Press Statement

October 27, 2019

The news coming from Ethiopia this week is extremely disturbing and alarming. Dozens of people are ruthlessly killed based on their ethnicity and faith. At least 67 people have died, according to reports, out of which 54 were stoned to death and remaining died from gunshot from police. The violence had started after Jawar Mohammed, executive director of Oromo Media Network (OMN) and prominent activist, posted a note to his over a million followers on his Facebook page that police had circled his house and tried to withdraw his security forces this Wednesday around 2 AM Ethiopian time. Many of his followers in different parts of Oromia region marched on the streets stating their loyalty to Jawar, which then escalated into violence. Dozens of people were violently killed by crowds of youth, businesses and places of worships were burned to the ground.

According to DW Amharic, in Dodola, 14 people were killed since Wednesday. Residents told DW that, many whose houses had been burnt by mob, are still taking shelter in Churches. In Bale, in two days nine people were buried while two bodies had been sent to families elsewhere. AHRE has videos of helpless citizens who took shelter in churches begging the outside world for help. The number of recorded videos and audios from ethnic minorities is deeply disturbing to hear. Several others have been killed in different parts of Oromia, including in Sebeta, town located in the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding the capital, where eight ethnic Gamos were violently killed two days ago.

In an extremely worrying development, a video is circulating on social media today where a group of people had summoned a large number of people in Bale Robbe, Oromia region. They instruct the crowd, among other things to evict ‘Neftegnas and Dorzes’, terms largely used to describe Amhara and Gamo ethnic group respectively. They also say, “we will no longer trade with Neftegnas and Dorzes; anyone who refuses order shall be cursed. in addition, they warn against eating with, worshiping, and living together with the Neftegnas. The video was in afaan Oromo and AHRE has not independently verified the translation, however different sources have similar translation.

AHRE has released many statements for the past couple of years alerting international institutions and the government about increasing ethnic based attacks, violence and displacement. Executive Director of AHRE, Mr. Yared Hailemariay, says that “Having closely followed these unfortunate incidents, AHRE strongly believes that the current situation is grave and particularly different because the killings have occurred at the same time in different parts of Oromia, including in the outskirts of the capital city; because of the tensioned political climate between the prime Minister and Jawar Mohammed and in general the weak nature of the central government; and because the video circulating will likely lead to more killings.” He also says that “The death toll and violence does not seem to abate and AHRE was still receiving unconfirmed reports of violence in Oromia when preparing this report. Majority of the deceased are ethnic minorities and Christians.”

There are a number of cases where police have ceased a high number of firearms; local news has reported about these firearms repeatedly in this year alone. This is particularly worrisome because officials and police have collaborated in the attack against minorities in recent violence, which worsens the already dangerous situation.

Therefore, it is with utmost urgency and gravity, that we alert the international community about the looming threat of civil war and likelihood of genocide in Ethiopia. Action must be taken swiftly by government forces, international community and all concerned bodies. We urge and alert all concerned bodies that every important action must be taken immediately to avoid civil war in the country.

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