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DW: Oromia: #OromoProtests set to continue in Ethiopia December 24, 2015

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Oromo protests set to continue in Ethiopia

In an interview with DW, a spokesman of the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum accused the government of abusing the country’s constitution with its plans to expand the capital Addis Ababa.

OromoProtests set to continue

Violence and chaos gripped Ethiopia this week as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in protest against government plans to expand the capital Addis Ababa. Human Rights Watch said at least 75 people were killed in a bloody crackdown by heavily armed security forces. The demonstrations have spread to several towns since November, when students spoke out against plans to expand the capital into Oromia territory, a move the Oromo people consider a land grab. DW spoke to Merara Gundina, chairman of the opposition Oromo Federal Congress, in Addis Ababa.

DW: What exactly are you demonstrating against?

Merara Gundina: The Addis Ababa Master Plan is part of a larger land grab by the Ethiopian government around Addis Ababa, which has displaced not less than 200,000 people. Secondly, under federalism all the boundaries are being eroded by the ruling party which is bent on taking the land. People are very angry with the government and people who wanted to see change are frustrated.

Under the Ethiopian constitution all land belongs to the state, with people living there legally considered tenants. Doesn’t this allow the government to carry out any developments that may serve the interests of all Ethiopians?

No, no, the government is misusing it. The constitution says the land belongs to the public so it doesn’t allow the government simply to tell the people “go away” and it takes the land. No, it says there are bonds of state in the name of the people and there are individuals owning the land. It is the ruling party that is misusing the constitution. In fact, the state itself is privatising the country.

We understand you have vowed to continue the demonstrations despite the killings and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared on television that the government would act without mercy. Is it not better to solve these issues through talks?

We continue to support the cause of our people. We continue our peaceful struggle. We cannot be intimidated as the government has done. We have popular support, we have millions of people behind us. The government cannot silence us easily. We are following the constitution but we are against the arbitrary misuse of the constitution by the ruling party. Our people will continue.

Is it true that your organization is getting support from outsiders?

The diaspora is far away. It’s school kids, high schools and universities and the government is simply accusing the left and the right. Probably the diaspora is very active in the media because the local media are totally controlled by the government. We have no access to the media and the diaspora have some media outlets and they report what is happening in the country. But a diaspora of a few thousand cannot move millions of people.

http://www.dw.com/en/oromo-protests-set-to-continue-in-ethiopia/a-18937401?maca=en-Twitter-sharing

 

Related:-

 

VOA: Ethiopia’s Oromos Tread Warily Amid Anti-government Protests

Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest in Valletta against the Ethiopian regime's plan to evict Oromo farmers to expand Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, Dec. 21, 2015.

Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest in Valletta against the Ethiopian regime’s plan to evict Oromo farmers to expand Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Dec. 21, 2015.

Marthe van der Wolf, December 23, 2015 3:22 PM
Schools are closed, businesses have just reopened after being closed for almost a week, and there is tension in Ginchi, Ethiopia, one of the first towns where the Oromo people began protesting last month against a plan to expand the capital, Addis Ababa.

Police are on the main road in Ginchi, which is about 80 kilometers west of Addis Ababa. Interviews have to be conducted on the basis of anonymity and on the outskirts of the town.

A waitress says that despite the reopening of the cafe where she works, life is not back to normal yet: She says that there is not an official curfew, but that young people risk being randomly detained if they are out in the evening.

The most recent protest in Ginchi was last weekend, after a funeral. Citizens said security forces killed three people before the protest took place.

The Addis Ababa master plan is a blueprint to expand the capital into the Oromiya region. The protesters believe that the expansion will lead to land grabs without proper compensation and a loss of the Oromo culture and language.

A shop owner, who participated in the protests, says those who created the master plan do not understand that life is tough and that people like him will not benefit from the promised development. He says there is no benefit for the people to have outside investors who take their land.

Established in 1991

The Oromiya region was established when the current government came to power in 1991. The federal system was divided along ethnic lines. The Oromos are the largest ethnic group in the country.

Bekele Gerba, leader of the opposition Oromo Federal Congress, lives in Adama, the former capital of the Oromiya region. The city, about 60 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, has also seen protests in recent weeks.

Gerba says Oromos have never been treated like equals by Ethiopia’s leaders, but he believes the current government is the worst.

“The ruling classes, usually, they think that Oromo is a threat,” he said. ” ‘One day they can overwhelm us. Therefore, they have to be treated in such a way so that they won’t have any power.’ Therefore, for example, we don’t have any power in the military. All the military commanders belong to a different ethnic group.”

Gerba’s party says more than 75 people have died since the protests began, and that many of his party members have been detained. Rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch say the government is using “excessive lethal force” on the protesters.

A government spokesman, Getachew Reda, told VOA on Wednesday that security forces had exercised restraint, “even under circumstances where they found themselves overwhelmed.”

http://www.voanews.com/content/ethiopia-oromos-tread-warily-amid-anti-government-protests/3116002.html

 

FP: Revolt in an African Stasi State

 

http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/12/23/revolt-in-an-african-stasi-state/

 

Daily Mail: Ethiopia opposition: 80 killed in protests against land plan

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3372090/Ethiopia-opposition-80-killed-protests-against-land-plan.html#ixzz3vCWG0CDp

 

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