Account of the Recent Genocide in the Tole Locality of Wellega, Western Ethiopia
This report has been compiled and written by Mrs. Genet Asmamaw, a journalist.
Translation of the compiled text from Amharic into English by Assefa Negash, M.D.
Amsterdam, Holland – the 25th of June 2022
E-mail address: [email protected]
“Let All Human Beings Listen to this”
A resident of Tole said “I swear in the name of Allah” and added that “the administrator of the Tole locality or village Mr. Nigatu Ummeta, said he had organized and undertaken massacre of Amara civilians on the instruction of officials in the upper echelons of the power hierarchy of the regional administration (of the Oromo Regional state)”. The administrator of the Tole Mr. Negatu Ummeta (an ethnic Oromo) and the head of the Militia office of Tole village Mr. Kidane Merwa (an ethnic Oromo) have publicly revealed the truth about the genocide four days after they have been imprisoned by the Federal Ethiopian army. According to Mr. Negatu Ummeta, Mr. Batcha, the administrator of the Gimbi district and the head of the Peace and Security office of the same district called him by phone and instructed him to carry out genocide against the Amara inhabitants of the Tole village.
Mr. Negatu Ummeta said that Mr. Batcha and the head of the Peace & Security office of Gimbi district told him that “our army (i.e. the Oromo Liberation Army or OLA otherwise dubbed OLF Shene by the incumbent regime) has an operation which it would carry out on Saturday (the 18th of June 2022) and they (these two officials of Gimbi district) have instructed me to accord the army (of the Oromo Liberation Front) the necessary support and cooperation”. According to Mr. Negatu Ummeta, Mr. Batcha and the head of the Security Office of Gimbi district told him that the Oromo Liberation Army would enter the Tole village on Thursday the 16th of June 2022. Further these two officials of the Gimbi district instructed Mr. Negatu Ummeta, Mr. Kidane Merwa and Sergeant Assefa to remove the local police and militia members from the Tole village on Thursday the 16th of June 2022.
Mr. Negatu and his colleagues were ordered to slaughter a big bull for the Oromo Liberation Army soldiers and said that they did that as they were instructed to do. Mr. Negatu Ummeta said that the Tole village top administrators along with the security forces of Tole village left the village on Thursday the 16th of June 2022 and stayed the night in an area not far from Tole village. After the Oromo Liberation Army entered the Tole village on Thursday the 16th of June, this army was gorging itself on the meat of the slaughtered bull and Oromo Liberation Army soldiers were dancing the whole night. Mr. Negatu Ummeta said that on Friday the 17th of June 2022, Tole village was turned into a place where there was no government structure and added that given that the village is big, he (Mr. Negatu Ummeta) and other officials of the village changed their role and joined the Oromo Liberation Army thereby besieging the Amara civilian inhabitants of Tole village.
According to Mr. Negatu Ummeta (administrator of Tole village), the head administrator of Gimbi district Mr. Bacha and the head of the Security office of Gimbi district who were following each movement of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) called him by phone on Friday the 17th of June and instructed him that the massacre or mayhem of Amaras (members of one of the two major ethnic groups of Ethiopia) should start at 8 AM local time on Saturday the 18th of June 2022 and end after 8 hours. Mr. Negatu Ummeta said that when the officials administering the Gimbi district were calling me by phone, other officials of Tole village were also present with me and they have disguised themselves like me and joined hands with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). Mr. Nigatu Ummeta said that in accordance with the order of Mr. Batcha (the Gimbi district administrator) we carried out genocide on Amaras on Saturday the 18th of June 2022. The genocide started at 8 AM local time and it continued for 8 consecutive hours.
Few Amaras resisted in self-defense and wounded our soldiers (soldiers of the Oromo Liberation Army). Subsequently, an ambulance car was sent to carry wounded soldiers of the Oromo Liberation Army and was transporting the OLA soldiers to Gimbi hospital the whole day. Mr. Negatu Ummeta said that on Saturday 18th of June 2022 at 2 PM they were informed that the Federal Army soldiers were coming to Gimbi and as such they were instructed to stop or halt the genocide. Then Mr. Negatu Ummeta and the Oromo Liberation Army he joined retreated to the forest. Subsequently I (Mr. Negatu Ummeta) and my colleagues changed our clothes and returned to the Tole village by disguising ourselves as peaceful individuals. Mr. Negatu Ummeta confessed this in front of the public after the Federal Army arrived at the village.
