for Gambella Region of Ethiopia
December 2003 to February 2004
ratified the Genocide Convention
on July 1, 1949, the first nation to ratify the Convention.
Ethiopia incorporated the crime of genocide into domestic penal law in 1957 as Article 281 of the Ethiopian Penal Code (see text)
Ethiopia ratified the Geneva Conventions of 1949 on October 2, 1969 and ratified the Additional Geneva Protocols of 1977 on April 8, 1994.
Ethiopia did not sign and has not yet become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
GENOCIDE WATCH (www.genocidewatch.org): Genocidal massacres of Anuak people in Gambella, Ethiopia in December 2003
BBC 4 February 2004
Western Ethiopia tense after clashes By Mohammed Adow BBC, Ethiopia The town of Gambella, in the west of Ethiopia, has been tense for several months. It is a cosmopolitan town, but also home to some of the poorest people in Ethiopia. Gambella, just 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the Ethiopian-Sudan border, is inhabited by the Nuer, Anyuak, Majenger, Opou and Komo tribesmen. Other Ethiopian tribes like the Amhara, Oromo and Tigre who are locally known as the Highlanders also live in this region. And last month tensions between Highlanders and other groups over land spilled over into violent clashes. The violence was sparked off by an attack on a United Nations vehicle which killed eight people, including three government workers. Hundreds of homes were burnt down and the killings continued for several days.
Desperation The Anyuak group was blamed for the attack. Eyewitnesses contacted by the BBC then said Ethiopian Highlanders, supported by the military, had attacked the Anyuaks. But army spokeswoman Major Harnet Yohannes said the soldiers were there only to keep the peace.When I visited the villages belonging of the Anyuaks in Gambella, volunteer government workers were helping rebuild some of the burnt houses. Akinyi Owuor, stood with her six children, in her compound where three huts housed them before the violence. Desperation was evident all over her face. "Five of my relatives were killed. When the raiders came to attack our village we ran away. Then they set our houses on fire. I survived only because the raiders were after the men and not the women," said Akinyi. The Anyuak men were not present when I got to the village, only women and children could be seen among the government volunteers rebuilding the torched houses.
Ethiopian troops Moments later, I was led into a hut in a corner of the village where the men had gathered - perhaps for security reasons. They were drinking a local brew and playing chess when we finally located them. It is here that I met Ojullu Ochalla, an Anyuak tribesman. Mr Ojullu says that many Anyuaks have fled the violence. He says that about 15,000 of them have fled to Puchalla in southern Sudan. Many others, Mr Ojullu said, are still missing and their whereabouts are not known. One of the village elders, Akim Obara, says the problem is far from settled. " While we appreciate the government's efforts in deploying troops here to keep peace, we still fear for our lives." said Mr Obara He said their attackers were still intimidating and abusing them.
'Distorted figures' "We have even advised our children not to reply to people who abuse them," Mr Obara told me through a translator. But the acting regional president, Keat Tuach Bithow, says details concerning the Anyuaks who fled their homes have been distorted. Mr Bithow says the government is aware of only 4,000 Anyuaks who fled to the Sudan-Ethiopia border. He said that they had already dispatched two teams of government officials to convince the fleeing people to return to their homes. Mr Bithow said that there was need to speak to the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) on the other side of the border to facilitate the return of Ethiopians who had crossed the border. Although up to 5,000 Ethiopian troops have helped restore calm, tension remains high. Their military presence cannot be a long-term solution to the problems in Gambella, aid agencies operating in the area have said.
UN World Food Programme 6 Feb 2004 www.wfp.org Emergency Report n.6 - Ethiopia (a) Following a number of attacks on highlanders by armed personnel from the Anuak tribe in western Ethiopia and the clashes between Government soldiers and Anuaks, UN staff (WFP and UNHCR) based in Dimma camp were relocated to Mizan Teferi on the advice of the UN Security Coordination Office in Addis Ababa. Dimma hosts about 18,700 Sudanese refugees. These security incidents come on the heels of similar incidents that took place in the Gambella area in mid December 2003, which resulted in the loss of lives and damage to property. UN staff were pulled out of Gambella and relocated elsewhere following the civil strife between Anuaks and highlanders in the Gambella Region. Highlander is the name given locally to all Ethiopians originating from outside the lowlands such as Gambella and Dimma. Although security conditions in western Ethiopia have deteriorated significantly over the last several weeks, WFP has been able to maintain food deliveries and distributions to Sudanese refugees. http://www.wfp.org/newsroom/subsections/year.asp?section=18
IRIN 9 Feb 2004
Renewed fighting reported in the west
ADDIS ABABA- Renewed fighting has erupted in the western Gambella region bordering Sudan, claiming as many as 40 lives, according to UN and humanitarian sources. The clashes broke out just weeks after fighting had left up to 150 people dead in Gambella, officials told IRIN on Monday. It had broken out on Friday at the Dimma refugee camp, about 800 km from the capital, Addis Ababa, and home to 18,700 Sudanese refugees, the humanitarian sources said. Clashes had also occurred around a gold mine, 30 km from Dimma in late January, as well as in the town itself a day later, they added. The UN said that following the January attacks, staff of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were relocated for their safety. In its weekly bulletin released on Friday, the WFP said security conditions in the region had "deteriorated significantly" over the last few weeks. "These security incidents come on the heels of similar incidents that took place in the Gambella area in mid-December 2003, which resulted in the loss of lives and damage to property," the WFP bulletin stated, but noted that food distributions to refugees had continued. The fighting in western Ethiopia has also sparked international concern. British International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, who arrived in Ethiopia on Sunday, has told the British parliament that up to 150 people died in the December clashes. "There is still a high level of ethnic violence in Ethiopia," Benn told parliament recently. "We take human rights very seriously." The US government, meanwhile, has sent a security team to the troubled Gambella region. Asked whether it had raised the issue with the Ethiopian government, a US embassy official said: "As a practice, the US government does not comment on diplomatic communications between the US government and other governments. The United States, however, is always concerned for the welfare of its citizens, and others, in cases of reported ethnic violence." The Gambella clashes have prompted a wave of Anyuaks to flee to Sudan. UNHCR says about 5,000 of them, mostly men and boys, have arrived in the Sudanese town of Pachala. Senior UN sources also told IRIN that the UN were planning to send high-profile human rights officials into Pachala to interview the Anyuak refugees. The fighting has largely been between Anyuaks on the one hand and Ethiopian highlanders, who have moved into Gambella in recent years, and government troops on the other hand. It was initially sparked by an attack on a UN-plated vehicle in which eight government refugee workers were killed. The Anyuaks were blamed for the attack, and dozens of them killed in reprisals. The Anyuaks are resisting plans for a new refugee camp on land they regard as their territory, and claim they are being forced out of the area and are losing political power. Human rights organisations argue that tensions are being fuelled by government policies which divide political power along ethnic lines. Analysts in the region say they fear that the instability in the region could reignite conflict between the Anyuak and another ethnic group, the Nuer. The two groups have traditionally fought over land rights and political representation. The defence ministry insists that troops sent into the area after the first spate of fighting broke out in December, are trying to restore calm. A spokesman of the federal affairs ministry contacted on Monday said he was unable to immediately comment on the fighting.
