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#OromoProtests: Tear gas and bullets from security forces have become a regular part of the state’s crackdown in Ethiopia’s Oromia state February 23, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in EthiopiaOromoProtests @Finfinnee University  Dec. 7, 2015

Security Forces in Ethiopia Have Killed More than 200 People, Rights Group Says


By Kayla Ruble,    Vice News, February 23, 2016


Gudina dreams every night of the student she saw with blood pouring out of their mouth after being struck by a bullet fired by Ethiopian security forces during a protest in December. At a related protest in a different town, 17-year-old Gameda saw security forces enter a school compound and shoot three students point blank, and then carry the bodies away.

Tear gas and bullets from security forces have become a regular part of the state’s crackdown in Ethiopia’s Oromia state, as students keep up a protest movement against the government’s plan for expansion and development of the capital, Addis Ababa. Many say the plan will push the Oromo people off their lands.

According to a report from Human Rights Watch this week, Ethiopia has continued to violently suppress the demonstrations that sparked in November, killing protesters and arresting thousands more without charges. Several people the advocacy organization spoke with said they were subjected to torture and sexual assault while detained.

“Continuing to treat the protests as a military operation that needs to be crushed through force shows the complete disregard the government has for peaceful protest and freedom of expression,” said Felix Horne, Human Rights Watch’s researcher for the Horn of Africa.

“Things have become considerably more violent in the last few days,” he said. “Given the limitations on independent reporting on the ground, it’s hard to know precisely what has been happening.” The organization, which is the source of the eyewitness accounts, has changed the names of people it mentions and even avoids specifying their gender, to protect them for the crackdown by the government Tensions are longstanding between the Oromo and the government, lead with a heavy hand by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

The demonstrations started in mid-November in Oromia, the nation’s largest state and home to 27 million people, including 3.3 million living in Addis Ababa. The Oromo, who are the country’s largest ethnic group, are opposed to the government’s Addis Ababa and Surrounding Oromia Special Zone Development Plan. Activists claim the development agenda will swallow up Oromo land and displace farmers as the capital grows outward.

That expansion reflects Ethiopia’s status as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The International Monetary Fund ranks it among the top five expanding economies globally, with a gross domestic product that expanded 10.3 percent from 2013 to 2014. The capital development plan is in line with the economic and urban growth, with plans for building highways, roads, parking lots, market areas, and an airport.

On November 12, elementary and high school students formed the first demonstration in the town of Ginci, about 55 miles from Addis Ababa. As a part of the controversial development project, work had just begun on clearing a forest at the edge of town. Activists said the students engaged in peaceful demonstrations, and videos at the time showed them often standing in silence.

Over the next few weeks, protests began to spread to towns throughout the state as part of a larger and years-long Oromo movement. The Oromo account for more than 80 percent of the Oromia state population. Nationally, they represent more than 35 percent.

Many Oromos say they have not benefitted from the country’s development. Literacy rates and government representation are bleak for the Oromo.

This is 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.

As the current movement unfolded, the recent demonstrations quickly surpassed the scale of those from 2014. By January activists estimated upwards of 140 people had been killed and, according to Human Rights Watch, killings and violence have been reported daily. That figure has since risen to more than 200 people.

With Desalegn and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front controlling the parliament and the judiciary, while having eroded independent civil society and media, Horne said that the protest crackdowns were limiting one of the few outlets for criticism left.

“If Oromia’s citizens have concerns how are they to peacefully express it?” he said. “As we’ve seen the last three months, if you take to the streets you run the risk of being shot by security forces who view protest movements as something to be crushed through brutal force.”

Follow Kayla Ruble on Twitter: @RubleKB


 

https://news.vice.com/article/security-forces-in-ethiopia-have-killed-more-than-200-people-rights-group-says

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Oromia: Ethiopia’s #OromoProtests: A problem that repression can’t solve February 23, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Oromo protests: A problem that repression can’t solve


 

By Simon Allison, Daily Maverick, 23 Februray, 2016

Photo: Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest against the Ethiopian regime in Valletta, Malta, December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The Ethiopian government likes to be in control – of the economy, of opposition movements, of independent media. Like it or not, the tough approach has worked, at least in terms of the country reaching its development goals. But repression is a blunt instrument and the ongoing Oromo protests should force a rethink. By SIMON ALLISON.

