What is Gambella?
Gambella is a nation which is located in Southwest Ethiopia. What I mean
by nation is that Gambella people are different from the majority of
Ethiopian people in many aspects, Such as culture, color of skin, climate,
and geography. We are typical Africans.
Who are Gambella natives?
Gambella natives are Anuaks, Majaneger, Opo, Kumo and partly Nuer.
Anuak is the majority tribe of the region. However, because of bias census
in 1994 the Anuak population was undercounted and the Nuer tribe was
found to be a majority. In addition, during the census most of the Anuak
villages were inaccessible due to river and stream overflows. In reality
Gambella Nuers reside only in one county and the majority of them are
Sudanese refugees who live in camps in the Gambella region. What makes
Anuaks so skeptical is that in the census Nuers did not exceed by fewer
percent but by 13 percent. It was one of the most disturbing censuses
in the 20th century.
What is happening in Gambella?
Ethiopian military have been searching for a pretext to annihilate the
Anuak people for quite some time. Since current Ethiopian government
took power 12 years ago and its military started controlling Gambela
State and the killing of innocent Anuaks by the government troops always
has been an ongoing experience. This is because Ethiopians Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi did not speak out against such incidents which were routinely
carried out by his military commanders. Meles Zenawi has been indirectly
authorizing his top military leaders to pick out the outspoken Anuak
leaders to be killed or jailed.
On Dec. 13, 2003 Ethiopian soldiers and “highlander” civilians
collaborated and went door to door carrying a list of prominent Anuaks
names calling them out of their homes and executed them. The worst part
of this vicious, wicked atrocity was that they slaughtered any man ranging
1year old and up following execution of a prominent one. The killings,
looting, gutting of homes by fire even raping went on for a week long
until the U.S. embassy personnel arrived in Gambela. This massacres cost
more than 500 lives lost, over 1000 homes were destroyed, about 600 or
more were injured with deep machete cuts on their skulls and gunshots
wound and more than 15,000 displace and 17,000 or more Anuaks fled to
neighboring country Sudan. Those thousands of Anuaks refugees are stranded
in the Sudan-Ethiopia border with out any medical help, food, water or
shelter. Many more educated Anuaks are fleeing Gambella to unknown destinations
fearing execution and imprisonment. This cruel killing was well calculated
by Ethiopia’s highest ranking government officials. In fact the
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi did not condemn the slaughtering
therefore his hand was in it. Although, this atrocity made headline news
around the world, the fascistic government of Ethiopia’s Medias
didn’t make any information available to the public.
The most devastating thing to me is that soldiers killed 21 people meanwhile
at the same time they twisted the blame on tribal fighting to blindfold
the world that Gambella is a region of tribal complex. Those 21 victims
were the first target on list by the military. Subsequent to their execution
the soldiers and other “highlanders” civilian went on rampage
killing any Anuaks male they see using shotguns, knives, machetes etc.
Even today, the residents of four counties are living in the bush with
a population over 50, 000. It is a serious matter!
The bottom line of this atrocity is nothing to do with Anuak being not
peaceful but it is the jealousy and envy of Ethiopians (highlanders)
to take over our motherland which is rich of natural resources such as
gold, oil, rivers, fertile land, to have jobs, and to live a better life.
In fact, it is oil that led to this atrocity because Anuaks/Gambella
people have rejected the plan to start oil exploration project in this
year 2004. Truly, meanwhile the massacring going on in Gambella the federal
government was signing the oil deal with Malaysia on Dec. 23, 2003.
The interesting point is that there are thousands of Anuak Gambellans
in Ethiopia’s army but not a single one is deployed in Gambella.
Why? Because the government has a preplan to annihilate Anuaks.
I don’t know state or international laws but to me it seems that
any state sponsored atrocity against a specific ethnic group is genocide.
If we are all aware that genocide is targeting one specific ethnic
group and kill them all- so then the genocide in Gambella must be condemned
and investigated by the international communities, such as the United
States of America, European Unions, international tribunal committee,
and the United Nations.
Did Ethiopia government take action to bring the murderers to justice?
No, instead the Ethiopia federal government put the victims’ cousins,
brothers, sisters, fathers, daughters and sons into jail accusing them
of being involve on the killing. Those sixty (60) Anuak members who were
put in prison were the ones who soldiers didn’t find during their
week long massacring. In fact, two of the sixty Anuak, Ariet Peter, and
Omod Ojulu were arrested on December 12, 2003 prior the initial attack.
Also among those sixty prisoners one of them is the deputy governor of
Gambella; Obang Midi was arrested for denouncing the vicious killing
by the government soldiers during the meeting. Ethiopia’s prime
minister does not want anyone to know that the military had carried out
Furthermore, the Ethiopia government warned the Gambella’s Governor
Okello Akaway that if he raises the death toll to more than sixty (60)
he too will be punished. In addition, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s
administration mentions that more Anuaks will still be killed. One disappointing
point to the Ethiopia’s government is that when Gambella people
told the western countries about the massacre, the government said it
was simply an ethnic clash. The government called Gambella massacres “a
simple violent clash” between Gambella ethnic groups. This is a
big lie of Ethiopia government officials. “Nevertheless, we Anuaks
are confident that truth we take time but it will reveal and justice
In early 2000-2001 the military abducted top Anuak police leaders
and their body never was found. In addition, the Ethiopians military
and killed many policemen on duty. Simply because those policemen were
enforcing the rules and laws in the right way; however the military doesn’t
like it due to the fact that “highlanders” business peoples
majority of them will be arrested for the unlawful businesses and contrabands
they are doing.
Today, there are more than 150 or more senior leaders in a federal
prison without access to the right lawyers. Also there are numerous
Gambella State’s prison apart from the sixty prisoners who were
arrested on December 2003 before and after the initial slaughtering.
Their prison treatment is very inhuman.
On first week of Dec. 2003, prior the attack in Gambella city, Ethiopian
aviation cancelled it’s routinely four times a week flight to
Gambella. Ground transportation (buses) were also cancelled their route
Ababa to Gambella. So what would these cancellations of transportation
tell any body then? It tells any individual that the federal government
is full aware of this catastrophic atrocity against innocent civilians.
Systematic ethnic cleansing has been frequent in the Gambella region.
On May 30th, 2003 in Funido town, Goge county Ethiopians military decided
to act inhumanly by opening fire on innocent Anuaks in a crowded market
killing 10 people and injured many. Following this inhumanly act on
the open market the troops rounded up all educated Anuaks who were
working for the local and government brutally tortured and jailed them.
In mid November of 2003, Ethiopians military went to Prebango village
in Abobo County, picked up five Anywa farmers and executed them.
In May 1992 in Dimma town, Dimma County more then 300 Ethiopians soldiers
rounded the town at daylight and open fire on any Anuak people they saw,
killing more than 50 Anuak and many were wounded.