IRIN 9 Feb 2004
Renewed fighting reported in the west
ADDIS ABABA, Renewed fighting has erupted in the western Gambella region bordering Sudan, claiming as many as 40 lives, according to UN and humanitarian sources. The clashes broke out just weeks after fighting had left up to 150 people dead in Gambella, officials told IRIN on Monday. It had broken out on Friday at the Dimma refugee camp, about 800 km from the capital, Addis Ababa, and home to 18,700 Sudanese refugees, the humanitarian sources said. Clashes had also occurred around a gold mine, 30 km from Dimma in late January, as well as in the town itself a day later, they added. The UN said that following the January attacks, staff of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were relocated for their safety. In its weekly bulletin released on Friday, the WFP said security conditions in the region had "deteriorated significantly" over the last few weeks. "These security incidents come on the heels of similar incidents that took place in the Gambella area in mid-December 2003, which resulted in the loss of lives and damage to property," the WFP bulletin stated, but noted that food distributions to refugees had continued. The fighting in western Ethiopia has also sparked international concern. British International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, who arrived in Ethiopia on Sunday, has told the British parliament that up to 150 people died in the December clashes. "There is still a high level of ethnic violence in Ethiopia," Benn told parliament recently. "We take human rights very seriously." The US government, meanwhile, has sent a security team to the troubled Gambella region. Asked whether it had raised the issue with the Ethiopian government, a US embassy official said: "As a practice, the US government does not comment on diplomatic communications between the US government and other governments. The United States, however, is always concerned for the welfare of its citizens, and others, in cases of reported ethnic violence." The Gambella clashes have prompted a wave of Anyuaks to flee to Sudan. UNHCR says about 5,000 of them, mostly men and boys, have arrived in the Sudanese town of Pachala. Senior UN sources also told IRIN that the UN were planning to send high-profile human rights officials into Pachala to interview the Anyuak refugees. The fighting has largely been between Anyuaks on the one hand and Ethiopian highlanders, who have moved into Gambella in recent years, and government troops on the other hand. It was initially sparked by an attack on a UN-plated vehicle in which eight government refugee workers were killed. The Anyuaks were blamed for the attack, and dozens of them killed in reprisals. The Anyuaks are resisting plans for a new refugee camp on land they regard as their territory, and claim they are being forced out of the area and are losing political power. Human rights organisations argue that tensions are being fuelled by government policies which divide political power along ethnic lines. Analysts in the region say they fear that the instability in the region could reignite conflict between the Anyuak and another ethnic group, the Nuer. The two groups have traditionally fought over land rights and political representation. The defence ministry insists that troops sent into the area after the first spate of fighting broke out in December, are trying to restore calm. A spokesman of the federal affairs ministry contacted on Monday said he was unable to immediately comment on the fighting.
AFP 10 Feb 2004
Up to 70 killed in ethnic clashes in western Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, Feb 10 (AFP) - Between 50 and 70 people were killed late last month in ethnic clashes in western Ethiopia, aid workers in the capital, Addis Ababa, said Tuesday.
The deadly clashes erupted onA January 29 at a mine near Dimma, in Gambella state, near the border with Sudan, where thousands of artisanal workers dig for gold, the sources said, asking not to be named. Some sources said the fighting, which continued into the next day, was sparked when indigenous workers at the mine, members of the Anuak ethnic group, attacked so-called "highlanders", people originating from other areas of Ethiopia. An Anuak policeman reportedly killed a highlander on January 30, and the situation degenerated into widespread violence, prompting the army to deploy to try to disarm the Anuak miners. Instead, the army suffered heavy losses, according to some sources. This could not be independently confirmed and the government had not commented officially as of late Tuesday. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, have temporarily removed their staff from a camp housing 18,000 mostly Sudanese refugees near Dimma. "Following a number of serious security incidents in Dimma, WFP and other UN agencies staff at the Dimma refugee Camp were relocated to Mizan Tefri, northeast of Gambella, on the advice of the UN security Coordination office in Addis Ababa," a WFP statement said. Dimma lies about 920 kilometres (575 miles) southwest of Addis Ababa. In mid-December Gambella's eponymous capital, 200 kilometres (1209 miles) to the north, was hit by similar clashes. According to the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, 93 people were killed then. The government put the toll at 57. That episode was sparked after eight people, including a policeman, were killed while driving to Gambella town. The Council accused the state authorities of failing to take action to prevent the violence, despite clear indications of tension before the killings."As a result of the government ethnic policy, it is becoming a common occurrence to see Ethiopians who (once) lived in peace and harmony killing each other, categorizing themselves along ethnic lines," the statement said. With more than 65 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is Africa's second most populous country after Nigeria and is home to some 87 ethnic groups. Under Ethiopia's federal system, the largest ethnic group in each state -- the Anuak in Gambella's case -- are meant to control local government affairs and dictate the official language. But recently the Anuak have felt their authority has been undermined by outsiders, the so-called "highlanders" from the capital and other areas, who are accused of lording it over the indigenous population. A year ago, a UN report highlighted the prevalence of arms in Gambella and said this, as well as the tension in the state, was due to the presence of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army on the other side of the border. The same report noted that Gambella had suffered ethnic tension since the early 20th century with the principal antagonists being the Anuaks and the Nuer. Clashes between these two groups over government posts claimed 60 lives over the course of a month in 2002 and displaced several thousand, according to the human rights council. [ The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO www.ehrco.net ) is an independent, non-governmental, non-profit making, non-partisan and non-political organization established on October 10, 1991.]
Mail&Guardianl SA 12 Feb 2003 www.mg.co.za Ethnic violence in Ethiopia: 196 dead Addis Ababa 12 February 2004 13:41 Nearly 200 people have been killed in a fresh outbreak of ethnic violence in a remote part of southwestern Ethiopia, the government was reported as saying Thursday. An official statement quoted in the local press said 196 people were killed and 25 injured in clashes between the Anuaks and other ethnic groups in the Dima district of Gambella state. The Ministry of Federal Affairs said 172 of those killed were unarmed gold miners from the neighbouring South Ethiopia region. "These atrocities were carried out by an armed group of over 200 men claiming to be leaders of the Anuaks," the statement said. Gambella regional police commissioner Kome Lolle said that the violence occurred between 25 January 3 February. He said most of the killings occured on 30 January near a goldmine near the town of Dima. Ethnic conflict had been simmering in Gambella since early December over land and grazing rights between the Anuaks and other ethnic groups, including the Nuers and Majingers. A statement from the Ethiopian Human Rights Council listed more than 300 people who were reportedly killed during clashes between early December and January 13. The government blamed the latest violence on a lack of "good governance and economic development," which were exploited by "self-serving individuals and opposition groups". The statement said more than 60 people had been arrested in connection with the killings and the burning of close to 500 homes. - Sapa-DPA
IRIN 12 Feb 2004 Ethiopia: 10,000 Flee Yet More Fighting in the West Addis Ababa Ten thousand people have fled ethnic fighting in western Ethiopia that has claimed more than 250 lives, according to government officials. Clashes had erupted at a gold mine, in which 196 people were killed in a single day; the killings being one of the worst instances of ethnic violence seen in Ethiopia in recent years, the government said on Wednesday. The fighting flared up just weeks after 60 people were killed in the troubled Gambella region, the federal affairs ministry said in a statement. In the four-page report stated that local police forces had been "overwhelmed" in the violence, and that the army had been sent in to restore order. The latest events come in the wake of Britain expressing alarm at the unrest In Gambella region. International Development Secretary Hilary Benn told journalists during a four-day visit to Ethiopia that the international community was "greatly concerned". The government blamed the renewed fighting on armed elements among the Anyuak - an ethnic group in Gambella which fears it is losing political power there. "These atrocities were conducted by an armed group of over 200 men who claim to be the leaders of the Anyuak," the ministry said in reference to the attack on the gold mine, which Anyuak claim as being on their territory. Most of the victims originated from the neighbouring Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Regional State. The ministry's statement attributed the violence to poor governance, noting that economic development had "lagged behind" in the Gambella National Regional State. Ethnic tensions had also been simmering, it said. Gambella, which borders on Sudan, is home to Nuer, Anyuak, Majenger, Opou and Komo ethnic groups, but is also inhabited by groups belonging to other Ethiopian tribes, such as the Amhara, Oromo and Tigray, who are locally known as highlanders. The ministry noted that violent clashes had broken out earlier between the Anyuak and Nuer over power-sharing and local resources such as land. But the more recent clashes had first erupted in December with an attack on a UN-plated vehicle in which eight government refugee workers were killed. The Anyuaks were held responsible and then subjected to reprisals, in which 60 of them were reportedly killed; but British officials say as many as 150 could have died. Then, after a month of relative calm in Gambella, violence re-erupted in the form of a bloody attack on the gold mine, which is near Dima. According to humanitarian sources, highlanders and Anyuaks clashed again a day later, this time in Dima town. Yet more clashes subsequently broke out in Dima refugee camp on 6 February. Gambella, a swampy, malaria-infested lowland area, is inhabited by about 228,000 people, of whom 90,000 are Nuer, with 62,000 Anyuak constituting the second-largest ethnic group. The region is rich in natural resources such as oil and gold. The government says "confidence-building" measures are being introduced to restore calm, but that action will be carried out against the attackers. "The federal government will spare no effort to bring the perpetrators involved in these atrocities to justice," said the statement. "The suffering of innocent people must stop promptly." It added that a team from the ministry was in the region trying to restore order.
