Saturday, March 10, 2007

Gaara Suffii: The Killing Mountain – Lest We Forget!

Iyyaa, iyya dabarsaa!

As described to me by a compatriot born and raised there, Gaara [Mount] Suufii is located about two hours walk on foot from Mi’essoo, to the North-East of Asaboot, in Eastern Oromia. The Oromo have a poem (walaloo/geerara) for Gaara Suufii which goes like this:

Asaboot koran malee
Suufii naannawan malee
Odaa jigaa hin arganii
Yoo lola bu’an malee
Dhiiraan walqaban malee
Garaa jagnaa hin arganii

By all accounts, it is there, on Gaara Suufii, that the TPLF regime murdered twenty Oromos early this year. It looks like TPLF is determined to turn every inch of Oromo territory in to killing fields. Oromos, young and old, women, children and the elderly, are murdered every where; in schools, on the streets, in their homes, in detention camps and now on mountains.

The heart wrenching account of the Gaara Suufii gruesome and politically motivated murders of Oromo political prisoners was brought to us by the VOA Afaan Oromo program on Wednesday Feb. 21, 2007. The victims range from a fourteen years old teenager, Ayishaa Alii, to a seventy year old elderly farmer Obbo Ahmed Mohhamed Kuree.

The ordeal of two ladies interviewed on that VOA program is truly heart wrenching to any one who values human life.

Aadde Kadijjaa Usuman is the wife of the late Obbo Ahmed Mohhamed Kuree from Mi’essoo. She and her late husband have nine children - eight girls and one boy whom she just stopped breastfeeding. Here is her account of how her husband was murdered as told to VOA during an interview (translation mine; You may listen to audio clips of the interview after the texts. English translation of each clip is provided as well.)

“My husband, Ahmed Mohammed Kuree, is a farmer. Farming is all he knew. The tax man took him away to “China Camp” after telling him that he had to go pay his taxes. He was told he was going to pay his taxes. They kept him there for one night only. The next morning, they took him to Gaara Suufii. After they took him to Gaara Suufii, we searched for him for three weeks to no avail. After three weeks and having heard a rumor, we went to Gara Suufii. After two days of searching, we found his prayer beads, his cloth and a single piece of his bone which the hyenas left behind after devouring the rest of his body and we took those items home. What is more, after we got home, they [our persecutors] condemned us for going to Gaara Suufii and for mourning. For fear of repercussions, we have not offered the customary prayer for the dead for my husband by reading from the Qur’an. Justice has not been served. That is where we are today!” [Audio clips in Afaan Oromoo English]

Adde Kadijjaa was asked how she found out that her husband was taken to Gaara Suufii.

She said: “A meeting was called which some of our people attended. Our people enquired about my husband at the meeting. At that point they said to his sister [my sister-in-law]: “Your brother has died. Go home and give up the search for your brother.” She [my sister-in-law] went home in tears. The next morning, a Kebele meeting was convened in the city. When my husband’s siblings went to that meeting and asked why he was killed, they [our persecutors] said “Since when does the government kill citizens? Come, we will show you where he is.” With that, they took them to the camp [China Camp]. Once at the camp, they were unable to produce my husband. Instead, they arrested my sister-in-law.” [Audio clips in Afaan Oromoo English]

Ayishaa Alii (see picture above) was a fourteen years old, barely a teenager. According to her mother, Aadde Shamsii Ahmed Muusaa of Mi’eessoo, a divorced mother of six, Ayishaa attended school in Asaboot up to grade four. She was forced to discontinue her schooling to help her mother raise her younger brothers. Aadde Shamsii described the events leading up to her daughter’s murder to VOA as follows.

“His name is Muhammad Boruu. He was armed. He arrived at 9:00 AM. He woke her up from where she was sleeping and ordered her to get on the motor-bike he came on. She [my daughter] had a wound on her behind which she told him about. He said to her “forget your wound. You are to be devoured by wild predator beasts” and ordered her to follow him. She followed him with only her skirt on her back. That was how he took my daughter away from me. Because he is [worked for] the government, we assumed he was taking her to a prison. I had always assumed she was detained and searched for her in detention camps for two weeks. After we heard the rumor about the old man [Obbo Ahmed Mohammed Kuree] I followed his family to Gaara Suufii [in search of my daughter]. There we found her skirt, sweater, under wears and her hair, braided and red [dyed in henna] as it was when she was taken away. That was all we found of my daughters remains.” [Audio clips in Afaan Oromoo English]

Speaking about others murdered with her daughter, Aadde Shamsii says:

“They [the government] continue to take individuals to this mountain and murder them. Besides my daughter’s, we have found many human remains. One example would be a henna dyed human hand. There are many people missing and whose loved ones are hoping that they are in detention. They continue to murder people.” [Audio clips in Afaan Oromoo English]

The stories told by Aadde Kadijjaa Usuman and Aadde Shamsii Ahmed Muusaa are corroborated by others.

Obbo Abdulhakim Mohammed of Mi’eessoo district, Ciroo town, tells of the continued harassment and killing of Oromos in Mi’esso area, again to VOA.

