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Fordi jeg er oromo: Because I Am Oromo January 10, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Fordi jeg er oromo.
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Kelilew Urga:- Norwegian Newspaper’s Coverage of the Crimes Committed Against Innocent Oromo by the TPLF/Tigrean Govt

 Amajjii/January 9, 2015 · Finfinne Tribune  Gadaa.com   http://finfinnetribune.com/Gadaa/2015/01/kelilew-urga-norwegian-newspapers-coverage-of-the-crimes-committed-against-innocent-oromo-by-the-tplftigrean-govt/

Below is an article in a Norwegian newspaper covering the human rights crimes committed against innocent Oromo by the TPLF/Tigrean government. The scanned version of the article (and the text format of the article) are also presented below (language: Norwegian).

NorwegianNewspaperArticle20152

Scanned version:
NorwegianNewspaperArticle2015

Full Text:
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Fordi jeg er oromo

Oromoere den største etniske urfolkegruppen i Øst-Afrika med en befolkning på rundt 40 millioner i området fra Etiopia til Kenya og deler av Somalia og Egypt. Oromoere er Etiopias største etniske gruppe, og deres språk er den fjerde mest talte i Afrika (etter arabisk, hausa, og swahili). Oromo snakkes over et geografisk stort område. De andre navnene på språket inkluderer afaan oromo, oromiffa og oromo. Men språket og dets brukere utsettes for i marginalisering og diskriminering av den etiopiske regjeringen.

Oromoerne i Etiopia har blitt kuet av de etiopiske herskere siden forrige kvartal av det 19. århundre. Oromo ble da utestengt for bruk i undervisning, massemedia og det offentlige liv. Afaan oromo ble forbudt først under keiser Haile Selassies regime. Den gang ble oromotalende privat og offentlig latterliggjort. Regjeringen gjorde alt i sin makt for å sikre dominans av abyssiner-språk og -kulturer på bekostning av oromo. Dette fortsatte senere under kommunistregimet som fulgte etter keiserens fall. I 1992 ble forbudet opphevet, og språket brukes i Oromia-områder med visse restriksjoner.

Alle de påfølgende etiopiske regimer, inkludert dagens, har drevet bevisste og systematiske kampanjer av feilinformasjon om oromoere og deres språk og kultur for å opprettholde undertrykkelsen av folkegruppen.

Hvorfor har de etiopiske herskere undertrykt Oromo?

Det tigrinja-ledede regimet har i hovedsak valgt seg ut oromoere grunn av deres økonomiske ressurser og politiske motstand. Oromia-støttegruppen uttaler: “Fordi Oromo spenner over Etiopias rikeste områder og utgjør halvparten av befolkningen i Etiopia, blir de sett på som den største trusselen mot den nåværende tigrinja-ledede regjeringen. I ettertid har flere Oromo-organisasjoner, inkludert Oromo Relief Association, blitt nedlagt og undertrykt av regjeringen. Den hyppigst anvendte begrunnelsen for å anholde oromoere er at de er mistenkt for å støtte OLF.”

Human Right Watch, Amnesty International og andre internasjonale organisasjoner retter jevnlig søkelys mot statens hensynsløse forfølgelse av oromoere, basert utelukkende på deres oppfattede opposisjon til regjeringen. Det nevnes hvordan oromoere stadig utsettes for vilkårlig arrest, langvarig fengsling uten rettssak, tvungen forsvinning, gjentatt tortur og ulovlige statlige drap som eksempler på regjeringens uopphørlige forsøk på å knuse dissens.

“Den etiopiske regjeringens ubøyelige aksjon mot reell eller innbilt dissens blant oromoere er sweeping in its scale og ofte sjokkerende i sin brutalitet,” sa Clair Beston, Amnesty Internationals Etiopia-forsker. “Dette er tydeligvis gjort for å advare, kontrollere eller bringe til taushet alle tegn på politisk ulydighet i regionen.” Ifølge rapporter fra Amnesty International har 5000 etniske oromoere blitt arrestert mellom 2011 og 2014 basert på deres faktiske eller mistenkte fredelige opposisjon til regjeringen.

Disse inkluderer fredelige demonstranter, studenter, medlemmer av opposisjonspolitiske partier og mennesker som gir uttrykk for sin oromo-kulturarv. I tillegg til disse blir folk fra alle samfunnslag, som bønder, lærere, helsepersonell, tjenestemenn, sangere, forretningsfolk og utallige andre jevnlig arrestert i Oromia basert kun på mistanke om at de ikke støtter regjeringen. Mange er anklaget for å ha ”oppildnet andre mot regjeringen”. Familiemedlemmer av mistenkte har også vært forfulgt kun basert på mistanke om at de deler et familiemedlems syn eller har arvet sine meninger, eller de er arrestert i stedet for deres savnede slektning.

Mange av de arresterte har sittet fengslet uten grunn i måneder eller år og blitt utsatt for gjentatt tortur. I hele regionen er hundrevis av mennesker arrestert i uoffisiell forvaring i militærleire. Mange blir nektet kontakt med advokater og familiemedlemmer. Dusinvis av de faktiske eller mistenkte dissentere har blitt drept. Majoriteten av dem er anklaget for å støtte Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), den væpnede gruppen i regionen.

Under Tigrinyan People’s Liberation Fronts brutale styre har rettssaler vært viktige arenaer for undertrykkelse. Siden TPLF tok makten i 1991 har mennesker blitt myrdet, torturert og uskyldig fengslet under grunnløse og falske, fabrikerte anklager om at de støtter Oromo Liberation Front.

Kilder: Amnesty Internationals rapport publisert 28. oktober 2014
Oromia støtte-gruppe
BBC NEWS 28. oktober 2014
UCLA Language Materials Project

Av Kelilew Urga

Read @ http://finfinnetribune.com/Gadaa/2015/01/kelilew-urga-norwegian-newspapers-coverage-of-the-crimes-committed-against-innocent-oromo-by-the-tplftigrean-govt/

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Amnesty International’s Report: “Because I Am Oromo”: A Sweeping Repression in Oromia November 14, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Afar, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Ethnic Cleansing, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Groups at risk of arbitrary arrest in Oromia: Amnesty International Report, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights Violations Against Oromo People by TPLF Ethiopia, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, NO to the Evictions of Oromo Nationals from Finfinnee (Central Oromia), Ogaden, Oromia, Oromians Protests, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Identity, Oromo Nation, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, The Mass Massacre & Imprisonment of ORA Orphans, Tyranny.
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AmnestyFullReport2014

“Because I am Oromo”: A Sweeping Repression in Oromia… full report @:http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR25/006/2014/en

SUMMARY: REPRESSION OF DISSENT IN OROMIA
“I was arrested for about eight months. Some school students had been arrested, so their  classmates had a demonstration to ask where they were and for them to be released. I was accused of organising the demonstration because the government said my father supported the OLF so I did too and therefore I must be the one who is  organising the students.”
Young man from Dodola Woreda, Bale Zone1

The anticipation and repression of dissent in Oromia manifests in many ways. The below are some of  the numerous and varied individual stories contained in this report:
A student told Amnesty International how he was detained and tortured in Maikelawi Federal Police detention centre because a business plan he had prepared for a competition was alleged to be underpinned by political motivations. A singer told how he had been detained, tortured and forced to agree to only sing in praise of the government in the future. A school girl told Amnesty International how she was detained because she refused to give false testimony against someone else. A former teacher showed Amnesty International where he had been stabbed and blinded in one eye with a bayonet during torture in detention because he had refused to ‘teach’ his students propaganda about the achievements of the ruling political party as he had been ordered
to do. A midwife was arrested for delivering the baby of a woman who was married to an alleged member of  the Oromo Liberation Front. A young girl told Amnesty International how she had successively lost both parents  and four brothers through death in detention, arrest or disappearance until, aged 16, she was left alone caring  for two young siblings. An agricultural expert employed by the government told how he was arrested on the  accusation he had incited a series of demonstrations staged by hundreds of farmers in his area, because his  job involved presenting the grievances of the farmers to the government.

In April and May 2014, protests broke out across Oromia against a proposed ‘Integrated Master Plan’ to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia regional territory. The protests were led by students, though many other people participated. Security services, comprised of  federal police and the military special forces, responded to the protests with unnecessary and excessive force, firing live ammunition on peaceful protestors in a number of locations and  beating hundreds of peaceful protestors and bystanders, resulting in dozens of deaths and  scores of injuries. In the wake of the protests, thousands of people were arrested.
These incidents were far from being unprecedented in Oromia. They were the latest and  bloodiest in a long pattern of the suppression – sometimes pre-emptive and often brutal – of even suggestions of dissent in the region.  The Government of Ethiopia is hostile to dissent, wherever and however it manifests, and also shows hostility to influential individuals or groups not affiliated to the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) political party. The government has used arbitrary arrest and detention, often without charge, to suppress suggestions of dissent in many parts of the country. But this hostility, and the resulting acts of suppression, have  manifested often and at scale in Oromia.  A number of former detainees, as well as former officials, have observed that Oromos make up  a high proportion of the prison population in federal prisons and in the Federal Police Crime  Investigation and Forensic Sector, commonly known as Maikelawi, in Addis Ababa, where  prisoners of conscience and others subject to politically-motivated detention are often detained when first arrested. Oromos also constitute a high proportion of Ethiopian refugees.  According to a 2012 Inter-Censal Population Survey, the Oromo constituted 35.3% of  Ethiopia’s population. However, this numerical size alone does not account for the high  proportion of Oromos in the country’s prisons, or the proportion of Oromos among Ethiopians  fleeing the country. Oromia and the Oromo have long been subject to repression based on a widespread imputed opposition to the EPRDF which, in conjunction with the size of the  population, is taken as posing a potential political threat to the government. Between 2011 and 2014, at least 5,000 Oromos have been arrested as a result of their actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government, based on their manifestation of  dissenting opinions, exercise of freedom of expression or their imputed political opinion. These included thousands of peaceful protestors and hundreds of political opposition members, but also hundreds of other individuals from all walks of life – students,  pharmacists, civil servants, singers, business people and people expressing their Oromo cultural heritage – arrested based on the expression of dissenting opinions or their suspected opposition to the government. Due to restrictions on human rights reporting, independent journalism and information exchange in Ethiopia, as well as a lack of transparency on detention practices, it is possible there are many additional cases that have not been reported or documented. In the cases known to Amnesty International, the majority of those arrested were detained without charge or trial for some or all of their detention, for weeks,
months or years – a system apparently intended to warn, punish punish or silence them, from which justice is often absent.
Openly dissenting individuals have been arrested in large numbers. Thousands of Oromos have been arrested for participating in peaceful protests on a range of issues. Large-scale arrests were seen during the protests against the ‘Master Plan’ in 2014 and during a series of  protests staged in 2012-13 by the Muslim community   in Oromia and other parts of the  country against alleged government interference in Islamic affairs. In addition, Oromos have  been arrested for participation in peaceful protests over job opportunities, forced evictions,  the price of fertilizer, students’ rights, the teaching of the Oromo language and the arrest or extra-judicial executions of farmers, students, children and others targeted for expressing  dissent, participation in peaceful protests or based on their imputed political opinion. Between 2011 and 2014, peaceful protests have witnessed several incidents of the alleged use of unnecessary and excessive force by security services against unarmed protestors. 
  Hundreds of members of legally-registered opposition political parties have also been arrested in large sweeps that took place in 2011 and in 2014, as well as in individual incidents. 

In addition to targeting openly dissenting groups, the government also anticipates dissent  amongst certain groups and individuals, and interprets certain actions as signs of dissent.  Students in Oromia report that there are high levels of surveillance for signs of dissent or political activity among the student body in schools and universities. Students have been  arrested based on their actual or suspected political opinion, for refusing to join the ruling party or their participation in student societies, which are treated with hostility on the  suspicion that they are underpinned by political motivations. Hundreds of students have also been arrested for participation in peaceful protests.

Expressions of Oromo culture and heritage have been interpreted as manifestations of  dissent, and the government has also shown signs of fearing cultural expression as a potential catalyst for opposition to the government. Oromo singers, writers and poets have been arrested for allegedly criticising the government and/or inciting people through their work. People wearing traditional Oromo clothing have been arrested on the accusation that this demonstrated a political agenda. Hundreds of people have been arrested at Oromo traditional festivals.

Members of these groups – opposition political parties, student groups, peaceful protestors, people promoting Oromo culture and people in positions the government believes could have influence on their communities – are treated with hostility not only due to their own actual or perceived dissenting behaviour, but also due to their perceived potential to act as a conduit  or catalyst for further dissent. A number of people arrested for actual or suspected dissent  told Amnesty International they were accused of the ‘incitement’ of others to oppose the government.

The majority of actual or suspected dissenters who had been arrested in Oromia interviewed  by Amnesty International were accused of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) – the armed group that has fought a long-term low-level insurgency in the region, which was proscribed as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian parliament in June 2011. The accusation of OLF support has often been used as a pretext to silence individuals openly  exercising dissenting behaviour such as membership of an opposition political party or  participation in a peaceful protest. However, in addition to targeting demonstrators, students, members of opposition political parties and people celebrating Oromo culture based on their  actual or imputed political opinion, the government frequently demonstrates that it  anticipates dissenting political opinion widely among the population of Oromia. People from all walks of life are regularly arrested based only on their suspected political opinion – on the  accusation they support the OLF. Amnesty International interviewed medical professionals, business owners, farmers, teachers, employees of international NGOs and many others who  had been arrested based on this accusation in recent years. These arrests were often based on suspicion alone, with little or no supporting evidence.

Certain behaviour arouses suspicion, such as refusal to join the ruling political party or  movement around or in and out of the region. Some people ‘inherit’ suspicion from their  parents or other family members. Expressions of dissenting opinions within the Oromo party  in the ruling coalition – the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) – have also been responded to with the accusation that the dissenter supports the OLF. Family members have also been arrested in lieu of somebody else wanted for actual or suspected dissenting behaviour, a form of collective punishment illegal under international law. 

In some of these cases too, the accusation of OLF support and arrest on that basis appears to be a pretext used to warn, control or punish signs of ‘political disobedience’ and people who have influence over others and are not members of the ruling political party. But the constant  repetition of the allegation suggests the government continues to anticipate a level of  sympathy for the OLF amongst the Oromo population writ large. Further, the government  appears to also believe that the OLF is behind many signs of peaceful dissent in the region.

However, in numerous cases, the accusation of supporting the OLF and the resulting arrest  do not ever translate into a criminal charge. The majority of all people interviewed by  Amnesty International who had been arrested for their actual or suspected dissenting behaviour or political opinion said that they were detained without being charged, tried or  going to court to review the legality of their detention, in some cases for months or years. Frequently, therefore, the alleged support for the OLF  remains unsubstantiated and unproven. Often, it is merely an informal allegation made during the course of interrogation. Further, questions asked of actual or suspected dissenters by interrogators in detention also suggest that the exercise of certain legal rights  –for example, participation in a peaceful protest – is taken as evidence of OLF support.  A number of people interviewed by Amnesty International had been subjected to repeated arrest on the  same allegation of  of being  anti-government or   of OLF support, without ever being charged. 

Amnesty International interviewed around 150 Oromos who were targeted for actual or  suspected dissent. Of those who were arrested on these bases, the majority said they were subjected to arbitrary detention without judicial review, charge or trial, for some or all of the period of their detention, for periods ranging from several days to several years. In the majority of those cases, the individual said they were arbitrarily detained for the entire duration of their detention. In fewer cases, though still reported by a notable number of interviewees, the detainee was held arbitrarily – without charge or being brought before a court – during an initial period that again ranged from a number of weeks to a number of  years, before the detainee was eventually brought before a court.

A high proportion of people interviewed by Amnesty International were also held  incommunicado – denied access to legal representation and family members and contact with the outside world – for some or all of their period of detention. In many of these cases, the detention amounted to enforced disappearance, such as where lack of access to legal counsel and family members and lack of information on the detainee’s fate or whereabouts placed a detainee outside the protection of the law. them again. The family continued to be ignorant of their fate and did not know whether they  were alive or dead.Many people reported to Amnesty International that, after their family members had been arrested, they had never heard from.

Arrests of actual or suspected dissenters in Oromia reported to Amnesty International were  made by local and federal police, the federal military and intelligence officers, often without  a warrant. Detainees were held in Kebele, Woreda and Zonal3 detention centres, police stations, regional and federal prisons. However, a large proportion of former detainees interviewed by Amnesty International were detained in unofficial places of detention, mostly  in military camps throughout the region. In some cases apparently considered more serious, detainees were transferred to Maikelawi in Addis Ababa. Arbitrary detention without charge or trial was reported in all of these places of detention.

Almost all people interviewed by Amnesty International who had been detained in military camps or other unofficial places of detention said their detention was not subject to any form of judicial review. All detainees in military camps in Oromia nterviewed by Amnesty International experienced some violations of the rights and protections of due process and a high proportion of all interviewees who had been detained in a military camp reported torture, including rape, and other ill-treatment.
Actual or suspected dissenters have been subjected to torture in federal and regional detention centres and prisons, police stations, including Maikelawi, military camps and other  unofficial places of detention. The majority of former detainees interviewed by Amnesty  International, arrested based on their actual or imputed political opinion, reported that they had been subjected to treatment amounting to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in most cases repeatedly, while in detention or had been subjected to treatment that amounts to torture or ill-treatment in and around their homes. Frequently reported methods of torture were beating, particularly with fists, rubber batons, wooden or metal sticks or gun butts, kicking, tying in contorted stress positions often in conjunction with beating on the soles of the feet, electric shocks, mock execution or death threats involving a gun, beating with electric wire, burning, including with heated metal or molten plastic, chaining or tying hands or ankles together for extended periods (up to several months), rape, including gang rape, and extended solitary confinement. Former detainees repeatedly said that they  were coerced, in many cases under torture or the threat of torture, to provide a statement or confession or incriminating evidence against others.
Accounts of former detainees interviewed by Amnesty International consistently demonstrate that conditions in detention in regional and federal police stations, regional and federal prisons, military camps and other unofficial places of detention, violate international law and  national and international standards. Cases of death in detention were reported to Amnesty  International by former fellow detainees or family members of detainees. These deaths were  reported to result from torture, poor detention conditions and lack of medical assistance.  Some of these cases may amount to extra-judicial executions, where the detainees died as a result of torture or the intentional deprivation of food or medical assistance. 

There is no transparency or oversight of this system of arbitrary detention, and no independent investigation of allegations of torture and other violations in detention. No independent human rights organizations that monitor and publically document violations have access to detention centres in Ethiopia.

In numerous cases, former detainees interviewed by Amnesty International also said their release from arbitrary detention was premised on their agreement to a set of arbitrary  conditions unlawfully imposed by their captors rather than by any judicial procedure, and  many of which entailed foregoing the exercise of other human rights, such as those to the freedoms of expression, association and movement. Failure to uphold the conditions, detainees were told, could lead to re-arrest or worse. Regularly cited conditions included: not participating in demonstrations or other gatherings, political meetings or student activities; not meeting with more than two or three individuals at one time; not having any contact with certain people, including spouses or family members wanted by the authorities for alleged dissenting behaviour; or not leaving the area where they lived without seeking permission from local authorities. For a number of people interviewed by Amnesty International, it was the difficulty of complying with these conditions and the restricting impact they had on their  lives, or fear of the consequences if they failed to comply, intentionally or unintentionally, that caused them to flee the country.
The testimonies of people interviewed by Amnesty International, as well as information received from a number of other sources and legal documents seen by the organization, indicate a number of fair trial rights are regularly violated in cases of actual or suspected  Oromo dissenters that have gone to court, including the rights to a public hearing, to not be  compelled to incriminate oneself, to be tried without undue delay and the right to presumption of innocence. Amnesty International has also documented cases in which the lawful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, or other protected human rights, is cited as evidence of illegal support for the OLF in trials. Amnesty International also received dozens of reports of actual or suspected dissenters being
killed by security services, in the context of security services’ response to protests, during the  arrests of actual or suspected dissidents, and while in detention. Some of these killings may  amount to extra-judicial executions. A multiplicity of both regional and federal actors are involved in committing human rights violations against actual or suspected dissenters in Oromia, including civilian administrative  officials, local police, federal police, local militia, federal military and intelligence services,
with cooperation between the different entities, including between the regional and federal levels.
Because of the many restrictions on human rights organizations and on the freedoms of  association and expression in Ethiopia, arrests and detentions are under-reported and almost no sources exist to assist detainees and their families in accessing justice and pressing for  remedies and accountability for human rights violations.

The violations documented in this report take place in an environment of almost complete impunity for the perpetrators. Interviewees regularly told Amnesty International that it was either not possible or that there was no point in trying to complain, seek answers or seek justice in cases of enforced disappearance, torture, possible extra-judicial execution or other violations. Many feared repercussions for asking. Some were arrested when they did ask about a relative’s fate or whereabouts.
As Ethiopia heads towards general elections in 2015, it is likely that the government’s efforts to suppress dissent, including through the use of arbitrary arrest and detention and other  violations, will continue unabated and may even increase. The Ethiopian government must take a number of urgent and substantial measures to ensure no-one is arrested, detained, charged, tried, convicted or sentenced on account of the peaceful exercise of their rights to the freedoms of expression, association and assembly, including the right to peacefully assemble to protest, or based on their imputed political opinion; to end unlawful practices of arbitrary detention without charge or trial, incommunicado detention without access to the outside world, detention in unofficial detention centres, and enforced disappearance; and to address the prevalence of torture and other ill-treatment in Ethiopia’s detention centres. All allegations of torture, incidents involving allegations of the unnecessary or excessive use of force by security services against peaceful protestors, and all suspected cases of extra-judicial executions must be urgently and
properly investigated. Access to all prisons and other places of detention and to all prisoners should be extended to appropriate independent, non-governmental bodies, including international human rights bodies.
Donors with existing funding programmes working with federal and regional police, with the military or with the prison system, should carry out thorough and impartial investigations into allegations of human rights violations within those institutions, to ensure their funding is not contributing to the commission of human rights violations. Further, the international community should accord the situation in Ethiopia the highest possible level of scrutiny. Existing domestic investigative and accountability mechanisms have proved not capable of carrying out investigations that are independent, adequate, prompt, open to public scrutiny and which sufficiently involve victims. Therefore, due to the  apparent existence of an entrenched pattern of violations in Ethiopia and due to concerns over the impartiality of established domestic investigative procedures, there is a substantial
and urgent need for intervention by regional and international human rights bodies to conduct independent investigations into allegations of widespread human rights violations in Oromia, as well as the rest of Ethiopia. Investigations should be pursued through the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry, fact-finding mission or comparable procedure, comprised of independent international experts, under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council or the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. 

See full report @ http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR25/006/2014/en/539616af-0dc6-43dd-8a4f-34e77ffb461c/afr250062014en.pdf

Amnesty International’s report titled, “‘Because I Am Oromo’: A Sweeping Repression in Oromia …” can be accessed here.

Read also other media sources reporting:

 

OMN: Interview with Amnesty International Researcher Claire Beston – Part 2

 

OMN: Interview with Amnesty International Researcher Claire Beston – Part 1

http://www.voaafaanoromoo.com/content/article/2499696.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook

http://http://unpo.org/article.php?id=17650

http://http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/28/ethiopia-torture-oromo-group-amnestry-rape-killings

 

http://http://m.voanews.com/a/amnesty-ethiopia-systematically-repressing-oromo/2498866.html

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29799484

http://finfinnetribune.com/Gadaa/2014/10/full-report-amnesty-internationals-because-i-am-oromo-a-sweeping-repression-in-oromia/

http://www.tesfanews.net/amnesty-says-ethiopia-detains-5000-oromos-illegally-since-2011/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-27/amnesty-says-ethiopia-detains-5-000-oromos-illegally-since-2011.html

http://ayyaantuu.com/human-rights/amnesty-ethiopia-systematically-repressing-oromo/

http://www.elwatannews.com/news/details/586125

http://mobi.iafrica.com/world-news/2014/10/28/ethiopia-torturing-ethnic-group/

http://www.warscapes.com/opinion/oromoprotests-perspective

http://news.yahoo.com/ethiopia-torturing-opposition-ethnic-group-amnesty-100724983.html

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/10/28/ethiopia-oromo-amnesty.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2812850/Thousands-Ethiopians-tortured-brutal-government-security-forces-Britain-hands-1-BILLION-aid-money.html

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article4250755.ece

http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article52880

http://www.noticiasaominuto.com/mundo/297457/etiopia-acusada-de-perseguir-a-etnia-oromo

http://www.afriqueexpansion.com/depeches-afp/17872-lethiopie-torture-et-execute-les-oromo-accuses-dopposition-au-gouvernement-amnesty.html

http://lepersoneeladignita.corriere.it/2014/10/28/etiopia-persecuzione-senza-fine-ai-da

http://maliactu.net/lethiopie-torture-les-oromo-les-accusant-dopposition-au-gouvernement/

http://www.kleinezeitung.at/nachrichten/politik/3783541/aethiopien-geht-gnadenlos-gegen-o

https://www.es.amnesty.org/noticias/noticias/articulo/el-estado-detiene-tortura-y-mata-a-personas-de-etnia-oromo-en-su-implacable-represion-de-la-diside/

http://www.caracol.com.co/noticias/internacionales/amnistia-internacional-denuncia-la-persecucion-de-la-etnia-oromo-en-etiopia/20141028/nota/2481622.aspx

http://www.tribune.com.ng/news/world-news/item/19982-ethiopia-targets-largest-ethnic-group-for-link-to-rebels-amnesty-says

Does British aid to Africa help the powerful more than the poor?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/ethiopia/11198471/Does-British-aid-to-Africa-help-the-powerful-more-than-the-poor.html

 

Repressive Ethiopia comes out as the worst place in #Africa for internet freedom. #BecauseIAmOromo December 21, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in 10 best Youtube videos, Afar, Africa, African Internet Censorship, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Because I am Oromo, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Ethnic Cleansing, Facebook and Africa, Free development vs authoritarian model, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Groups at risk of arbitrary arrest in Oromia: Amnesty International Report, Internet Freedom, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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OEnemies of Internetinternet freedom

http://mashable.com/2014/12/17/internet-freedom-countries/

 

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and founder of the Web Foundation, has called for the Internet to be recognised as a basic human right.  Sir Tim noted that in our increasingly unequal world, the Web has the potential to be a great equalizer, but only “if we hardwire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and net neutrality into the rules of the game.”

In order to reverse this slide and leverage the power of technology to fight inequality, the Web Foundation is calling on policymakers to:

  • Accelerate progress towards universal access by increasing access to affordable Internet and ensuring that everyone can use the Web all of the time, safely, freely and privately.
  • Level the playing field by preventing price discrimination in Internet traffic, and treating the Internet like any other public utility.
  • Invest in high-quality public education for all to ensure that technological progress doesn’t leave some groups behind.
  • Promote participation in democracy and protect freedom of opinion by reversing the erosion of press freedom and civil liberties, using the Web to increase government transparency, and protecting the freedoms of speech, association, and privacy.
  • Create opportunities for women and poor and marginalised groups by investing more in ICTs to overcome key barriers in health, education, agriculture and gender equity.

http://thewebindex.org/blog/recognise-the-internet-as-a-human-right-says-sir-tim-berners-lee-as-he-launches-annual-web-index/

Internet freedom in Africa: Ethiopia and The Gambia most repressive; South Africa and Kenya freest

  ChristineMungaihttp://www.mgafrica.com/article/2014-12-11-internet-freedom-in-africa-ethiopia-and-the-gambia-most-repressive-south-africa-and-kenya-freest/

ETHIOPIA, The Gambia and Sudan are some of the most repressive places in Africa for online freedom, a new report by watchdog organisation Freedom House indicates, while South Africa and Kenya are the among the most free for internet users in the continent.