BBC 12 Feb 2004 Ethiopia 'faces new rebellion' By Martin Plaut BBC News The Ethiopian government says 10,000 people have fled from the western region of Gambella, after nearly 200 people were killed at the end of January. Burnt villages are being rebuilt after last year's clashes The government says the killings took place when member of the Anyuak ethnic group attacked traditional gold miners. But it now appears that the fighting has deeper roots - with a rebellion brewing in this remote region, close to the Sudanese border. Tension in the Gambella region has been simmering for years. Aid agencies say the Anyuak people feel they have been gradually displaced from their traditional lands. The problem began in the 1980s - when the previous government used forced resettlement to bring about 50,000 people from Ethiopia's exhausted central highlands to the fertile, but swampy, malaria- infested Gambella. Pressure increased as thousands of ethnic Nuer sought shelter in the region to escape from the Sudanese civil war. Oil and goal After the current government came to power in 1991 it ruled the area through local parties, but real power was still in the hands of the highlanders. Last year the authorities sacked a number of Anyuak, including some policemen. They are reported to have taken their weapons and gone into the bush, carrying out sporadic attacks. One clash last December resulted in highlanders turning on the Anyuak - in clashes that left as many as 300 people dead. The latest attack on the miners is seen in this context. Anyuak rebels are now determined to hit any economic interests that could provide support to the central authorities. Oil has been found in the area, and the Malaysian company, Petronas has exploration rights in Gambella. The suggestion is that by attacking the gold mines, the Anyuak rebels will undermine attempts by the Ethiopian authorities to make economic gains in the area. But it is difficult to know exactly what took place, as Gambella is isolated and communications are poor. The United Nations is attempting to put together a team to report on the circumstances of the latest fighting. .
VOA 12 Feb 2004 Ethiopia Sends Troops to Scene of Ethnic Clashes Cathy Majtenyi Nairobi The Ethiopian government is sending troops to the troubled western state of Gambella, where ethnic violence has claimed as many as 200 lives in a single day. A senior Ethiopian government official, who asked not to be named, told VOA Thursday his government has sent troops to the troubled area of Gambella state to prevent further violence. The Ethiopian government released a report Wednesday saying that almost 200 people were killed on January 30 alone in the town of Dimma and surrounding areas. The United Nations' news agency reports about 10,000 people have fled Dimma in recent days. Most of the dead were miners who came from a neighboring state. The government said the miners were attacked by members of the Anyuak ethnic group, who were taking revenge for a massacre of their own people weeks before. In that instance, outsiders, commonly referred to as highlanders, killed 60 Anyuaks. In mid-December, similar clashes in the town of Gambella forced thousands of people to flee into neighboring Sudan. The conflict between highlanders and Anyuaks is said to be a competition for resources and political power in the oil and gold-rich area. The Ethiopian government has said it will spare no effort to bring the perpetrators of these atrocities to justice.
The McGill Report 2 Jan 2004 www.mcgillreport.org U.S. Anuak Refugees Fear 400 Dead in Ethiopian Massacre Rochester, MN -- There will be no last names given in this article. The reason is that if the last names are published, those people or their relatives could be shot and killed. Let me explain. I am talking about the relatives of some 1,200 Minnesotans. At 1 p.m. on the afternoon of Dec. 13, more than 200 uniformed soldiers of the Ethiopian army marched into the town of Gambella in remote western Ethiopia, near the border with Sudan. The soldiers spread out through the town and knocked on the doors of the houses and huts made from corrugated steel and straw matting. Some of the soldiers had pieces of paper with addresses and names. If no one answered their knocks, the soldiers broke down the doors and grabbed all the men and boys inside the house, looking under beds for anyone hiding. Once the frightened prisoners were in the street, the soldiers beat them with their guns and then told them to run. When they did, the prisoners were shot in their backs. Meanwhile, civilians in town from a different ethnic group than the victims appeared wielding spears and machetes. "I am going crazy right now," said Romeago, a Minneapolis resident whose sister's home was burned down. "My sister and her kids ran for their lives into the bush. We have no idea if they are safe. We are just praying." Eyewitness Report Sometimes the spear-wielding civilians, watched by the passive Ethiopian government soldiers, ran the prisoners through with their spears or simply hacked them down like small trees. They crumpled and died in the street. Eyewitnesses to the massacre, including one man named Omot who lives in Gambella, and with whom I spoke on the telephone Monday, say that more than 400 bodies have been recovered, many of them from a mass grave. The United Nations, which runs three refugee camps in the region, has confirmed the massacre and said all of the dead are members of the Anuak tribe, an indigenous people of Western Ethiopia who have been the target of ethnic cleansing for more than a decade. About 2,000 Anuak refugees came to the United States in the 1990s, with more than half of them settling in southern Minnesota. About 200 Anuak rallied on Saturday at the state Capitol, marching and making speeches to grab the attention of Minnesota citizens, legislators and the press. It was a freezing cold day, however, and I was the only reporter present. "The problem is hunger," said Obang, a Minneapolis citizen whose brother is missing and feared dead. "There is nothing to eat. Even if you have money, you have no place to go to get food. You are afraid of being killed." Ethnic Cleansing The Anuak live in a verdant but remote area that has active gold pits and is also known to have oil deposits. Over the past two decades, more than 100,000 refugees from the Sudanese civil war, many of them members of the Nuer tribe, have been settled in the region. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians from poorer parts of the country have also been resettled to the Anuak land. On Dec. 13, according to the testimony of Anuak survivors, the government and "highlander" Ethiopians collaborated in the massacre. Omot, the man I interviewed by phone, lost a son in the attack. "He was a driver and they shot him in his car," Omot said. "I survived by hiding in the bush. I saw a uniformed soldier kill one boy, a student." Omot also saw a young man who had been shot in the leg and could not walk, and was crying out for help in the street. Omot couldn't help the boy for fear of being shot himself. The thought of that boy haunts me. Is he still alive, I wonder? Or was he shot like a crippled dog by the soldiers? What would it be like to be shot and wounded and left abandoned to die slowly, on the side of a street in the middle of one's own town? That question kept me awake last night. That and whether Minnesotans will rally to help the suffering relatives of their fellow citizens, the Minnesota Anuak. If you want to be in touch with Anuak leaders in Minnesota who are organizing a relief effort, drop me an e-mail and I'll put you in touch: email@example.com. The McGill Report Global Perspectives from Minnesota by Doug McGill
Genocide Watch 8 Jan 2004 genocidewatch.org GENOCIDE WATCH: THE ANUAK OF ETHIOPIA 8 January 2004 Genocide Watch has received numerous reports of genocidal massacres of Anuak people in and around Gambella, Ethiopia in December 2003. At least 416 Anuak people were murdered. The massacres were led by Ethiopian government troops in uniform, but they were joined by local people from highland areas. Genocide Watch has checked these reports carefully with eyewitnesses in Gambella as well as with the United States State Department and the United Nations, who have confirmed that the massacres were committed by Ethiopian government forces. Between 3000 and 5000 additional Anuak refugees have fled into Sudan, where they have congregated around Pochalla. Genocide Watch has verified these reports with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and with sources in Pochalla. The refugees say they are fleeing massacres of Anuak in Ethiopia. The pretext for these massacres was the ambush of a van on December 13 by an unidentified gang who murdered its eight occupants, who were U.N. and Ethiopian government refugee camp officials. There is no evidence that the killers were Anuak. Even if they had been Anuak, the response of Ethiopian government troops was criminal. The troops responded by murdering hundreds of Anuak civilians in Gambella and surrounding areas. They also burned their homes. These massacres were not committed by Nuer who had prior conflicts with Anuak. The government cannot blame the victims. Our sources indicate that those targeted particularly have been educated Anuak men, a tactic often intended to render a group leaderless and defenseless. Arrests of educated Anuak men that began over a year ago are continuing. 44 Anuak leaders have been held in jail in Addis Ababa for over a year without trial, and over 200 more are being held in Gambella. Genocide Watch has the names of nine more arrested last week. The Anuak in Ethiopia have also been disarmed, a threat to their ability to defend themselves. Massacres of people who are singled out and killed because of their ethnic group membership are genocidal. The Genocide Convention outlaws the intentional destruction of part of an ethnic group, not just destruction of the whole group. Ethiopia was one of the first signers of the Genocide Convention on December 11, 1948 and ratified it in July, 1949. Ethiopia endured one of the worst genocidal man-made famines of the twentieth century under the Derg communist regime. Tens of thousands of Amhara, Tigray, and Oromo highlanders were resettled into Anuak traditional territory during this period, which ended with the overthrow of the Derg regime in 1991. They have stayed. The situation has grown worse since oil was discovered under Anuak lands by the Gambela Petroleum Corp., a subsidiary of Pinewood Resources, Ltd. of Canada. Highland Ethiopians who control the Ethiopian government now have strong economic motives to drive Anuak off of their land. The situation is similar to the plight of southern Sudanese across the border. There have been regular massacres of Anuak since 1980. Cultural Survival (www.cs.org) has reported on them in six excellent reports published in the Cultural Survival Quarterly beginning in 1981. (See Anuak Decimated by Ethiopian Government, Issue 5.3, 1981; The Anuak – A Threatened Culture, Issue 8.2, 1984; Ethiopia’s Policy of Genocide Against the Anuak of Gambella, Issue 10.3, 1986; Resettlement and Villagization – Tools of Militarization in SW Ethiopia, Issue 11.4, 1987; Anuak Displacement and Ethiopian Resettlement, Issue 12.4, 1988; Oil Development In Ethiopia: A Threat to the Anuak of Gambella, Issue 25.3, 2001.) The 13 December 2003 massacre in Gambella has thus far gone unreported in the press, except for articles in the online McGill Report. According to Genocide Watch sources, the massacres on 13 December 2003 were ordered by the commander of the Ethiopian army in Gambella, Nagu Beyene, with the authorization of Dr. Gebrhab Barnabas, an official of the Ethiopian government. The accusation has also been made that lists of targeted individuals were drawn up with the assistance of Omot Obang Olom, who is himself Anuak, but holds an official position. Impunity gives the green light to those who commit genocide. If they are not arrested, they and their followers will know they can literally get away with mass murder. They will kill again, and the massacres could become full-scale genocide. On 8 January 2004, Genocide Watch faxed an urgent letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi imploring him to take three actions: “1. We urge you to investigate and arrest the three men named above, as well as others who participated in the December massacres of Anuak in and around Gambella. “2. We ask you to release the Anuak leaders who are being held in prison in Addis Ababa, in Gambella, and elsewhere in Ethiopia. Police should also be ordered to stop arresting Anuak leaders and students simply because they are Anuak. “3. We encourage you to assist independent human rights experts who will investigate these massacres.” “We would be happy to discuss this very dangerous situation with you, your Foreign Minister, and other Ethiopian officials.” Respectfully, Dr. Gregory H. Stanton President, Genocide Watch Coordinator, The International Campaign to End Genocide The United States Department of State has confirmed and protested the massacres at the highest level of the Ethiopian government. Genocide Watch has also urged the Prevention Team of the Department of Political Affairs at the United Nations to bring the massacres to the attention of the Interdepartmental Framework for Coordination and the United Nations Security Council.
