Advertisements
jump to navigation

The Oromo in Egypt: Why Have 11,000 Ethiopians Fled Their Homeland? November 15, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

The Oromo are the single largest ethno-national group in northeast Africa. In Ethiopia, they are estimated to comprise 50 million out of the country’s total population of 100 million.

Although the Oromo group is the largest among the country’s 80 ethno-national groups, it is the most oppressed group in Ethiopia and is subjected to torture and arrests from the government for demanding their rights.

“You’ll be oppressed just for being an Oromo; I was a teacher and I was telling students how to protest peacefully against what our territory is facing and the violations the government made,” Boushra told Egyptian Streets.


The Oromo in Egypt: Why Have 11,000 Ethiopians Fled Their Homeland?

NADA NADER, Egyptian Street,  
 
Students watch a movie being projected in the playground
Students watch a movie being projected in the playground of the African Hope Learning Center. Photo: Marwa Abdallah

A couple of weeks ago, a video that made the rounds on social media showed an Egyptian man chanting during an Oromo conference in Egypt that the Oromo will get their rights and come to power in Ethiopia.

The video resulted in minor disturbances in the otherwise stable Egyptian-Ethiopian relations for a few days, with a spokesman from the Ethiopian government accusing “elements” in Egypt of financing, arming and training armed groups in Ethiopia to undermine the government.

Egyptian authorities swiftly denied all such accusations, reiterating its full support and respect of Ethiopia’s sovereignty.

Although the rift was short-lived and has since been forgotten, it is a fact that the presence of the Oromo people in Egypt has been increasing as of late.

The Oromo are the single largest ethno-national group in northeast Africa. In Ethiopia, they are estimated to comprise 50 million out of the country’s total population of 100 million.

Although the Oromo group is the largest among the country’s 80 ethno-national groups, it is the most oppressed group in Ethiopia and is subjected to torture and arrests from the government for demanding their rights.

Among the Oromo community, the majority is Muslim but there are also Christians and individuals of other religions living together in harmony without any discrimination within Oromia territory.

Since the Ethiopian government decided to implement the so-called “Integrated Addis Ababa Master Plan” to expand the Ethiopian capital, which is classified as one of the capital cities witnessing the greatest growth, it started dislocating the Oromo people from their farms without giving proper compensations.

Oromo demonstrations surfaced in Ginchi – about 80 kilometers southwest of the capital – in November 2015, with the Oromo protesting against the selling of the nearby Chilimongo forest, land seizures and the ongoing evictions of Oromo farmers.

Human Rights Watch accused Ethiopian security forces of killing 400 people during the protests. The chaos from the protests resulted in the imposition of martial law in the country, which remains under effect until this moment.

Last August, the Oromo and Amhara groups – which, together, form 80% of Ethiopia’s population – protested against the government for marginalizing the two groups, depriving them of their rights and barring them from holding top positions in the country.

Clashes during the protest resulted in the death of seven protestors who were calling for the release of political prisoners, freedom of expression and an end to human rights violations.

The Ethiopian authorities’ violations against the Oromo people have pushed many of the latter to flee the country, with some of them seeking refuge in Egypt.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt, there were 11,192 Ethiopian asylum seekers in Egypt as of September. The number increased noticeably after the clashes between the Oromo and the Ethiopian authorities.

“Of course there’s a significant increase in numbers of Ethiopian refugees,” Tarek Argaz, a media official at UNHCR, told Egyptian Streets. “Since a year and a half, the number of asylum seekers was around 5,000.”

“The reason behind the increased flow of Ethiopian refugees to Egypt is that the Ethiopian authorities can’t arrest us here,” said 25-year-old Abdi Boushra, Director of the Oromo Volunteering Association School in the upscale Cairo neighborhood of Maadi.

Boushra says he fled Ethiopia after being detained for a year after being accused of being a member of the Oromo Liberation Front, an armed group that is outlawed by the Ethiopian government.

“You’ll be oppressed just for being an Oromo; I was a teacher and I was telling students how to protest peacefully against what our territory is facing and the violations the government made,” Boushra told Egyptian Streets.

“I got arrested for a year. Then I fled from Ethiopia to Sudan. I’m like many people who fled from Sudan to Egypt by smugglers through the desert. We paid around USD 300 to reach Egypt.”

Boushra says he spent three months in Sudan but described his time there as a “nightmare,” saying that Sudanese authorities extradite asylum seekers back to Ethiopia.

“If we went there, we will be killed,” Boushra says. “We never imagined to live in Egypt before because of the different culture and language but we come here to feel safe.”

Ashraf Melad, a lawyer and researcher on refugee affairs, described the legal situation of Ethiopian refugees in Egypt.

“The 2014 Egyptian constitution insisted to protect any asylum seeker but there’s no refugee law in Egypt. Egypt is only permitting asylum seekers to live on its land,” Melad told Egyptian Streets. “In case of committing crimes, the Minister of Foreign Affairs alerts the country of the asylum seeker who committed the crime.

