Ethiopia, Gondar, Metema Farmers Cry for Justice as Their Cattle Confiscated Illegally

By Fithi Ataam

A.A: a deceptive informant gave Federal Boarder Guard information leading to confiscate 54 cattle. The informant claimed the cattle were in black market, located on Sudanese Boarder. On basis of the information, the Federal Boarder Guard confiscated 54 cattle. Farmers, owners of the cattle counter claimed and appealed to Federal Custom Branch in Bahir Dar for return of their cattle. As a result of the farmers’ protest, an Investigation Committee consists of six-person formed after ups and downs, because Ato Sewagegn Degfaw, agent of the Federal Custom Agency in Bahir Dar City, strongly opposed any investigation. However, following investigation, the committee proved the cattle belong to the farmers, and not in black market. Then, administrative organs in North Gondar and concerning bodies in the region, urged Ato Sewagegn to return the cattle to the farmers. In contrary, Ato Sewagegn ordered the cattle to be transferred to Gondar City and sold in auction in defines of the committee’s and administrative decisions. Stand up began between the cattle owners and Ato Sewagegn and continued for a week in Bahir Dar in the month of August. Then, Ato Ayalew Gobeze, Regional Governor, intervened to stop illegal sales, and the 50 cattle returns to owners, but 4 of them are still missing. Some observers believed Ato Sewagegn insisted on the cattle sales because he supposed to acquire some share illegally from informant’s bounty or reward. According to the custom’s regulation 60% of confiscated asset in the name of black market is paid to an informant whom gave information leading to capture, as a result, a money-minded informant can gave false information leading to confiscation of the farmers’ property.
An informant whom held in anonymity passed information on the issue to the Boarder Guard Federal army and Ato Sewagegn Degfaw on Aug 12, 2012. The informant claimed the 54 cattle were on Sudan border, just within the range of one hour travel to reach the boarder. Then, the federal force rushed to the Metema area and confiscated the cattle. The owners of the cattle expressed their protest at the spot, but they couldn’t stop the armed force from confiscation. The owners, residents of Metema Woreda, Metema Yohannes Kebele, village called Mendega are:
• Mr. Tadege Mamo, owner of 32 cattle
• Settegn Demse, owner of 10 cattle
• Yayu Tadege, owner of 7 cattle
• Abebaw Kelkay, owner of 5 cattle
The farmers, cattle owners went to Bahir Dar and presented their complaint to Federal Custom Agency, headed by Ato Sewagegn Degefaw. The farmers claimed the cattle were theirs, confiscated from their village not from black market. They further requested the matter to be investigated by an independent committee. They also proposed the committee include representatives from Federal Boarder Guard, Zonal Administration, Woreda Administration, Kebele Administration, Federal Custom Agency and victim farmers. Ato Sewagegn rejected unconditionally the idea of the investigation committee, but without legal justification. The farmers returned the next day and insisted on the investigation. Ato Sewagegn refused again. This time, Mr. Geremew Birru, Federal Custom Lawyer and Legal Affairs Coordinator, challenged Mr. Sewagegn’s refusal for investigation. After Mr. Gremew’s lawful pressure, on the next day, Ato Sewagegn agreed on formation the investigation committee, but refused inclusion of the victim farmers in the committee. Consequently, six-person Investigation Committee consisted of administrative organ representatives, Federal Boarder Guard and Federal Custom Agency.
The Investigation Committee traveled to the place where the cattle were confiscated and made investigation. The committee found: the cattle were not on Sudan Boarder or not in the range of one hour travel from the boarder, at the time of confiscation, the cattle were within the range of three-hour travel from the Sudan boarder, this place was Metema Yohannes Kebele, village called Mendega, which is the residency of the farmers. The cattle were confiscated from the farmers’ residential village not from the black market zone. The Committee concluded the cattle were belongs to the farmers, were not on the black market. The information given by the informant was false and misleading. A Federal Guard representative colonial also suggested the informant to be accountable for deceptive information. The colonial stated what was happened was misdeed against farmers; this might not be the first time, whatever confiscation done before could be wrong.
The Investigation Committee completed its mission by signing on the document and submitting report on its finding to the Federal Custom Agency, all concerned administrative organs and victim farmers. The cattle owners returned to Bahir Dar, Federal Custom Agency carrying the Committee’s report. They asked again Ato Sewagegn for the return of their cattle. As usual Ato Sewagegn said, “no I have already decided to sell the cattle, I know the drama, whatever it is, it is my decision”. Then the farmers went to Justice Bureau and appealed to Mr. Firde, head of the bureau; he told them what happened to their cattle was illegal. Because of he had no official communication channel with Federal Custom Agency, he promised he would report the matter to Mr. Ayalew. As stand up continuous, one of the victims sister went to Addis Ababa Federal Custom Office to appeal to Ato Sewagegn’s superior. Unfortunately, the head of the agency Mr. Gebrehud was not in his office, and she briefed Mr. Belay on the issue delegating the office and handed over him the Investigation Committee’s decision on the same. After reading the document, Mr. Belay said, “Ato Sewagegn would never do such a wrong thing”. The appealing woman got offended on Ato Belay’s response and hollered and chanted saying “to whom we should appeal”! Her utter in loud voice attracted a small crowd from inside the agency and outside. Ato Belay apologized the woman by saying he didn’t mean Sewagegn was right, but it was expression in surprise of misdeed. Ato Belay talked to Ato Sewagegn on phone and warned him to return the cattle to the farmers immediately, but Ato Sewagegn continued defining, and gave a new order the cattle to be sold. Ato Ayalew who was out of his station got information what was going on and instructed Mr. Gizat, North Gondar Governor to stop the illegal cattle sales by Ato Sewagegn. After stoppage was in effect by the administration, Ato Sewagegn had no choice, but gave order the cattle to return to the owners. Up to date 50 cattle were returned to the farmers, but 4 (four) of them are still missing. Observers believed four of the cattle could be immediately handed over to the informant whom likely benefit partner with Ato Sewagegn. There was no clear information, it appear to be under investigation. Informants are presumably more often among poor Werimino settlers and hand picked by Ato Sewagegn and victims are the indigenous community members. Despite such horrible acts no measures taken on the perpetrator as the result, there will be more offense against the poor farmers. One year ago, 60 cattle were confiscated in the similar fraudulent situation and their rightful owners Mr. Addis Awlachew and Mr. Ayitolign Tesera killed as they put resistance to their property. Their case remained in cold blood without due justice.