News 24 SA 12 Jan 2004 Ethiopian cops hunt for leader Ethiopia, Eritrea worry UN Eritrea 'fomenting trouble' Ethnic violence arrests Addis Ababa - Ethiopian police on Monday continued their search for the chief executive of a region in western Ethiopia, who went missing on Friday, the Ethiopian news agency reported. Okello Aquay is the regional chief executive of Gambella, where inter-ethnic violence claimed at least 57 lives late last month. More than 40 houses were gutted in the clashes between the Aunak and Nuer ethnic groups. Total damage was estimated at 3.5 million birr (around $400 000, or R2,6m). Aquay is an ethnic Anuak. Police found Aquay's car abandoned on Friday but found no trace of the driver or his two personal bodyguards. Police commissioner Kong Lul said the disappearance came "as a normal situation was being restored to the Gambella region, after the central and regional governments had pacified the region as a whole, following the recent ethnic violence and the ensuing tensions". The Ethiopian government has blamed neighbouring Eritrea for stirring tensions in the region through dissident elements.
IRIN 12 Jan 2004 Thousands of Anyuak flee to Sudan NAIROBI, 12 Jan 2004 (IRIN) - Since a spate of ethnic killing occurred last month in the Gambella region of western Ethiopia, about 15,000 members of the Anyuak community have fled to neighbouring Sudan, according to humanitarian sources. Between 100 and 300 Sudanese and Ethiopian Anyuak were arriving every day in Pachala County in the Upper Nile region of southern Sudan, Myron Jesperson, the director of World Relief, told IRIN. Most of the arrivals were in Pachala town, with others scattered throughout the county, he said. Many of the arrivals were camped at a local school and church, and were dependent on either purchased or hunted food, said Jesperson. With little surplus food available from the last harvest, food assistance would most likely be required in Pachala for between eight and 10 months, he added. "They're not in a desperate condition, but the question is what is going to happen to them long-term," said Jesperson. If the refugees stay in Pachala, it will result in a 30 percent to 50 percent increase in the county's population, according to World Relief. Violence in the Gambella region erupted in December when the Anyuak were blamed for an attack on a UN-plated vehicle carrying government officials to Odier, a proposed site for a camp for Dinka and Nuer Sudanese refugees. Eight people in the vehicle were killed and badly mutilated, including three government refugee workers. The Odier camp was supposed to be a neutral haven for the Sudanese refugees who were to be transferred from another camp, Fugnido, where earlier clashes had occurred. Local sources told IRIN the attack had sent a clear message to the authorities: that the proposed refugee camp site was on Anyuak land, which they were not prepared to give up to the Nuer and Dinka. Reprisals against the alleged attackers saw hundreds of Anyuak homes burned to the ground and dozens - some say hundreds - killed over a number of days. Over 5,000 Ethiopian troops helped to restore calm to the area, which has abundant natural resources, but tensions have since remained high. A local humanitarian source told IRIN: "They [the Anyuak] are afraid because no-one is protecting them. They are afraid they will be killed or arrested." The advocacy group Genocide Watch said many of those targeted had been educated Anyuak men. Over 240 Anyuak leaders were being held in jail without trial, it said, with nine more arrested last week. Competition over land between the Anyuak, who make up 27 percent of the population, and the Nuer, who make up 40 percent, is fierce. The Anyuak see themselves as losing land to the nomadic Nuer, whose numbers are steadily rising. The Ethiopian government's decentralisation policy of distributing power along ethnic lines in local government has exacerbated the problem, say regional analysts, because the Anyuak fear their power base is being eroded. There are currently five refugee camps on the Ethiopian side of the border, which are home to 87,000 Sudanese refugees. A spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mahary Maasho, said it remained to be seen whether or not the Odier camp would be established.
I RIN 12 Jan 2004 Gambella State Top Official Disappears Addis Ababa Ethiopian police are investigating the disappearance of a top government official after at least 50 people were killed in western Ethiopia, officials said on Monday. The president of Gambella State, Okelo Akuai, vanished along with his driver and two bodyguards just weeks after clashes left dozens of people dead in the remote region that borders Sudan. Government spokesman Zemedkun Teckle said the authorities were investigating the disappearance of Akuai and his companions, which happened on Friday. "We are trying to find him," Teckle said. "We do not know why he has disappeared." His abandoned four-wheel drive vehicle was found in the state capital, Gambella town, but no word has been heard from him since, he added. The people killed in the recent clashes in Gambella, located some 800 km west of Addis Ababa, were mainly from the local Anuak ethnic group. Akuai, who is an Anuak, headed the region for the past year. According to humanitarian sources he is believed to have crossed into Sudan after claiming that the death toll in the fighting was much higher than government figures. Humanitarian organisations in the area said up to 5,000 Ethiopian troops had moved into restore order. But critics claimed they were fuelling the fighting. Gregory Stanton, who heads human rights group Genocide Watch, claimed that several thousand Anuak had fled Gambella for Sudan. "The refugees say they are fleeing massacres of Anuak in Ethiopia," said Stanton in a statement from Genocide Watch released last Thursday. The Hague-based organisation said that at least 416 Anuaks had died in reprisal killings after an attack on a vehicle on 13 December which eight people were killed. Anuaks were blamed for the attack and several senior government refugee workers who were to have opened a refugee camp were among the victims. Relevant Links East Africa Ethiopia Civil War and Communal Conflict Stanton accused Ethiopian troops of fuelling the violence and called on the country's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to help stop the fighting. But Teckle dismissed the accusation that troops were behind some of the killings and also rejected claims that the death toll was in excess of 400. "There is no reason for the troops to kill civilians. They are there to stop the killings," said Teckle, who is from Ethiopia's ministry of information. The United Nations refugee agency pulled out staff from the area as a result of the violence, which was further fuelled by an on-going dispute between the Nuer and the Anuak who have clashed in recent years for scarce lands. Anuaks fear they are losing their land to the nomadic Nuer - whose numbers in recent generations have been increasing steadily as they move into the area.