But the 12 African countries surveyed show a worrying trend – the majority are becoming more repressive compared to last year. Just South Africa – the best ranked – Kenya, Uganda and Malawi have maintained the same score as last year; Nigeria, Angola, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Ethiopia have deteriorated. Zambia and The Gambia are new entrants on the list this year.

The negative trajectory in internet freedom is mirrored around the world – the report states that in 36 of the 65 countries surveyed, internet freedom scores have become worse, as governments become increasingly nervous about their national security, and more sophisticated in surveillance and control.

“Very few countries registered any gains in internet freedom, and the improvements that were recorded largely reflected less vigorous application of existing internet controls compared with the previous year, rather than genuinely new and positive steps taken [by governments],” the report states.

Although most African countries do not explicitly censor content much, there has been an increasingly harsh manner in which users are targeted for the things they say online – in some countries, Freedom House reports, “the penalties for online expression are worse than those for similar actions offline”.

A higher score means a more repressive environment. Source: Freedom House

In July 2013, for example, the Gambian government passed amendments to the Information and Communication Act that specifically criminalised the use of the internet to criticise, impersonate, or spread false news about public officials. Anyone found guilty could face up to 15 years in prison, fines of roughly $100,000, or both—significantly harsher punishments than what the criminal code prescribes for the equivalent offenses offline.

The report reveals that breaches in cybersecurity are also eroding freedom, as government critics and human rights organisations are subject to increasingly sophisticated and personalised malware attacks, documented in 32 of the 65 countries examined.

Low internet penetration, state monopoly

Ethiopia comes out as the worst place in Africa for internet freedom. In the first place, lack of telecoms infrastructure, government monopoly and oppressive regulation means that internet penetration is just 2%, one of the lowest in Africa.

A law enacted in November 2013 gives the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) carte blanche to inspect private online activities without oversight. Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and CNN were inaccessible for 12 hours in July 2013, while the number of permanently blocked webpages also increased.

In the Gambia, as well as setting out punitive new laws, internet cafe registration regulations were tightened in September 2013, requiring operators to provide thorough details for a license, as well as mandating the physical layout of cafes and the signs that must be displayed.

In Nigeria too, cybercafés have to keep a log of their customers – although the mobile revolution means that these attempts at controlling internet use will become increasingly irrelevant.

But if you can’t control access, then persecution and punishment becomes the next measure – and African governments show remarkable sophistication here.

In Ethiopia, the government launched high-tech surveillance malware against several online journalists in the Ethiopian diaspora and dissidents in exile; six bloggers of the prominent Zone9 blogging collective were arrested in April 2014 on charges of terrorism.

This year shows a more repressive environment than last year in many countries. Source: Freedom House

The same was observed in Angola, where “insider sources” affirmed that a German company had assisted the Angolan military intelligence in installing a sophisticated communications monitoring system on a military base, the report states. Further evidence, as of November 2013, found that at least one major ISP hosts a spyware system directly on its server.

In Rwanda, a growing number of independent online news outlets and opposition blogs were intermittently inaccessible in Rwanda in the past year. The Law Relating to the Interception of Communications enacted in October authorised high-ranking security officials to monitor email and telephone conversations of individuals considered potential threats to “public security”.

In Sudan, a localised internet service disruption in June and a nationwide blackout in September corresponded with large anti-government protests; the blackouts were reportedly directed by the government.

Even in the countries ranked as relatively free, harassment and intimidation of journalists and bloggers – and even ordinary citizens – is a widespread form of internet control. In Malawi online journalists are “periodically detained and prosecuted for articles posted on news websites”.

Most recently, Justice Mponda,  a correspondent for the online publication Malawi Voice, was arrested in November 2013 for allegedly “intimidating the royal family” in an investigative story about former President Banda’s connection to the theft of millions of Malawian kwacha from government coffers in a scandal known as “Cashgate.”  He was later acquitted.

Mugabe’s digital ‘death’

But it’s Zimbabwe that has had some of the most bizarre persecutions. An editor at the Sunday Mail state newspaper, Edmund Kudakwashe Kudzayi, was arrested in June on accusations of running the Baba Jukwa Facebook account, an activist page of over half a million followers harshly critical of the government. In July, the government took down the facebook page, and Kudzayi’s case remains unresolved.

It gets crazier – in January 2014, teenage Facebook user Gumisai Manduwa was arrested for allegedly insulting the president after he posted on his Facebook page that President Mugabe “had died and was being preserved in a freezer.” Manduwa was released on bail two days after his arrest. His case remains on the court’s docket as of mid-2014.

And another court case, this one against 21-year old Shantel Rusike is still being dragged through the magistrate courts in Bulawayo as of mid-2014.

Rusike was arrested on December 24, 2012 and held for four days after she was reported to the police for sending an image depicting President Mugabe “in a nude state” via WhatsApp on her mobile phone. Rusike faces charges of “causing hatred, contempt or ridicule of the president”.

Ethiopia
2013                                                                        2014
Internet Freedom Status                   Not Free                                                                Not Free

Obstacles to Access (0-25)                22                                                                                23
Limits on Content (0-35)                  28                                                                               28
Violations of User Rights (0-40)      29                                                                               29
TOTAL* (0-100)                                  79                                                                               80
* 0=most free, 100=least free

Population: 89.2 million

Internet Penetration 2013:  2 percent
Social Media/ICT Apps Blocked: Yes
Political/Social Content Blocked: Yes
Bloggers/ICT Users Arrested: Yes
Press Freedom 2014 Status: Not Free
Key Developments: May 2013 – May 2014
• Telecom services worsened, characterized by frequently dropped phone calls, prolonged internet service interruptions, and slow response times to service failures (see Obstacles to Access).
• Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and CNN were inaccessible for 12 hours in July 2013, while the
number of permanently blocked webpages also increased (see Limits on Content).
• A law enacted in November 2013 gives the Information Network Security Agency (INSA)
carte blanche to inspect private online activities without oversight (see Violations of User
Rights).
• The government launched sophisticated surveillance malware against several online journalists
in the Ethiopian diaspora and dissidents in exile (see Violations of User Rights).
• Six bloggers of the prominent Zone9 blogging collective were arrested in April 2014 on
charges of terrorism (see Violations of User Rights).

Introduction
Ethiopia continues to have one of the lowest rates of internet and mobile phone connectivity in the world, as meager infrastructure, government monopoly over the telecommunications sector, and obstructive telecom policies have significantly hindered the growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the country. Coupled with highly repressive laws and tactics aimed at restricting freedom of expression and access to information, internet freedom in Ethiopia is consistently rated the worst in sub-Saharan Africa and among the worst in the world.
Despite the country’s extremely poor telecommunications services and a largely disconnected population, Ethiopia is also known as one of the first African countries to censor the internet, beginning in 2006 with opposition blogs.1. Since then, internet censorship has become pervasive and systematic through the use of highly sophisticated tools that block and filter internet content and monitor user activity. The majority of blocked websites feature critical news and opposition viewpoints run by individuals and organizations based mostly in the diaspora. Surveillance of mobile phone and internet networks is systematic and widespread, enabled by Chinese-made technology that allows for the interception of SMS text messages, recording of phone calls, and centralized monitoring of online activities. The government also employs commentators and trolls to proactively manipulate the online news and information landscape.
During the report’s coverage period, internet freedom in Ethiopia worsened due to increasing restrictions on access to social media and communications tools, such as Storify, and the temporary blocking of Facebook and Twitter in July 2013. A new law passed in November 2013 gave the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) carte blanche to track private online communications and investigate electronic devices without oversight. In addition, a number of diaspora journalists and exiled dissidents were targeted with surveillance malware, demonstrating a growing level of sophistication in the government’s effort to silence critical voices that extends beyond the country’s borders.
In 2014, the Ethiopian authorities increased their crackdown against bloggers and online journalists, using the country’s harsh laws to prosecute individuals for their online activities and quash dissent. Most alarmingly, six bloggers from the critical Zone9 blogging collective and three journalists associated with Zone9 were arrested in late April 2014 on charges of terrorism, which, under the Telecom Fraud Offenses Law and anti-terrorism proclamation, can entail a sentence of up to 20 years in prison if the bloggers are found guilty. The Zone9 case was repeatedly stalled by the courts throughout 2014, leaving the bloggers in pre-trial detention for over six months as of late-2014. Meanwhile, two online radio journalists were arrested and detained for a week without charges in August 2013, and the prominent dissident blogger, Eskinder Nega, and award-winning journalist, Reeyot Alemu, continue to serve lengthy prison sentences, despite international pressure for their release. The overall crackdown has had a major chilling effect on internet freedom and freedom of expression in the country, leading to increasing levels of self-censorship among online journalists, bloggers, and ordinary users alike.

Obstacles to Access
In 2013 and 2014, access to ICTs in Ethiopia remained extremely limited, hampered by slow speeds and the state’s tight grip on the telecom sector. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), internet penetration stood at a mere 1.9 percent in 2013, up from 1.5 percent in 2012. Only 0.25 percent of the population had access to fixed-broadband internet, increasing from 0.01 percent in 2012.Ethiopians had more access to mobile phone services, with mobile phone penetration rates increasing from 22 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in 2013 though such access rates still lag behind a regional average of 80 percent. Meanwhile, less than 5 percent of the population has a mobile-broadband subscription. Radio remains the principal mass medium through which most Ethiopians stay informed. While access to the internet via mobile phones increased slightly in the last year, prohibitively expensive mobile data packages still posed a significant financial obstacle for the majority of the population in Ethiopia, where per capita income in 2013 stood at US$470.8 Ethiopia’s telecom market is very unsaturated due to monopolistic control, providing customers with few options at arbitrary prices. Prices are set by the state-controlled Ethio Telecom and kept artificially high. As of mid-2014, monthly packages cost between ETB 200 and 3,000 (US$10 to $150) for 1 to 30 GB of 3G mobile services.

The computer remains the most practical option for going online, though in 2014, personal computers are still prohibitively expensive. The combined cost of purchasing a computer, initiating an internet connection, and paying usage charges makes internet access beyond the reach of most Ethiopians. Consequently, only 2 percent of Ethiopian households had internet access in their homes in 2013. The majority of internet users rely on cybercafes to log online, leading to a growth of
cybercafes in recent years, particularly in large cities. A typical internet user in Addis Ababa pays between ETB 5 and 7 (US$0.25 to $0.35) for an hour of access. Because of the scarcity of internet cafes outside urban areas, however, rates in rural cybercafes are more expensive.
For the few Ethiopians who can access the internet, connection speeds are known to be painstakingly slow. For years, logging into an email account and opening a single message could take as long as six minutes at a standard cybercafe with broadband in the capital city.12 According to May 2014 data from Akamai’s “State of the Internet” report, Ethiopia has an average connection speed of 1.2 Mbps (compared to a global average of 3.9 Mbps). Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s broadband adoption (characterized by connection speeds greater than 4 Mbps) is less than 3 percent,14 while the country’s narrowband adoption (connection speed below 256 Kbps) is about 20 percent among those with access. Numerous users reported that internet and text messaging speeds were extremely slow during the coverage period, with services completely unavailable at times. Frequent electricity outages are also a contributing factor to poor telecom services. Despite reports of massive investments from Chinese telecom companies in recent years,17 Ethiopia’s telecommunications infrastructure is among the least developed in Africa and is almost entirely absent from rural areas, where about 85 percent of the population resides. The country is connected to the international internet via satellite, a fiber-optic cable that passes through Sudan and connects to its international gateway, and the SEACOM cable that connects through Djibouti to an international undersea cable. In an effort to expand connectivity, the government has reportedly installed several
thousand kilometers of fiber-optic cable throughout the country over the past few years. Construction of the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) was completed and launched in July 2010, but its effects on Ethiopia have yet to be seen as of mid-2014. The space for independent initiatives in the ICT sector, entrepreneurial or otherwise, is extremely
limited, with state-owned Ethio Telecom holding a firm monopoly over internet and mobile phone services in the country. Consequently, all connections to the international internet are completely centralized via Ethio Telecom, enabling the government to cut off the internet at will. As a result, the internet research company Renesys classified Ethiopia “as being at severe risk of Internet disconnection,” alongside Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen in a February 2014 assessment. During the coverage period, one Renesys report found that 40 percent of Ethiopia’s networks were down for a few hours on July 18, 2013 as a result of a disruption on the SEACOM network, though the exact reason for the disruption was unknown. In September 2013, a number of cybercafe owners in Ethiopia reported an increasing trend of unpredictable internet connections and speeds beginning in June that resulted in a significant decline in business, with internet connections reported as unavailable for up to 15 days in a month. Mobile phone networks—also completely centralized under Ethio Telecom—are similarly vulnerable to service disruptions and shutdowns by the government, which often occur during politically sensitive times. During the coverage period, there were frequent reports of dropped cell phone and landline calls, complete network blackouts in many parts of the country, and overlapping voices in calls. The latter phenomenon led people to suspect government engagement in a widespread eavesdropping scheme (see “Violations of User Rights” for details on surveillance). Meanwhile, cybercafes are subject to onerous requirements under the 2002 Telecommunications
(Amendment) Proclamation, which requires cybercafe owners to obtain an operating license with Ethio Telecom via a murky process that can take months. During the coverage period, Ethio Telecom began enforcing its licensing  requirements more strictly in response to the increasing spread of cybercafes, reportedly penalizing Muslim cafe owners more harshly. Violations of the stringent requirements, such as a prohibition on providing Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services, entail criminal liability. Despite repeated international pressure to liberalize telecommunications in Ethiopia, the government
has not eased its grip on the sector. In June 2013, the prime minister publicly affirmed that the government would maintain a monopoly over the country’s telecoms. In the meantime, China has emerged as a key investor and contractor in Ethiopia’s telecommunications industry, and in July 2013, the government signed a US$1.6 billion agreement with the Chinese telecom companies,
Zhongxing Telecommunication Corporation (ZTE) and Huawei, to upgrade its broadband network to 4G in Addis Ababa and expand 3G across the country. The networks built by the Chinese firms have been criticized for their high costs and poor service, though the partnership has enabled Ethiopia’s authoritarian leaders to maintain their hold over the telecom sector. Furthermore, the contracts   have led to increasing fears that the Chinese may also be assisting the authorities in developing more robust internet and mobile phone censorship and surveillance capacities.
The Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA) and the Ethiopian Telecommunications Agency (ETA) are the primary regulatory bodies overseeing the telecommunications sector. These two organizations were established as autonomous federal agencies, but both are highly controlled government bodies.
Limits on Content
During the coverage period, over a hundred websites remained inaccessible in Ethiopia, with a greater number of online tools and services targeted for blocking. A June 2014 report affirmed the government’s efforts to recruit and train progovernment citizens to attack politically objectionable content online.
The Ethiopian government imposes nationwide, politically motivated internet blocking and filtering that tends to tighten ahead of sensitive political events. The majority of blocked websites are those that feature opposition or critical content run by individuals or organizations based in the country or the diaspora. The government’s approach to internet filtering generally entails hindering access to a list of specific internet protocol (IP) addresses or domain names at the level of the Ethio Telecom-controlled international gateway. A more sophisticated strategy of blocking websites based on a keyword in the URL path, known as deep-packet inspection (DPI),  was detected in May 2012 when the Tor network—an online tool that enables users to browse anonymously—was blocked. In January 2014, an independent test conducted by a researcher based in the country found 120 unique URLs that were inaccessible in the country, 62 of which were Ethiopian news websites, 14 of which were political party websites,  of which were blogs, and 7 of which were television and online
radio websites. During the test, some websites opened at the first attempt but were inaccessible when refreshed. The test also found that select tools and services on Google’s Android operating system on smart phones were inaccessible at irregular intervals but for unclear reasons. A separate test on over 1,400 URLs between July and August 2013 by the OpenNet Initiative in partnership withHuman Rights Watch similarly found 62 websites blocked altogether and numerous others intermittently inaccessible. International news outlets were increasingly targeted for censorship. Al Arabiya, a Saudi Arabia-based media outlet, and both of Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English websites were intermittently blocked during the coverage period. In July 2013, websites belonging to Yahoo and CNN were reportedly inaccessible for about 12 hours. Facebook and Twitter were also targets of the short-term July 2013 blocking. There was no evident impetus or reason for the short-term blocking, and other major services such as Gmail and new outlets such as the New York Times remained accessible. Nevertheless, the incident further increased worries over reports of government plans to block popular social media tools completely. Facebook and Twitter platforms were otherwise generally accessible, although some individual Facebook groups belonging to opposition individuals remained blocked altogether, particularly when accessed via the unencrypted (http://) URL pathway. Meanwhile, the social media curation tool Storify—first blocked in July 201241—remained blocked during the coverage period, while the URL shortening tool Bit.ly was inexplicably blocked in late 2013.
In the past few years, the authorities have become more sophisticated in their censorship techniques, electing to block select webpages as opposed to entire websites. Critical online news articles are usually targeted, such as an August 2012 Forbes article titled, “Requiem for a Reprobate Ethiopian Tyrant Should Not Be Lionized,” which was blocked for criticizing the local and global praise of the former prime minister’s debatable economic growth achievements; the article remained blocked as of June 2014.44 A July 2013 YouTube video of the anti government Muslim protests that occurred from 2012-13 was also blocked as of late 2013.
International blog-hosting platforms such as Blogspot have been frequently blocked since the disputed parliamentary elections of 2005, during which the opposition used online communication tools to organize and disseminate information that was critical of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. In 2007, the government instituted a blanket block on the domainnames of two popular blog-hosting websites, Blogspot and Nazret, though the authorities have
since become more sophisticated in their censorship techniques, now blocking select pages such as the Zone9 independent blog hosted on Blogspot, as opposed to the entire blogging platform. Nazret, however, remained completely blocked as of June 2014. Circumvention strategies have also been targeted, with the term “proxy” yielding no search results on Google, according to an independent source. Meanwhile, the terms “sex” or “porn” are still searchable.
In addition to increasing blocks of online content, politically objectionable content is often targeted for removal, often by way of threats from security officials who personally seek out users and bloggers to instruct them to take down certain content, particularly critical content on Facebook. The growing practice suggests that at least some voices within Ethiopia’s small online community are being closely monitored. Some restrictions are also placed on mobile phones, such as the  requirement for a text message to obtain prior approval from Ethio Telecom if it is to be sent to more than ten recipients. A bulk text message sent without prior approval is automatically blocked. There are no procedures for determining which websites are blocked or why, which precludes any avenues for appeal. There are no published lists of blocked websites or publicly available criteria for how such decisions are made, and users are met with an error message when trying to access
blocked content. This lack of transparency is exacerbated by the government’s continued denial of its censorship efforts. Meanwhile, the decision-making process does not appear to be controlled by a single entity, as various government bodies—including the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Ethio Telecom, and the ministry of ICT—seem to be implementing their own lists, contributing to a phenomenon of inconsistent blocking. Lack of adequate funding is a significant challenge for independent online media in Ethiopia, as fear of government pressure dissuades local businesses from advertising with politically critical websites. Local newspapers and web outlets receive their news and information from regime critics and opposition organizations in the diaspora. While the domestic Ethiopian blogosphere has been expanding, most blogging activity on Ethiopian issues still originates in the diaspora. Few Ethiopian journalists work for both the domestic print media and overseas online outlets due to the threat of repercussions. Increasing repression against journalists and bloggers has had a major chilling effect on expression online, particularly following the arrest of the Zone9 bloggers in April 2014 (see “Violations of User Rights”). Fear of pervasive surveillance has led to widespread self-censorship, and many bloggers publish anonymously to avoid reprisals. Notably, users on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter seem to practice a lower degree of self-censorship, which may be due to poor awareness of privacy settings, or the perception that posts on social media are anonymous or more secure. Despite extremely low levels of internet access, the authorities employ progovernment commentators and trolls to proactively manipulate the online news and information landscape. Acrimonious exchanges between commentators on apologist websites and an array of diaspora critics and opposition figures have become common in online political debates. There was a noticeable increase in the number of progovernment commentators during the coverage period, as confirmed in a June 2014 report by the Ethiopian Satellite Television Service (ESAT) that detailed the government’s efforts to recruit and train progovernment citizens to attack politically objectionable content online. According to the ESAT report, hundreds of bloggers who report directly to government officials had been trained on how to post progovernment comments and criticize antigovernment articles on social  media platforms. As the country prepares for the upcoming 2015 National Election, the state media has stepped up its campaign against the press in general and the use of social media in particular, claiming that foreign agents and terrorists are using social media to destabilize the country. Consequently, many civil society groups based in the country are wary of mobilizing against the government, and calls for protest come mostly from the Ethiopian diaspora rather than from local activists who fear the government’s violent crackdowns against protest movements. Nevertheless, over the past few years, Facebook has become one of the most popular mediums through which Ethiopians share and consume information. Social media services have also become significant platforms for political deliberation and social justice campaigns. For example, in September 2013, a group of young Ethiopian bloggers and activists based in Addis Ababa launched a Facebook and Twitter campaign on the occasion of Ethiopia’s New Year celebration to share their vision of a better Ethiopia, using the hashtag #EthiopianDream.52 In November 2013, Ethiopians responded to the Saudi government’s crackdown on undocumented Ethiopian immigrants in Saudi Arabia by organizing the online campaign, #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia, to protest the abusive treatment of Ethiopian immigrants. Netizen activism was particularly pronounced and widespread following the arrest of six Zone9 bloggers and three journalists for their alleged affiliation with the Zone9 collective (see “Violations of User Rights”). Ethiopian bloggers and social media users flocked online to spread the #FreeZone-9Bloggers hashtag in a campaign that quickly swept across the social media sphere and garnered

widespread support from around the world. Within five days, the #FreeZone9Bloggers hashtag had been tweeted more than 8,000 times. Unfortunately, the international campaign elicited no response from the government, and the imprisoned bloggers and journalists are still awaiting trial on charges of terrorism as of late-2014.

Violations of User Rights 
During the coverage period, the Ethiopian government’s already limited space for online expression continued to deteriorate alongside its poor treatment of journalists. A new proclamation passed in November 2013 empowered INSA with sweeping surveillance capabilities without judicial oversight. Sophisticated malware was launched against online radio journalists and dissidents in exile, while repression against bloggers and ICT users in the country increased notably. Six bloggers of the critical Zone9 blogging collective were arrested for their alleged terrorist activities. The 1995 Ethiopian constitution guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and access to information, while also prohibiting censorship. These constitutional guarantees are affirmed in the 2008 Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation, known as the press law, which also provides certain protections for media workers, such as prohibiting the pre-trial detention of journalists. Nevertheless, the press law also includes problematic provisions that contradict  constitutional protections and restrict free expression. For example, media outlets are required to obtain licenses to operate through an onerous registration process that applies to all outlets, regardless of size, though it is uncertain whether the press law’s broad language encompasses online media. Penalties for violating the registration requirement and other restrictions on content, such as defamation, involve high fines and up to two and three years in prison, respectively.
In September 2012, the government codified specific restrictions on various telecommunications activities through the passage of the Telecom Fraud Offences law,  which revised a 1996 law that had placed bans on certain communication applications, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)60— including Skype and Google Voice—call back services, and internet-based fax services. Under the new law, the penalties under the preexisting ban were toughened, increasing the fine and maximum prison sentence from five to eight years for offending service providers, and penalizing users with
three months to two years in prison. The law also added the requirement for all individuals to register their telecommunications equipment—including smart phones—with the government, which security officials typically enforce by confiscating ICT equipment when a registration permit cannot be furnished at security checkpoints, according to sources in the country.

Most alarmingly, the Telecom Fraud Offences law extended the violations and penalties defined in the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and 2004 Criminal Code to electronic communications, which are broadly defined yet explicitly include both mobile phone and internet services. The anti-terrorism legislation prescribes prison sentences of up to 20 years for the publication of statements that can be understood as a direct or indirect encouragement of terrorism, vaguely defined.64 Meanwhile, the criminal code holds any “author, originator or publisher” criminally liable for content allegedly linked to offenses such as treason, espionage, or incitement, which carries with it the penalty of up to life imprisonment or death. The criminal code also penalizes the publication of a “false rumor” with up to three years in prison. In 2014, the Ethiopian authorities increased their crackdown against bloggers and online journalists, using the country’s harsh laws to prosecute individuals for their online activities and silence dissent. Most alarmingly, six bloggers from the critical Zone9 blogging collective and three journalists associated with Zone9 were arrested in late April 2014 on charges of terrorism. They were accused of “working with foreign organizations that claim to be human rights activists… and receiving finance to
incite public violence through social media,”  though the arrests had occurred just days following Zone9’s Facebook post announcing plans to resume its activism. The blogging collective had been inactive for seven months as a result of “a considerable amount of surveillance and harassment” the bloggers had suffered at the hands of security agents for their writings and social media activism. Despite widespread international condemnation of the Zone9 arrests, the detainees were denied bail in August and remained in jail as of fall 2014, awaiting trial. Meanwhile, the well-known dissident journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega is still carrying out an 18-year prison sentence handed down in July 2012 under the anti-terrorism law. Numerous other journalists and media outlets—both online and print—were targeted for arrest and prosecutions during the coverage period, including Darsema Sori and Khalid Mohammed who were arrested in August 2013 for their work with the online radio station, Radio Bilal, which is known for its extensive coverage of the 2012-13 anti government protests organized by Ethiopian Muslims.

