The Ethiopian Government Commits Crimes Against Humanity in Sidama
By The Sidama Observer, 23 August 2019
The Sidama people, the most persecuted ethnic group in Ethiopia, languish under an illegal state of emergency (a command post) that denied citizens basic rights to freedom of speech, assembly and movement. After a semblance of change a year ago, Ethiopia appears to have retrogressed back to square one once again. Citizens are massacred, jailed and tortured for demanding the basic of human rights. Rulers reject the constitution which is the covenant among nations and state for peaceful coexistence. Ethiopia is once again ruled not by law but by whim and caprice of one man, our young prime minister. Alas!! Was this what thousands of the Oromo youth sacrificed their lives for? Was that what thousands of the Sidama, Somali freedom fighters and freedom fighters from many other oppressed nations sacrificed their lives for in the past several decades? No, it is not. Ethiopia appears to be not back in time to 2017 or even 1991 nor 1974. Ethiopia is back in time in 1880s. Ethiopia retrogressed back in time more irrecoverably in the past one year than it did in the past five decades, with an existential threat to nations like Sidama. Yes, an existential threat to all oppressed nations that make up this archaic empire.
- The evolution of administrative structure in the Ethiopian empire.
The demand to establish a regional state within one sovereign territory is never a complicated process by any account. Administrative structures have been altered in several occasions during the previous dictatorships. In what appeared to be the first modern administrative arrangement the Ethiopian empire was organized in 12 provinces in 1942. “Sidamo” a bastardised misnomer borrowed from Sidama was one of the first 12 provinces that made up the Ethiopian empire. The “Sidamo” province encompassed Sidama and much of today’s southern Oromia Regional State. In 1960 Bale seceded from the Hararghe province and became its own 13th Ethiopian province. Mind you, even the most notorious emperor Haileselasie never massacred the Bale Oromos for establishing their own region in 1960, although segregation of Oromia into the various regions then was an instrument of political and economic marginalisation and than a tool to advance freedom and justice. In 1962 the annexed Eritrean region became the 14th province of the Ethiopian empire triggering the civil war that culminated in Eritrea’s independence in 1991 and formally in 1993. Sidama was never south Ethiopia even under the brutal feudal-cum-pseudo monarchical rule between 1930-1974.
The socialist- military regime that took power in 1974 restructured Ethiopia’s regions once more and increased it to 16 administrative regions in 1981 by splitting Addis Ababa from Shoa and Assab from Eritrea. “Sidamo” remained one of the 16 administrative regions. In 1987, when the military- socialist regime evolved into a socialist peoples democratic republic ruled under a one party dictatorship of the Workers Party of Ethiopia, the administrative structure was reformed once again where 25 administrative regions and 5 autonomous regions were created. The “Sidamo” administrative region remained unchanged except that Borana today’s southern Oromia was splut from it. The “Sidamo” administrative region of 1987 had included only small parts of Oromia and Gedeo and had nothing to do with todays south Ethiopia. In 1991, following the change of government Sidama had evolved into Region 8, one of the 5 independent regions in the southern part of the country. Region 8 was the most optimal administrative evolution the Sidama nation witnessed in a century. Nevertheless, the TPLF regime destroyed what appeared to be a tenable administrative arrangement by a forced merger of the 5 independent regions in 1993 creating the most disastrous and predatory regional administrative structure the Sidama nation witnessed since 1892.
- The Sidama demand for regional self administration
The Sidama people demanded regional autonomy since the annexation into the empire. The unorganized resistance continued until the mid 1970s when the Sidama freedom fighters regrouped and created the Sidama Liberation Movement. The movement eaged an armed struggle for 6 years from 1978 to 1984 liberating three districts frim the military regime. The civil war between the Derg and Sidama was a best kept secrete si much so that very few even within the country were aware of it. Although the civil war of 6 years was largely confined to the three highland districts of Sidama, short term resistance battles took place in various parts of Sidama the most notable ones being the Borricha and the Wotara Rassa uprisings in which over 1000 civilians were killed.