VOA 13 Jan 2004 Ethiopia's Gambella State Governor Is Missing Alisha Ryu Nairobi 13 Jan 2004, 15:59 UTC Officials in western Ethiopia are investigating the disappearance of the Gambella state governor, who vanished last Friday. His disappearance follows violent ethnic clashes last month that prompted thousands of people to flee the region and seek refuge in Sudan. Ethiopian government spokesman Zemedkun Teckle says officials in Addis Ababa have no idea what has happened to the governor of Gambella state, Okelo Akuai. "The reason why he disappeared from that area is not actually clear. What we can say at this point is the reason is under investigation." Mr. Akuai's four-wheel drive vehicle was found in the state capital, Gambella town, shortly after he was reported missing on Friday. But officials say no one has heard from him or from his missing driver and bodyguards. International humanitarian and human-rights organizations believe the governor's disappearance may be linked to heightened tension between the Anuak and the Nuer, two tribes among several rival ethnic groups in the remote area, near the border with Sudan. There are fears Mr. Akuai, who is an Anuak, may have been the victim of an attack. But some humanitarian workers speculate that he may have fled into Sudan. Anuaks fear they are losing their land to the nomadic Nuer, whose numbers in Gambella have been steadily rising for several decades. The latest fighting erupted in early December, after an attack on a U-N vehicle left eight-people dead. Among them were three government workers who were trying to set up a new refugee camp for thousands of Nuers in territory traditionally held by the Anuak. A radical Anuak group was immediately blamed for that attack, sparking several days of ethnic clashes, which killed dozens of mostly Anuak people. In response to the unrest, the government sent as many as five-thousand troops to Gambella to restore order. But an international human-rights organization, Genocide Watch, claims that government troops were actually sent to fuel the fighting, not to stop it. On its Internet web site, Genocide Watch says it has confirmed numerous reports of massacres of Anuaks, some of them by Ethiopian troops. The organization says nearly 420 Anuaks were murdered last month, prompting thousands of Anuaks to flee into Sudan. Genocide Watch accuses the Ethiopian government of trying to drive the Anuaks out of Gambella because oil was recently discovered in Anuak territory. The organization compares the situation to the plight of the southern Sudanese across the border. The Ethiopian government spokesman, Mr. Zemedkun, says such allegations are baseless.
IRIN 15 Jan 2004 Gov't involved in Gambella attack, says rights group NAIROBI, 15 Jan 2004 (IRIN) - Government defence forces helped attack an ethnic group in western Ethiopia where least 93 people were killed, the country’s human rights council claimed. Addressing a press conference in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday, Prof Mesfin Wolde-Mariam, the president of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (ERCHO), said local forces were involved in the attack on a tribe living in Gambella. The government has dismissed the allegations as unfounded. The fighting erupted after eight people, including three government officials, were murdered when the United Nations-plated vehicle they were travelling in was ambushed in mid-December. The bodies of the men were badly mutilated, but the defence forces later paraded them through Gambella town, thereby provoking even greater outrage, ERCHO said. A local tribe, the Anyuak, was blamed for the ambush, which, Mesfin said, was the spark that had ignited the current tensions in Gambella town. In its wake, local groups, bent on revenge, started attacking the Anyuak. He noted that tensions already existing prior to the ambush between ethnic groups over land and political rights were serving to exacerbate the fighting. Mesfin said those tensions were between the five ethnic groups originally inhabiting the region - including the Anyuak - on the one hand, and residents who were more recent arrivals from other parts of the country, known as highlanders, on the other hand. Some of these highlanders had taken to accusing the Anyuak of "high-handed behaviour" and of failing to show them due respect. In the weeks following the ambush, the region, which is some 800 km west of the capital, Addis Ababa, has witnessed an explosion of violence and instability. According to aid agencies working in Sudan, 16,000 Anyuak have fled across the border in recent weeks, with 300 new refugees arriving daily. Okelo Akuai, the ethnic Anyuak president of Gambella Regional State, is believed to have fled to Sudan along with his driver and two bodyguards. Mesfin said ERCHO had the names of 93 Anyuaks who had been murdered in the last four weeks – most of them the day after the ambush. He went on to note, however, that the overall death toll could be more than 300 after groups of highlanders armed with axes, hatchets, knives and daggers attacked Anyuaks living in Gambella town. "It is reasonable to state that many more people have been killed than our numbers suggest. What happened in Gambella was verging on genocide," he said. Mesfin went on to say that in the run-up to the attack, 5,000 Anyuaks had sought refuge in one of the town's churches, because soldiers had blocked the roads leading out of the town. "The mob, in collaboration with members of the [government] defence forces, continued to attack those who could not find anywhere to hide. Many were killed or sustained severe and light injures," added Mesfin, who has been the president of ERCHO for eight years. He asserted that the country’s "ethnic policy" was fuelling conflict. "These conflicts are becoming alarming and increasing," Prof Mesfin added. The country’s regions, he asserted, were divided along ethnic lines, with the largest ethnic groups gaining the most seats in local administrations. People had therefore become more conscious and sensitive of their ethnicity. "There are feelings running high, especially in the marginal areas," he said, noting that solutions such as having recourse to the services of local elders could serve as a contributory means towards defusing tensions. "This would stop them hating each other," he told journalists. "But if you leave it to fester, it gets worse." Meanwhile, the government spokesman, Zemedkun Teckle, has insisted that the government’s death toll of 57 is correct. He rejected claims that the defence forces might have been involved. "There is no reason for the troops to kill civilians. They are there to stop the killings," said Zemedkun, from the information ministry. In this context, he noted that at least 56 people suspected on involvement in the violence had been arrested. www.ehrco.net
AFP 16 Jan 2004 Rights group says Ethiopia unrest toll 93, almost double official figure ADDIS ABABA, Jan 16 (AFP) - An independent human rights group in Ethiopia said Friday that 93 people were killed last month during ethnic unrest in the western Gambella region, many more than the number released by the government, which the group accused of failing to prevent the bloodshed. "The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRC) has managed to get the names and identities of 93 people who were killed, and the names of 42 others who sustained light and serious injuries," EHRC said in a statement. Government officials still insist that the death toll in Gambella is 57 and denied any official involvement in the unrest. More than 470 houses that belong to members of the Agnwak ethnic group were torched, EHRC added. The unrest began in mid-December after eight people, including a policeman, were killed on their way to Gambella town and has displaced more than 5000 Agnwaks and others who took shelter in Mekane Yesus Church, EHRC stated. The statement cited local government authorities saying that the mutilated bodies of 65 people were buried at a place called Jejebe. The Council accused the state authorities of failing to take action to prevent the violence, despite clear indications of tension before the killings. "As a result of the government ethnic policy, it is becoming a common occurrence to see Ethiopians who (once) lived in peace and harmony killing each other, categorizing themselves along ethnic lines," the statement said. "The ethnic-based policy that the government is promoting is poisoning people's mentality by a negative tribal thinking," it added. The council warned that severe poverty could fuel further ethnic violence. Defence ministry spokesman Major Harnet Yohhanes told AFP that the army was working with the police to restore order and had nothing to do with killings. Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said in Nairobi on Friday that between 100 and 200 people from Gambella were crossing into Sudan every day. "Most of them are men, which is rather unusual, because normally refugees are women and children, and these men are coming with absolutely nothing," UNHCR spokeswoman Kitty McKenzie told AFP. She added that the refugees had walked for between 10 and 17 days before reaching the border and were now "foraging in the forest or hunting to provide themselves with food."
Addis Tribune (Addis Ababa) 23 Jan 2004 UN Sends Agencies to Assess Anuak Refugees in Sudan The United Nations refugee and food relief agencies have sent staff to the town of Pochalla in southern Sudan to assess reports that thousands of Ethiopian and Sudanese Anuaks have fled there to escape inter-ethnic violence in western Ethiopia. Officials from the UN High Commissioner for Refugee and the world Food Programme (WFP) spent two days in Pochalla investigating the health and humanitarian needs of the people who have gathered there. The agencies' move follows reports from local authorities and the United States-based Christian charity World Relief - the only non-governmental organization (NGO) operating in Pochalla - that 15,000 Anuak people have reached the town recently. Last month eight people, including three officials from an Ethiopian government agency, were ambushed in their vehicle in Gambella. The attack was blamed on the Anuak community, sparking a recent round of deadly reprisals against Anuaks, according to UNHCR.