The demonstrations began in November 2015. In towns and villages all over Ethiopia’s vast Oromia province, people gathered to voice their frustration at the government.

Their grievances? Specifically, they were unhappy about the unveiling of the Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan, a document that detailed step-by-step how the capital city would suck more land from the province for minimal compensation. Generally, they were protesting a long history of oppression and marginalisation of the Oromo community. The Oromo, despite being Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group are largely excluded from positions of power and have historically been last to access rights and benefits from the state.

The scale of these protests – the wide geographical spread, and the sheer numbers of people who turned out – scared the government who responded with force.

Supposed ringleaders were detained; curfews imposed in several towns and security forces were called in to deal with the angry crowds. Things soon got ugly even though protestors were largely peaceful (although not always – several government buildings were stormed and looted). The same cannot be said for the police, however, who reacted with tear gas, grenades and bullets. By the end of the year, an estimated 150 people had been killed.

The brutal crackdown was the government’s stick. There was also a carrot. In January, in an apparent concession, the government scrapped the Addis Master Plan, saying it had heard and heeded the voice of the people.

This was all too little, too late. Too little because it’s an open secret that the expansion of Addis will continue – it can’t not – but now with even less direction or regulation; and because the government did not address ongoing discrimination against Oromo people. Too late because the brutality of the state crackdown had merely proved the protestors’ point, and reinforced their grievances.

So the protests continued. As did the brutal response. “Almost daily accounts of killings and arbitrary arrests have been reported to Human Rights Watch since 2016 began. Security forces, including military personnel, have fatally shot scores of demonstrators. Thousands of people have been arrested and remain in detention without charge,” reported Human Rights Watch this week.

The rights group added: “The plan’s cancellation did not halt the protest. The crackdown continued throughout Oromia. In late January 2016, Human Rights Watch interviewed approximately 60 protesters and other witnesses from various parts of the Oromia region in December and January who described human rights violations during the protests, some since mid-January. They said that security forces have shot randomly into crowds, summarily killed people during arrests, carried out mass roundups and tortured detainees.”

Sure enough, the Ethiopian government was quick to deny the Human Rights Watch Report. “[An] absolute lie,” said Communications Minister Getachew Reda, speaking to the BBC. Reda blamed the trouble on armed gangs “who are trying to stir up emotions in the public”. At the same time, Reda lashed out at Human Rights Watch, saying that it was “a stroke of magic” for the organisation to get its information from “halfway around the world”. This is disingenuous: as Reda well knows, and as theDaily Maverick reported last month, the reason that organisations like Human Rights Watch cannot maintain an uncompromised presence in Ethiopia is because government restrictions make this impossible.

Although the government may be reluctant to acknowledge them, there’s no doubt that the Oromo protests are real. It is also clear that the government’s usual tactics for dealing with opposition movements – a hefty dose of police brutality combined with targeted detentions and a slick PR machine – is not making them go away this time round.

Maybe it’s time to try something different. In this instance, a little less repression might go a long way. Real engagement and compromise could alleviate the protestors’ immediate concerns, while reassuring them that the government does cater to its large Oromo constituency.