“In [Sudan’s case], there’s an implicit convention between the Sudanese and Ethiopian governments of extraditing Ethiopian opposition and asylum seekers. It’s a deal which had no place in Egyptian-Ethiopian relations,” Melad added.

“The UNHCR is keen on giving each refugee his right and make sure that he deserves our help. We decreased the period for discussing the papers of people who seek asylum after they got the yellow card to live legally in Egypt from 28 months to 16 months to accept him as a refugee or not,” UNHCR’s Argaz said. “I consider this as an achievement because we have an increasing flow and a limited budget.”

Noura Mohamed, a house maid who fled from the conflict in Oromia with her 14-year-old son, resorted to smugglers to help her make her way to Egypt through Sudan, like many other Ethiopians fleeing their country.

“The [situation] in Oromia was unbearable. The security comes to arrest you in your home just for being Oromo,” Mohamed told Egyptian Streets. “The government killed my father during clashes.”

Mohamed says that, after working as a maid in Kuwait, she returned to Ethiopia, where she and her husband were detained for demonstrating “and for being an Oromo citizen in the first place.”

Mohamed was released after three months, while her husband is currently still in prison in Ethiopia.

“I wanted to bring up my only son, so I decided to flee no matter what will happen; there’s nothing worse than what we experienced,” Mohamed says.

However, she says that she is struggling in Egypt, where her monthly salary is EGP 1,500 but her rent is EGP 1,000 per month.

“The UNHCR gives me EGP 1,050 in annual expenses for my son but of course this isn’t enough,” she says.

To add to Mohamed’s woes, schools are not accessible to many asylum seekers in Egypt, making it difficult for her to secure an education for her son.

“Asylum seekers have no right to [enroll] their children in Egyptian schools; there are schools for refugees but we noticed that many Oromo children evade these schools because they’re irrelevant to their identity and language,” Boushra says.

In an attempt to address this issue, Boushra says that the community decided to establish a school to teach Oromo children the Oromo language, as well as English, Arabic and other subjects such as math and science.

“We are working in the school as volunteers and there are no fees for children,” Boushra says, adding that the school currently has 150 students but remains free of the supervision of any educational authority.

The school was established in hopes of helping the Oromo people in Egypt maintain their identity as they work to integrate themselves into the society as a whole.

While a number of Ethiopian refugees say they don’t face racism or ethnic discrimination in Egypt, seeking refuge in Egypt is not without its challenges.

Everyday, many refugees who enter Egypt illegally gather in front of the UNHCR headquarters in the 6th of October satellite city, waiting for their turn to be accepted as asylum seekers and begin integrating themselves in Egyptian society.

Advertisements

Olympics dissident: Ethiopia could ‘become another Libya’ November 15, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Olympics dissident: Ethiopia could ‘become another Libya’

EXCLUSIVE/ Ethiopia – one of the EU’s largest recipients of development aid and a key partner in the new Emergency Trust Fund for Africa for halting the flow of migrants – garnered unwelcome headlines last summer, when Olympic athlete Feyisa Lilesa raised his arms in protest at the treatment of the Oromia and Amhara peoples.

He talked to EurActiv.com’s development correspondent, Matthew Tempest.

Since then, the government has declared a state of emergency, as – according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – at least 500 people have died at the hands of the security services.

Interview by EurActiv last month, the Ethiopian Ambassador to the EU refused to put an official figure on the death toll. But speaking to EurActiv today, Feyisa said that the real death toll was over 1,000 and his home country – from which he is now about to seek political asylum – could end up in a Libya-style civil war.

[This interview was conducted via a translator]

When I spoke to the Ethiopian ambassador to the EU last month, he made a public assurance that you and your family would be safe. Do you trust that?

This is what they always say. I might be killed or imprisoned if I return home.

ETHIOPIAN AMBASSADOR: ‘ANTI-PEACE ELEMENTS’ TOOK ADVANTAGE OF OROMIA, AMHARA PROTESTS

Ethiopia is a secure, stable country in the Horn of Africa, says Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the EU, Teshome Toga. However, he admits “gaps” in governance have fuelled year-long protests that have left hundreds dead.

EurActiv.com

The symbol that the TV cameras at the Olympics caught you doing with your arms in Rio, is that supposed to symbolise the ‘X’ of a voting ballot paper? Because Ethiopia is, at least technically, a democracy.

No. It is a sign my people make above their heads to show the police they are unarmed. If we had our hands in our pockets, we might be shot. It is to show our protests are unarmed and peaceful, and to represent the fact that we are all in a prison [Ethiopia].

And why are you here today in Brussels?

To meet with MEPs from the European Parliament to discuss our situation in Ethiopia, and with the head of cabinet for the Parliament President. It was very successful.

