OCP News Service – Menetasnot Desta (Delegate of Ethiopia and the Chief Administrator – OCP Amharic Service) – 27/8/2020
Press Release by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on the ongoing Crisis and Persecution of Orthodox Christians
Date: Nehasse 20, 2012 E.C – August 25, 2020 A.D
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen!
A statement from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in regards to providing aid and the reestablishment of the Orthodox who were harmed after the murder of our son, Hachalu Hundessa, and the attacks that followed in Oromia Regional State.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” (John 16:20)
It is recognized that Hachalu Hundessa, whose baptismal name was Haile Gabriel, was killed on the evening of Senne 22, 2012 E.C (June 29, 2020 A.D). The Ethiopian Church was grief-stricken at the sudden death of Her Son. However, even without being given time to mourn Her loss, forgetting She remains the mourner the Church and her faithful were considered as an enemy. Hence, a horrendous massacre and suffering were brought upon Her children in some areas of the Oromia Region.
Because they were Orthodox Christians, Her children were slain horrifically after being beheaded with machetes. They were cut into pieces with billhooks, impaled with spears and gored with daggers, carved up with sickles, beaten with sticks and stoned. Their bodies were hauled on the streets all day, which were scattered for days and became food for wild animals. Women were violated before their children, fathers, and husbands. The properties which the victims labored for years (in a planned manner) were robbed and what remained was set alight after. Many were forced to depart from their houses to spend the unpleasant winter in burial chambers and halls in the compounds of churches, in governmental organizations, and also in other houses. They also incurred terrible social and psychological disturbances.
Following these terrible incidents, the Church gave a press release regarding Her sorrow (immediately) when She was informed about the planned attack on Senne 24, 2012 E.C (July 1, 2020, A.D.) through the Acting Synod. She has stayed in mourning and praying to God Almighty. She has also waited patiently to see if the concerned governmental bodies would execute their promise which stated, “We won’t be enduring with offenders, we will deliver proper justice and grant compensation to the victims.” But She has not perceived them (the governmental bodies) execute their duties of protecting and defending citizens before attacks were committed or letting justice prevail and offering compensation in time and adequately.
Hence, the acting Synod, which convened on the matter, gave formed a Main Committee to be organized under the General Secretariat who would examine the damage caused. Hence, the Main Committee commenced its work by organizing different subcommittees to aid the victims temporarily and reestablish their lives in the long run.
By the schedule which the Main Committee set, the first task was to list out the areas where the attacks took place, to go, and to console the victims and gather information. And it spanned across 25 districts within six dioceses from those that sustained much damage with 260 delegates including their eminences – archbishops, elders, spiritual organizations, and many of the broadcasting media.
And according to the reports of the Main Committee which was gathered by interviewing the victims and observing the areas of devastation, it was confirmed that following the killing of our son, Haile Gabriel, religious and ethnic radicals, who hid in the governmental structure, aligned themselves with organized entities, together, perpetrated these systematic and barbaric attacks by making the Orthodox faithful the prime targets.
And by these attacks which were done starting from the evening of Senne 22 to Senne 24, 2012 (June 29 – July 1, 2020 A.D) for three consecutive days, 67 faithful were brutally and horrifically killed, 38 faithful sustained permanent (heavy) injuries and 29 faithful sustained minor injuries. And also more than 7,000 faithful were displaced and were exposed to indescribable psychological and mental traumas. It was comprehended from the preliminary reports that the victims have lost more than 5 Billion Birr’s worth of belongings by theft or fire.
And the Main Committee, which took into consideration the severity of the attacks in such manners, is working to assist victims hastily where they are and to reestablish their livelihoods for the long run after re-strengthening itself in a new way by forming a strategy which would enable to accomplish its mission within a short period. It is working on identifying the extent of the attacks to the individual level. And basing this, the aid will be made directly available to the victims and their families and will make conditions suitable for sustainable recovery.
The Main Committee centering the information on the assessment of the attacks believes that there are tasks the government should take upon an urgent basis in addition to delivering temporary relief and reestablishing works. And they are
1. We have confirmed that victims who were attacked for their faith systematically and gruesomely have very high-security concerns through the presented report and evidence. It was also witnessed that the present condition in which the victims live makes them vulnerable to the Corona Virus and other transmitted diseases (outbreaks). And so the Church highly insists on the Oromia Regional Government and the Federal Government to safeguard Orthodox Ethiopians’ safety and living conditions by securing their human and civil rights of life and by accumulating wealth.
2. The Church also insists on the government to apprehend the planners, executors, organizers of the attacks, and the misconducting officials and officers who while being in its (the governments) structure disregarded their responsibility and oversaw the attacks silently. Even though even after the attacks, in this regard, the Church admires and follows closely the efforts of the government to place an order. And She expresses Her readiness to offer any support from Her side.
3. She also insists on the release of innocent citizens, who had no part in the attacks, rather they were victims of cruelty and brutality but incarcerated and suffering for being only Orthodox after [the government] sees their cases carefully.
