The Sidama and Wolayta Nations Should Reject TPLF’s Divide-and-Rule Tactics

The Sidama and Wolayta Nations Should Reject TPLF’s Divide-and-Rule Tactics.

Press Statement by Sidama National Liberation Front (SNLF)

July 12, 2017

The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) which usurped political power by military force in 1991, continues to undermine peace, democracy and economic development in Ethiopia. It continues to stifle political participation and basic human and democratic rights among all oppressed nations in the country. After the Oromo and Amhara uprisings in 2015 and 2016, the TPLF regime imposed state of emergency under which it continues to commit abominable atrocities against the Oromo and other nations in the country, whilst the West’s politicians remain obliviously sponsoring TPLF regime, thus doing little or nothing.

The Sidama nation has been the victim of the TPLF brutality for nearly three decades now. Although Sidama is the backbone of the Ethiopian economy and therefore the critical for the very survival of the TPLF regime, it was denied the fundamental right for nominal regional self-determination.  The resources of the nation are continually expropriated by TPLF and its business empires by subjugating the stakeholders, thus subjecting them to abject poverty.

The TPLF regime employs various tools to stifle freedom, democracy and the rule of law in the country. One of the major tools TPLF deploys whilst implementing its malicious policies is, divide-and-rule tactics. In addition to the other various injustices it imposes on various nations and peoples of the country, TPLF premediates, plans and strategizes the methods of dividing nations of the country whose peoples have peacefully and fraternally coexisted for numerous generations. These nations, as their other African counterparts do, have their own traditional ways of wisely mitigating any conflicts, minor or major, to maintain peace and fraternity. With the objective of disrupting and destroying these, for example, TPLF repeatedly has attempted to cause conflicts between among the major Kush cousins, namely the Oromo and Somali and the Oromo and Sidama. While it partly succeeded in stirring conflict between the Somali and Oromo brothers since 2016, TPLF’s attempts to ignite such conflicts between the Sidama and Oromo cousins have been foiled time and again, with wise and sensitive management of these by the elders of both nations. Both nations have rejected the plots of the regime as they wholly denounce its interference in their affairs.

Having failed to stir conflict between the Sidama and Oromo brothers, the TPLF is doing everything it could to ignite conflict between the Sidama and Wolayta nations as we speak. The TPLF’s Wolayta born puppet current PM, Hailemariam Desalegn, deliberately ordered the destruction of Sidama properties in the areas neighboring Sidama and Wolayta decade and a half ago. He has ordered the burning of hundreds of Sidama houses. Moreover, during the indicated period, Sidama peasants were gunned down by the army and police forces he and his late mentor, late PM, Meles Zenawi has ordered in this particular area known as Lokka-Abbaayya district of the Sidama which neighbors the Wolayta Zone. There are 6 disputed clusters of villages (Qebeles) where the people of Sidama have lived for several generations. Here is the source of conflicts where the TPLF happily uses this dispute to sow seeds of mass destruction of human lives and property. Since Hailemariam Desalegn became, the President of Southern Region in mid-2000’s, he has been plotting against the rights of the Sidama nation. He has been one of the key figures who have stage-managed and chaired the meeting that ordered the massacre of peaceful demonstrators in Sidama on 23 May 2002, known as the Looqqe Massacre.  Under his and his federal bosses’ commands, nearly 6 dozen Sidama civilians have been gunned down in broad day lights in Loqqee (Hawassa) on May 24, 2002. He has been one of the key figures in implementing anti-Sidama policy in the south since he has been handpicked by the TPLF. With such strong anti-Sidama sentiment, Hailemariam Desalegn grabbed all opportunities at his disposal to repeatedly harm the Sidama nation. He ordered torching 300 Sidama rural houses which were burned to ashes by Wolayta people about 15 years ago. Unknown number of Sidama peasants who’ve resisted their illegal actions weren killed by federal, regional and Wolayta Zone police and army commanded by Hailemariam Desalegn and his federal bosses. Although the Sidama fought back to remain in their land where they lived for centuries, the ongoing discontent for the ownership of the area remain as pervasive as 15 years ago.

As indicated above, the TPLF regime through its local surrogates, uses all excuses to create, maintain and manage conflicts between down trodden nations and peoples such as Sidama and Wolayta. The Sidama and Wolayta have peacefully coexisted for centuries with spirits of fraternity and respect. Only TPLF is masterminding a deliberately orchestrated conflict, as it remains silent whilst these nations bicker with each other. TPLF is using the experience it accumulated in training and setting the Somali militias on Oromo in the East, and Gambella in the West; and training and arming Afar militia to fight the Amhara in the north. TPLF has proved its inherent malice to all nations and peoples of Ethiopia, not only to the Sidama nation. Therefore, forcefully removing this regime from power is the only option on the table.

The Sidama nation never allows its land to be used as an excuse for the regime to stay in power. The TPLF regime has brutalized the Sidama nation more than any other nations even denying it the constitutionally guaranteed nominal rights to regional self-determination. Instead, the regime continues to exploit its resources by displacing tens of thousands of peasants from their ancestral lands, making them destitute beggars on their own land. The Sidama nation must fight with likeminded nations and peoples to stop the tragedy befalling it.

Finally, the SNLF strongly condemns TPLF’s recurrent malicious plots against the Sidama nation, and urge it to unconditionally stop it. The Sidama and Wolayta nations have centuries old conflict mitigation strategies. We urge the TPLF to stop meddling in internal affairs of the two neighborly nations.  Equally, the decisions made by the previous house of Federation for the indicated six clusters of villages to continue to be part of the Sidama Zones of Lokka-Abbaayya districts must be unconditionally respected to avoid further bloodshed. We urge our Wolayta neighbors to respect the will of the Sidama nation and focus on fighting the regime that is dehumanizing both nations and other peoples of the country.

Sidama National Liberation Front (SNLF), July 12, 2017