Assassinations targeting Orthodox Christians
By A. Alemayehu
This week, Mahbere Kidusan of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church issued a landmark statement describing the status of the Ethiopian church as being under persecution. The only misgivings many Christians have regarding the issuance of this statement is that it took so long in the coming. There have been church burnings, massacre of Christians and the slaughter of Orthodox clergy since the first days of Abiy Ahmed’s rise to power. Anti-Orthodox Christian pogroms and church burnings have escalated to the level of the burning down of entire cities. In fact, the attack on Christians and the Ethiopian church dates back to when Abiy Ahmed was an administrator in Jimma, Oromia Region. Back then, in December of 2006, Orthodox Christians were brutally massacred while worshipping in their church in Beshasha, birthplace of PM Abiy Ahmed. It was the first ever incident of its type in Ethiopian history.
All over Oromia Region, reports of killings of Orthodox Christians and the looting or destruction of their property have been all too common in the news. Just this week, a choir member of the church, Emanuel Wendimu, was apprehended by government forces (Oromia Police) and publicly executed in Dembi Dollo with no due process.
Since PM Abiy Ahmed Ali took office, more than one hundred churches have been attacked, burned, demolished or closed. More than a million Christians have been forcibly displaced. Millions have had to face a disruption in their regular Christian worship. It would be no exaggeration to say that, in the last three years. not a single day passes without a Christian being killed.
While the attack on the Ethiopian Church and Orthodox Christians has been relentless in the three years of Abiy Ahmed’s tenure, the focus of this piece here is on the high-profile assassinations during this period. High-profile assassinations have been extremely rare in Ethiopian politics before Abiy Ahmed rose to prominence. Since then, however, they have become all too common. A disturbing pattern emerges when one looks at the identity of the victims of these high-profile assassinations. Without exception, the victims have all been followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church.
It is even more revealing to observe that almost all of the prosperity party leaders are Moslems while all of the targets of the high-profile assassinations of the past three years have been Orthodox Christians.
|Simegnew Bekele||Chief Engineer of GERD (NILE DAM)||Assassinated in Meskel Square|
|General Se’are Mekonnen||Army Chief of Staff||Killed in his home|
|General Gezae||Retired army general||Killed with Gen. Seare|
|Beakal Alelign||Secretary, Dangote Ethiopia||Killed with Dangote Ethiopia General Manager|
|Haachaalu Hundessa||Famous Oromo artist/activist||Assassinated in Addis Ababa|
|General Asaminew Tsige||Chief of security, Amhara Region||Killed during the June 2018 massacre of Amhara Regional Leaders|
|Ambachew Mekonnen||President, Amhara Region||Same as above|
|Migbaru Kebede||Attorney General, Amhara Region||Same as above|
|Izez Wasse||CC Member, ADP||Same as above|
|Colonel ASFAW AYALEW||Head of Military Intelligence||Beat to death by Shimelis Abdisa’s bodyguards|
|Inspector General Abere Adamu||Chief of Security, Amhara Region||Widely believed to have been poisoned|
|Girma Moges Legesse||Chief, Izema Party Bishoftu Branch||Assassinated|
|Berihun Asferachew||Head of ANM, Benshangul Gumuz||Assassinated|
Table listing names of some of the high-profile victims assassinated during the past three years. *
These victims, while of diverse ethnic backgrounds, all shared one thing in common: they were all followers of Orthodox Christianity. All of their bodies were laid to rest in a church cemetery.
The composition of the current ruling party leadership, in combination with its hostile outlook on the Ethiopian church does not augur well for Christians in Ethiopia. To make matters worse, the heavy-handed measure of the Eritrean president on the Orthodox Church has ignited fears that his protégé, Abiy Ahmed, might be inspired to engage in a similar outrage. Ethiopians and the world have to stop this attack on the Ethiopian church and the unfolding Christian genocide in Ethiopia before it is too late.
*To avoid confounding the topic, cross-assassinations between OPDO/ government-affiliated and OLF-affiliated Shene terrorists as well as assassinations by the TPLF in Tigray since the war broke out have not been included. It is known that scores of Christians working in various governmental positions of Oromia State have been assassinated.