They were released after being held for a week without charges,71 but the arrests were in keeping with the government’s concerted efforts to silence the protests. Given the high degree of online repression in Ethiopia, some political commentators use proxy servers and anonymizing tools to hide their identities when publishing online and to circumvent filtering, though the ability to communicate anonymously has become more difficult. The Tor Network anonymizing tool was blocked in May 2012, confirming that the government has deployed deep-packet inspection technology, and Google searches of the term “proxy” mysteriously yield no results. Anonymity is further compromised by strict SIM card registration requirements. Upon purchase of a SIM card through Ethio Telecom or an authorized reseller, individuals must provide their full name, address, government-issued identification number, and a passport-sized photograph. Ethio Telecom’s database of SIM registrants enables the government to cut-off the SIM cards belonging to targeted individuals and to restrict those individuals from registering for new SIM cards. Internet subscribers are also required to register their personal details, including their home address, with the government. In 2013, an inside informant leaked worrying details of potential draft legislation that seeks to mandate real-name registration for all internet users in Ethiopia, though there are no further
details of this development as of mid-2014. Government surveillance of online and mobile phone communications is pervasive in Ethiopia, and evidence has emerged in recent years that reveal the scale of such practices. According to 2014
Human Rights Watch research, there are strong indications that the government has deployed a centralized monitoring system from the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE, known as ZXMT, to monitor phone lines and various types of communications, including mobile phone networks and the internet.73 Known for its use by repressive regimes in Libya and Iran, ZXMT enables deep-packet inspection (DPI) of internet traffic across the Ethio Telecom network and has the ability to intercept emails and web chats. Another ZTE technology, known as ZSmart, is a customer management database installed at Ethio Telecom that provides the government with full access to user information and the ability to intercept SMS text messages and record phone conversations. ZSmart also allows security officials to locate targeted individuals through real-time geolocation tracking of mobile phones. While the extent to which the government has made use of the full range of ZTE’s sophisticated surveillance systems is unclear, the authorities frequently present intercepted emails and phone calls as evidence during trials against journalists and bloggers or during interrogations as a scare tactic. In November 2013, a new Cyber Security Law expanded the surveillance powers of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA)—the government body established in 2011 to preside overcurity of the country’s critical communications infrastructure. According to reports, the law states that “social media outlets, blogs and other internet related media have great capabilities to instigate war, to damage the country’s image and create havoc in the economic atmosphere of the country”—
setting the logic for expanding INSA’s duties to include developing offensive cyber capabilities and ICT tools. The proclamation also empowers INSA to investigate computers, networks, internet, radio, television, and social media platforms “for any possible damage to the country’s social, economic, political and psychological well being.” INSA reportedly uses sophisticated spyware, such as the commercial toolkit FinFisher—a device that can secretly monitor computers by turning on webcams, record everything a user types with a key logger, and intercept Skype calls—to target dissidents and supposed threats. A leaked document confirmed that the UK-based company, Gamma International, had provided Ethio Telecom with the FinFisher surveillance toolkit at some point between April and July 2012.80 In addition, research conducted by Citizen Lab in March 2013 worryingly found evidence of an Ethio Telecom-initiated  inSpy campaign launched against users that employed pictures of the exiled prodemocracy group, Ginbot 7, as bait. There has been an increasing trend of exiled dissidents targeted with surveillance malware in the past few years. In April 2013, Tadesse Kersmo, a senior member of Ginbot-7 living in exile in the United Kingdom since 2009, came across the above-mentioned Citizen Lab FinSpy report and noticed that one of the spyware campaign’s bait was a picture of himself. He contacted Citizen Lab to have his computer examined and found that FinSpy had been active on his computer over two days in June 2012. The spyware may have transmitted any or all of Kersmo’s emails, chats, Skype calls, files, and web searches to a server based in Ethiopia, which could have provided the authorities with names of contacts, colleagues, and family members still living in the country. In February 2014, Privacy International filed a criminal complaint to the UK’s National Cyber Crime Unit on Kersmo’s behalf, urging them to investigate the potential unlawful interception of communications.
In the same month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a similar suit in the United States on behalf of another Ethiopian dissident (and American citizen) identified publicly under the pseudonym Mr. Kidane. Kidane’s computer had also been found infected with the FinSpy malware sometime between late October 2012 and March 2013, which had secretly recorded dozens of his Skype calls, copied emails he had sent, and logged a web search conducted by his son on the history of sports medicine for a school research project.86 The FinSpy IP address was linked to a server belonging to
Ethio Telecom. Recent Citizen Lab research published in February 2014 uncovered the use of Remote Control System
(RCS) spyware against two employees of the diaspora-run independent satellite television, radio, and online news media outlet, Ethiopian Satellite Television Service (ESAT), based in Alexandria, VA.87 Made by the Italian company Hacking Team, RCS spyware is advertised as “offensive technology” sold exclusively to law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, and has the ability to steal files and passwords, and intercept Skype calls/chats. 88 While Hacking Team claims that they do not deal with “repressive regimes,” the RCS virus sent via sophisticated bait to the two ESAT employees made it clear that the attack was targeted, and researchers have strong suspicions of the Ethiopian government’s  involvement.
While the government’s stronghold over the Ethiopian ICT sector enables it to proactively monitor users, its access to user activity and information is less direct at cybercafes. For a period following the 2005 elections, cybercafe owners were required to keep a register of their clients, but the requirement has not been enforced since mid-2010.91 Nevertheless, some cybercafe operators revealed that they are required to report any “unusual behavior” to security officials, and officials often visit cybercafes (sometimes in plainclothes) to ask questions about specific users or monitor user activity themselves.
Government security agents frequently harass and intimidate bloggers, online journalists, and ordinary users for their online activities. Independent bloggers are often summoned by the authorities to be warned against discussing certain topics online, while activists claim that they are consistently threatened by state security agents for their online activism. Bloggers from Zone9, for example, reported suffering a considerable amount of harassment for their work, leading them to go silent for several months. Shortly after the blog announced on Facebook that it was resuming activities in April 2014, six Zone9 bloggers were arrested and sent to a federal detention center in Addis Ababa where the torture of detainees is reportedly common. The active Gmail accounts belonging to several of the Zone9 bloggers94 while in detention suggests that they may have been forced give their passwords to security officials against their will.

Read more @ https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FOTN_2014_Full_Report_compressedv2_0.pdf

ETHIOPIA: ‘BECAUSE I AM OROMO’: SWEEPING REPRESSION IN THE OROMIA REGION OF ETHIOPIA

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR25/006/2014/en

TPLF Ethiopia’s Genocidal Mass killings against Oromo People in Eastern and Southern Oromia: Hamma Yoom Oromoon Lafa isaa tirraa arihama? #Oromo #Oromia #BecauseIAmOromo November 30, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Ethnic Cleansing, Janjaweed Style Liyu Police of Ethiopia, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Oromia, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, The Mass Massacre & Imprisonment of ORA Orphans, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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Hamma Yoom Oromoon Lafa isaa tirraa arihama? Gaafif Deebii Keessummaa keenyan waliin goone hordofaa

 

 

 

 

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Ethiopia’s Amhara state president killed amid regional failed coup attempt. Yaalii Fonqolcha Mootummaa Naannoo Amaaraatti Fashala’een Preezidantiin Naannoo Amaaraa Dhukaasa Banameen Ajjeefaman June 23, 2019

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Ethiopia’s Amhara state chief killed amid regional coup attempt, AL JAZEERA NEWS

The president of Ethiopia‘s Amhara region and his top adviser were killed in an attempted coup in which the country’s army chief was also shot dead, the office of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.

Spokeswoman Billene Seyoum told journalists a “hit squad” led by Amhara’s security chief Asaminew Tsige burst into a meeting in the state offices of Amhara’s capital, Bahir Dar, on Saturday and shot regional government President Ambachew Mekonnen and his adviser Ezez Wassie.

The men were “gravely injured in the attack and later died of their wounds,” she said.

“Several hours later, in what seems like a coordinated attack, the chief of the staff of the national security forces Seare Mekonnen was killed in his home by his bodyguard in Addis Ababa.”

Also shot dead was a retired general who had been visiting him, Billene added.

The bodyguard has been apprehended while Asaminew is still on the loose, sources said.

Ethiopia coup attempt Amhara

Al Jazeera’s Leah Harding, reporting from Addis Ababa, said Abiy called those responsible “mercenaries”.

“The army intelligence general said the coup was meant to create chaos and division in the military. He said the military now has control over the situation … and he reiterated that there are no divisions within the military,” Harding reported.

“This is particularly important because the two generals that were killed in Addis Ababa are part of the Tigre ethnic group, and the person who we believe is responsible for the coup plot is part of the Amhara group.”

Analysts said the incident showed the seriousness of the political crisis in Ethiopia, where efforts by Abiy to loosen the iron-fisted grip of his predecessors and push through reforms have unleashed a wave of unrest.

“These tragic incidents, unfortunately, demonstrate the depth of Ethiopia’s political crisis,” said International Crisis Group analyst William Davison.

“It is now critical that actors across the country do not worsen the instability by reacting violently or trying to exploit this unfolding situation for their own political ends,” the expert said. 

Ethiopia unrest

Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed condemned the unrest in an appearance on state television [Reuters]

Residents of Bahir Dar said late on Saturday there was gunfire in some neighbourhoods and some roads had been closed off.

The US embassy issued alerts about reported gunfire in Addis Ababa and violence around Bahir Dar.View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Travel – State Dept@TravelGov

#Ethiopia: The U.S Embassy is aware of reports of gunfire in Addis Ababa. Chief of Mission personnel are advised to shelter in place. http://ow.ly/kcLf50uKB0w 12111:04 PM – Jun 22, 2019159 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

Early on Sunday, Brigadier General Tefera Mamo, the head of special forces in Amhara, told state television that “most of the people who attempted the coup have been arrested, although there are a few still at large.”

Since coming to power last year, Abiy has tried to spearhead political reforms to open up the once isolated, security-obsessed Horn of Africa country of 100 million people.

He has released political prisoners, lifted bans on political parties and prosecuted officials accused of gross human rights abuses, but his government is battling mounting violence.

Ethnic bloodshed – long held in check by the state’s iron grip – has flared up in many areas, including Amhara, where the regional government was led by Ambachew Mekonnen.

“Since Abiy Ahmed took power and the country moved towards democratisation … there have been different forms of mobilisations, by different actors, particularly nationalists.” Awol Allo, a lecturer in law at Keele University, told Al Jazeera. 

“[In] Amhara regional state, there is this feeling that they were marginalised, and these individuals that were suspected to be behind the coup recently said that Amhara people have never been subordinated.. so there is this sense of grievance and victimhood that is driving the nationalist movements,” he added. 

Ethiopia is due to hold a national parliamentary election next year. Several opposition groups have called for the polls to be held on time despite the unrest and displacement. Ethiopia is due to hold a national parliamentary election next year. Several opposition groups have called for the polls to be held on time despite the unrest and displacement.

Related News from Oromian Economist sources:

Yaalii Fonqolcha Mootummaa Naannoo Amaaraatti raawwatameen Preezidantiin Naannoo Amaaraa dhukaasa banameen ajjeefaman, BBC Afaan Oromoo

Ethiopia’s chief of staff killed in coup attempt in Amhara state, Reuters

The Amhara state president, Ambachew Mekonnen, and his adviser were shot dead and the state’s attorney general was wounded in Amhara’s capital, Bahir Dar, on Saturday evening, according to a statement from the office of the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, The Guardian

Yaalii fonqolchaa kana akka itti hubatamuu qaburratti aktivistoonni Amaaraa bakka lamatti bahanii wal falmaa jiru. Gareen ija jabeessi ‘kun diraamaa Abiyyi tahe jedhee raawwatedha’ jechuun yakkamtoota isaaniirraa dhiiga dhiquu yaalaa jiru. Gareen kaan ammoo Abiyyiin jibbinuyyuu dhugaa kana haaluun rakkisaa dha, nun baasu jechuun haqa liqimsaa jiru. Kan nama qaanfachiisu garuu, warra maqaa Oromoon of waamaa ‘hojiin kun diraamaa Abiyyi malee yaalii fonqolchaa miti’ jechuun gartuu Asaamminoo Tsiggee irraa dhiiga dhiquuf dhama’us arguu dha. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=903553573365016&id=100011311443078

Jeneraal Se’are kan ajjeesse waardiyaa isaa Mesafint jedhamu ta’uun himameera. Bakki dhaloota isaa Gondar, Amhara dha. Ajjeechaa sana erga raawwatee booda of ajjeesuu yaalee kan ture yoo ta’u of madeessee lubbuun keessa jirti.

Dr. Ambachew Bahirdaaritti kan ajjeese Jeneral Asaaminew Tsige ta’uunis himamaa jira. Amma Bahirdar keessaa miliqee bakka hin beekamne dhokatee jira jedhama. Walgayii magaalattii walakkaa keessatti ta’e keessatti nama lama ajjeessee dhokachuu danda’uun isaa bulchiinsa Amaaraa keessaa deggertootaa hedduuf cimdaa bal’aa qabaachuu isaa agarsiisa. Hatattamaan hin qabamu yoo ta’e dhiyootti deggertoota isaa wajjin waraanaa mootummaa federaalaa irratti banuun isaa waan hin oolle. Caasaan ABN isa cina dhaabbachuun falmisiisaa miti. Qaamni kun Amaara keessa qofa otuu hin taane biyyattii bakka hundatti caasaa diriirfatee jira. Keessumaa magaalota Oromiyaa kanneen akka Adaamaa, Asallaa, Goobbaa fi Finfinnee keessatti caasaan ABN cimaa ta’uu hin oolu. Kanaaf ummatni keenya of eeggannoo cimaa godhuu qaba. Poolisii Oromiyaa cina dhaabbatee nageenya isaa tiksuu qaba. 
Solomon Ungashe tiin. https://www.facebook.com/daniel.areerii/posts/3080992428584542

A brief political history of Sidama Nation for self-rule, Addis Standard May 31, 2019

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Please Click here to download the PDF version of this special edition


A brief political history of Sidama Nation for self-rule

Shiferaw Muleta (PhD), For Addis Standard

Addis Abeba, May 29/2030 – The quest of Sidama statehood has become a point of discussion in the political arena of Ethiopia. Notwithstanding to its long political and military struggle for self-rule, many people in the capital city Addis Abeba, including prominent politicians and academicians, think that the Sidamas’ quest for self-rule is a recent phenomenon and presented after Abiy Ahmed (PhD) came to power. For instance, many people have not heard about the armed struggle of the Sidamas against the Derg regime, which was “one of the top secrets of the Derg regime” (Human Rights Watch, 1991:86). The armed struggle of the Sidama Liberation Movement (SLM) for self-rule was one of the top five armed struggles launched by the EPLF, TPLF, OLF and ONLF against the Socialist-Dictatorship of the Derg regime. The SLM was active in its armed struggle for over a decade and the Sidamas sacrificed more than 10,000 men in different battle fields in Sidama region. In recent past, for example, a similar quest for statehood was presented by the Sidama zone council in September 2005. However, the response was a political one not a constitutional by then. Many Sidama elites and scholars were imprisoned and forced to exile for not accepting this political “decision”.

In this short essay, I present some historical events in the political struggle of the Sidama Nation for self-rule in a chronological order. The facts are compiled from local and international sources. However, I admit that this is not a complete chronological list. The aim of this essay is twofold: to acquaint readers with the political history of the Sidamas for self-rule and to initiate historians and young academics to conduct a thorough study in the armed struggle of the Sidamas. Hence, I believe this essay to serve as a stepping stone to document historical events in this regard. The dates are in Gregorian calendar for events from international sources, such as the Human Rights Watch reports. For some events, Ethiopian dates are included in brackets. The chronological lists are presented under four sections: Prior to Italian occupation, Haile Selassie I regime, Derg regime and post 1991.

I) The political Struggle of the Sidama Nation before 1941

  • 1891: Sidama land was annexed by the army of Menelik II of Shoa. Despite their strong resistance, the Sidamas were conquered due to superiority in firearms by the invading army.
  • 1900-1936: the armed resistance against the invading army continued, even though the struggles were in a fragmented way and not well coordinated. The early resistances were led by clan leaders such as Baallicha Worawo, Dullacha Raacho, Cuuko Daalachaanna, Aliito Hewano, Mangistu Hammeeso and Wena Hankarso.
  • 1936-1941: During this Italian occupation period, the Sidama Nation relatively regained ownership on the ancestral land. The Nation was freed from servitude and the notorious ‘gabbar’ system during the Italian occupation period. Nonetheless, on some parts of the Sidama land, the Italians faced strong resistance due to their policy of discrimination. A prominent figure in the resistance against the Italian rule was Alito Hewano. The Italians responded by indiscriminately killing clan leaders and elders, which is still referred as Umi Shibbire (The First Terror) in Sidama land.
  • II) The political Struggle of the Sidama Nation between 1941-1974
  • 05 May 1941: Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia from his exile and marked the restoration of Ethiopian independence from Italian occupation.
  • 1941: Following the restoration of the Emperor to his throne, the conflict between the Sidamas and the ‘Melkegnas’ continued. In 1933 EC, Sidama elders and clan leaders were once again killed en mass in a place called Ashisho, 25 Kms from the current Aleta Wondo town, for resisting the returnee landlords. This event is still remembered as Layinki shibbire (the second terror) in Sidama land.
  • 1940s-1974: the struggle continued with the returnee landlords who unfoundedly claimed to regain their “land”. However, the struggle was on individual basis and lacked coordination. Prominent individuals in the armed struggle against the returnee landlords during this period and then after include Yettera Boolle, Hushula Xaaddiso, Fiissa Ficho, Laanqamo Naare, Takilu Yota, Shila Harqa and Gebrehiwot Banata, just to mention few. As a result of the continued resistance, the Imperial regime was forced to make some reforms in its administrative system with a precondition of conversion of the Sidamas to Orthodox Christianity and accepting the language and culture of the ruling class. This assimilation policy had continued until 1991.

III) The political Struggle of the Sidama Nation between 1974-1991

  • September 1974: the last king of the “Solomonic” dynasty was overthrown.
  • March 1975: Declaration of Land to the Tiller policy
  • 1974-1976: mixed form of support to and resistance against the Derg regime continued. The support was due to the Derg’s popular decree of Land to the Tiller. Like in many parts of the country, the Sidama elites and youths by the then were organized under the then prominent political groups, partly with the EPRP and significantly with MEISON.
  • January 1977: The Sidama Liberation Movement (SLM) was established and the late Woldeamanuel Dubale became the first president of the movement
  • June 1978-January 1980: A total of 60,000 Sidamas went to Somalia in five rounds to get military trainings. In the first four rounds, the journey of the SLM recruits was successful. However, there was a heavy causality in the fifth round.
  • 18 January 1980 (ጥር 10/1972)፡ On their way to the training camp of the SLM in Somalia, Sidama recruits were caught in a surprise air attack by the Derg at a place called Galbed at the Ethio-Somalia border. Out of the total 12,000 recruits who left Sidama for Somalia, 2,000 died by the air strike and 600 went missing. Only 9,000 of them reached their destination.
  • 1977-1987: The armed struggle spearheaded by the SLM continued. During this period, the SLM coordinated its armed struggle with the other fronts, such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The SLM continued its armed struggle against the Derg regime. It was successful in liberating many Sidama areas. The total causalities in the SLM side are estimated to be above 12,000(without including civilian losses) in its fight against the Derg regime for a decade.
  • 1981: The Human Rights Watch report states that “the SLM was more active,  largely  in  response  to  pre-emptive government counter-insurgency policies”. The HRW also stated that “The war in Sidama in 1981 was one of the Dergue’s best-kept secrets (HRW, 1991: 85). See the details from this link.
  • January 1981: 200 people were reported to have been killed by an army patrol at Godaboke Mito and Chire villages in Sidama. “The war in Sidamo in 1981 was one of the Derg’s best-kept secrets. In January, 200 people were reported killed by an army patrol at Godaboke Mito and Chire villages in Sidamo.” HRW, P. 85
  • 19-21 March 1981: The Derg bombarded the base of SLM in Chiirii woreda. The aim was to suffocate the army of the SLM within a forested valley. The HRW reported that helicopter and airplane attacks at Gata Warrancha in Sidama caused at least 20,000 people  in one valley to flee, and more than 2,000 were reported killed when a  “wall of  flames” was  ignited by bombing using either phosphorous or ethylene. The government ordered the evacuation of a Norwegian mission stationed in the area and a hospital [in Yirgalem], leaving the wounded without medical care. 
  • July 1981: 615 civilians were reported to have been killed at a meeting called by local administrators at a place known as Alo in Haroressa woreda. 
  • 01 December 1981: A well-documented killing took place in Chiiri (South Sidama) when a defense squad killed at least 48 people, including several cases involving entire families.
  • 13 July 1980 (03/11/1972 ዓ/ም): The Derg army stationed in Malga woreda, in a specific place called Wotera Resa, 25 KMs from the capital Hawassa, was attacked by the SLM fighters. In a pretext of crushing the forces of the SLM, the military fired a machine gun on civilians who were attending a meeting summoned by local officials resulting in heavy civilian casualties.
  • 18 July 1980 (08/11/1972 ዓ/ም): The Derg used heavy artilleries, including tanks, against civilians who were summoned for a meeting with local officials at the Market place of Yirba in Boricha district. When the civilians refused to comply with the demands of the officials and some of them started firing, the local officials reported to the nearby army camp as if they were encircled by heavily armed SLM fighters, the military massacred many civilians.
  • 1988-1991: Notwithstanding its strong resistance of the air bombardments and the heavy artilleries, the armed struggle continued. However, the SLM decided to slow down its resistance because this time the Derg applied an anti-guerrilla tactic by recruiting Sidamas forcefully to fight against the SLM army. This tactic worked against the SLM, even though similar tactics failed in the battle grounds in Eritrea and Tigrary. Even though the armed struggle became passive after the end of 1987, also partly due to the Derg’s tactic of dividing the SLM leadership, the armed struggle continued until 1991.
  • 1989-1991: The Sidama Nation got its own administrative structure for the first time since 1891. The “Sidama Administrative Region” became one of the newly formed 24 administrative Regions and the five autonomous regions.

IV) The political Struggle of the Sidama Nation in post1991 period

  • 28 May 1991: The EPRDF forces entered Addis Abeba.
  • July 1991: The SLM was one of the participating political groups in the the “July conference” in 1991. On its first day of meeting, the late chairman of TPLF, the late Meles Zenawi and the late Woldeamanuel Dubale exchanged a hot debate on the Sidama issue; the latter was supported by the OLF. This marked the beginning of hostility towards the SLM.
  • 1991-1993: The SLM was represented by two individuals in the transitional council.
  • 1993-1995: The Sidama Nation regained a self-administrative status (Region 8) out of the newly formed 14 regions at the national level.
  • 07 December 1992 (ህዳር 29/1984): An attempt was made on the life of the late Woldeamanuel Dubale in a broad daylight. This incident happened on the first general assembly meeting of the SLM held in Hawassa.
  • June 1992: The SLM was forced to withdraw from the transitional council.
  • September 1992: The leadership of the SLM were forced into exile.
  • 01 November 1991 (ጥቅምት 23/1984 ዓ/ም): The Sidama Peoples’ Democratic Organization (SPDO) was established as a surrogate Sidama organization to replace the SLM. Like the other PDOs (such as the creation of OPDO to replace OLF), this move by TPLF was to counter against the independent SLM. The political struggle of the SLM with the EPRDF continued.
  • 18 August 1993 (ነሃሴ 10/1985 ዓ/ም): Sidamu Afoo became the working language and medium of instruction. Due to its historical significance, this date is still commemorated by the Sidamas annually.
  • 1993-2005: The armed struggle continued by another Sidama organization called the Sidama National Front (SLF). The SLF was a splitter from the SLM due to differences in the struggle tactics against the EPRDF regime.
  • Since 1993: Some of the SLM members decided to continue their struggle within the country peacefully despite the intimidation of the EPRDF regime. Many members of the peaceful SLM party were either killed or detained in the pretext of their “collaboration with the SLF”. Many Sidama elites were also forced to exile.
  • January1993: The formation of the infamous SNNP region by merging five regions out of the 14 regions, which existed during the transition period. This move was objected by Sidama representatives within EPRDF, which forced many of the SPDO members to withdraw from the party and to continue their struggle from abroad. Prominent figures in this regard include Tufa Doyicha, the zonal president by then and others (e.g. Elias Tiro, and Tesfaye Fichola.)
  • January 1993: the formation of the South Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) by merging all the PDOs in the newly formed South region. This diminished the political participation of Sidamas.
  • July 2000: Many of the SLF and OLF fighting units were ambushed by the regime’s force in a battle ground fought in a place called Baidewa, Somalia. The Sidama and Oromo martyrs were buried together.
  • 22 August 2005: The Council of Sidama unanimously endorsed the age long request of Sidama Nation for statehood. However, the response was political rather than constitutional. Many Sidama scholars, who were at the forefront in this constitutional quest for statehood, were either detained or forced into exile.
  • 24 May 2002: The killing of more than 70 Sidama youth, children and women, who went out for a demonstration against the regime, by security forces. This tragic event is remembered as “the Loqqe Massacre” by the Sidama Nation. No one has been held accountable for this massacre.
  • October 2007: The formation of the South Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front (SEPDF) by dismantling all independently acting PDOs in their respective zones. This completely undermined the political participation of the Sidama as an independent entity.
  • 1995-2010: The political struggle, mainly by Sidama Political groups abroad, continued.
  • On 24 April 2018: The Sidama representative in the council of the EPRDF voted for PM Abiy Ahmed instead of his Sidama competitor for the chairmanship position of the EPRDF and subsequently the Prime Minster position. This independent move of the Sidama members within the EPRDF council has earmarked a new chapter in Oromo-Sidama relationship in the political arena.
  • 18 July 2018 (ሐምሌ 11/2010 ዓ/ም): The Council of Sidama Zone unanimously endorsed the quest for statehood for a second time.
  • 03 November 2018 (23/02/2011 ዓ/ም): The Council of SNNP region unanimously approved the Sidamas Zone’s request for statehood
  • 22 November 2018 (12/03/2011 ዓ/ም): The House speaker of the SNNP council officially requested the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) to conduct a referendum for Sidama Nation as per Article 47 (3) of the constitution.
  • Since 22 November 2018: The Sidama Zone has been waiting for the action of the NEBE to conduct a referendum, while the necessary preparations to form its independent region, the Sidama National Regional State (SNRS), has been finalized.
  • 23 January 2019 (13/01/2011ዓ/ም): The Taskforce, drawn from Sidama scholars, was established by Sidama zone council to make the necessary preparations for the new region. The Taskforce has already completed its tasks. A public discussion on the new regional constitution is expected to commence soon.
  • 20 March 2019 (14/06/2011 ዓ/ም): More than a million people held a peaceful demonstration in Hawassa city protesting the delay of announcing the referendum date.
  • 13-15 March 2019 (መጋቢት 5-7 2011 ዓ/ም): As an extension of the first demonstration, the second demonstration (Gaado II) was conducted as stay-at-home protest for three days.
  • 09 April 2019 (01/07/2011 ዓ/ም): A peaceful demonstration by women and girls only, referred as Yaakissa, was held in Hawassa city over the delay of the referendum date.

Editor’s Note: Shiferaw Muleta (PhD) is from Addis Abeba University (AAU) College of Development Studies. He can be reached at shiferaw.muleta@aau.edu.et

_________________________________________//___________________________________

References

Human Rights Watch (1991). Evil Days: 30 Years of War and Famine in Ethiopia, p. 85

Wolassa L. Kumo. (2016). The Sidama Nation: History, Culture and Political Economy. Create Space Independent Publishing, North Charleston, USA

Ethiopia: Information on the Sidama Liberation Movement (SLM), including history, goals, and methods; whether the group uses violence and has participated in armed conflict.

John Markakis, 2011: Ethiopia: The Last Two Frontiers, Oxford, James Currey.

Markakis wrote that after 1977, the SLM “established an armed presence in three woreda[s] … and managed to fight off the Derg until 1982..”(Markakis 2011, 200)

የሲዳማ ዞን ባህል፣ ቱሪዝምና የመንግስት ኮሚኒኬሽን ጉዳዮች መምሪያ (2003 ዓ/ም). የሲዳማ ብሔር ታሪክና ባህል. (The Sidama Nation: History and Culture) pp:64-86 and 96-128

አበበ ማሪሞ. (2011 ዓ/ም). የሲዳማ አርነት ንቅናቄ የትጥቅ ትግል ታሪክ፡ ከ1970-1983 ዓ.ም. MA printing. (The Sidama Liberation Movement: History of Armed Struggle, 1978-1991 G.C), pp: 82-85 and 100-102, 111-128.

