We, Ethiopian Orit Community call on Regional Government, Federal Government, US Government and international community to provide immediate humanitarian assistance and persecute their respective officials/citizens involved in Kemant genocide.
December 10-13, Amhara Regional Government sent huge regional militia and police forces to North Gondar, Kemant (Qemant) areas, to provide a military solution to the Kemant’s 9-years-old constitutional quest for self-rule. The security force indiscriminately engaged in massacre and property destruction, crop and house burning and robbery. Specially, children, women and elderly who cannot flee or defend themselves are primary victims. At the same time, the invading force had been reportedly sustained heavy causalities due to self-defensive response from Kemant farmers, whom reacted in an instinct manner.
We as the community members has no accurate figure on the size of the government combat force. Roughly 8,000-10,000 soldiers and more than 58 heavy military trucks were fielded in the Kemant areas including the following counties, sub-districts (kebeles) and towns:
1. In Metema Woreda (County): Shinfa Town, Kebeles (localities) of Gubay, Gigibit Kebele, Genduha Birshign Town, Mecca (Kurbsa sub-locality), Ahushira, Zebach Bahir, Mechela, Chechra and Bekokit.
2. In Chilge County: The localities (kebeles) of Serti Wagi, Amanuel Kenwote, Kober Lomio, Godo Molalit, Dandura, Addis Zemen, Kushaina, Shutara, Asenge Ketema and Negade Bahir Ketema.
3. Tach Armachiho County: Mesa Kidene Mihret Kebele (one kebele consists of about 5,000 residents).
4. In Quara County: The localities (kebeles) of Bedela, Mirt Gelagu, Dubaba, Gelegu Town and kebels in the county.
There is the reason to believe that the government’s plan was to eliminate Kemants physically from these fertile areas and settle other people loyalty to the regime’s politics.
An unconfirmed initial report indicated hundreds of Kemant massacre, million dollars of property destruction and robbery. So far, a Kemant disaster committee’s preliminary assessment has confirmed the following losses:
• Massacre of 56 people including maternal mothers, infants and aging elders who cannot move (this figure does not include causalities in Quara County).
• 26 people sustained severe injury and disability as a result of beating.
• 9 people disappeared their whereabouts is not known.
• 17 more people taken to a detention center.
• Other 37 people are hunted to capture or take other measures.
• About 30,000 displaced people are without food, shelter and need immediate humanitarian assistance.
• 1440 houses robbed and then burned and the following properties have been taken:
• 42, 284 quintals of grain
• 3002 cattle
• 3670 goats
• 531 donkey and mules
• 40 sheep, and
• 11,513 hens
Robbed Hotels, Stores and Other Properties:
• 29 stores
• 17 hotels
• 2 automobiles
• 106 grams of gold
• cash, 7,921,405 Ethiopian Birr
The total of taken or destroyed property by the invading force values 148, 462, 176 Ethiopian Birr.
Persecution against Kemant people is an unfolding process, especially since 2014. However, the situation escalated rapidly as more than 60 young Kemants, Agaw Democratic Party members and supporters arrested for supporting the party during the election 2015. After the election, Kemant coordinating committee members for self-rule was prime targets. At the end of the same year, the government has begun killing Kemant ethnic members indiscriminately regardless of gender, age, occupation or political affiliation. The international community is welcome to investigate and prove this reality.
Indeed, execution of innocent 19-children and women in Chilga County in November 2015 and indiscriminately massacre in December 10-13, 2015 in the localities mention above has represented boldly an international genocide definition and realistic to describe the behavior and consequence as genocide. The current genocide was expected due to the central government’s negligence to protect Kemants. Kemants reported the federal government ongoing atrocity in the region more than four times including an open letter to Prime Minister in the past three years. The two letters were published on the wlka blog. Nothing was done to provide Kemants with needed security as the citizen, Of course, if the Ethiopian Federal Government was committed to the constitution of the country and supremacy of the law, it could have brought the alleged perpetrators for justice in the previous tragedy and the current genocide has never happened.
There are also a group of people who facilitated the current genocide by providing the regional government with resources and disseminating its propaganda abroad and inland to cover up the reality. Those people are the US citizen Gondar origin immigrated to the US during the military regime and after. Their action is clearly in violation the US law and shall be accountable for the consequences.
Key Genocide Suspects at Top Regional Government Level
The regional government top leadership and its ruling party Amhara National Democratic Movement, is responsible for Kemant genocide. Its top leader, Amhara Regional Governor, Mr. Gedu Adargachew had been recorded whilst he was asking an identified federal official for additional soldiers to control the situation. The federal official rejected Andargachew’s request and told him to withdraw his force immediately from the Kemant areas. The unsecure conversation was recorded by a foreign secrete service that has embassy in Addis Ababa, wanted to remain in anonymity. The same foreign secret service in its report to its government mentioned also Dessie Asemie, Regional Security and Militia Commander, Mr. Agegnew Teshale, Regional official and Mr. Yaregal Asfaw, Governor’s Senior Advisor as key players in current genocide. Lower party officials at local level and junior commanders in the field execute orders given by these officials.
