the social media which has been quite vocal on this matter in the face of cruel pictures from the area in which members of the armed Amhara leaders who are based in USA boldly enough jeered and claimed such inhumane killings, and farther dehumanized the tribe they killed as not humans but slaves and monkeys that deserve to live on trees. This speaks volume and louder on how Ethiopia has been treating the Southwestern indigenous Nilotic tribes against their race and color. Meanwhile high ranking predominantly of Amhara officials, supposedly responsible for the safety and well-being for all citizens, are engaged in disseminating false narratives to concealed their ethnicity culpability.
It should be known that in the face of racism and color discrimination in Ethiopia, the indigenous peoples of Southwestern regions will not survive against the hatred campaign to eliminate them from their ancestral lands. As we mourn over 400 death of Gumuz people, the entire family of indigenous peoples of Southwest Ethiopia are confronted with discriminatory incidents of killings to prepare their lands for Northern occupants. The genocide against the Gumuz people is one of the many long-term strategies of Ethiopian regimes to internally extinct and occupy their territories. In the Gambella region the government has allowed its border opened to heavily armed South Sudanese Nuers soldiers of SPLA-IO members to eliminate the Gambella Indigenous populations under ill motive to create “New Nuer Kingdom” of an independent state between South Sudan and Ethiopia including the Gambella region. The locals are left helplessly to defense themselves from ongoing rampant killings by the armed refugees of the SPLA-IO members while the Ethiopian defense forces make deals of it.
The current killings in various parts of the Southwestern regions of Ethiopia are of great concerns. In South Bench Maji zone and South Omo zone there is eminent looming insecurity threat against the indigenous populations. Due to unresolved internal government negligence, more than 170,000 peoples of Shekacho, Majeng, Suri, Bodi, Mursi, Nyangathom, Hamar, etc., were forcibly displaced from their own land of Yeki Woreda in Sheka Zone, Godere, Benchi Mazi zone and South Omo zone. In the Gambella region, in late April 2019, in Itang, Gambella, and Gog district alone, the armed refugees have killed more than ten locals.
In Jor district, envoy of well-armed military refugees illegally occupied Ethiopia territory to instigate ethnic-cleansing. Ethiopian government was informed of this serious violation of nation sovereignty, yet for unknown reasons, Ethiopia National Defense Force who was sent to contain the border situation withdrawal, leaving ill-equipped local militia and Liyu Hayil Special Forces to defend Ethiopia border against heavily armed military across South Sudan border. As the Gambella’s security situation exacerbates, government silent treatment and refusal to defend Gambella’s indigenous territory from foreign aggression is indicative of Ethiopia government long-term strategies, weaponizing ethnic-cleansing to wipe them out from their land.
In simple logic the Ethiopian government cannot allow its border open to the outside forces to annex part of its land (Gambella) to the new inspired “Nuer Kingdom” independent state but only to foolish them (armed South Sudanese refugees) do the work to naively wipe out the local people from their lands to facilitate the consolidation of the Northern Ethiopians occupation in Gambella. This core and secret pact between the TPLF (who are still very active in Gambella despite the new Ethiopian reform) and the SPLA-IO members will continue to perpetuate ethnic conflicts in the Gambella region as TPLF members continue to instigate those conflicts in the area. The current local resistances against the border crossing expansionists of SPLA-IO soldiers in Itang, Jor, Gambella, Gog, and Akobo districts are helpless.
The Gumuz people genocide happens as disturbing trend of violence by refuges and new occupants is disrupting the ordinary daily activities, negatively impacting quality of life of host community. The government reluctant to initiate security measure to protect vulnerable marginalized indigenous people in essence is condonation of killings by the Ethiopian government to evict the local communities in order to occupy our lands. We are concerned that as the genocides committed against the indigenous people in Ethiopia escalate, the outcry for help have been largely ignored by the international community. In the wake of Gumuz people genocide, we once again call upon the international community to intervene for the survival of indigenous populations knowing that its failure will mean grand extinction of these marginalized people in Ethiopia forever.
Southwest Ethiopia Indigenous Peoples Democratic Movement (SWE-IPDM) Central Committee