Ethiopia: People’s resistance movements have brought change in political relations on three decades old Ethiopian Federation, Obbo Ibsa Gutamaa April 16, 2019

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People’s resistance movements have brought change in political relations on three decades old Ethiopian Federation. This change has forced a transitional arrangement in which supremacy of the law is to be observed. There is consensus it seems, that EPRDF new leaders administer the transition. This will be the first journey towards freedom in the last hundred and more years for all oppressed peoples of the empire from own and colonial ruling classes. Members of those classes won’t go easily without the last effort to regain the power they lost to people’s revolution since 1974. The transitional governments role is not to attempt making fundamental changes but to enforce supremacy of the law and carry on routine government functions. Elected representatives after transition will establish the direction the post empire state would take. Oromiyaa is going to be one of the participating states in the decision making. Finfinnee is her capital. One that says Finfinnee does not belong to Oromiyaa is only one that considers Oromiyaa is not Oromo’s. Leftovers of past ruling class still have nostalgia for the old order. They are even heard advising Dr. Abiy to annul the constitution and rule with iron hand simply to deny Oromo regaining their lost rights. Oromiyaa showed willingness that there must be peace to discuss on how people continue living together not accepting supremacy of Ethiopia but believing in their equality. Freedom for the Oromo is assurance for freedom all oppressed classes and peoples in the empire. For leftovers of past ruling class democracy is disaster and demeaning. They are losers that have tried to sabotage the change that appeared in the empire from the beginning. They had hands in Darg’s genocide, Eritrea’s separation, collapse of the old army, and the coming to power of Wayyaanee. Still, they are trying the last effort to sell their evil ideas before aging takes them away. Their advice made Mangistuu monster and that alone will deny them credibility. The failed coup they masterminded caused the demise of the cream of Ethiopian elite forces. To pass their evil thoughts to the next generation they are advising their young to make all efforts that Oromo shall never raise their heads. They forget that mother mouse has also advised what mother cat advised. They are crying about the demise of the empire system as if it did not start cracking fifty years ago. Though he cannot save it, Abiy can make it smooth and tranquil for them to rehabilitate. From ruins of the empire there will not be catastrophe for the majority but free nations and democratic system are sprouting. Those that are not concerned to empower the peoples but want power for themselves wish crumbling or dictatorship for and show no worry for fate of the peoples. Oromo love peace and serenity; they will have gain from success of transitional government not from its fall. That could take them back to long and bitter struggle. The time is when we need peace and stability for viable change. But that does not mean they will not fight back aggressors. Let alone Dr. Abiy the one they initially tried to compare to, even if the true Moses of their dream comes, he cannot turn the wheel of change backwards, he would only help it cross the transition bridge. They started smear campaign against Abiy when they found that he has his own personality and own dreams not clone of Goobana. His trying to Ethiopianize Oromo demands was not enough for them. Contribution of Oromo intellectuals on matters of Finfinnee and anti-Oromo movements are so far not sufficient. Throwing slogans with emotions alone does not serve much. Oromo question is only about human rights, democracy, peace and freedom for all. Finfinnee will have City Council which will be filled by their representatives according to principle of one person one vote. Contrary to leftovers of Habashaa ruling class Oromo sovereignty will bring to Finfinnee peace, democracy and better understanding with neighbors. Oromo are simply saying that Oromo have sovereign right over Oromiyaa that includes Finfinnee. Areas that require interference of the sovereign will not exceed some tax areas and human rights and areas which are beyond the ability of the city. Non-Oromo residing in Oromiyaa had never been forced to change their style of life, culture and language; the same applies for Finfinnee. Whatever rights universally recognized Oromiyaa will be the first to implement because Oromo have a tradition in which rule of law and respect for human rights have priority. These are the truth whose distorted versions are presented by Nafxanyaa system hopefuls. They want to own everything, Oromo land, resources and Oromo labor. Therefore, Oromo media and intellectuals have a homework to handle. To report to Oromiyaa for Silxee, Adaree, Guraagee, Indagany, Qabeena, Dawuroo, Dorzee, Kambaataa, Hadiyyaa, Alaabaa, Sidaamaa and other Southern peoples that have established their lives on trading in Finfinnee has more advantage than remaining under control of Nafxanyaa hopefuls. Many relatives of Finfinnee residents live scattered over all parts of Oromiyaa than in any other state enjoying Oromo hospitality. But to tell the Oromo that Finfinnee is not theirs will be failed justice. Finfinnee can grow or diminish, profit or lose, based on Oromo will. The Oromo will like Finfinnee get better democratic governance than ever; develop more than ever; be more beautiful and peaceful; welcome all hard-working human beings to join in her development, not oppression, plundering, and neglect of the past hundred years to return to her. Everybody has to understand what it means to say Finfinnee is Oromiyaa’s? The truth is not what the children of colonial war lords, Raas Birruu, Raas Daargee, Raas Kaasaa, Raas Tasammaa, Negus Walda Goorgis, Raas Haayiluu and others who want to maintain colonial legacy say. Oromo are ready to negotiate with any nation and nationality based on equality and respect for mutual interest and rights. All peace-loving persons have to involve in creating understanding between peoples of the region. The Ethiopia Nafxanyaa system hopefuls are singing for, will not come back again but a beautiful maiden is being seen from distance whatever her name may be. What do you say?

Oromiyaan haa jiraattu!

The East African Review: SPEAK OF ME AS I AM: Ethiopia, Native Identities and the National Question in Africa February 3, 2019

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Speak of Me as I Am

Does a country create a people, or do a people create a country? KALUNDI SERUMAGA responds to Mahmood Mamdani’s recent analysis on the political situation in Ethiopia. Published in The East African Review, January 26, 2019

The Westphalian principles, rooted in the 1648 Treaties signed in the European region of that name, have been monstrously mis-applied when it comes to the African continent, yet they established modern international relations, particularly the inviolability of borders and non-interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign states. The default position of a certain generation and class of African nationalist, is to cleave unto the “new” nation born at Independence, as the only legitimate basis upon which African progress can be conceived and built. Everything else, especially that dreaded category, ‘ethnicity’ is cast as a diversion and dangerous distraction. This is the tone that runs through Ugandan Professor Mahmoud Mamdani’s one thousand-word opinion piece: The Trouble With Ethiopia’s Ethnic Federalism, published on 3rd January for the New York Times by (and patriotically reproduced in Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper), bearing a total of fifty-four iterations of the word ‘ethnic’.

The default position of a certain generation and class of African nationalist, is to cleave unto the “new” nation born at Independence, as the only legitimate basis upon which African progress can be conceived and built.

At Independence, the Westphalia protocols were conferred on to the former colonial contraptions. The results were economic stagnation and political repression. For over five decades, these new nations have been the focus of intellectual and political agitation among Africa’s thinkers. When, after all that rumination and fulmination, our thinkers still get things horribly back to front, we all get stuck at a crossroads. Mamdani’s essay comes as our current Exhibit A in this long history of intellectual malfunction. Current Prime Minister, the youthful Abiy Ahmed is faced with a many-sided series of demands from a deeply frustrated population. Many of these relate directly to the lack of an economic growth model that palpably raises living standards. Others reach further back to the age-old question of land ownership and reform. Naturally, the demand for greater civic rights to speech and assembly come as a prerequisite. One feature common to these demands is the tendency for the Ethiopians to speak through, and/or on behalf of the various constitutionally recognised native identities within the country. Some may have even formed militias for this purpose.

Mamdani’s essay comes as our current Exhibit A in this long history of intellectual malfunction.

Mamdani engages with this to make an analysis not just of the Ethiopian crisis itself, but of the question of what he terms “ethnicity” which, he sees as the issue – or more accurately, the ‘problem’ – permanently bedevilling African politics. “Fears of Ethiopia suffering Africa’s next interethnic conflict are growing,” he warns. Prime Minister Abiy has been quick to concede much, and roll out as many reforms as he can. Most notably, he has ended the two-decade stand-off with his northern neighbour, Eritrea.

Mamdani engages with this to make an analysis not just of the Ethiopian crisis itself, but of the question of what he terms “ethnicity” which, he sees as the issue – or more accurately, the ‘problem’ – permanently bedevilling African politics.

This may not be enough, Mamdani tells us. The real problem, as he sees it, is the introduction of ethnicity into Ethiopian governance, and its central position in the Ethiopian constitution. This, Professor Mamdani says, was done by former Prime Minister, the late Meles Zenawi, who served as the de facto Ethiopian strongman from 1991 to 2012. Mamdani describes this as an attempt to replicate a similar strategy of ethnic organization that, in his view, was introduced to Africa as part of the colonial method of governing: “In most of Africa, ethnicity was politicized when the British turned the ethnic group into a unit of local administration, which they termed ‘indirect rule.’ Every bit of the colony came to be defined as an ethnic homeland, where an ethnic authority enforced an ethnically defined customary law that conferred privileges on those deemed indigenous at the expense of non-indigenous minorities.” This analysis fails to stop itself there, which would have been bad enough. “The move,” continues the Professor, “was a response to a perennial colonial problem: racial privilege for whites mobilized those excluded as a racialized non-white majority. By creating an additional layer of privilege, this time ethnic, indirect rule fragmented the racially conscious majority into so many ethnic minorities, in every part of the country setting ethnic majorities against ethnic minorities.” Describing native homelands as a “fiction”, the Professor goes on to say that while such ethnic labelling and selective privileging may have served the colonial purpose, it had the effect of first, “dividing a racially conscious African population” and second, turning them into people who saw themselves as “tribes” first and foremost. Thus, he concludes, “Wherever this system continued after independence, national belonging gave way to tribal identity as the real meaning of citizenship.” Having thus problematized the “ethnic” thing, Mamdani goes on to imply that there may be no peace to come in Ethiopia unless the issue is excised from the Ethiopian body politic in particular, and Africa in general. These words have many meanings, none of them good for Africans, at least. First, this is the same thing as saying that before European arrived in Africa, “ethnic” identities were not politicized, and neither were they units of administration. Taken to its logical conclusion, this is to say that there were no ‘politics’ in precolonial Africa, and neither were there forms of administration.

Having thus problematized the “ethnic” thing, Mamdani goes on to imply that there may be no peace to come in Ethiopia unless the issue is excised from the Ethiopian body politic in particular, and Africa in general.

Africans seem to have been roaming the continent as a cohort of an undefined but also homogenous mass, with wholly insignificant identities, which were only solemnised, formalized, and bestowed with political meaning with the arrival of a European power amongst them. Second, it also implies that only the European had the skill to animate these identities, without them tearing the (therefore necessary) European-planted state apart. Third, that the tragedy of modern Africa began when the European withdrew his controlling hand. Left to their own devices, the identities he had created, mutated into a Frankenstein’s monster of tribal strife. Fourth, that there is such a thing as ‘national identity’ that sprung to life fully formed at independence, a good by-product of the European-planted state, and that it is African ‘tribalism’ that destroys it. In other words, European-invented African tribalism spoils the one good thing (nationalism) that Europe brought to Africa. Finally, that belonging to the European-planted nation in Africa is the only viable means of an African citizenship. But if the British were pre-occupied with “ethnicizing”, and the resultant people’s feelings and loyalties were exclusively ethnic, where then does “national belonging” come from at independence? The entire analysis of the crisis is a crisis in itself: of naming, histories, theories and practice. It is intellectually disingenuous and patronising, and goes beyond the usual linguistic demotion and belittling one usually encounters from many an expert on Africa.

Naming

Why are 34 million Oromo in Ethiopia an ‘ethnicity’, and 5.77 million Danes a ‘nation’? Why are the three great wars that shaped modern Europe (Franco-Prussian, the 1914-18 and 1939-1945 great wars), not conceptualized as ethnic conflicts?

Mamdani’s entire analysis of the crisis is a crisis in itself: of naming, histories, theories and practice. It is intellectually disingenuous and patronising, and goes beyond the usual linguistic demotion and belittling one usually encounters from many an expert on Africa.

Why are there only a handful of contemporary states in Africa whose names bear a relation to the identity of people actually living there. Everyplace else is a reference to a commodity, or an explorer’s navigational landmarks. This frankly malevolent labelling offers the space for the linguistic demotion of entire peoples. To wit: 34 million Oromo, seven million Baganda, 43 million Igbo, 10 million Zulu will always remain ‘ethnicities’ and ‘tribes’ to be chaperoned by ‘whiteness’. 5.77 million Danes, 5.5 million Finns, and just 300,000 Icelanders can be called ‘nations’, complete with their own states with seats at the UN. Some of these states were only formed less than two centuries ago (Italy: 1861, Germany: 1815, Belgium: 1830), while some of those ‘tribes’, and most critically for the argument, their governing institutions had already been created. Why has the ethno-federalization of Great Britain itself, not been seen as such, and as a recipe for conflict? This, in fact, is the real ‘fiction’, and it has led to decades of instability. But just because Westphalia does not see them, does not mean the African nations don’t exist. The denial of their existence is in fact, an act of violence. This is what led a thus exiled Buganda’s Kabaka Edward Muteesa II to write: “I have never been able to pin down precisely the difference between a tribe and a nation and see why one is thought to be so despicable and the other so admired.” Many modern Africans, especially those whose identity is a product of the European imposition of contemporary African states, have a vested interest in making a bogeyman out of native African identity. The starting point of this enterprise is to invite the African to agree to see our own identities as a liability to African progress, by labelling them “ethnic”. When “ethnic” conflicts do flare up, those natives who have refused to jump on to this bandwagon are subjected to a big “I told you so”, as Mamdani’s essay now seeks to do.

Many modern Africans, especially those whose identity is a product of the European imposition of contemporary African states, have a vested interest in making a bogeyman out of native African identity.

This was the position of the OAU member states, and many African political parties, including those in opposition to their increasingly repressive post-Independence governments. But Ethiopia presents a huge problem for Professor Mamdani’s theory of the colonial roots of “ethnicity”, since its history falls outside the usual African pattern of a direct experience of European colonialism. Since his initial assertion when introducing the issue of ‘ethnicity’, was that it was a result of European labelling leading to a “divide and rule” situation, Mamdani is then faced with the difficulty of explaining where those particular Ethiopian ‘ethnicities’ spring from if there were no Europeans creating them. Unless, to develop his assertion of homelands being a ‘fiction’, he thinks Ethiopia’s various nationalities are fictional too?

Ethiopia presents a huge problem for Professor Mamdani’s theory of the colonial roots of “ethnicity”, since its history falls outside the usual African pattern of a direct experience of European colonialism

He covers up this logical gap by pre-empting a proper discussion of that history. Then changing tack, he suggests that the presence of “ethnic” problems in Ethiopia, despite the country’s lack of a European colonial history actually shows that “ethnicity” is somehow a congenital defect in the body politic of all Africa. “The country today resembles a quintessential African system marked by ethnic mobilization for ethnic gains.” Of course the correct answer to all the above questions is that Africa’s Africans had their ‘ethnic’ identities well known and in place long before the arrival of any European explorer or conqueror. And these were not anodyne proto-identities, but actual political institutions and methods of organization and governance. But this is an inconvenient truth, because then it forces the proper naming of these alleged ‘ethnicities’: nations. All told, deploying notions of “ethnicity” and “tribe” is a tactic to corral Africans into primordial nomenclatures, thereby avoiding a recognition of their pre-colonial formations as nations. It serves to fetishize the colonial project as the godsend device to rescue the African ethnic strife and predestined mayhem. But if the 34 million Oromo are an ethnicity, then so are the 5.77 million Danes. More so for our situation so are the English, Scots and Welsh who field national teams during the World Cup and the Commonwealth games. We need consistency, people must be spoken of as they are.

Deploying notions of “ethnicity” and “tribe” is a tactic to corral Africans into primordial nomenclatures, thereby avoiding a recognition of their pre-colonial formations as nations.

Naturally, the emergent Independence-era African middle class was more than happy to go along with this erasure, in what Basil Davidson called an attempt at “the complete flattening of the ethnic landscape”, and even fine-tuned it. Where some concessions had been made to the existence of the old nations, these were quickly, often violently, dispensed with. In British Africa, the politics of trying to dispense with this reality is what dominated virtually all the politics of pre-independence constitutional negotiations. The question informed even the political alliances that emerged at independence. In Zambia it required a special constitutional pact between the new head of state, Kenneth Kaunda and the ruling council of the Barotse people – they have recently sought to repudiate it and return to their pre-colonial status. Ghana’s Asante kings were against the British handing power to Nkrumah’s government. They argued that since they had ceded power to the British via treaty, then the departure of the British meant a termination of those treaties. Logically, therefore, that power should be re-invested in the ones it had been taken from under treaty. In Kenya, the Maasai and the Coastal peoples used the same argument during the decolonisation conferences at Lancaster House. Significantly, the Somali rejected inclusion in the independence Kenyan state, insisting that they wanted to be integrated into independent Somalia. Unable to resolve the ‘Three Questions’ the Foreign and Colonial Office cynically kicked them into the not-very-long grass for the incoming leadership to deal with. The Mombasa Republican Council of today draws its political legitimacy from the updated colonial-era Witu Agreement of 1906, signed between their ancestors and the independence government.

Histories

To understand the current situation in Ethiopia, one must face up to the challenge of properly understanding any part of Africa, a continent so taxonomised and anthropologised by white thinking that it is barely recognizable on paper to its indigenous inhabitants. It is a two-stage challenge. First: to understand Ethiopia’s history. To do that, one must first recognise and accept the possibilities of an African history not shaped, defined and animated by European imperatives. Africans, like all people, have been making their own history. And like people elsewhere, this has as much narration of the good as it does the bad.

To understand the current situation in Ethiopia, one must face up to the challenge of properly understanding any part of Africa, a continent so taxonomised and anthropologised by white thinking that it is barely recognizable on paper to its indigenous inhabitants.

Ethiopia’s crisis is a consequence of a century-old unravelling of the empire built by Emperor Menelik II (1889-1904). As his title implies, this was not a nation, but an Empire: a territory consisting of many nations, brought into his ambit by one means or another. Menelik’s motives and method can, and should be debated, but the fact is that Europe met its match in the Ethiopian Highlands, and were forced to leave Menelik to it.

Ethiopia’s crisis is a consequence of a century-old unravelling of the empire built by Emperor Menelik II (1889-1904).

Yes. Africans also produce momentous historical events. It is not an exclusive trait of white people. We must get into the habit of discussing our own non-European driven history as a real thing with real meanings. Just as we may talk about the continuing long-term effects of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on the European Balkan region, so can we talk about how the demise of Menelik’s empire continues to impact on the greater Horn region. If that sounds far-fetched, bear in mind that since Menelik’s passing 120 years ago, Ethiopia has had only six substantive rulers: Zewditu/Selassie, Mengistu, Zenawi, Dessalegn and now Abiy. On his passing, Menelik left a region covering more than three times the area he inherited. Prince Tafari, upon eventually inheriting the throne as Emperor Haile Selassie in 1930 simply sought to consolidate it. In his 2002 biography: Notes from the Hyena’s Belly: An Ethiopian Boyhood, the Ethiopian author Nega Mezlekia tells the story of him and his family, as one of many Amhara families that migrate to Jijiiga, a region in the far east of Ethiopia during the reign of Emperor Selassie. This was part of a government programme of Amhara settlement to many parts of the Ethiopian countryside. Jijiiga is home to ethnic Somalis. Amhara expansion, one of several factors, eventually provokes an armed revolt. Ironically, the author in his youth joined the insurgents. Emperor Selassie can be said to have made some errors, but the context is critical: his reign spanned a period that saw immense changes in global politics, and social ideas.

Consider his life and times:

He witnessed the two great inter-European wars, the fall of its empires (Italian, German, Ottoman, Japanese) and the end of direct European occupation of Africa. He suffered two European invasions of his realm, and lived in exile. He was a regent during the Bolshevic Revolution in 1917, and saw the emergence of the Soviet Union as a world superpower and the Cold War that followed. He may have been one of only a handful of world leaders to have been a member of both the United Nations, and the League of Nations that preceded it. This sweep of history also had its impact on the Ethiopian peoples. One response was a growing demand for social, economic and political reform, including loosening the bonds of Selassie’s empire. By the time of the 1975 coup against him, the world was a fundamentally different one than the one he had met when he took the throne. He was, in fact, so “old school” that his captors were taken aback when he calmly informed them that he had no personal income or savings to look after himself. He took a hard line on Eritrea, which had settled into an uneasy federation, provoking a war of secession; continued Amhara settler expansion into Oromo and elsewhere; and he failed to manage Tigrayan nationalism, rooted partly in their dynastic loss of the imperial throne to that of Menelik’s Shewa kingdom. Critically, he did not effectively address agrarian land reform, one of the roots of the country’s political and agricultural crises. So, to sum up Emperor Selassie: ultimately, he neither succeeds to fully consolidate his empire, nor does he re-order the empire’s boundaries and strictures, which he had inherited in a fundamentally different era. He found himself fighting the more conservative elements of his aristocracy opposed to his reforms; the modernist republicans concerned that he was not reforming fast enough; and the increasingly radical nationalists in the regions demanding self-determination. Enter Colonel Mengistu, something of a zealot, but who, for all his violent tendencies, was more of the “social reform” persuasion, and sympathetic to the “land to the tiller” demands of the early radical youth movements. Having overthrown a monarch, he saw himself in the image of the Soviet Union’s Communist party in Russia which had deposed the Russian King Tsar Nicholas II. His task, as he saw it, was to create a socialist state. However, Mengistu had basically taken over the same state that Selassie inherited and he was still wedded to it. His modernist concept of history and the world prevented him from understanding that he was dealing with a home-grown imperial history, and that he was in effect therefore, running an empire. This blinds him to the “nationalities question”, and only intensifies the agitations among the various indigenous nations trapped in his now secular empire. So, he basically tries to kill everybody opposed to him. This is the reality Mamdani fails to see, and mistakenly calls Mengistu’s state a ‘unified republic’; interestingly, he does not offer any of the gruesome details of how Mengistu ‘instituted’ this so-called unification. The only places where Ethiopia was unified and a republic was in Mengistu’s mind (and in his armory). What the various territories wanted was recognition of their separate identities, and an unchallenged say over the land of their ancestors. Mengistu’s response was to raise even higher the levels of violence needed to keep these rebellions in check, simultaneously fighting Tigrayan, Eritrean, Somali and Oromo insurgencies.

Theory and practice.

Ideologically, the leaderships of the Ethiopian insurgencies were taken over by persons claiming to be as Marxist as Lenin was. Eventually, all the belligerents, including the regime, claimed to be Marxist organisations, yet they were in conflict with each other. What intensified the crisis was the conflicting understandings of what Marxist practice should therefore be, in their context. It was at this point that a number of left-ideological debates came into play, and where a lot of left-ideologues lost their way. Marxist theory, which mobilized millions of people worldwide, and its practical implications, should be examined with some care. History on this point is necessary. These nationalist struggles based their arguments on the Leninist principle of “The Right of Small Nations to Self-Determination”, which had been partially applied in the Soviet Union from its formation in 1917. After Lenin’s death in 1924, his successor, Josef Stalin, found less time for it, and, in the face of sustained Western European aggression seemed to see it as a liability to the security of the revolution. The 1975 coup that brought Mengistu to power (or, more accurately, the coup that Mengistu then subsequently violently hijacked) was a response to widespread unrest, particularly among youth and student movements. This led to a number of practical problems on the ground, in relation to ideology. At the heart of both the Dergue and the later Tigrayan movements was the issue of land reform. Mamdani does note that the initial upheavals of the 1970s were driven by this, but then fails to make the correct links. For the vast majority of Africans, especially back then, land is not just a place to live, but also a place of work. To be without land is to be without a secure job. Subsistence peasant agriculture is back-breaking, often precarious, and not financially lucrative. It is also – and many progressives fail to recognize this – autonomous. To a very great extent, the subsistence peasant is not dependent on the state or the global economy. If anything, those entities depend on the farmer whose austere lifestyle acts as a hidden subsidy in providing the market with cheaply-grown food at no investment risk to the consumer or the state. Clearly, one thing that can transform and undergird this existence is sensible reforms to the way the farmer secures tenure of the land they work. But what happens when land rights encounter cultural rights based on land? A “homeland” is certainly not the “fiction” of Mamdani’s assertion. It hosts the identity and worldview of the people that occupy it. It holds their sacred sites, and places marking their cultural consciousness. More so, that culture underpins their ability to keep producing autonomously. To suggest that it does not exist or does not matter, actually shows a complete failure to grasp who black African people are and how they live, and think. It is a fundamentally anti-African statement implying, as it does, that black Africans do not have an internal intellectual and spiritual logic, developed indigenously, and augmented by physical spaces and objects within them, that informs a worldview. Africans, the suggestion is, are inherently transposable, as they are not tied to any thing or any place. The captains of the old transatlantic slave ships could not have theorized it better. Coming from someone who lives in Africa, this is a bit surprising. Coming from a professor heading an institute within one of Africa’s new universities, designed to bolster the colonial state’s mission of deracinating the African, perhaps less so. However, the current crisis in Ethiopia is very real, and failure to finally resolve it holds huge implications for the entire region. That is precisely why a correct analysis is needed. Not a comfortable one rooted in essentially racist tropes. The allegedly ‘ethnic demands’ were demands for a different type of guarantee to land rights than those being promoted by Mengistu. For example, would an Amhara family like Nega Mezlekia’s, originally settled by Emperor Selassie in Jijiiga, have a legally equal claim to land against the ethnic Somali communities native to the area, just because they now happen to be the ‘tillers’ there? Would there be a hierarchy of claims? In any event, who should decide? A central authority in Addis Ababa, or a federated unit representing the historic native community? There are no easy answers. But the regime’s (and other ‘progressives’) complete refusal to even consider the issue, is what led to the conclusion that for there to be justice in Ethiopia, the issue of native nationalities, and their land-based cultural rights, would have to be physically resolved first. In short, it became clear that the land reform question could not be effectively addressed without also addressing the underlying question of productive cultural identities and the historical land claims that arise from that. This was particularly sharp in those areas of the country –such as Oromo and Tigray- that are dominated by pastoralist communities. Historically, much of Africa’s land grabs have taken place against pastoralist communities, the great city of Nairobi being a prime example. This is the basis of the ‘ethnic’ movements that have so perturbed Professor Mamdani. It was, in fact, a debate of the Left, and not some right-wing atavist distraction. So, the great irony is that Ethiopia, home to that great bastion of mis-applied Westphalian thinking, the Organisation of African Unity, becomes ground zero for the great unresolved National Question as it applies to Independent Africa: what is an African nation, and is it the same thing as a given African state (or, more accurately, a state located in Africa)? The armed struggle began in Eritrea, after Selassie’s unilateral abrogation of the federal arrangement. The original fighting group, called the Eritrean Liberation Front was soon violently displaced from the field by a more radical Eritrean Peoples’ Liberation Front of Isias Afwerki, espousing those aspects of Leninism and Maoism that enabled it to mobilise a broad front of all classes affected by the feeling of Occupation. The rebels’ demands were clear: a federation of Ethiopia or separation from it; control of their own lands, and an equal recognition of cultures. For his part, Mengistu, now fighting five separate militant groups, including a very militant hard-line the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front based in urban Ethiopia, placed all his faith in military might. He ended up building the largest armed force in Sub-Saharan Africa (if not Africa as a whole) of some half- a million soldiers, and being heavily dependent on the Soviet Union, which saw him as a vital foothold in Africa, for war materiel and other supplies. He also received military support from Cuba. It again may not be widely known that at the height of the fighting, these different forces which had grown in to wholesale armies, were fighting some of the largest engagements (including tank battles) since the 1939-1945 European inter-ethnic conflict called the Second World War. The fight progressively turned in favour of the rebels. With Mengistu’s main arms supplier, the Soviet Union, finally capitulating against the US in the Superpower contest in 1989, his forces were routed and he was driven from the capital in 1991. The Eritrean armed struggle started in 1961, the Tigrayan one in 1975 and Oromo’s in 1973. All end with Mengistu’s fall. If Mamdani genuinely believes these nationalities are just “ethnicities”, and that Ethiopia is now running the risk of hosting “Africa’s next inter-ethnic conflict”, then this history shows that Ethiopia has in fact already had the “next inter-ethnic” conflict. Mamdani’s fears, this is to say, are 30 or 40 years late. To sum up Mengistu: he seized power in response to a severe political crisis, and then, misreading his position, sought to impose his concept of “socialism” on the various peoples still caught in the net of Menelik’s Empire state. This led to a situation of mounting violence, in which he saw just about everyone as an enemy to be physically crushed. His regime eventually succumbed to the overwhelming resistance. Enter Meles Zenawi, who came out of that generation of student activists who took up the nationalities and land reform demands during the time of the Emperor. To many of them, Mengistu’s high-handedness in dealing with the matter was a disappointment. Tigrayans today do not easily recall that when Meles led the the youth to start the war, they sought refuge in Eritrea, and were nurtured and trained there by Isias Afwerki’s EPLF forces already at war against the Ethiopian state. The issue of identity does not therefore mean that Africans are perennially and illogically at each others throats in some kind of primordial frenzy. They do politics, and are fully capable of defining their interests and maintaining relations, or breaking them off, as needs may dictate. Zenawi (to an extent like Daniel Ortega on the other side of the world, and even Yoweri Museveni, in his own way), found himself in charge of a state now encountering a new, neo-liberal global world order being enforced by the only super power left standing. Like Selassie, the circumstances around them had changed greatly from when they had begun their political journeys. Far from simply “introducing” a federal constitution whose “ethnic” nature Mamdani is problematizing, Zenawi’s regime was finally having the Ethiopian state recognise the long-standing historical realities that had emerged from decades of political and armed struggle. To reduce the product of all that sweeping history to a notion of “fictions”, is a dangerous over-simplification. In this quest for erasure, Mamdani applies the same misleading thinking backwards by calling the 1994 Ethiopian constitution a “Sovietificaton” of Ethiopia. The Russian nationalities were no more an invention of Lenin than the Ethiopian ones are of Meles Zenawi’s creation. The various units that made up the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were based on nationalities long in place before the 1917 communist revolution took place there. The responsible thing to do, as a starting point, was acknowledge that fact, which the communists did (and Stalin to a greater extent than Lenin before him). Yes, Meles was a dictator. And yes, the constitution is based on indigenous nations. That does not automatically suggest causality: Meles Zenawi did not “turn Ethiopia to ‘ethnic’ federalism”. Its long history did. In fact, events show that Zenawi and the dominant faction he governed with, were no longer in support of the “rights of small nations” by the time they took power. With the exception of holding the pre-agreed referendum on Eritrean independence (he may have had little choice in the matter: friends in Addis used to like to tell the story of how Meles’ own stepmother, who happens to be Eritrean, and who raised him, left him in his official Addis residence to go and vote for independence in Eritrea, then returned after), he fails to implement the sprit and the letter of the new arrangements that were based on principles forged in the course of the long war. As a small example: Article 5 of the country’s constitution now says that: “1. All Ethiopian languages shall enjoy equal state recognition”, but goes on to add that: “2. Amharic shall be the working language of the Federal Government.” Zenawi, despite being very fluent in the language reportedly refused to make public speeches in Amharic for the entire time he was in charge. A more substantive example is found in the very incident that sparked the current uprising: if the regime knew that – as Mamdani points out – the 1994 federal constitution guaranteed the nationalities concerned authority over their land, why then did it try to expand the boundaries of the Federal capital Addis into Oromo territory over the objections of people there? In other words, the problem in Ethiopia is the exact opposite of what Professor Mamdani sees. It is not the “ethnic” constitution at fault; it is the failure by the Zenawi regime to genuinely implement it, by negating the spirit of the idea in private, while pretending to uphold it in public. In particular, Zenawi’s “Woyane” regime repeated Mengistu’s mistake of trying to hold on to Menelik’s state. Critically, he too failed to address the historic issue of land reform that began the whole shake-up of Ethiopia with the student protests against the Emperor. In practice, land is still the property of the state, to be handed out for “developmental” purposes, upholding the Mengistu mentality, but now in the context of global neo-liberalism. “Derg and [the TPLF] took a very similar approach to the land question. Which is why, three decades after TPLF comes to power, they have still been unable to do land reform, abandoned agrarian reform and ironically, put rural Ethiopian land on the international auction. Something like four million acres of rural farmland, mostly in southern Ethiopia has been leased out to foreign investors since the mid-2000s, ” observes journalist Parselelo Kantai, who frequents the country. Power comes with its temptations, and a state machine comes with its own institutional imperatives. It would appear that once a group finds itself in control of the apparatus of an empire such as Menelik’s, they become very reluctant to abandon its workings. Perhaps it is only the armed forces in Portugal, having overthrown their autocratic Caetano regime in 1974, that ever went on to immediately dismantle their empire and allow the conquered to go free. The politics of the armed coalition coming together and finally driving Mengistu out may well have been the moment for this change in attitude to begin, not least because the Meles’ TPLF was by far the militarily dominant faction of the alliance. To sum up Meles Zenawi: he evolved into what many ‘revolutionaries” became after the Cold War era: a technocratic autocrat placing his hopes in a neo-liberal approach to solving the country’s deep economic problems through a “developmentalist” strategy. He quite literally burned himself out hoping that, by bringing rapid infrastructural development, he could perhaps outpace the historical political claims, and thus render them redundant. This essentially meant a new form of what Mengistu and Selassie had done before him: overlook people’s ancestral claims to this or that, and simply see the whole landmass as a site for “development” projects, no matter who they may displace or inconvenience. But “any notion of ‘progress’ or ‘modernization’ that does not start from a peoples’ culture is tantamount to genocide.” the late Professor Dan Nabudere warned us. Meles Zenawi sought to hold on to the very imperial state he had once fought. His unwillingness to fully honour the terms of the broad alliance of all the fighting groups, and instead consolidated his armed group to take factional control of the whole state and set the course for new upheavals. His sudden death became the opening for these issues to spill out into the streets. His immediate successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, soon found that the kind of extreme state violence that had served Zenawi, and Mengistu before him, and Selassie before them both, no longer worked, forcing Deslaegn to resign in failure. Abiy Ahmed must finally deal with these realities. Ultimately, any attempt to do politics based on the imperatives of the Menelik-created state was, and is, going to come up against the fact that this state actually started life as an empire. If the history of Ethiopia has shown one thing, it is that this approach has always provoked rebellions. Ethiopia, one could say, is back to the pre-war situation it was in just before Mengistu’s coup. The problem is conceptual; the same one that confronted Selassie and Mengistu: are we running a nation, or a homegrown empire made up of several?  Mr Abiy Ahmed would be wise not to go down that path. His challenge is to dismantle the remnants of Meles’ personal military apparatus, genuinely re-orient the country back to its federal constitutional ethos, begin to address the land tenure question, and quickly, before the political grievances – and the economic challenges underlying them – completely boil over. As the world becomes less secure and with fewer overlords, there will be more and more examples of Africa’s invisible nations asserting themselves to manage control of their resources. Dismissing them as “ethnic” is simply laying a foundation to justify violence against them.