Justice for all! It is not only the constitutional right, but parcel of fundamental human rights!

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20 Responses to Ethiopia, Gondar, Metema Farmers Cry for Justice as Their Cattle Confiscated Illegally

  1. Mizigena says:

    This is an Act Accidental on Purpose

    This is part and parcel of the entire domination upon the Qemant people. This is one of the strategy that the rent seekers of the ANDM members undertake to subdue the constitutional quests of the people. This act is not new to Qemant people. This is the extension of the long time injustice that the Qemant suffered from in the past.
    “Yekmant kebt naw. Amtana Eredew. Yemiteyikih yelem eytebale bizzu zemedochachin habtachwn tezerfewal”
    Gifu bizuna tenegro Yemayalik naw.
    Yetach Armachiho Amara tebyewech endet eyalu endemifekiru lingerachuh!
    Tach Aminam serkinachew, tach Amina Gedelinachew,
    Aminam serekinachew, Aminam Gedelinachew,
    Enezih Qemantoch zendrom Yimetalu mechem lib Yelachew.

    It is this group of people that they cry for unity. It is this group of people who absolve themselves and complain to know what special injustices have been done to Qemant that make them to decide for self administration. it is this narrow mind individuals who still consider themselves as supra race and want to look down others.
    The only solution for this kind of mistreatment and injustices is to struggle for the freedom.
    The worst will come yet unless you organize together to repel this maltreatment.
    I often get vexed at these people who preaches false unity! Never to the dooms day these individuals come to know about true and genuine unity. They only preach pseudo unity that maintain and sustain the old legacy of their supremacy.
    Unit! Unit! Unite! and struggle for freedom!