And what is your personal situation at the moment?

I have not sought political asylum yet. I have been in the USA long-term since two weeks after the Rio Olympics.

Have your family and relatives back in Ethiopia had any threats from the authorities there?

I am very, very concernced about my family. We live around 60 miles from Addis Ababa, west of the capital, in the Oromia region.

They might attack us in different ways, indirectly. Only 1% of my family actually have jobs. Yet the wife of my brother, who is a journalist, was fired from her job two weeks ago. With no reason given.

They are advancing on us with other measures.

The crux of the issue in Ethiopia seems to be that whilst it is a democracy in theory, the Tigray people have disproportionate power as opposed to the Omoria and Amhara peoples?

Yes – as you say, it is a “democracy”. But the key government and military and defence and police and economic positions are dominated by them [the Tigray].

‘STATE OF EMERGENCY’ DECLARED IN ETHIOPIA AS PROTEST DEATH TOLL RISES

The Ethiopian government on Sunday (10 October) declared a state of emergency, following a year-long spate of unrest which spiked in a week of deaths and attacks on buildings and foreign companies.

EurActiv.com

Based on what you hear from people on the ground, what do you think the death toll from protests over the last year to 18 months would be?

Oromia is a very large region – probably as big as two or three European countries. It has no big road network and very little infrastructure, so it is difficult to get numbers.

But I would say 500 is a very, very small estimate. I would say it is at least 1,000.

And as a voice and a face of the Oromia people now, what would your ideal solution be to the question of representation?

The demand from the public is really not all that complicated at all. It is a demand for equality, for basic human rights, and for an equal share of resources.

And are you optimistic that can happen without further bloodshed?

I am concerned. It is very difficult to be optimistic. At the beginning of the protests [in late 2015], for the first week or two, I was optimistic. But the government crackdown soon came, and this situation has continued.

Ethiopia could become like Libya.

Is that your worst nightmare?

I am very much concerned at this kind of conflict could emerge because they [the authorities] are trying to create tensions between the Amhara and Tigray and others, and because of that, things could get worse in the region.

All though my school life, we had this. In Grade 9, three of my friends were killed by the regime. It continued in 2014. The epicentre was to the west of Addis Ababa. There were other major incidents, killing, repression, and exile.

Repression in the past year was very intensive, even as I was training [for the Olympics]. I have no other job, I was just training. Three months before Rio, they asked me to participate [in the Olympic team], and it was at that point I decided to make my gesture.

And what is your life like currently?

I am now in Arizona. I have permission to stay in the US. Running is my job, and it is my survival. I had much help from the Ethiopian diaspora of exiles, with people helping to facilitate my visa, and fundraising there for me.

FURTHER READING

The Ethiopian embassy to the EU offered an official response to this interview, which EurActiv.com is happy to publish (15/11/2016):

Though Feyisa Lilesa has the right to share his opinion about the situation in Ethiopia, it is important to give a nuanced view of the reality in the country.

The exact number of demonstrators who died during the protests is still investigated by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC). A previous report by EHRC in June 2016 on the unrests that started in November 2015 established that the measures taken by the defense forces and the federal police in collaboration with the public to control the situation were proportionate, though in some specific cases security forces used excessive force to control the violence. According to this report, 173 people died including 14 members of the security forces and another 14 public administrators. Following this report, the Ethiopian Prime Minister H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn has shared the regrets of the government for the avoidable deaths which occurred despite the professional conduct of security forces.

Furthermore, the claim that the Ethiopian authorities are «trying to create tensions between the Amhara and Tigray» is not grounded in reality. Each region is self-administrated, and the national Parliament, the government cabinets and other institutions are representing the different peoples according to their size.  With more than 80 ethnic groups in the country, the authorities have no better option than insuring peaceful coexistence between the different communities and exercising democracy, which has yet a very young history in the country − merely 25 years.

Finally, Feyisa Lilesa is implying that Ethiopia could become «another Libya», probably thereby meaning that the country could fall into chaos and instability. This might in fact precisely be the agenda of extreme anti-peace forces trying to divide the country and take advantage of a situation of chaos which would suit their hidden agendas. Widespread attacks encouraged by some extreme diaspora elements targeting public and private properties, including several foreign investments providing thousands of jobs to local communities testify of this agenda of destruction and chaos. However, the government is fully committed to restore order in the country for the benefit of the citizens and development of the country. The Prime Minister has, in accordance with the Constitution and with the approval of the House of People’s Representatives, announced a State of Emergency beginning of October. Since then, peace and order have been restored throughout the country, and some of the measures have been eased in the meantime, including lifting of travel restrictions for diplomats.

It is to be hoped that the commitment of the authorities and the public will further improve the situation in the country. However, unbalanced and biased comments in the media such as this interview are not helping to advance in this direction.