Read more at: https://www.theeastafricanreview.info/op-eds/2019/01/26/speak-of-me-as-i-am/
E Review.

Oromia: Torbee Afran Qalloo, Anaa Dhufuu Artistoota Oromoo Afran Qalloo. #AfranQallooweek, 18-25 January 2019. Pioneers of Oromo resistance music January 18, 2019

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In 1962, when it was still illegal to sing in the Oromo language, one of the most widely spoken languages in all of Africa, a small group of activists risked persecution by forming the first-ever Oromo music band, in Dire Dawa, a bustling city in eastern Oromia, Ethiopia.

Afran Qallo, whose historical name derives from the collective reference to four of Qallo’s sons – Alaa, Babile, Daga and Oborra – soon struck the chord with locals when the troupe began performing cultural songs at weddings and holidays, often hidden from the watchful eyes of government officials.

At the time, in the city of Dire Dawa, the Somalis, Amharas and Hararis had their own music bands – but the Oromo did not. “Whenever there was a need for wedding celebration, Oromo families had to either pay for the Somali or Harari musical bands because generally, in those days, the Amhara bands did not deal well with the Oromo and did not have any respect for our people,” said Dr. Mohamed Hassan, a professor of history at Georgia State University. “It was the absence of any cultural space for the Oromo which inspired Oromo individuals to form an organization and create a musical space for themselves.”

Initially, four musical bands emerged almost simultaneously in different neighborhoods of Dire Dawa, namely: Mascob Tokkumma Jaalala, Hiriyaa Jaalala, Biftu Ganama and Urji Bakkalcha, which was later renamed Afran Qallo, according to Ismail Mummad Adam, one of the founding members of Urji Bakkalcha.

What happened next, no one — not even the founders — expected. “For the first time, there was this general feeling that Oromo music was as good as anyone’s music,” said Dr. Hassan. “It created a tide of anger against the Ethiopian government because the Oromo realized they were denied the opportunity to enjoy their own music.”  

The 1960s was a tumultuous decade in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian students’ call for land reform, mainly coming from then Haile Silassie I University, was reverberating, and the dispossessed peasantry – who were condemned to a life of serfdom by absentee feudal landlords – were beginning to take notice of their plight, which was dismal. The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, was getting organized in various forms in different parts of the country.

In the center of the country, formed in 1963, the Macha Tulama self-help association, whose main aim at the time was educational empowerment and infrastructural development, was gathering momentum. In the southeast, the Bale people’s revolt, under the chairmanship of General Waqo Gutu, was threatening to take back a vast swath of land from the regional nobility that was taking away their pristine land in the name of the crown and levying heavy taxes on the peasantry.

Individuals like Shaykh Bakri Sapalo, a prominent scholar who invented an Oromo language writing system, were creating a stir by writing poems aimed at awakening the Oromo. “By producing powerful poems, that demonstrated the richness and beauty of the Oromo language, he set in motion a generation of famous poets and singers,” Dr. Hassan wrote in the Journal of Oromo Studies. “Shaykh Bakrii’s ideas, his poems, his teaching and cultural nationalism dominated the thinking of Oromo elite in Hararghe, especially in urban areas such as Dire Dawa.”

As such, the formation of Afran Qallo in Eastern Oromia was a watershed moment — a welcome addition to the Oromo movement. Soon, leaders of Afran Qallo musical band established links with the Macha Tulama association and other Oromos to unify its opposition against Haile Silassie’s imperial rule.

There was also the Oromo radio program broadcast into Ethiopia from Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, by famed Oromo journalist Ayub Abubakar. “The radio program was so effective in mobilizing public opinion against Emperor Haile Selassie, that the regime sent a secret agent to Mogadishu and murdered Ayub Abubakar in 1966,” Hassan said. Abubakar, who himself was one of the founding members of Afran Qallo, was one of Shaykh Barkri’s protege.

In its heyday, the Afran Qallo cultural group did not limit itself to singing and music production. “We started doing theatre, making a mockery of the government’s mistreatment of the Oromo,” said Mr. Adam, 72, who has written a forthcoming book about the history of the group. When officials threatened to shut them down, Oromo elders asked the band “to sing songs of praise for the king,” according to Mr. Adam. They buckled under pressure and produced a song called, “Mooti biyya teenya yaa Haile Silassie, si garaan Xaliyaanin dheefa dhuke kaase” – loosely translated, oh! Haile Silassie, the king of our country, Italians ran for their life when they saw you coming. The song is an inference to the emperor’s return from his brief exile, after Italy invaded Ethiopia, and the Italians defeat in 1941.

But as the group gained unprecedented momentum among the Oromo, pressure from regional bureaucrats continued, Mr. Adam recalled. Members of the band, including Mr. Adam, were even detained and interrogated to name civilian leaders of the band who were supplying them with modern musical instruments.

Amid continued harassment from local lords, who accused the group of narrow nationalism and separatism, and a subsequent injunction against its members, the Afran Qallo band eventually fell apart around 1965, according to Mr. Adam. But by then, he says, some of its star artists had found a voice, and more importantly, a calling to contribute to the Oromo peoples struggle for freedom.

“Before the government started harassing them, the band traveled to places like Haromaya, Awaday, Dadar, Qobo, Hirna, Ciro, and several places in Hararghe providing the necessary cultural service that the community needed at weddings, cultural events, holidays and so on,” said Dr. Hassan.

Unable to continue working in the country, some including Abubaker Musa and Yonis Abdullahi left for Somalia where they continued writing and producing songs. “Ali Birra, Ali Shabbo, Usmail Mummad, Mohammed Yusuf, Salah Mohamud, Shantam Shubisa and others kept marching forward…using their penetrating melody and captivating lyrics to reunify the disjointed Oromo regions to rise up in unison against national subjugation,” the jubilee organizing committee said in a statement on Jun. 22.

The birth of the Afran Qallo cultural troupe is also said to have inspired other Oromo performers in different parts of the Oromo country. Zarihun Wadajo, one of the earliest Oromo vocalists, who was born in Western Oromia, sang his timeless song, “Koottaa Aramaa Aramnaa,” at the age of fifteen in 1977, according to Shawn Mollenhauer, who recently completed his PhD thesis at the University of California-Riverside on Oromo music. “Zarihun was immediately placed in prison for eight months for his song,” wrote Mollenhauer. Click here to read more from the Opride, the original source of this article.

Oromia (Ethiopia): Exiled Olympic runner Feyisa Lilesa returns home. #Qeerroo #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution October 22, 2018

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Ethiopia: Exiled Olympic runner Feyisa Lilesa returns home

Marathoner who sought exile after making protest gesture at 2016 Olympic Games returns amid political reforms at home.

Feyisa: 'I knew this day was coming because I know the blood spilled by all these people was not going be in vain' [File: Athit Perawongmetha/ Reuters]
Feyisa: ‘I knew this day was coming because I know the blood spilled by all these people was not going be in vain’ [File: Athit Perawongmetha/ Reuters]

An Ethiopian marathon runner who made global headlines with an anti-government gesture at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics finish line has returned from exile.

Feyisa Lilesa’s return on Sunday came several months after Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy took officein the East African nation and announced sweeping political reforms.

The runner held his arms over his head, wrists crossed, as he finished second in the 2016 Olympicsin solidarity with protesters in his home region, Oromia.

He sought asylum in the United States, saying he feared he would be imprisoned or killed if he returned home.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu received Feyisa at Addis Ababa’s airport, where relatives – clad in traditional attire from the Oromia region – and fans had also gathered.

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Why I run

Feyisa Lilesa
by Feyisa Lilesa

Feyisa said the new government is “a result of the struggle by the people” and he hopes it will address concerns after years of repression.

“I knew this day was coming because I know the blood spilled by all these people was not going be in vain,” the medal-winning runner told the Reuters news agency upon arrival.

‘Loved by my people’

The unrest in Ethiopia was originally triggered by protests over a government development plan for Addis Ababa, which critics said would lead to expropriation of farmland in the surrounding Oromia region.

Hundreds were subsequently killed by security forces as the demonstrations evolved into rallies against perceived political and economic marginalisation of ethnic Oromos.

In April, the EPRDF coalition which has ruled the country since 1991, elected Abiy – a 42-year old ethnic Oromo – as prime minister.

“I knew the dictatorship would eventually fall down,” Feyisa said. “I was expecting this day, but I did not know if it would be today or tomorrow, but it has been clear in my mind that I would go back to my father’s land alive.”

As well as making peace with neighbour Eritrea, Abiy has pursued a reconciliation strategy, extending an olive branch to dissidents and rebel groups, although the changes have not stopped bouts of ethnically charged violence.

After Rio, 28-year old Feyisa competed in a number of marathons, winning some. He told reporters he planned to focus on training for his sport.

“I can still bring good results for my country in my field,” he said. “I was loved by my people because I am a sportsman not because I am a politician. I only brought their suffering to global attention by using my profession.”


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Olimpikii Riyoo irratti mallattoo mormii mootummaa irratti agarsiiseen waggoota lamaaf biyya ambaa kan ture atileet Fayyisaa Leellisaa biyyatti deebi’eera.

Jawar Mohammed’s red-carpet return signals Ethiopia’s political sea change October 14, 2018

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Two years ago, the state branded him a terrorist. Now, after years in exile, activist Jawar Mohammed is back – and determined to see democracy in his country

A man holds an Oromo Liberation Front flag as people in Addis Ababa celebrate the triumphant return of Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed
 A man holds an Oromo Liberation Front flag as people in Addis Ababa celebrate the triumphant return of Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Jawar Mohammed never travels alone. When the US-based Ethiopian activist returned to his home country on 5 August, he was treated like royalty. A posse of sharply suited young men hovered by him at all times. Jeeps carrying security guards patrolled his hotel in central Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. Supporters from the provinces arrived in droves to pay their respects. Over the course of a two-week visit he held about 25 to 30 meetings a day, according to an exhausted aide.

After meeting with the Guardian in his hotel suite he rushed off to give a lecture at the capital’s main university, entourage in tow.

Nothing demonstrated the breathtaking transformation in Ethiopian politics over the past four months quite like the red-carpeted return of a figure who was once the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front’s (EPRDF) most wanted man.

From a studio in Minneapolis, where he founded the controversial Oromia Media Network, Jawar has spent the past decade agitating over social media for political change back home in Ethiopia, which he left as a scholarship student in 2003. This was his first time in Ethiopia since 2008.

Jawar Mohammed, U.S.-based Oromo activist and leader of the Oromo Protest, addresses a news conference upon arriving in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
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 Jawar Mohammed addresses a news conference upon arriving in Addis Ababa in August. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

So effective was he as an activist that by late 2016, as anti-government protests billowed across the country compelling the EPRDF to impose a state of emergency, the Oromia Media Network was labelled a terrorist organisation and Jawar accused of crimes against the constitution.

By early 2018 the revolutionary fervour had grown so loud that Hailemariam Desalegn was forced to resign as prime minister, paving the way for his enormously popular successor Abiy Ahmed, a young reformist from Oromia, Jawar’s home and the country’s largest and most populous region.

The Oromia Media Network, along with some smaller outlets and activists, has used social media to devastating effect over the past few years, coordinating boycotts and demonstrations and bringing Ethiopia’s large and often brutal security apparatus close to its knees.

“We used social media and formal media so effectively that the state was completely overwhelmed,” Jawar says. “The only option they had was to face reform or accept full revolution.”

During the course of a triumphant homecoming, the former terrorist (charges were dropped in May) toured the country, mostly around Oromia, where he was welcomed by vast and jubilant crowds. On his first day he led a tub-thumping rally in the capital’s main concert hall.

Later he travelled to Ambo, the epicentre of the Oromo protest movement – a struggle for political freedom and for greater ethnic representation in federal structures, which Jawar played a main role in orchestrating. Tens of thousands arrived to greet him, more than when Abiy visited the town shortly after his inauguration in April.

As Jawar had promised his supporters – mostly young, politically active Oromo men known as the Qeerroo – he took off his shoes and walked prophet-like through the streets of the city. He then planted a tree at the site where a young man was killed by security forces nearly 15 years ago, long before the rise of the movement that threw him into the national spotlight.

“They used to make me so happy and proud with what they did,” he said of Ambo’s Qeerroo. “So I told them: ‘One day I will come to your city and show my respect by walking barefoot.’ That day came and I had to deliver.”

Few doubt the importance of Jawar in recent Ethiopian history. Perhaps more than any other single individual, he took the once-marginal politics of Oromo nationalism and made it mainstream. Today, Oromos – the country’s largest ethnic group – dominate the highest offices of state, and Jawar enjoys significant personal influence over the country’s new leaders, including Abiy himself.

In a recent interview with local media he claimed – to the dismay of many Ethiopians – that the country now effectively has two governments: one led by Abiy, the other by the Qeerroo. This puts him in a position of extraordinary responsibility, since he is “one of the Qeerroo” and “a significant portion of the country listens to me”, he admits.

Many are uncomfortable with the whiff of demagoguery that accompanies Jawar. One Ethiopian journalist (who asked to remain anonymous) notes his “Trumpian sense of truth when inconvenient facts surface”.

He has been accused of inflating the numbers of protesters killed by security forces and, infamously, telling his followers (73,000 on Twitter and more than 1.4m on Facebook) that army helicopters fired live bullets at civilians during the tragic stampede that occurred during an Oromo cultural festival in October 2016. Independent journalists present confirmed this did not happen. He has a history of smearing journalists he disagrees with as government “agents”.

He has also been accused of inciting ethnic and religious violence. In a 2013 video, for example, he is heard saying: “My village is 99% Muslim. If someone speaks against us, we cut his throat with a machete.” Jawar says the clip was doctored, adding that he would not say such a thing because his father was a Muslim and his mother a Christian.

In recent years, he has whipped up his supporters against the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, the once dominant ethnic Tigrayan wing of the ruling coalition, which critics argue led to attacks against Tigrayan civilians as well as those of other ethnic groups. Jawar says that he has long sought to steer his supporters towards “non-violent resistance”, and adds that “even when TPLF was in power and actively killing our civilians we ensured Tigrayan civilians were not subject to attacks”.

These days, Jawar comes across as a more moderate and conciliatory figure. He says he plans for the Oromia Media Network to set up offices across Ethiopia and become a professionalised outfit. He points to the BBC and NPR as models. He insists he has no intention to enter formal politics, preferring to remain an activist.

“I want to help us in the next couple of years transition to democracy. And for that I want to use my influence over the population so that they can calm down, contain themselves, and ensure peace while the political leadership works out arrangements for transition,” Jawar says.

The last point is especially significant. In recent weeks instability across Ethiopia has escalated sharply, especially in his own region. The day after his interview with the Guardian a rally in the town of Shashamene turned violent, as a crowd of Jawar followers publicly hung a man they suspected of carrying a bomb. Two more died in the carnage that followed. Many Ethiopians blame him for the unrest, and he was compelled to cancel the rest of his tour.

Jawar nonetheless remains optimistic about the country’s future, and about the prospect of a peaceful politics free from violent expressions of ethnic identity. “I do believe if we democratise the Ethiopian state – allowing people of all ethnicities to participate in the political process and to get a fair share of power and wealth – there is a possibility the next generation will be proud Oromo and proud Ethiopian at the same time. I think that is possible.”

  • This story was amended on 21 August to include a response from Jawar Mohammed and to clarify claims against his organisation.


More than 80,000 people displaced from Benishangul Gumuz and Western Oromia. Wallaga Bahaa: Lakkoofsi namoota ajjeefamanii 44 ol yoo ta’u, 80,000 ol qe’eerraa buqqa’aniiru October 2, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

As confirmed by multiple media outlets and government officials, tens of thousands have been displaced and several killed in Western Oromia, Ethiopia. The whereabouts of many family members (children, pregnant women, elders and disabled) who were unable to escape is still unknown. The number of victims is rising quickly, and those who escaped need immediate humanitarian assistance at temporary sites. Click HIRPHA here  to support the displaced in Western Oromia:

HIRPHA (Humanitarian Initiative to Relieve the Plight in the Horn of Africa) International is an independent, non-profit organization whose effort is solely to provide humanitarian assistance to victims of natural and man-made disasters in the Region by collecting donations from its supporters. It is registered with non-profit status under IRS Publication 557 Section 501(C), and headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA). For more information please visit www.hirpha.org/.



Benishangul godina Kamaashii keessa kan jiran aanaalee Oromiyaa keessumaa lixaa fi baha wallaggaa wajjin rakkoo nageenyaa uumameen lubbuu namaa fi qabeenyaa irra miidhaan dhaqqabuu waajjirri biiroo dhimmoota kominikeeshinii Oromiyaa beeksisee jira. Waajjirri dhimmoota komiishinai hooggansa soda balaa naannoo Oromiyaas uummata buqqa’eef deggersi godhaamfii kan jiru ta’uu beeksisee jira.

Baatii darbe keessas walitti bu’iinsa naannoo Benishangul keessatti uumameen uummanni kuma 13 ol ta’u qe’ee ofii irraa buqqa’ee lixa wallaggaa Mandii fi Begii keessatti deggersi godhamaafii kan jiru ta’uu kan ibse waajjirri kominikeeshinii Oromiyaa rakkoo hooggansa naannoo Sanaa mariif gara Oromiyaa dhufee deebi’u irratti haleellaa raawwateen kan ka’e hookkarri ka biroon uummata balaa irra buusaa jiraachuu beeksisee jira.

Uummati hanga yoonaa qe’ee ofii irraa godaane kuma 80 ol ta’uun illee gabaasamee jira. Hawaasi naannoo jiru, mootummaa fi dhaaboliin gargaarsaa wal ta’uu dhaan uummata qe’ee ofii irraa buqqa’eef deggersa gochaa jiraachuu illee mootummaan naannoo Oromiyaa beeksisee jira.


Wallaga Bahaa: ”Lakkoofsi namoota ajjeefamanii 23 yoo gahu, 72,000 qe’eerraa buqqa’aniiru”

Kaartaa naannoolee Beenshanguul Gumuuzii fi Oromiyaa

Walitti bu’insa naannoo daangaa Benishaangul Gumuz godina Kamaashii fi Oromiyaa aanaalee wallagga Bahaa ollaatti uumameen lakkoofsi namoota ajjeefamanii 23 gahuufi kuma 72 kan tahan ammo qe’eefi qabeenyaa isaaniirraa buqqa’u qondaaltoonni BBC’tti himan.

Tibbana rakkoo nageenyaa naannichatti uumameen dhalatootni Oromoo fi Amaaraa hedduun qe’eerra buqqa’uun kaanis ajjeefamaa akka jiran Obbo Taakkalaa Tolasaa itti gaafatamaan Waajjira Bulchiinsaa fi Nageenyaa godina Wallagga Bahaa himaniiru.

Hanga har’aatti daangaa Oromiyaa keessatti qofa namootni 23 ajjeefamuun namootni kuma 72 gahan qe’eerraa buqqa’aniiru jedhan.

Namootni qe’ee irraa buqqa’an kunneen baay’inaan aanaalee godina Kamaashii kan akka Yaasoo fi Balo Jigaanfoy irraa yoo tahu, dabalataan aanaalee Wallagga Bahaa kan akka Saassigaa fi Haroo Limmuu irraas bal’inaan keessatti argamu jedhan. Lakkofsi namoota ajjeefamanii garuu kan Beenishaangul keessaa akka hin daballanne himaniiru.

Sadarkaa odeeffaannoottis qabeenyi namoota qe’ee irraa buqqa’anii saamamaa akka jiruu dhageenyeerra jedhan. Kanumaan wal qabatee godina Wallagga Bahaa aanaa Saassigaa keessaas horiin 70 ol tahan oofamanii akka fudhataman himaniru.

Itti gaafatamaa Waajjira komunikeshiinii Aanaa Haroo Limmu Obbo Dhugaasaa Jaalataa akka jedhanitti, aanaa isaanii keessatti qofa namootni shan ajjeefamuun namootni torba tahan madaa’aniiru.

Haa tahu malee daangaa Oromiyaa cabsuun waan seenanii jiraniif reeffa namoota du’anii illee kaasuun akka hin danda’amne himaniiru.

Hawaasni akka himuttis qaamni haala gaariin hidhatee fi hidhannoo ammayyaa’aa qabu duduuba akkajiru dhageenya jedhan Obbo Dhugaasaan.

Obbo Taakalaanis kanuma yommuu mirkaneessan Matiresii dabalatee aanaa haroo Limmuu keessatti qaamni dhukaasa uummata irratti gaggeesaa ture akka jiru himan.

Namootni kuma 25 tahanis qe’ee irraa buqqa’uun aanaa isaanii keessa buufatanii akka jiran himaniiru.

Humni nageenyaa maaliif tasgabbeessuu dadhabe?

Haala kana gidduu galuun tasgabbeessuu fi qonnaan bultootni keenya akka hin ajjeefamne gochuuf gidduu galuun poolisootni Oromiyaa fi hidhatootni gandaa aarsaa lubbuu kaffalaan olaanaa tahuu Obbo Tolasaan himaniiru.

Raayyaan human ittisaas gidduu galee tasgabbeessuuf yaalii yommuu godhu waraana irratti banuun miidhaan akka isaan irrallee gahe himaniiru.

Raayyaan iittisa biyyaas haalicha gama lamaanuun osoo lubbuun namoota baay’ee hin darbiin tasgabbeessuf yaadeeti malee humna dhukaasa bane kana haleeluu hin dadhabne jedhan Obbo Tolasaan.

