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United Oromo Evangelical Churches on weeklong killing, beating and detention of protesting Oromo Students by the Ethiopian security forces across Ethiopia’s Oromia Reginal State December 11, 2015

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The Honorable Julie Bishop
Australian Foreign Ministry
PO Box 2010
Subiaco, WA, 6904
Melbourne, Australia

Dear Mrs. Bishop,

Ref: – This weeklong killing, beating and detention of protesting Oromo Students by the Ethiopian security forces across Ethiopia’s Oromia Reginal State,

We are coping you an appeal letter we sent to the Ethiopian regime to draw your attention to the plight of Oromo students, and Oromo people in Oromia, Ethiopia and to convey our great concern about the ongoing violent action against unarmed students protest. We are extremely saddened by reports that Ethiopian security forces again this week opened fire and killed unarmed student protestors at Haro Mayya and Madda Walaabuu Universities, imprisoning unarmed young university and high school students over Oromia Region from East to West and North to south. The current episode is the repeat of the inhumane treatment of two years ago and innocent students and parents are under indiscriminate attack.

The Board of the United Oromo Evangelical Churches, on behalf of its member churches around the World, is sending its urgent appeal to you and all fair minded people of good will, churches and other religious establishments, regimes, and other Human Rights organizations to urgently intervine on behalf of the young Oromo students and the households of students, and the small farmers being displaced and ask the Ethiopian government to:

AUS_-UOEC-petition_letter_cover_-Human-right-Organziations, 4 December 2015

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OBSERVATEURS (France 24): Les Oromos d’Éthiopie se rebellent contre Addis Abeba December 11, 2015

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 Odaa Oromoo

Say no to the master killer. Addis Ababa master plan is genocidal plan against Oromo people. Say no.OromoProtests @Geedoo Dec. 8, 2015 pictureOromoProtests @Finfinnee University Dec. 7, 2015#OromoProtests of 7 December 2015

Les Oromos d’Éthiopie se rebellent contre Addis Abeba

OBSERVATEURS,  John B
 http://observers.france24.com/fr/20151211-oromos-ethiopie-rebellent-contre-addis-abeba-manifestations-universite

 Depuis 10 jours, de violents affrontements ont lieu entre les forces de l’ordre et des manifestants dans la région d’Oromia en Éthiopie. Les militants, pour beaucoup des étudiants, dénoncent un projet “d’accaparement des terres” mené par le gouvernement.

Fin novembre, le gouvernement éthiopien a annoncé un plan d’extension de la capitale Addis Abeba, située dans la région d’Oromia. Appelé “Master Plan”, ce projet a pour objectif, selon les autorités éthiopiennes, de contrôler l’expansion rapide des grandes villes pour atténuer l’exode rural. Mais ce projet fait craindre aux habitants un accaparement des terres agricoles. Il avait déjà été annoncé en 2014 et avait alors suscité une vague de manifestations à travers la région, coûtant la vie à 70 étudiants, selon un communiqué de l’association des étudiants de l’Oromia.

Avec près de 25 millions d’habitants, l’Oromia est la région la plus peuplée d’Éthiopie. Les Oromos, l’ethnie majoritaire dans la région, dénoncent depuis plusieurs années leur marginalisation.

 

“Ni les habitants ni le gouvernement de l’Oromia n’ont été concertés”

John B

John B (pseudonyme) est étudiant à Ambo University dans la région d’Oromia. Il était sur le campus durant les premiers jours de la manifestation. Il nous explique ce conflit compliqué entre les Oromos et le gouvernement central.

L’Éthiopie est une République fédérale divisée en neuf régions. Selon la constitution, chaque région à le droit à son propre gouvernement. Mais nous avons un problème dans l’Oromia : la capitale du pays, Addis Abeba, est située dans la région et elle est gouvernée par le gouvernement fédéral.

Il y a toujours eu des différents entre la population d’Oromia et le gouvernement central, mais en Éthiopie, il y est difficile de se rebeller. Le mois dernier, le gouvernement a de nouveau mis sur la table son “Master Plan” . Avec ce projet, le gouvernement veut étendre son contrôle administratif dans l’Oromia. C’est une sorte d’extension d’Addis Abeba.

Mais le “Master Plan” remet totalement en cause notre frontière et nous avons peur que cela passe par un accaparement des terres. Des fermiers oromos pourraient-être expulsés. Ni les habitants ni le gouvernement de l’Oromia n’ont été concertés. C’est pour cette raison que la population manifeste : personne ne veut céder ses terres ! Surtout que nous savons que ce plan de “développement” de la ville ne va bénéficier qu’à une minorité de dirigeants, pas aux habitants oromos.

Selon Bekele Nega, le secrétaire général du Congrès Fédéral d’Oromia [parti d’opposition en Éthiopie], 13 étudiants auraient été tués et une centaine jetés en prison suite aux manifestations. Sur Facebook et Twitter, de nombreuses photos d’étudiants blessés et de policiers armés ont été relayées.

Ce sont les étudiants qui se sont mobilisés en premier. Dans mon université, les manifestations ont commencé la semaine dernière. C’était très pacifique et d’ailleurs, selon la Constitution éthiopienne, nous avons le droit de manifester. Trois jours après le début des manifestations, la police est entrée dans le campus. Les forces de l’ordre se sont montrées très violentes, des étudiants se sont fait frapper, beaucoup avaient du sang sur le visage et les mains. Tout le monde s’est mis à courir. Ceux qui n’ont pas eu le temps de s’échapper ont été arrêtés et emmenés au poste de police.

Les fermiers et les habitants de l’Oromia ont rejoint les manifestations étudiantes. Photo prise à Inango – Oromia.

Je sais que dans d’autres universités, les policiers ont utilisé des armes à feu mais pas dans la mienne. En ce moment il n’y a presque plus personne sur le campus : les étudiants ont peur. Dans d’autres villes, les manifestations continuent et les étudiants ont été rejoints par les habitants et les fermiers. Je n’ai jamais vu un mouvement de contestation si important dans la région.

Les médecins de l’hôpital Jimma dans la ville d’Agaro dans l’Oromia expriment leur soutien aux manifestants.

