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Sidama: A Call for a Broader Solidarity with the Oromo Students Protesting against the Plan that will displace the Oromo Farmers December 14, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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                                                                                                                                                                             ???????????Oromo people of VS Fascist (TPLF) Agazi forces. #OromoProtests. 14 December 2015.Mass #OromoProtests @Bako, Central Oromia, 14 December 2015#OromoProtests, Qabosoon itti fufa jedhu aayyoleenStop killing Oromo StudentsAgazi, fascist TPLF Ethiopia's forces attacking unarmed and peaceful #OromoProtests in Baabichaa town central Oromia (w. Shawa) , December 10, 2015

A Call for a Broader Solidarity with the Oromo Students Protesting against the Plan that will displace the Oromo Farmers

By Sidama Human Rights ActivistsIn the past three weeks, high school and university students across the Oromia region have staged peaceful protests against the Addis Ababa (Finfine) “Master Plan” that will integrate the city and the surrounding areas in the Oromia region inhabited by the Oromo farmers. The students and the Oromo communities living in the areas adjacent to the city stress that the so-called Master Plan will displace thousands of farmers from their ancestral farm lands thereby undermining their livelihood security and social cohesion. They condemn the ‘Master Plan’ as a pretext for a land grab. They argue that economic development and transformation should benefit people living on the land first, not displace them. Like many other urban centers in Oromia and the south, Finfine is a garrison city built on the ancestral lands of the Oromo people. In such urban centers, the interests of the indigenous inhabitants should be carefully balanced with the need for expansion of the urban space.Peaceful protests by students to voice these legitimate concerns of millions of the Oromo people, have been met with extraordinary violence and brutality by the Ethiopian federal police and paramilitary forces. According to the latest reports, the federal police and paramilitary forces have killed about 20 students in various parts of the Oromia region in the past three weeks. Similar peaceful protests in May 2014 against the same ‘Master Plan’ led to death of about 11 Oromo students (Oromo activists put the death toll at 47).The Oromo people are the single largest nation in Ethiopia accounting for 37% of Ethiopia’s population of about 96 million in 2014. The Oromia region remains the backbone of the Ethiopian economy. Nonetheless, the Oromo people never enjoyed the fruits of their natural resource endowments nor had equitable political representation commensurate to their stature in the country since their land was annexed into the Ethiopian Empire in the late 19th century. Instead, like many other oppressed nations, they remained systematically marginalized and continued to be treated as minorities by the successive Ethiopian regimes. Successive regimes continue to grossly violate human rights of the Oromo and other oppressed peoples. An October 2014 Report by Amnesty International revealed that “at least 5,000 ethnic Oromos have been arrested between 2011 and 2014 based on their actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government.” The report highlights widespread violations of human rights in the Oromia region and “exposes how Oromos have been regularly subjected to arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention without charge, enforced disappearance, repeated torture and unlawful state killings as part of the government’s incessant attempts to crush dissent.”

Widespread violations of human rights were also observed in Sidama following the Loqqe Massacre of 70 peaceful protestors on 24 May 2002. The Loqqe protest was against the proposal to relocate the Sidama administrative capital from Hawassa city to a district town. In exactly the same manner in which the Addis Ababa ‘Master Plan’ envisages to grab the surrounding lands inhabited by the Oromo farmers, the Hawassa city administration continues to displace thousands of the Sidama farmers living adjacent to the Hawassa city today without commensurate compensation, destroying their livelihood security and plunging them in to destitution.

The demands of the Oromo students therefore echo the suffering not only of the Oromo framers but also of the Sidama farmers, the Somali farmers, the Afar farmers, the Benishangul-Gumuz farmers, the Gambella framers, and the farmers in all oppressed regions of Ethiopia. In light of this, the silence of the high schools and the university students in Sidama, Somali, Afar, Benishangul Gumuz, Gambella, as well as Wolayita, Gamogofa, Kaffa, and everywhere else is unwarranted. We call up on all high school and university students in oppressed lands in Ethiopia to join hands in peaceful solidarity with the Oromo students as a matter of urgency. It is naïve to think that the Oromo problems are not our problems. Injustice against one oppressed people, is injustice against all oppressed peoples! You will never be free unless your neighbor is free.

We have witnessed the Oromo solidarity demonstrations in various cities in North America and Europe. This is emboldening. We call up on all the oppressed peoples in Diaspora to join hands in solidarity with the Oromo protesters in North America and Europe and elsewhere.

We also call up on the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the European Union, China, and the African Union to exert pressure on the Ethiopian government to immediately halt the use violence against peaceful students echoing legitimate grievances about the livelihood securities of their people.

Finally, on behalf of the Sidama people, we express our deepest condolences for the tragic losses of the lives of young and aspiring Oromo high school and university students in the past three weeks.

Sidama Human Rights Activists

Hawassa
Sidama
13 December 2015.

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