Scene captured from the disturbing video in which a group of peasants are subjected to humiliating abuse by officials in Jimma zone, Oromia region.
Addis Abeba – A disturbing footage showing four peasants being abused both verbally and physically, including being ordered to undress, kneel and beaten in front of a crowd of local people, is confirmed to have taken place in Jimma Zone, Gera District, in a special location known as Borcho Deka.
The widely shared video, which caused distress and uproar among Ethiopian online communities, shows four peasants lined up next to a group of local communities sitting in a field. One of the peasants, an elderly individual who is now identified as Raya Aba Oli, dressed in black, pleads with an unseen person, purportedly a local official behind the camera, and expresses his grievances. He also asks for forgiveness and says informing the law enforcement was “a mistake” he would not repeat. But in response, a commanding voice instructs him to “remain silent”; a few minutes later he was instructed to remove his clothes before he disappears from the camera’s view.
Amar Temam, a resident who closely followed the incident, confirmed to Addis Standard that the intimidating voice of the official in the video belonged to a one Dinka Aba Oli, chief of security in the district. Amar further says that Dinka directed law enforcement officers to inflict off-screen violence on the elderly peasant.
The video then captures the same authoritative voice calling for a man named “Asamnew” and instructing him to undress the elderly peasant behind the camera’s view. The orders are soon followed by sounds of a beating, with the bystanders gasping and turning around to watch.
Later in the video, another individual surfaces. He is identified by sources who spoke with Addis Standard as Awel Jihad, the district head of the ruling Prosperity Party. Awel instructs the remaining three peasants to kneel down. While two comply with the order, the third, who is named Abdi Temam, resisted, leading to a hostile altercation including physical wrestling.
The local resident Amar Temam further added context to the events leading up to this disturbing scene. According to him the four peasants had previously paid their annual land taxes and and requested for receipts from local authorities. However, their requests were refused. In search of justice, they approached the district administration, explaining they had fulfilled their tax obligations but hadn’t received any documentations. Their plight took a dire turn when, instead of receiving assistance, they were arrested and taken back to their local community. In a shocking public display, they were subjected to the humiliating treatment recorded in the video. Amar says that this was a calculated act by the authorities to shame them publicly, an action that has since caused widespread outrage and shock among community members and beyond.
In the aftermath of the video going viral, Hawi Seid, the head of the Gera District, issued a statement emphatically asserting that the actions depicted in the video were in no way representative of the values of the Oromo people or those of his political party. He also pledged that an independent investigation is underway.
In a subsequent update, Amin Kemal, the Communication Office head of Gera District, confirmed to Addis Standard that the implicated officials are currently under detention. He stressed the authorities’ commitment to accountability, ensuring that those responsible would be made to answer for their actions.
The incident adds up to a growing pattern across the Oromia region of civilians being subjected to cruel and unhinged abuses in the hands of officials including law enforcement officers. Early this month, Addis Standard confirmed a graphic picture showing five young men dumped in a ditch with their hands tied behind their backs was that of residents of Qilxu Karra town in Qilxu Karra district, West Wollega Zone of Oromia region. The pictured youth: Obsi Dinagde, Tesfaye Terfasa, Iyassu Kassahun, Abebe Dhufera and Dessalegn Bulcha, were being abused by security forces while they were under police custody.
A recent in-depth analysis by Addis Standard has documented on record yet covered up extrajudicial killings by uniformed government forces in Oromia and other parts of the country. AS