Genocide Watch 23Jan 2004 genocidewatch.org GENOCIDE WATCH: THE ANUAK OF ETHIOPIA Update to Release of 8 January 2004 Genocide Watch has received no reply to its letter to Prime Minister Meles. Instead, the Ethiopian government has undertaken a classic campaign of denial. It attempts to minimize the number killed (“only 57”) despite lists of those killed that exceed 400. The government has dug up mass graves and burned the bodies in an effort to cover up the crimes. Most typically, the government blames the massacres on the Nuer, traditional rivals of the Anuak, in an attempt to portray the killings as a “civil war” arising from “ancient tribal hatreds” and thus shift attention away from its own responsibility. Eyewitnesses, including both Africans and non-Africans, have confirmed that the massacres were in fact carried out by Ethiopian Defense Forces, not Nuer. The government also portrays the massacres as “tit for tat” reprisals for the ambush of the van, blaming the victims, who were unarmed civilians, for their own deaths. The government has sent 5000 Ethiopian Defense Forces to the area to “restore calm.” In fact, they continue to rape and pillage the area. Nuer and highlanders are reportedly settling into abandoned Anuak homesteads. No Ethiopian government officials have been arrested for their roles in the massacres. On 9 January, the President of Gambella state, Okelo Akuai, fled to Sudan after he was ordered to resign by those responsible for the massacres, who questioned his loyalty because he is Anuak. He arrived safely in Pochalla on 12 January. An assessment mission of NGO and UN agencies went to Pochalla, Sudan from 15 – 18 January and on 19 January, planned relief assistance to the refugees there, including food, medicines, blankets, mosquito nets, cooking utensils, buckets, and sanitation programs. Genocide Watch has urged the Prevention Team of the Department of Political Affairs at the United Nations to bring the massacres to the attention of the Interdepartmental Framework for Coordination and the United Nations Security Council. The outflow of refugees affects an area of Sudan controlled by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army. There is thus danger of cross-border conflict and destabilization. The situation is a threat to international peace and security that should be brought before the Security Council. However, there is no indication yet that the United Nations plans to take any political action.
The McGill Report 28 Jan 2004 www.mcgillreport.org How an African Genocide First Came to Light in Minnesota By Doug McGill The McGill Report Rochester, MN -- The response to my column three weeks ago, in which I reported on a genocide occurring in Ethiopia, has been so extraordinary I'd like to share it. I got 55 e-mails and more than a dozen phone calls from such places as The Hague, New Dehli, Cape Town, Melbourne, Geneva, and Washington, D.C., as well as from southern Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota. The Post-Bulletin was the first newspaper anywhere to report on a new genocide occurring on the other side of the planet. I wrote the column because more Anuak refugees live in Minnesota than any other state, and they have been thrown into a panic about family and friends back home. My account of the massacre was based on interviews with two dozen Anuak in St. Paul and Minneapolis who had spoken by telephone with eyewitnesses in Ethiopia on the day of the massacre and in the days immediately after. " You were the first to report on this and we're very grateful," wrote Greg Stanton, president of Genocide Watch in The Hague, in an e-mail. On Jan. 8, after having done its own research in Ethiopia to corroborate the Post-Bulletin report, Genocide Watch put the Anuak killings on its genocide alert list and published an article filled with damning new evidence. Someone Listened By breaking local news, we broke global news. Anuak refugees all over the world, desperate for news of friends and relatives from home, sent the Post-Bulletin column zipping around the Internet. Most meaningful of all to me were two dozen e-mails from Anuak refugees around the world who wrote to say -- often in these very words -- "God bless you and thank you." These letters were filled with a heavy grief but also with a great dignity and a profoundly touching gratitude. The fact that someone had listened to them had moved many Anuak deeply. " Sir, I would like to thank you for being a real friend of this small and defenseless tribe," wrote Ujulu Goch, from Washington, D.C. "God has always worked through someone to help needy people like the Anuak. But Sir, this is not the end of the tragedy. It's the beginning of the extinction of my tribe from the face of the Earth." Obang Metho, from Saskatchewan, Canada, sent me six attachments in his e-mail -- letters he had written to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, and other diplomats and aid groups. Why Rebel? He also sent a poem called "Why Do I Rebel?" that captured a note of inspired defiance: I rebel because honor And justice are the work of duty and destiny. I fight because honor and justice Are the fixed demands of duty and beauty. I speak up because love of liberty And the well-being of every human Are the splendid ornament of the moral life. Here in Rochester, we can be an early warning system for crimes and atrocities committed all over the world, which would never receive the cleansing light of international attention if not for us. We are free; most of the world is not; therefore, it's our opportunity and our responsibility. We can do this simply by being open to what our immigrant neighbors have to say. The Rev. LeRoy Christoffels, pastor of the Worthington Christian Reformed Church, which has many Anuak refugees as parishioners, said his church is raising money for an Anuak relief effort. Ripples of Grief John Frankhauser of Spokane e-mailed to say he had brought an Anuak pastor, the Rev. Okwier Othello, to their church last summer to meet with Anuak members. "He spoke of the danger he faced when he returned to Gambella," Frankhauser wrote. "We were impressed with his gentle spirit and the way the other Anuaks respect him as their pastor." The Rev. Othello is the first name on the list I have of the dead. Frankhauser received eyewitness accounts of Othello's murder and gave details of his death too grisly to recount here. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day when I wrote this column, so I went to his "Letter from Birmingham Jail" to find some lines that seemed relevant. There are parallels between the way King encircled Birmingham and Atlanta within a single moral sphere, and the way the ripples of grief and outrage from the Anuak massacre had so quickly spread around the world. " I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham," King wrote in his jail cell. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." Splendid. http://www.mcgillreport.org/anuak_genocide_links.htm
All Africa.com 15 Dec 2003 100 Reported Dead After Soldiers Target Civilians in Gambella By Charles Cobb Jr. Washington, DC Soldiers in the town of Gambella, 450km (280 miles) west of Addis Ababa, are reported to have engaged since Saturday in violent attacks against leading members of a local ethnic group, leaving 100 or more people dead. According to some reports, the attacks came after the deaths of seven men, including three government officials and one police officer, when their convoy was ambushed Saturday morning, allegedly by members of the Anuak, or Anyuaa group. One report cites Ethiopian officials as saying the ambush provoked clashes between Anuak and Nuer, the largest ethnic group in that area; that fighting left 21 dead and was the justification for deploying government soldiers in the town to restore order. But local sources say the soldiers' action looked more like a punishment operation against Anuak people. A US church source who wished to remain anonymous for fear of compromising his church's contacts in Gambella, told allAfrica.com: "It is reported to me that over 200 people have been killed." According to this source, the Ethiopian military police on Saturday started "pulling out educated people and community leaders" and "killing them with guns or by slitting their throats;" he said local people believed Anuaks were specifically targeted. He quoted missionary sources in Addis Ababa as reporting that Anuak students at Gambella's Teacher Training Institute had been rounded up and taken away, Monday morning. He said sources in Gambella city had told him that the Catholic church compound was full of people taking refuge from the violence and that they had almost no supplies. "People have not been able to come out of their compounds for fear of being shot. It is the third day and citizens are concerned for their children having no food and water," he said. Citing "chaotic" scenes, he mentioned a case of two people who tried to retrieve bodies from the street and were themselves shot. A local church official reported Monday that there were five bodies outside his house but he could not risk going out to remove them. A US citizen has reportedly been arrested by the soldiers. Omot Omot Bewar, formerly a refugee from the area who came to the US seeking asylum is currently in Gambella on a visit to his former home. According to friends in Minnesota where he is normally a student, he attempted to video the violence and was beaten and detained. News reports from the region are still sketchy and confused. A U.S. State Department spokesperson said he and the Department were "unaware" of the violence. A BBC report cited "humanitarian sources" as charging that Anuaks are the targets of violence by "highland Ethiopians." The army is "involved in restoring stability and order," an Ethiopian Defense Ministry spokesperson told Associated Press on condition of anonymity. She said an investigation is under way to determine what sparked the violence and that the government aims to find those responsible. Recent oil exploration agreements with multinationals have fueled tensions over land rights amid jockeying for control of potentially lucrative oil fields. Under a deal signed in June, Petronas has exclusive rights to "explore and develop" some 15,000 square kilometers in the region, which borders Sudan - a major African oil producer.
