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UNPO: Oromo: Ethiopian Government Resumes Oppression of Protesters February 11, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Oromo: Ethiopian Government Resumes Oppression of Protesters

UNPO, February 11, 2016

 

A tireless struggle continues on Addis Ababa’s streets and in other 100 towns of the Oromiya Region where a multitude of students try to make their voices heard against the creation of the Addis Ababa Master Plan.  The protests started in November 2015 and the Government’s reaction has brought to a number of deaths, injuries and imprisonments. Additionally, it seems that the Government has no intention to investigate the local authorities’ abuses and general aggressive behaviour, which also included several arbitrary detentions without due legal process.

 

 

Photo courtesy: ©Serge Tenami

Here is an article published by: AllAfrica.com

 

It is happening again, sadly. The government in Ethiopia is back to its signature of killing, maiming and jailing its own people because they are exercising their chance of rejecting state excesses using the only means available: taking to the streets to protest.

Ethiopia is a country that has effectively obliterated several channels that normally help foster a healthy communication between citizens and the state .The sorry state of independent media and civil society organization is distressing; and every day lived experienced of Ethiopians and their contacts with authorities at any level is alarmingly toxic.

Authorities in Ethiopia should have therefore been the last ones to get started by the idea of citizens taking to the streets to make their grievances heard. Alas, that is not to be.

Hundreds and thousands of students and residents in more than 100 cities and towns in Oromiya Regional State (Oromiya for short), the largest and most populous state in Ethiopia, are in and out of the streets since early Nov. last year. Like every experience when Ethiopians were out on the streets protesting state excesses, every day is bringing heart breaking stories of Ethiopians suffering in the hands of security personnel. Since Nov.12th 2015, when the first protest broke out in Ginchi, a small town 80km west of Addis Abeba, countless households have buried their loved ones; young university students have disappeared without a trace; hundreds have lost limbs and countless others are jailed

Ethiopians are once again killing, miming and jailing Ethiopians.

The immediate trigger factor is the possible implementation of the infamous Addis Abeba and Surrounding Oromiya Special Zone Integrated Development Plan, popularly known as ‘the Addis Abeba Master Plan.’

The federal government claims it is a plan aimed at only creating a better infrastructure link between the capital Addis Abeba and eight towns located within the Oromiya Regional State Special Zone. But the reason why it is having a hard time selling this otherwise fairytale like development plan is the same reason why it is responding heavy handedly to any dissent against it: it is what it wants to do.

The current protest is led by the Oromos, who are the largest ethnic majority in Ethiopia. In all the four corners of the Addis Abeba surrounding localities, Oromos also make up the single largest majority whose way of lives have already been affected by mammoth changes Addis Abeba has been having over the last Century.

They are rejecting the central government’s top down plan because they are informed by a merciless history of eviction and dispossession. Several researches show that over the last 25 years alone about half a million Oromo farmers have unjustly lost their farmlands to give way to an expansion of a city that is xenophobic to their way to being.

Not the first time

Sadly, this is not the first time Ethiopians are pleading with their government to be heard in regards to the so-called ‘Master Plan.’ The first protest erupted in April-May 2014 when mostly Oromo student protesters from universities in Ambo and Jimma in the west, Adama in the east and Medaawalabu in south east Ethiopia, among others, expressed their disapproval of the plan. Like today, they have resorted to communicate with authorities the only way they possibly can: take to the streets to protest. And like today authorities have responded the only way they have so far responded to Ethiopian voices calling for justice: killing tens, maiming hundreds and incarcerating thousands.

As of 1991, when the current regime first came to power, students, mostly Oromo students, have staged several protest rallies calling for justice. Each time the end result has been nothing short of a disaster.

Although the 2014 Oromo students protest marked the first of the largest protest against the central government, a not so distant memory of Oromo students’ protests and subsequent crackdowns reveal a disturbing history of state brutality gone with impunity. To mention just two, in late ’90s Oromo Students at the Addis Abeba University (AAU) protested against a systematic expulsion of hundreds of Oromo students, who, authorities claimed, had links with the then rebel group, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). But many of those who protested against the dismissal of their dorm mates soon joined the growing list of expulsion; hundreds of were also jailed. Today mothers speak of their kids who have disappeared without a trace since then. And in early 2000 Oromo students have taken to the streets to protest against the federal government’s decision to relocate the capital of the Oromiya regional state from Addis Abeba to Adama. Many of them were killed when police opened fires in several of those protests, including the one here in Addis Abeba.

Although in 2005 the federal government decided to relocate the capital of Oromiya back to Addis Abeba, fifteen years later Ethiopian prisons are hosting hundreds of students who were jailed following their protest against the decision in the first place; hundreds of them have left the country via Kenya and have become homeless in foreign lands. Less mentioned are also the lives that have been altered forever; the hopes that were dashed; the students’ quest to study and change their lives that were cut short; a country that is deprived of its young and brightest; and family fabrics that were shattered.

State impunity and all that

Following the 2014 Oromo students’ protest and the killing spree by the federal and the regional state police, Abadula Gemeda, speaker of the house of people’s representatives and former president of the Oromiya regional state, promised to bring to justice those who were responsible for the killing.

But two outstanding experiences explain why Abadula’s words were mere rhetoric. And the government in Ethiopia should address both if it wants to remain a legitimate representative of the people it claims to govern.