Le mouvement de contestation ne s’arrête pas aux frontières éthiopiennes. Selon le compte Twitter “Oromo Press”, la communauté oromo aux États-Unis s’est mobilisée ce vendredi pour dénoncer le “Master Plan” et demander l’intervention du président américain.

Le commissaire de police de la région s’est justifié lors d’une conférence de presse la semaine dernière. Selon lui, les manifestants auraient été particulièrement violents. Les forces de l’ordre ne seraient alors intervenues que pour maintenir le calme dans les universités et écoles.

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English Translation (Google)

For 10 days, violent clashes took place between police and protesters in the Oromia region in Ethiopia. The activists, many of them students, denounce a project “land grab” led by the government.In late November, the Ethiopian government has announced a plan to extend the capital Addis Ababa, located in Oromia. Called “Master Plan”, the project aims, according to the Ethiopian authorities to control the rapid expansion of large cities to mitigate the rural exodus. But this project fears the inhabitants a farmland grab. It had already been announced in 2014 and was then sparked a wave of protests across the region, claiming the lives of 70 students, according to a statement of the association of students of theOromia.

With nearly 25 million inhabitants, Oromia is the most populated region of Ethiopia. The Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the region, denounce their marginalization for many years.

 

“Neither the people nor the government of the Oromia have been concerted”

John B

John B (pseudonym) is a student in Ambo University in the Oromia region. He was on campus during the first days of the event. He explains this complicated conflict between the Oromo and the central government.

Ethiopia is a federal republic divided into nine regions.According to the constitution, each region has the right to his own government. But we have a problem in Oromia: the capital, Addis Ababa, is located in the region and it is governed by the federal government.

There have always been different from the population of Oromia and the central government, but in Ethiopia, it is hard to rebel. Last month, the government again put on the table his “Master Plan”. With this project, the government wants to extend its administrative control in the Oromia. This is a kind of extension of Addis Ababa.

But the “Master Plan” runs counter to our border and we fear that it goes through a land grab. Of Oromo farmers could be expelled. Neither the people nor the government of the Oromia have been concerted. This is why the population manifesto: nobody wants to surrender its land!Especially since we know that this plan “development” of the city will benefit only a minority of leaders, not the Oromo people.

According to Bekele Nega, the general secretary of the Federal Congress Oromia [opposition party in Ethiopia], 13 students were killed and hundreds jailed following protests. On Facebook and Twitter, many photos of students injured and armed police were relayed.

These are students who mobilized first. At my university, the demonstrations began last week. It was very peaceful and elsewhere, according to the Ethiopian Constitution, we have the right to demonstrate. Three days after the protests began, the police entered the campus. The security forces have been very violent, students have been hit, many had blood on his face and hands. Everyone started running. Those who have not had time to escape were arrested and taken to the police station.

Farmers and people of Oromia joined student protests.Photo taken at Inango – Oromia.

I know that in other universities, police used firearms but not in mine. Right now there is almost no one on campus: students are afraid. In other cities, the protests continue and the students were joined by local residents and farmers. I have never seen such a large protest movement in the region.

Doctors at the hospital in Jimma town in the Oromia Agaro express their support for protesters.

The protest movement does not stop the Ethiopian border. According to the Twitter account “Oromo Press”, the Oromo community in the US rallied on Friday to denounce the “Master Plan” and request the intervention of US President .

The region’s police commissioner was justified at a press conference last week. He said the demonstrators were particularly violent. The security forces would do that then intervened to maintain calm in universities and schools.


 

 

Oromia: Vice News: Deadly Protests in Ethiopia as Students Defend Farmers from Urban ‘Master Plan’ December 11, 2015

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Say no to the master killer. Addis Ababa master plan is genocidal plan against Oromo people#OromoProtests of 7 December 2015‪#‎OromoProtests‬ Global Solidarity, Switzerland, 11 December 2015

Deadly Protests in Ethiopia as Students Defend Farmers from Urban ‘Master Plan’

 By Kayla Ruble, news.vice.com, December 11, 2015

In the last two weeks, protests have spread to more than 50 towns as part of a larger and years-long movement against the Ethiopian government’s controversial development plan. It’s not the first protest against the so-called Master Plan; there was a similar uprising in April and May of 2014 after the development plan was approved. A crackdown by security forces left dozens dead and hundreds arrested.

By all accounts, according to Jawar Mohammed, the founder of Oromo Media Network, the recent movement is much bigger than its predecessor. The Minnesota-based Ethiopian said reports indicate farmers and other citizens have even begun to join in on the demonstrations over the last few days.

“This is the biggest protest by far that I have seen in the last 25 years,” Mohammed said.

In addition to being more widespread than previous demonstrations, this year’s protests have reportedly been better organized, according to American-based Ethiopian journalist Mohammed Ademo. While improved access to social media has played a role, Ademo said the size can also be attributed to a growing dissatisfaction among the public with what he called the “government’s top-down, non-participatory approach to development.”

“Gone are the days when the central government can displace Oromo farmers and forcibly implement any policy,” he said. “Continued crackdown on the protesters only ensures Oromos’ growing estrangement from the state.”

The estrangement has a strong economic component. The expansion of Addis Ababa, the headquarters of both the African Union and the international airline carrier Ethiopia Airways, is a symptom of both the wider urbanization in sub-Saharan African cities and the booming success of national economy.

Addis Ababa has seen growing foreign and economic investment in recent years, while at the same time becoming a regional business hub, Bill Moseley, a geography professor at Macalester College, in St. Paul, Minnesota, said.

“Ethiopia’s seen as this kind of up-and-coming country with a lot of investment that’s posturing to make Addis more of a global city, so I’m sure that’s feeding into this sort of push to expansion,” Moseley explained. “It’s these small farmers that lose out, but it’s rationalized in sort of these broader development goals.”

Generally, said Moseley, when governments pave the way for urban growth they often use this development as a way to justify land grabs. According to Moseley, this situation is not exclusive to Addis Ababa and Ethiopia, but one seen in other cities across sub-Saharan Africa and around the world.

