Wolaytta Committee for Human Rights (WHCR) letter to Ethiopia Prime Minister

Wolaytta committee for Human rights have sent a letter to the Prime Minister according to the local media. It is being told that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed asked Wolaytta scholars, activists, and groups to submit papers or present a solution to the ongoing deadlock regarding the Wolaytta statehood request vis-a-vis the SNNP region’s at the ongoing break up into their belonging Multi-ethnic region.

In this regard, the Wolaytta Committee for Human Rights (WCHR) would like to present a two tier solution to address the human rights and the corresponding sociopolitical and economic issues to protect the rights of Wolaytta nation.

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1 HUMAN RIGHTS

WHCR, with the help of the Wolaytta diaspora, has been outspoken against systematic and widespread abuses in innocent Wolaytta civilians through out the country.

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The Wolaytta are suffered in recent years with two periods of mass killing have signified quite trouble to that misery of the people. The first was between June and August of 2018, when Wolaytta businesses were burned down and civilians massacred in Hawassa, Ziway and other towns inside Sidama and Oromiya regions. The second was following the arrival the Oromo Libration Front (OLF) group in September 2018 as many Wolaytta and (our Gamo brothers)were massacred in the centeral region famously known as- (Oromiya Special Region sasrrounded by Addis Ababa or Finfinne according to those group), particularly in Burayo.

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In both cases of the above, the investigation have been marred with controversy and there has been no full accountability. WCHR recommends that the Abiy government

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  • Remove and prosecute officials involved in the mass killings, Instead of reshuffling them to the new posts.
  • Give long sentences to activists who instigated or led the burning of Wolaytta businesses.
  • Fully prosecute individuals who incited or were engaged in the mass killings Wolaytta
  • Establish a zero tolerance policy to individuals who publicly call for violence against Wolaytta and other southern minorities living in Sidama and Oromiya regions
  • As natural, fire and weather related disasters, the government should create a disaster preparation and response team or call center with an emergency dispatch brigade in every town dedicated solely ton responding to the ethnic violence targeting minorities like Wolaytta people.
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In addition to these legal and administrative actions, the Ethiopian government should discourage politicians and activists from using inflammatory terms. (Note: WCHR would like to remind that our Wolaytta ancestors and other Omotic people are indigenous to the southern and Central Shewa regions of Present day Central Ethiopia named present day Oromia, long before the migration of Cushitic and Semitic people.

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2- SOCIOPOLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ALTERNATIVESÀ

At point, WHCR recommends that the Ethiopian government promptly process the referendum for statehood of Wolaytta in order to avoid farther bloodshed. The overwhelming majority of Wolaytta people in the Zone support statehood and there is no constitutional basis to deny Wolaytta people from its own state. However, all stakeholders must acknowledge that Wolaytta people have requested for statehood as all other big nationalities have done similarly and in accordance with the current constitution pf the country. Wolaytta people did not demand and did not need our own separate state before 40 or 50 years back because the government system and constitution at the time did not divide states by ethnicity.

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The rise in Human right abuses facing the Wolaytta people corresponds to to the rise in nativism or the neighboring Nationalities attempt to enforce the post 1995 constitution. Therefore, if the Ethiopian government seeks a reason to prevent Wolaytta statehood: both the protection of our human rights and the decision on statehood can be properly addressed by the constitutional amendments that guarantees equality and citizenship to the other ethnicity living inside the ethnic states or the restoration of Geographic Federalism. In other words The Ethiopian government presently has zero justification to delay the Wolaytta statehood demands; without a drastic change in the current constitution that reverses the post 1995 Status-quo of multinational(ethnic) federalism. Any more delay will be perceived as a direct disrespect of Wolaytta Culture and People.

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Accordingly, the only two solutions that can be accepted as logical reasons for delaying Wolaytta statehood are;

  1. A constitutional amendment for the reversal of statehood of other nationalities in Ethiopia; in the foreseeable future.
  2. The change in the status of urban centers nationwide (i.e where Wolaytta citizens reside) from ethnic towns, capitals to the federal charter cities ( for example Hawassa, Burayu and all major towns in Ethiopia becoming self- governing federal entities where all ethnicity are treated equally, so no ethnic group is awarded a special native status.
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If the Ethiopian government can present a blue print for one or both of the two solutions above alternatives to become reality; the people of Wolaytta can find fairness, hope and justice in the system; Particularly since over a million wolayta are living outside of the area called Wolaytta Zone. Otherwise, it is unjustified that only Wolaytta people are denied statehood while all other ethnic groups enjoy statehood(including Harari, one of the smallest ethnic groups in the Horn of Africa.)

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No more debates are necessary in the Prime Ministers office to delay Wolaytta statehood- the Ethiopian government has only two choices; Either show wolaytta people a new road-map where all ethnic based states like Gambella or implement Wolaytta statehood as soon as possible.

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The above two basic solutions must sincerely be addressed by the Ethiopian government; if the Abiy administration hopes to delay the procedures. Otherwise we urge Addis Ababa to process the Wolayta statehood quickly to avoid any other bloodshed.

WOLAYTTA COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (WHCR)

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