New Large-Scale Deployment of Eritrean Soldiers in Oromia and Benishangul-Gumz Regions is Proving a Devastating level of Conflict and State Failure.
(OLF Statement June 11, 2021)
The OLF and other concerned national and international bodies had been repeatedly warning the danger of foreign involvements in the internal affairs of Ethiopian. Despite the continuous diplomatic engagements of the international community and serious concerns of genuine political parties and fear Ethiopian peoples, Eritrean regime has continued deploying its troops in various parts of the country. Since the beginning of April 2021, heavily armed Battalions of Eritrean soldiers together with Amhara militias and ENDF had been deployed to Oromia zones of Borana, Gujii, Wollo, Horo Guduru, Qellam Wallaga, West Wallaga, Shashamane and Metekel Zones for military operation in various parts of Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz regions. Also, their involvement in the Ethiopian security and intelligence apparatus is beyond imagination. This is not only compromising national sovereignty but also undermines international and regional norms.
Both the Ethiopian ruling group and the Eritrean regime are in clear violation of Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of their Independence and Sovereignty General Assembly resolution 2131 (XX) signed in New York, on 21 December 1965. In their conducts of the various military operations in the regions, the Ethiopian ruling group and the Eritrean regime appears to have violated the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions that prohibit warring parties from using certain means and methods of warfare. Irrespective of these laws rape as weapon of war had been evidenced in Oromia (though behind Media attention until today) and Tigray regions; Hunger as a weapon of war was proved in Tigray. The ruling group is in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1864 and subsequent Geneva Conventions, notably the four 1949 Geneva Conventions and the two Additional Protocols issued in 1977 that protect persons not or no longer taking part in hostilities. Also, these warring forces violated Article 13(2) Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II) that prohibit civilian population as such, and individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack and acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population. In addition, these soldiers have repeatedly violated medical neutrality, aid distribution a principle of non-interference with medical services in times of armed conflict and civil unrest.
Evidence from people in conflict zones show that since their deployment, these foreign Eritrean soldiers were undertaking brutal atrocities on local civilians in a behaviors and manners that violets international treaties, covenants and protocols that govern the discipline of soldiers in armed conflicts. This includes indiscriminate beating, rape, killing, looting private properties, and slaughtering individual cattle and destabilizing the communities in different ways. Typical examples are the persecution of civilians in Central Oromia; the persecution of civilians in Horro Guduru Zone, Abay Chomen, Fincha Sugar Factory (29 May 2021); terrorizing and brutally persecuting civilians in Liban district and surrounding areas of Borena and Gujii zones of Oromia (4 June 2021). Also, these soldiers are ruthlessly maltreating civilians in different parts of Oromia and Benishangul regions where access to communications.
It is with great remorse that we voice the new large-scale deployment of Eritrean soldiers into Oromia and Benishangul-Gumz regions. Our information from tangible sources shows that more than two divisions of Eritrean armies estimated to 30,000 soldiers had been recently deployed to Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz via different directions. Starting on June 5, 2021, these forces are deployed for wide range of operations in the Oromia and Benishangul- Gumuz zones. Also, our sources confirm that these newly arriving Eritrean armies are not only those who had been fighting in Tigray, but they include newly deployed soldiers departed from Eritrea. These clearly indicate that Eritrea regime is building its military base throughout the country. As we repeatedly did, we would like to inform the Ethiopian peoples once more that the country has lost its national sovereignty as the ruling group is expanding External Interventions intensely and conceding national sovereignty. Abiy Government and Eritrean regime have violated both national and international laws and fueling and escalating conflicts among Ethiopian peoples and neighboring countries. This prove that not only Ethiopia has failed as a state but also Ethiopia exports conflicts to the neighboring countries and destabilize the whole region and distort international relations. These two warrying countries have taken many steps to destabilize the region. Similar involvement in border conflict issues is also part of destabilization activities in the region. Therefore, we would like to alert and inform Oromia citizens, Benishangul- Gumuz people and oppressed nations and nationalities in Ethiopia, that the act of Eritrean involvement in Ethiopia is a foreign invasion that destabilize your nation, your territory and
destroy your day-to-day living. You must stand up in unison and defend yourself. We would like to make clear that Ethiopian national sovereignty is already damaged, and you must establish your territorial sovereignty by establishing your own interim government to restore peace and security and defend yourself from foreign invasion. To this effect we would like to reiterate that Oromia citizens finalize the implementation of the formation of Oromia Regional National Transitional Government (ORNTG) sooner than later to defend yourself as an institution. Particularly, we invite the Oromia and Benishangul – Gumuz regional special forces and the police forces to stand by your people. It is daunting to see civilian people you supposed to protect is slaughtered by foreign forces in front of your eyes. It is not only the responsibility you bear to keep peace and security in your region but also a moral obligation to protect innocent civilians from foreign aggression.
We would like to advise the Eritrean people that, as far as the people of Oromia is concerned, we do not have any historical animosity with Eritrean people. The people of Oromia are peace loving and do not want its citizens to be threatened and do not want to invade and threaten its neighbors. The Eritrean people should understand that the people of Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz in FDRE constitutes the larger portion of your neighborhood. The brutalizing actions taken by current Eritrean regime will create lasting conflict that damage good relationship between Eritrean and Oromia citizens. So, we would like to advise the Eritrean people to pressure its government to refrain from historical mistake of instigating conflicts and developing hatred between the Eritrean people and the Oromia and Benishangul- Gumuz citizens
We also would like to give honest advice to the members of Unitary Party (the Prosperity Party) and Ethiopian Majestic campaigners that it is unimaginable to rule the country of more than 80 ethnic background under the camouflage of Ethiopian unity and false democracy. The type of unity the Ethiopian peoples seek is the unity based on equality; based on the will of peoples concerned. The Ethiopian peoples need genuine representation in FDRE through peaceful genuine democratic process. The campaign of one language, one religion and once country works diametrically opposite to what the prosperity party and unitary elites are dreaming of. The prove is that there is no time in history where Ethiopian people are divided and fragmented as they did under the rule of prosperity party. There is no time in history where national sovereignty had been compromised like this time. The only way forward is regional autonomy, self -determination and inclusive political dialogue and common road map to democracy.
We call up on the US Government, UN, EU, AU, UNSC, UK, partner governments and the international community to press immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Oromia and Benishangul- Gumuz regions to avoid further catastrophic human right violations and destabilization. Particularly, we call up on the UNSC to take appropriate measures in accordance with its obligations stated in Article 39 and 41 of the UN constitutive act as the threats to peace and security is repeatedly evidenced in Ethiopia. Also, we call up on the AU to intervene into the crises in Ethiopia based on its constitutive right stated in article 4(h) and other supporting articles of the Union to pressure Eritrean regime to leave Oromia and Benishangul- Gumuz. We also appeal to UNHRC to act accordingly to address gross human rights violations in Ethiopia.
We would like to highlight that the International Community and all other stakeholders should act immediately and avoid serious upheavals in Ethiopia as the more culprits of war crime and crime against humanity continue unrestricted more suffering of civilians, loss of lives, destabilization and human catastrophe transpires in the country.
Finally, we want to reiterate that OLF is always willing to work with all stakeholders to restore peace and stability in the country and engage in inclusive political dialogue and setting road map to peaceful resolution of outstanding political problems. Victory to the masses!
Oromo Liberation Front
June 11, 2021,