  2. Zeleke says:

    Dear Mizigana

    I have felt surprised with Amara mefekir,
    “Aminam serekinachew, Aminam Gedelinachew,
    Enezih Qemantoch zendrom Yimetalu mechem lib Yelachew.”

    Our society was left without leader that could show our lib what Amara call it “Agew libu Zetegn”. Ethiopian Hero Atse Tewodros, who fight for unity of Ethiopia, was not even recognized officially as Agew Qemant. Who will tell us about Agew’s lib better than Atse Tewodros who fight super power of world at a time? Who had manged white missionaries to manufacture war machine from locally available materials?
    Our land is officially distributed for so called settlers both in Metema and Jawi while our poor farmers couldn’t get land to cultivate because of population growth. Our society is diluted by settlers and let to be converted to Amara. Even settlers are working with hodam officers to confiscate local peoples properties as story indicated.

    This is the time that we need leader to unite our society to save from the worst coming ahead. Majority of poor farmers are not well aware about this inter net communication, but we should have to be responsible to create next Tewodros for unity of the Agew people as the whole.

  3. Asmammaw says:

    My fellow commentators, make sure your comment focuses on the system not on group or personalities, e.g Amharization is system, abyssanization is system. Our enemy is the system not blood and flesh.

  4. Zeleke says:

    Dear Asmammaw

    I totally agree with your comment on fighting the system other than group of society or individuals that could change their mind if the system changed. But I disagree with you to talk about the products and consequences of the system. How could we buck the moral of our society who has been undermined and insulted for centuries? Don’t you think we have to say doma doma new style. Additionally we have to let our society to exercise free expression what I believe for coming advanced country.

  5. Asmammaw says:

    Mr. Zeleke
    If want to bring about a sustainable change we must focus on reconstructing a system that can revive our distinction and ensure our survival. There are three important sub-systems make of the grand system, they are family institution, education settings and social systems. We agaws lack all of them, we are dependent on others system either voluntarily or forcefully. That is why our identity is vanishing quickly. We deserve to focus on the system, which is the cause of our destruction rather than treating victims. We should not forget any human being is either product of the system or victim of the system. So that, I believe if we want to ensure our existence as the people, we have to struggle against the backward and bandage system we are currently living. I believe morale is group or personal perception that can shift time to time and when the people know the objectives of the struggle and the bright future, morale will revive gradually.

  6. Zeleke says:

    Dear Asmammaw

    I believe life is cumulative sum of seconds, minutes, hours days etc that we live until the end of our life. Every second has also its value in our life. We can work slowly to create awareness about our identity to reverse the suppression of our society to make the change sustainable. The other way new children are born daily in existing system which had been for years on their family root. Days are also lost, while we were running for our day to day life or to get the right time to reduce damage on our move.
    I would like to ask you that, what is best strategy to change the system to claim our identity and our resources without affecting other society who lives with us?

  7. Asmammaw: reply says:

    Dear Zeleke

    Well, I believe the rehabilitation action must start at every family. You have to create awareness for every one. If we have concerned leadership this could be done a long time ago. A mechanism should enable to reward the action, for example, the use of English alphabet in writing instead of Geez benefits people in two ways: First, by letting use of the Agaw scripts in html language, which Geez cannot do it. The Geez can be published only in PDF format or equivalent, which occupies storage space 10 times more than html scripts. In other words, use of Geez costs 10-times more than use of the English alphabet. Second, use of English alphabet allows Agaw language on mobile phones. Both things are rewards to the users, this will encourage the people to use frequently native languages, which eventually save from disappearance. Since we have chosen peaceful path, we have to take social mentality into consideration. Why the people like their children learn in English than the native one? You must understand social reality and use it for good. There are also other things including curriculum setting review to be carried out for the same goal of survival. I believe this can be applicable for all Agaw groups. It is not wise to externalize everything without doing our share.

