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Ethnic-based massacre of Amhara civilians by Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) militants

in Jarte (Jardega Jarte Woreda) and Amuru (Amuru Woreda) towns in Horo Guduru Wollega Zone, Oromia Region, Ethiopia


Overview


The ethnic-based attacks on Amharas, especially in the Oromia Region have intensified both in scale and frequency following the 2018 ascendency of Abiy and his Oromo Prosperity Party (formerly the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, OPDO) to power. Soon after Abiy’s government granted amnesty to the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA; formerly the Oromo Liberation Front, OLF) and invited them to enter the Oromia Region armed.


Since then, OLA has continued freely recruiting fighters and perpetrating gross human rights violations, including mass killings of innocent Amharas with state complicity and absolute impunity across the Oromia Region. Among the deadliest of the hundreds of violent incidents was the June 18, 2022 Tole massacre in which over 500 Amharas perished within hours as well as the July 4, 2022 Lemlem massacre in which several hundreds of Amharas were massacred. This report covers yet another large-scale ethnic-based massacre of Amharas carried out by OLA and its collaborators between September 23rd and 25th, 2022, in two towns of Oromia Region. For the past three weeks, the Amhara Association of America (AAA) has undertaken an independent investigation into a reported massacre of Amhara civilians in Jarte town (Jardega Jarte Woreda) and Amuru town (Amuru Woreda) in the Horo Guduru Wollega Zone (located in Oromia Region, Ethiopia).


The investigation involved interviews with survivors and families who sought refuge in Haro (Kiremu Woreda, East Wollega Zone, Oromia Region) and Jardega towns as well as the Hayk IDP Center in the South Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region. In addition to interviews, AAA’s investigators conducted focus group discussions with survivors in the Hayk IDPs camp. The AAA’s investigation reveals that between September 23rd and 25th, 2022, a systematic, ethnically motivated, and large-scale massacre of Amhara civilians was perpetrated by OLA militants in collaboration with local Qeerro (vigilante Oromo youth group) in Jarte and Amuru towns. As a result of this massacre, at least 170 ethnic Amhara civilians were killed, several thousand were displaced and their properties were abandoned and/or looted. The survivors and eyewitnesses, however, believe the number of Amharas killed could be much higher as Ethio-Telecom services (state-operated national telecommunications service provider) were still off which has hindered media reporting and investigations. Sources reported many residents went missing and are not confirmed to be alive but that identified victims came from all age groups and genders. The massacre was perpetrated by OLA militants with the complicity of government officials at all levels who participated and conspired with the OLA in planning the killings; refused to deploy adequate security forces to protect victims and severed lines of communication. Furthermore, the local Qeerro helped the OLA by identifying Amharas and their houses to target victims and in executing wounded victims using weapons like machetes.