Ethnic violence is not showing signs of ease in Ethiopia. A citizen report in social media indicates that at least three Tigreans are killed by mob attack in Nekemete, in Western Ethiopia. They were killed following massive demonstration in the city against the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front government. This is for the first time for Tigreans to experience violence of this nature.
Ethnic violence is now at a crisis level. This is the third major ethnic violence in a week time. On October 22, dozens of Ethiopians of who are of Amhara ethnic background were killed in Chora and Dega zones in Buno Bedelle, South West Ethiopia. The Oromo regional government claimed that the violence was instigated by “enemies of Oromo” and blamed two local media as well, Ethiopian News Network (ENN) and Zami FM 97.1, for aggravating the conflict. At least 240 people are in custody in connection with the violence. Consultation between victimized community members and the regional government seem to suggest that the violence was orchestrated. Opposition groups believe that TPLF henchmen have a hand in recent conflict in Buno Bedelle Zone. It is on a record that there has been attacks on Ethiopians of Amhara origin for many many years now.
Two days ago, another deadly ethnic violence transpired in Benshangul Gumuz regional state in Western Ethiopia. Again, Ethiopians of Amhara origin were targeted and dozens were brutally killed. However, state media reported it as a conflict between individuals, not an attack against ethnic violence.
The mob violence in Nekemete today is of ethnic character as well. This time it is Ethiopians of Tigray origin that were targeted. Tigray is the support base of master of the ruling EPRDF coalition, Tigray Peoples Liberation Front. There is wide spread discontent across Ethiopia due to minority Tigray domination in high ranking military position, in the security apparatus and intelligence, politics and the economy. Worse, a considerable number of Ethiopians relate economic woes, albeit narratives fo double digit growth, and political crisis and ethnic based violence to the ideology of TPLF.
Daniel Berhane runs Horn Affairs blog but is rather well known for acting like a mouthpiece of Tigray People’s Liberation Front. He is believed to have connection to the TPLF power elites and to the security apparatus and some actually say that he is influential in TPLF power elites circle. In a facebook update today, he wrote ” #Ethiopia: A mob backed by Oromia special police killed three Tigrayans by stoning in Nekempte today.” And he pointed finger to Oromia police with the next sentence which he wrote in Amharic “በኦሮሚያ ልዩ ፖሊስ የሚታገዝ የጎረምሶች ቡድን ሶስት ትግራዮችን በነቀምቴ በድንጋይ ገድሏል።” It translates to ” A gangster mob supported by Oromia special police stoned to death three Tigreans in Nekemte” but he did not specify how Oromia special police supported the attack.
Oromia Region Communication Head, Addisu Arega Kitesa, wrote an update on facebook ” We have lost three citizens today due to violence in Nekemte. Private and public property is damaged…” he added that the regional government is saddened by the incident and will work with the public to bring hold to account those responsible for the attack.
Politicians in the opposition quarter and activists have been alarming about impending ethnic violence. Ethiopia is currently divided in to ethnic based regional governments and Ethiopians who happen to be in a region which is perceived to be “their region” are being seen as aliens and invaders.
So far there is no major initiative to reform the ethnic based ideology and administrative struggle and many fear that the worst of ethnic violence is yet to come.