For the Oromo, specifically, activists claim they have not benefited from the country’s growth and prosperity. The regional ethnic group, which counts Oromia as its homeland, makes up more than 80 percent of the state’s 27 million people. Nationally it represents upward of 35 percent.

Literacy rates are bleak and the group is underrepresented in government. According to Mohammed, nearly a dozen Oromo clans have been swallowed up in the city’s horizontal expansion as they are forced off their lands. In Ethiopia, the government owns all of the land, but the constitution does provide some protections for the public. Oromo activists say these rights have been ignored in the rush to expand.

“The capital city is in the middle of Oromia, but you don’t see any Oromo identity in it,” he said. “Every time [Addis Ababa] expands it just destroys them. They’re saying the development has to incorporate us…. You can’t just leave us stranded.”

The planned development has also hit home for the Oromo, who have a very close connection with their land, according to Human Rights Watch Horn of Africa researcher Felix Horne.

“They’re concerned if a large portion of land outside of Addis Ababa comes under control of the city administration that farmers will be displaced from the land,” he explained. “[That] they won’t receive compensation from their livelihoods. And they won’t have the ability to feed their families.”

The government has a history of cracking down on the Oromo people, who represent a majority of the population and a perceived threat to power to the minority-led coalition. Horne said that anytime Oromos expresses dissent or simply asks a question about land development policies, they can be subject to arbitrary detention and mistreatment.

Beyond discrimination and crackdown on the Oromo, freedom of press and other expression is heavily curtailed in the country as a whole. Horne said coverage of the recent protests has been almost non-existent.

“Ethiopia is often applauded internationally for its economic growth and development initiatives, but that’s only one part of the story,” he said. “Anyone who expresses any form of dissent in Ethiopia is in trouble.”

https://news.vice.com/article/deadly-protests-in-ethiopia-as-students-defend-farmers-from-urban-master-plan

Daily News: Outcry as Oromo protests in Ethiopia turn violent December 11, 2015

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Outcry as Oromo protests in Ethiopia turn violent

Opposition groups say security forces have killed 20 people in three weeks of protests over a government re-zoning plan. Members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group view the plan as a further infringement on their rights.

 ‪#‎OromoProtests‬ Global Solidarity, Australia, 11 December 2015

 

Opposition groups say security forces have killed 20 people in three weeks of protests over a government re-zoning plan. Members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group view the plan as a further infringement on their rights.

“Dubbiin lafaa dubbii lafeeti!” (“The matter of land is a matter of the bone.”) When describing the sensitivity of the so-called “Addis Ababa master plan,” Bekele Naga, the Secretary-General of the Oromo Federalist Congress party (OFC), does not mince his words. “The constitution of the country proclaims that the land belongs to the people,” Naga told DW. But he believes this is being violated: “The Ethiopian government has been engaged in land grabbing, leading to cultural genocide [of the Oromo people].”

Oromia is one of nine regional states organized by Ethiopia’s system of “ethnic-based federalism,” which is part of the country’s constitution. The national government is pushing forward with a plan to expand the area of the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia state. Protests over the plan have been going on for weeks, but for the Oromo people, tensions have existed for much longer.

Neglect at the root of the crisis

Oromos make up the largest chunk of Ethiopia’s 95 million people, and their language is the fourth most widely spoken African language across the continent. Yet Oromo is not recognized as a federal working language.

Most Oromos feel they have been cheated of political and economic representation by a succession of non-Oromo governments. To them, the plan by the government and city administration to expand the area of the capital – which Oromos prefer to call Finfine instead of the Amharic “Addis Ababa” – is yet another example of the high-handedness of the ruling elite which comprises mostly non-Oromos.

Protests against the plan to connect the capital with a number of Oromia towns first turned violent in April 2014. At least 11 people were killed when security officers used live ammunition against demonstrators. Oromo representatives put the number of dead as high as 47.

According to an Amnesty International report from 2014, “between 2011 and 2014 at least 5,000 Oromos have been arrested […], detained without charge or trial, or killed by security services during protests, arrests and in detention.”

Many of the protestors are students, who are now demonstrating against the violence.

Farming families evicted

In Africa’s second most populous nation, land is hotly contested between farmers and investors, both local and foreign, as the government pushes forward with an ambitious development agenda. Critics of the “Addis Ababa master plan” argue that it is not designed to export development into the surrounding communities as the government claims, but rather to evict Oromo farmers and residents from their land.

One Oromo farmer from Sululta, a town part of the “integrated master plan” located 26 kilometers (16 miles) to the north of Addis Ababa, spoke to DW on condition of anonymity. He claimed that in late November alone, the government evicted 600 farming families on the grounds that their land was needed for the construction of a factory. When asked if they had received fair compensation and a new home, the farmer told DW that the money given to them was “very meager,” and that the families had so far not been given a place to relocate to.

The farmer also claimed that officials at the Sululta municipality and the Oromia regional administration threatened the farmers they were evicting with arrest should they fail to accept the “deal.”

Get the word out

“Where do we go…no one is going to accept us,” another farmer, aged 89, told DW, on condition of anonymity.” Since we have no other solution, we are pleading to you [the media],” he said.

Not surprisingly, there has been little to no information in the country’s mainstream media, which is tightly controlled by a government often criticized by media watch groups for its harassment of independent and critical journalists.

That’s why Oromo protesters have taken to the Internet and to social media. #OromoProtests is trending on Facebook and gruesome images and videos of gunned-down students are circulating widely on the web.

Oromos in the diaspora, known for their vocal contribution to the “Oromo cause,” have also taken to the streets in major cities in the US and Europe. “It is often months before victims and witnesses come forward to reveal what happened in their communities,” says Felix Horne, an Ethiopia researcher with Human Rights Watch. “They eventually do, and the truth will emerge.”

Three weeks of protest have left 20 dead, more than 150 injured and more than 500 arrested – that is according to figures provided to DW by the OFC, the main Oromo political party. The protests are likely to continue, and some embassies in Ethiopia’s capital are bracing for more violence. Norway, for example, has issued travel warnings for parts of Oromia.

http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/12/11/outcry-as-oromo-protests-in-ethiopia-turn-violent/

Freedom House: In response to the ongoing protests in Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state and authorities’s violent response, killing and injuring several peaceful protesters. December 11, 2015

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???????????Freedom HouseEthiopia's scores on freedomStop killing Oromo StudentsOromo students Protests, Western Oromia, Mandii, Najjoo, Jaarsoo,....