“Just in the last two months, December and this month, hundreds of Oromos from the towns in this district – from Culloo, Ciroo, Baddeessaa, Habroo and Mi’essoo - have been herded to a concentration camp known as “China Camp” located here in Mi’essoo. After detaining them there, they took over twenty of them to Gaara Suufii in the middle of the night and shot them there. Eight of them are from Mi’eessoo district. Five are from other districts. Their names are Ashaa [Kormee], Ahmed Kuree, 70 years old, from Mi’eessoo, Shanqoo a labourer, Kedir Aliyyuu, a grade 8 student from Mi’eessoo, Yasin Mohammed Waday from Mi’eessoo, Alii Goolee, Saidee Ammadee, Kokaa Adam from Mi’eessoo district Faayyoo area. Others are, Ammee Shenkor from Tuulloo district, Hernaa Town, Ahmed Aliyyi Turee from Doobbaa district, Ciroo town, Abrahim Badhaasoo from Qunnii district, Odaa Bultum area. This is what we know so far.” [Audio clips in Afaan Oromoo English]

An elderly man who was a political prisoner at “China camp” for two and a half months, but did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation by the TPLF regime, describes the deplorable human rights abuses in that area as follows.

“There is always torture in that place. People are beaten up there day and night. That place is very worrisome. We were imprisoned there by Abdallaa Idiris and his colleagues. Abddalaa Idris is the leader of the [government] Militia deployed to Western Hararge. Abrahim Kamiilaa is second in command. Aadam Dheeraa is the third person. Alamayyoo is the lead interrogator. These people arrest and torture individuals day and night. They take them away at night around midnight, 2 AM, 3 AM or 4 AM. Among those taken away, were Ashaa Kormee and Ahmed Kuree. They took them away at 4:00 AM in the morning. They never came back. We have heard that they have been killed. Their prayer beads, pictures and ID cards have been found, particularly that of Ahmed Kuree. Of the girls [killed], it is said that their skirts have been found. For these reasons, the situation in that area is grim. Others are being persecuted under the pretext of their siblings joining armed groups [to fight against the government]. For instance, from Asaboot area, siblings of Abrahim Walii, Ahmad Mahammad Walii and Haadha Ahmad are being persecuted under such pretext.” [Audio clips in Afaan Oromoo English]

Speaking about others detained at that location, the same elderly man says:

“People are brought there from every where: from Doobbaa, Galamsoo, Baddeessaa, Ciroo. They bring people there from as far away as Adaamaa and Dheeraa town in Arsii. There are many people detained there. Prisoners are not allowed to see each other or communicate with others. At times about 30 prisoners share a cell. There are many people there. We [some of us] survived a deplorable situation. In that detention camp, they beat prisoners at night. After chewing Khat, prison officers get into manic behaviors. and start torturing prisoners. They ask about the OLF army that prisoners are alleged to have been feeding. Women and the elderly are also subjected to the same treatment. IRC (International Red Cross) is not aware of the grave [human rights abuses] situation in that area. Neither are other human rights advocates. Relatives are not allowed to visit the prisoners.” [Audio clips in Afaan Oromoo English]

As you can see or hear, their stories are consistent and shows that impunity for human rights abuses remains the norm in Ethiopia. “Nama iyyeef ollaan dirmata” jedha Oromoon. Do international human rights advoctaes know about this massacre? Does the world know? Have we done our part to bring the plight of our compatriots to the attention of the world public?

Lest we forget Gaara Suufii!

Please forward the English version of the clips to as many human rights advoctaes as you can.

Also, have your say!


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Anonymous said...

This is truely a heart breaking story. Has this happened to non Oromo, it would have been on major international news papers to say the list.

How long are we seat Ideal and watch our people getting killed and thrown to the jungle.

Let us bring this to the world to do the least for the sake of the mother who is not lucky enough to find her doughter's dead body.

Anonymous said...

It’s has become routine to rally in the West [USA, Europe, Australia]. I personally, have not seen any improvement leave alone an end to human rights abuse. Nowadays, the Darfur in the Sudan has grabbed world’s attention. While another Darfur in the making next door, the impartial and unfair powers of today’s world turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to our problems.

Dictators understand a barrel of a gun, by that I mean war and violence only. The reality on the ground is they have the guns, the tanks, and the bombing planes, our people on the other hand have their own self only—empty hand and bare foot. To me, it’s not fair to call it human right abuse when TPLF kills; it’s violence against humanity perpetrated by foreign invaders.

How we as Oromos should challenge and eventually defeat such an enemy requires personal determination and highly organized strategy. The world we were in the 90’s is different from the world experienced in the early 2000’s. Not often things remain stagnant, what we thought would work in the early 2000’s may not work as we are nearing the closure of the first decade in the second millennium, we have to look for alternative mode of struggle.

It’s my belief that we are the biggest force that would bring an end to the unprecedented suffering of our people. Equally big question is how we work together to become such a gigantic force. Let’s every one of us think hard on this.

May the soul of these victims rest in peace!

Anonymous said...

While we are busy talking how the world has changed,
The TPLF is killing our people using the same bullet and the same method for the last 15 years.

I am hearing this “Adunyaan jijiramteetii” business for the last six years but what I see is a contrary, a human being is getting killed and thrown away in 21 century, just like in a Stone Age era.

You don’t replace your used BMW with a new KIA for the sake of driving a shiny car.

What we need is a courage and determination more than a change of strategy.

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