GPDAM Press Release
The Gambella People’s Democratic Alliance Moment (GPDAM) strongly condemned the double standard of Ethiopian government in negotiating peace deal between the government of Republic of South Sudan and SPLM-IO. The Addis Ababa regime is no longer neutral in mediating between the warring parties to South Sudan conflict that has displaced hundreds of thousand innocent civilians into Gambela region. GPDAM is deeply concerned for Ethiopian military training, logistics and military support to SPLM-IO and the impact to regional stability and security.
The senseless political upheaval that broke out in December 2013 displace hundreds of thousands civilians across international border into Gambela region for international protection and safety. The conflict has drawn some regional powers to play key destabilising factors in already troubled and instable horn of Africa region. In particular, the arrival of mainly Nuer ethnic, a major source of military and political support to former South Sudan vice president-Riek Machar rebellion, into impoverished and troubled region has increased tension and security concerns among local communities.
The conflict has brought huge impacts on the regional security structure and economy of the remote Ethiopian border region due to the government in Addis Ababa failure to control arms trafficking and its direct link and open support to SPLM-IO. The Ethiopian government support to rebellion further fuel the conflict in an independent state in the horn of Africa. As a result, the Gambela region is now awash with small arms and Ethiopian government backed militant freely moving within the region and crossing into South Sudan exposing civilians to unnecessary suffering.
GPDAM is further greatly concerned for Addis Ababa regime ineffective, lack of international border control and mushrooming of refugee camps in the Gambela region to accommodate hundreds of thousands refugees to areas predominately inhabited by local population. GPDAM continues to be troubled by uncontrolled and unmanaged refugee influx both within the Ethiopian troubled region and across the international border.
As the government continues to pursue the implementation of its unpopular land deal policy, villagization programme, and the influx of refugees plays great role into local politics. South Sudan civil war always has negative consequences that could engulfed the Gambela region into serious political unrest and regional instability.
Despite the newly African nation that drifted into political instability efforts to engage into rounds of diplomatic shuttles to find amicable political solutions and restore peace and security to thousands internally displaced persons trapped and entirely dependent on humanitarian food aid, the Ethiopian government military and logistics support to Riek Machar rebellion continue to undermine IGAD brokered peace deal effort.
This is contrary to the IGAD peace and conflict resolution mission that made Ethiopian government to appoint the former Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin to mediate a political settlement through roundtable discussion between the conflicting parties, The Ethiopian government interference in political affairs of a sovereign nation is counter-productive and has a regional destabilising factors in a already troubled region of the Ethiopia. Ethiopia double standard should be condemned in strong terms.
Though the root causes of political instability and social unrest remain a stumbling block for the parties to each diplomatic settlement, GPDAM urges all those involved to narrow their differences and accept peace proposals in the interest of internally displaced persons and refugees across the eastern Africa and in Gambela region in particular.
GPDAM, in the interest of regional political stability and peaceful dispute settlement, calls upon the international community, organisations and individuals to put arms embargo on Ethiopian government and other parties that continues to fuel political turmoil so that the parties could negotiate in good faith to reach to compromise and the return of normality and continue reconstruction efforts.
Ironically, SPLM-IO alleged that the Republic of South is helping rebel groups from Gambella region. This is baseless allegations and based on hypocritical nature of SPLM-IO politics. SPLM-IO is the one receiving both logistics and military assistance from Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) regime. According to our reliable sources, Ethiopia has set up numerous military training camps around Gambella’s region.
The Impact of Sudan Civil Wars on the Anyuaks’ Society
The Anyuak communities in both Ethiopia and Sudan (now South Sudan) are bordering to the most hostile communities in Africa. Since 1955 until 2005, Sudan, like most African countries, has experienced three consecutive civil wars. The first civil war (Anyanya/Anya-Nya) erupted in 1955 and ended in 1972. The peace agreement which was signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1972 did last long. The discontented former Anyanya I leaders took up arm again in 1975 and formed Anyanya II.
However, after seven years, the Anyanya I was hijacked and was converted to South Sudan Liberation Army/Moment (SPLA/M) in 1983. The liberation moment waged civil war against North Sudan government until comprehensive agreement was signed in Kenya in 2005. All these civil wars were furnished by the Anyauks and they were carried out in the Anyuaks’ lands. Regrettably, the Anyuaks in both Ethiopia and South Sudan have not benefited from these two civil wars. Instead, they lost their livelihood, lives, lands, culture, and etc. Even though the author of this article did not witness the suffering of the Anyuaks in the hand of Anyanya I, it is rational to assert that the Anyuaks must have suffered in the hand of Anyanya I as well. During the 39 years of the civil wars, the Anyuaks’ land and natural resources had been used up. Their wives were gang raped, their children were kidnaped, killed, their foods were robbed, and their cattle were raid.
When South Sudan Liberation Army/Moment (SPLA/M) was waging civil war against the Northern government in the 1980s, the Anyuaks were very hospitable to the South Sudanese refugees who came to their land. The Anyuaks would share whatever they have with the refugees; the Anyuaks would give the freedom fighters benign passages to wherever they were going; and some of the refugees were even integrated into the Anyuaks’ communities.
On the other hand, the SPLA/M and South Sudanese refugees alike were very hostile to the Anyuak communities. Both SPLA/M and the refugees had hatred toward the Anyuaks. When Sudanese refugees were residing in Itang, one of the cities in Gambella, Ethiopia, the refugees would go outside the city and hideout to wait for women to gang raped them or waited for someone who had something of value to rob. During 39 years of Sudan civil war both SPLA/M and refugees had done vices things to the Anyuaks and the Anyuaks will never forget. The SPLA/M hostility even went further when they opened fire on the unarmed civilians in Pnyodo, one of the cities in Gambella, Ethiopia and killed a numbers of people.
When the SPLA/M was evicted in 1991, they dismantled all the houses or any building in Itang and other areas they were residing. The rationale behind the destruction of the properties was that they do not want the inhabitants to use the buildings or houses that were built for SPLA/M or refugees. This is just to mention few of the immoralities things the SPLA/M and South Sudanese refugees have done to the Anyuaks.
After 22 years of civil war, the SPLA/M and Khartoum government signed comprehensive peace agreement in Kenya in 2005 that led to South Sudan’s independent in 2011. In December 2013, South Sudan was engulfed with civil war again and the Southern Sudanese refugees are pouring into Gambella, Ethiopia.
These refugees are not mere refugees but they are from the Ethnic Nuers who were briefly trained in South Sudan border with Gambella and sent to South Sudan major cities to fight the incumbent President Salva Kirr’s government. When the Nuers were badly defeated, they came back to Gambella and seek refuge in the region. These refugees are also heavily armed. Gambella region is facing anarchism again because these refugees are the Nuers ethnic groups who claimed to have dual citizens. They claimed they are Ethiopians but at the same time they believe they are Southern Sudanese.
The Anyuaks border with some of the wildest people in the world, and the governments in both Ethiopia and South Sudan do not provide them with the needed protections. During Col. Mingestu Hallemaraim’s government, farmer association used to have militias and those militias somehow protected the Anyuaks’ lives. However, the current government not only disarmed the Anyuaks but it also criminalized gun ownership. Therefore, if the federal and regional governments do not take major steps to protect the Anyuaks’ land and lives, we will lose one of the best lands in Ethiopia to the aliens.
The GPDAM Executive Committee
Believe in tolerance, unity equality and democratic governance.