 

Oromia: OBS TV Journalist Abdi Gada arrested for broadcasting Oromo cultural news November 15, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

 Odaa OromoooromianeconomistHRW Media

OBS TV Journalist Abdi Gada arrested for broadcasting Oromo cultural news

 

Oromo Broadcast Service (OBS) TV journalist Abdi Gada  arrested in Ethiopia. OBS TV is not even a news media, it is rather a history or discovery news channel. The TV never got involved into #OromoProtests. The broadcasting is based on images  from Oromo cultural ceremonies, Oromo history with elders interviews, etc


OBS-Oromia Broadcast Service Television journalist Abdi Gada went missing in Adama, Oromia (Ethiopia) last Wednesday. His whereabouts is not known yet.

An Oromo, Ethiopian journalist missed in Adama/Gazexeessaa Abdii Gadaa achi buuteen dhabame.

 abdii-gadaa
Journalist Abdi Gada

An Oromo, Ethiopian journalist is missing in Adama. OBS-Oromia Broadcast Service Television journalist Abdi Gada went missing in Adama, Ethiopia last Wednesday. His whereabouts is not known yet. His family, friends and colleagues have been looking for him in all areas of detainees and prisoners including Ma’ikelawi, and Zeway (Batu). Many of his family, friends and colleagues believe that Journalist Abdi Gada was kidnapped by Ethiopian security forces because thousands of Oromo people are missing and have been arrested in Ethiopia. Journalist Abdi Gada was one among 20 Oromo (Ethiopian) journalists who were dismissed from the Oromia Radio and Television Organization in 2014, in a single day.——————————-


Gaazeexeessaan  TV OBS-Oromia Broadcast Service, AbdiGadaaRoobiidarbiteAdaamattihojiidhaquufakkamanaabahettiachibuuteenisaadhabameera.  Gaazexeessaankun, bara 2014 keessagaazexeessitootaOromoo 17 dhaabbataRaadiyoo fi TV Oromiyaakeessaasababatokkomalee ari’aman keessaa tokkoakka ta’eefi, saaniinbooda TV OBS keessa kan hojjataajiruudha.

Namoonni itti dhiheennaan gaazexeessaa Abdii Gadaa beekanu akka jedhanitti, “haaluma yeroo ammaa Oromoo irratti raawwamaa jirutti isarrattille raawwatame jennee shakkina malee, Abdiin waan balleesseefi yakki inni hojjate hin jiruu; diina biraa itti shakkinulle hin qabnu” jechuun himan. Gabaasa guutuuf oduu OMN 14.11.2016 caqasaa.

OMN: Oduu Sad 14, 2016

The Slovak Spectator: Slovak and Czech tourists robbed in Ethiopia November 15, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Travel to Ethiopia.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

travel-warning-do-not-travel-to-ethiopia-terrorist-tplf-from-tigray-is-killing-people-and-looting-propertiesun-copyoromo-youth-murdered-by-fascist-ethiopias-agaziforces-in-arsi-kokosaa-dstrict-on-17-october-2016Oromo children, victims of fascist TPLF mass killings in Oromia, 2015 and 2016More reinforcement of Ethiopia's regime fascist ( Agazi) soldiers arrived in Begi, West Walaga, Oromia, 29 July 2016. p2

Slovak and Czech tourists robbed in Ethiopia

A group of six Slovak and four Czech tourists was attacked by armed robbers in western Ethiopia; driver killed.


The Slovak Spectator, 14 November 2016


A group of six Slovak and four Czech tourists was attacked in Surma woreda near the town of Mizan on November 7. They were robbed of their credit cards, money and other precious things, Irena Valentová from the Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed to the Novinky.cz website. She also said a female Slovak tourist was injured in the attack. The attackers shot an Ethiopian driver during the incident who died after being transported to the hospital.

Head of the Bubo Travel Agency, Ľuboš Fellner, whom the Czech website cited, said the incident occurred in the so-called green zone considered to be fully safe. The Slovak Foreign Ministry confirmed the case for the TASR newswire on November 11, adding that the Slovak tourists were aided by the local representation office in Addis Ababa with receiving new documents and returning home.

The tourists subsequently returned home, according to the news reports.

The Foreign Ministry recently warned Slovak citizens not to travel to Ethiopia, due to a worsened security situation that resulted in temporary state of emergency starting October 8, for six months. In case they decide to travel to the country anyway, Slovaks should at least register with the voluntary electronic registration system on the FAM website.


Click here to read related News: Zarpa News: Ethiopian Airlines:  Thriller night over Crete! | Plane “lost” the engine! 

Alarm sounded at dawn Sunday in Athens FIR when aircraft Ethiopian Airlines sent out distress signal because the engine died!

Immediately the state apparatus was activated to help the aircraft to land safely at the airport Eleftherios Venizelos.

The aircraft sent out a distress signal at 3:40 and was on Crete, while later in 4:15 landed safely in Athens.
The route was performed from Ethiopia to Italy.