Gama Benishaanguliin qaamni hidhannoo guutuu fi ammayyaa’aa qabu akka jiru hubanneerra jedhan.

Kanaan duras qonnaan bultootni keenyaa fi Beenishaangul naannoo daangaatti walitti bu’aa araaramaas turaniiru.

Bara kamiyyuu hidhanno qindaa’aa akkasiin waraanni gaggeefamee hin beeku. Amma garuu qaamni leenjii waraanaa gahaa qabu akka keessa jiru hubanneeraa,” jedhu Obbo Taakkalaan.

Mootummaan Naannoo Oromiyaa haalichi kana caalaa akka hin babal’anneef hojjechaa jira kan jedhan Obbo Taakkalaan namootni faayidaa siyaasaa addaaf uummata walitti buusan jiraataniyyuu Naannoon Beenishaangul garuu kana taasisa jennee hin yaadnu jedhan.

Dabalataan akka qorannoodhaan bira geenyetti namootni maallaqa ramaduun jijjirama akka biyyaatti dhufaa jiru gufachiisuuf uumata waliiti buusan jiru jedhan Obbo Taakkalaan. Namoota qe’eerra buqqa’an kanneeniif bulchiinsi godina Wallaga Bahaa, abbootiin qabeenyaa magaalaan Naqamtee fi aanaaleen deegarsa gochaa akka jiran himaniiru.

Mootummaan federaalaas deegarsa midhaan nyaataa konkolaataa 10 tahu fe’uun geejibsiisaa akka jiru himuun walumaagalaan konkolataa 30 kan tahu yeroo gabaabaatti akka qaqqabu himaniiru.

Gama Beenshaanguliin hoo maaltu dhagahama?

Haaluma walfakkaatunis pirezidaantii ittaanaan naannoo Beenshangul Gumuz Obbo Abaraa Baayataa BBC’tti akka himaniitti, keessattuu aanaa Baloo Jigaanfooy ganda Daalachaatti walitti bu’iinsi kan ture yoo ta’u, manneen 75 gubachuusaaniifi gandoota biroottis walitti bu’iinsi walfakkaataan umamuu himaniiru.

Keessattuu magaalaa Sobey kan aanaa Baloo Jigaanfootii namoonni hedduun buqqa’aniiru kan jedhan pirezidaantii ittaanaan kun, gandoota naanawa Soggeetti argaman Libiigaa, Saay Daalaachaafi Taankaaraadhaa namoonni hedduun buqqa’usaanii himaniiru.

”Taankaaraatti manneen jireenyaa 105 gubatanii namoonni sadii ajjeefamaniiru,” kan jedhani Obbo Abaraan, bakka Bacibac jedhamutti namni biraa tokko du’ee kanneen lama ta’an ammoo ganda Angarbaajaatti miidhamusaanii himaniiru.

Akka Obbo Abaraatti namoonni buqqa’uun gara naannoo Oromiyaa deeman jiraachusaaniifi sababii sodaatiin gara bosoonaatti galan kan jiran yoo ta’u lakkoosfi isaanii meeqa akka ta’e garuu walitti qabatanii akka hinjirre dubataniiru.

Namoonni buqa’an kunneenis naannoo Benshaangul Gumuz qofaa osoo hintaane gandoota Oromiyaa naannicha daangeessan hunda irraa ta’u kan himan Obbo Abarraan, Aanaa Saasiggaa, f gandawwan kaampii, Baloo Bareedaa, Simintanyaa jedhaman irraa sodaadhaan buqqa’uun gara Naqqamteefi jiddugalawwab Baloo bareedaatti akka argaman dubbataniiru.


Western Ethiopia hit by deadly ethnic violence

Western Ethiopia hit by deadly ethnic violence

Africa News 

The latest round of deadly ethnic violence in Ethiopia is said to have hit the western Benishangul-Gumuz region – specifically in the Kamashi zone. The incident is said to have happened last week.

Turkish media outlet, Anadolu Agency, AA, cited a government official as confirming that 20 people had been killed with about 60,000 others displaced.

“The number of deceased could be much higher because some of the clashes occurred in far-off rural areas,” head of Oromia regional state communication bureau, Negeri lencho, told local press. He added that the perpetrators had also destroyed properties.

Reports said the cause of the clashes was after officials of Benishangul-Gumuz were reportedly murdered by unidentified gunmen. The assailants are said to have been operating disguised like the Oromia – based, Oromo Liberation Front, OLF.

OLF is an erstwhile terrorist group that was de-listed months back by the federal government. Originally operating from Eritrea, the now ex-rebel group agreed to return from exile and participate in peaceful politics.

OCHA_Ethiopia@OCHA_Ethiopia

More than 70,000 people displaced from Benishangul Gumuz region due to ethnic conflicts need urgent humanitarian assistance:https://bit.ly/2Ixzh9Y

Ethiopia’s overall internal insecurity has directly contributed to growing internally displaced figures which indicate that the country has about 1.4 million displaced – 200,000 more than Syria, according to Geneva-based International Displacement Monitoring Center, IDMC.

Ethiopia’s figures included: 171,000 persons displaced by floods in four regions. New conflict in West Guji and Gedeo zones, along the border between the Oromia and Southern Nations, Peoples and Nationalities (SNNPR) regions, triggered more than a million new displacements.

Intercommunal violence along border areas of the Oromia and Somali regions also played a role. Going by the figures, the overall number of new displacements increased sharply compared to the 213,000 reported during the same time period last year.

Somali regional state experienced its share of violence as government went in to oust former leader, and more recently in Oromia’s Burayu on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa.

Benishangul-Gumuz region has had its fair share of violence in the first half of this year with 10 people being killed in its regional capital, Asosa.

The region is multi-ethnic and hosts the country’s flagship hydroelectric project, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, GERD. It will be the biggest dam in Africa after its completion. It is however the focus of a diplomatic back and forth between Ethiopia and Egypt as well as Sudan.



More, Oromian Economist sources….

Dozens killed in Ethiopia ethnic clashes

At least 44 people were killed and 70,000 fled their homes amid violence in western Ethiopia, local officials say.

More than 70,000 people displaced from Benishangul Gumuz region
A new wave of violence in Kamashi zone of Benishangul Gumuz has left more than 70,000 people displaced to East Wollega and West Wollega zones of Oromia region according to a statement made by the Oromia Region Government Communication Affairs office. People displaced by the violence are seeking for immediate food and non-food assistance.
Reportedly, more than 20 people were killed due to the ongoing violence. As the number of displaced continues to grow, the Oromia Region Disaster Prevention and Preparedness
Office is working to find the actual number of the displaced and needs associated with it.
The recent clash was triggered by the killings of four high ranking Benshangul Regional
State officials on 26 September along the Ghimbi-Kamashi route (in Oromia near the
regional boundary). The officials were heading back home after attending an inter-regional security meeting between Oromo and Benshangul regional states. The Oromia Regional Government will dispatch a team (on 02 October) to assess the situation. Humanitarian partners are also monitoring the situation and will continue to work with the Government in assessing the needs and providing assistance.



ሰሞኑን ኦሮሚያ እና ቤኒሻንጉል ጉምዝ ዉጥረት ዉስጥ እንዲገቡ፣ኦሮሞ እና አማራ ከቤንሻንጉል ጉምዝ የማፈናቀል ፕሮጀክት በከማሺ ዞን በለጀገንፎይ ወረዳ ያሶ ከተማ ዉስጥ በኢቨስተር ስም በሚንቀሳቃሱ ዶ/ር ሀጎስ፣ ፀጋዬ ኪዳኔ፣ገብሩ፣ፍፁም እና በከማሺ ዞን ምክትል አስተዳዳሪ አማካይነት አስነዋሪ ወንጀል በመፈፀም ላይ ይገኛሉ።በዚህ ወንጀልም በርካቶች ሞተዋል፣ቆስለዋል።



Click here to Support Food & Shelter for displaced People

 


 

ከምእራብ ኦሮሚያ አጎራባች አካባቢዎች የተፈናቀሉ ወገኖችን ለመርዳት የሚከተሉትን የባንክ ሂሳብ ቁጥሮች መጠቀም ይቻላል፦
ኦሮሚያ ኢንተርናሽናል ባንክ 937719
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Oromo do not want to be called Ethiopia but Oromiyaa. But they value peace and stability more than anything else July 29, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Oromo revolution is primarily to have free and stable Oromiyaa

Obbo Ibsaa Guutamaa


Secularism is Oromo political culture and tradition: Up until Haile Sillaasee, one church and government used to share power, economy and social practices. Darg and Wayyaanee did not have legal share in church affairs. But just like the emperor they appointed head of the Orthodox Church. Though it is said religion does not interfere in state matters both did not abandon heritage. PM Abiy is reverting to the past and eulogizing the two religions. He claimed everything fell apart because they lost credibility. Gadaa system believed in separation of state and religion. Abbaa Gadaa did not have power over faith of the high priest (Qaalluu) Abbaa Muudaa. It is the same for Abbaa Muudaa over politics. Just like, political culture, economy and social affairs all practices of Ethiopian government and that of Oromiyaa are different. The eldest religion “Waaqeffannaa” belongs to the Oromo, that will be an answer for those that ask why PM did not mention them like he did the others. Secularism should not be expected from Ethiopian state. Looked from principles of human rights country and governance belongs to all that live in it. Those that believe and do not believe have equal claims. Faith is private. That is why creating conditions in which all live without discrimination are necessary. The PM, when he talked about Ethiopia from the time it was called Abyssinia did not mention about the “Oromo Question”, which is thorn in Ethiopia ‘s hind. It seems he has forgotten that that was the cause for coming about of the change. That is why Nafxanyaa remnants and underlings say, “Racist, ethnic federalism, demarcations by language, separatist, etc. and badmouth Oromo nationalists. But Oromo are not spoiled culture and they do not return insult for insult. However, Nafxanyaa system will never again reign over Oromiyaa until the last Oromo with liberated mind remains. They have to know that there is nothing wrong with ethnic independence or federalism rather than braying as if they got something out of the ordinary. Peoples of the region worry about peace, freedom, equality and stability not about names of countries like Oromiyaa or Ethiopia. Some persons speaking in Amharic always want to impose their own thinking with a voice that seem that of feudalism from beyond its grave. They never ask what the others want. Oromo do not want to be called Ethiopia but Oromiyaa. But they value peace and stability more than anything else. How do anti-people elements reconcile their archaic thinking with that position? Oromo wish the people of the world respect each other’s differences and live in peace and develop together. Oromo revolution is primarily to have free and stable Oromiyaa. Saying Oromo is sovereign over Oromia does not mean Oromo revolution is out to destroy peace stability and development of the region. Just like it brought the present change with blood and sweat, it is duty bound to strengthen unity and prosperity of the region by cooperating in bringing about free and equal African people to the stage. No one can deny them this right or make Oromiyaa their fiefdom without their will. But first the Oromo nation have to establish its own identity and strong rear. Even if he is leaning towards Ethiopia Dr. Abiy is the first ruler of Ethiopia to promise stablishing supremacy of the law and a system of fair and free elections. As long as that is his objective and making effort to implement it supporting him is to one’s own advantage. Without fear or threat, like he said to raise arms on each other when it is possible to discuss peacefully is absurd. At an era when the strong are preparing on how to conduct war from the outer space and raise its standard, saying armed struggle is out of fashion may be true for the oppressor; for the oppressed it would remain as current as ever. On this we go separate ways with the Doctor. Oromiyaan haa jiraattu! Unless he gives priority to his blessed objectives of supremacy of the law fast, with present conditions there is much to be worrisome for all. For issues concerning peoples’ rights he has to be supported in every possible way. Otherwise, saying give him time only, could mean denying oneself time. It has to be thought over.

Oromiyaan haa jiraattu!


 

Related:

I found this comment by @Guma Teressa on my Timeline worth bringing to the front door.

“It’s shocking to hear PM Dr. Abiy declare that there should only be Ethiopian diaspora community and diaspora soccer federation organized under the banner of “Ethiopia”, and implicitly dismisses Oromo communities and soccer federation.
Is that why he snubbed OSA’s invitation?
He will pay dearly, politically speaking, for this embarrassing statement. He should know better! No one ought to explain to him the reason why Oromos had to establish their own communities and soccer federation. The irony of all this is he belongs to “Oromo People’s Democratic Organization”. Why the hell he joined OPDO if he is so averse to ethnicity?
If he continues to make this kind of nonsensical attack on the social and academic spaces Oromo people created for self-preservation, his base will soon crumble and the hyenas will devour him for dinner.
Do not patronize Oromo institutions, Dr. Abiy!!!!”

 

 

Actually very annoying, still in 21st century the Oromo people are being forced or seduced to give up themselves and be something else. The PM’s idea of preaching Ethiopianism to everyone to bring all people together as its an identity in everyone’s blood and culture is wrong. Rather than part of people identity Ethiopism has been an artificial method of rule that imposed on the majority of nations nationalities in the empire. It is only to make occupation and exploitation simple and centralized. It is a good idea to bring people together on mutual interests. Rather than imposing his way of unity that has been adopted from the northern, he has to first speak to each nations and ask them how they think and wish to come together. He has to learn national self determination ideals. Free world is not like his Ethiopia’s federal government. People like the Oromo have got the advantage of living in free and democratic world and organized themselves not on Ethiopianism model but as Oromo nation. For Oromo people in diaspora, Ethiopian community around is practically an Amhara community. They respect the way others organizing themselves. They respect their own independent community as well. A call give yourself and join the assimilation is not acceptable. As a democratic leader, to reach to the Oromo people the pm has to go where communities of Oromo are and assure them what he can offer them. The pm to be successful in organizing diverse nations has to look at Euro zone nations (Common currency, common national bank, free movement of people with politically independent nations). Why is it a problem to have separate Oromo and other communities as far as it is the peoples will to do? In Britain, the 4 nations that make the United Kingdom: Scotland, Welsh, English and Irish do compete in world and European cups as independent countries. It has not reduced the Union. Actually reduced mistrust and increased the recognition of each other and cooperation. The best, functional and true form of unity is recognizing the nationhood and identity of the Oromo and the like as they are. The people have already recognized themselves in such way. Try to impose something which is not acceptable to them is disunity and finally the end of the empire. Ethiopia will join dead empires: Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Roman Empire, the Scramble for Africa,ect… The New Nation Oromia will play Germany and win World Cup like Croatia.

ETHIOPIA: ADDIS STANDARD: THE INTERVIEW: “THERE ARE GOING TO BE PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO EMBRACE THIS CHANGE AND PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO RESIST IT,” MIKE RAYNOR, US AMBASSADOR TO ETHIOPIA July 3, 2018

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Ambassador Mike Raynor joined the State Department in 1988, and is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor. He has been Director of the Bureau of Human Resources’ Office of Career Development and Assignments since September 2016. From August 2015 to August 2016, he served as Assistant Chief of Mission in Kabul, with responsibility for the embassy’s foreign assistance, counter-narcotics, and law enforcement portfolios as well as its consular, management, and security functions. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Benin from 2012 to 2015. From 2010 to 2012, he served as Executive Director of the Bureau of African Affairs, following two years as the Deputy Executive Director. He has spent much of his career in Africa, including as management officer in Harare, Windhoek, Conakry, and Djibouti, and as General Services Officer in Brazzaville. He also served as Zimbabwe desk officer in the Bureau of African Affairs, Special Assistant and Legislative Management Officer in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, and Consular Officer in Luxembourg.  Ambassador Raynor arrived in Ethiopia to assume his role in September 2017. 

Addis Standard’s Ephream Seleshi sat down with Ambassador Raynor for this exclusive interview, only the second Ambassador Raynor has given to media since he moved to Ethiopia. Excerpts:


Addis Standard: [Given how things have changed within the last three months]  do you think Ethiopia has avoided danger or just delayed it?

Ambassador Raynor: I wouldn’t have really characterized it that way. What I would say is that Ethiopia has created amazing opportunities. I think I understand your question and if I take us back to when former prime minister Hailemariam [Desalegn] announced his resignation and, by the way, I just want to say that that was an extraordinary moment in Ethiopian history and, frankly, in world history, that he took that moment to articulate a vision that governance is not about having power or holding onto power but to do what you think is right for your country and people; and at that moment he decided that the right thing to do was to step back in a way that he thought would accelerate reforms and I thought that was an amazing gesture and I thought it created amazing opportunities and that’s what I mean when I say that it seems to be a moment of opportunity. After that resignation we watched how the EPRDF decided what to do with that opportunity, watched the people of Ethiopia debate what to do with that opportunity and to us it has created a moment of great opportunity and real change and that’s something we find very exciting.

AS: [The release of thousands of prisoners is one of the changes EPRDF is conducting since the resignation of former Prime Minister Hailemariam. But the issue of justice to those wronged by the same government is missing from the reformed EPRDF.] Will your country put efforts to help or even pressure the Ethiopian government to give justice for these prisoners? 

One of the most consequential things that has happened in recent months has been the release of so many prisoners, I mean thousands of prisoners. That there were thousands of prisoners to be released is, of course, an extraordinary thing in its own right. But I’ll say that I have met with a number of them and it’s been a really inspirational thing. And what I have found consistently with the ones I’ve met, and obviously I’ve only met a small subset but it included some very prominent thinkers in terms of the political opposition and as you said people who paid an extraordinary price for the courage of their convictions, and the thing that struck me about them is that they were looking ahead. They were looking to where they wanted this country to go. They were talking to us about what they thought we might be able to do to support that and they were talking about what they themselves were planning to do. Issues of justice for them, you know, that’s a difficult issue. I feel I’d be a little presumptuous to say exactly how that should play out and that’s something that I think is very specific to individual cultures, individual people, individual histories. I think it is something that needs to be discussed openly and I think it is something that the Ethiopian people and the government need to think about and figure out the right way forward. Where on the spectrum Ethiopia falls in terms of justice, in terms of reconciliation, I think these are very specific questions that only Ethiopians can answer.

AS: How did the protests of the past four years affect the US’ engagement with Ethiopia both diplomatically and in terms of development projects that are funded by the US?

I can probably speak best about the nine months I’ve been here. And so if I may, I’ll just constrain my answer to my own personal experience. I arrived at a moment when the previous state of emergency had just been lifted. It was the aftermath of a period of great unrest in the country. And I found the country to be rather pessimistic, the people to be rather pessimistic, rather shaken by what they had been going through over the previous months. As a representative of the US government, I had to figure out what to do with that reality. We decided a couple of things. One is that we decided that we’d reinforce the fact that we’re friends with this country and we are friends with the people of this country. And we want what’s best for this country as a partner. We want it for the sake of Ethiopia, but we also want it for the sake of the US. We have very strong areas of collaboration; the development of this country, the economic growth of this country, the education, the food security also our partnership in helping to create political and peace-keeping solutions to some of the strains the region faces as well. It’s been a long standing partnership and a longstanding and important relationship. But we felt that it was being undercut by the fact that the Ethiopian people were growing increasingly dissatisfied with their own governments. So, these were conversations we had very frankly with the government of Ethiopia. You’ll have seen that the day after Prime Minister Hailemariam resigned and the re-imposition of the state of emergency, the day after that we put out a public statement that was quite forceful in expressing concern, because we felt Ethiopia had reached a moment of opportunity and we wanted to express our hope that Ethiopia would benefit from that opportunity. So in the context of a longstanding and important relationship and a true friendship with this country we were doing what we could to encourage what we felt was necessary for this country to be stable and prosperous going forward which was greater political freedoms.

AS: Fast forward to the past three months, many are convinced that the US was one of those countries that have unambiguously supported the nomination of Dr. Abiy Ahmed to the position of prime minister of Ethiopia. Why was that?

Let me say that we didn’t exactly do that. One of the things we have to do is respect the fact that it is up to Ethiopians to decide what their leadership is going to be. What we did was articulate a vision for the kind of outcome we wished for Ethiopia which was an outcome that felt credible to the people that felt inclusive to the fullest extent that current political realities would have allowed. So that was the context within which we watched, with great interest, the EPRDF choose Dr. Abiy as the new prime minister and we regarded that as  an expression of the Ethiopian people through their own engagement but also the EPRDF in its selection process as an expression of the desire for change and we welcomed that.

AS: So, in a way, your country believed all of these, the desire for change, the opening up of new opportunities and the people’s will was encapsulated by the nomination of Dr. Abiy Ahmed as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia?

I think that is very, very well put. We spend a lot of our time dealing with the government and other partners, but we also spend a lot of our time talking to Ethiopians. Ultimately, as much as anything, my job here is to build those connections, to build those bridges between the American people and the Ethiopian people and in doing so we felt and we perceived the desire for change. And I think in the aftermath of the selection of Prime Minister Abiy, we’ve seen what felt like a fundamental reset in the atmosphere of this country, one of more optimism and hope and one of more enthusiasm. To us, once again, this seems to be an expression, to some extent, the desire of the people for change being perceived to be becoming a reality.

AS: But there were [still are] many who were discontented at the nomination and selection of Prime Minister Abiy. It is believed that most of these people are wither members of the TPLF or its sympathizers; in fact there were rumors that some have written to the US government opposing this. Can you confirm and if so, what was your reaction?

First I have to say I did not receive any communications from the TPLF of any kind, much less one expressing any particular opinion about that. I think the question sort of suggests a greater role of the United States in this process than we would have played. Again, we were observing this process play out. We articulated a general vision of our desire or improved governance, for improved rights, for improved inclusiveness and then we stepped back and we watched that process play out. You mentioned that certain elements of Ethiopian governance and society are less comfortable with changes than others. I think that’s fair and that’s natural. Change is stressful. Even positive change can require adjustment from people. And people who are uncomfortable with this change, I think that’s part of human nature and I think what’s happening and what’s important to be happening is that that’s provoking dialogue, that’s provoking discussions within the EPRDF, within the society more broadly about where this change is going to take people and for us that feels healthy, that feels democratic. So, it’s something we welcome.

AS: But given the entrenched interest of those who are discontent with the change many express concern that it could pose a danger to the opportunities that we now see. Do you share this concern?

I don’t perceive danger. As I said I perceive dialogue and discussion and I perceive people working through how they feel about what’s happening in this country. To be honest with you, the winds of change in this country, the dynamism and the momentum that [Prime Minister] Abiy has already created seem quite strong. We are not perceiving any efforts or anything we regard as fundamentally putting this trajectory at risk. That said, obviously there are going to be different views, and there are going to be people who are going to embrace this change and people who are going to resist it. I think part of the democratic process is to discuss all of these things, work through them, try to get as much buy in as the government can for the changes they are pursuing. I think [what is] an important element of democracy is the winners win but they still represent everyone in the country, even people who might feel like they lost. So everything the government can do to embrace the totality of what’s happening in this country and to be as responsive and representative of as many people as possible, I think would be a healthy thing. But again, we see that happening in the context of the trajectory of very positive and very dynamic change.

AS: Do you believe elections are due then?

Well, they’re due on their schedule. I think we are due municipal elections some time fairly soon in the next year or so and certainly we are due the general elections in 2020. One of the things we’ve seen with Prime Minister Abiy is that he has set a tone of political inclusiveness. He’s reaching out to the diaspora, he’s reaching out to the opposition, he’s reaching out to people that had previously been branded as terrorists many of whom had taken up residence in the United States. So, how that plays out between now and 2020 is something, I think, we’ll be very interested to watch. But we very much welcome the tone of political inclusiveness, the notion that the political opposition isn’t the enemy- they’re the competition. I think that is a very healthy construct and I think it’s something that creates real possibility for more inclusive political process leading up to the 2020 elections.

AS: Currently the Ethiopian parliament is 100% controlled by the ruling EPRDF and there are sweeping changes being approved by the same parliament. Don’t you think that puts the Ethiopian people at a major disadvantage, that they might not have a voice in some of these changes being undertaken by the parliament?

I think it remains to be seen how it plays out. But, I have to say that although I understand that there is a lot of Ethiopians who feel any solution that is within the EPRDF is suspicious, I have to say that we are seeing enormous change within the ERPDF. Prime Minister Abiy is within the EPRDF and he’s articulating a vision of reform and political inclusiveness that, I think, really creates opportunities that can go well beyond EPRDF. And so I think, change is a process. I think change need not be destabilizing or disruptive. I think it can sometimes take time and I think it can sometimes take more time than some people would like. But I think we have to acknowledge that we have seen enormous change in a very brief amount of time since Prime Minister Abiy was selected. That, to me, creates possibilities for further political reform to come.

AS: How will these changes or reforms affect the US’ involvement particularly in supporting the civil society, human rights organizations and media freedom in the country?

Well, we have long had the position that we wished for greater freedom for civil society. An engaged, dynamic civil society informs governance as well or better than any other single element of society. We feel that by cutting itself off from as dynamic a civil society as possible, through the CSO law for example, the Ethiopian government has robbed itself of resources that could have informed and improved governance decisions. We very much would welcome in the coming days efforts to address the constrains on civil society. We have many civil society partners here but I’ll tell you that relative to other countries where I have served we have fewer and they are less empowered than we would like to see. We are hoping that changes in the days ahead.

AS: Tensions are flaring up in many parts of Ethiopia; the inter-ethnic dynamics is experiencing strains. What would you say should be done to avert the kinds of violence we saw in recent weeks in places like Hawassa and Sodo in the south?

Thank you, it’s a really important question and it’s a central question. Frankly it is one we are grappling with trying to get our own understanding of. We are outsiders and what we are seeing are dynamics that have existed in some form or another for centuries in some cases. We are very saddened by the ethnic unrest that has flared in numerous areas of Ethiopia. It’s not new, unfortunately, but it seems to persist and there has been a flare up of late. Anytime we see Ethiopians against Ethiopians causing destruction, causing harm, causing death, it feels like a very sad thing and it feels like it’s not taking the country forward. I think it is something that the government has to engage on, it is engaging on. My only thought is that perhaps civil society, community leaders, religious leaders can encourage a bit of patience, can encourage a bit of hope, can encourage a bit of pride, if I may put it, in the fact that Ethiopia is an amazing country and the Ethiopian people are amazing people. And if they can accentuate the strength that Ethiopia has and the strength and the bonds that Ethiopians have and perhaps they can say “this is not a great time to be tearing the country or each other apart. This is a time to be coming together. This is a time to be supporting the change underway. This is a time to be supporting each other.” I don’t have the standing to give that message in the way that Ethiopian civil society and leaders do. But I think it is an important aspect of what’s going on now to encourage that sort of frame of mind.

AS: Lets move to recent developments between Eritrea and Ethiopia. How does your country view Ethiopia’s willingness to fully implement the Algiers agreement and the EEBC’s ruling?

Well, it was yet another extraordinary thing that Prime Minister Abiy has done. It was a fundamental reset, as, again, he has done in many other aspects of his announcements on political, economic areas as well. It created, again, opportunity where it seemed like it might not exist and people wondered when it might happen. So it was an enormously important gesture. Both his initial speech when he was sworn in at parliament when he expressed in general terms his desire for reconciliation with Eritrea and more recently his announcement of respect for the Algiers Agreement, a really consequential development which has since been reciprocated by the government of Eritrea’s decision to send a delegation to Ethiopia for talks. The United States has put out a public statement from the White House embracing this development and encouraging next steps. It is a really consequential issue. This disagreement, this problem between these two countries has been good for neither of these countries, it has not been good for the region. If these countries can get past it, it’ll be good for their economies, it’ll be good for their societies, it’ll be good for the stability of the region. So if we can get there, it’ll be hugely consequential and we strongly encourage both governments to persist in trying to reach that outcome.

AS: Obviously, there will be a lot of diplomatic shuttle to further consolidate these changes. Is the US planning to be a part of it?