IRIN 16 Dec 2003 21 killed in tribal fighting ADDIS ABABA, 16 December (IRIN) - At least 21 people have been killed as troops tried to quell tribal violence that has flared in one of Ethiopia's remotest regions. Soldiers were moved into Gambella in western Ethiopia after seven men - including one policemen and three government officials - were shot dead on Saturday. The attack occurred as the men - three of whom were working for the government's refugee agency - were travelling to Gambella town. It fuelled reprisal killings the following day and 14 people were murdered and houses were burnt to the ground, the Ethiopian ministry of defence stated. But humanitarian sources say the death toll could be far higher, with up to 100 people killed during the weekend fighting. The defence ministry stated that an investigation has been launched to try and bring the killers to justice although no-one has been caught yet. "The army are already involved in restoring stability and order," said a spokeswoman for the defence ministry in Addis Ababa. The initial attack has been blamed on the Anuak ethnic group who live in the region, the official added. Anuaks in the town are then said to have been attacked in reprisal killings. The spokeswoman said that seven people were killed on Saturday and that 14 Anuaks had been killed the following day in the brutal reprisal attacks. Humanitarian sources say that the construction of a US $1.8 million refugee camp - which will house Dinka and Nuer refugees - has provoked anger among Anuaks. Gambella is home to around 87,000 refugees and five camps run by the government's Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) with the UN refugee agency (UNCHR). Ilung Ngandu, head of the UNHCR in Ethiopia, expressed concern for the safety of his 16 staff in the area, but said they had been in regular contact. "We deplore this incident against humanitarian workers," he said from his office in Addis Ababa. "We are reviewing our security situation." The region - which is around 600 miles west of the capital Addis Ababa and borders Sudan - has witnessed an explosion in ethnic violence in the last two years. Much of the fighting has been between two ethic groups - the Nuer who live close to the Ethio-Sudan border and the Anuak tribe. Late last year 41, mainly Dinka refugees from war-torn Sudan, were murdered in a refugee camp where some 28,000 people had sought protection. The killings were blamed on armed Anuak refugees who indiscriminately opened fire. Four months earlier, 60 people were killed after gunmen from the Nuer ethnic group attacked Anuaks, forcing some 8,000 people to flee their homes. Earlier this year the ministry of federal affairs stepped in to quell the ethic violence. The president of the region was arrested and is currently facing charges of inciting ethnic hatred. The entire local police force was disbanded. A local power-sharing administration was also set up representing the Anuak and the Nuer ethnic groups who inhabit the region. A battalion of around 500 Ethiopian troops was moved into the region to help restore order while the new police force was being trained. Around 182,000 people live in Gambella Region. The Anuak make up some 27 percent, with the Nuer representing the majority group with 40 percent of the population. But the Anuak question the legitimacy of the Nuer who they say are usurpers who have crossed the border from Sudan. Nuers say they lack political representation.
UNHCR 16 Dec 2003 www.unhcr.ch Situation Remains Tense in Gambella Region United Nations High Commission for Refugees (Geneva) PRESS RELEASE December 16, 2003 The situation in Ethiopia's Gambella region remained tense for the third day following last Saturday's killing of eight people, among them three employees of UNHCR's main implementing partner in Ethiopia - the government's department of Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA). The group of eight, which included the three ARRA staff, two policemen and three construction workers, was killed in an ambush 18 kms from the western Ethiopia town of Gambella on Saturday morning. The group was on their way to Odier-Bol, a new site being developed for the relocation of some 24,000 refugees from the nearby Fugnido refugee camp, when their vehicle came under machine-gun fire. Four people died on the spot while four others, including the ARRA staff were killed as they tried to escape into the bush. It is not clear who was behind the killings. The incident on Saturday unleashed a spiral of violence which has left an estimated 30 people dead and many more homeless after scores of homes were torched in what appeared to be reprisal attacks. By yesterday (Monday), shops, schools, offices and banks in Gambella remained closed. Domestic flights between the capital, Addis Ababa and Gambella were cancelled. The local hospital was reported to be overstretched as scores of wounded people were brought in. By yesterday, there was a heavy military presence deployed by the government to restore calm. Sporadic gunfire that could be heard on Sunday subsided following the military deployment. On Monday, senior government officials arrived in the town close to the Ethiopia-Sudan border to negotiate peace between the warring ethnic groups. As a precautionary measure, UNHCR has withdrawn non-essential staff from Gambella and has, this morning, sent in two security staff to make a detailed assessment of the security situation in the area, including the nearby Fugnido camp. The situation in Fugnido has remained calm. We are now waiting for recommendations from the security team before taking other security measures. .
Reuters 17 Dec 2003 Ethiopia accuses rebels of inciting killings By Tsegaye Tadesse ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia accused rebel groups on Wednesday of inciting unrest in which up to 30 people were killed in the western town of Gambella last week. "The conflict in Gambella town last weekend was triggered by members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) supported by the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) and al Itihad al Islamiya," Minister of State for Federal Affairs Gbre-Ab Barnabas said in a statement. "Many people...lost their lives in the incident," he added. Addis Ababa has previously accused the groups of anti-government activity. U.N. sources said the conflict involved the Anuak and Nuer ethnic groups who have traditionally clashed over land. Government and United Nations sources told Reuters that up to 30 people died during the violence near Gambella, some 700 km (435 miles) west of the capital Addis Ababa. Ilunga Ngandu, representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Ethiopia, said an ambush on Saturday in which eight people were killed sparked the bloodshed. An unidentified gang attacked a U.N. car travelling from a new refugee camp to the UNHCR offices in Gambella. Three people working for the state-run refugee agency, two policemen and three casual labourers were killed. "After people in Gambella heard about the killing, violence erupted and a number of people were also killed in retaliation," Ngandu said. Ngandu said the UNHCR had subsequently moved 10 non-essential staff out of Gambella. A U.N. and government assessment team had gone to Gambella, which was now calm. Ethiopia has blamed OLF rebels, fighting for independence for the southern Oromo region since 1993, of being behind a series of bombings in the country over the past year. The EPLF is the ruling party in neighbouring Eritrea, which fought a border war with Ethiopia in 1998-2000. Tensions between the two countries remain high. Al Itihad al Islamiya is thought by some analysts to be linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
IRIN 17 Dec 2003 UN refugee agency evacuates staff from Gambella ADDIS ABABA, 17 Dec 2003 (IRIN) - The UN refugee agency has evacuated its non-essential staff from western Ethiopia after violence that left an estimated 30 people dead and dozens injured. UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said the local hospital had been “overwhelmed” after a weekend of fighting in Gambella, 800 km west of Addis Ababa. A daylight 7am till 7pm curfew has also been imposed in the ravaged town by the regional authorities, according to UN sources with contacts in the town. A large military presence has restored calm but the situation is still extremely tense. Fighting erupted on Saturday when seven people were killed in a vehicle which came under machine gun fire as they drove to a new site for a refugee camp which will house some 24,000 people. Four men were killed instantly, while the others – who were government refugee workers - were chased into the bush before being shot, Janowski said in a statement from Geneva. “The incident on Saturday unleashed a spiral of violence which has left an estimated 30 people dead and many more homeless after scores of homes were torched in what appeared to be reprisal attacks,” the statement said. “On Monday, senior government officials arrived in the town close to the Ethiopia-Sudan border to negotiate peace between the warring ethnic groups,” it added. Flights to Gambella from the Ethiopian capital have also been cancelled while shops, schools, offices and banks in the town all remain closed, UNHCR said. According to local sources, Anuak residents in Gambella are unhappy over the proposed refugee camp which will house Neur and Dinka refugees. Anuak and Nuer have been fighting in recent years over land and political representation in the area.