4. And the Church also insists greatly on some government officials and political parties to halt mocking the persecuted martyrs and upon our mourning for improper group benefit and political gain. She insists on the government to institute the proper follow up.
5. Before or after the attacks of the Month of Senne (June/July), recurring systematic pressures and attacks upon the faithful of the Church in Oromia and the other Regional States have increased. And though many of the Regional States demonstrated their goodwill for dialogue and have halted to some extent the attacks and pressures, the current administration of the Regional Government of Oromia, in particular, has dismayed the Church by disregarding Her request for combating problems together and not accepting it repeatedly.
It is not hard to understand that in some dioceses in the region (Oromia Region) the illegal group which has been prevented by the Holy Synod is acting in contempt, starting from encroaching upon the legally granted rights of the Church to dismantle Her administrative structure, because the regional government does not provide prompt answers to Her requests out of its disregard. And hence, we fervently believe that to heal yesterday’s problem and to prevent a more risky one which is coming that there is no option except to work together. And so the Church insists greatly the regional government accept our requests and be prepared to work together.
6. The Church also strictly demands the government to investigate the atrocities and ill-treatments that are being done to Her and the faithful starting from the beginning of 2012 E.C, in the Month of Tekemt (October/November), during which 97 citizens and faithful lost their lives in a single day and the killings and robberies that took place in the month of Tir (January) during the Holiday celebrations of Epiphany and in distinct parts of our country and to bring to justice and to convey the outcome to the public.
7. Our Holy Church deserves to be honored and loved by all Ethiopians for Her contribution to the peace of the country and the unity of the people, for the sacred culture she built and for the multifaceted values she bequeathed. We believe She is the mother of all and all are beholden to her as it can’t be assumed that no Ethiopian has not partaken of Her full grace and blessing.
But in recent years, the recurring attacks that are befalling upon the Church can’t be passed by as always by stating, “are encounters in transitional periods”, rather the Church understands from matters that have cleared up time after time that these are acts to eradicate Orthodoxy through incorrect narrations of ideologies and with geopolitical backgrounds in a coordinated and organized manner. Therefore, the Church insists with emphasis that the federal and regional governments must prevent such religiously oriented attacks which are purposefully executed to harass and weaken Orthodox Christians by the framework of these misled thoughts and false narrations and establish justice prevails, compensates properly the victims and restores their lives by undertaking their constitutional duties.
Therefore, the Church insists with emphasis that the federal and regional governments must prevent such religiously oriented attacks which are purposefully executed to harass and weaken Orthodox Christians by the framework of these misled thoughts and false narrations and establish justice prevails, compensates properly the victims and restores their lives by undertaking their constitutional duties.
Dear victims, our spiritual children,
All of you who are victims of the brutal attacks found shelter in church halls and compounds and the homes of individuals. The affliction you endured for your upright faith, will live in our Church’s ‘Book of Martyrs’ written in golden ink. You have preserved the being and unity of your country and have witnessed the highness of your Church by being loyal to your faith, by the determination you showed and by the sacrifices you paid before persecutors. And because this will be described as an iconic example for generations, your mother, the Church, is proud of you. And for the future, all Ethiopians and the Orthodox will stand by you with all that you need and the Church assures you that you are not alone. Though the cruel doers elated today with the tribulation you have encountered, the Church believes in due time you will gain justice through the rule of law and your sorrow will be changed to happiness.
To beloved Ethiopians living here (in Ethiopia) and abroad,
The Church recognizes the contributions you have delivered from the hour when the atrocious attacks commenced. You followed the broad Ethiopian teaching culture of unity and helping one another even during the pressure of the global pandemic, the Corona Virus, that has affected your livelihood. You helped your brother’s ad sisters to support and reestablish their lives. And She prays constantly and may the Almighty God reward you for your humanitarian support and help.
On the other hand, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church extends Her sincere thanks to the Orthodox Churches of the world that showed their kinship with statements and varied kinds of supports by a spirit of Christian fellowship and by feeling the pain of the affliction upon the Orthodox.
And She prays constantly and may the Almighty God reward you for your humanitarian and Ethiopian aid and support indeed reaching unto death without being divided by ethnicity or religion. In addition, we would like communicating our fatherly message now so that you would be ready to give rapid response to the call that will be made when appropriate via the direction which will be issued by the newly strengthened and formed Main Committee under the General Secretariat of the Patriarchate to support the victims and reestablish their lives with money, material and professional help.
We pray that the Good God grant peace to our country and the world, unity to our people, rest for the souls of our children killed brutally, and consolation to our Church.
The General Secretariat of the Patriarchate of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
The bank accounts opened by the main committee;
To support and reestablish Christians who were displaced because they were Orthodox.
Commercial Bank of Ethiopia
Short Number: 8080
Acc. No. : 0837771210101
Bunna International Bank
Acc. No. : 3359601000003
Bank Acc. No.: 1462113492917017
OCP News Service