Christians are believed to be the targets of the recent violence that followed the death of Artist Hachalu Hundessa
Dr Negussu Legesse, director of Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Associations (CCDRA) and a former executive of the World Council of Churches (WCC), said that the the atrocities against innocent civilians and businesses in Oromia administrative region on June 29 & 30 are indicative of targeted attacks against Christians. In an interview he gave to MK TV on August 23, 2020, Dr Nigussu Legesse said that he visited some of the affected areas and victims with a delegation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, a committee of Elders for Peace and other associations. He said that the destruction he observed are horrifying and that he never thought he would see such atrocities in Ethiopia. He indicated that the victims included Christians of different ethnic identity and that the common trait of these victims was that they were all Christians.
On June 29 and 30, following the assassination of renowned artist Hachalu Hundessa, violent protests took place across Ethiopia. These acts of terror occurred in selected cities and towns across ten provincial zones (Eastern and Western Arsi, Eastern and Western Hararge, Eastern Showa, Southwestern Showa, Jima, Balle, Harar and Metu, and two federally administered cities: Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. Within the two days of violence, 239 lives, mostly civilians and Orthodox Christians are known to have been killed. According to government authorities, approximately 328 houses, mostly of ethnic minorities and Orthodox Christians, 44 hotels, 6 factories and 14 government buildings have been burned down or destroyed. The International Orthodox Tewahedo Alliance (IOTA) strongly condemns the killing of innocent citizens and destruction of their properties throughout the Oromia administrative region in Ethiopia.
The Planned Extermination of Orthodox Christians and Minorities in Ethiopia Read Here
Mr. Mekonnen Semu, an attorney in Addis Ababa, was also featured in the same interview and said that there are also people unjustly imprisoned simply because of their efforts to defend against these attacks and to pursue justice.
On June 29 and 30, following the death of Artist Hachalu Hundesa, Orthodox Christians in many parts of the Oromia administrative region were viciously attacked, and their homes and businesses were destroyed. Although the attack has been described as a spontaneous response to the killing of the artist, it has all the hallmarks of an act of Islamic extremists and the survivors certainly describe it that way.
Reflecting on his conversation with some of the victims, Dr. Negussu Legesse said that the Christians residents and those in shelter are still receiving threats to leave their birth place and not to return to their homes. The victims would like to return to their farms and start working on their fields, but are afraid to do so because there is no sign of guarantee for their safety by the federal government. Some victims also shared with Dr Legesse that their children are too traumatized to return back to their homes.
Attorney Mekonnen Semu said that temporary aid was delivered to the victims during their visit, but added that the government has the highest responsibility to keep the peace and security of its citizens. He also emphasized the people’s and specially parents’ responsibilities to protect their children from easily being victims of extreme radicalization.
Dr Legesse expressed some hope for the future due to certain measures the government is taking against alleged perpetrators of these crimes. He also mentioned that the associations that sent delegates to visit the victims established a technical team to study and propose reconstruction and restitution efforts. These efforts also include providing counsel for those traumatized by the terror they witnessed. Dr Legesse added that these efforts are also being undertaken by the organization he heads, CCRDA.
These destructions are generally characterized as protests and spontaneous responses to the death of the artist; however, the coordination level of the destruction indicates a premeditated and well-orchestrated execution by an organized group that seeks to target Orthodox Christians. These organized groups have taken hold of some elements of the government to promote these persecutions and deny justice. Some high-level government officials are downplaying and denying these genocidal crimes. Without credible and transparent investigation of these crimes, the country is on the brink of an unimaginable genocide.
IOTA denounces the authorities’ abdication of their sacred duty to protect and defend the defenseless, the hateful rhetoric and incitement of ethnic and religious violence by the media, political activists and organizations. We support the current measures the federal government is taking to combat such actions and hope that there will be a transparent and fair trial for the accused.
We call on the Ethiopian government to protect and defend innocent citizens, rehabilitate those displaced from their homes and those affected by these heinous and gruesome acts of terror and bringing the perpetrators to justice. Finally, we call on the international community to pay close attention to these recurring violent and targeted crimes against Orthodox Christians and ethnic minorities, and support the protection of justice for innocent victims.
Office of IOTA
Press Release by Abune Mekarious
Archbishop of Somali and East Hararghe Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Translated from his press release in Amharic
Jan 29, 2020
“We call for the end of a system that benefits one group while excluding others.” Abune Mekarios,
Say No To Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
We call for the end of a system that benefits one group while excluding others.
For those who were attacked by the police that were supposed to serve everyone without prejudice, those who were arrested even after being attacked by people who are now walking free – we want you to remain strong for your sufferings shall be counted as good deeds in the eyes of the Lord. Like our forefathers passed through times of hardships by keeping their faith, we are certain that nothing will stop you from doing the same. Christianity is always about victory over challenges, not a guarantee to a temporary satisfaction. The latest attack on Christians is no different from what the wicked emperors had done against our forefathers. You undeniably have more to gain by enduring challenges like our forefathers did.
Even though organized mobsters with irresponsible security police officers attempted to incite you to engage in violence and chaos, you remained patient and strong. By so doing, you have proved how strong Christians are, even during trying times. And be happy for what you did (for your patience and restraint).
It is not possible to live a peaceful life while publicly discriminating Christians. Bearing this in mind, we want the government to evaluate its system once again and stop these irresponsible government officials, who are attempting to advance their hate filled agenda and are attempting to impose their belief (on Christians), from committing such acts.
The police must serve all citizens despite their background and religion and impartially, without prejudice. However, the latest attacks targeted against our church reveals that the reality on the ground is different. Since it is challenging to live a peaceful life while persecuting others (Christians), we want the government to ensure such acts (of terror) won’t happen again and to take the necessary preventive measures before it gets worse.
Between January 19 and January 22, 2020, Christians were physically attacked, properties of four Christians were destroyed, 17 Christians are unfairly arrested; 246 Christians are displaced from their homeland and fled to Debre Adhano St Gabriel Church in Harar after being physically attacked, robbed and received death threats. We want all human beings to stand up for justice. Harrar is not a city that belongs to only a small group of people, but it is for all Ethiopians.
We request the government bring to justice the groups and individuals that are trying to incite violence between communities that are living in harmony and peace. The fact is that the perpetrators of these heinous attacks are being released, while Christians who were victims of these atrocities are still being arrested. We call for the end of such (blatant) acts.
Even though some commendable actions have been taken by the regional government which announced it has arrested the mobsters who were behind the recent attacks, such act (arresting the innocent and releasing the perpetrators) however is nothing different from arresting Christ while releasing Barabbas.
We were happy that the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution to add Ethiopian Epiphany to the list of World Intangible Cultural Heritages. On the other hand, the attempt to take over a place of religious festivals of Orthodox followers and replace it with another one is very depressing. We call for the end of such actions.
Like other religions that celebrate their sacred festivals peacefully without being attacked, we want to urge the government to do the same to all Christians without prejudice. As long as followers of Christians are being victims to violence and attacks… we will continue demanding for the respect of our rights. We also want to make it clear that we will hold a demonstration to denounce the recent attacks soon.
We once again denounce the acts of the regional government’s actions of arresting innocent Christians, while releasing mobsters. And, we call upon the Christian youth to be organized and defend their faith from anymore attack and collect the necessary evidence if any additional acts are committed by mobsters against churches to bring those perpetrators to justice.
God Bless Ethiopia