Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 589 | Wed 17 Mar 2021
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ETHIOPIA: PIVOTAL ELECTIONS; CHURCH MASSACRE
plus Update Burma (Myanmar)
By Elizabeth Kendal
|PM Dr Abiy Ahmed|
Ethiopians will go to the polls on 5 June. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of Ethiopia hangs in the balance. Two diametrically opposed visions are in play: Prime Minister Dr Abiy's vision of a strong, united, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Ethiopia versus the dream of ethno-nationalists who would dismantle Ethiopia along ethnic lines. The leading proponents of ethno-nationalism are the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF; a Marxist body) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF; officially secular but dominated by Muslims, many of whom are radical Islamists). NOTE: the TPLF and OLF are organisations; they do not represent all Tigreans nor all Oromo. Many (if not most) Tigreans and Oromo are committed Ethiopians. After all, a strong, united, prosperous Ethiopia would not merely be a blessing to all Ethiopians, but to Africans across the whole Horn and Red Sea region. On the other hand, whilst ethno-nationalism might empower some, it would trigger widespread ethnic cleansing of minorities and gross insecurity nationwide. Those most at risk are the mostly Orthodox Christian ethnic Amhara, multitudes of whom have long lived as ethnic minorities outside of Amhara State [see RLPB 576, 'Collapse Would Trigger Christian Crisis' (18 Nov 2020)].
|click on map to enlarge|
NEW ATTACKS: Since 6 March at least 42 people - mostly Amhara Christians - have been slaughtered in various kebeles (districts) in Horo Guduru Welega zone, in the west of Oromia Regional State. In one attack, dozens of Amhara Christians were gathered at their Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church on Saturday 6 March, to welcome in the season of Lent, when gunmen stormed the church and shot the pastor dead. Twenty-eight Christians, of whom 21 were women (some holding babies), were then taken into the Gerji forest and slaughtered. The Oromia regional government and Police Commission have blamed the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), specifically the militant faction known as 'Shane group'. However, in a statement to media the OLA strongly denied any involvement: 'We would like to reiterate that our forces are absolutely not responsible,' it said. 'We once again suggest you reach out to the residents of Horo Guduru and ask them who Faqadaa Abdiisaa is and who sent him and his militia into Horo Guduru.' Whoever is responsible, it seems they had received intelligence alerting them to the fact that security forces were vacating the area; for as soon as the security forces left, the militants swept in for the kill. Many suspect that OLF sympathisers within the Oromia regional government, police and security forces are complicit in the Oromo ethno-nationalist violence targeting Amhara Christians across the region.
|images and victim list (from Amhara Awareness)|
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:
* intervene in Ethiopia and for Ethiopians, that the nation might be blessed to be a blessing to others; may God grace our brother Prime Minister Abiy with wisdom and strength as he seeks to lead the people into a whole new era of covenanted unity, peace and prosperity.
May it be that God has given Dr Abiy the role of PM, 'for such a time as this' (Esther 4:14).
* protect, rescue, comfort and sustain Ethiopian Christians displaced by and/or caught up in the crisis in Tigray and the insecurity in Oromia; by the power of the Holy Spirit may they demonstrate grace in the midst of terror, hope in the midst of insecurity and, in the midst of uncertainty, trust in God; may all suffering be redeemed for the glory of God.
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
PIVOTAL ELECTIONS & CHURCH MASSACRE IN ETHIOPIA
Ethiopians will go to the polls on 5 June. The polls will pit those striving for a strong, united, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Ethiopia versus ethno-nationalists (particularly those of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front) who would dismantle Ethiopia along ethnic lines. Incited by their power-hungry leaders, militant ethno-nationalists are already killing ethnic minorities, most of whom are ethnic Amhara Christians. On 6 March, gunmen stormed a church in western Oromia State and killed the 29 ethnic Amhara Orthodox Christians who had gathered to welcome in the season of Lent. The killings began in early 2018 after Prime Minister Abiy - a committed Ethiopian and Protestant Christian - enacted reforms to end TPLF hegemony and ethno-nationism. This is a battle for the very soul and future of Ethiopia. Please pray.
UPDATE BURMA (Myanmar)
To read Dr Sasa's statement in its entirety, see:
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF) and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
She 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).