  8. Mizigena says:

    Dear Asmamaw,
    Are you saying that we better use Latin alphabets than Saba? I wonder to know why. I m not a linguistic person and could not clearly know the relationship between letter use and language.
    However, as an Ethiopian (Qemant) I still proud that Ethiopia has its own alphabets no matter who invented it. Ethiopian letters are also called Saba letters. Saba belongs to Agaw. I want to know why this point come as a discussion while there are many other issues to be raised to preserve and regain Agaw people identity. I need some enlightenment.

  9. Asmammaw says:

    Dear Mizigena
    To the best of my knowledge, Latine is better fit to all Cushetic languages in addition to advantages I stated in my previous comment. Why not use of Latine alphabet as far as it is better fit for the Cushetic languages. The Afar practiced the Geez alphabet for 10-years and then has return to Latine, like other Cushetic groups because of better fitness to their language. Like other technologies we use created by others, we can use Latine for our languages for the benefit of the language rehabilitation. The final decision should be made by neutral linguistics beyond layman debates.

  10. Alamirew G/H says:

    How far realistic it is to assume that Latin better fits to all Cushetic languages? Mr. Asmamaw must think it a bit more than he starts to speak and wright.What is your justification tin putting forward such assumption.An intelect might not pushed up by mere assumptions without paying attention to the world genious of mankind’s invention and innovation of writing system.In world there are plenty of writing/orthographic systems such as Ethiopic,Arabic,Hebrew,Greek,Cyrillic,Latin,Sanscrit, Chinese and more other ones.In this case why Mr.Asmamaw goes to hasty generalization that Latin fits to all Cushitic languages? Does he feel that Cushetic languages are different from the socalled Semitic or Nilotic languages? Languages in Ethiopia are not different from each other.For example if observe the Agaw Language clusters they do have relations with Semitic languages such as Geez,Tigringa,Amharic,Guraginga in considerable percent, with other Cushitic languages, of course, such Oromiffa,Afaringa,Somaliynga,Sidaminga,,Hadianga,Kembatinga ,Ben Amir as well as Nilotic languages wGumuz,Kunam, share relatively in high percentages.The trend indicates that what situates to Semitic situates to Cushitic and Nilotic. In Agaw clusters, sounds and symbols used in Semitic can fit.Of course, the Agaw clusters have their own distincts sounds/symbols which might need additional characters different than the Ethiopic alphabet.I feel that the Ethiopic alphabet with some modification is an appropriate one. As a matter choice, any thing can be chosen including Arabic,Greek,Cyrillic alphabets to fit in Ethiopian languages.Why Asmamaw favour Latin for all Cushitic languages?

  11. Mizigena says:

    Dear Asmamaw,
    We have to be very careful not to through out the only African baby with the bath water.

  12. bitew says:

    I agree with Mizigena on properties of language idea, because all Ethiopian languages have the same properties.

  13. Alamirew G/H says:

    Mr Assmamaw! Have you come across with a book titled Mengistu Lema, Demamu Biirenga? The only existing problem in use of GeeZ/Ethipic alphabet is a matter of computer engineering, but no other things. In other words it is a matter of modification and innovation of alphabets.I think certain mis-conceptual thoughts are spreading the seeds of prejudice in usage of the Ethiopic alphabet. Khimara and Awi are in use of the same.But persons who developed the Awi script left non-standardized in violation of linguistic requirements and popular will. The Kemantney will not have problem in using the Ethiopic script even though it has not yet put in vernacular language educational purpose.If one tries to use it in Latin alphabet the writing will be clumsy one with lots of spelling,pronunciation,reading,standardization. Of course, computer engineers should exerted their good minds and hands for enhancement of the Ethiopic alphabet.

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  15. anteneh says:

    please don’t bring danger for the kind people. are you working to divide our lovely province GONDER (SEMIEN & BEGEMIDR). YOU WILL BE OUR ENEMY NEXT TO …..
    YOU WILL SUFFER IF YOU CONTINUE. GONDER IS A TYPICAL AMARA. EVEN IT IS THE PILLAR OF AMARA NATION.
    STOP DIVIDING …… EDUCATE YOURSELF. DON’T BE THE RESIDUE OF HISTORY.