The head of the Militia office of Tole village Mr. Kidane Merwam likewise repeated what the administrator of Tole village Mr. Negatu Ummeta has confessed earlier. Eye witnesses said that the Amaras who survived the genocide directed at them were shocked and cried out in disbelief after having heard the account/confession of Mr. Negatu and Mr. Kidma Merwam. Although the Ethiopian Federal army and the Oromia Special Force (armed soldiers composed of Oromos in the area) are at the area at this time the Oromo Special Forces (this is a special force composed of soldiers armed by the Oromia Regional State and are officially answerable to it) have opposed the rounding up the of the perpetrators or killers.
When the perpetrators of genocide against Amaras were rounded up and imprisoned, the Oromo Special Force members opposed this process and cried out. The Amara survivors said that the Oromo Special Forces are saddened by the rounding up of the perpetrators of genocide against Amaras but do not show any sign of grief about the massacred Amaras. An eye witness who said that the Ethiopian Federal Army is at loggerheads with the Oromo Special Forces, added that those who went to the forest (the Oromo Liberation Army soldiers) and the Oromo Regional State officials based in the area are the same when it comes to the perpetuation of genocide on Amaras.
Those who survived the genocide are out on the fields (without shelter). They have nothing to eat now. Even those Amaras who have some money with them cannot leave the area by car because there is no transport service as the chauffeurs themselves have refused to transport them (it seems that these Oromo chauffeurs have turned back their back on them by identifying or siding with the genocide perpetrators i.e. the Oromo Liberation Army).
Some 3000 Amaras who have fled from Tole village and have moved to the Gimbi area after their displacement, have not been able to buy food and feed themselves with the small amount money they have got. This is because they could not find anyone trader or businessman that was willing to sell them food. A resident of the area said that he and others have been told that Amaras cannot live in this area. He added that we the survivors call on everyone to save our lives and help us get out of here (the Western Oromia region of Wellega) and to at least reach Addis Ababa (the capital city).
A surviving Amara resident said that up to now, he has buried 20 children after digging a burial*** grave for them. Some of these children were slaughtered, some killed by bullets, some burned alive and their bodies thrown out on the fields. Among the 20 children whom this Amara survivor buried by himself, figured a child who was just 20 days old. This Amara survivor added that at Tole Gutin village alone an Oromo army numbering no less than ten thousand and armed with machine guns and Bren machine guns had perpetrated genocide on the Amaras.
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The additional text put in parenthesis has been added by the translator to clarify points in the translated text. It is important for non-Ethiopian readers to understand the contextual background that led to the Amara genocide that resulted in the massacre of more than 1500 Amara civilians in a space of a few hours. The Ethiopian constitution does not recognize Ethiopian citizenship & has created an ethnic federal state based on ethno-linguistic criteria that denies the basic human rights of an individual citizen of Ethiopia. This system has created two types of Ethiopians i.e. the so-called indigenous ethnic groups and settlers. This has in turn created a polarized political environment in which the ethnic other, who is regarded as non-indigenous to the ethnically crafted regional states, is seen as an anomalous creature who has to be ethnically cleansed from the newly created ethnic regions that consider him alien.
*** Traditionally, burial is a respectable process that is accompanied by a burial ritual in which people in the community come together to pay their last respect to the deceased person in a dignified way that befits a human being. Today, this age-old and highly prized Ethiopian tradition has been denied to Amaras (both Christians and Muslim Amaras) whose bodies were left to wild animals and vultures to feast on. This is another aspect of the dehumanization process to which the Amaras dotted in all nooks and crannies of Ethiopia outside the so-called Amara regional state are exposed in present-day Ethiopia. What is mind boggling is the fact that the incumbent regime led by Abiy Ahmed has suppressed any public discussion about the genocide that targeted Amara civilians. The chairman of the parliament has denied a honorable member of parliament from putting on the agenda of the parliament the genocide that claimed the lives of more than 1500 hundreds of innocent Amara civilians. What is even more disturbing is the deeply insensitive attitude of prime minister Abiy who was engaged in the diversionary tactic of tree planting while thousands of innocent Amaras including pregnant women were disemboweled in a gruesome manner. A three days old Amara baby was among the victims of the genocidal killings that targeted poor Amara civilians in the Tole locality of Wellega, in western Ethiopia. The degree to which the incumbent regime led by Abiy Ahmed tried to suppress the genocide perpetrated against Amaras by suppressing/blocking any discussion of the genocide both in parliament and in government-controlled media. This throws light on the degree to which the genocide that targeted Amaras is symptomatic of a systemic and structural violence that has continued to target the Amaras as people since May 1991 and has increased by leaps and bounds during the last 4 years following the assumption of power by an ultra-nationalist/fascist regime led by Abiy Ahmed.