News 24 SA (South Africa) 17 Dec 2003 www.news24.com Ethiopia clashes claim 30 Geneva - About 30 people have been killed and dozens wounded in ethnic clashes in southwest Ethiopia, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday, announcing the withdrawal of its non-essential staff from the region. The fighting was triggered by an ambush on Saturday, after which gunmen killed at least eight people near the town of Gambella, Kris Janowski, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said here. "The incident unleashed a spiral of violence which has left an estimated 30 people dead and many more homeless after scores of homes were torched in what appeared to be reprisal attacks," Janowski said. "The local hospital was reported to be overstretched as scores of wounded people were brought in," he added. Janowski said that Gambella had remained "very tense" on Monday, with shops, schools, banks and offices all closed. Domestic air flights to the capital from Gambella had been suspended. But the Ethiopian minister of state for federal affairs, quoted by the Ethiopian News Agency, said on Tuesday in Addis Ababa calm had returned to the town. An attempt by an anti-peace group to destabilise the security of the state has been foiled, Dr Gebre-Ab Barnabas said in a statement. The "anti-peace group who received military training in a neighbouring country has killed eight innocent people working at a refugee camp", he said. The attack was carried out by members of an "anti-peace group supported by anti-people organisations such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) and Al-Itihaad Al-Islamiya," the minister added. Addis Ababa has often accused the EPLF, the governing party in neighbouring Eritrea, of supporting and training militants of the OLF, an armed separatist group in South Ethiopia. Somali Islamist group Al-Itihaad Al-Islamiya (Unity of Islam) has also been accused by Ethiopia of having direct links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. Tuesday at mid-day, 14 bodies were recovered from the ashes of burnt residential houses and shops in Gambella, and the search for more bodies is still going, said Major Harnet Yohannes, a defence spokesperson in Addis Ababa. .
www.ethiomedia.com AND www.oromoliberationfront.org 18 Dec 2003 Press Release by Gambela People's United Democratic Front PRESS RELEASE A hated regime perpetuates ethnic slaughter to prolong its life in power On Saturday December the 13th, 2003 EPRDF government soldiers targeted the ethnic Anuak civilians in Gambella region. While most killings that took the lives of more than 350 Anuaks were committed in Gambella town, which started with the killings of educated Anuaks, the genocide is also currently continuing in all areas where Anuaks live. Our reliable sources from Gambella indicated that the attack came after the death of seven people, including three government officials who were visiting the area. Their car was ambushed by unknown gangs, allegedly some refugees who were opposed to a government plan to remove the refugees' camp. However, the government alleged that the officials were ambushed by the Anuaks only because the accident took place in an Anuak territory. But the fact was that this is a pre-planned strategy by the EPRDF to deceive highlander Ethiopians that the Anuaks were opposed to them, and create the pretext to commit gross crimes against humanity. To our dismay, Mr. Meles' Defense Ministry spokesperson went on the mass media and issued a false statement which complicates the matter, stating that the tragedy was the outcome of a conflict between the Anuaks and the Nuers. To the contrary, however, there was no single fight occurred between the Anuaks and the Nuers. Therefore, the statement is a clear indication that the EPRDF government is fully responsible for such crime committed against humanity. One journalist working for Reuters also came out with a story echoeing the government's baselss accusation, contrary to ethics of professional journalists. The statement cited Dr. Gebrab Barnabas, the Federal Minister who blamed the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Eritrean government. Well, if we to assumed that the government statement was correct, the question is what would justify EPRDF's crimes of genocide against the Anuaks inside Gambella? Is OLF fighting the Anuaks or the Ethiopian army? Moreover, Gambella is not an Oromo territory. Unlike the pervious ethnic cleansing which was sparked between the Anuaks and Nuers by EPRDF, this one took a different approach but greatly resembled to the tragedies that EPRDF committed in Awassa and Tepi towns of Southern states, where the EPRDF government used their strategic and tactical allies to commit mass murder against the Magenger and other southern Ethiopian civilians. While many of these mass murders which have been taking place in different provinces since the EPRDF came to power 12 years ago in what was peaceful Ethiopia, they all carry the same objectives, and that is to divert the attention of one national issue so as to prolong the life of EPRDF. The real motive, however, is that the EPRDF government has failed to govern Gambella for the last 12 years of rule and nightmare imposed upon Ethiopian people. EPRDF has not only failed to win the support of the people of Gambella, particularly who are the few educated in the area, but also severely exhausted all its efforts of divide and rule in Gambella, and it doesn't have a future in Gambella. Last year was the Nuer and Majanger fetched against the Anuaks. But to no avail. When all these divide and rule policies failed, we have now witnessed EPRDF forces mass-murdering the Anuaks openly in daylight. The reason is obvious, and that is, the Anuaks became a victim for only one reason: for standing tall as proud Ethiopians. In Gambella, the EPRDF regime is the most hated ruling clique the Anuaks had ever seen in Ethiopian history. They resent the un-Ethiopians government and its apartheid policy of the regime. The vicious attack on civilian Anuaks was carried out in coordination with the so called anti-Ethiopia forces operating in the area, those share the same philosophy with the EPRDF regime. The questions many outsider and foreigners, particularly journalists, ask is why the government committed such genocide on it own citizens? And why in the world a government that enjoyed the support of the United States and the civilized western world would commit such a heinous crime and mass murder on its own citizens which could be compared with Adolf Hitler's Holocaust on the Jewish people and Saddam Hussien's on the Kurds people? The following evidence and systematic oppressive policies would highlight as to what the government is after. The objectives of the Meles regime are clear: 1. Having found itself to be the most hated government in Gambella, the EPRDF government begin a systematic policy by jailing 62 Anuaks politicians in Addis Ababa and more than 300 in Gambella. Over the year from 1998-2003, many educated Anuaks left Ethiopia for fear of their life. Moreover, the EPRDF set up the Anauks the road of conflict with other Ethiopian ethnic groups in the region. In all ethnic cleansing taking place in Gambella, Anuaks are the victims. During these barbaric attacks inflicted on Anuaks, the EPRDF provided guns and operational logistics to other ethnic groups to kill Anuaks. 2. Anuaks are subjected to such brutality and misdeed by the government, only for embracing Ethiopian identity which the EPRDF government resented. To confuse the issues, EPRDF created an atmosphere where the business owners in Gambella, mostly Ethiopian highlanders, can be in conflict with the natives of the area, particularly the Anuaks. 3. By mistreating the Anuaks, the EPRDF and its puppet groups that operate against the national interests of Ethiopia, are desperately looking for the surrender of the Anuak people as the ruling clique's subservient subjects. The Anuaks are proud Ethiopian citizens, and they would rather continue to struggle for the respect of human rights and the reign of a democratically-elected regime than fulfill the hidden, anti-Ethiopian interests of the hated regime in power. ETHIOMEDIA.COM - ETHIOPIA'S PREMIER NEWS AND VIEWS WEBSIT
www.addistribune.com 19 Dec 2003 Clashes among Refugees Leave Dozens Dead in Western Ethiopia, UN Reports Tensions remain high among Sudanese refugees in western Ethiopia after weekend violence killed dozens of people, including three staff members from an Ethiopian government office, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Responding to the clashes that took place in Ethiopia's Gambella area, which hosts 85,000 refugees, UNHCR proposed relocating some 24,000 refugees to Odier-Bol, 74 kilometres away. Officials on their way to the refugee site under construction at Odier-Bol were ambushed on Saturday in an attack that left eight dead, including the Ethiopians from the government's Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs. The deaths ignited a wave of ethnic clashes that left an estimated 30 people dead, according to UNHCR. Many more were homeless after their shelters were torched in what appeared to be reprisal assaults. Sporadic gunfire was heard in the area on Sunday. By Monday, the Government had deployed troops to restore calm in Gambella. Senior government officials also arrived in the town, which is close to the Ethiopian-Sudanese border, to negotiate peace between the warring ethnic groups, the UN agency reported. Shops, schools, offices and banks in Gambella remained closed on Monday, domestic flights between the town and the capital were cancelled and the local hospital was reportedly overwhelmed by scores of wounded people. UNHCR said it had pulled out its non-essential staff from Gambella as a precautionary measure. It had also sent two security staff to assess the situation in the area, including Fugnido camp, 100 kilometres away, which was reported to be calm. Late last year, a spate of clashes involving ethnic Anuaks, or Anyuaa, who straddle the Sudanese-Ethiopian border, on the one hand, and the Sudanese Nuers and Dinkas on the other, killed 107 Sudanese refugees in Fugnido camp. According to a 2002 UN report, the factors causing conflict in Gambella include "the question of the majority population in the region and what language should be taught in school and a general feeling, or apprehension, among Anyuaa that they are being dominated by the pastoralist Nuers, who enter Anyuaa territory in search of grazing land and water."
VOA 19 Dec 2003 Tensions Ease In Ethiopia's Gambella Region Amid Military Presence Joe De Capua Washington The security situation in the western Ethiopian town of Gambella is reported to have improved somewhat since last weekend’s ethic violence. More than 30-people were killed. The violence affected operations by the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. Peter Kessler is a spokesman for the UNHCR. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the situation in Gambella. Mr. Kessler says, “Following the incidents earlier this week when scores were killed, including three workers from our partner agency – the Ethiopian Government Administration for Refugee Returnee Affairs – UNHCR pulled its non-essential staff out of the Gambella region. However, we’re told the situation has stabilized. There’s been a big deployment of Ethiopian government forces to ensure security in that area and some shops and government offices have reopened and people are on the streets in Gambella town.” The UNHCR has only basic services underway at the moment and precautions have been taken to protect staff members. The Gambella region hosts 85,000 Sudanese refugees in five camps and settlements. The Fugnido camp is the largest with 28,000 people.