Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 652 | Wed 06 July 2022
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ETHIOPIA: MORE AMHARAS MASSACRED
preparing for an Amhara sacrifice
by Elizabeth Kendal
On Monday 4 July Oromo ethno-nationalist militants slaughtered at least 150 predominantly Christian ethnic Amhara in Hawa Gelan Woreda (district) in Kellem/Qellem Wollega Zone, Oromia Region. As was the case in the 18 June massacre in Gimbi Woreda, in neighbouring West Wollega [see RLPB 651, Amharas Massacred, (June Update, 29 June)] minority ethnic Amharas were specifically targeted. Lamenting the prevalence of ‘ethnically targeted killing’, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has called for an ‘urgent reinforcement’ of government security forces to prevent further civilian deaths. While the official toll is at least 150, one survivor told the Amhara Media Corporation, ‘They [the attackers] have left, and bodies are now being picked up; so far 300 [bodies] have been collected. But it’s still early, there are many others whose whereabouts we don’t know.’
|massacre sites circled in red|
(click on map to enlarge)
The 4 July massacre in Kellem Wollega, bears many similarities to the 18 June massacre in neighbouring West Wollega. Concerning the 18 June massacre, three eye-witnesses told The Africa Report (23 June) that the killers were ‘Afaan Oromoo-speaking militants’, and ‘referred to them as Shene, a nickname for the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)…’ Two of the three witness ‘also accused Oromia regional officials of colluding with the gunmen. One said: “The administration was a part of it, because when we called for defence, no one responded. They said there is no conflict.” The second said the militants “spoke Oromo, they are Shene, they just came with the woreda (district) and zonal officials”.’ Meanwhile, the OLA denies responsibility, claiming the attack was a false flag perpetrated by Gaachana Sirna, a local militia created by Oromia regional authorities. Similarly, on 5 July, Prime Minister Abiy blamed the Kellem Wollega massacre on OLA ‘Shene’, the Oromo ethno-nationalist militia allied to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the war against the Abiy government. As on 18 June, no group has claimed responsibility for the 5 July massacre and the OLA has again blamed forces aligned with the Oromia regional government.
The massacres of minority Amharas in Oromia Region come in the wake of the Abiy government’s May crackdown on dissent in Amhara Region and the disarming of FANO, an ethnic Amhara volunteer militia established in late 2021 to defend Amhara Region and Addis Ababa from advancing TPLF forces [see RLPB 622, Christian Crisis Looms as Rebels Advance, 3 Nov 2021]. More than 30 protesters died in the May crackdown which resulted in more than 12,000 arrests: including 20 journalists and 62 political opposition, as well as activists, lawyers, professors, military personnel and thousands of FANO. In its condemnation of the 18 June massacre, the Amhara Association of America (AAA) noted that ‘at least 1,688 Amharas were killed and 62 abducted in 2021 by the OLA alone’. Consequently, Amharas fear that the crackdown on dissent and disarming of FANO will work to facilitate an Amhara genocide.
|An Amhara pilgrim holds a candle at |
Saint Mary's Church in Lalibela, Amhara Region,
after its liberation from TPLF forces (Dec 2021).
[Eduardo Soteras/ AFP]
Many analysts believe PM Abiy is preparing the ground ahead of talks with the TLPF aware the TPLF will demand (in exchange for peace) the return of ‘West Tigray’. Known to Amharas as Welkait, ‘West Tigray’ comprises Amhara farmlands annexed into Tigray by the TPLF after 1991 and liberated by the Amhara in 2021 [see map: RLPB 651 (29 June)]. Control of ‘West Tigray’ would restore the TLPF’s direct corridor to its main regional ally, Sudan’s Islamist military. Along with this, the TLPF will demand a referendum on independence, something neither the Amhara nor Eritrea can abide. [The TPLF Manifesto envisages an independent ‘Republic of Greater Tigray’ which includes lands from Amhara, Afar and Eritrea (see RLM, 11 June 2021).]
As noted in last week’s RLPB, PM Abiy is under intense pressure to do whatever it takes to broker peace with the Egypt-Sudan-US-backed Marxist-Leninist and separatist TPLF. Fears abound that this may involve sacrificing the Amhara. The pro-TPLF US Biden-Blinken administration is ready to enact crippling sanctions if the TPLF and US don’t get what they want: a US-allied Greater Tigray on the Red Sea. The threat of civil war, national disintegration, ethnic cleansing and Amhara genocide – i.e. a Christian crisis of monumental proportions – continues to linger over Ethiopia.
PLEASE PRAY THAT OUR SOVEREIGN GOD WILL
* comfort and sustain all who have been impacted by the recent massacres of ethnic Amhara in Oromia Region; may the Lord comfort those who grieve – especially those who have lost their entire family - and sustain those who are displaced by providing them with secure shelter and all the humanitarian assistance they require. Lord have mercy.
* protect and sustain his precious Church in Ethiopia, a missional Church which includes the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church, as well as Catholics and Protestants, and an ever increasing number of converts from Islam; Lord have mercy.
‘Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me’ (Psalm 17:8-9 ESV).
* grant Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (a convert to Christianity) wisdom and strength as he seeks to lead the nation into a new era of unity, peace and prosperity; may he not be lured or forced from that path and may he look to the Lord for direction and strength.
* intervene to thwart all evil plots designed to break-up Ethiopia; may God’s good plans for Ethiopia prevail.
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
MORE AMHARA MASSACRED IN ETHIOPIA
Whilst the threat to Addis Ababa has diminished, the ethnic cleansing of predominantly Christian minority Amharas in Oromia Region appears to be gaining pace. On Monday 4 July Oromo ethno-nationalist militants slaughtered at least 150 – possibly more than 300 – predominantly Christian ethnic Amhara in Hawa Gelan Woreda in Kellem/Qellem Wollega Zone, Oromia Region. The massacre comes just a couple of weeks after the 18 June massacre of as many as 1600 ethnic Amhara in Gimbi Woreda in neighbouring West Wollega Zone. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has called for an ‘urgent reinforcement’ of government security forces to prevent further civilian deaths. Prime Minister Abiy is under intense pressure to broker peace with the Egypt-Sudan-US-backed Marxist-Leninist and separatist TPLF. Fears abound that this may involve sacrificing the Amhara. Please pray.
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate for the persecuted Church. To support this ministry visit ElizabethKendal.com
Elizabeth has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016). She is also an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
For more information visit: www.ElizabethKendal.com