Ethiopia: Police Open Fire on Protesters

Freedom House, Washington, December 11, 2015

In response to the ongoing protests in Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state and authorities’s violent response, killing and injuring several peaceful protesters, Freedom House issued the following statement:

The authorities trying to forcibly stop protests in Oromia should remember that peaceful  assembly is guaranteed by Ethiopia’s  constitution,” said Jenai Cox, senior Africa program manager. Firing live bullets to disburse peaceful protesters violates this right. The government of Ethiopia should conduct an inquiry into these police killings and bring those responsible to justice.”

Background:

Oromia is the largest regional state in Ethiopia. Students  and other residents across the region have staged peaceful rallies to object  to a government-proposed master plan that apparently calls for the expansion of Addis Ababa into the Oromia regional state, potentially evicting farmers. Activists report that 14 protesters have been killed by police and several others were injured.

Ethiopia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, and Not Free inFreedom on the Net 2015

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

https://freedomhouse.org/article/ethiopia-police-open-fire-protesters#.Vmsb1ErFBf9.twitter

Childhood Education and the Rates of Returns to Human Capital Investment: How your early childhood shapes your brain December 11, 2015

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How your early childhood shapes your brain

Did you know that investments in early childhood are crucial for achieving the brain’s full developmental potential and resilience?

Jim Heckman, Nobel Laureate in economics, and his collaborators have shown that strong foundational skills built in early childhood are crucial for socio-economic success. These foundational skills lead to a self-reinforcing motivation to learn so that “skills beget skills”. This leads to better-paying jobs, healthier lifestyle choices, greater social participation, and more productive societies. Growing research also reveals that these benefits are linked to the important role that early foundations of cognitive and socio-emotional abilities play on healthy brain development across the human lifespan.

Brain complexity –the diversity and complexity of neural pathways and networks— is moulded during childhood and has a lasting impact on the development of cognitive and socio-emotional human abilities.

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Early life experiences affect childhood development through changes in brain structure and function

The first one thousand days of a person’s life is a window of opportunity for investments that will lead to health and productivity. The quality of nurturing environments, in particular, preschool experiences and the interactions with adults and peers during childhood, shapes cognitive and socio-emotional skills.

Childhood cognitive abilities provide a foundation for adult cognitive functions. This means that successful brain development ensures that children develop basic cognitive abilities. The so-called “fluid abilities” (such as memory, reasoning, speed of thought and problem solving ability), which underlie high-level cognitive processes, are used to acquire new knowledge, tackle novel problems, and reasoning.

Fluid abilities tend to correlate with each other (i.e. individuals who perform well in one domain have a tendency to perform well in other domains) and intertwine to form a person’s general cognitive ability or intelligence. While there are substantial individual differences in cognitive functioning across the life-span, on average, knowledge-based abilities remain relatively stable into late-life. In addition, fluid abilities start to decline in mid-life and more so during advanced aging.

We are more likely to develop pathologies (diseases) with aging

Aging erodes structural and functional brain integrity.  One such cognitive disorder of the aging brain is dementia, the incidence of which increases exponentially with age. It is the leading cause of loss of independent functioning and requirement for institutional care in old age.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. The number of people living with dementia worldwide is currently estimated at 47 million –nearly 60% of cases occur in low- and middle-income countries — and is expected to triple by 2050 with increasing life expectancies around the globe. Some of the mainchallenges associated with dementia are the economic impact on families, caregivers, and communities, associated stigma, and social exclusion.

An adequate early childhood environment and strong foundational cognitive abilities protect against the risks of the aging brain. A healthy and active brain, shaped byadequate nutrition and safe and enriching environments in early-life, enables the retention of brain functions across a lifespan.

The peak level of fluid cognitive abilities is shaped, in part, by early childhood cognition and is one of the major factors in determining cognitive aging trajectories. Multiple complex pathways underlie this association, which also explains why childhood cognitive abilities provide, partly via higher educational achievement, entry into better jobs and healthier environments.

The resilient brain

Optimal brain development provides an individual with a greater number of neurons, more synapses (neural connections), and multiple pathways to perform any given task. Such “neuronal redundancy” comes in handy when a person is faced with deleterious brain aging.

More importantly, an increasing number of studies suggest that early childhood interventions targeting mental domains might increase maximum life-time cognition, potentially reduce the trajectory of cognitive decline in late-life, and even postpone the point at which cognitive deficits first appear.

Evidence from this research is inspiring innovations to make brain development a central element in early childhood programs in developing countries. In Colombia, a World Bank pilot program showed caregivers how to stimulate young children using play and talk. A rigorous evaluation shows that it improved their ability to understand and process what they hear or read. A follow up study is being planned to see if the gains have been sustained over the medium term.

In Kenya, researchers are studying whether giving storybooks to poor households helps improve children’s readiness to succeed by stimulating visual and cognitive brain development. In Bangladesh, another study examines whether getting parents to play and sing to their young children helps their brain development by building positive bonds with them.

Studies and increasingly interventions across several disciplines – neuroscience, health, education, economics, and psychology- provide evidence that early and sustained investments in human development are key for our neurons, our brains, for us as individuals, and for our societies. They lay the foundations for our capacity to achieve and to function well despite social or even biological obstacles throughout one’s life course.

Is there a link between the early foundations of brain development and the capacity to recover from adversity? What is the role of socio-emotional development? Advances in the brain sciences show that, indeed, individuals with a good head start in brain development are more resilient to potential mid-life adversities and the aging process.

In our next blog, we will look into new evidence from the fields of neuroscience and psychology. We will write about ‘resilient brain aging’ and the catalytic role of an adequate early-life environment for developing full brain potential.  Please check back next week to find out more about the link between socio-emotional abilities and the resilient brain.