Well, we have said to both parties, and publicly, and continue to say that we are available to play that role. Back in the day of the Algiers Agreement the United States was formally a guarantor; we had a structural role established at the point that the agreement was made. We have encouraged this outcome for sometime with both governments and in doing so we have said ‘If you collaboratively feel there is a role that the US can constructively play, we’ll do everything we can to support that’. We have not been asked in any form or way to play any sort of role in that process. But if we are, we would look very strongly at doing everything we can to respond favorably.

AS: Do you think there should be further measures the Ethiopian government could take in order to avoid the odds against any conflict between the two countries during this period of transition? 

I think at this point the two parties need to sit down. If such steps are identified then we would hope that both countries would do what they could to build confidence and to do so in a way that seems responsive to the other party’s concerns. In terms of what those specific steps might be, it would be premature and presumptuous for me to suggest anything. I think that has to be an outcome of discussions between the two governments.

AS: Many analysts are asserting that the increase in pressure from the US played a role in pressuring Ethiopia to make this decision. What are your comments about that?

While that might seem flattering in a way, I think it overstates things. I think we’ve played a constructive role. As I said, we’ve had engagements with both countries for a number of months now encouraging this outcome. That predates Prime Minister Abiy, but certainly includes the time and period he came to power. But, I think Dr. Abiy came to power with very clear ideas of what he wanted to do and what his priorities would be. From the moment he addressed the parliament upon being sworn in, he had articulated reconciliation with Eritrea as being among those priorities. What you’re seeing here is the Ethiopian government driving this process and deciding to make it a priority.

AS: Your top Africa diplomat, Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, has been to Eritrea and discussed with the Eritrean government and did the same here in Ethiopia. What was the immediate purpose of his visit?

Exactly what I said-encouraging both sides to look for possible ways to come together. Pure and simple.

AS: Is the US engaged with Eritrea in trying to bring about democratic change in the country?

We are very much interested in having Eritrea become a constructive actor in the region and a good neighbor. We are very hopeful that this can be an outcome of this process. We are looking very much to encourage both sides to find common ground to move to a place where both countries are engaging with each other and with the region in ways that build up the region and themselves. That, I think, is a really possible outcome thanks to these recent developments.

AS: In his speech on Eritrean Martyr’s day on June 20 President Isaias Afeworki placed a lot of the blame for the acrimony between Ethiopia and Eritrea on, among others, the ‘defunct policies’ of the US government. What’s your reaction to that?

I am really not going to react to that. The president of Eritrea is, certainly, free to speak his mind. He did so in the context of expressing a desire to come together with Ethiopia to find a way forward. To us that’s the important part of his message and the important part of where we are right now.

AS: Does that mean the US sees a democratic Eritrea with Isaias Afeworki at its helm?

At this point I’d have to refer you to my counterpart in Eritrea if you’d like the conversation to be about US policy towards Eritrea. I represent our government in Ethiopia and I don’t really have a whole lot to add to what we’ve already been discussing in that regard. I am not going to talk about bilateral relations between the US and a country I’m not accredited to. But I’ll say, once again, that we are extremely encouraged to see these two parties talking to each other and planning to get together. That is really the main takeaway and an exciting one.

AS: What kind of Ethiopian influence does the US want to see in East Africa?

I think we see it. We see in Ethiopia as a country that engages in multiple ways to try to bring stability and harmony and commonality of purpose to a really volatile and troubled region. It’s an important role that Ethiopia plays politically and it’s an important role that Ethiopia plays in terms of its peace-keeping engagements. We are proud to support Ethiopia in those efforts. We confer with them frequently on next steps. But in terms of the broad desire the US has with regards of the Ethiopian region, it is to find ways to support what Ethiopia already does, which is try to be a very constructive actor in a challenging area.

AS: Ethiopia recently signed an agreement with DP World and Somaliland to acquire 19% of the port of Berbera. How does the US see that?

We don’t really have a view on that. Ethiopia has to figure out what makes sense for its own interests and for the relationships it maintains in the region. But it is not the sort of thing  that the US government would stake out a particular position on.

AS: How does the US react to the recent geopolitical shifts in alliances happening in the Horn of Africa due to the Qatar crisis?

Again, it is something that goes a little bit beyond my direct engagement. But I think as with all engagement between nations, everyone benefits when that engagement is transparent and when it reflects mutual interest. And I hope that as the countries of the Horn including Ethiopia engage with Gulf States as any other states that’ll play out in a way that helps bring about a region that is harmonious, stable, prosperous and has as much of a commonality of purpose as possible. How that plays out in terms of the Gulf States in the region is something I really can’t speak to in much more detail.

AS: There are many military outposts in the Horn of Africa, especially in Djibouti. Do you think Ethiopia should have a say in the decisions to establish military installations in its vicinity?

I think any neighbors need to be in a position they can talk to each other about developments in the countries that might impact each other. I think that happens. I think Ethiopia has frank and ongoing relationships with all of its neighbors and I imagine that part of those discussions touch on the area you are referring to.

AS: Lets’ get back to Ethiopian politics. How does the US view the struggle by the Ethiopian youth, especially the youth in Oromia and Amhara regional states, that brought in the new administration and the political change we are witnessing today?

I think we are not the first to figure out that one of the biggest challenges and one of the biggest opportunities in front of Ethiopia right now is a very large, very dynamic, very motivated youth population. Depending on how you define youth, doesn’t matter, we’re still talking about tens of millions of people. And I think you’re right. I think that one of the reasons that Prime Minister Abiy is in power today is because he was listening to the youth and he was learning from the youth and he was thinking about how to be responsive to the youth. So, I think it  is one of the biggest challenges Ethiopia faces right now. You’ve got a young population that wants to be politically empowered, that wants to be economically empowered. But I think if you unleash the potential of Ethiopia’s youth, you’ll strengthen this country immeasurably.

AS: There are many Ethiopian activists in the United States such as Jawar Mohammed, who actively affected many of the outcomes that we’re seeing now. First, what do you think of the roles played by these activists? And because many of these activists have been a thorn in the side of previous Ethiopian administrations, has there ever been a request for any one of them to be deported to Ethiopia, as some people in Ethiopia have publicly suggested?

Again this is one of the areas where what Prime Minister Abiy is doing is extraordinary in its vision and its potential for impact. I grew up in the Washington DC. area and I know that the Ethiopian population in the United States is extremely smart, dynamic, thoughtful, successful and interested and committed to the welfare of Ethiopia. So, what we have here, again I’m gonna get back to it, is opportunity. Dr. Abiy is reaching out to these people. He’s encouraging them to bring their expertise, their resources, the values they have developed both as Ethiopians and as Americans to bear on this country’s development. It’s a really exciting possibility and it’s a really an aspect of the Ethiopian strength that, I think, can be tapped more fully. So, it’s another aspect of everything going on today that we are encouraged by.

AS: Finally, what message would you pass to the people of Ethiopia?

Thank you. I guess I’d say a couple of things. First I’d say that myself as a person and the country I represent, the United States, feel really excited and hopeful right now about Ethiopia. We are really inspired by the pace of change and by the scope of change. They’re going to face a lot of challenges, the Ethiopian people and the Ethiopian government. This is a very big, very rich, very complicated, very dynamic country. It’s not going to be easy to address some of the political challenges, some of the economic challenges, some of the security challenges, some of the justice challenges that we have been talking about throughout this. But, I guess I’d say a couple of things. For everything that we, as Americans, worry about Ethiopia’s future, we’ve heard Dr. Abiy articulate a vision and a path toward resolution. And that, I think, is important. I think we feel that we’re hearing in Ethiopian leadership a government that understands the will of the people, understand the needs of its people and is working to address those. That’s encouraging from where we sit. I guess the last thing I’d say is that I’d ask the Ethiopian people to think about what they might be able to do to support. Back in the 1960s we had a president named John F. Kennedy and he had a very famous quote: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’. That’s a quote that Americans love because it talks about the shared responsibility, the reciprocal relationship between the governed and the governing. I think this is an interesting moment for Ethiopians to think about things in terms like that. To think about not just the grievances they might have, the frustrations they might have, the historical divisions they might feel and want to express but to put all of that aside and say ‘this is an amazing moment of opportunity, that I don’t think any Ethiopians saw six months ago!’. And to think about how they can contribute to this opportunity and to move their country forward. AS


 

UNPO: Oromo: Refugees Condemned to Hardship and Uncertainty in Kenya May 24, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist


Oromo: Refugees Condemned to Hardship and Uncertainty in Kenya

 


Having escaped from State repression in Ethiopia, refugees coming from the region of Oromia suffer from deprivation and apprehension as they try to rebuild their lives across the border. Their situation is a direct consequence of a conflict that has seen the Oromo community in Ethiopia suffer from fundamental rights restrictions and severe human rights violations, something that has particularly been voiced by this community through massive protests since 2014.

The article blow was published by allafrica.com:

Two months ago, Kote Adi fled Moyale, Ethiopia, after government soldiers there opened fire on civilians, killing at least nine. Kote and his pregnant wife found shelter in a tent in northeastern Kenya’s Dambala Fachana refugee camp, but weeks of heavy rain have displaced them again.

“Our plastic shelters were flooded with water,” said Kote Adi, who is settling into a new tent site on higher ground.

Hardship and uncertainty haunt him and thousands of others who’ve left Moyale, a market town straddling the border between Ethiopia and Kenya, and its surroundings in Ethiopia’s Oromia region for safety in Kenya. Some are staying with relatives and friends, or in makeshift camps scattered across the normally arid Marsabit County.

Roughly 3,350 of them, including Kote Adi, have found at least temporary security by registering with the United Nations as refugees at Dambala Fachana. Lacking most of their belongings and normal routines, vulnerable to food shortages and illness, they have no idea when they might be able to safely go home.

Political and ethnic rifts keep them away. Ethiopia’s government blamed the March 10 civilian deaths on faulty intelligence, saying soldiers had been deployed to subdue militants from the nationalist Oromo Liberation Front. The Oromia region has been a hotbed of unrest, with ethnic Oromos long complaining of underrepresentation in government and lack of economic opportunities. Nearly three years of their mass anti-government protests led Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to step down in mid-February.

With Oromia native Abdiya Ahmed Ali’s April 2 installation as prime minister, some of the displaced ethnic Oromos made their way home to Moyale.

Some discovered their dwellings had been looted.

“When I went back, the door was broken. … None of my stuff was there,” Abdiya Gelma told VOA in a phone interview, ticking off missing items including her bed, kitchen utensils and a rug. Now she and her child are staying with relatives.

Returnees also found an intensified military presence, Abdiya Gelma and several others told VOA. She said she saw security troops beating a youth who displayed the Oromo Liberation Front’s red-and-green flag.

Moyale remains tense after more rounds of violence. A grenade exploded at a bus station April 17, killing at least three people. Gunfire broke out May 6 between Oromo and Garre ethnic groups, provoked by the Ethiopian Somali Region’s paramilitary force firing on a local police station, a resident told the Addis Standard. That regional force is part of the federal Command Post that has implemented a national state of emergency since then-prime minister Desalegn’s resignation Feb. 15.

The border town “is so volatile. Our neighbors who went back to Moyale are coming back again” to Dambala Fachana, refugee Kote Adi told VOA.

He and Nagelle Kote are staying put in the camp for now, Kote Adi said.

Nagelle is his second wife; his other wife and their seven children, along with his mother, remain in Yabelo, an Ethiopian city about 210 kilometers northwest of Moyale.

“I wasn’t able to contact my family there because of road closures and [poor] phone connections,” Kote Adi said, adding that he and Nagelle escaped Moyale on foot.

Now he and Nagelle have an infant daughter, Tiya. She’s among at least 20 newborns in the camp, her father said. More than 600 pregnant women were among the 9,700 asylum seekers arriving in northern Kenya from Ethiopia’s Oromia region, the U.N. Refugee Agency reported in mid-March.

Kote Adi operated a cattle-trading business just outside Moyale; now he has become a day laborer. He earns 100 shillings a day, but spends up to 60 shillings on the round-trip travel to a construction site two hours away.

“It is the only way I can help my wife,” Kote Adi said, explaining that the extra money goes toward supplementing the rice, maize, sugar and milk rations provided by aid organizations such as the UN, its World Food Program and the Kenya Red Cross.

Conditions have become more challenging with recent heavy rains, which give rise to flooding, more mosquitoes and higher risks of malaria and water-borne ailments.

“The area we live in is [near] a forest infested with mosquitoes, where you hear lions roaring all night,” Kote Adi said.

He estimated his was among 31 households affected by flooding. Yvonne Ndege, a U.N. Refugee Agency spokeswoman, did not give VOA a number but said in an email that heavy rains affected “few refugee families” among the nearly 1,400 households registered with the camp. All were transferred to higher ground.

Ndege added that relief workers were taking “precautionary measures to improve sanitation and hygiene.”

Emergency funds have been “diverted from other refugee operations in Kenya” home to Dadaab and its five camps, another UNHCR spokeswoman, Rose Ogola, said an email to VOA. She said U.N. agencies, along with NGOs, were assessing humanitarian needs, developing a budget and would seek donations. These would support an estimated 5,000 asylum seekers at Dambala Fachana and also the Somare camp near Moyale for six months.

Meanwhile, local volunteers such as Abdiya Golicha, a Marsabit County resident, are trying to assist the displaced in and around Dambala Fachana. She has repeatedly visited the camp with donations.

At first, “the kids didn’t even have shoes or clothing. We bought these for them,” Abdiya Golicha told VOA. She said local residents provided food and other basics until aid agencies could get set up. Volunteers also helped erect the plastic tents that shelter the displaced.

“We received them respectfully, because we are one people,” Abdiya Golicha said. “We speak the same language, although we’re divided by a [national] border.”

Photo courtesy of flicker.com/oromiamovies

The Oromo Question and the Answer it Requires May 19, 2018

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Odaa Oromoo

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The Oromo Question and the Answer it Requires


Every Nation and nationality under the empire is yearning for freedom from oppression probably except Tigray, which has freed itself but exported colonizer to others. It is half a century since the Oromo started struggle for liberation. The Amaaraa also have started to struggle for their unity and identity. Shekechoo, Sidaamaa and Gambeela were mowed down for demanding their denied rights. The blood of the massacred is still crying for justice to their respective nations. All others have unsatisfied grievances, which could explode at any time. Priority for the majority now is not collective concern but attending their immediate individual pain. There are those who do not feel the pain of each nationality they have collaborated in causing. They still want everyone to entertain their worst days under empire system as the good old days. But who are these people that want to impose on others their own dreams. Now every decision has to be made by one concerned. If there are common problems it needs the will of everybody to participate in the deliberation as equals. And every participant has a veto power on own interest. Therefore, the regional problem can be solved if only there are no self-appointed persons or groups that claim to have prerogative. Peoples have to meet directly. To talk about Oromiyaa, it will be good to understand the Oromo question, which is defined only by the Oromo for any possible negotiation.

Oromo question is about regaining the sovereignty on their country Oromiyaa and the human rights they were denied by alien war campaign. Sovereignty here means the supreme power and full right a nation has on own people and land, resources over and below ground and the natural environment in one’s territory, free from alien interference. By human rights here it is meant the recognition of a person for being human according to Gadaa constitution and laws, UN Charter and world conventions. A body that administers this interest on behalf of the Oromo nation is Oromiyaa state. The Oromiyaa state is led by a government formed for a limited period through election conducted according to the law. The government will have Caffee or a legislative Assembly, Office of the Luba with executive power and hierarchical bureaucracy filled with officials and professional workers used by the Luba office

The Oromo nation was deprived of its sovereignty in the 19th century, during the period imperialists shared out Africa among themselves, in the campaign known as “The Scramble for Africa”. The imperialist then took Ethiopia differently from other African countries for different geopolitical reasons. That was how they allowed Ethiopia/Abyssinia to invade independent countries around her and join their colonizers list. To enable her do that Italy, France, Britain and Russia provided her with massive weapons and military experts. Let alone dare crossing their boundary it was not able even to think, when both Oromiyaa and Ethiopia were armed with traditional weapons. It was after gaining weapons of mass destruction of the time that Oromiyaa was occupied and the Oromo turned into nation of serfs or “ciisanya. “Ciisanya” was a person having only one smoke emitting tukul and his labor freely exploited. Many of Oromo nationals were sold abroad and many boys and girls were taken home.

It was from among those they took home that they raised to high ranks changing their birth names and hiding their fathers’ names. Ras Mokonin, Fitiraarii Habtagorgis, Dajjaach Baalchaa, Fitiraarii Gabayyoo, Dajjaach Gabramaariyam etc. were Ethiopian officers known for their bravery and intelligence. Because it could expose Oromummaa their birth name and fathers’ name were never heard. Though his father’s name was never exposed Baalchaa’s name was left as it was give in “haammachiisaa” by Oromo Qaalluu after birth because he failed to fulfil the criteria priests wanted. Gathering captives and “ciisanya” they involved them in wars that does not concern them. Those that survived were never given equal treatment with their Ethiopian peers. Oromummaa was not a source of pride. Not only that of those recruited history of the Oromo nation as a whole was buried. Amaaraa language, culture and history was imposed on Oromo in Oromiyaa. Not only being sovereign, it even tried Oromo identity to be forgotten by generation that comes after occupation. World technological development brought changes to Oromo view of themselves. It raised the question, “who are we?” and surged forward with Oromummaa. With research and oral tradition, they got at home, they were able to learn that their fathers did not submit without resistance. With that they came across many Oromo heroes and heroines’ names in North, South, East, West and Center. They even came to know that there were many braves among enslaved Oromo with no match. Thus, they found evidences that the Oromo were not by nature cowards and ignorant as the enemy tried to inculcate in them. But for not knowing how to express it together, Oromo oppression has reached a point of exploding from over suppression. They now believed that Waaq did not create the Oromo to be servants for the Habashaa but were subdued by force. With that Oromo youth of the 60s were able to communicate and get closer. For the first time in order to present Oromoo oppression they were able to come out with a political organization with program. The organization they came out with was called Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). As a pioneer OLF contributed much to the political consciousness of the Oromo. But it is staggering before reaching its goal for several different reasons. Political leadership or political organization is required to articulate people’s grievances in a systematic way.

People’s oppression does not stop because leadership did not reach in time. Because OLF got weak many groups watching the growing oppression started to get organized to stand against it. Even the enemy camp started to create organizations for the Oromo to cool down their anger and derail their liberation struggle. One that came out viable among them was that created by Tigray group the OPDO. There are also Oromo groups that that accepted the Ethiopian Constitution and organized under it as Opposition. All those are not able to replace Kaayyoo laid down by OLF. But it is said, “one leaps the way one was hurt”. Oppression of the people has increased and reached intolerable level. But deciding to die defending themselves against evil all the people rose in unison with rage. It embraced all that came to it in support. The people were not as divided as organizations formed in their name. All that came to them were made part and parcel of the people. Taking the initial Kaayyoo put down by OLF and strengthening their unity more than ever marched together like they did in the 15-16th century. With that it has brought in enemy’s camp change that was never seen before. Oromo son has climbed to Ethiopian Empire power without being asked to drop his Oromummaa. Now the Ethiopians have no time to argue about profile but are looking for any one that they could set against Tigrean over lordship. Oromummaa is not contemptible for the time as long as their other criteria to be Ethiopian Chief is met.

Oromo people did not go into struggle with full force but had been warming up for it. Now they are moving in toto raising their arms to regain what had been snatched away from them. All have started to get together in social groups to practice Gadaa system to acquaint themselves with past challenges and knowledge. That is one of the symptoms for Gadaa returning with renewal. It will be inevitable that OLF will also get out of the quagmire it was thrown into and be part of people’s movement to reach its goal. Then all that left it would return. Oromo objective of independence and freedom will also hit its goal. Oromo means people. People do not shun people. Just like their name they will live in peace and happiness with all. Bickering over small dispute has to stop. Any arising problem will be resolved with “ilaa fi Ilaamee’ (art of dialogue). Oromo democracy is not democracy that majority imposes its will on minority. All decisions were passed only with consensus. It is such characteristic that makes it different from hither to existing democracies. Th Oromo believe that even the smallest community like Baiso, Karo, Kwegu, Maawoo etc. with population from 500-100 have their own territory and deserve respect and protection from bigger neighbors. The Oromo have no hatred for aliens but for abuses. It assures all that dictatorship will not be born from Gadaa heritage but democracy.

Liberation of Oromo means liberation of all its neighbors and beyond. Oromo hirelings being used as instrument of oppression by the colonizer will stop only then. It took the enemy long time to recognize the name “Oromo”. However, but when they talk about Ethiopia among themselves, even though they have proclaimed in their laws they won’t include Oromo and other colonies in their thoughts. Even if they include they take them only as something like star orchid. At heart, they know that Oromo are not Ethiopians. To mention few instances, in his letter of 29 October, 1862 to Queen Victoria, Teedros took Oromo being aliens on the same level with Turks. Minilik presented himself in his “Treaty of Addis Ababa” as Emperor of Ethiopia and “Oromo” countries. Whom do they want to tell them than their hero butcher kings. The Habashaa ruling class have used the Oromo for over hundred years. Oromiyaa became base for life of this ruling class. Oromo’s coming out with question of sovereignty threatened their luxurious life style. It is when plundering by force as usual is becoming impossible that they started to change tactics.

Now they are saying, in building the empire, the serfs and slaves and the masters have equal accountability and responsibility. Taking away all their land, denying their identity and oppressing and abusing them for over a century is forgotten. Discrimination between Ethiopia and Oromo country they call “Gaallaa Mareet” is taken as never existed. They chose narrating false history over asking for pardon for wrongs done and offering for discussion on future relations. Even had the story was true, it cannot over ride t a birth right; the present generation can say, “I will not live with anyone without my free will”. There had been no relation formed based on free will between Ethiopia and Oromiyaa so far. It is another question to say it can be formed in times ahead? Unless we bring to the same level our understanding for political concepts, democracy, bilisummaa and equality it will be difficult to create accord. The Habashaa conquered Oromiyaa after bloody war and kept it in the same way. Do they want to repeat that again? Time has changed, arrogance and greed has to be curbed for safe passage.

The Oromo know themselves as a nation whose identity is different from Ethiopians and that Ethiopia occupied them breaking them by force. Ethiopian registry also knows Oromiyaa as their “Qiny gizaat” (Colony). Present Ethiopian groupings do not want to visit their archives for verification. Oromiyaa for them is part and parcel of Ethiopia from time immemorial. Wrong premises lead to wrong conclusion, that is their problem. They are presenting descendants of early occupiers of Oromiyaa and those that went to Oromiyaa for different reasons and are living among the natives without communal territory. What they fail to understand is that immigrants do not have the legal right to deny sovereignty of natives on their country. The Oromo look upon persons willing to live with them as their own offspring. Except for the ungrateful few with nostalgia for Nafxanyaa system majority live in peace sharing whatever the environ offers them. There had been no threat to life and property of peaceful residents of Oromiyaa greater than that to the natives. Unless one alienates oneself nobody even notices that one is alien. Those that think differently are only those that hope return of Nafxanyaa system. That has now become history. Ethiopians have their own country as Oromiyaans have their own. If they go to each other’s countries it is required to live according to law of country they went to.

There are some that had been away from their country for a long time and speak Amharic and claim to be educated campaigning against Oromiyaa and the Oromo. They say to have made so many studies among them about governance and languages. Their study showed them that Oromo is not a nation; there is no something called Oromo country or Oromiyaa; that Qubee is not more convenient than “Fidal”. The whole issue is about business. If Oromiyaa remains subservient to Ethiopia they can get especial treatments through their connections; for those that have patented works especially on improved “Fidel” and Amharic language Oromiyaa staying under Ethiopia opens for them bigger market than in the mother country alone. They have already concluded that unless Amharic get superiority, they cannot break through the Qubee wall. The worst thing about these people is that they are appealing to Amaaraa nationalism for their own individual benefit. It is not their concern if Amaaraa and Oromo clash for they will not share the pain from distance. They cling to “Ethiopia name” because they are not sure to which nationality they belong except for being distant descendants of the colonial army commonly known as Nafxanyaa and having hatred for the Oromo.

Present conditions in the Ethiopian Empire are not the same with the past. The previous leaders lost the rein to internal struggle and are staggering unable to control even their surroundings. However, the stand many of them have on the empire is no different from the far past. One that mounted on the saddle of empire and is troubling people for last three decades ago is group of Tigrean ruling class. Because of its selfishness let alone sharing power with Amaaraa as before, they have looted what it had, and also put under question ownership on its surrounding area. The greater part of Ethiopia is Amaara. It was Amaaraa that completed empire building started by Yohaannis. Amaaraa could not save even Tigray while crying for Ethiopia. Its destiny is not becoming better than the colonies. Its rage on junior partner can be clearly seen.

It has become over four decades since Oromoo raised questions of sovereignty and reclaiming rights taken away from them. They use armed and political struggle for the purpose. Nature forces neighboring African peoples to live adjacently forever. For this reason, Oromo have repeatedly made statements that they give priority for resolving conflicts peacefully. However, they will never give up willingly their birth rights and their country. They will decide without alien interference on relations they will have with neighbors and on the way, they choose to live. That is why they are paying dear to get the right of nations for national self-determination realized. They will continue paying more sacrifice to guard what so far are achieved to respect the memory of those that paid their lives for them. There are those whose guts have melted, that say how long should blood flow, rather better to take whatever the enemy throws for us and live. One will not prefer begging what belongs to one from aliens over dying, unless one has birth defect. Some are born without honor and have no principle and know no “safuu’ to be trustworthy. They never complete what they started for they have no commitment for any cause.

As an organization the struggle that OLF wages first is to give Oromo rights mentioned above; then it is to establish independent republic Oromiyaa. However, it believes that it is the sole right of the Oromo people to decide on the way they want to lead their lives in the future. It is possible that different Oromo groups can have different suggestions. Therefore, all have the chance to present own suggestions for the people to choose from alternates. Be them aliens or friends they have legal obligation to abide by people’s free will. To stand against people practicing this right will be taken as arrogance and criminal act. As long as any people believe in their unity and ask to live together no one has the right to stand against them. It may be proper to ask how those who had been together go apart and what type of preparation is required? But that should not be actions which block the right of national self-determination.

The Oromo will not give consideration for those that try to make them doubt their choice and separate identity in alien language by calling them “Zaranyaa and gosanyaa” (racist and tribalistic”). For Oromo independence is a right. They will not give attention to those that do not respect for this right. Those that want to reimpose Ethiopian superiority on them are enemies. To ask for creating relations is one thing; but those that start with propaganda that Oromo interest is wrong has to ask themselves as to who they are to say that? For Habashaa to present themselves as having rights to decide on how Oromo has to lead their lives is only arrogance. Even if they take the existing federal system it will be with Oromiyaa state not with stronger federal hand. This may not go down with chauvinists. The existing constitution also needs to be renegotiated.

OPDO leaders said they have addiction to Ethiopia. Though they did not express it in this way there could be others that have similar addictions. Those that have addiction must be left alone to quench their craving or put in rehabilitation but should not be condemned. If supremacy of the law is guaranteed and the right to free self-expression is recognized for all, there is nothing that necessitates fighting. It will be good for all if there is condition in which one can go around and peacefully express oneself and share ideas with people. Those are all in the constitution of the empire. For this reason, the solution available is facilitating for practicing rights of assembly, freedom of self-expression and speech. If there is one that says that one will not solve problems unless blood is spilt he/she is insane. And if one says one will not recognize group rights one is only a warmonger. He is one that thinks Oromo cannot choke in return if choked. Oromo love peace. But they will not submit to one that denies them the right of sovereignty over their country and their identity.

