News: Senior Karrayyu Gadaa leader and survivor of 2021 massacre gunned down in latest clashes, residents suffering persistent violence, drought

Karrayyu Gadaa leader Hawas Mato Borra (Picture: Residents)

Addis Abeba – Hawas Mato Borra, a senior member of the Karrayyu Michile Gadaa leaders in the Fantaalle district of East Shoa zone, in Oromia regional state, has been gunned down in the latest clashes last week, residents told Addis Standard.

Abba Gadaa Hawas was the last remaining survivor of the massacre of 14 Gadaa leaders, who were executed by members of the Oromia regional state police in December 2021. 

A resident who asked to be anonymous for safety reasons told Addis Standard Hawas Mato Borra, in his early fifties, was shot by armed groups he described as Amhara militants on 12 March and died of his injuries two days later.

According to the resident, Hawas was herding cattle at a place called Kaarra, the same place from where the deceased Abba Gadaas were captured, when gunmen from the neighboring Amhara region launched an attack.

He further noted that there have been ongoing clashes between the Karrayyu community and the Amhara militants who, according to the resident, have encroached massively into Karrayyu lands. 

A second resident who corroborated the circumstances of the killing of Hawas Mato Borra told Addis Standard that Hawas was among the 23 people who were captured with the 14 massacred members of the Karrayyu Gadaa leaders in December 2021, and released after months of imprisonment.

“He was a respected and loved man, he was a revered hero, someone the Karrayyu community looks up to in the absence of their Gadaa leaders,” the resident added.

He said there is a lack of action from the local administration and regional government of Oromia about the unabated attacks, land grabbing and looting of cattle perpetrated by the Amhara militants, further accusing government forces of committing atrocities in the name of hunting “Shene” a term the government uses to refer to rebel group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).

“Government security forces are arbitrarily imprisoning, killing and disarming the Karrayyu community accusing them of sheltering “Shene” and as the community flees from one place to another to avoid colluding with government forces, the land they leave behind is getting occupied by the Amhara militants,” he said.

Due to expansion of Metehara Sugar factory and Sugar plantation, overflowing of lake Beseka and border disputes with neighboring communities of Afar and Amhara regions the land on which the pastoralist Karrayyu community lives is shrinking from time to time to only four villages namely, Dhebiti, Haroo Qarsaa, Ilaalaa and Xuxxuuti according to the resident, and the ongoing clashes are mainly within these villages. 

Speaking to Addis Standard, Roba Bulga Jilo, a Karrayyu native and an indigenous people’s rights advocate based in the US expressed his concern that coupled with the ongoing drought, and lack of incoming aid due to the persisted insecurity in the area, the renewed and ongoing clashes may result in disastrous consequences for the Karrayyu community and threaten their existence.

According to Roba there are over 60 Karrayyu men imprisoned in Matahara, the administrative seat of the Fantaalle district, and several others are “being brainwashed” in Xollay military camp. 

He said the imprisonment was to halt the commemoration of the first year anniversary of the Abba Gadaas massacre in December last year, adding that, “most of the sons and relatives of the fallen Gadaa leaders are kept behind bars”,

In February 2022, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a report on the killing of the Karrayu’s Gadaa leaders saying that there’s “reasonable ground to believe” that the killing of 14 members of the Gadaa leaders constitutes “extrajudicial killing” by security forces. It also urged that members of the security forces who committed the killings should be brought to justice and that the victims and families of the victims should be compensated.

In December 2022, a year after the brutal killing of the Gadaa leaders, Addis Standard reported that despite some efforts to redress families of the victims, the Karrayyu community neither got justice nor peace after their leaders were killed.

Addis Standard‘s attempts to get comment from Boruu Jiloo, administrator of the Fentalle district and other local officials on the latest clashes were unsuccessful. AS

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