 

Author: Dorota Chapko is a PhD candidate in Public Health at the University of Aberdeen. Omar Arias is acting sector manager and lead economist in the Human Development Economics Unit for the World Bank Europe and Central Asia region

https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/12/how-your-early-childhood-shapes-your-brain/?utm_content=buffer8f58b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Guardian Africa Network: Extending capital into surrounding farmland is part of ongoing discrimination against #Oromo people. #OromoProtests December 11, 2015

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???????????Say no to the master killer. Addis Ababa master plan is genocidal plan against Oromo people. Say no.Oromo students Protests, Western Oromia, Mandii, Najjoo, Jaarsoo,....

Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis

Extending capital into surrounding farmland is part of ongoing discrimination against Oromo people, say protesters. Global Voices reports

Men parade in the Oromia region outside Addis Ababa.
Men parade in the Oromia region outside Addis Ababa. Photograph: STR New/Reuters

At least 10 students are said to have been killed and hundreds injured during protests against the Ethiopian government’s plans to expand the capital city into surrounding farmland.

According to Human Rights Watch, the students were killed this week when security forces used excessive force and live ammunition to disperse the crowds.

The students were protesting against a controversial proposal, known as “the master plan”, to expand Addis Ababa into surrounding Oromia state, which they say will threaten local farmers with mass evictions.

According to the Ethiopian constitution, Oromia is one of the ninepolitically autonomous regional states in the country, and the region’s Oromo people make up the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.

However, rights groups say the Oromo have been systematically marginalised and persecuted for the last 24 years. By some estimates, there were as many as 20,000 Oromo political prisoners in Ethiopia as of March 2014.

It’s not the first time the security forces have reacted violently to protests in support of the group. At least nine students were killed in May 2014 while defending the rights of famers in the region when the “master plan” was first announced.

In response to the violence, Amnesty International issued a report on government repression last year, noting that “between 2011 and 2014, at least 5,000 Oromos [were] arrested based on their actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government.”

The human rights organisation found that in numerous cases “actual or suspected [Oromo] dissenters were detained without charge or trial, killed by security services during protests, arrests and in detention.”

The ruling elite and members of government are mostly from the Tigray region, which is located in the northern part of the country.

Social media

The Ethiopian media has paid little attention to the protests. Demonstrators have been taking to Facebook and Twitter to report the clashes, with additional coverage coming from diaspora media.

“The Oromo youth are a powerful political entity capable of shaking mountains,” one Facebook user, Aga Teshome, wrote in support of the protesters. “This powerful political entity is hell bent on exposing the [ruling party] EPRDF government’s atrocious human rights record and all round discriminatory practices.”

Another user said more should be done to shine light on the movement: “The silence has truly been deafening. We need to see and hear the inspiring actions undertaken by huge numbers of ‪#‎Oromo‬ in ‪#‎Ethiopia.”

Desu Tefera echoed the calls for better media coverage: “We call upon the media to investigate the conditions that these students died trying to expose and resist,” he wrote.

“Oromia needs a new kind of reporting by the international media, which gives voice to the voiceless Oromo people, who for a very long time have been killed, mistreated, abused, neglected and repressed in Ethiopia.”

Dubious development

For many Ethiopians, this week’s clashes show that the issue of Oromo rights refuses to go away.

Protests against the master plan for expansion first began in April last year, when students from outside the capital argued that if the proposal was implemented, it would result in Addis further encroaching into the surrounding territory, allowing the capital to subsume surrounding towns and leaving informal settlements vulnerable to government redevelopment.

The government rejected the accusation, claiming that the plan was intended only to facilitate the development of infrastructure such as transportation, utilities and recreation centres.

The unrest halted the development until now, but in November resentment boiled over again when it became clear the government had resumed its plan.

Since the highly contested 2005 national election forceful evictions and urban land grabbing have become frequent in Addis and its environs, opposition groups say. The city’s rapid growth has resulted in increasing pressure to convert rural land for industrial, housing or other urban use.

The population of the capital is estimated to have grown at a rate of 3.8% per year since 2007, but the repurposing of land in order to accommodate the expansion has been a particularly contentious issue.

Ermias Legesse, a high profile government defector, has argued that since 2000 the Addis Ababa city municipality, with the support of the federal government, has enacted five different pieces of legislation to “legalise” informal settlements, allowing them to be sold on to private property developers.

“Sometimes the informal settlers are given only a few days’ notices before bulldozers arrive on the scene to tear down their shabby houses and lay foundations for new investors,” Legesse said in an interview last week.

A version of this article first appeared on Global Voices

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/11/ethiopia-protests-master-plan-addis-ababa-students?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Oromia Support Group Asutralia Statement on the Current Situation in State of Oromia. December 11, 2015

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???????????#OromoProtests of 7 December 2015Oromo students Protests, Western Oromia, Mandii, Najjoo, Jaarsoo,....Stop killing Oromo Students

 

Oromia-Support-Group-AustraliaTo:  Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 917 9022

Oromia Support Group Australia (OSGA) extremely shocked about the killings and torture of innocent Oromo students including Primary School Children in Oromia. Oromo student peaceful protests are spreading throughout Ethiopia, Oromia region, as people demonstrate against the endanger that hundred thousand of Oromo farmers, residents and their families living near the capital, Finfinnee (Addis Ababa), could be evicted from their lands by the name of Addis Ababa expansion policy.

Since the first week of December 2015, horrifying, and heartbreaking images and videos of Oromo children peacefully marched on a street and voiced their anger being beaten to death and killed by shootings. There are credible reports of severe injuries and arbitrary arrests in many locations that the Ethiopian government armed forces and authorities are unable to deny and publicly admitted the killings of Oromo children.

Since the first week of December 2015, horrifying, and heartbreaking images and videos of Oromo children peacefully marched on a street and voiced their anger being beaten to death and killed by shootings. There are credible reports of severe injuries and arbitrary arrests in many locations that the Ethiopian government armed forces and authorities are unable to deny and publicly admitted the killings of Oromo children.

