(OLF-OLA High Command Press Release)
Since March 22nd, 2022, the Abiy regime has launched two consecutive military campaigns in Oromia to suppress the Oromo people’s struggle for freedom spearheaded by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). The first of these campaigns concluded on June 10th, 2022, with the neutralization of several hundred of the regime’s regular forces and the complete dismantlement of the regime’s district militia structure in western, southern, and central Oromia. On June 14th, 2022, the OLA launched a two-day special operation in Gambella, Gimbi and, Dambidollo to disrupt the regime’s efforts to lay the groundwork for the regime’s impending second campaign. In response, the oppressive regime, facing increased pressure from both the international community and its own cadres to pursue alternatives to military measures, callously orchestrated two heinous massacres of civilians in western Oromia, intending to frame the OLA and close the door to the possibility of negotiations. Following these massacres, the regime launched its second campaign on June 23rd, 2022, using mainly the Ethiopian National Defense Force and fighters from Amhara regional state. Employing both its ground forces and airpower in the form of drone strikes and helicopter gunships, the regime attempted to dislodge our forces and capture OLA-administered areas. However, as has been the case before, the regime’s forces could not exact any noteworthy blow against the OLA. From June 23rd to August 12th, the regime’s forces lost at least 1005 fighters, with several hundred more defecting, deserting, or facing serious injuries.
The regime has also intensified its crackdown on the civilian population, with mass arrests, extrajudicial killings, and destruction of property in Oromia reaching unprecedented levels. In the period between June 23rd and August 12th, the regime illegally detained over 5,000 civilians without a warrant. At least 290 of those detained were extrajudicially killed by security forces, while many of the rest have faced severe torture- some to the point of permanent disability. Detaining civilians for ransom has become a commercial enterprise for the regime’s security officials. Security forces often demand between 50,000 and 100,000 ETB from the families of those detained, threatening to kill their detained relatives if they do not pay. The regime’s brutal forces have also engaged in the burning of homes and grain stores, as well as the slaughter of cattle, sheep, and other livestock belonging to civilians in areas where they have suffered military defeats. This has further aggravated the precarious humanitarian situation in Oromia—particularly in Guji, where a drought has already metamorphosed into a famine that has claimed lives. Furthermore, regime officials in western and southern Oromia are engaging in the practice of withholding humanitarian aid from communities they believe have sympathies for the OLA. This has significantly worsened the situation of IDPs in East Walaga and the victims of famine in Guji.
The regime’s recent unsubstantiated claims regarding “military victories” against the OLA exposed its desperation and refusal to contend with reality. The disinterest of the international community on issues pertaining to the Oromo people and the lack of any independent media coverage of the War on Oromia has given the regime a free hand to use its state media resources to promote its propaganda. As it hurtles towards complete disaster, the regime continues to distort reality in an effort to regain the confidence of its cadres and deceive the international community. The Abiy regime is the primary source of instability and suffering in the country, and the simple fact remains that its removal is inevitable and necessary for there to be a possibility of peace and dialogue. The people of Oromia and their neighbors have made it beyond clear that they will no longer tolerate dictatorship in any shape or form. The international community must end its policy of appeasement that has permitted Abiy’s brutal regime to inflict pain and suffering at levels unseen in this country’s recent history. They must understand that any attempt to solve this country’s predicament that does not include guaranteeing the Oromo people’s right to self-determination and right to genuine political representation will not be a lasting solution. Half-baked measures such as the reshuffling of the elite as we saw in 2018, or dialogue with no mechanism to hold participants accountable will only exacerbate an already tense situation. In fact, the regime-backed national dialogue platform is part and parcel of fuelling the civil war by deceiving international partners into injecting foreign currency into the regime’s coffers.
Victory to the Oromo and All Oppressed Peoples!
OLF-OLA High Command
August 21st, 2022