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News: Civilians suffer “in silence” amidst armed conflict in Guji zones, Oromia region- report

07 July 2018, Oromia Region, West Guji Zone, Kercha Woreda. IDPs. Credit: UNOCHA/ Tinago Chikoto

Addis Abeba – The Oromo Legacy Leadership and  Advocacy Associations (OLLAA) said in a new report titled “Between a rock and a hard place”, severe rights violations of civilians have been committed amidst armed conflict in the Oromia region particularly in the two Guji zones over the past five years.

According to the advocacy group, the suffering of civilians and the human rights violations in the area have never received proper media coverage compared to other armed conflicts in the country. 

“As the conflict between Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and the government forces increased, multiple states of emergency were declared and the civilians were forced to pay the largest price; the loss of their security and their lives, ” the report which was released on 12 May has stated.

According to the report, the “government security forces are known to arrest civilians based on false claims of either being supporters or members of OLA”.

It also pinpointed that “extrajudicial killings” are among the most gruesome human rights violations taking place in the Guji zones attested with a   document obtained from community members.

The report shares a partial list of victims of these extrajudicial executions, including seven prisoners who were executed in different prisons in the Guji zones, including Galma Utura, Dhadacha Mi’essa, and Abdulahi Golu, who were all removed from the prison in Raro, Goro Dola district on 28 September 2019 and executed as confirmed by Amnesty International of 2019.

“Another victim, Badhu Golicha, was taken from prison by members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force on 02 February 2023 in Hardot, Liban district and executed,” the report indicated, adding that “Osuman Abdulah was taken from a prison center in Jidola, Goro Dola district and executed in July 2022”.

Incidents of killings in those areas are so common that in January 2022, “14 civilians were publicly executed by government security forces in Birbirsa Kojawa Ela Dima town” in the West Guji zone and 18 civilians were shot to death and then burned within their homes in Fincawa district On 28 December 2018, the report added.

According to two informants, both OLA and government security forces routinely abduct civilians and children who after being traumatized and forced to terminate their education, pick up arms to fight with their captors.

The report also indicated that following protests against the formation of a new East Borana zone, the government took measures that claimed the lives of some of the protesters and physically injured others. 

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“Three protesters, Mi’essa Hessa, Nenqo Wate, and Guyo Xephiso, were shot and killed by Oromia special forces during the Feburuary 28, 2023 protest” the report stated, adding that, during the protests, a significant number of protesters and non-protesters were arrested and detained in several prison facilities.

OLLAA urged both warring parties to cease hostilities and negotiate among other recommendations in order to prevent multiple and intersecting human rights violations civilians are facing due to the armed conflict. 

The first round of talks between representatives of the OLA and the government held in Zanzibar Tanzania was concluded without an agreement but with reaching consensus on the need to continue the talks. AS

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