The Ethiopian Federal forces, racially affiliated and heavily armed, known as Agazi and part of the select force of the dominant Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), violently respond when Oromo students and children from various universities and institutions in the country protested against the Master Plan since the beginning of December 2015. (please see attached further statements and evidence).For full document Oromia-Support-Group-Australia-Statment, December 11, 2015 (1)

Oromia-Support-Group-Australia-Statment, December 11, 2015 (1)

IOYA expresses concern about brutality against Oromo protesters December 11, 2015

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???????????Stop killing Oromo StudentsSay no to the master killer. Addis Ababa master plan is genocidal plan against Oromo people. Say no.Oromo students Protests, Western Oromia, Mandii, Najjoo, Jaarsoo,....

IOYA expresses concern about brutality against Oromo protesters

The following is a statement from the International Oromo Youth Association (IOYA).

 

International Oromo Youth (IOYA)  logo

09 December 2015

We are greatly concerned about the recent brutal crackdown against innocent unarmed peaceful protesters in Oromia by Ethiopian police.

Words seem inadequate to express the sadness we feel for the peaceful protesters who have been killed, beaten and unlawfully detained. We share their grief in this time of agony and pain. We are appalled that a similar tragedy occurred last year in April, 2014 and not much has changed in Ethiopia. Recent images surfing the internet are heartbreaking and disturbing. As an organization subscribing to broader democratic engagement of the Oromo youth, we oppose the brutal violence that the Ethiopian government is meting out on innocent, unarmed young students who are peacefully protesting. As International Oromo Youth, we support and stand in solidarity with Oromo student protesters.

The students are protesting the Addis Ababa “Integrated Developmental Master Plan” which aims at incorporating smaller towns surrounding Addis Ababa, displacing millions of farmers. The implementation of the “Master Plan” will essentially result in the displacement of the indigenous peoples and their families. Farmers will be dispossessed of their land and their survival both in economic and cultural terms will be threatened. The student protesters strongly believe that this plan will expose their natural environment to risk, threaten their economic means of livelihood (subsistence farming), and violate their constitutional rights.

We call on the international community to join us in denouncing these inhumane and cruel activities carried out by the Ethiopian government. It has been reported that shootings, unlawful arrests, and harassment by security personals are becoming rampant. We believe it is imperative that the international community raise its voice and take action to stop the ongoing atrocities that are wreaking havoc to families and communities in the Oromia region.

We pray for safety and security of all peoples in Ethiopia.

Sincerely,

IOYA BOARD

Oromia: OSA Statement on the Master Plan and the Oromo Protests December 11, 2015

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???????????OSA

Say no to the master killer. Addis Ababa master plan is genocidal plan against Oromo people. Say no.

The following is a statement from the Oromo Studies Association (OSA).

—–

Oromo Studies Association (OSA)

P. O. Box 5641
Minneapolis, MN 55406-0541
www.oromostudies.org
Email: admin@oromostudies.org

For Immediate Release

December 9, 2015

Statement on the Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan and Oromo Student Protests against Its Implementation

The Oromo Studies Association (OSA) decries and denounces extreme measures taken by Ethiopian security forces, ongoing from late November 2015, killing and maiming peaceful student protesters.

Oromo students at every level of the educational system in Ethiopia, from elementary school to university, began peaceful demonstrations in late November 2015, to protest the implementation of a federally designed Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan (AAIMP), which usurps the authority of the Oromia regional government. The students have been met by heavily armed and equipped special Ethiopian police force units who fire into the crowds with deadly impact. There are ten (10) confirmed deaths at this writing, with the confrontation escalating.

The “Master Plan” refers to the federal government’s controversial design for expanding the territorial boundaries of the capital city, Addis Ababa, increasing the city to twenty times its present size by taking over prime agricultural land from Oromo farmers. This plan, developed in secrecy, was first exposed in April 2014, a disclosure that prompted widespread protests at that time. In April and May 2014 the Oromo students’ peaceful protest against the imposition of the Master Plan in all of Oromia region was met with deadly force and live ammunition, which resulted in the confirmed deaths of more than 70 students, maiming of hundreds and imprisonment of thousands of university students.

Since late November, the demonstrators have started to resist specific steps taken to implement this Plan. It calls for the Federal jurisdiction of the Capital City to seize fertile, well-watered and centrally located parts of the Oromia Regional State. The blueprints for this undertaking were developed without the participation of the Oromia regional government. Since the revelation, there has been no opportunity for public discussion of the plan. Now as Federal forces have begun to move these arable lands out of the domain of indigenous Oromo and into the control of the central government, Oromo students have responded with renewed protests. The scale of the Master Plan is such that it engulfs enough ancestral farmland to affect the lives and livelihoods of nearly six million Oromo people and dismembers the Oromia Regional State by dividing it into two separate zones. There is universal opposition among Oromo both in Oromia and in the diaspora to this Federal action, taken without due process.

OSA members belong to Oromo public and political organizations representing a wide spectrum of ideological and institutional positions. They share a clear focus and mission to produce verifiable data that reveal the real conditions of life of the Oromo people. They also find it within their mission to inform the public of the value and relevance of those findings. In this regard, OSA members have studied and produced research data on multiple dimensions of this very complex and problematic crisis of land use and proprietary rights in the east, west, north, south, as well as centre of Oromia. Findings reveal a longstanding but largely ignored pattern of land confiscation from the Oromo – of which this Master Plan is the latest expression.

OSA believes that the Master Plan is unconstitutional. It violates the principle of federalism, illegally alters the boundaries and jurisdiction of the Oromia regional government, violates citizens’ human right to property and security, and ignores the constitutional principle of transparency for good governance.

OSA believes that the Master Plan is harmful to human development. Contrary to the principles of participatory policy-making for sustainable development, the Master Plan was developed by the federal government to apportion land, in the name of investment, to the economic elite who are already at the top of the social hierarchy. The plan disregards the livelihood of Oromo farmers who will be displaced to face extreme poverty and an increasing unemployment rate. OSA views the plan as having uneven and detrimental impacts by contributing to policy-driven poverty among the Oromo and exacerbating intra-nation/ethnic economic inequality.

OSA believes that the Master Plan is injurious to the environment. Developed in secrecy, the Master Plan violates established principles and practices pertaining to environmental protection clauses. Under the Master Plan, the expanded city will continue dumping toxic substances and industrial wastes on the surrounding cities, towns and lands of Oromo people. Oromo communities in the outlying zones and the ecosystem will remain on the receiving end of the environmental harm.

