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Identity-based massacre of Amhara civilians in Uke Kersa town, Guto Gida Woreda, East Wollega Zone

in Ethiopia’s Oromia Region by Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) militants on September 9th, 2022

Historical Context

It has been three decades (from 1991 onwards) since a constitutionalized ethnic apartheid system was imposed on the Ethiopian people without meaningful public consultation and

inclusive political dialogue and consensus. Specifically, the Amhara people were not represented in the political processes which ushered the apartheid-like ethnic federalism. The ethnic federalism system unique to Ethiopia, known as Zenawi-ism, creates regional states (units of the federation) along ethno-linguistic lines, and a certain ethnic group exclusively owns a regional state that consequently becomes an ‘ethnic homeland’. However, other groups living in the regional states are unjustifiably labeled as ‘settlers’ and have experienced apartheid-like treatment. According to the constitution, they are not rightful owners of the regional states and are unrepresented in each regional state’s government apparatuses.

The ethnic-based structure has politicized ethnic identities, fueled ethnic-based conflicts and attacks, and pits the so-called “indigenous” community against the non-indigenous ones by promoting a “sons of the soil vs. settlers” mentality. Ethnic groups labeled as ‘settlers’, in most cases, the Amharas, have been persecuted and left unprotected for over three decades in regional states such as Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz, regardless of their relatively significant populations in both regions.

Uke Kersa Massacre: Perpetrators and the Government’s Complicity

In many of the atrocities, massacres, and attacks on ethnic Amhara civilians in the Oromia Region, there is a handful of evidence that undoubtedly shows the complicity of the Ethiopian Government at different levels of administration such as the federal, regional, zonal, and woreda levels. Before almost all attacks against the Amhara civilians in the Oromia Region, government officials have been made aware of impending attacks as residents have reported them in advance. Despite this, the government neglects the civilians’ right to protection and officials have been known to collude with the OLA militants in the Oromia Region. Besides the compliance and negligence of the government towards the atrocities against the civilian Amharas in the Oromia Region by OLA militants, Oromia Regional Special Police Forces (OSF) have been implicated in violations against Amhara civilians as well.


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