It’s an experiment worth conducting. The Oromo are far from the only disaffected community in Ethiopia and there’s a real danger that the unrest could spread, particularly to the large Muslim minority, who have a recent history of large-scale anti-government demonstrations themselves. This would not only threaten the government’s authority, but also undermine or even reverse its impressive development statistics. Having made such impressive socio-economic progress, the Ethiopian government’s automatically autocratic response to any kind of opposition risks reversing their gains. There’s got to be a better way. DM


 

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2016-02-23-ethiopias-oromo-protests-a-problem-that-repression-cant-solve/#.Vsza0lSLRdg


 

Oromia (All Africa): Guji Oromo to Inaugurate New Aba Gadaa February 23, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ancient African Direct Democracy, Gadaa System, Oromo.
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Oromo nation and Gadaa system

Oromo nation and Gadaa system

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Gadaa (Oromo Democratic System) power transfer in Gujii (Southern Oromia), Feb 2016

(All Africa): Gadaa is a highly independent democratic and egalitarian political system that has guided the religious, social, political and economic affairs of the Oromo people of the Horn of Africa for many centuries. Sources indicate it is a system that organizes the Oromo society into groups or sets (about 7-11 ) that assume different responsibilities in the society every eight years.

Under Gadaa system the power to administer the affairs of the nation and the power to make laws belong to the people. Every male member of the society who is of age and of Gadaa grade has full rights to elect and to be elected. All the people have the right to air their views in any public gathering without any fear.

Last week is a very unique week for Guji Oromo’s who have finalized preparations for inaugurating their new leader (Aba Gadaa).The new leader will serve an eight year term in a system that rotates power between the tribe’s top clans.

Me’ee Bokkoo located in Guji Zone of Sora Woreda is among the most sacred places in which the Gadaa ritual traditions and ceremonies are conducted. The place is special for various reasons including its a sacred place where law is drafted, ratified amended and officially indoctrinated to the community.

Power transfer in Gadaa system is not like a power transfer in Monarchy. People raise fund to campaign for their sons based on their family legacy. In such campaign, the individual capacity of the son is also seriously scrutinized.

According to sources, Gada system is not a system where authority is simply passed from fathers to sons. Of course, the legacy of one’s family and the past accomplishments of a clan councilor has a great influence in the decision that is made to nominate the would be Aba Gadaa and councilors. They must pass through a rigorous training for years about the laws and the customs and the wisdom of leading a society before they take the position of authority in Gadaa.

According to Guji tradition, celebration begins a week before the actual day of power transfer through conducting different activities. The elders at different hierarchy of the system gathered and dressed in beautiful cultural costume to perform dances and musics. The youths have also a unique fashion of dancing style. During the week, communal issues like protection of the environment, wildlife, laws that have to be amended and if there are new laws to be adopted and similar things will be discussed and pass decision accordingly.

For instance, there was a debate by the Gumii, Gumii is the legislative branch of the Gadaa system, about marriage offer the groom has to bring for the bride family. Accordingly, the Gumii passed a new law that will reduce the amount of the offer to be given for the bride family. Aba Gada Bagaja Ganale said that the offer has become an issue of concern because it has been creating trouble among the youth. “The youth of this generation cannot afford to provide that much offer and they demanded change and we were obliged to amend the law, “he added.

Adola Woreda Culture and Tourism Bereau Deputy Head Mohamed Hesa on his part said that Guji Zone is well known for its immense and beautiful cultural heritages. The Zone has finalized preparations to colorfully celebrate the Gadaa power transfer anniversary. The primay aim is to uphold the Gadaa culture not only for the Oromo’s but for the whole of Ethiopia and efforts are underway to register the Gadaa system in UNESCO, he said.

It was learnt that the 74th power transfer ceremony of Guji Oromo Gadaa system will be held today in the presence of senior government officials, Gadaa leaders and other invited guests.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201602220951.html


UNPO: Oromo: Unity Found Between Oppressed Groups in Ethiopia February 23, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, UNPO.
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Oromo: Unity Found Between Oppressed Groups in Ethiopia

By UNPO, 22nd February 2016

The oppressive Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has found itself facing increasing anti-government protests over the last few years and months. More significantly, these protests have shown another trend, which has been the increased action taken jointly by oppressed groups, such as the peoples of Amhara and Oromia. This comes as a result of the continual violent suppression of opposition by state forces, oftentimes resulting in arbitrary arrests, injuries and even death. The recent increase in unified response, however, gives some hope for the future of democracy in the country.