OSA members fully support the rights of the students who initiated the protests and the rights of those who have now joined them in massive numbers. OSA officers and members will assist their effort to the fullest extent in its capacity as an academic, non-partisan association of Oromo and non-Oromo scholars. We are deeply concerned that the government is using excessive, often deadly, force against unarmed students, including even elementary school students. These incidents are followed by attacks against parents and townsfolk who come out to protect their children against the very security personnel who are constitutionally mandated to provide protection and maintain law and order. It should be a matter of grave concern when an internationally recognized government uses excessive force against its own citizens. It is extremely grievous that the Ethiopian government has called up its well-armed special forces to move against unarmed students. This violates every international human rights principle and rights enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution that officially guarantees extensive, regional and individual rights.

Let us be clear. The issue is not an abstract debate about whether a government has the duty to develop and implement policies to improve the conditions of lives for its citizens or to conduct urban planning necessary to accommodate natural migration of people from rural areas to urban centers. The issue is the unjust process in this instance developed and designed to implement a massive land transfer from Oromia Regional state control to Federal jurisdiction. Even more troublesome is the government’s utter disregard of the people’s inalienable right in a purported democracy to protest policies and to exercise rights guaranteed by the Ethiopian constitution.

The Master Plan is designed to be put into effect over a span of 25 years with a final phase occurring in 2038. When it is fully complete, it will:

o Incorporate 36 towns and 17 rural districts of the Oromia region into the Greater Addis Ababa territory. This includes, Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) Sululta, Dukem, Chancho, Adama, Ambo, Sabata, Mojo and other towns;

o Encompass a total area estimated to be 1.1 million hectares, of which the share of rural and urban areas amount to 85% and 15% with a corresponding population size of 2 million and 11.5 million respectively;

o Accumulate land “to increase rental housing by building 86,000 units every year under what the government calls “Rental Building Cooperative Sector” (10%), “Public Rental Housing Sector” (30%) and “Developmental Owners/Real Estate Sector(15%). As the result, it will uproot millions of Oromo farmers, disrupting not only their lives and livelihoods but dismantling their central position in the territorial and cultural landscape. The takeover disconnects Oromia’s current reach from the eastern to western boundaries of Ethiopia;

o Achieve 30% and 50% level of urbanization in 2023 and 2038 respectively. Given the limited urbanization among the Oromo because of the state-wide discriminatory language and economic policy against the Oromo, the plan will effectively erase Oromo identity, culture and language from the aggrandized Greater Addis Ababa. Even Oromo physical and economic presence would be totally cleared out of this crucially situated zone.

Generally, the plan has the direct effect of forcible transfer, displacement, dislocation and dispossession of the Oromo population from the area in which they are historically indigenous.

The Master Plan reveals that the incumbent policies continue longstanding patterns of historical injustice by denying the Oromo freedom of association, press and expression; by ostracizing residents and the Oromia Regional officials from political decision-making; by stifling and intimidating dissent through invoking arbitrary laws which depict even peaceful protest as terrorism; and by taking repressive measures such as capture, torture, extra-judicial murder, and massive arbitrary detention – all of which were used against Oromo protesters in 2014 and are being actively imposed again as the world witnesses on social media the massacre in broad daylight of the Oromia region’s young and brightest lives.

Cognizant of all of these issues, the Oromo Studies Association calls upon the following:

To the Ethiopian government:
o Release immediately all protesters currently being held in open and secret detention;
o Stop immediately the use of excessive force by security forces against peaceful protesters;
o Honour and protect the rights of citizens to freedom of association, freedom of the press and to freedom of expression;
o Protect the constitutionally-guaranteed right of citizens to protest any policy, a right also protected by all international human rights agreements that this government is a contracting party to;
o Allow independent investigation into the actions of security forces that have resulted in the death and imprisonment of protesters; and
o Bring to justice members of the security force and government officials responsible for the killing and injury of peaceful protesters.
o Halt the implementation of the Integrated Development Master Plan for Addis Ababa and submit it to a constitutionally mandated review, giving the citizens a voice in their own governance.

To Foreign Governments, Donors and Consultants engaged in giving expert advice and financial support to the Ethiopian government in the implementation of the Master Plan:
o OSA offers our considerable research, data – historical, economic, ecological, cultural and social –to all agencies and government who seek to know the full scope of the impact of their engagement with the Ethiopian government.
o OSA acknowledges that all foreign parties in Ethiopia will better pursue their own best interests when operating with full knowledge of the circumstances in the country. We suggest to all parties that reliable information as well as consultation and analysis pertaining to the majority Oromo population of 40 million people is available through Oromo Studies Association.
o Examine the evidence that demonstrates that Oromos are a force for peace and stability in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Peace and justice (nagaa fi haaqa Oromoo) are the principles that undergird governance among Oromos.

To Oromo Students all over Oromia and Ethiopia as a whole:
o OSA is aware and supportive of your efforts and rights to peaceful protest. We understand that you are risking your lives and well-being simply for exercising your democratic right to peacefully protest a policy that directly impacts you, your family, community and nation.
o OSA applauds your commitment to clearly observable forms of peaceful protest.
o OSA affirms its commitment to continue to provide the institutional support and intellectual materials to those who will support you in any venue and to document the ongoing crisis.

To the Public in Oromia and in all of Ethiopia:
o We offer all possible intellectual and scholarly assistance to those who will create avenues to support Oromo protests against the implementation of the Master Plan, realizing that Oromo cultural identity and livelihood is threatened by this design for unvetted, unexamined land confiscation.
o Comparative research by OSA scholars demonstrates that the Ethiopian government’s unconstitutional actions in dealing with one aggrieved the Oromo, indicate an absence of democratic process which inevitably affects all groups.
o OSA reaffirms our commitment to providing research and documentation useful to those who wish to create or strengthen avenues for democracy, citizens’ empowerment and peace within and among peoples who are in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

To Non-Governmental, Inter-Governmental and International Community in general:
o OSA calls upon you to investigate thoroughly the conditions that the Oromo student protesters are suffering and in many cases, dying, to bring to the world attention. OSA members are committed to work with you to examine the conditions that have given rise to this renewed voice. We call on you to alert your respective governments about the widespread violations of fundamental rights in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.
o OSA commends the excellent courageous work of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and International Crisis Group in investigating crises affecting the Oromo over the years. We urge you to continue to document the tragic events underway to bear witness to the sacrifice of the intelligentsia among Oromo youth to draw attention to this issue which is critical to their people’s existence. OSA will provide you with any possible assistance.

