Amharas in Wolkait, North Gondar say regime violates their constitutional rights

ESAT News (March 4, 2016)

The people of Wolkait in north Gondar said their identity as an Amhara has been violated by the regime that annexed their land to Tigray 25 years ago. At a meeting they held on Thursday in the town of Gondar, representatives of Wolkait said the TPLF regime was harasing their children who speak Amharic. The medium of instruction in schools and the working language of the local administrations has been changed to Tigrigna without their consent, which participants of the meeting said contravene their constitutional rights of using their language.

The people of Wolkait, through their representatives, have been campaigning to assert their identity and for their land to be restored back to the Amhara region where they belong. In response to their demands, the regime has reportedly killed and imprisoned several activists who raised such demands.

A committee representing Wolkait was briefly detained in Addis Ababa last month while they were there to file their complaint to the House of the Federation, Ethiopia’s Upper House. There have also been several reports of disappearances of people in Wolkait who demanded their identity and their land be restored.

Observers see the development in Wolkait as one that the ethnocentric regime, despites its rhetoric about respect to ethnic identities, would not and could not respond positively. It instead resorted to crushing the demand of the people of Wolkait by force in order to maintain control of the vast fertile land.

The Wolkait people have been challenging the government saying their region was forcefully incorporated under the Tigray region 25 years ago when the ruling Tigrayan party, TPLF, took control of the central government. The people have since been demanding their identities to be respected as Amharas and their region to be incorporated back to Gondar.

The Wolkait-Tegede region was historically with in the Gondar region of Amhara, and its incorporation to Tigray was an apparent land grab, according to participants of the meeting. They said the Tigrayan dominated government had incorporated huge tract of fertile land to the otherwise barren region of Tigray.

Former governor of the Tigray region during the Imperial regime, Ras Mengesha Seyoum, as well as founding members of the TPLF, Dr. Aregawi Berhe, Gidey Zeratsion, Asegede Gebreselassie and Gebermedhin Aray have all testified to the media that the Wolkait-Tegede-Tselemt region has historically been within the Amhara region. The tyrannical regime however continued to deny the historical facts and has used deadly force against people in the region who at various times raised the issue.