Regional Government with Its Collaborator Fails to Apologize
The regional officials of government and party functionalities have failed to apologize Kemants, Ethiopian people and international community at large for their actions. In contrary, the ruling party has been broadcasting propaganda on media to portray genocide as if people to people, between Amhara and Kemant. It has blamed the people of Gondar in general and Amhara chauvinism in particular.
The regional government’s post-genocide behavior shows not only its failure to accept responsibility for the consequences, but also its determination to use the situation as excuse to arrest or keep Kemant activists or its supporters in custody; Its behavior is also a clear indication for further preparation for genocide rather than guaranteeing Kemants self-rule in 128 Kebele, 8-counties and foster durable peace in the region.
Deprivation of Media Coverage
Despite all this tragedy is taking place in Kemant homeland North Gondar, no media coverage on the events. There are reasons for that:
• Kemants do not have media access to express their views.
• with exceptions of Tigray Online before 2012 and Oromo blogs, Ethiopian related media both governmental and non-governmental believe that Kemants are struggling to restore Judaism (Orit) in the region, to setup Orit Assembly and they should not be guaranteed self-rule. These media’s political interest is the key obstacle the Kemant issue not get coverage. Even if they cover rarely, their coverage is biased, reflects only views of the government ignoring Kemant’s position, VOA Amharic Service is among such media.
• Some Amhara party officials also ironically claim that Kemants are immigrated from Egypt and Canaan before 2,000 years BC and not eligible to establish self-rule at a zonal/provisional level except in 42-kebeles under North Gondar Zone control, otherwise, the Kemants should be deported to Egypt, like Beta Israel to Israel. All these arguments and pieces of myths affected negatively the said media to ignore the Kemant issues.
Indication of Pending Large Scale Genocide
Even after December 2015, genocide is still in effect. On January 21, a government security force opened fire on crowd gathered to celibate the Ethiopian traditional Epiphany in Chilge and killed five people including The chief priest, Bisret Abera carrying a replica of Ark of Covenant and wounded dozens. Propaganda on facebook called Bete Amhara, organized by the ruling regional party is disseminating hate on a day to day basis. On this facebook a post appeared for one month until removed on January 21, after it elicited objections from visitors, calls for eviction of Protestant Christians, Muslims and Agaws from Region 3, what is currently called Amhara Region. Unless the international community takes measures, the largest scale genocide similar to Rawanda 1992 and World War-II Holocaust is imminent in the region.
We Extends Condolence to:
1. The Kemant children and adults whom lost their life and property.
2. Those whom sent to Kemant villages and towns ignorantly for the mission they didn’t understand cause destruction and tragedy, but has never return home.
We believes that it is possible to restore the situation to normal and secure lasting peace and stability in the region.
We calls on the Regional Government and its ruling party:
1. base their conflict resolution tactics on democratic principles and rules of law, difference between Kemants and the regional government to be resolved through popular referendum organized by the federal government.
2. Work with the people and the federal government to trail all suspects involved in genocide in different capacities including top regional government officials regardless of their role in the region.
3. Apologize the Kemant people for the consequences and facilitate genuine reconciliation.
4. Release these in detention center and stop persecution others for their self-defense role.
5. Pay full compensation for the lost life and properties related to the events November 30 (Hidar 23) in Chilge and December 10-13 2015 (Hidar 29 letefeterw huneta) throughout the Kemant province.
We Call on the Ethiopian Federal Government to:
1. Provide immediately humanitarian and rehabilitation assistance for the displaced people to return to respective village and towns.
2. Take firm actions to respect the constitution.
3. Guarantee fully the Kemants’ constitutional request self-rule in all areas without delay.
4. Take firm stand to trail those involved in genocide at neutral federal court.
5. If Amhara Region cannot accommodate in equality and democracy Kemants, Agaws/Gojjamis in general and other communities in the region, create their own region to live in good neighborhood in peace before conflict develop into an irreconcilable stage.
We Call on the Government of the United States America to:
1. Investigate those its citizens who facilitated the current genocide as stated above.
2. Take legal measures including sanctions on their close family members not to enter the US.
3. Provide immediate humanitarian assistance for the displaced people.
We Call on Neighboring Countries and the International Community:
To provide immediate humanitarian basic needs, food and shelter, for thousands of displaced Kemants.
Ethiopian Orit Community
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
January 21, 2016