To International and Foreign Media Outlets:
o There has been a virtual blackout of information and awareness of the Oromo plight in Ethiopia in general and of this immediate crisis in particular.
o OSA calls upon all forms of print, broadcast and online media to document and publicize the events underway in the implementation of the Master Plan, the widespread Oromo student protests and the harsh response to them. OSA pledges to supply information as needed.
o OSA urges Voice of America to employ at least one, if not several, Oromo correspondents on the ground in Oromia region.
o OSA commends BBC for establishing an Oromo language service and anticipates in depth coverage of these issues in near future.

Re-iterating that Oromo livelihood, language, cultural identity and economic survival is threatened by this design to confiscate land in Oromia, OSA affirms its commitment to support the legitimate rights of all citizens to peacefully protest the Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan. We are committed to offer all possible intellectual and scholarly assistance to strengthen the efforts of those who create avenues to resist its unexamined and unconstitutional implementation.

Henok Gabisa
President, Oromo Studies Association

Bonnie Holcomb
Chair, OSA Board of Directors

——

OSA Website: www.oromostudies.org
OSA Facebook: www.facebook.com/OromoStudiesAssociation
OSA Twitter: @OromoStudies

Oromo Community in the United Kingdom on Systematic repression: Torture, Killing, and Harassment of unarmed school Children in the Oromia regional state of Ethiopia December 11, 2015

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???????????Oromo Peaceful rally in solidarity with #OromoProtests in Oromia against TPLF Ethiopian regime's ethnic cleansing (Master plan), December   10, 2015

The Right Honorable Philip Hammond MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AHOpen letterSystematic repression: Torture, Killing, and Harassment of unarmed  school Children in the Oromia regional state of EthiopiaDear Minister,It is with sadness and anger that we report the renewed crackdown on peaceful Oromo protesters by government security forces in Ethiopia. More than 70 students were killed, many made to disappear, others jailed simply for taking part in a peaceful demonstration in April 2014. Amnesty international compiled a detailed report giving a clear account of this crackdown in its report of “because I am Oromo- a sweeping repression in Oromia.” Over the past week the same tragedy was taking place in Oromia high schools and universities as they were protesting against the continued eviction of the Oromo people from their livelihood without compensation and by driving them down to extreme poverty.While more than 15 million peasants are reported to have been starving (BBC report, 9 Nov, 2015) the oppressive regime in Ethiopia continues to push its policy of evicting the Oromo people from their livelihood on
a wider scale. This policy, coupled with the burning of a vast area of natural forests and continued eviction of indigenous people has been opposed in peaceful protest yet met at all times with brutal suppression in the forms of mass arrest, torture and killings.

The government security forces have killed already Twenty four students since the protest began in different parts of Oromia. Among those first casualties,

For full document

Systematic repression, Torture, Killing, and Harassment of unarmed School Children in the Oromia

Ethiopia: Oromo community protests in London over ‘forced eviction and ethnic cleansing’

VOA: Several Killed in Ethiopia Oromia Protests. #OromoProtests December 11, 2015

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???????????OromoProtests @Finfinnee University  Dec. 7, 2015#OromoProtests of 7 December 2015

Several Killed in Ethiopia Oromia Protests

Clashes between police and protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia region have left several people dead, according to officials and regional opposition leaders.

Oromia has seen three weeks of protests over a government plan to integrate parts of the region with the capital, Addis Ababa. Critics say the plan will undermine local rule and cause local farmers to lose their land.

Witnesses say police have used force to contain or shut down protests, including one that took place Thursday in the town of Bako.

“Today in Bako city when the students came out to protest, people joined them and they started firing live rounds and hit some students,” a witness told VOA’s Horn of Africa Service. There was no word on whether anyone was killed.

Bloomberg news quotes a prominent opposition leader, Bekele Nega, as saying police have killed 10 students taking part in the ongoing protests.

Ethiopia’s communications minister, Getachew Reda, put the number of dead at four, and said security forces have been exercising restraint in the face of violence.

Widening protests

Oromia is one of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically-based states and holds the largest population at more than 27 million.

The protests started on November 20 in the Western Oromo region cities of Ambo, Ginchi and Western Welega, and they have since spread.

The tactics used to clamp down on these protests are reminiscent of the 2014 protests in the Oromia towns of Ambo, Nekemte and Jimma, according to Human Rights Watch, where security forces fired live rounds and beat people who were protesting peacefully.

Speaking to journalists in Ethiopia a few days ago, the police commissioner of the Oromia region, Ibrahim Hajj, blamed misinformation and propaganda for fueling hostilities among some in the Oromo community.

“Today the people are ensuring the rights and are beneficiaries in all sectors including, social, economic sectors. But there are some who are trying to make it seem as if the rights of the people have been violated and they take advantage of this situation behind the scenes,” he said.

Felix Horne, an Ethiopia and Eritrea researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the spread of the protests started slowly and gained momentum within schools and other educational institutions.

“Initially it was students in primary schools, secondary schools, some university students and now we are seeing farmers, workers beginning to take part in these protests in different ways — staging protests peaceful means, sit-ins to mourn the death of those who’ve lost their lives. So the protests definitely seem to be gaining momentum,” he said.

Horne said that while the government’s development for Addis sparked the protests, they are about much larger issues.

“Ostensibly these protests are about the Addis Ababa Master Plan but clearly the Oromos have been marginalized by successive governments and so it’s kind of an accumulation of different frustrations,” he said. “Throughout Oromia, arbitrary detention is common, mistreatment in detention is common and then Oromos just don’t have a voice in issues that impact them day-to-day.”

 http://www.voanews.com/content/several-killed-in-ethipia-oromia-protests/3097737.html