Sidama Liberation Front

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The Sidama Nation Commemorates the 17th Anniversary of the Looqqee, Hawassa Massacre

SNLF Press Release, 23 May 2019

The Sidama Nation Commemorates the 17th Anniversary of the Looqqee, Hawassa Massacre

On the 24th of May 2002, an estimated ten thousand Sidama elders, farmers, business owners, students and the general public staged a peaceful rally demanding the establishment of the Sidama National Regional State and rejecting the proposed relocation of the Sidama administrative capital outside our land of Hawassa. The rally was entirely peaceful with demonstrators holding placards, the Ethiopian flags and branches of trees as a sign of peace.

However, when the demonstrators reached a suburb of Hawassa north of Looqqee, the Ethiopian federal forces (Agazi forces) and the south Ethiopian regional special police forces opened fire on the demonstrators with a deliberate intention to massacre as many of the protesters as possible. As a result, 70 elders, business owners, farmers, primary school children, youth and Sidama policemen were massacred on a broad day light on 24 My 2002. Over 200 were wounded. Following the massacre, over 1000 Sidama civilians were imprisoned and tortured by the regime forces for a year.

The Sidama nation has been demanding regional self-administration for the past 130 years since the forced incorporation into the Ethiopian Empire in 1892/3 GC. The resistances against occupation involved both peaceful disobediences and armed struggle. The most notable armed resistance for regional autonomy involved the war against the military (Derg) regime between 1978 and 1984 GC in which the Sidama national fully liberated the then three highland districts of Hororeessa, Bansa and Harbagona; and the uprisings of Borrichcha and Wotara Rassa in 1978 in which hundreds of Sidama freedom fighters sacrificed their lives.

The Looqqee massacre of 24 May 2002 will be commemorated in Sidama as well as across the globe on Friday this week. The Sidama youth, ejjeetto and the broader public has organized various events in honour of these fallen ejjetto across Sidama. The youth of Harbagona initiated A Memorial Walk from Yayye to Looqqee (80 KMs) on foot in honour of these fallen heroes. For the first time in 17 years, the Sidama nation is commemorating the Looqqee victims of atrocities with such colourful events within Sidama.

This year’s commemoration of the Looqqee massacre is unique in that it is occurring in the year when the Sidama nation is gearing up to establish its long awaited National Regional State on 11 July 2019, either through a referendum or through a unilateral declaration within the constitutional limit of 12 months from the date of 11 July 2018 on which the Sidama Administrative Council unanimously voted to establish the Sidama regional state. This year is the year when the ideals for which the Looqqee victim of atrocity sacrificed their precious lives will be realized. Any forces in government or otherwise who intend to derail the aspirations of the Sidama nation will never succeed. Be warned, you can never massacre the Sidama nation again for demanding its rights!!

The Sidama nation has paid massive sacrifices in the past 130 years to realize regional self-administration. The Sidama National Liberation Front warns the government to respect the constitution and the constitutional right of the Sidama nation for regional self-administration. The Sidama National Liberation Front never negotiates on the rights of oppressed nations and nationalities in Ethiopia to self-determination including secession and calls up the government of Ethiopia to fully respect to the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

We call upon the federal and regional governments (1) to bring the perpetrators of the Looqqee massacre who are promoted to various government positions in the country and abroad currently be brought to justice immediately; (2) Pay full compensation to the families of the victims of the massacre; and (3) Allocate budget for the construction of the Memorial Park for the victims of atrocities in Sidama in the past three decades.

Eternal glory to the victims of the Sidama Looqqee-Hawassa massacre!!