 

Below is an article taken from DissidentVoice.org:

 

Division and fear are the age-old tools of tyrants; unity and peaceful coordinated action the most powerful weapons against them.

Frightened and downtrodden for so long, there are positive signs that the Ethiopian people are beginning to come together, – peacefully uniting in their anger at the ruling party – the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) — a paranoid brutal regime that suppresses the people, is guilty of wide-ranging human rights violations, and has systematically encouraged ethnic divisions and rivalries.

Anti-government protests have been growing over the last few years, and in recent months large-scale demonstrations have taken place throughout Oromia and also in Gondar, where university students have been demonstrating, demanding, academic rights, freedom, democracy and justice.

Tribal groups, particularly the peoples of Amhara and Oromia (the largest ethnic group – accounting for 35% of the population), have come together.  Thousands have been marching, running, sitting, shouting and screaming.

Government slays Peaceful Protestors

The EPRDF’s response to the demonstrators’ democratic gall has been crudely predictable: brand protestors ‘anti-peace forces’ and terrorists, then shoot, arrest and imprison them.

Whilst Human Rights Watch (HRW) say security forces have killed at least 140 people, independent broadcaster ESAT news estimates the number to be over 200. The government, which human rights groups state authorised the police and military to use “excessive force, including…live ammunition against protesters, among them children as young as 12”, has so far admitted 22 fatalities.

ESAT reports at least1,500 have been injured and to date over 5,000 arrested (in Oromia alone), including Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromia’s largest legally registered political party, and his son. Senior members of the OFC, as well as members of other opposition parties and their families, have also been imprisoned. Scores more people are harassed, their homes searched. Acting on behalf of an unaccountable government, security forces are “on a mission of wanton destruction of human lives and properties”.

State plan cancelled by protest

The under-reported protests in Gondar (in the Amhara region) were triggered by two separate, but related issues: government cession of an expanse of fertile land -– up to 1,600 square km, to Sudan under new demarcation proposals — and the widespread belief that state forces are responsible for a mass killing that took place in November 2015 against the people of Qimant. Leaders of The Gondar Union Association told ESAT news they believed the murders were “committed by TPLF [government] cadres, who then blamed it on the Amhara people to incite violence among the two groups.”

In Oromia, where protests began in April 2014 throughout the region, it was the government’s plan to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, on to agricultural land.  Hundreds of smallholders would have been displaced, villages destroyed, livelihoods shattered. Following months of demonstrations the government has announced that the plan is to be scrapped. The official statement virtually dismissed the protestors’ opposition, claiming it was “based on a simple misunderstanding” created by a “lack of transparency”.

Activists reacted with derision to the government’s condescension, and vowed to continue protesting unless their longstanding grievances of political exclusion are addressed. Sit-ins and peaceful demonstrations have continued in various locations across Oromo, evoking more violence from the ruling party’s henchmen.

Oromo Rage

The Oromo people see the government’s violence as part of a systematic attempt to oppress and marginalise them. As Amnesty International (AI) states in its report ‘Because I am Oromo’: “Thousands of Oromo people have been subjected to unlawful killings, torture and enforced disappearance.” People without any political affiliation are arrested on suspicion that they do not support the government – “between 2011 and 2014, at least 5,000 Oromos have been arrested”. Amnesty asserts that recent regime violence was “the latest and bloodiest in a long pattern of suppression”. This description of government intimidation and brutality will sound familiar to most Ethiopians.

Whilst it was the ‘master-plan’ for Addis Ababa that brought thousands onto the streets, anger and discontent has been fermenting throughout the country for years. Feelings fuelled by restrictions on fundamental freedoms, and human rights violationsmany of which can only be described as State Terrorism.