    • Mizigena says:

      What kind of Danger?
      There is no worst danger than losing one’s Identity. We know the danger is not Qemant’s request for self administration, the potential danger is people like you who lost its identity and still struggle to annex the Qemant to psedo Amhara. There is no any problem in becoming Amhara, but the problem lies there is no people called Amhara. I petty for you and your resemblances who never still know who they are. Amhara, You said! where did you come from? from the line of David-Israel? Shame on you? Does Israel recognize that there is people called Amhara from one of their tribes in Ethiopia? O you Judah of Israel! Why you full yourself and your kids? Why don’t you tell them their true origin so that they won’t become bewildered about their true where about.
      please Anteneh!
      please try to act as civilized people. Do not become war mongered like your ancestors.
      Qemant asks only its constitutional rights. You are only expected to disprove this by employing tangible evidence that there is no people called Qemant. I know you and your resemblance had tried a lot to make Qemant quite its request. But they couldn’t stop it. You have made settle one shaleka deference force in Lay Armachiho woreda on the pretext that Qemant people is on move for peaceful demonstration. However, the wise deference force didn’t take immediate action rather asked why and know the reality and went back peacefully. unsuccessful mission by you and your flocks.
      Anteneh! What is your religion that you wage war to peaceful people who only asks freedom from your bondage? Don’t you regret by your chauvinist parents who displaced Agaws from the time of 1270. Don’t you regret that you made Bete-Israel (part of Agaw) landless for money centuries and at last made them flew away from their motherland-Ethiopia because of unbearable discrimination and outcast from you and your parents. Do you want to repeat this history to Qemant? But you can’t!
      Anteneh Why do you waste your time saying that there is no people called Qemant. Why you didn’t react to professor Mesfin’s bold book clearly put that there is no people called Amhara. You have said no word to that because you know who you are. Had it not been for that you wouldn’t lost time to throw the biggest rock to Mesfin’s book.
      If you got no chance to buy and read it. the title of the book is “Yekihidet Kulqult” If you are not in a position to buy, I will buy for you and send by your address. why you and your people derived by pseudo-history.
      So far never have I seen a single Amhara around Gondar who take the initiative to make the two people leave in harmony. Had it not been for the Ethiopian Constitution, our leader will be in jail naming them terrorist or Ashebari..
      Can you give details the kind of suffer you are going to inflict upon Qemant. What do you think would be the response for that suffering? You will suffer the same suffering.
      For the people like you and your resemblances unity is only geographic integrity, no more. You do not care for the people living in that locality? If you had the power you would have evacuated Qemant from Gondar and its environ. Ask your parents the suffering they caused to Qemant and other Agaw enclaves. But our brevity and with help God we are still survive and will survive to the kingdom to come.
      Yes! Like you, the Amhara State (the state only to the so called Amhara) said it boldly that there is no Qemant. But it does not mean that they will leave in peaceful if they ratify it by their Kangaroo parliament.
      Let me tell you one thing in secret. please respond to professor Mesfin who clearly told you no people called Amhara. Why your pscedo-Amhara historians have kept quite? Because this is true and they could not able to justify it.
      Last but least, if you want to know your self, please study the history of Qemant rather than reading junks written about Amhara history. if you want to listen the truth about you do not ask you mum or dad, they do not tell you the truth, rather read and ask agaws (Qemant, Himta, Awi, Blen and so on). Let me describe you one more book written by Amhara national Cultural and tourism Bureau in 2001(Amharic version) on the history, culture and language of Amhara. But when you go inside rather you learn about the history, culture and language of Agaw. This is because you have nothing to talk about youself.
      I m sorry I was said last but obliged to tell your true identity. A group of people from different academic background (history, anthropologist, linguist and economist) from, I think, Bahir Dar University took the responsibility to study about Amhara people history. in the end they came up with “aranbana Kobo” findings. You know what was the regional government said to this study team: we gave you the mission to study the history of Amhara but you end up telling us about Agaw and Oromo history. The draft of the book remained unpublished. If you like to get one, I can send to you the copy.
      This is it.
      Very small Advice for you: If you come with open arms to hug me in love I will do the same if you come with iron fist to give me a hard box on my face, I would rather react harder than you do.
      May God give you a smooth hear to leave peacefully with other people rather than receiving the sin of your parents did to others!
      AMEN!
      Mizigena