Source: onalert.gr


 

As Atrocity Crimes Rise in Oromia, Security Assistance and Aid Keep Flowing to Ethiopia November 15, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

 Odaa OromooOromianEconomistoromoprotests-started-in-gincii-ginchi-oromia-on-12-november-2015-and-continues-oromorevolution


As Atrocity Crimes Rise in Oromia, Security Assistance and Aid Keep Flowing to Ethiopia

aid-to-ethiopia-overlooks-genocide-going-on-in-oromia-ethiopia-oakland-institute-oromoprotests

 un-copyfascist-ethiopias-regime-forces-are-conducting-rape-and-mass-killings

(Oromo Press, 14 April 2016 ) — In Oromia, Ethiopia, and in the Diasporas where significant numbers of Oromo people live, the first year anniversary of the Oromo mass uprising against the repressive policies of the Ethiopian regime is being observed worldwide this month.

The anniversary is being observed with mixed feelings and outcomes: with jubilation that the Oromo struggle for self-government has reached a critical mass effectively crippling the colonial civilian administration of the Tigrean-led Ethiopian regime in Oromia; with dismay at the failure of the international community to take meaningful action against the regime that has killed over 2500, maimed tens of thousands and imprisoned and tortured hundreds of thousands of civilians in Oromia alone.

All who observe the tragic developments in Oromia and Ethiopia know that major donor governments to Ethiopia such as the US, EU, England and Canada along with international financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF have remained dangerously silent on the wide-ranging atrocity crimes the Ethiopian government has been committing against civilian populations in Oromia and other regions of Ethiopia.

The international community is failing once again in Oromia, Ethiopia in stopping crimes against humanity and genocide despite providing a whopping USD 3.5B a year to the Tigrean-led Ethiopian government in “development aid.”

According to a report by The Oakland Institute, a US-based public policy think tank that has produced several credible reports on massive violations of land rights in Ethiopia, development aid makes up 50-60 percent of the national budget. Instead of improving the human condition, aid has been unquestionably used by the Ethiopian government to implement contested and malicious programs aimed at enriching the ruling elites at the expense of impoverishing and dislocating millions of farmers from their ancestral lands.

In Oromia, and dozens of cities around the world Oromo communities staged protests against the mass killings and the massive abuses in their homeland all year round. They marched in front government offices in Washington, London, Ottawa, Brussels, among other cities, demanding donors to end supporting repressive Ethiopian regime and urging intervention to stop the carnage.

Despite these recurrent and desperate pleas, all the protesters have received from the US, UK, Canada, and the EU has been lukewarm press releases and expressions of concern. The protesters wanted donors to intervene in stopping mass atrocities by withdrawing aid and by imposing other sanctions against the the leadership of the regime. To their disappointment and frustration, foreign aid/security assistance to the Ethiopian government have actually increased simultaneously with massive repressive measures by the Ethiopian government, including mass killings during the Grand Oromo Protests of August 6th and the Irreecha Massacre of October 2, 2016 and the declaration of state emergency on October 9th justify military rule through “Command Posts.”

After the state of emergency, state-led mass atrocities continued in the dark because the regime fully disrupted all means of communication, including the internet, social media applications and diaspora based radio and satellite television broadcasts.

Tepid and misconstrued statements from the US State Department, the African Union, and the European Union, which contained no action or even a threat of meaningful action against the genocidal behaviors of the Ethiopian government, have at best signaled to the regime that donor inaction meant approval to the regime to proceed with violent measures against defenseless civilians.

A quick review of US security assistance to Ethiopia between April 2014 and November 2016 (periods of intense mass uprising in Oromia) shows that aid increased as state-led atrocity crimes increased there. According to Security Assistance Monitor, a Washington DC-based policy group that “tracks and analyzes U.S. security sector assistance programs worldwide,” Ethiopia received funds in the following areas and amounts: “Military & Police Aid $1,270,000(2016); Humanitarian & Development Aid $402,613,000(2016); Arms Sales $5,763,335(2014); Trainees 49 (2014).”

Data shows that US military and police aid to Ethiopia spiked from $1.5M in 2014 to $25M in 2015. This declined back to slightly over 1.5M in 2016.

The popular expectation is that donor countries and financial institutions would stop security assistance and development funds to Ethiopia at this juncture when the Ethiopian regime is engaged in massive atrocity crimes in Oromia and Ethiopia. The tragic reality is that aid money continues to flow into Ethiopia despite massive totalitarian repressions.

Donor countries and major international financial institutions are among international actors with significant leverage in their hands—aid—to demand the respect for human rights and end to genocide, and to create a new broad-based inclusive and democratic order in Ethiopia. Donors have been reluctant in using this leverage.

Generating further instability and uncertainty, donors have so far failed in their responsibility to protect majority civilian populations from atrocity crimes by an ethnic-extremist minority regime. If this trend of inaction continues, donor countries would be one of the biggest losers because they have effectively alienated the majority by enabling minority totalitarianism over them.

