OLF Accuses Gov’t of Fresh Crackdown on its Members; Oromia Region Says Measures Taken on Several Dozen Rebel Members, Thousands Arrested Across Region
Addis Abeba, December 21/2020 (Addis Standard) – Opposition party Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), said yesterday that ten of its members, including two journalists working for its broadcast, Sagaallee Billiisummaa Oromo (SBO), were arrested by government security forces over the weekend.
In a separate statement it issued today, OLF said it doesn’t know the whereabouts of the ten people who it said were arrested over the weekend. They are: Mohamed Regassa, member of the Central Committee and spokesperson; Murata Saba (Malkaa Danu), member of the Central Committee; Dr. Gada Olijira, administrator of OLF chairman’s office; Yerossan Ayuu, OLF Addis Abeba surrounding office organizational affairs head; Tumassa (Assefa Fikadu), member of organizational affairs office; Gurumu Ayanna, OLF cadre; Gessisa Kussa, OLF organizational affairs Mandi area office and Lidiya Alli Mansissa, OLF women’s league member. In addition
Two journalists working for SBO: Ayatuu Bulcha and Ibssa Gadissa, were in the list of names released by the OLF.
“The peace and security situation in Oromia is further deteriorating; the war in Tigray and the humanitarian crisis it created is massive; the violence in Benishangul Gumuz is heavy; and nations and nationalities in southern regional state are going through chaos. The border conflict between Sudanese and Ethiopia forces is threatening to send Ethiopia into full scale crisis and disintegration. However, despite all these crises, the ruling party is preparing to conduct the election in 2021,” the statement said. The party urged the international community to take measures to force the ruling party to release all political prisoners before conducting the election.
Western Oromia Attacks On Civilians
OLF’s statement came as tensions are rising in Western Oromia, Wollega zone after it witnessed gruesome killings of civilians in attacks that occurred since December 13, 2020. Residents of Horo Guduru twon told DW Amharic that gunmen have attacked civilians of ethnic Amhara community using “daggers and bullets.” This latest attack has claimed the lives of over six people in Umuru district, Jabo Doben kebele. Other attacks have also happened in areas known as Agamsa and Haro.
Getachew Balcha, Head of Oromia regional state Communication Affairs Bureau, on his part admitted that 19 civilians, 13 of whom from the Amhara community in Horo Gudru and six from the Oromo community in Nedgo were killed by “OLF/Shane”, the name officials use to refer to the rebel group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a breakaway group from the OLF.
According to Getachew the attacks were ethnically motivated and that the regional government strongly condemns it. “We did not stop by condemning the attacks but we have taken measures on the perpetrators,” Getachew said. Accordingly, two individuals were killed and seven government officials who were suspected of involvement on Woreda and Kebele level were brought to justice. Getachew also indicated that the perpetrators were backed by TPLF and were trying to associate the attackers with the Oromo community. “These deeds do not represent the Oromo people, Oromia regional government and our country Ethiopia.”
On December 16, a statement Getachew issued said that in recent weeks security measures were taken on 782 individuals who are suspected of being members of OLA. Out of these 385 individuals were killed in combat while 287 have surrendered to government security forces. A further 170 individuals who he said were operating within the community were arrested with community help.
Getachew puts the number of individuals recently arrested at 1,900 and said they were suspected of recruiting and helping the leadership of OLA. they were brought to court in their respective districts.
The recent crackdown also touches on government officials. Around 808 government officials who failed to abide by the directives set by the regional state were brought to justice.
During the “law enforcement operation”, 52 Kalashnikov, 65 artillery, 20 pistols, 12 grenades, 1634 bullets, 2 radio machines, and one battlefield binoculars were also seized, according to the statement, and several bombs and explosives were confiscated during routine searches on checkpoints.