Turning a blind eye to atrocity crimes is no longer tenable. Our responsibility to prevent and protect is collective and urgent.
The images in this post can be too graphic, and thus readers discretion is advised.
The Oromo Media Network (OMN) consistently airs programs that label the non-Oromo speaking natives of Oromo region of Ethiopia as well as the majority residents of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as ‘outsiders’ and “Menelik Sefari”, meaning aliens/settlers of Menelik, a king who ruled Ethiopia some 100 years ago. This labeling of non-Oromo speakers sends a direct message to their followers, the Oromo extremist self ruling mob that refer to themselves as “Quero/ Qeerroo”. The message OMN sends propels these self-proclaimed “Qeerroo” to cause violent expulsion of the so labeled “aliens” from the self-claimed “land of Oromo”.
This propaganda of OMN alienating non Oromo speaking Ethiopian citizens has incited ethnic based violence in the past. Last year, for example, on Sunday September 16, 2018 the “Qeerroo” extremists have murdered non-Oromo speaking men, women and children in the suburbs of Addis Ababa – majority of them in towns of Burayu, Asko and Ashewa Meda as a result of the toxic rhetoric that was fueled by OMN and its director Jawar Mohammed. Thousands are displaced from their villages and are being sheltered in Addis Ababa public facilities like schools. The form of killings included beheading, hacking with machetes and blunt objects as evidenced via digital social media and corroborated by credible news sources. This cruelty has shocked the Ethiopian people as a whole and has a potential to lead the country to ethnic clashes that will not be easily resolved. Priority must be given to stop the hatred propaganda by OMN news media who are playing a role similar to the role RTLM radio has played in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
The current leaders of Ethiopian government are not seen taking the necessary action to control the crisis. In the meantime OMN is airing hatred propaganda with no accountability.
The executive director of OMN Mr. Jawar Mohammed is a US resident living in Minnesota. Even though the “Qeerroo” have no officially known organizational structure they regard Jawar Mohammed as their leader by which he prides himself with. On August 13, 2018 the “Qeerroo” mob lynched a young man in the town center of Shashemene, Ethiopia accusing him of “conspiring to assassinate Jawar Mohammed”. Jawar Mohammed has held several rallies in Minnesota during which he was recorded making hate speech chanting “Ethiopia out of Oromia”; “The region I am from is 99% Muslim Oromos. If anyone else dares to raise his head up we will slash his head with Mencha” (“Mencha” is a type of Machete). Such hate rhetoric has the potential to drive people into ethnic and religious clashes. On one occasion, Jawar Mohammed made such hate rhetoric in the US WHERE the American flag stands behind the podium. On the week of September 16, 2018 the young kids he indoctrinated with hate did just that in the suburbs of Addis Ababa.
The capital city Addis Ababa is the melting pot of Ethiopia. People from all regions of Ethiopia have a stake in Addis Ababa mainly because it is home to their loved ones, close family, relatives or friends. Most recently, including this week, OMN is heavily engaged in propaganda type programs that claim Addis Ababa as Oromos’ only. OMN programs are busy trying to justify that claim with filtered interviews of extremists claiming that “they have paid enough blood while protesting for their claim on Addis Ababa so Oromos deserve Addis Ababa” despite the fact that the oromo protests was only and directed against displacing farmers around the city limits not about the ownership of the city. This has already sparked anger and tension in the residents of Addis Ababa.
The more days pass by as we bystanders do nothing, we are allowing ourselves to witness another tragedy of the kind of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide in Ethiopia. The Rwandan Genocide was started by labeling people as “Cockroaches” (insects encroaching into spaces). The propaganda and terror advanced by OMN and Jawar Mohammed against non-Oromos is shockingly following a similar pattern. Similar to RTLM radio fanning the “cockroaches” label, the OMN has made it a standard to refer to the residents of Addis Ababa as “SEFARI” (alien settlers). Similar to the Interhamwe who did the unthinkable, “Qeerroo” are unofficially organized, unregistered, and hence, unaccounted youth extremists of exclusively one ethnic composition who are directed by OMN broadcasts and OMN manager’s Jawar Mohammed Facebook posts. Jawar has proudly declared that he will unleash the “Qeerroo” against Addis Ababa residents if they elect a non-Oromo in the next election. In an interview with OMN TV, he said, “ I am tired of telling the Qeerroo to calm down. I will tell Qeerroo to finish the job” beginning the 36th minute].
We are aware that “Qeerroo”, in Oromo language simply means “youth”, and that there were legitimate peaceful protesters that resisted the illegal land grab policy of the repressive regime in the past five years. Only a few months have elapsed since the government was forced to initiate a reform due to protests and upheavals across the whole country as a result of resistance of the people of Ethiopia from all ethnicities and walks of life. In a very disappointing turn of events, this promising reform has been hijacked by extremist groups of all kinds of motives. The three main actors are:
- Separatist and ethnonationalist groups like TPLF and OLF that tirelessly worked for about 50 years to drag the country into never ending ethnic clashes,
- Extremists who now call themselves “Qeerroo” hijacking the peaceful Oromo protesters movement to terrorise the nation in the name of Oromo people,
- Media like OMN and personalities like Jawar who garnered acclaim and popularity by reporting on the public’s struggle against the repressive regime, who then used their newly gained fame to further their own agenda of fanning ethnic clashes to the end of creating a separate nation without the consent of the people of Ethiopia. Additional to inciting ethnic violence against non-Oromos through its hate rhetoric, OMN also involves in fabricating a series of fake news that creates more inter-ethnic clashes among the other ethnicities of Ethiopia, hoping for proxy wars across the nation to further their dream of realizing an independent ‘Oromiya’.
