Sidama Liberation Front

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15 years have passed since TPLF has committed mass murder of innocent Sidama civilians at Looqqe. 15 years later, Perpetrators held top positions in TPLF government 

May 24, 2017

15 years ago, TPLF government issued a brazen order to relocate Sidama administration from Hawassa city to another town to take full control of the city which had been cultural, social and administration center of Sidama people for centuries.  This daring order created shock and anger among the Sidamas. In response, thousands of Sidama people, from all walks of life planned to stage a peaceful demonstration demanding the reversal of this illegal decision. The demonstration day was then set to be May 24 and the demonstration to kickoff at Loqqe village which is located at outskirt of Hawassa city and to be concluded at city's main square later on that day.

In the meantime, the TPLF regime which subjugated the Sidama people to this date, was scheming not only to give the Sidama people a lesson, but beyond to anyone who dares to resist its expansion policy by controlling economic and social institutions in the country. The regime had been committing calculated cold blooded killings of innocent Ethiopians before, but no one was even thinking the government that otherwise supposed to care for people was about to committee mass murder in such scale in broad daylight. This type of massacre has now become a signature of this murderous regime.  

On the eve of Looqqe massacre, the regime secretly moved the killing squad which is commonly known as ‘AGAZI’ to the city where they would permanently located for the years followed.  Then final meeting to deal with planned peaceful demonstrations, was held at regional head office at Hawassa  led by the then regional government chair person, Hailemariam Desaleghn who now is the prime minister of Ethiopia. The meeting also was remotely controlled from Addis Ababa by the late Mr Meles Zenawi, then Prime Minister and Abay Tsehaye, the prime minister advisor and others.  Individuals summoned to the meeting were surprisingly from different positions and locations in the hierarchy of the regime. This meeting should not have been beyond control of Sidama Zonal Administration. Sidama people is peace loving and historically believes in peaceful resolution of disagreements. Individuals selected were, from Sidama Zonal administration, different regional offices, federal government and defense division which makes sense to believe the regime was embarking on violent crash nationwide instead of listing the people’s voice.

The meeting was concluded by making atrocious decision that demonstrators would be greeted by automatic machine guns mounted on vehicle tops, which was approved by most attendees. Three attendees who were from Sidama, risked their lives and soon would pay a price for their stance. 

The following table shows these wicked individuals who committed this heinous crime against the Sidama people, but have been glorified in the regime's hierarchy as well as economically and continued their crimes to date.   


Their position During Looqqe Massacre

Their position Today

Haile Mariam Desalegn

SNNPRG, Regional President

Ethiopian Prime Minster

Abadull Gamada

Head, Minister of Defense

Speaker of Ethiopian Parliament

Girma Biru

Head, Industry Minster

Head, US Ethiopian Embassy

Bereket Simion

Head, Information Minister

Board chairman of National Bank of Ethiopia and Advisor to PM.  

Meles Zenawi

Ethiopian Prime Minster


Abay Tsehaye

Advisor to Ethiopian PM

Advisor to Ethiopian PM

Mulugeta Alemseged

Advisor to Ethiopian PM

Head, Italy Ethiopian Embassy

Taddese Kassa

Vice Chairman, Amhara Regional gov.

Head, Dashen Brewery and Tiret

Melese Marimo

SNNPRG , Vice President

Advisor to Ethiopian PM

Shiferaw Shigute

Head, SNNPRG Finance Office

Head, the Ruling party (EPRDF) office

The following table lists Sidama heroes who present at the meeting but opposed this mindless decision.


Their position During Looqqe Massacre

Their position Today

Waqayo  Demessa

Head, Sidama Zone capacity Building

Imprisoned several times, Under House arrest

Girma Chuluke

Head, Sidama zone Administratoin

Imprisoned several times, Under House arrest

Berhanu Hankara

Head, Sidama Zone information Office

Imprisoned several times, Under House arrest

The next morning, May 24, while the demonstration was in full swing and moving as planned holding leaves and Ethiopian flag, heavily armed AGAZI unit started surrounding over 3000 demonstrators. Then with heart breaking cruelty they sprayed live bullets into demonstrating mass turning the beautiful morning into bloodied and darkest day in Sidama history. Over 100 lives including children were lost instantly and several more in the days that followed who were wounded and denied medical care.

In the morning of the massacre, Waqayo  Demessa, Girma Chuluke and  Berhanu Hankara went to demonstrators and begged the demonstrators not to stage the demonstration,  it was too late then to save the life and the killings ensued. They were blamed by the government for the massacre and thrown into jails along with hundreds of Sidamas.

Despite requests from international organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and European Union to bring justice to victims, EPRDF has refused to take action against those who ordered or conspired to implement the massacre. It's inconceivable to expect justice from the regime that rewards murderers and commits atrocities against innocent Ethiopians. It does not come as a shock there for to witness how these gave final order to shoot and kill are now leaders of the country. But these who present at final meeting and opposed the shoot and kill decision have been jailed, demoted and led their life under house arrest.

Today, May 24, 2017, Sidama community at home and abroad has remembered lives brutally cut short by the regime 15 years ago. They paid ultimate price with their lives for us to live free. We all should stand for their just cause and make sure they did not die in vain. We must seek justice for victims. We should make sure all of the criminals responsible for the May 24 2002 massacre must be held accountable and pay for their crimes.