(OLF-OLA Press Release)
After the first round of talks in Tanzania concluded on May 3rd, Arat Kilo initiated a broad offensive across territories in Oromia under our administration. This move starkly contradicts the understanding that de-escalation should be prioritized during negotiation processes. The current offensives seem designed to secure leverage ahead of the second round of talks.
Despite our unwavering commitment to peace, we have been forced to defend our territories in West Walaga, East Walaga, Horo Guduru, West Shawa, East Shawa, Arsi, Hararghe, Borana, and Guji. This defense has resulted in substantial casualties on the regime’s side. Our forces have remained resolute, successfully repelling each offensive and effectively dismantling the regime’s primary staging ground for offensives in southwest Shawa.
Nonetheless, the toll this conflict takes on civilians is deeply concerning. The regime’s forces have resorted to coercive tactics, pressuring civil servants to finance their military operations and compelling farmers to supply food for their troops. Those who resist face punitive actions, which range from the withholding of fertilizer to summary execution. The army has also forcibly drafted farmers into local militias. As they traverse the towns and villages of Oromia, the regime’s forces engage in robbery, mobile phone confiscation, and public beatings. They have set homes ablaze, ruined farms, and perpetrated horrific acts of sexual violence. These ongoing atrocities underscore the regime's alarming disregard for civilian lives. Additionally, they are exploiting civilians financially, manipulating the peace process to garner sympathy from our people.
While we stand firm in our commitment to protect our people and our land against all assaults, the OLF-OLA wishes to underscore that the Oromo movement cannot be pushed into accepting a subpar political settlement through military pressure. We urge the international community to condemn the regime's attempts to control the negotiation terms through military force. Rather than perpetuating violence, we call on the regime to gear itself towards engaging in meaningful dialogue and moving towards an honorable political settlement that respects the sacrifices of our martyrs and realizes the aspirations of our people. This remains the only reliable path to enduring peace.
Victory to the Oromo and All Oppressed Peoples!
OLF-OLA High Command
May 17th, 2023