The Oromo and other persecuted peoples of Oromia-Ethiopia should organize and form strategic alliances not only to reverse the ongoing genocide, but also to prove to the world that a determined and organized majority shall win and install a just and democratic order worthy of international support.

Genocide in the making in Oromia November 15, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

Odaa Oromoooromianeconomistmilitary-grade-humvee-inside-the-civilian-perimeter-at-the-2nd-october-2016-irreecha-festivalin-bishoftu-why-was-the-soldieed-against-oromo-irreecha-participants-on-2nd-october-2016-bishoftu-massacr#OromoProtests in Yabello, Borana, Oromia, July 20, 2016 p2fascist-ethiopias-regime-forces-are-conducting-rape-and-mass-killings


Genocide in the making in Oromia

 Brief account on the Oromo protest from Nov. 2015 – Nov. 2016

By Tarekegn Chimdi (PhD)


Background

The Oromo people constitute over 40% of the total population and a single largest national group in Ethiopia. Since the date of colonization by the Abyssinians at the end of 19th century, their political, economic, social and cultural life was undermined. Historians noted that after more than three decades of fierce wars of resistance their demographics were reduced from 10 million to 5 million. They were faced with cruel subjugation, exploitation, discrimination and marginalization; forced to slavery and servitude. Their egalitarian and democratic system of governance known as Gadaa was abolished. Successive regimes in Ethiopia had been furthering their subjugation and repression through heavy-handed cruel, inhumane policies (be it under the guise of democracy or socialism). The current Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) led totalitarian regime is the worst the Oromo people witnessed.

The TPLF dominated authoritarian regime ruled for a quarter of century with complete control on political, economic and social life in Ethiopia after toppling over a century old Amhara hegemony in 1991. Currently, it controls 80% of the economy through its conglomerate the Endowment Fund For the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), 98% of the military and security leadership controlled by the TPLF membership, 100% of the parliament controlled by the TPLF and its puppet People’s Democratic Organisation (PDO)s remotely operated. As a result, the TPLF elites and PDO operatives amassed billions of dollars from trading on the natural resources under their control; restricting the ownership of businesses and industries, sprawling real estates and mansions in big cities; foreign direct investment, aid and leasing millions of hectares of lands to foreign investors. The TPLF operatives benefitted from the illicitly maintained economic, political and security power without observance of the rule of law.

On the other hand, the Oromo people were faced with rampant human rights abuses and systematic repressions that were repeatedly reported by international human rights organizations and yet largely ignored. Untold sufferings and systematic repressions in the last 25 years include extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, raping and torture. However, the Ethiopian government champions itself for being the fastest growing economy and key ally in the fight against terrorism to hide its genocidal character against the Oromo people. The reality on the ground shows that the Oromo people are targeted on the basis of their racial origin. As a result, over 95% of the prison cells in Ethiopia are filled with the Oromos and Afan Oromo has become the official language in prisons.

Land grabbing as a trigger to peaceful protest in Oromia

Land grabbing negatively affected the livelihood of millions of farmers and forcibly evicted from small subsistence farming, pastoral and grazing areas. Forced eviction and relocation in the name of investment that was orchestrated by internal and foreign actors, has evicted over 1.5 million Oromo farmers without their consent and compensation from around Finfinne (Addis Ababa) in the past ten years. Millions of hectares of arable land was confiscated mainly by agribusinesses from foreign multinational companies and the ruling regime (TPLF) cadres and their operatives resulted in the uprooting and destitution of the millions that led in part to further the starvation of the ten millions of peoples in Ethiopia. Such unethical and inequitable investment had been observed to yield abysmal poverty, food insecurity, broken communities, loss of identity and culture and aggravated environmental degradation. Above all the Oromo people in and around Finfinne (Addis Ababa) became the epicenter of the episode and in a way it reflects the way the Oromo people were conquered, robbed off their land and properties, reduced to serfs and slaves, and kept under inhumane subjugation.

