Ethiopian Aggression on the border town of Moyale, Kenya
We, members of the Boran community living in the USA, are eagerly following the recent massacre of innocent Borans by Ethiopian EPRDF soldiers in Moyale town of Kenya. The despicable act of aggression by Ethiopian Government soldiers against Kenyans along the border should be condemned by all. This abhorrent human rights violation of enormous magnitude should stop now. One would wonder why soldiers of the neighboring country (Ethiopia) simply cross the border, kill people on the Kenya side of border and leave just the way they came and continue doing the massacre year after year. Why is Kenya government abetting these heinous crimes?
The Borans of Kenya along the border have been victims of widespread harassment, murder, torture, and detentions without trial and unexplained disappearances at the hands of Ethiopian government soldiers. The terror escalated as soon as the present Ethiopian regime of TPLF/EPRDF took over from Mengistu's Communist government. The TPLF government of Ethiopia would like the world to believe that this government is legitimate and democratic than previous regimes. Let their record speak for itself. It is exactly a decade ago and probably they would celebrate the 10th anniversary since ascension to power, but the Borans are grieving. They have buried their relatives and children and continue to bury the dead up to this day, and this brutal tyrannical regime has inflicted more pains and suffering to the Borans than any other time in the history of the Ethiopian empire. We have no idea how many Kenyan Borans suffered at the hands of the previous Ethiopian governments, but the evidence we have of the current Ethiopian government's participation in the killings of Kenyan Boran along the border is overwhelming. Every time one reads about the border clashes, the TPLF government would try the best they could to paint Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) as the cause of the problem. They would say their soldiers pursue OLF fighters across the border and the Borans are harboring OLF fighters. What a travesty. Shame! Are the Borans in Kenya OLF supporters? This has been speculated and Ethiopian government would like you to belief that the OLF they are fighting are also on the Kenya side of the border, but the reality is that there is no evidence to support the allegations. A mere sympathy or ethnic affiliation does not justify these heinous crimes against humanity, just because Borans occupy both side of the border. It is not crime to live along the border, as a matter of fact, the Borans were living in the area before the colonists (British & Ethiopia) ever set foot in the region and demarcated the borderline. However, the point of our contention is not to argue against or for border issue but to set the record straight that OLF do not need the support of Kenyan citizens to win their war.
It is true, Borans are part of the larger Oromo. The Oromo people are the majority in the Ethiopian Empire, (over 25 million) and yet they are being brutalized by this regime. Oromos have had a long history of suffering under past regimes and continue to suffer under this regime as well. The Ethiopian government is perpetrating daily massacres on Oromo civilians in all regions of Oromia. The plight of Oromo suffering is now recognized by Human Rights Organization and has been documented. OLF is no different from any other freedom fighters, fighting to gain independence from the yoke of colonialism. The Oromo people in Ethiopia had no choice but wage bitter struggle for their inalienable rights to self-determination, just like all colonized people ought to do. Many Kenyans may not understand, because they have always been told that Ethiopia is the only country that has not been colonized. How little do we know the country bordering us in the north! Colonists or dictators are color blind, just because most of colonial oppressors were white, does not mean that there are not black colonizers. In the case of Ethiopia, the Abyssinian empire annex all the regions bordering Abyssinia by force and made them subjects, the expansion would have continued and taken over the whole of northern Kenya, had it not been for the British who eager to expand themselves, quickly stopped the expansion. Thus, the birth of border line.
The recent incident of killings of Kenyans by Ethiopian soldiers has sparked some discussions and it is clear that the Ethiopian embassy, as they have done numerous times in the past, put blame on the OLF and shamelessly categorized OLF as terrorists. Let's briefly review what the Ethiopian soldiers did and find out who the real terrorists are.
The verdict is yours. Who are the real terrorists? It is a well-known fact to many Borans that the current Ethiopian regime conducts a well orchestrated genocidal acts against Borans, under the pretext that Borans are supporters of OLF. The situations have been so serious that many Borans from Kenya fear the Ethiopian militia for repercussions as well as they feared the Kenya police brutality. The reign of terror continues to escalate.
Probably, the initial shock wave started with the shocking murder of the former Governor of Boran region in Ethiopia, Jattani Ali, in 1992. Jattani was killed in Nairobi in front of his hotel room on July 2,1992. Two gunshots were fired at him. The assassins used two separate firearms (.38 inch and .22 inch caliber) and the fatal bullets instantly killed him. The killers were never apprehended. Haile Kidu Gemechu, the man accused, was set free. The agents of Ethiopian governments crossed the border through the normal procedure, with a copy of Kenya immigration form no.18, bearing three names, that of the accused and other two, who supposedly are believed to be the killers. But they escaped after they accomplished their assignment. The local people knew all along that the Ethiopian government was behind the murder. The anger of the local people was manifested in the demonstration that rocked the city of Nairobi in May 1997, after the death of Hussein Sora, a lawyer working on the case at that time. The Borans were angry at the benign indifference of the Kenya government in the face of wanton killings of their tribesmen by military incursions from Ethiopia. This recurring incidents have convinced many Boran leaders in Kenya that the Ethiopian agents are after the elimination of Borans both in Kenya and Ethiopia. All these killings are not random act, they were calculated and planned out to achieve certain purpose. Is the Kenya government turning deaf ears to all these murders?
