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Paternalistic Racism and Denial of Genocide Against Amharas

Paternalistic Racism and Denial of Genocide Against Amharas

“All of us have a responsibility to ask ourselves what we can do to protect populations from the most serious international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. These crimes continue to be perpetrated in many places across the world.” Ban Ki-Moon, former Secretary General of the UN. [1]
According to UN Convention, Genocide is defined as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such” including the killing of its members, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately imposing living conditions that seek to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, preventing births, or forcibly transferring children out of the group to another group. ”[2]

As recently as last week and in July, genocide was committed against Amharas in Benishangul Gumuz[3] (also known as “Benishangul” “Metekel”) and Oromia Region of Ethiopia, respectively. It is estimated that about 150 Amharas in Benishangul[4] and 500–800 people in Oromia region have been a victim of genocide.[5] In Oromia, according to media reports, most of the victims were Amharas and Guraghes but some Tigreans and Christian Oromos were also perished. [6] There have been the warning signs, but the government and its financial and political backers- the West- ignored them.
The following -textbook genocidal- acts have been committed in Oromia region of Ethiopia.

Killing of innocent people started hours after Hachalu Hundessa was murdered. Most of the victims were Amharas, but some Guraghes, Tigreans and even Christian Oromos were among the victims. [7]Almost all of them were killed in their own homes. They were killed by a gang of young Oromos who called themselves Qeros. According to victims, these Qeros identified the homes and businesses of non-Oromos, especially Amharas, Guraghes, Tigres from the lists they got from the municipalities and district administrative offices.[8] Even though the government admitted about the killing 200 people, anecdotal data and media reports show that about 500–800 have been killed. [9]These killings happened in the city and outskirts of Shashemene, Ziway, Assela, Harrar, Bale Robi, Adama, Bishoftu and other cities, towns and villages of Oromia Region.[10]

2.Destruction of Properties:
Qero members and supporters not only killed non-Oromos, but they also destroyed hundreds of houses, buildings, schools, businesses, resorts, hotels, restaurants, merchandise, inventories, grains, farmhouses, cattle and business equipment owned mostly by non-Oromos and Christians. [11]Even the resort owned by famous Ethiopian runner, Haile Gebreselassie, was not spared.

3.Destruction of Churches
The genocidal Oromo youth, Qero, also burned, looted and destroyed churches.
4.Denying Burial and Destruction of Cemeteries
After the killing, victims were not allowed to bury their loved ones. Victims’ families reported that they were told “this is an Oromo Land, therefore, non-Oromos will not be buried.”[12] As a result, the remains of some victims were consumed by hyenas. Funerals were allowed three days after the massacre and after the federal force arrived at the scene. [13] Nevertheless, most fresh graveyards were vandalized and destroyed- in a similar fashion Jewish cemeteries were destroyed and defaced in Europe and the US by skinheads and other white supremacist groups.

5. Intimidation and Harassment

Victims also reported that they were harassed and intimidated for reporting the genocidal acts to the media[14] and to the church groups who visited the affected cities and places.

Response of Local Administration and Police
According to reports of the federal government and independent media, local police and administrations not only failed to prevent Genocide, but were complicit in it. [15]This was corroborated by victims, media reports and even by the admissions of the region’s president and the Prime minister who stated that regional and federal police officers were active and inactive participants in the genocidal acts. Accordingly, some of the officers lent hands, provided weapons, did not show up at their posts, acted like a bystander and failed in their duties of arresting perpetrators whom they saw committing murder, bodily harms or destruction of properties. City, district and zone administrative officials also aided and abetted in the genocidal acts by providing lists of names and ethnicities of the affected residents and also by failing to act to stop the genocide. There is also a report that some city officials even transported some Qeros who later committed those genocidal acts.

Genocidal Acts in Benshangul Region
About 175 Ethnic Amharas were killed in Metekel Zone of Benshalgul region[16], their properties were destroyed, cash and other valuables were confiscated. Again.[17]
In this case, the victims were either killed in their own home or businesses or taken from it and murdered in a concentration-camp like setting.

City, district, zonal sand regional administrators and police chiefs, first they denied the genocidal acts, later they stated that these heinous crimes were isolated incidents. High level federal officials, including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Deputy, Demeke Mekonen, also denied that genocide has taken place. But contrarily, they stated that “ugly and inhuman things happened”. The Federal Government also stated that it has arrested about 9000- plus city and local administrators in Oromia region[18], and is pursuing perpetrators in Benshangul Region.[19] The Benshangul Regional Government put out a statement saying that it has demoted and transferred city and zone administrative officials and police chiefs. [20]

Never Ending Cycle
Genocide against Amharas is a never ending cycle like a hamster on the wheel.[21] The grotesque massacre of Amharas[22] and the overwhelming evidence of genocide had been ignored by Western governments and their embassies. The UN offices of human rights and genocide prevention- whose bread butter is investigating genocide- have kept quiet. With that, they failed to meet their obligations. Some who voiced concerns chickened out to call a spade a spade. Members of Congress who are quick to condemn Russia, Belarus or even Hungary, for police use of excessive force, failed to give weight to the overwhelming evidence provided, wrote boilerplate letter and called for the investigation of Hachalu’s death. [23]The western media, except for the Washington Post, Bloomberg News and Reuters, failed to report it. Other outlets, including local television stations and papers gave media coverage for members and supporters of Qero. It is a cliché to say it is double standard. But these acts of congress and the media reveal paternalistic and benevolent charitable racism. That is the wrong way to approach this issue.
Ethiopia has been the guinea pig for socialism and ethnic federalism. Both experiments have failed. If it does not change the current constitution and prosecute genocidal acts, it will go to another civil war, bloodshed and even disintegration.

The West and the UN, rather than helping another darling tyrant, Abiy Ahmed, by giving financial and political support to his regime, they should assist Ethiopia by sending a special Rapporteur to investigate genocide and flagrant human right violations and by putting a condition on their financial assistance. They should also advise the PM to reform the ethnic federal system, provide the country leadership with expertise and experts to deal with genocide, help put high level officials on trial in international court and designate

Qerro as a terrorist organization.
Keeping quiet about genocide of Amhara people and flagrant human rights violation is the moral blind spot of the West. Read more.

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