Stop! of the Konso people.
The Konso Face Escalating Torture, Killings and Human Rights Violations Following their Constitution-based and Peaceful Request for Zone Administrative Structure

Ethiopia is a federal state with nine regional states. The regional states are further structured into zones, special weredas and weredas. These administrative structures are meant to facilitate administrative processes and enhance sustainable development. Currently, Konso wereda is found in the Segen Area Peoples Zone formed in 2012 in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). Before their incorporation into the zone, the Konso had their own independent Special Wereda administrative structure accountable to the southern regional state. However, as mentioned above, in 2012, the Konso Special wereda was incorporated into the zone. The incorporation was not based on the consent of Konso people. This forceful incorporation made the Konso experience a number of political, administrative and economic injustices. After trying to endure these and other challenges for about three years, the Konso felt that enough was enough, and submitted an official letter in August 2015 to the SNNPR government to pull out of the zone, and have their own zonal administrative structure.

Peaceful Demonestration
In December 2015, More than 50000 people gathered in Karat town from 43 Kebeles of Konso and signed petition to form their own zonal administrative structure.
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Following the submission of the formal letter, the Konso further faced a number of administrative, social, economic, and political pressures from the wereda, zone and regional administrators and Special Forces of the region. These immoral acts are unheard of in the history of Konso. The brutalities and fabricated accusations strategically designed to forcefully curb the constitutional and peaceful request of the Konso to have their own zone administrative structure were reported to concerned bodies of the regional and federal governments, and human-rights organizations. As a result, the Konso hoped that the brutalities, abuses, violations of human and constitutional rights caused by the wereda, zonal and regional authorities and Special Forces would reduce, if not eliminate, in magnitude and frequency. However, they did not, and current circumstances on the ground show that the brutalities, abuses, violations of human and constitutional rights are escalating to a level beyond imagination. The Konso are now forced to appeal to the Ethiopian public, international community, and international human rights organizations to contribute their fair share to alleviating the problems in Konso. The pressing problems are presented below in detail.

Killings and Human Rights Violations in Konso

This young man is beaten by SNNPR special forces in Karat, Konso

Killed by forces concurred Konso

First of all, the zonal and regional administrators have deployed a huge number of security and Special Forces to the Konso land in the name of security concerns. For the Konso, the deployment of such a number of security and Special Forces to their land has never been seen before in the modern history of Ethiopia. Moreover, the Konso do not welcome the presence of the security and Special Forces as there is no security concerns in their land. Similarly, the security and Special Forces beat intimidate, kill (so far, three innocent people have been killed- the most recent killing has occurred on 6 August, 2016), fire tear gas, and so forth. Thus, the Konso demand that the security and special forces of the zone and region leave the area as soon as possible as their presence and measures disturb the day-to-day activities of the peace-loving people of Konso.

Secondly, the wereda, zone and regional administrators of all levels and the security and Special Forces have forced government institutions and offices to stop providing public services. To worsen things, the zonal and regional authorities decided not to pay salaries for the civil servants working in Konso wereda. This can be evidenced from the fact that the civil servants in Konso wereda have not been paid their salaries since May 2016. In addition, the wereda, zone and regional administrators are forcing the families of the unpaid civil servants to deny the zone request of the Konso. Thus, the Konso demand this inhuman act be stopped as it is affecting the civil servants in particular and their families at large.

The third pressing issue is that the zone and regional administrators are using as a political weapon the financial support provided by donor organizations to assist the needy through the Safety net program. This is clearly and evidently seen from the fact that the beneficiaries have not been provided the financial support of the program since February 2016 on the ground that the zonal and regional authorities demand the beneficiaries to declare that the request of the Konso to have their own zone administrative structure is a request by ‘anti-peace elements, few power mongers, Ginbot 7 Party, Oromo Libration Front (OLF), and parasites’. Due to the halt of the supply of the Safety net program, mothers, children and the elderly who are the beneficiaries of the program are being seriously affected. The Konso, therefore, see this inhuman act and behavior of the zonal and regional administrators as a slap on the face of the donor organizations, and demand the acts to stop as soon as possible.

The other pressing issue in Konso currently is the fact that all health centers have been made to stop rendering services to the public since April 2016. This has been happening due to the fact that the zonal and regional authorities deliberately suspended the supply of daily revenue collection receipts. Consequently, people are facing serious health service problems. For instance, evidence from local health centers indicates that two pregnant women lost their lives in July 2016 when they were admitted to the nearby health centers to get delivery services. Moreover, an eleven month old baby from Sawkama village of Fasha area was killed by the special forces of the region while they were persecuting the parents of the baby taking him to Karate District Hospital. These and similar cases have been reported to concerned departments of the region and federal government. However, no response has been given so far. Thus, the Konso demand national and international organizations to play a role in stopping this evil act especially in the context where the Ethiopian government declared ‘No mother should die while giving birth! Zero tolerance for maternal death!’.
Finally, following the unanimous decision of the Council of Nationalities of the Southern Regional State on June 27, 2016 to reject the zonal administrative structure request of the Konso, the regional state delivered a letter to the Federal Human Rights Commission claiming that there is an organized ‘Cultural group in Konso that violates human rights of civilians and administrators’. The regional state uses the term ‘Cultural group’ to refer to a committee legally delegated to present the Konso zone request to concerned national and international bodies. Moreover, following the decision, the regional state declared that they will hunt and arrest the committee members. This persecution of the committee members and labeling them as a ‘cultural group’ amount to disrespecting the sovereignty of the people of Konso. This is because in the context where the Wereda Council, which marks the sovereignty of the people, formally approved the request for the zone administrative structure as being the request of Konso people, labeling the legal committee as cultural group and hunting them is going against the decision of legal and sovereign body. Second, following the decision of the Council of nationalities, over eighty thousand people signed a petition to express that the decision was not in the best interest of the Konso, not in line with the realities on the ground in Konso area, and with the rights of nations, nationalities and peoples enshrined in the constitution. Furthermore, following the decision, the authorities of the zone and region abuse the media outlets (Television and FM radio) by broadcasting unfounded accusations meant to defame the values of the hard working and peace-loving people of Konso.
Thus, the Konso appeal to federal and international organizations to set up a neutral body to conduct an inquiry into the atrocities of and multiple pressures from the security and Special Forces of the zone and region.