  16. Tamire says:

    Balemberes Anteneh what are you talking about? Are you still in confusion? You still talk about the pillar of the fiction? Ask Professor Mesfin Wolde Maryam what was his answer when he was asked to represent Amara during at conference held to draft the Charter for the transitional government following EPRDF’s took over Addis Ababa. You can ask him; he is still alive. Please work to find your true self.

    • Tatekendegena says:

      Mizigena and Tamire
      look carefully
      Anteneh has put very good question for you to answer . he is not a man to ridicule ones history like Mizigena . both of you said about the book of Professor Mesfin Wolde Maryam. are you in heart that Professor Mesfin Woldemariam denying the existence of amhara. you didn’t understand the content of the book.
      anteneh asked good questions. Mizigena said alot to anteneh but anteneh said ” think about world class matters”. he is far sighted. he has individual liberty.
      Anteneh made a fantastic conclusion like this.
      “you are the small creature in the sea, use the fruits of the sea, if you try to drink all the contents of the sea, you will be the first to be blasted because the sea may contain many poisonous components”. really He is philosopher.
      and he advised not to divide the people . anteneh has put historical analysis separately from contemporary political questions and rule of law . he asked for Mizigena “what is the legal standards to be considered a nation or a nationality according to the Ethiopian constitution?”. anteneh didnot deny the existence of qimant people. but he said don’t divide our people.
      Mizigena
      in that bad days
      kassa and engida
      Gebrye and gelmo
      made cornerstones for our unity now you are making your share to destroy this. that is why anteneh said “DON’T BE THE RESIDUE OF HISTORY.”

  17. Tamire says:

    Mr. Anteneh/Tatekendegena, I do not surprise on you, for frightening to accept your actual natural identity parcel of your blood and bone. I acted like you till 1999 E.C. until I have come to accept the truth my natural identity of Agawness. You can ask on my political history Dr. Andualem from Washington DC who has unavailable stand on Gondar issue. Dr. Andualem and I tried our best even to strengthen Kefagn only movement in Gondar in the early 1990s. Everything, we did was in spirit of Ethiopianism. Now we live in nationally empowered political environment, if that is the case, we must organize ourselves under true identity, Agawness. Neither me or Mr. Misgena has hostility to the word Amhara. I know for sure those people who fool themselves by calling themselves Amhara are our sisters and brothers in blood, in the case of Gondar Kemants, Bijas and Gafats of South Gondar, all of them are Agaw tribes. Amhara is adjective name given to our faith, Christianity. Don’t fear the truth, open your mind and explore rationally.
    Professor Meffin is the prominent scholar and traditional intellectual who never trade the truth for material benefits. Mr. Anteneh, don’t deceive yourself his statement is bold and unambiguous, which states Amhara has nothing to do with ethnicity, but associated with faith. Of course, he is one of scholars to declare this position. There are a number of independent scholars and historians share the same view, including Lapiso, Fayyis, Muse and even Ethiopian Orthodox prominent scholar Professor Getachew H. (share partially) the same notion.
    I believe Agawness is for all, no one is to be oppressed and excluded for his political or religious views. Re-emergence of the State of Agaw in the near future is for liberty and justice: equality, fraternity, actual administrative autonomy for Kemants, Bijjas, Gafts, Awis, Wags, Damots, Eastern Agaws (Easat Gojjamis) and Lasts. Is not glory? Finally, what I have to say to Mr. Anteneh is you could come up constructive proverb opposite to what you wrote. Anyway, you will understand your mistakes later; we love you, come back to your true natural identity of Agawness and work together for better world to our children.

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