Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Three Ethiopian Churches Burnt in Sidama, Death Toll Reaches 60
Ethiopian churches have become the latest targets of radical Sidama etho-nationalist youth, also known as Ejeto.

Apart from attacking non-ethnic Sidamas, destruction of private properties has been one of the major hallmarks of radical ethnic Sidama Youth Movement (ejeto). Photo: from SM

July 22, 2019

Sidama Liberation Movement (SLM) says that about 60 people have been killed since July 18, 2019, according to a report by DW Amharic.

On Thursday, July 18, 2018, we reported about clashes between ethnic Sidama Youth – Ejeto – and government security forces. Death toll a day after the clash was only about twenty.

In fact, there seems to be disagreement about the number of casualties.  Sidama Zone police deputy head, Commander Desalegne, confirmed that people have been killed in the clash but the figure is “exaggerated”, as reported by DW.

BBC Amharic cited hospital officials on Monday to report that at least 25 people are killed due to the clash between Ethiopian security forces and what it called “activists in southern Ethiopia.”

However, the BBC report confirmed that other ethnic groups have been killed by “angry mobs” although the number of people killed from other ethnic group is not disclosed.

Government media outlet did not report about the number of casualties so far. 

Ethnic Sidama is said to be in the neighborhood of 3.5 million which is about three percent of Ethiopia’s nearly 105 million populations.

The latest string of violence started on Thursday, July 18, 2019, when Sidama Youth groups (they are known in Sidama language as Ejeto) unilaterally declared Sidama Zone, which is currently part of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Regional State, whose seat of government is Hawassa – a city over which Sidama ethno-nationalists are claiming exclusive ownership in just like what radical Oromo Ethno-nationalists have been demanding over Ethiopia’s capital – Addis Ababa, as a federal-state.

Why the “demand for ethnic-statehood” degenerated to violence that targeted non-Sidama ethnic communities, mainly ethnic-Amhara as some observers say, is unclear.

It is unclear as to who is to be held accountable for it or whether there is a political will on the part of the Federal and regional government to do so.

There are voices in social media that are calling for the arrest of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region’s president, Million Matheos, who is believed to be an ardent Sidama ethno-nationalist himself, to be held accountable for all the lives lost and destruction of properties – mostly of non-ethnic Sidamas.

Some Sidama politicians declare that that has happened saddened them. Dejene Woldeamanuel is one of the pioneers of the Sidama Liberation Movement in the 1970’s and he currently lives in Switzerland.

In a remark during an interview with Voice of America Amharic service, he said: “What happened to those whom they think that they oppose regional statehood question and sometimes those who are from another area [of Ethiopia] who lived for generations is very saddening.”

He confirmed that properties are looted in some places while there has been destruction of hard earned private properties.

Three Ethiopian churches in Sidama, Amaro and Burji diocese are burnt, reported DW Amharic. The source said that it has confirmed the news from the church authorities.

Doya Michael, Gesaba-Gebrekristos and Chiro Amanuel are the churches that got burned in the Sidama Dioceses of Ethiopian Orthodox Church (otherwise known as Ethiopian Church) according to Megabi Haymanot Kesis Netsanet Aklog told DW Amharic.

The attack was specifically launched against Ethiopian church. Some of the members of the church who tried to protect the church are reportedly killed.

A disturbing image of a murdered priest in the area which was circulating on social media has shocked many Ethiopians.

Several deacons had to run away to adjacent churches in Oromo region of Ethiopia following the attack on the three churches, according to DW Amharic.

Archbishop of the Sidama has ordered a week-long prayer since Sunday and a group from Ethiopian Religious Council is expected to travel to the scene to investigate the attack.

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