17.5 C
Addis Ababa
Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ethiopian militia leader advocates for beheading

Zemene Kassie, the leader of ‘Gojjam Fano’, one of several armed groups fighting against the Ethiopian government in the Amhara Region, said beheading and amputation are necessary measures to deter traitors.

Speaking from his stronghold in Gojjam, the Fano leader said soldiers of the national army sent to fight in Amhara don’t even know what he looks like. But “our own brothers and relatives” direct enemies to his location, including to his mother’s house. 

“What harm have the Oromo, Sidama, or Welayta soldiers caused us compared to our treasonous sisters and brothers?” he asked, adding “We must cut off the heads and hands of these bandas!” 

‘Banda’ is an Italian word that historically referred to individuals who collaborated with Italian forces during its colonial wars with Ethiopia. The term now refers to any ‘traitor.’ 

Zemene noted there are people who collaborate with federal forces but have not faced any consequences for their actions since they have family members in the armed group.

“Some express concern about the risks associated with shedding unnecessary blood; but, hasn’t enough blood been shed already?” he asked, adding “It is time to be resolute with these traitors!”

The conflict in Amhara broke out in April 2023 when the federal government announced its plans to integrate all Regional Special Forces, and the Fano militia, into the national army or regional police.

Although they were allied with federal forces in the Tigray war, the majority of the Amhara Special Forces considered this decision a threat to Amhara interests and aspirations and joined Fano militias to fight the central government.

But far from uniting under a common cause, they have splintered into at least 10 factions and are regularly fighting amongst each other, according to a recent report published by the Rift Valley Institute, a British think tank.

Beheading, lynching, mob-justice, and kidnapping have become all too common in the region.