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Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Hacaaluu Hundessa’s only weapon was his music. His sentence for singing was death. One of Ethiopia’s most popular musicians, Hacaaluu sang of the plight of the Oromo—Ethiopia’s largest but most repressed ethnic community. His June murder sparked protests around the country and, tragically, confirmed the very repression he sought to end. What’s more, his killing exposed the autocratic DNA of Ethiopia’s government, a regime that benefits from nearly a billion dollars of U.S. aid every year while staying cozy with China and crushing Ethiopia’s most pro-American constituency—the Oromo.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed used the protests following Hacaaluu’s murder as a pretext to jail his political opponents and shut off the country’s internet access, a blackout that has lasted for three weeks. Fearing a democratic electoral repudiation, Abiy also indefinitely postponed Ethiopia’s elections. Those chillingly anti-democratic actions are just the latest chapter of Abiy’s illiberal regime. Amnesty International reported in May that during Abiy’s rule up to 10,000 people were unjustly arrested and that at least 239 people—including a 16-year-old boy—were killed in extrajudicial executions in Oromo-majority regions of Ethiopia.

Paradoxically, Abiy himself is an Oromo. But his refusal to protect the human rights of his own people combined with his democratic backsliding is a problem for Washington. As the largest country in East Africa, Ethiopia has been a vital partner in Washington’s Global War on Terror and could yet provide a bulwark to China’s expansion in Africa. But Ethiopia cannot reliably advance U.S. interests in East Africa if the government in Addis Ababa invites instability by repressing Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. Ending this repression and cementing strong bilateral ties with the United States, as authoritarian countries like China seek inroads to our continent, is the goal of the Oromo community.

It’s a goal that can most swiftly be met with pressure from Washington. Lawmakers, diplomats, and military officials in the U.S. responsible for providing security assistance and funding to Ethiopia should call on Abiy to immediately and unconditionally release the political prisoners he rounded up both before and after Hacaaluu’s murder. As a member of the Oromo diaspora in America, I treasure my protected right of free speech. But I am too frequently reminded that today in Ethiopia I could be jailed along with peaceful Oromo protesters—like human rights activist Jawar Mohammed—just for voicing my opinions.

Fortunately, the U.S. Congress agrees that this goal should be achieved. In April of 2018, The House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution calling for the Ethiopian government to, “release all activists, journalists, and opposition figures who have been imprisoned for exercising their constitutional rights.

I would ask that Congress go one step further by holding to account anyone in the Ethiopian government who is responsible for human rights violations under the Magnitsky Accountability Act. The Oromo community has been heartened to see the bipartisan application of the Magnitsky Act across two presidential administrations to use America’s considerable might to extend a hand to voiceless minorities that would otherwise be forgotten, or even vanquished.

The same congressional act that called for the release of Ethiopian activists also called on the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development to “engage in a cooperative effort to advance democracy.” That clause has never been more needed. Afraid of being voted out of power, Abiy, citing the coronavirus, indefinitely postponed Ethiopia’s elections, which were originally scheduled to take place in May. Ethiopia would face a constitutional crisis should Abiy rule beyond October. And while the virus is, undoubtedly, a serious concern, the United Nations has said that Ethiopia can safely hold elections as soon as August.

A vital part of any robust democracy is a free, independent press. This includes opinion journalism, and outlets dedicated to specific groups like the Oromo. Unfortunately, the Ethiopian government has shut down all independent newspapers published in the Oromo language along with those that report on issues important to the Oromo people. Diaspora blogs have sought to illuminate Oromo issues, but those outlets cannot replace shoe leather reporting in Ethiopia. With the government able to shut down the internet at will, the Oromo seeking news in their own language may soon be forced to rely on carrier pigeons.

Finally, it is my hope that an independent commission will be allowed to investigate Hacaaluu’s assassination. The government clearly has a conflict of interest in the outcome of this investigation and has actively created disinformation about his killing. So far, the government has blamed Hacaaluu’s killing on the Egyptians, and two separate Ethiopian ethnic groups while opting against conducting an official autopsy. As the highest profile victim of anti-Oromo violence, if Hacaaluu cannot receive justice, can any other Oromo expect it?

Hacaaluu’s assassination laid bare Ethiopia’s underlying fragility, which stems from the Ethiopian peoples’ anxiety about losing their democratic and human rights for good. Ethiopia has long been a stable U.S. partner in beating back terrorism and is well-positioned to face burgeoning security challenges. But continuing any meaningful security or economic partnership requires stability. For the U.S., promoting the rights of the Oromo and other oppressed groups in Ethiopia is a national security issue. Congress has already laid out a blueprint that would help return stability to Ethiopia. For the sake of both our countries, it is time to act on it.

