The Name of the Abominable Crime is Politicide
The Mass Massacre & Imprisonment of ORA Orphans – Wallaga 1992-93
By Mekuria Bulcha, 27July, 2014
In the first part of this article, published on this website on June 22, 2014 under the title “The Name of the Abominable Crime is Politicide: The Mass Massacre and Imprisonment of ORA Orphans – Wallaga 1992-93,” I described the humanitarian activities of the Oromo Relief Association (ORA) among Oromo refugees in the Sudan in the 1980s and discussed the repatriation of some 1700 orphans, who were taken care of by the association, to Oromia in 1992. As I mentioned in the article, the initial TPLF onslaughts on the fleeing ORA children and their guardians took about three months. The different sources that I consulted indicated that between 170 and 200 children were hunted down and killed or drowned in flight. In addition, an unknown number of their guardians—as well as inhabitants of the districts through which they passed who helped during their flight—were killed during the onslaught. At the start of the onslaught about 300 children were captured and sent to the Dhidheessa concentration camp.
Deportation, torture, and political indoctrination
As mentioned before, most of the children were either placed in the care of the people or were sent away to look for relatives before their teachers and caretakers scattered to hide or flee back to the Sudan to seek refuge. However, the TPLF search for ORA children continued for more than a year after the initial onslaught came to an end. Apparently, many of the children who escaped the TPLF-forces’ bullets, and who were not arrested during the onslaught were traced, arrested and sent to jail. One of the survivors H.S. (who lives in a country neighboring with Ethiopia) told me:
I was about eight [years] old when the TPLF attacked us. I fled with the other children and adults in our camp. After sometime, we smaller children, who were unable to keep pace with the rest in the flight, were given to families in different villages along the route. I was placed with a family in a village called Gaara Arbaa. Two of my shelter mates, Kuusaa and Dingata, were also placed in the neighborhood in the same village. However, after a few weeks, the TPLF found and captured us and took us first to Begi town and then to the Dhidheessa prison camp.
Consequently, the number of the ORA children who ended up in the TPLF jails and died whilst kept captive remains unknown. The limited information I could gather confirms that, generally, the children were treated with cruelty in the concentration camp. In his letter to ORA (see the first part of the article), Raagaa mentions the names of some of the friends he left behind in the Dhidheessa concentration camp grieving that,
The fate of those children mentioned in this note, many hundreds of them, is that they were accused by the TPLF that they were brought up by the OLF and as such need to go through “re-education programs” of the TPLF. Can anybody imagine the children would fight the EPRDF/TPLF back? The truth is the children did not understand anything about the war.
Concerning the TPLF “re-education program,” another informant has also reported that “frequently the children are asked about their attitude towards the EPRDF” and that their “hands are fettered behind their backs” during the interrogations and that “the children’s skin was cut and wounded around their wrists from the rope” with which they were tied. To change their “political attitude,” the TPLF forced the children to participate in a “political education.” The OLF was demonized and the participants (prisoners) were instructed about the “crimes it had committed” and were made to shout anti-OLF slogans at the top of their voices.