December 13, 2013 marks the ten-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 ten 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 the TPLF/EPRDF regime 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/EPRDF regime. 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, South 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.
The TPLF/EPRDF 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, “ the Anauk killers have moved on, but we the Anuak 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. 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.
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.
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. Ochala Abula E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org