Gambella Governor: The Choice is Yours--Exploitation
May 30, 2008
The Anuak Justice Council wishes to make it known that
the Director of International Advocacy, Mr. Obang Metho,
will not be attending the meeting with un-elected and
illegitimate Omot Obang Olum in Minneapolis on Saturday,
May 31, 2008 or in Calgary, Canada on June 7, 2008 because
it is not seen to be a legitimate venue to address the
human rights crimes committed against his own people,
the Anuak, over the last ten years.
The AJC is open to a genuine dialogue in the future
under a legitimate structure that would include truth
and accountability for crimes committed against the
Anuak and other Ethiopians. We have been working for
over four years to bring truth, justice and reconciliation
and see this meeting to be a likely obstruction to that
We would caution any attendees to be aware that your
participation in the meeting may be manipulated to the
advantage of the current oppressive regime of the un-elected
and illegitimate Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, who continues
to perpetrate similar crimes elsewhere in the country
and into Somalia.
Instead, in the last weeks, Mr. Metho and the AJC have
been working hard to stop un-elected Governor Omot Obang
Olum from entering the United States as he is named
as a prime suspect in the massacre of 424 Anuak leaders
on December 13-15, 2003 and included countless human
rights crimes against the Anuak that preceded as well
as followed the genocide---extra-judicial killings,
disappearances, rape, beatings, torture, detentions
and the arrest of many political prisoners, some which
still remain incarcerated.
In actions meant to silence opposition in 2002, he
is named as being responsible for the five years of
false imprisonment of the former governor and 45 Anuak
leaders. Many refugees in Sudan, Kenya and elsewhere
still are fearful to return to Gambella.
The United States has policies about admitting such
criminal suspects and we are doing our best to warn
them and to provide all the supporting documentation,
of which there is a significant amount from highly credible
sources such Human Rights Watch, Genocide Watch, Survivors’
Rights International and the International Human Rights
Clinic at Harvard University.
We are also attempting to arrange for news coverage
of the event should Governor Olum be given admittance
into the United States.
We strongly contend that the evidence against him regarding
committing crimes against humanity, should be heard
in a court of law, not in a tightly controlled meeting
that will steer clear of these primary, but volatile
The wounds from the Anuak are still bleeding. Simply
covering over these wounds will not heal them. A genuine
process of healing and reconciliation must include truth
and justice, but it is extremely unlikely that first
steps towards such an outcome would be undertaken. Why
It is clear from the last meeting on April 26th when
an advance team of Gambella’s EPRDF team came
to Minnesota to meet with the Anuak, that the purpose
of the meeting was to sway people to forget about the
past and to instead, work with the government.
This meeting is not expected to be any different in
repressing the truth and strongly avoiding the heart
of the problem—the genocide and other human rights
crimes. The last meeting was tightly controlled and
questions regarding the genocide of Anuak leaders and
the countless human rights crimes committed were not
answered. Misinformation was given regarding development
that we know to be untrue.
The Anuak attendees’ hopes that there might be
some admission of wrongdoing from these government delegates,
leading to a genuine dialogue, were dashed. Instead,
the Anuak listened to propaganda—mostly in Amharic—and
had no real opportunity to ask the questions that were
most on their minds.
As to be expected, simply coming to the meeting was
interpreted in the Ethiopian media as Anuak support
for the government. This was later evidenced on the
website controlled by the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Walta information, where they reported four
to five times more people attending the Minneapolis
meeting than actually did and reported that the Anuak
in the Diaspora were now willing to move ahead to work
with the government.
However, this does not mean that un-elected Governor
Omot Obang Olum could not publicly take the higher ground
and admit to his wrongdoing. Anuak would love to be
so surprised—if it were deemed honest and sincere.
Former President of Ethiopia, Mr. Negassa Gidada did
so before the Oromo Community meeting in front of many
hundreds of his fellow Ethiopians last summer. The effect
was overwhelming due to this unexpected confession and
is still rippling through the community as an example
of accepting responsibility for one’s choices.
If Governor Olum would do this, it might be the opening
“He who conceals his sins
does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces
them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
If he does so and wants to meet or if the Ethiopian
government in Gambella or in Addis Ababa genuinely seeks
a dialogue to address the genocide, human rights crimes,
the destruction of property and reparations, the Anuak
Justice Council should be officially invited to do so.
However, justice for the Anuak will not be sustainable
until there is justice throughout every region of Ethiopia
and we will not rest until that time comes—God
willing for God is our only real hope and deliverer!
May He open the way!
“Many are the plans in a
man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose
For more information please contact
Mr. Obang Metho by email at: Obang@anuakjustice.org
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