The dynamics of the land grabbing that was aimed to expand Finfinne (Addis Ababa) by ~2000% from the current 54,000 ha to 1.1 million ha started with the horticulture industry, mainly the cut flower plantations. In less than a decade, several dozens of cut flower investments from within and abroad mushroomed within the radius of 80km surrounding Finfinne (Addis Ababa) to takeover the land from subsistence farmers that fed millions before the change of ownership. The establishment of these plantations and the expansion of real estate within the peripheries were the stepping stone to establish the boundary of Finfinne Special Zone of Oromia which later to be incorporated into the infamous “Addis Ababa and the Surrounding Oromia Special Zone Integrated Development Plan” or shortly “Master Plan”, in 2014. Similarly, Midroc’s and Karturi’s farms were meant to benefit and export crop produces into their countries of origin; jatropha, castor oil and sugar cane plantations were not established on non-arable terra nulis land, but on small subsistence farms whose owners were forcibly evicted without (with small) compensation and the security to their livelihood deprived. In general, the Oromo people are deprived of their livelihood by the Ethiopian successive regimes. As a result of deep historical and current grievances, suffering from oppression, exploitation and persecution for years, the students staged peaceful protests over Oromia for years and the response were being quelled heavy-handedly by the security forces of the Ethiopian government. The announcement of the infamous “master plan” further triggered the already deep-rooted grievances to explode. The plan was opposed by the Oromos from all walks of life: Oromo political parties, civic organisations, students, farmers, etc. for several reasons as it was unconstitutional, not inclusive and without the consent of the people. Moreover, it was deliberated to destroy the identity, livelihood, culture and language of the Oromo people.

War on Unarmed Oromo Protesters

In May 2014, the Oromo students from different universities, secondary schools and the general public from all over Oromia engaged the Ethiopian government in a peaceful protest in tens of thousands to denounce the “master plan” and voice their legitimate concerns. In the demonstration that started at Ambo, 100km from the capital, more than 50 civilians were shot and killed by the Ethiopian government security forces. In total over 80 unarmed civilians were killed in different parts of Oromia the same momth. Several hundreds of unarmed civilians were injured and thousands were arrested. The Ethiopian government shelved the implementation for a while until it issued final version of its master plan in the last quarter of 2015.

On November 12, 2015, peaceful student protest broke at the town of Ginchi, 80km from the capital to the West of Addis Ababa, against the sale of Ginchi stadium to an investor and the clearing of Chilimo forest. The government security forces killed two students and the population were angered. As a result, peaceful protests engulfed all parts of Oromia within two weeks. In order to legitimize its discriminatory policies, the Ethiopian Government issued a decree for Oromia to be ruled under martial law from the end of December 2015. Over 50,000 regular and special army was deployed under the command post led by the Prime Minister, Head of Army, Police and Security Chief to stop the protest mercilessly.

In Figure 1, the maps in the years 2015 (upper) and 2016 (bottom) show the distribution of protests from November 2015 – November 2016. In the last one year, peaceful demonstrations were staged mainly by the students and farmers across almost all Oromia districts at least once. They were all peaceful until turned violent by the heavy-handed measures of the Ethiopian security forces. As shown in Figure 1, 2015 (upper) in the last quarter of 2015, there were sporadic protests in Oromia that matured to cover all parts of Oromia intensively, some parts of Amhara and other southern regional states after July 2016.

genocide-in-the-making-against-oromo-people

genocide-in-the-making-against-oromo-people-image2

Figure 1: the maps of the distribution of protests in 2015 (upper) and 2016 (bottom)

Table1 below shows the scale of fatalities over one year period across the states in Ethiopia. The total number of fatalities from November 12, 2015 to December 31, 2015 was 137 in total, with Oromia at 102. In the year 2016, violent crackdown from the Ethiopian security forces spread all over Oromia and a total of 1855 persons were killed in the last ten months. The security forces also reacted violently against protesters in Finfinne (Addis Ababa), Amhara, Dire Dawa, Somali and Southern Nations and Nationalities (SNNP). In the Amhara state, the protests that started in July 2016, in Gondar, was triggered by the opposition of the inclusion of Welkait district into the Tigray state. Over 233 persons were killed in this state in the last five months in Gondar, Bahir Dar etc in relation to peaceful protests. Similarly, in Konso and Gedeo districts of the Southern Nation and Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) state dozens of protesters were killed. The data shows the cause of fatalities in the Gambela, Somali, Harari and Tigray different from peaceful protests. In general, the scale and distribution of the protests and fatalities in Oromia over the other states indicate the degree of harshness and discriminatory measures carried out by the Ethiopian government and the genocide is in the making against the Oromo people.

genocide-in-the-making-against-oromo-people-image3

Table1: the scale of killings over one year period (Nov.12, 2015 Oct. 29, 2016)

By definition the killings of over 1000 people from the same social group in a year qualifies the term “genocide” and killings of unarmed civilians in mass also refers to “massacre”. The graph in figure 2 shown below covers the daily fatalities across Oromia and Finfinne (Addis Ababa) where those killed are from the Oromo national group. In the graph the killing from the beginning of August 2016 to the end of October 2016 was covered. The first peak corresponds to the killings on the Oromia grand protest staged all over Oromia on the 6th of August 2016 and over 188 people were killed by the Ethiopian security forces. On this particular day, peaceful protests were held in over 200 towns and cities across Oromia and Finfinne (Addis Ababa) (see figure 3) and tens of thousands were arrested from all over Oromia and Finfinne in inhospitable remote malaria infested Tolay, Awash Arba, Huriso and Dhedhessa military camps.

