Concerning misuse, abuse and deliberate misattribution of evidences of crimes against humanity in Ethiopia
Date: March 1, 2021
GPE Evidence & Documentation Section
WARNING! EXTREMELY GRAPHIC CONTENT INCLUDED WITHIN THE ARTICLE!
We at the Genocide Prevention in Ethiopia (GPE) are extremely concerned with the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Ethiopia. We strongly urge that the warring parties agree to a cessation of hostilities with no precondition involved to mitigate further civilian life loss in Tigray, Ethiopia. The recent reports that were issued regarding events that amount to crimes against humanity in the month of November 2020 at Maikadra and Axum respectively is a testament that civilians are the primary victims of war regardless of the events that led to it.
Unfortunately, the human right situation in Ethiopia has already been devolving at an alarming rate about three years before the operation in Tigray has started. While we believe it is imperative that civilians safety is given due attention especially in a war zone, it is also extremely important that areas where continuous massacres are happening unabated should be given due attention to stop this unimaginable human suffering.
However, we are finding it extremely difficult to raise an alarm to the whole world regarding the horrific ongoing genocide against ethnic Amharas in Ethiopia. It is with a heavy heart that we notify the world that ethnic Amharas continue to be hunted down in Ethiopia and not even a single accredited international human rights organization is amplifying the voices of the victims of this horrific ongoing genocide.
The fact that our initiative existed is a living testament to that fact, as we only decided to document what is happening after numerous attempts to contact mandated organizations including Amnesty international, Human Rights Watch and UNHCHR itself, and we were met with a complete lack of interest in even acknowledging the genocide against ethnic Amhara. The Amhara people of Ethiopia have been targeted and massacred in a continuous manner throughout the last 30+ years due to a number of factors including deliberate political marginalization by Ethiopia’s political arrangement commonly referred to as “ethnic federalism” that was devised and imposed without consulting and in fact, excluding Amhara representation. However, the cruelty, frequency as well as scale of the attacks have now grown to a point where the Ethiopian population is demonstrating signs of desensitization even in response to double-digit death tolls. We are witnessing a norm of Amhara deaths not being reported unless it is in triple-digits.
While looking at the body of evidence (which is in fact a drop in an ocean compared to all the other pictures and videos that are sent to us after verification on the ground) please let it sink in that all of the major international humanitarian organizations have been sent these pictures and have been tagged on all of our public atrocity report posts on social media. None of them tried to find out more, none of them reached out. This is a living reminder that even victims have to fall in a certain category, or should not disrupt the organized groups’ carefully laid out political narrative, for their stories to be heard. While a more technical and evidenced exposé will follow, this is a warning to humanity that the checks and balances in place to prevent atrocities such as genocide are compromised and are not doing what they are supposed to do.
To make matters even worse, now political activists who are trying to cover up actions from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Oromo People’s Liberation Front (OLF) are in fact routinely misappropriating evidences of the genocide against ethnic Amhara and distorting critical details such as locations, identities of victims, identities of responsible parties and more. For example, a number of the photographs that were directly sent to GPE, that were geotagged as well as date stamped, and those we have in archive have surfaced in twitter campaigns as if they are crimes that happened in the Tigray conflict since November 2020. We expect such treachery from TPLF and OLF agents, but what is deeply disturbing is prominent journalists from major news outlets are encouraging and giving credibility for these falsehoods without verifying the sources or the context of these photographs.
One of the repeat offenders of this is Mr. Jake Wallis Simons. Mr Simons is a “Denizen of Fleet Street and all-round scurrilous hack. Deputy Editor, Jewish Chronicle. Spectator writer. Sky / BBC broadcaster. Middle East watcher. Novelist” in his own words from his Twitter profile.
He has been however repeatedly endorsing these wrongly used evidences of the genocide against ethnic Amharas as if they are crimes that took place in the Tigray Region.
Even if he was reminded that this was an incident that took place in Metekel Zone (Benishangul-Gumuz region) against Amhara victims. He was not willing to remove his endorsing comment under the tweet that is misattributing the pictures of the Amhara victims.
Please refer to these infographics to understand what is happening to ethnic Amhara and Agews in the in Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia. A separate report showing pictures that were misattributed while being from the attacks against ethnic Amharas in Metekel will be released shortly.
