By Siyanne Mekonnen @Siyaanne
Addis Abeba, December 08/2020 – Abere Adamu, Commissioner of the Amhara Regional State Police Commission, said that the region’s police was requesting the federal government to “either be given the responsibility or for the federal government to intervene” in Benishagul Gumuz regional state in order to stabilize growing security crisis in Metekel zone of the region and secure the safety and security of civilians.
Commissioner Abera said that the Amhara regional state security apparatus were working in collaboration with the federal government to put an end to the repeated attacks in Metekel Zone against members of the Amhara community. The Commissioner told the regional state media that the regional state was “tolerating” the atrocities being committed against the Amhara people for the sake of maintaining the country’s unity.
“The atrocities being committed in Metekel would compel you to pick not just your guns but beyond,” Commissioner Abera said, and talked about incidents where “a woman was disemboweled and her fetus eaten” and “a human being was killed with a spear and his stomach removed.”
According to the Commissioner the administration of Metekel Zone was aware of the killings and that it should be held accountable. “Metekel is where a heinous barbarism is being committed on earth, not just in Ethiopia, but on earth. Ethiopians should know about this atrocity,” he said, adding that the Amhara regional state security “will no longer tolerate this from now onward.” Anyone can live in the Metekel zone. No one gave the land to a few people, he said, and the Amhara regional state police will “fight to the end” with anyone who prevents this.
Commissioner Abera’s comments came in the heels of another statement released yesterday by the federal army’s command post stationed in Metekel zone announcing that the army “has taken measures on 23 anti-peace agents”. The Commander of the zonal command post Colonel Ayalew Beyene said that the crackdown on the armed forces took place in Dangur woreda, an a special area known as |number three”. With the coordinated efforts of the national defense forces, federal police and regional security forces, three weapons were also seized from the armed groups. The commander also said that the peacekeeping measures will continue until the rebel forces accept the ultimatum to surrender peacefully. He also called on the community to continue its efforts to maintain peace in the region.
This comes amidst recent attacks in the Metekel zone which claimed the lives of over 30 civilians in November alone. Last week the Benishangul Gumuz regional government has issued a one week ultimatum to “anti-peace” armed groups operating in the Metekel zone “to surrender.” Ashadli Hassan, President of Benishangul Gumuz regional state accused the armed group of “being supported by the TPLF.”
Tensions between the two regional states were running high particularly after the killing in April 2019 of at least 18 members of the Amhara community in various localities of Metekel zone. In what was described at the time as a retaliation offensive by armed militia from Amhara region, “several dozen” members of Gumuz and Sinasha communities were killed in just two days in three Kebeles (localities) in Jawi Wereda, bordering Banishagul Gumuz regional state, in the first week of May 2019. Then Deputy PM, currently Foreign Minister, Demeke Mekonnen said at the time that “what happened in Jawi area was an attempt to counter one mistake with another, which is tragic and has left a black spot.”
The area has since been marred by sporadic killings of civilians which have intensified in recent weeks. On its part, the Amhara Mass Media Agency (AMMA) has ramped up its reporting on the issue, often suggesting the need to protect members of the Amhara community living in Banishangul Gumuz regional state and revising the its regional constitution. In one such report AMMA published a statement from the regional government threatening to give the assailants it didn’t identify by name “the test of their own medicine.”
Apart from the security crisis, tensions often run high due to claims on the ownership status of Meteke zone itself. In October, four members of the Amhara Identity and Boundaries Committee formed a coalition that included Metekel Zone as “Amhara territory”. According to this committee, Metekel is one of the territories of Amhara people that was forcibly annexed into the Benishandul Gumuz region after the former EPRDF government to power in 1991. AS