The Anuak Justice Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2005. It was formed in
response to an urgent need to represent the Anuak as they struggled with the aftermath of the massacre in Gambella, Ethiopia.
On December 13, 2003, 424 people were systematically tortured and killed by the Ethiopian government and other minority militias. Since that time, as many as 2,500 have been killed,
out of a population of only about 100,000 worldwide. In addition, hundreds of homes have been burned, hundreds of women have been raped, and Anuak crops and livestock have been
destroyed. Anuak police have been disarmed and all Anuak in government positions have been removed from power. More than 51,000 Anuak have fled the region.
These extreme circumstances demanded a response from the worldwide Anuak community, and the need for a response became even more urgent when the international press ignored the
plight of the Anuak. The press made the situation even more painful for the Anuak by repeating the “official line” of the Ethiopian government, claiming the fighting
resulted in few deaths and was the result of inter-tribal conflict.
As a response to this compounded tragedy, several key people in the Anuak community began to work to bring this atrocity to the attention of western governments. On person in
particular, Obang Metho, a Canadian citizen, testified before the UN High Commission for Human Rights and met with the top UN officials for human rights in New York. He also met
with representatives from the US congress and officials of the Canadian and European governments.
It soon became apparent that in order to be a more effective voice for the Anuak, there needed to be an “umbrella” organization that could speak with authority for
During the summer of 2004, the small Anuak community in Spokane, Washington met in homes to brainstorm ways to unite the Anuak and support those who were working to draw the world’s
attention to the disaster in Gambella. A plan developed, and twenty Anuaks from around the US and Canada came to Spokane in September to discuss what could be done. At that meeting,
a decision was made to form the Anuak Justice Council as an organization with international representation. The AJC would be a nonprofit organization with a board of directors, a board
of advisors and a board of representatives from all areas of the world.
The AJC has established significant partnerships with a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Human
Rights Watch, Genocide Watch, Survivor’s
Rights International, the Public International Law and Policy Group (which
has been nominated for
the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize),the World Organisation Against Torture, and the
Forum on Indigenous Issues. These organizations and others have conducted investigations of the events since December 2003.
Representatives of the AJC have appeared before high level government officials from the United States, Canada, the European Union,
and other nations. Due to the AJC’s influence, the United States Congress has drafted and delivered two letters to the Prime
Minister of Ethiopia, calling for an end to the oppression of the Anuak in Gambella.
In addition to advocating for the Anuak before world governments, the AJC provides periodic updates
on the current human rights abuses that are ongoing in the Gambella region. These reports provide a powerful corroboration with
the recently released report by Human Rights Watch.