Example 2: In a tweet that is now deleted, Mr. Simons endorsed a message that wrongly accused Amhara Regional Forces of war crimes. However, the damage is already done as those who use such endorsements to misinform more people make use of the snapshots in their advocacy materials.
The video that was the subject of Mr. Simons deleted tweet is from #Wollega zone (Oromia region) and was deliberately being presented as evidence for an event in the Tigray Region, and it was used specifically to frame Amhara Regional Police Forces while those seen in the video are Oromo Regional Police Forces. This specific video has been shared by both fake accounts and respected journalists alike as if it shows an event that happened in Tigray region, Ethiopia. The video has been going viral across social media platforms (especially Twitter) throughout February 28, 2021. One specific person who shared it as such is an Oromo activist Dr. Henok Gabisa
The video posted by Dr. Henok Gabisa claiming that the scene occurred in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia
The real story behind the video
Ethnic Amharas in the Wollega zone of the Oromia Region in Ethiopia have been targeted in ongoing genocidal massacres for the last 30+ years. However, the last 3 years have seen rampant killings with no accountability whatsoever to the groups (e.g. OLF, Gumuz militias, etc) that hunt down and kill ethnic Amhara in Wollega.
Incidents include those given in the accounts below but the attacks are by no means limited to these accounts, we are just giving here the most recent examples of the attacks. The list is not complete as there were many other incidents between November 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021, in Wollega. Pictures from these attacks are heavily misattributed on various social media campaigns.
November 1, 2020: The Gulliso AmharaMassacre , Gulliso, Wollega, Ethiopia
December 15, 2020: Attack against ethnic Amharas in Wollega, Ethiopia
#GPE_AtrocityReport: In #HoroGudru in JardaJarta Woreda in #Wollega, ethnic #Amharas have been massacred by armed #OLF/Shane militia. Although the regional administration had received information of looming threats from residents prior to the attack, they were unable to intervene and protect their residents. The residents have also mentioned they suspect the #Oromia Liyu Force is working with #OLF/Shane militia. Here are the names of some of the victims: 1.Kassaye Baye along with 5 family members 2.Yibre Admassu along with 6 family members 3.Beletech Gobbaw 4.Hamid Ibrahim 5.Makka Ibrahim 6.Hassen Ibrahim 7.Ahmed Ibrahim 8.Mussa Darso 9.Hamid Yibre (a 7th grader who was died as a result of severe injuries and lack of hospitalization) Although the situation in Ethiopia Ethiopia is worsening for citizens living outside of their regions, such as ethnic #Amharas in Wollega, the Federal government as well as the Regional government have been unable to stop these targeted attacks. It should be noted that Genocide Watch has declared Ethiopia is on Stage 9 Extermination of Genocide Emergency.
Gruesome details of such attacks have emerged including mutilating a mothers breasts and putting it on her dead child’s face, after killing them both during the attack. (As seen in the first picture below).
January 21, 2021: #GPE_AtrocityReport:
the president of the region, has not only failed to STOP these
genocides but is carrying out an open ethnic cleansing and regional expansion under an ambitious expansionist agenda. We would like to reiterate that Horo Guduru is a district where attacks have been carried out repeatedly. #R2PEthiopia
February 8, 2021: #GPE_AtrocityReport:
4)Four year old daughter Mittu Mitiku
In Village 3, Mr. Getnet was slaughtered by #OLF militia.
The incidents listed here only partially reflect what has been going on. The attack is continuous and sometimes in secluded remote rural areas where ethnic Amhara residents are surrounded by OLF militants therefore the news only gets out if some people survive the attack and live to talk about it. Some are living in the woods as they could not leave the area but also could not go back to their homes as they wait for them in these surrounded villages.
Finally, in some villages where Amhara farmers have arms, they tried to defend themselves from OLF armed groups, but they were disarmed by Oromo Special Forces (Regional State sanctioned forces) later.
February 14, 2021: #GPE_AtrocityReport:
#GPE_AtrocityReport: February 14, 2021 Limuh Woreda, Argunbi Kebelle, East Wollega
2)Priest Nigus Debas
3)Abba Nega Ashager
6) Mr. Mebratu Gemechu
February 25, 2021: #GPE_AtrocityReport:
Shibina Choobee area:
8 ethnic #Amhara/s were brutally slaughtered in the early hours, along with houses of 16 ethnic #Amhara/s that were set on fire by #OLF militia. Sources from the area have reported that Oromia Liyu Force has been unwilling to prevent the attacks.
