TPLF-instigated ethnic conflicts increase Ethiopia’s instability: Gambella’s case & Nuer & Anyuak fights, a feature of TPLF’s divide & rule to permanently force them lose their lands

31 Jan

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

January 29, 2016 (GAMBELLA) – Deadly clashes occurred on Thursday and continued on Friday in the Ethiopian region of Gambella between the two majority communities: Nuer and Anyuak.

Multiple sources told Sudan Tribune confirmed that dozens of people have been killed on both sides and many more wounded when members of Nuer and Anyuak, the two ethnic groups which constitute the first and second largest, respectively, in Gambella region, clashed in the outskirts of the regional capital, Gambella, and spread to the center of the town.

The cause of the fighting between the two dominant ethnic groups who have been living peacefully for many years has remained unclear with conflicting explanations.

A resident in Gambella town told Sudan Tribune that the Anuak attempted to revenge for one of their members who got killed by Nuer village warriors in October last year in a Nuer village, about 40km away from Gambella town on Gambella-Nyinenyang road. The Anuak victim was allegedly attempting to steal Nuer cows in the village where he met his fate, but his colleagues escaped unharmed and reported his death to their community members back home.

On Thursday, a Nuer government official in Gambella who was sent for official mission to Abobo, an Anuak county headquarters, was killed by a mob of Anuak warriors in the town, allegedly for revenge.

Nations, Nationalities & People's Day celebrations in Gambella December 2015: Among guests were Omar al-Bashir, Riek Machar – But who is running Gambella: Omar al Bashir, Riek Machar or the TPLF, the latter of which has snatched 70 percent of the lands from the local people and has appropriated to its civilian and military members?

Nations, Nationalities & People’s Day celebrations in Gambella in December 2015: Among guests were Omar al-Bashir, Riek Machar – But who is running Gambella: Omar al Bashir, Riek Machar or the TPLF, the latter of which has snatched 70 percent of the lands from the local people and has appropriated to its civilian and military members?”

An eye witness who spoke on condition of anonymity however told Sudan Tribune on Friday that the latest clashes inside the town started when a member of the Anyuak community threw a hand grenade at seated Nuer college students in an Anyuak neighborhood, south of the town, across the Gambella bridge, resulting to response by Nuer students and the clashes ensued.

The clashes lasted for hours inside the regional capital resulting to killing of unspecified number, but an eyewitness said dozens of bodies were found on the ground and many more unaccounted for.

The whole Anyuak population which resided in areas inside the main town have fled across the river, southwards, as their houses were reportedly set on fire by angry Nuer youth members.

There are reports that the fighting also escalated to nearby villages inhabited by the two ethnic groups in the region.

Government officials said the situation was arrested, but remained tense as the Anyuak could be returning for further attacks.

An official, who preferred to be referred to as Bol, said the state government has deployed police forces throughout the town to restore calm and allow the Anyuak population that fled the town to return.

“We have deployed police forces in the town and the situation is now calm,” he said.

He said he suspected that a long time militia group from the Anyuak, who have been against the Ethiopian government and allegedly supported by the South Sudanese government could be behind the instigation.

He however said an investigation was being carried out to ascertain the cause of the renewed enmity between the two communities, who despite being foes in the past, had successfully mended their relations for many years.

President [governor] of Gambella region, Gatluak Tut Khot, a Nuer, is said to have gone on a peace mission outside the capital to the areas inhabited by the two ethnic groups in order to reconcile them and restore peace and stability.

Gambella region is located west of Ethiopia, and it is 777km from Addis Ababa, the national capital. It is close to the South Sudanese border.

The two ethnic groups also share languages and cultures with their neighbouring communities across the border in Jonglei and Upper Nile states of South Sudan.

Meantime, in its breaking news ESAT television reported that the recent violence was sparked two weeks ago by the shooting of the driver of the regional president, who is an Anuak. He was in a land dispute with the dean of the college, a Nuer.South Sudanese refugees, supporting the Riek Machar side with weapons provided by the TPLF regime had reportedly also participated.

Quoting its sources, ESAT also reported that armed militia lead by Riek Machar, a group opposing South Sudan’s Salva Kiir government, and which is operating from Gambella, have been allegedly involved in the ethnic violence. The Ethiopian government is accused of arming and supporting Reik Machar’s militia, who are ethnically Nuers. Director of Survival International, Nykaw Ochala accused soldiers and migrants from South Sudan, who are Nuers, for fueling the ethnic violence. He accused the Ethiopian government of arming Machar’s militia and Sudanese migrants, who got weapons at their disposals to carry out the attacks against the Anuaks.

ESAT also observed:

“An already tense situation between the people of Gambella and members of the ruling TPLF who have taken huge tracts of farmlands from the locals, have now turned violent. Sources say TPLF operatives have been involved in inciting and fueling the conflict in order to divert the attention of the Gambella people, who were irate about the plunder of their fertile land by members of the TPLF and their close allies.

International rights groups accused the Ethiopian government of perpetrating the 2003 genocide against the people of Gambella. Over 2000 people, mainly Anuaks, were killed and 50,000 others fled their villages that year, according to the Anuak Justice Council.”

ESAT’s sources report that fighting has escalated from different sides. It states that a group from the Nuer clan broke into the regional prison yesterday and killed nine inmates from the Anuak tribe; seven others were seriously injured.

Four people were shot and killed by the regional special forces following a violence that erupted at the Teachers Training College between the Anuaks and the Nuers. Seven others sustained serious injuries and were taken to the hospital. An Anuak was also injured in a grenade attack near the Baro River.

Since late November 2015, the Oromo protests against the ethnic minority regime over the ruling party members grabbing of farmers’ lands has severely challenged the regime, unlike anything Ethiopians have ever known. To date, since that time over 200 Ethiopians have been killed.

In a similar manner, over identity question, especially the imposition by the TPLF of identities and language over an Amhara ethnic group in Gondar and annexation of their lands into Tigray has been cause for lots of tension and bloodshed. While its scale has lowered at present, tension still persists in the region with the civilian population having armed itself.

In southern and southwestern Ethiopia, the Omo Valley there are tensions and conflicts over land robbery by the TPLF and over identity questions, especially involving the Mursi and Hamar in Bako area.

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