Once in full glory, the Ethiopian Nobel Prize Winner stands now under a heavy rain of criticism for the alleged ethnic cleansing in the northernmost region of Tigray, while other conflicts are mushrooming across the country.
At the end of April, three hours away from Ethiopia’s capital, the town of Ataye was turned into ashes, following a six-day attack by outsiders, who killed dozens of people and forced many others to flee.
Although OLF Shane, an armed group, which is believed to stand behind the attack, has been recently designated by the government as a terrorist group, the residents believe the attackers were executing a federal government plan which aims to expand the territory of Oromo people at the expense of the Amhara ethnic group.
“It’s a strategic war – because attackers have the support of government structures,” says Yordanos, former governor of Ataye. According to him, in this town, Amhara people are subjected to the ethnic cleansing.
It was one of six attacks in the last three years on this area, where the Oromo people remained at each time out of target.
“No one came us with help for 6 days, although we reported that in the Oromia Special Zone, some people undergo training,’ says Demsen Meshesha, a district governor. “They came with a heavy weaponry that only the federal government can supply; some had the federal army uniforms on.”
“After the federal army killed some of the Amhara Special Force, we understood we needed to run away; because the attack will not stop,” adds Amsa Aleka Addis, a local policeman.
From Ataye, 400,000 people are estimated to have fled; with all houses and some government properties burned down or looted.
The rise in the number of internally displaced people in the Ethiopian region of Amhara , and the failure of the Abbey’s government to protect the people in the last 3 years, have led to the increasing tensions within a nation that was very hopeful for a sustainable peace.
“I need to protect my people against all the quislings; I will buy a gun soon,” says Thomas, a 28-year-old Amhara man, who was previously jailed for fighting against the TPLF.
Robert Bociaga is a traveling journalist and photographer specializing in International Affairs.