3 ethnic #Amhara/s were brutally slaughtered by the same #OLF militia, while 7 ethnic #Amharas were kidnapped.
#OLF militia, overnight, set the homes of 7 ethnic #Amhara/s on fire. The whereabouts of the residents are unknown, and sources suspect they might have perished in the fire as they were asleep when the fire started.
The attack continued however, after aggressive campaigning and a number of local media reporting on the issue, the Oromia Regional Police reportedly got deployed to the problematic districts, however it was later reported that there compromised elements within the Oromia Regional Police forces that were actively working with the OLF armed groups even to a point of attacking fellow police members that stood in their way. As can be seen from the report on February 25, the attacks against ethnic Amhara have continued unabated.
The video being used for the disinformation
In between these attacks, a group of Amhara farmers who had arms fought back “OLF Shane” (a sub-division of OLF) attackers and handed them over to Oromo Regional Police forces. The suspects accused of committing the heinous crimes shown in the pictures above were subsequently questioned as to where their commanders were in the video shown above that is being circulated as if it is from the Tigray region. In the video, one can clearly see the uniform worn by the Oromo Regional Police. One can hear Amharic spoken in an accent of local Oromo as well. The other Amharic speakers were the farmers who brought them to the police force. Clearly, they are beyond fearful these people will come back and kill more innocent people if they were to be released. Any criminal we believe should be tried in a court of law and we do not by any means condone extrajudicial killings.
What every single viewer should know is that the OLF gang that are shown on this video are likely the very people who cut a mothers breast and placed it on her child’s face, and who killed them both. These are the terrorists that murdered a 4 day old baby just because he is Amhara. These are the OLF members that killed a grandmother of over 70 years of age. These are for all intents and purposes, bonafide terrorists. And the open support they are getting from people who live in this country, makes one question what they are capable of if they are in a position to attack an Amhara person even here on American soil. These people were caught when they came to kill more ethnic Amhara and were handed over to the regional government’s police force. The Amhara farmers did not even take matters into their own hands.
Video shot earlier throws more light into the situation. The footage shows that Amhara farmers handed the OLF terrorists over to the Oromo police.
The second video clearly shows that there is a third dimension to the story that the situation in Oromia is extremely complex where there is an animosity between some Oromo Regional Force members and OLF militants, at the same time there are also reports of Oromo Regional Force members that plot with OLF militants, a number of reports GPE received could attest to that fact. Additionally, OLF militants rampantly murder Amharas in remote areas in Wollega and depending on whether they are served by a compromised or non compromised Oromo Regional Police, they may get help from the region, or may be further marginalized as there are cases pro-OLF Oromo Police have disarmed Amhara farmers leaving them vulnerable for further OLF attacks.
We strongly recommend that the Ethiopian government puts a stop to the carnage of civilians be it in Metekel, Wollega, Tigray, or anywhere else in the country. In what turned out to be a shocking turn of events, different organized militant groups now demonstrate their discontent regarding any political matter through murdering innocent civilians. Civilians’ lives has become a political point scoring mechanism in Ethiopia. The humanitarian situation in Ethiopia is also extremely dire, and the targeting of ethnic Amhara in particular, coupled with the complete indifference from the international community has reached to a level where conditions for political unrest are brewing and some speculate there could even be civil war in Ethiopia at any point in time now.
For those who would like to know more, our organization has been posting early warnings when we receive a tip that attackers are in preparation, red alerts when we get information on apparent attacks and finally, atrocity reports after the attacks are committed. Regrettably, for some of the most horrible attacks which occurred in Wollega and Metekel, residents had already been sounding the alarm but they were still killed gruesomely as no one was able to stop it. You can follow GPE reports on our social media accounts listed below. So far, we have been focused on reporting incidents but we will very soon start releasing reports and analysis regarding the ongoing genocide against ethnic Amhara and other specifically and systematically targeted ethnicit-ies in Ethiopia.
Please heed our warning and save these innocent people from gruesome killings that is awaiting them. If you will not be a voice to them, the least you can do is to not misattribute their pictures, this will minimize their chance of getting justice! And definitely do not portray the victims as if they are the offenders, that is a complete miscarriage of justice and total abandonment of their immeasurable suffering, it will also increase their targeting which will lead to more horrific massacres. Be human and do not misattribute these pictures.