For the purpose of this petition we declare that when we refer to “Qeerroo”, we are referring to the Oromo extremist mob that hijacked the movement, not the larger Oromo community in general.
The October Terror
In the past few weeks, the world witnessed the mass destruction and obliteration of great proportions that resulted in immeasurable human and societal loss for those who are labelled as ‘outsiders’ in many parts of the Oromo regional state, Ethiopia. Those labelled ‘outsiders’ are ethnically non-Oromo (irrespective of their ancestral roots known to be there for centuries) while the perpetrators are from ethnic Oromo. The event resulted in barbaric killings, destruction of property, burning of religious institutions, chaos in cities and neighbourhoods in Bale, Arsi and Harar areas of the region. To make matters worse, the absence or complacence of the political and the security leadership in these areas resulted in mayhem and turmoil with gruesome and disfigured displays of the misfortune labelled as ‘outsiders’. Government figures has put the number of the deceased at 86, while the number of the injured and the loss of property is exponentially higher.
While a serious attribution and accountability of the recurring misery that occurs in the region on the so called ‘outsiders’ has been an elusive public demand over the last many months due to little to no attention by both the regional and federal authorities, resulting in the harassment, mutilation, and displacement of thousands of people from the region, it is very clear by now that the once freedom seeking youth movement, the ‘quero’ (‘qerroo’), has been enslaved by radicalized leadership (of both ethnic and religious elements) that has completely hijacked and changed what seemed to be good intentions within its elements, turning the entire movement into a gang of bloodthirsty ethno-religious extremist hooligans.
Unfortunately, however, this very development of the ‘quero’ into gangs of hooligans and the monstrous atrocities that they commit every now and then resulting in the misery of thousands, has been given no ears; rather excuses of different sorts have been communicated by the regional officials to downplay atrocities as unpremeditated incidents over the many months. In fact, some officials and the security apparatus of the regional state are blamed by the ‘outsiders’ as collaborating with the hooligans in efforts to ‘clearing out‘ cities and towns of the so called outsiders that, according to these radical gangs and leaders, colonized the ‘native residents’, that is to say, the Oromos.
The self-proclaimed leader of these unofficially organized hooligans, and referred by many as the ‘father of quero’, is Mr. Jawar Mohammed, an activist and US citizen of an Ethiopian decent. As we can describe the developments of the devastation that occurred in these past few days below, and details of the extensive hate propagation over the years using his media company, Oromo Media Network (OMN), Mr. Jawar Mohammed is the apparent whisperer of these hooligans (about which he publicly confessed this himself by saying that he could easily tell quero to finish the job, i.e., overtake the capital city by force, Addis Ababa and about the existence of two governments in Ethiopia, one of which he says what is led by quero.
While the atrocities committed in the past few weeks are egregious and incomprehensible, the following section gives only a glimpse of the development that preceded the devastation in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.
On Tuesday, October 22nd, in a speech addressed to parliament, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, warned that measures will be taken against media owners with foreign passports who foment ethnic conflict in the country. Mr. Jawar Mohammed, a U.S. Citizen, an ultra-Oromo extremist, and Executive Director of Oromia Media Network (OMN), felt Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s statement was directed at him and felt slighted by the comment. The same day, Mr. Jawar Mohammed criticized and attacked the Prime Minister on his social media platform and in an interview with a major Ethiopian media outlet. On October 23rd, 2019, Mr. Jawar Mohammed posted on his social media platform that the security detail provided to him by the Ethiopian Government was being removed – an allegation the federal police commissioner denied.
In another interview and social media post, Mr. Jawar Mohammed stated that the removal of the security detail was to “instigate a mob attack” against him. Mr. Jawar threatened that a fierce response will await the government forces by his followers to the alleged removal of his security detail.
What followed was several days of horror for Ethiopians in Oromo Region; innocent Ethiopians were brutally killed using machetes, rocks, and sticks; homes, business, and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches were burnt; and roads across the region were closed. In a startling indication of what were are afraid may follow, an Oromo community in the Bale region of Oromo, presided by the quero, publicly declared eradication of the Amhara and other non-Oromo minorities from their towns and villages by any means necessary.
While this horror was occurring unabated, the regional security apparatus was seen as incapable of or unwilling to halting the terror. The federal security apparatus chose silence, in the name of ‘avoiding political interference’, an excuse that comes back again and again over ensuing terror on thousands of civilians over the last many months in that region. Sadly, images and videos of this tragedy were readily posted on the internet [some are attached below].
NOTE: the images displayed below are results of atrocities by the ethno-religious hooligans who call themselves the quero/qerroo.