Power Hungry

The EPRDF have been in power for 25 long, and for many people, painful years. The ruling party was formed from the four armed groups that seized power in May 1991, including the now dominant Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Despite the theatre of national “elections” being staged every five years since 1995, the EPRDF has never been elected. Last year’s sham saw them take all 547 parliamentary seats. In order to convince a suspicious, if largely indifferent watching world (the EU refused to send a team of observers to legitimise proceedings) one might have expected a token seat or two for an opposition party, but the government decided they could steal every one and get away with it, their arrogance confirming their guilt.

The Tigrean ethnic group makes up a mere 6% of the country’s 95 million population, but the TPLF (or Weyane as they are commonly called) and their cohorts dominate the government, the senior military, the judiciary, and, according to Genocide Watch, intend “to internally colonize the country”, a claim that the ethnic Somalis living in the Ogaden region, as well as . the people of Amhara and Oromia, all of whom are subjected to appalling levels of persecution, would agree with.

Undemocratic, repressive regime

The Government claims to adhere to democracy, but says the introduction of democratic principles will take time. ‘Outsiders’ (critics such as HRW, Amnesty International and the EU) ‘don’t understand’ the country: thus Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn pretends Ethiopia “is a fledgling democracy – a house in the making”.

Well, it is not a house being built on any recognizable democratic foundations: human rights, civil society, justice and freedom, for example. Indeed there is no evidence of democracy actual or potential on the government’s part in Ethiopia. On the contrary, despite a liberally-worded constitution, the ruling party tramples on human rights, uses violence and fear to suppress the people and governs in a highly centralised manner: Opposition parties are ignored, their leaders often imprisoned or forced to live abroad; the government, Amnesty International (AI) states, routinely uses “arbitrary arrest and detention, often without charge, to suppress suggestions of dissent in many parts of the country.”

The judiciary is a puppet, as is the “investigative branch of the police”, Amnesty records, making it impossible “to receive a fair hearing in politically motivated trials”, or any other case for that matter. Federal and regional security services operate with “near total impunity” and are “responsible for violations throughout the country, including…the use of excessive force, torture and extrajudicial executions.”

There is no media freedom; virtually all press, television and radio outlets are state-owned, as is the sole telecommunications company – allowing unfettered surveillance of the Internet. The only independent broadcaster is internationally based ESAT.  The Government routinely blocks its satellite signal, and employee family members who live in Ethiopia are persecuted, imprisoned, their homes ransacked.

Journalists who challenge the government are intimidated, arrested or forced abroad. Ethiopia is the fourth most censored country in the world (after Eritrea, North Korea and Saudi Arabia) according to The Committee to Protect Journalists, and “the third worst jailer of journalists on the African continent”. The widely criticized, conveniently vague “2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation” – used to silence journalists – and “The Charities and Societies Proclamation”, make up the government’s principle legislative weapons of suppression, which are wielded without restraint.

The 99%

The vast majority of Ethiopian people – domestic and expatriate – are desperate for change, freedom, justice and adherence to human rights; liberties that the EPRDF have total contempt for. Their primary concern is manifestly holding on to power, generating wealth for themselves, and their cohorts, and ensuring no space for political debate, dissent or democratic development.

Without a functioning electoral system or independent media, and given government hostility to open dialogue with opposition parties and community activists, there are only two options available for the discontented majority. An armed uprising against the EPRDF – and there are many loud voices advocating this – or the more positive alternative: peaceful, consistent, well-organized activism, building on the huge demonstrations in Oromia and Gondar, uniting the people and driving an unstoppable momentum for change.

Ethiopia is a richly diverse country, composed of dozens of tribal groups speaking a variety of languages and dialects. Traditions and cultures may vary, but the needs and aspirations of the people are the same, as are their grievances and fears. Tolerance and understanding of differences, cooperation and shared objectives could build a powerful coalition, establishing a platform for true democracy to take root in a country that has never known it.

People can only be trapped under a cloak of suppression for so long.  Eventually they must and will rise up. Throughout the world there is a movement for change: for freedom, justice and participatory democracy, in which the 99% have a voice. The recent demonstrations in Ethiopia show that the people are at last beginning to unite and are part of this collective cry.

http://unpo.org/article/18941