The murder of Jattani was followed closely by assassination of Aba gada - the leader of all Boran (Boru Guyo) in 1994, whose decomposed body was found in the bush, then Hussein Sora, Chief Taro Sora, Chief Buke Liban, Golo Walde, all community leaders. Here are some other specific incidence of killings that has been reported in the Kenya Human Rights Report (1996) and Oromo Commentary (1997):
Who are the real terrorists? Have you reached your verdict? How many more deaths can we get before something is done?
Ethiopian soldiers denied their involvement in all these cases, but the local people have no problem in identifying them. The soldiers wore their uniforms all the time they committed those crimes. We are still wondering why all this happens to those Borans in Kenya. The purpose was obvious, this tyrannical regime is obviously frustrated by the ultimate victory of oppressed, and the OLF insurgence. They do not get all the support they need from the western world, therefore have resorted to act of desperation, furthermore, the Borans in Kenya seem to sympathize with their ethnic members, so what is left for this regime to do? Look for scapegoat. The Kenya government also with poor human rights record, and staggering corruption can easily be fooled to the bait of false alarm of impending liberation movement close to its border.
We are stunned by reaction of the Kenyan government on the Ethiopian raids that consumed lives of 10 Kenyans, including police officers in Moyale (Kenya). The statement issued by Minister of State in charge of security Maj (Retd) Marsden Madoka accuses the Kenyan victims, and he further stated that the problem could only be resolved if the residents stopped hosting OLF activists. That embarrassing statement sounds familiar. The Ethiopian version of the story. It is very shocking for the northern Kenyans who expected guarantee of security for their lives and property under the constitution of the country. The allegation of "harboring Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)" is nonsense. The Ethiopian government used as pretext to abuse Kenyans. The minister simply echoed what Ethiopian government was saying to cover up its misdeeds. The Hon. Minister's motive is obvious, and it was a desperate attempt to cover-up total failure of justice system in the country, and inefficiency of his office to discharge its responsibilities.
Why doesn't Kenya government do its own homework? We are talking about citizens of Kenya being killed by neighboring country, and instead of protecting its own citizens, the Kenya government seems to support the killers (Ethiopian soldiers). Why would anyone belief what Mr. Madoka says. In 1998, the same minister told Kenyans to forget about the widespread acts of torture committed by the country's security forces. The Kenya Borans deserve better. The constitution must guarantee them the protection against foreign or domestic aggression. Over the years, the Ethiopian soldiers have continuously perpetuated atrocities and reign of terror along the border. The wounds of decade of suffering has left indelible imprint on the minds of many people in the region. It is unfortunate that the Kenya Borans could not get protection from the only government they have so desperately supported. It is time to think seriously and Moi government should equally be accountable for the crimes against humanities. By keeping silent over this injustice committed against its people by foreign government, the Government of Kenya is admitting its guilt.
If the government of Kenya is aware of any presence of foreign forces on Kenyan soil, it should exercise its duties and responsibilities of government and take legitimate action to insure sovereignty of the country is respected. This has nothing to do with the civilians; it is a matter of national security. This is a situation where foreign aggressor violated the sovereignty of the Kenya government by killing, kidnapping, torturing, and raping Kenyans, including those who are on line of duties to defend this country.
There was no time that northern Kenyans harbored or hosted foreign militias; if they did, we are sure the government would have noticed the presence of this huge forces that panicked the Ethiopian government. The truth is that the northerners are just held hostage by ineffective Kenyan security apparatus and Ethiopian internal turmoil. The most ugly face of this drama is the allegation made by the minister to victimize the victims and put the blame on them for not doing national security job. The job he is supposed to do.
The government of Ethiopia has been getting away with murders and massacre of innocent Kenyans with out any challenge. The recent compensation raised by the ministry of foreign affairs is not enough to restrain this foreign force from raiding the borders and abusing Kenyans. It is evident that as long as it can finance its internal and external war of aggression with foreign relief aid and loans, Ethiopian soldiers will continue to abuse Kenya citizens. Therefore, the Kenya government must stand firm and put an end to this barbaric acts of aggression against innocent Kenyans by Ethiopian militia.
The recent massacre also confirmed what many have believed all along. Ethiopian soldiers are after the Borans in Kenya. Some people would argue that the Kenya government, through its inefficient administrative machinery has created a hostile environment between Borans and other people living in the regions. They manufactured tactics of pitting one tribe against another; as a result, the local people have lost confidence because of the unsympathetic and uncooperative attitudes of the government officials. The administration has been known to take sides and blamed Borans for supporting the Oromo Liberation Front. What would one expect from a government whose minister would utter statements like the one issued by Mr. Madoka.
Four years ago, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (1996) warned:
The above statement epitomizes the existing situations along the border of Kenya and Ethiopia.
We call upon the International community to intervene and stop these crimes before the world will witness another kind of ethnic cleansing. It is time to say no! In the word of John F. Kennedy:
Let's send just tiny ripples of hope through exposure. Let the justice prevail.
As Boran would say,"Dhibba bade, shantamaan barbaadan"-For the loss of hundred, search with the fifty left. After suffering a great loss, one must sacrifice more to make it up.