Let us take this day of sorrow
and make it a day of reconciliation and healing among
all peace-loving Ethiopians.
December 13, 2008
December 13, 2008 marks the five-year anniversary of
the brutal massacre of 424 disarmed Anuak in Gambella,
Ethiopia by Ethiopian National Defense Forces armed
with guns and militia groups armed with machetes. Not
just the families of the victims, but all Anuak, will
forever remember that dark day that brought so many
pains, tears and suffering.
Even after five years, some widows, some fathers, some
mothers and children are still waiting to bury their
loved ones properly. Some day their bodies, which were
buried in mass graves, will be exhumed and buried with
proper respect by their families and loved ones. Some
day a memorial of remembrance may be erected in Gambella
in their honor, to remind people that behind every name
on that memorial, is a human life, given as a precious
gift from God, our Creator.
Such memorials may be erected all over Ethiopia where
innocent lives of Ethiopians have been taken. Some day,
a large monument—a wall of shame—could be
erected in Addis Ababa with the names of the Anuak and
the names of all other people throughout Ethiopia who
have lost their lives at the hands of this government
that devalues human life..
On this Anuak Memorial Day, Anuak in Gambella cannot
join with Anuak in the Diaspora in observing this day.
It is prohibited by the TPLF or EPRDF government. Instead,
they will have to look forward to the day they will
be able to join together in a service such as the ones
being held in Minnesota, Kenya, Sudan and in other cities
where there are Anuak where they are free to remember
the death of more than 1500 other Anuak who were killed
in the next two years following the December massacre.
Because public mourning is not allowed, those who want
to remember family members, friends and community members
who died, must quietly carry out some kind of observances
within their homes and hearts.
This TPLF regime wants to erase it from the memory
of the Anuak, but this will never happen. Some day,
all the details will be revealed for all to see on the
shame-filled pages of our Ethiopian history books. Until
then, Anuak are still waiting for those responsible
to be brought to justice. As one Anuak who lost a family
member recently said, “Meles and his killers have
moved on, but we will never stop grieving or rest until
the killers have been brought to justice and until our
family members are buried properly.”
For the AJC and supporters of the Anuak, let us all
remember this day together. Let us take this day of
sorrow and make it a day of reconciliation and healing
among all peace-loving Ethiopians. This pain we feel
was brought because of hate, anger, envy and greed and
we want to create a different Ethiopia.
The AJC was established from the beginning because
of the horror of the Anuak, but we have learned that
unless all are free, we will not be free. With that
in mind, we extend the invitation to others to grieve
together with the Anuak and for the Anuak to grieve
with you regarding your pain and losses for the Anuak
are not alone in their suffering and losses.
Every day, somewhere in Ethiopia, there is a day of
grieving for some beloved family member or friend whose
life has been prematurely taken at the hands of this
government. Since they have come into power, we cannot
begin to name all of the incidents in every region of
the country where lives have been lost because Ethiopia
has a government that robs, kills and oppresses its
own people. We must fight to bring the God-given sanctity
of human life back to Ethiopia. How can we do this?
One way to restore our humanity is to remember that
God cares about each of us. As we see that same humanity
in every person that we see in ourselves, we can affirm
our neighbor whether they are like us or not. This is
the kind of Ethiopia we need.
One person I know from Minnesota recently told me he
had stood in line to buy something to eat and was inspired
to pay for the person behind him without that person
knowing until after the first person left. The next
day, when the first person returned, the worker was
there. She told him what had happened.
She said, “After you paid for the man behind
you, he paid for the next customer. That customer paid
for the next in line and then that person did the same
for the person behind.” She said one of them had
exclaimed, “This is the kind of world I want to
It only took one person to start this chain event that
affected four other lives. Giving can be contagious.
In Ethiopia, too often, we see chains of retaliation
that create a world unfit for anyone. As we grieve for
the losses on this Anuak Day of Remembrance, let us
consider how we can build a different Ethiopia where
humanity is valued and justice and mercy are present.
Let this day remind all Ethiopians that it is time
to reach out to others to build bridges between all
Ethiopians who are suffering. It is time to put humanity
before ethnicity and to join together, valuing our sameness
and our differences. If God had not loved diversity,
we would all look alike so let us come together to build
an Ethiopia where there is more joy than pain, where
there is more love than hatred, where there is more
peace than violence, more justice than injustice and
where the rule of law applies equally to all, especially
to those in power.
May you extend your hand to another to build this new
Ethiopia that can help mend broken hearts and broken
A new Ethiopia cannot be built by one ethnic group,
one political party, one religious group, or one region.
It requires all of us coming together. Let each of us
be like the drop of rain from the sky that when it combines
with other drops, refreshes the ground that can bring
new life. Let each of us be like a ray of sunlight when
combined together with other such rays, becomes the
light that shines on our path so we do not stumble as
we walk forward together through the darkness.
Ethiopians are beautiful, hardworking, loving and caring
people who can be a blessing to each other, to all Africans
and to the whole world. Let us pass on such a world
to the next generation.
May God guide us and give us the wisdom to free our
souls, our minds, our communities and our country. May
God bless those Anuak who are alone and grieving today
as they remember their husband, father, mother, son,
daughter or other loved one.
May God bless all of those who are remembering this
day of tragedy and may God help bring about an Ethiopia
where truth, justice, freedom, reconciliation and harmony
prevail over death and destruction.
For information, please contact: Mr.
Obang O. Metho
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