Via: Denboba Natie
By Damo Gotamo
August 9, 2019
Ejjeettos and their financiers are in big trouble. They are running for their lives. Many are behind bars, and those who escaped prison are being chased down by the brave men and women in uniform. Some of the criminals who were caught, confessed, in-front of Judges, that they are mentally deranged and didn’t know they were involved in criminal activities. Others gave their lives to Jesus Christ and finding comfort in religion, behind prison walls.
The hegemony of Sidama extremists in Awassa and their crimes against its residents appear to be ending. With the establishment of a Command Post, people in the city are enjoying newly found freedom and empowerment. Residents who have been abused, harassed, and displaced for decades at the hands of Sidama ethnic lords are full of optimism about the future. It is difficult to list and describe every crime the Sidama ethnic entrepreneurs committed in Awassa over the years in such a brief piece.
Illegal activities described below represent only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the crimes the Sidama extremists committed in Awassa and the cities in Sidama zones.
During the 2018 Fiche Chamebelala Holiday celebration, the Sidama extremists burned people alive and displaced thousands from their homes in Awassa. Many of the perpetrators of last year’s crimes were not brought to justice. They were left free to roam the streets of the city to commit more crimes. Instead of serving time behind bars, the criminals were rewarded with employment and promotion opportunities in the city. Emboldened by the indifference of the PM, the Sidama extremists resorted into committing brazen crimes and reduced Awassa to a dangerous place to live and do business.
On several occasions last year, the extremists forced government and private institutions to close their doors on any day they wanted. The closures affected the government’s ability to provide services to people and curtailed its capacity to perform important functions such as collecting revenues. Private institutions like banks, hotels, and other businesses closed their doors frequently causing them to lose millions of Birr. Factories in the Industrial Park had to cease their operations for months due to continued lawlessness in the city. Schools couldn’t teach regularly, hindering the academic progress of their students.
Last year, the Ejjeettos easily entered a supposedly secured government building and interrupted the meeting of the central committee of the SEPDM (Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement) and beat many of its members. In the incident, an official sustained serious injury, and he required hospitalization.
It was a long time since the extremists turned a football stadium in Awassa to a political arena for promoting their narrow ethnic agenda. Every week, Sidama extremists would send the Ejjeettos to the stadium( Ejjeettos never paid the entrance fee) to harass and attack the non-Sidamas who were in attendance to watch football matches. The Ejjeettos frequently assaulted fans in the stadium, while the members of the police looked disinterested on the sidelines. On one occasion, they even attacked off duty members of the military, who were in attendance to watch a football match. Match days became favorite times for Ejjeettos to taunt non-Sidamas and rob the properties of the people who worked and lived near the stadium.
Sidama ethnic entrepreneurs were also engaged in extorting and abusing business owners in Awassa. Several times last year, the Ejjeettos demanded businesses in the city to give money for their cause. They delivered stamped letters to the owners, asking several hundred Birr from them. If an owner hesitated to pay, the Ejjeettos would threaten him with closing his business.
The criminals were extorting up to thirty thousand Birr from a single businessman. This is on top of the money they illegally take from people every year in the pretext of celebrating Fiche Chambalala holiday. A few months ago, Million Mathewos, the president of SPNNR, gathered businessmen in the city and urged them to contribute money for “ Sidama cause.”
In Awassa, Ejjeettos were above the law. They were free to commit any crime without due regard for the law. Fore example, they could order anything in any restaurant and leave without paying. If they were asked to pay their bills, they would say “We are Ejjeettos.”The incompetent police of the city would do nothing to stop the crimes of Ejjjeettos. Instead, it would encourage them to do anything (loots were shared with the police) and summon Ejjeetto’s help when it wanted to harass the non-Sidamas in the city.
Ejjeettos could force teachers to take exams for their students. In this year’s ESLC exam, many students from schools in Sidama zone are expected to pass because the Ejjeettos ordered teachers to work on student exams. Similarly, because of the
orders of the thugs, in this year’s COC (Center of Competency) exam in Awassa, every student who was registered to take the exam received a passing grade.
After gradually placing everything in the city under grips, the Sidama extremists worked hard to make Awassa exclusively a Sidama only city. In the process, they openly and systematically committed many crimes against the people of the city.