Ethiopian government kills Amhara citizens to villify OLA, threatens civil war with Tigray and uses media to continue its persecution of Oromo.
Oromia Support Group: Press Release | November 11, 2020
The Oromia Support Group advocates for the human rights of all peoples of Ethiopia and is
appalled at the killings of Amhara people living in Guliso, Wallega, on 1 November.
OSG deplores the Ethiopian government air strikes against targets in Tigray Region on 5
November and supports the calls by the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, for an
immediate end to hostilities and mediation via the African Union.
OSG is distressed at the anti-Oromo bias which characterises reportage by national and
international media. For example, Hachalu Hundesa’s assassination (29 June) was blamed on Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba of the Oromo Federalist Congress by the Senior Africa Producer of Al Jazeera1 and on the OLF by Ethiopia Insight.2 It is bizarre that major media reiterate without comment or critical examination government pronouncements which belie common sense; that individuals and institutions which invested heavily in the objective of Oromo self-determination, shared in common with Hachalu, were responsible for his death.
Even reports by the BBC and The Guardian stated that killings in Shashemane and Dhera in
the immediate aftermath of Hachalu’s killing were of Amhara people by Oromo. Despite eye
witness reports that perpetrators of the violence were transported in from outside the area;
despite evidence that security services and kebele officials were complicit with the violence;
and despite at least two-thirds of the victims being Oromo, media blamed the violence on
Oromo youth, specifically Qeerroo.
And the bias continues. Addis Standard reported on 3 November that four construction
workers on a bridge in Guji zone were killed two days earlier by a hand grenade.3 Despite the long history of the OLF and subsequently OLA avoiding civilian infrastructure and never attacking civilians, Addis Standard included in the article’s headline that ‘Government
blames rebel group Oromo Liberation Army’.
The killings in Guliso on 1 November fit the pattern of behaviour of Abiy Ahmed’s
government. Federal soldiers were withdrawn just before the attack and media claims of
atrocities perpetrated by OLA appeared within 24 hours. It is a well-rehearsed pattern but
none of the media questioned the authenticity of claims of OLA involvement and the
statement by OLA on 4 November, that it had never attacked civilians of any ethnicity in its
40 years of activity in Wallega and had never worn face-masks (reportedly worn by the
assailants at Guliso, according to VOA) has been ignored.
By September, OSG had recorded over 1100 killings in Oromia, Walaita, Sidama and
Benishangul-Gumuz. These killings have barely been mentioned compared to the column
inches devoted to killings which the government claims to have been committed by Qerroo,
OLF, OLA, or OFC.
The media within and without the country are now part of the problem of civil unrest and
instability in Ethiopia. If the style of reporting continues to whip up antagonism and fear
directed at Oromo and other peoples who desire a degree of autonomy then these media will be partly responsible for Ethiopia’s impending collapse.
Responsible reporting, including the Oromo point of view, will encourage those who feel
unheard and will allay the anxiety of those who have hitherto relied on government anti-Oromo propaganda and are fearful of Oromo and their desire for more autonomy.
There is no point in OSG making requests to the Ethiopian government. However, OSG
implores all media with an interest in Ethiopia to try to rid themselves of bias in their
coverage and not to be mere mouthpieces for the government anti-Oromo propaganda
1 Al Jazeera 17 August 2020. Ethiopia’s Oromo protests explained, Hamza Mohammed, Senior Africa Producer.
2 Ethiopia Insight 7 October 2020. Charges state that Hachalu’s assassins were part of Shane OLF antigovernment plot.
3 Addis Standard 3 November 2020. News: Four Civilians Killed, Three Seriously Injured in Guji Zone, Oromia; Government Blames Rebel Group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), Siyanne Mekonnen.
Oromia Support Group (OSG)
c/o 5 Caledonian Rd
London N1 9DX
+44 203 754 6434