In the past 28 years, the demand for regional self rule had been more peaceful. Nonetheless, the government responses had been vicious. The Loqqee massacre of 24 May 2002 in which over 70 civilians perished and the June and July 2018 massacre in which 30 youth were killed in Hawassa, Shamanna and Wolayita Sodo Universities reflect the intensity of repression on the Sidama nation. However, the July 18-20 2019 genocide in which over 100 civilians were killed, over 400 wounded and 2500 jailed without charge dwarfs any previous repressions on peaceful movements by the Sidama people to demand the basic human right to regional self administration.
- Why the genocide and the state of emergency in Sidama?
The response to this question is straight forward. First, Ethiopia has retrogressed irrecoverably in the past one year that the question of self determination for which tens of thousands of the members of nations sacrificed their lives over the past century has become a crime. Those who belittle the constitution which encapsulates the aspirations of the oppressed nations and want it radically amended to embrace their hard line views are held in high regard. The Oromo revolution has been fully hijacked and those who are privy to political intricacies are on a high alert.
Second, the Sidama civilian youth movement significantly weakened the most predatory and inept political institution SEPDM that rules the south. Thus the only option left to the corrupt party leaders and the federal government is to massacre Sidama, jail the youth and attempt to derail the regional question at any cost. These are the core justifications to commit genocide on the Sidama people. The state of emergency and the command post are to reinstate SEPDM in Sidama, destroy the youth movement and derail or attempt to derail the demand to establish the Sidama regional state. Period. A genocide to block Sidama from creating a regional state guaranteed in the current working constitution. The federal government is emboldened by one external factor. Ethiopia under EPRDF never ratified the Rome Statute and therefore no official can be sued in the International Criminal Court. As there appears to be no rule of law at home and no law that rules them globally the minelik’s incarnations are free to butcher whomever they wish to do so. What a lost opportunity for real change and transformation in this most impoverished, and archaic land famed for famine, beggary, illiteracy and dictatorship.
- The ongoing crimes against humanity in Sidama.
The command post and the government that sponsored state terrorism in Sidama is committing heinous crimes on the Sidama people with impunity. A crime against humanity is being committed in Sidama as we speak.
The youth and seasoned Sidama professionals including Sidama Media Metwork managers who were imprisoned for over one month without a charge and who were released on bail were arrested by the SNNPRS and federal police. These are:
- Tariku W. Lemma
- Getahun Dagooye
- Fasika Legesse
- Belay Balguda
- Melesse Agaro
- Legesse Hankarsso
- Asnake Assefa
- Ganale Garamo
- Girma Kare
University professors and medical doctors and other civilians in jail in Hawassa without charge for over one month include:
- Professor Tessema Elias
- Mathe Mengesha
- Prof Alemu Debisso and
- Tefera Kenfato
- Asnake Addisu and
- Tariku Mathewos
The military using the command post mandate is detaining the youth in most districts. Over 1500 are detained in and around Hawassa; over 200 are detained in Daalle, Wonsho, Lokka Abbayya and Yirgalem; Hundreds were detained in Yayye; Aleta Wondo; Wondo Genet; Chukko; Hula and other districts.
Over 110 Sidama youth detained since the June 2018 massacre in Hawassa without any charge have been moved to a prison in Hadiya zone to deny them justice fabricate false witnesses for a federal court that illegally got involved in their cases.
On 21 August 2019 Tewodros Gebiba the former mayor of Hawassa city who was the deputy head of the government bureau was abducted from his office and transported to a prison in an unknown location outside of Sidama. He did not commit any crime except being a Sidama.
If this is not a crime against humanity what is?
Ethiopia degenerated irrecoverably under EPRDF once again. The country is ruled by a capricious whim of one young dictator hell-bent to transition the country back in time to 1880s, the time of the “glory of the kings”. The EPRDF can never be reformed. It must be dismantled.
The oppressed nations must wake up and defend a freedom so many have sacrificed their previous lives for before it is too late. The Sidama nation should pursue the demand to establish its regional state with more vigour. It should demand the sn immediate release of all political prisoners and an end to a state of emergency a license to commit perpetual genocide on the Sidama people.