AboutSeenaa Jimimo :Seenaa Jimimo is an Oromo-American born in and raised in Ethiopia. She is the Executive Director of the Oromo Legacy, Leadership and Advocacy Association, a U.S.-based association of grassroots chapters of the Ethiopian Oromo diaspora, advocating for human rights and democracy in Ethiopia.

The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

የእምዬ የኢትዮያ ጉዞ ወደኋላ!Ethiopia : Marching Backwards July 28, 2020

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የእምዬ የኢትዮያ ጉዞ ወደኋላ!Ethiopia : Marching Backwards

By Leenjisso Diigaa | July 27, 2020

Whenever hate rides arrogance outpacing reason, tolerance and harmony the outcome is fairly predictable. Fanning persistent campaign of Oromophobia over the airwaves and other venues is a clear and present danger to society. This impacts not only the Oromo human dignity and that of people of the wider-South, who share similar historical experiences and aspirations but also to the well-being of the entire malformed Ethiopian Nation State (of victims). The bigoted self-righteous forces of alienation and despair must investigate their racist persuasions before irreversible damage is done. The appeal for Red Terror re-enactments by the resurrected remnants of Derg proponents is not only incompatible with current politically savvy society but it’s also a regrettable reliving of a savage and barbaric episode in human history. Declarations of open war on the Oromo, urging and prodding for more massacres of an innocent population, arbitrary arrests, tortures and meting out cruelty of injustices in society will not bring any submissions or peace but intensifies the resolve to resist it. Violence begets violence for there must be a limit to the level of beatdowns and indignation human beings can endure before they SAY NO to it. The more people are marginalized the more determined they become to end it. History is replete with such human experiences. It’s the law of human nature. Violence in all its forms must be condemned regardless of the identity of the victims. For one to campaign with the right hand to free one (Iskender) and with left hand to jail the other (Jawar) betrays the contradictory nature of the ideology of the hypocrites. Justice must not be partially enforced. It’s ought to be based on nothing but the truth, not on the person’s identity.Fate of the people occupying same echo system is inevitably and intricately intertwined. Irresponsibly disturbing their long maintained equilibrium for peace and harmony comes at an immense cost. The evidence is loud and clear. The lLoss of majority Oromo lives and that of others along with their properties are the direct results of Oromophobia driven well financed and orchestrated campaign of destruction. It will benefit no party. Oromo’s ethos of love and accommodation should have not been reciprocated with egregious, rude and rubbish narratives that promotes their dehumanization, antagonization that foments conflicts.Condemning followers of particular faith as “extremists” or “terrorists” for political expediency is wrong. Religions have long been with the people and will continue to exist in the future.As much as others do in theirs, the Oromo of any religious affiliation have the right to a dignified life in their homeland, Oromia of Ethiopia, not Madagascar or Indian Ocean. Ethiopia must change her attitude of omission and animosity towards people who resist her antiquated addiction with human misery, it’s only thereafter that God will bless her richly. Until Ethiopia begins to see all nationalities as a equal human beings with dignity no power or force can buy her peace and prosperity. Why would Ethiopia march backwards to the “ብሔራዊ ዉትድርና” era and beyond (to the era of የተገዙ “ቀይ ባሪያ”ና “ጥቁር ባሪያ”).In the season when a communist Derg is offered a comfort from where he preaches about God’s blessing while rehearsing the long forgotten feverish slogans of oppression and, with the same breath, calling for annihilation of people, Ethiopia is for sure in big trouble. The ghosts of the past belong in their distant attics not in public place of influence. Col. Mengistu must be laughing his heart out all the way from Zimbabwe hearing the echo of his reigns. የእምዬ የኢትዮያ ጉዞ …

Oromo Lawyer Says Protests in Ethiopia Stem From Systematic Discrimination July 28, 2020

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Oromo Lawyer Says Protests in Ethiopia Stem From Systematic Discrimination #OromoProtests

VOA: The Oromo are the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and East Africa, comprising more than 35 percent of Ethiopia’s 100 million people. For years, Oromos have protested what they say are years of discrimination and injustice. According to Amnesty International, the government has often responded with overwhelming and disproportionate force, unleashing “a vicious cycle of protests and totally avoidable bloodshed”. The recent death of popular Oromo musician Haacaaluu Hundeessa heightened ethnic tensions in the nation and at least 160 people died in the aftermath of protests. Ethiopia’s government has denied accusations that it sanctioned Hundeessa’s killing. Africa 54’s Managing Editor, Vincent Makori, recently spoke with Henok Gabisa, co-chair of the International Oromo Lawyers Association, and asked him about the grievances of the Oromo people. #Ethiopia #Oromia #Oromo #Protests #HaacaaluuHundeessa

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