genocide-in-the-making-against-oromo-people-image4

Figure 2: the scale of killings by the security forces in Oromia and Finfinne (Aug. Oct.2016)

The second peak corresponds to the killings at Qilinto maximum-security prison located in the southern part of Finfinne (Addis Ababa) on September 3, 2016. A local newspaper    Addis    Fortune    reported    that    the    government    security    forces indiscriminately shot at the prisoners after fire broke on the premises. The government sources report 23 prisoners died of suffocation from fire. However, the Ethiopian Human Rights Project (EHRP) put the figure to 67 and the Oromia Media Network also reported additional two killings. Local sources alleged the Ethiopian government sources for starting the fire and indiscriminately shooting the prisoners.

genocide-in-the-making-against-oromo-people-image5

Figure 3: the map showing the geographical coverage of protests in Oromia on August 6,2016

The third peak in Figure 2 corresponds to the Irreechaa massacre at Hora Arsadi of Bishoftu town, 40km to the East of the capital that occurred on October 2, 2016. On the Irreechaa annual thanksgiving festival, over 2 million Oromos from all over Oromia were gathered to celebrate. The Ethiopian government agitated and provoked the festival by installing its close operatives and cadres to takeover the stage from the legitimate leader of Gadaa (Abba Gadaa) who is in charge of the event. The celebrants were angered and started chanting slogans and crossing wrists above head – the popular sign of Oromo protest. The security forces deliberately started roaring Humvee in the crowd, hovering helicopter in the sky, firing the tear gas and bullets to suffocate the people on a narrow space. Most of the people perished in the ditch and the lake. Some sources put the death toll at 55 and above citing the cause of death simply as a deadly stampede. However, local and opposition sources put the figure of the death toll to at least 678. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the people away from the ditch through fencing and/or soil filling; avoiding any provocative acts, unblocking the safe exit and panicking the population on narrow space unless it deliberated and planned to cause massacre.

After the Irreechaa massacre, the Oromo people reacted with deep sorrow and responded through difference means of peaceful resistance against the Ethiopian government. The roads to different parts of the Oromia and Ethiopia were blocked, the economic boom of the TPLF elites was devastated. In a week to Irreechaa massacre, the Ethiopian government declared state of emergency that applies to the other states as well. The security forces reportedly killed more that 283 people (see figure 2, the fourth peak) in one week of the state of emergency.

Summary

The Ethiopian security forces continued their unparalleled genocidal crimes of torturing, raping and killings, largely hidden from the eyes and ears of the international observers, embassies and the media. Records show that over two thousand Oromo civilians (students, farmers, teachers, civil servants, elders, leaders and members of the Oromo opposition party) were killed in the last one year from live bullets of the Ethiopian security forces. Witnesses out of Oromia show exceptional heinous crimes of killing that includes children from age 1 to the old men to the age of 80, pregnant women and mothers, a mother killed with her two sons, three siblings from the same parent. There are evidences of mothers and siblings ordered to sit on the dead body of their loved ones after being killed by the security forces. Wives and daughters were gang raped in front their husbands, loved ones and parents. Moreover, every independent Oromo person is routinely subjected to harassment, extrajudicial killings, imprisonment, rape and torture. Several thousands were wounded from live bullets and estimated over 50,000 were arrested in different detention camps in remote areas labeled as “terrorists” without convictions and/or rare trials.

The TPLF/EPRDF is still acting with impunity despite continued call for investigation into the genocidal crimes it commit by the renowned international human rights organizations, the UN Human Rights Council, African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights in the last several months. The western governments such as US, UK, Canada, Australia and others issued the statements of concern and travel warnings which may not be enough to curb the looming dangerous situation. The Ethiopian government had been major recipient of direct investment and economic aid earnings mainly from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), the US, UK and the EU used to further human sufferings. Western governments are requested to sanction, use their diplomatic leverage to pressure the Ethiopian government to allow an independent UN and African Commission investigations over the massacres, completely halt the state of emergency and remove command posts from the villages, unconditional release of Oromo politicians and civilians from detention camps. Furthermore, the perpetuators of the massacres must be brought before international tribune to curb the genocide in the making in Oromia.

References

  1. The data for this analysis was extracted from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) database http://www.acleddata.com/
  2. Tarekegn Chimdi “Systematic repression and rampant human rights abuses against the Oromo People in Ethiopia (2008) ” presented at AFSAAP conference, “The Oromo People and Finfinne (2004) ” intervention at the UN office of High Commission for Human Rights http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/IPeoples/WG/IGFM1-oromo-4b.doc
  3. Addis Fortune newspaper on Qilinto prison indiscriminate killings 4. Human Rights Watch, Society for Threatened Peoples and Amnesty
  4. International reports in 2015 and 2016
  5. Press releases from the UN Human Rights Council, African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights, foreign offices and governments
  6. News from Oromia Media Network, Al Jazeera, VOA, DW and others