First, so far no one who represents the government has been held accountable for the killings, maiming, disappearances and unjust incarceration for countless Ethiopians following protest crackdowns. No matter how excessive the use of force by its security agents against unarmed protesters is, the government knows (and acts as such) it can simply get away with it, as it did several times in the past. This is wrong. A state that has no mechanism to hold its rogue agents accountable for their excesses is equally guilty.

In addition to that, in what came as a disturbing twist, the government has adopted a new strategy aimed at portraying itself as a victim of public vandalism. It is rushing to clean itself of the crimes committed by its security agents. Using its disproportionate access to state owned and affiliated media currently the government is presiding over the stories of victimhood more than those whose lives have been destroyed by it. In an act of shame and disgrace to the profession, these state owned and affiliated media are providing their helping hands to complete the act of state impunity.

Second, the central government’s first answer to the repeated cries of justice by Ethiopians is to communicate with them through its army. Like in the past, in the ongoing protests by the Oromo, which have largely focused on cities and towns within the Oromiya regional state, protesters are not only facing the regional state’s security apparatus but also the merciless hands of the federal army reserve. This is an act that not only trespasses the country’s constitutionally guaranteed federal arrangement but also makes the horrific crimes committed by necrophiliac security agents against protesters to get lost in unnecessary details, hence go unpunished.

Public protests in the past and the manner by which the current government dealt with them should teach the later a lesson or two. But the first and most urgent one is that it should stop killing, maiming and jailing its people’s questions.

In addition to the unknown numbers of those who have been killed by the police and the army in the wake of the ongoing protest, cities have seen their hospitals crowded with wounded Ethiopians of all ages; hundreds of individuals, including senior members of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), are already thrown into jails without due legal process. In clear violation of the constitution by none other than the state most of them are held incommunicado in places unknown to their loved ones.

In the wake of his release after serving four years in prison, Bekele Gerba, the prominent opposition figure, told this magazine in April last year that prison was “not a place one appreciates to be, but I think it is also the other way of life as an Ethiopian.” Sadly, Bekele is once again thrown in to jail because that is Ethiopia does to its people’s questions. But an end to this is long overdue.

 

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Oromia (Finfinne): Appeal of Oromo Student’s Union (OSU) to International Community February 11, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooDeath toll climbs as #OromoProtests still rage in Oromia state ( Ethiopia); schools remain closed. As of 30 january 2016. Fascist Ethiopian regime conducts genocide against Oromo people.

Appeal of Oromo Student’s Union (OSU) to International Community

February 10, 2016, Finfinne (Addis Ababa), Ethiopia

QeerrooTo:

  • Multinational organizations (UN, EU, AU, and others)
  • Countries supporting the Ethiopian regime in the name of development, peace and security, education, science and technology (USA, European countries, Canada, Australia, and others)
  • Human rights organizations (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa, and others)
  • Oromo political organizations
  • Oromo studies Association (OSA)
  • Oromo community organizations all over the world and all other concerned bodies

We members of Oromo Student’s Union (OSU) appeal to the international community that we are currently living under difficult conditions. It is evident that the Ethiopian regime is committing genocidal crime on the Oromo people in general and the Oromo students in particular by deploying its military and police force and terrorizing us for peacefully protesting demanding our rights asking the legitimate and rightful questions of our people. Our questions are the questions of our people. Our demands are the demands of our people. Our demands can be divided into two major categories:

  1. Basic human rights must be respected. While the Oromo constitute the majority of the Ethiopian population, Oromia constitute the largest territory, and the region is the economic backbone of Ethiopia, the Oromo people have been marginalized in every arena. Over the past 24 years the Oromo people do not have proportional power and economic share in the country and have been ruled under the EPRDF which in essence is maneuvered and completely controlled by the TPLF party. Since the mass base of the TPLF/EPRDF is the minority Tigrean population, it has been in constant conflict with the Oromo people in Oromia. The Oromo people are ruled under the barrel of the gun being constantly killed, arrested, tortured, students dismissed from schools, civilians kidnapped and disappeared, are forced to leave their country and become refugees in several countries around the globe. Therefore we demand that the basic human and democratic rights of the Oromo people be respected and a system based on equality, justice, democracy, and a government based on the needs of our people be established.
  2. Master Plan must be stopped. Starting from 2014 we protested against the so called Master Plan of the TPLF/EPRDF regime, a plan which incorporates several Oromian towns into the capital Finfinne (Addis Ababa), evicts Oromo farmers from their ancestral land, eradicates Oromo culture, language and identity, planned to sell Oromo land and plunder Oromia’s natural resources, divide the map of Oromia into two, and causes pollution and environmental degradation. We presented our appeal in writing several times requesting that the Master plan be stopped. Instead of answering our request to stop the Master plan, the regime announced another plan to incorporate major Oromian towns which is another plan to incorporate the entire of Oromia under the jurisdiction of the federal government which on the other hand is controlled by the TPLF. When our requests fell into deaf ears we protested peacefully. The answer to our peaceful protest has been brutal killings, beatings, mass arrests, kidnappings and disappearances, inhuman torture by the regime’s so called Agazi troops. In addition to some 80+ people who were killed in 2014, more than 200 peaceful citizens, mostly students have been killed since November 2015. Thousands others have been wounded. Countless others have been jailed and are under severe torture. oromo-student-union-appeal-to-international-community-feb-2016-1