According to the law EPRDF is one of the Ethiopian parties. It claimed to be elected by people and is in power. Since it represents the force that occupies Oromiyaa, its chairman being Oromo does not erase EPRDF being the enemy. For Oromo question to get answer it is the one with whom to negotiate and as well as against whom to struggle. It will be advantageous if the Ethiopian Empire can hold fair and free elections. It is easier to negotiate with democrats than with dictators. However, empires have never been democratized but dismantled. Ethiopian state had been around for a long period. But its system was a system lead by one monarch. Though that was changed the system that came after it however they pretend to come through election they were administration of one party. Those parties are controlled by one individual. The present party EPRDF could not free itself from Habashaa political culture. One that created it and have real power is an organization that abandoned Habashaa tradition called TPLF (Wayyaanee). TPLF/EPRDF jeopardized the general election and also turned the party into one-man dictatorial rule. Therefore, what they call democracy is fake. Because they are not willing to dismantle the empire they cannot democratize. The people are waging a movement that will uproot oppression once and for all for they can no more bear it. With that skirmish is happening in the organization. It has appointed a person who came with popular pressure as its chairman and the Prime Minister as well.

Peoples of the empire are not asking about the next election. All want the PM to chase out TPLF before that. To demand for chasing out TPLF means demanding to dismantle EPRDF. There are those that are preparing to turn Ethiopia to the days of the emperor believing that to be inevitable. A big Tawaahido monk even dared to come out cursing article 39 of the constitution. That means the oppressed that reached here paying sacrifice that demanded blood that flowed like flood are being looked upon with contempt. Therefore, it is only the struggle the Oromo started towards liberation that can give hope to peoples of the empire’s dream for democracy. Autocratic and democratic systems do not fit into each other. Unless people who desire to live in democratic system with equality denounce autocratic rule the two systems cannot exist side by side in the same camp. If all people could wage internal democratic struggle it would be easier for democrats to unite. It would only be deceiving oneself to talk about freedom and equality with dictatorial mentality.

If peoples of Africa strengthen their unity they can be hope for each other and all black race. It is essential to recognize that groups have their own culture, tradition, language and style of life. To separate and adopt elements that connect us and those that make it essential to depend on each other, will strengthen not weaken us. To make acceptance of equality of peoples a priority can serve as starting point of unity. One putting the other under control without his will, deceit, lack of transparency in relations between each other could only keep us apart rather than pulling us together. We can get solutions in common only if we can put issues that relate to history of the Ethiopian empire on the table and ask what is better for us? Otherwise the benefit of trying to present the history in distorted way would only lead to mistrust.

Today’s freedom could stop carried over yesterday’s slavery but cannot go back and erase it. Those that were master and slave recognize each other’s yester day’s status. To say a house that the slave built for the master and master lived collecting rents on it, is our common home that we built for each other will be naked foolery. It cannot be denied that the slave has put his blood and sweat into it. But blood and sweat is not paid for benefit of the slave but of the master. Today the master is in problem because the slave rebelled. As a result, he has started to say that they did both right and wrong together and have equal responsibility and accountability with intention of sabotaging the freedom the slave almost grasped. For that the master is trying to present as evidence the different wars the slave participated in and demonstrated gallantry. The slave participated in those wars not from love of a country but was driven to them by force. Let as see one of those wars:

Oromiyaa, Tuulama to Booranaa was occupied 1886-1896. The Battle of Adwa was in 1896. It is unlikely to say in ten years she was molded into Ethiopia and entered into battle travelling over thousand miles over whelmed with love of country. Wounds inflicted on the Oromo and others did not heal and people did not come out from trauma of war by that time. Whatever done was done by the slave drivers whip from behind. Oromo say, “Sirba Giddii kan mangistii” (Forced dance of the government) when forced to do what they are not willing to do. Minilik and Italians were then contemporary colonizers. They had different agreement between them. Abrogating treaties and clash between forces are not new for the world. What is new is the clash being between a black technologically backward country and technologically advanced white country. Both have recruited black fighters from countries they recently colonized. When on the Ethiopian side the colonizer and the colonized are both black notwithstanding color discrimination on Ethiopian slaves; on the Italian side the colonizer is white the colonized is black. The era was when blacks who were sold earlier and scattered all over the world were raising their heads and seeds of pan Africanism were being sawn; and Africa was being shared out among imperialists. To see defeat of the white was joy for all of them. It lifted the morale of those that fell under slavery. Mistaking the true nature of the conflict many took it as anti-colonial war against a colonizer.

The Battle of Adwa as being source of pride for black race it has also some covered up shameful deeds for the black. All captives of Minilik’s war with southern peoples like the Oromo were turned slaves and used as pack animals and domestic servants for Habashaa warriors. One can only imagine the abuse on those pretty little girls by them. White captives from the Battle of Adwa, were handled with care and respect, while a hand and a leg of each black captive were amputated and left in the field without any help. That they were crying for water until death put them to rest is documented in registry of history. That was not strange practice for rulers of Ethiopia. Teedros and Yohaannis had also done that on the Oromo. That was on text books of Ethiopian students, like “Ethiopian history” by Taklatsaadiq Mekuria. Minilik had cut breast and hand of Oromo he defeated on tree branches on road side. The Annolee and Asulee case can be cited among others. These days there are those that demand the destruction of memorial for victims of Harma Muraa Harka Muraa of Annolee. Why didn’t they destroy all these years the memorial erected in the center of Oromiyaa for the person who committed all the crimes. Are they not remembering him for achievement of that deed? How can such double standard be corrected?

How can a mentally sane person be proud of the likes of Minilik that committed genocide? Unless it was by force, how can one imagine the possibility of Oromo marching in the campaign that he was leading? That has now turned history. It does not change the life we are leading now and that of the future. We better try building trust. To lie to each other on identity of Oromo can be obstacle for that. There for if Ethiopians could keep their history to themselves, and stop irritating the others, they can negotiate on things that are useful for both sides. Otherwise, can’t it show that bringing their man-eater kings and praising on square common to all indicate that their offspring as well have similar cruelty characteristics? Oromo can have relations only with those that come for peace and reconciliation holding green grass.

After his defeat at the battle of Maycawu Haayila Sillaasee complained in his book that “Gallaas (Oromo) attacked us from the back”. Does that show love for Ethiopia? Modern Ethiopia is country of Amaaraa and Tigree yesterday and today as well. If one focus and listen when descendants of Nafxanyaa discuss about “being Ethiopian” at all times one could prove that. Their heroes are the likes of Minilik and Teedros persons that mowed down the Oromo and humiliated the survivors. Whenever they celebrate their anniversaries, it is a little short of tears as if these kings were dead only recently. With that we also get the opportunity to mourn our compatriots they mowed down. Their activists wrap themselves with the banner that the army of genocide was flying when it invaded Oromiyaa and expect the Oromo to march with them. We do not share, one country, one flag, common heroes, one common history to be proud of together and we do not have common feelings with which we could cherish the same past memories. Not only as class but also as nations, we lived as, enslaver and enslaved; ruler and ruled and oppressor and oppressed. However, we have lived together known each other’s ins and outs to some extent. We have lived together as individual friends and wife and husband; In general, even if you call us “Aramanee” (Heathen) many of us have the same religion with you. Could all those become bridges for future intercourse? Even if they could, they will not be reasons for continuing sucking our blood. For all purposes, let us put aside our vengeance and try as equal African peoples and form relations of which the black be proud of. Oromo do not discriminate human beings for skin color. But they say, “Hokkoon gara ofiitt haatii.” (The hoe throws towards herself).

Above it is tried to show our difference and our commonality. If we could stop trying inserting lies into our relations, there could be lots that enable us understand each other. For example, we are in the same geographical area with the same climate and weather. Those could sometimes get sever and unless tackled together it can be difficult to do it alone. We have rivers that flow to each other. It can be beneficial to use them with joint plan. We can pass through difficulties in our region if we recognize and respect each other’s rights and interests. When the Oromo say something why should Amaaric speaker jump to say “I know for you?” Unless one become them, can’t there be development? Can’t there be relations unless one is them? Can’t they exist unless they exploit Oromiyaa? If peace is wanted in the region they have to change old thinking. Oromo question is for regaining their stripped sovereignty and rights and live with abundance and happiness. Those could happen only if they could realize their right of nations to national self-determination up to and including independence without any obstacle put on their way. The questions what types of relations will they have with neighbors and with whom will they live forming union are questions that should come only after that? Let them be free first.

Some quarters have started to flatter the Oromo. They do not see Oromo actions as they are but interpret them to fit their interest. They push the Oromo to see the world not as it is but as they want it to be seen. For this reason, if Oromo raise questions outside criteria they put down for them they are given adjectives like narrow, tribalistic, secessionist or terrorist. From among them TPLF/EPRDF proclaimed OLF terrorist. Since then it is imprisoning, torturing, killing and abusing any Oromo that it hates as member of OLF. That is why the Tigree official stood witness of all prisons speaking afaan Oromo. Though what surprised him was the failure of the assimilation policy. The mark of all enemies of Oromo is condemning and demonizing OLF. That is why they attack it from all direction through inlets they get in order to keep it weak and divided. With stick and carrot, they have caused few dropouts from among malignant tumors of national struggle. There are still those who lament about the drama TPLF performed twenty-five years ago concerning massacres of Arbagugguu and Baddannoo despite individual Amaaraa that witnessed the act standing witness that OLF had no hand in them. This could also be TPLF tactic for diversion of the issue. Whatever they do, Oromo do something because they believe in it and will brag about it; hiding is safuu. The weaklings in OLF, unable to stand against enemy machinations with discipline are seen falling under them. OLF is an organization formed with the will of patriots and heroes and heroines. It should not be assessed by wavering, dishonorable cadres that have abandoned the Kaayyoo. There are those that intentionally or from ignorance want to divert the objectives of OLF taking these cadres as a reason. The true OLF is revolutionary. It will not turn back from advancing Oromo interest. Oromo independence, unity of Africa, and peace and calmness of the world are always its objectives. Long live Oromiyaa! Let Bilisummaa flourish!

Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty, equality and freedom for the living and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our forefathers!

Ibsaa Guutama
May 2018



 Related article:

THE OROMO NATIONAL MOVEMENT AND GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE AGE OF GLOBALIZATION

Article by Professor  Asafa Jalata  published in European Scientific Journal,  Vol 12, No 5 (2016) 
The Oromo National Movement And Gross Human Rights Violations in the Age of Globalization, click here to read in PDF.

Can Ethiopia’s first Oromo prime minister pull the nation back from the brink of civil war? – New Statesman March 30, 2018

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Abiy Ahmed in 2017

Can Ethiopia’s first Oromo prime minister pull the nation back from the brink of civil war?

by Martin Plaut*, New Statesman, 29 March 2018

Abiy Ahmed has come to power following a period of intense unrest and violence.

 

For months now, Ethiopia has been trembling on the brink of a civil war. Anti-government protests that began in 2015 over land rights broadened into mass protests over political and human rights. The government responded with waves of arrest, punctuated by hundreds of killings. Then, last month, the government announced a six-month state of emergency.

In the middle of February, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn finally threw in the towel and resigned. For weeks, the country has been without a leader. Now, finally, a brief announcement on state television has declared that Ethiopia’s ruling coalition has voted in Abiy Ahmed as new prime minister.

But Ahmed is something of an outsider; a member of the Oromo, who – despite being the country’s largest ethic group, at 34 per cent of the population – have never held power in Ethiopia’s modern history. Living in the centre and south of Ethiopia they were forcibly incorporated into the empire during the reign of Menelik II (1889-1913). Using imported firearms, Menelik embarked on a program of military conquest that more than doubled the size of his domain. Despite their numbers, the Oromo were routinely discriminated again: being referred to by the derogatory term of “galla” which suggested pagan, savage, or even slave.

The problems of ethnicity were supposedly eliminated in 1991 when rebels of the Tigray People’s Liberation Movement swept to power in Addis Ababa. Under the brilliant, but ruthless, Meles Zenawi a new system of “ethnic federalism” was introduced. Each ethnic group was encouraged to develop local self-government, while being guaranteed representation at the centre.

A system of ethnic parties was established and nurtured. These came together in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of four political movements.

But there was a strong belief that behind each party stood a representative of the Tigrayan minority, which controlled the coalition with a rod of iron.

Gradually, however, each of the four constituent parties has developed its own political culture. Abiy Ahmed emerged as a key player in what became known as “Team Lemma”, which has been steering change in recent months. The team resisted Tigrayan hegemony in order to transform EPRDF from within, while at the same time governing Oromia legitimately and serving local needs.

It would appear that this has now finally succeeded. Some cast doubt on Ahmed’s ability to lead this complex transformation, pointing out that he is well connected to the security services. Others suggest that his mixed religious background — he has a Christian mother and a Muslim father — his education, and his fluency in Amharic, Oromo, and Tigrinya as making him well qualified for the job.


*Martin Plaut is a fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. He is the author of Understanding Eritrea and, with Paul Holden, the author of Who Rules South Africa?

 

Related (Oromian Economist sources) :

Irrespective of whichever media outlet’s one may read, the following five key connections are either implied or purposely made about the connection between the election of Dr. Abiy and demands of the Oromo people. And they are all wrong.

Dr. Abiy Ahmed is an Oromo, But he is not Oromo Prime Minister!

I did not like how the election of Dr. Abiy Ahmed as the chairman of the EPRDF and as the Prime Minister designate of Ethiopia, pending approval by the Parliament, is being framed and set up by both local and international media and the implication of his election on the demands of the Oromo people in Ethiopia.

Irrespective of whichever media outlet’s one may read, the following five key connections are either implied or purposely made about the connection between the election of Dr. Abiy and demands of the Oromo people. And they are all wrong.

1. Dr. Abiy was not elected to represent the Oromo people. He is an Ethiopian Prime Minister representing the entirety of the Ethiopian people including the Oromo people. The Oromo people did not nominate or elect him to represent them in the Office of the Prime Minister. He is elected as an individual, possibly, representing the OPDO, the Oromo wing of the EPRDF. Therefore, it is wrong to assume that Dr. Abiy is becoming the chairman of the EPRDF and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia by representing the Oromo people.

2. Dr. Abiy was not elected to calm down and sooth the Oromo people and the Oromo protests. To begin with, the demands of the Oromo people was not to elect Dr. Abiy to the office of the prime minister. Second, it is wrong to assume that the Oromo people will be calmed down and being soothed by the election of an Oromo individual to the office of the Prime Minister unless the office Dr. Abiy represents, the Office of Ethiopian Prime Minister, responds to the demands of the Oromo people and all the demands of the #OromoProtests are addressed. In fact, the Oromo protests will continue their struggle until the political, economic and social exclusion and marginalization of the Oromo people in Ethiopia ends. The Oromo people knows he is an Oromo but he does not represent the interests of the Oromo people alone. As a Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy represents the interests of all Ethiopian people. The Oromo people will not expect either specific favor other than what he could do for all Ethiopia’s or being disappointed if he fails to deliver any of his promises. But, with Dr. Abiy in the office of the Prime Minister, the Oromo people will work with him to end those marginalization and exclusions. The same holds true about the demands of all other Ethiopian people. Simply put, the struggle will continue including by working with him to address the demands of our people for justice, equality and freedom.

3. Dr. Abiy’s success or failure as the Prime Minister is not Oromo people’s success or failure. Dr. Abiy’s success or failure as the Prime Minister is just that. It is his individual success or failure. The Oromo people will not be praised for his success nor condemned because of his failures. But, will I be, as an Oromo, happy at his success? Triple Yes! Yes! And Yes! In fact, I will do everything in my power for him to succeed to advance the causes of equality, justice and freedom in Ethiopia. I believe the Oromo people, the same as all other Ethiopians, will do the same and work hard for his success. Other than that, attributing his failure or success to the Oromo people will be totally wrong.

4. Dr. Abiy, as an individual, is not a superman to do miracle in solving Ethiopia’s multifaceted problems. Rather, his administration, the ministerial cabinet and other executive authorities he appoints, the support of progressive forces in the EPRDF, and the support his administration gets from the Ethiopian public including from those in the opposition will determine whether his administration succeeds or fails. Therefore, instead of focusing what Dr. Abiy could do or not do, let’s look into what we could do both as an individual and as group to help him and his administration bring the much needed transformative regime change in Ethiopia.

5. Dr. Abiy is not an Oromo Prime Minister. He is an Ethiopian Prime Minister. Designating him as an Oromo Prime Minister is a tacit attempt to imply that the Oromo people assumed political power in Ethiopia. That is simply wrong. The Oromo people, together with other Ethiopians, are struggling to establish the government of the people for the people by the people in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian people’s political power to elect and remove from office their representatives through democratic elections are not yet to be secured or even formally acknowledge by the current Ethiopian regime. Therefore, implying as if the election of Dr. Abiy signifies the transfer of the political power to the Oromo people is totally wrong.

I hope both the international and local media will not make these and similar mistakes as they continue to report on this issue.

 

ቄሮዎች ስለ ዶ/ር አብይ ምርጫ ምን ይላሉ?

ባለፉት ሁለት ዓመታት በኦሮሚያ በሚደረጉ ተቃውሞዎች እና አድማዎች ጉልህ ተሳትፎ የነበራቸው “ቄሮ” በሚል መጠሪያ የሚታወቁት በወጣት የዕድሜ ክልል ያሉ የክልሉ ነዋሪዎች ናቸው፡፡ ከጥያቄዎቻቸው መካከል የኦሮሞ ብሔር በፌደራል ስርዓቱ ውስጥ ተገቢውን ቦታ ማግኘት አለበት የሚለው አንዱ ነው፡፡ የዶ/ር አብይ አህመድ ምርጫ ጥያቄያቸውን የመለሰ ይሆን?

ODF Statement on the election of Dr. Abiy Ahmed as Chairman of Ethiopia’s ruling party

 

 

 

 

Ethiopia: New State of Emergency Risks Renewed Abuses Overbroad, Vague Provisions Undercut Rights says Human Rights Watch #OromoProtests February 24, 2018

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Odaa OromoooromianeconomistHRW

Ethiopia: New State of Emergency Risks Renewed Abuses

Overbroad, Vague Provisions Undercut Rights

Human Rights Watch, 23 February 2018

Don’t underestimate Ethiopia’s crisis, Mail & Guardian February 23, 2018

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Oppressed: Oromo mourn the hundreds of people killed by Ethiopia’s security forces in the 2016 Irreecha massacre (Tiksa Negeri, Reuters)
Oppressed: Oromo mourn the hundreds of people killed by Ethiopia’s security forces in the 2016 Irreecha massacre (Tiksa Negeri, Reuters)

For the past four years, ever since the first serious rumblings of discontent began, it has been difficult to appreciate the scale of the political crisis in Ethiopia.

Africa’s second-most populous country maintains an extraordinarily tight grip on information. Local journalists are routinely harassed, intimidated and censored, and foreign journalists are closely watched and prevented from going anywhere too sensitive. Local nongovernmental organisations and opposition parties operate under similar restrictions: under draconian laws, NGOs must tow the government line or risk losing their operating licences; opposition sympathisers are locked up in their thousands.

The international NGOs and think-tanks that operate in Ethiopia are complicit in maintaining the veil of silence. Many agree to refrain from any criticism of the Ethiopian regime in exchange for unfettered access to the African Union, which is based in Addis Ababa. Others turn a blind eye to the government’s routine human rights abuses because of its relatively good record on delivering socioeconomic development — although that record has been called into question by the sheer volume of protest action over the past few years.

In this climate, building an accurate picture of the unrest — and getting any of the usual suspects in the international community to raise the alarm — becomes nearly impossible.

There were plenty of clues, however, that not all was right. The odd massacre made international headlines — such as the dozens, perhaps hundreds, mowed down by security forces at an Oromo religious festival in October 2016. Reports of co-ordinated protests across the restive Oromia and Amhara regions suggested that resistance to the regime ran far deeper and was much better co-ordinated than the government was willing to admit.

Now, the political crisis has exploded into the open, with the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn — always little more than temporary successor to Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012 — and the imposition of Ethiopia’s second state of emergency in under two years.

This new state of emergency, valid for six months pending parliamentary approval, will give sweeping powers of search and arrest to the security forces and restrict freedom of movement, protest and association. It gives licence for another crackdown on all forms of political opposition.

In this context, it is clear that recent political reform, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners, was not a symptom of more progressive policies but the desperate act of a government increasingly fearful for its very survival.

But the rapturous reception received by the freed opposition leaders, especially the Oromo Federalist Congress’s Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba, seems to have convinced the hardliners in the country’s ruling coalition to remove the velvet glove and revert to the iron fist, which has served the regime so well for so long.

Now the country waits to see who will replace Desalegn. In another bid to placate protesters, it is almost certain to be someone from the Oromo region, either Lemma Megersa or Abiy Ahmed — both senior officials in the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organisation, one of the four ethnically based parties that make up the ruling coalition. The Oromos are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group but have been long marginalised both economically and politically.

Somehow, the new prime minister will have to find a way to balance the demands of the protesters, who will expect immediate, demonstrable change, with the needs of the powerful securocrats in the ruling coalition who are manoeuvring for their own political futures, especially senior figures in the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, who have long monopolised power and are not anxious to share.

“Whoever ascends to the top post will have much to prove but they should begin by following the advice of the United States embassy in Addis Ababa, which warned recently that the answer to growing unrest is ‘greater freedom, not less’,” wrote Mohammed Ademo, founder and editor of OPride.com, for African Arguments. “Indeed, Ethiopia sorely needs national reconciliation and an all-inclusive dialogue, and the next leader must act swiftly to make good on pledges of widening the democratic space.”

The alternative is too frightening to contemplate.

“[The ruling coalition] is at a historic crossroads and the options are clear. It can choose to genuinely reform or it can implode under the weight of a bitter power struggle and popular discontent,” said Ademo.

Meles ZenawiHailemariam DesalegnEthiopiaAfrican UnionOromo Liberation Front


Related (Oromian Economist findings):

Ethiopia: New State of Emergency Risks Renewed Abuses

Overbroad, Vague Provisions Undercut Rights,  HRW

Does Ethiopia’s New State of Emergency Dash Hopes for Reform?, Human Rights Watch

‘Game Over,’ U.S. Congressman jabs Ethiopia’s TPLF, Africa News

U.S. condemns crackdown in Ethiopia as political crisis deepens

Ethiopia: Mass protests ‘rooted in country’s history’, Al Jazeera

OMN Insight: Conversation with Jawar Mohammed on Ethiopian Political Crisis (Feb 21, 2018)

የኢትዮጲያ ሕዝብ በህወሓት/ኢህአዴግ ላይ የአስቸኳይ ግዜ አዋጅ ማወጅ አለበት! 

Global community responds to Ethiopia’s political uncertainties

 Ethiopia: Final days of the TPLF regime

Where is Ethiopia heading after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s surprise resignation?

Ethiopia’s Great Rift

OPINION: CAN ETHIOPIA OVERCOME ITS CRISIS AND BE A NORMAL COUNTRY?

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ETHIOPIA? STATE OF EMERGENCY, PROTESTS AND POLITICAL CRISIS EXPLAINED

Ethiopia crisis needs reforms not emergency rule – E.U. warns govt

Ethiopia’s next Prime Minister

With nobody in charge, Ethiopia declares a state of emergency, The Economist

የኢትዮጲያ ሕዝብ በህወሓት/ኢህአዴግ ላይ የአስቸኳይ ግዜ አዋጅ ማወጅ አለበት! 

First a concession, then a crackdown. The ruling party’s divisions over how to respond to growing revolt are on show

«የአስቸኳይ ጊዜ አዋጁ የሰብዓዊ መብቶችን ይገድባል»ጀርመን 

የጀርመን ውጭ ጉዳይ ሚኒስቴር ሰላማዊ ለውጥ እና አስፈላጊ ማሻሻያ የሚያመጣው ከሚመለከታቸው የፖለቲካ አካላት ጋር አካታች እና ሰፊ ውይይት ብቻ እንደሆነ እናምናለን ብሏል። መሥሪያ ቤቱ እንዳለው እንዲሕ አይነቱ ውይይት ለኢትዮጵያ ዘላቂ ውስጣዊ ሰላም እና መረጋጋት መንገድ ይጠርጋል።

Statement of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union on the situation in Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s reinstatement of state of emergency worries Sweden

Governments Call for Ethiopia to Revoke its State of Emergency

198 Ways to Fight the T-TPLF’s State of Emergency in Ethiopia and Win, Al Mariam’s Commentaries February 19, 2018

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Odaa OromoooromianeconomistNo To Fascist TPLF Ethiopia's genocidal militarism and mass killings in Oromia, Ethiopia

198 Ways to Fight the T-TPLF’s State of Emergency in Ethiopia and Win


One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The T-TPLF state of emergency declaration is an unjust law!

The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress… If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” — Frederick Douglass, anti-slavery statesman.

The endurance of the Ethiopian people suffering under T-TPLF ethnic apartheid rule has completely vanished. Today, they are on the move agitating and mobilizing for peaceful nonviolent change.

Author’s Note:

Make no mistake about it!

The peaceful struggle for political change in Ethiopia is now in its final and terminal phase.

On February 16, 2018, the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean Peoples’ Liberation Front (T-TPLF) declared a war of the people of Ethiopia for the third time since October 2016 by declaring a state of emergency. That is the T-TPLF’s response to the Ethiopian people’s peaceful demands for change.

That declaration of a state of emergency is the T-TPLF’s last hurrah, their curtain call.

But the whole emergency declaration is a crock of horse manure. This is the third emergency declaration since October 2016. The people’s demand did not stop. What is so different now?

The T-TPLF state of emergency declaration should be called by its proper name: License to kill. License to jail. License to torture.

But the T-TPLF has had that license for 27 years. It is nothing new. It changes nothing.

When they T-TPLF massacred thousands of people in October 2016 at the Irrecha Festival, they did not have a declaration of emergency. For 27 years, the T-TPLF has massacred, jailed and tortured hundreds of thousands of innocent Ethiopians without a declaration of emergency.

Do the T-TPLF bosses now believe the people will kneel down to them, kiss their shoes and become their slaves in their ethnic apartheid empire simply because they scribbled a piece of paper with the words, “state of emergency”? That declaration is not worth the paper it is written on.

The fact of the matter is that the T-TPLF bosses today are desperadoes, criminals with no place to run or hide. They are at the end of their ropes, on their last legs. They do not know what to do to continue to cling to power and maintain the ethnic apartheid system they have enjoyed over the past 27 years.

So they try to prove they still have power and they are still the masters of Ethiopia’s 100 million people.

But make no mistake.

The state of emergency declaration is about sending a message to the people of Ethiopia and to the world. It is a message that announces the T-TPLF is making its final stand to cling to power come hell or high water:

The T- TPLF will never, never give up power peacefully and allow a democratic transition in Ethiopia.

The T- TPLF will kill, massacre, jail and torture to crush the people’s demand for peaceful change and cling to power.

The T-TPLF would rather see a civil war than give up power peacefully.

The T-TPLF would rather go down blazing than find peaceful ways of addressing the people’s demands.

The T-TPLF will have it ONLY its way: All for itself and nothing for anyone else. It will be the T-TPLF way of the highway.

The T-TPLF in its emergency declaration is offering the Ethiopian people a stark  choice: Bow your heads, drop down on your knees and live like slaves, or die trying to be free with your nonviolent civil disobedience boots on.

So, the dreaded day has come for the T-TPLF. Ethiopia is at the crossroads and the crosshairs.

The T-TPLF wants an Armageddon.

The people of Ethiopia want peace, truth and reconciliation.

The people have resolved to free themselves of ethnic apartheid rule.

The T-TPLF is determined to keep them under ethnic apartheid rule.

The T-TPLF bosses know the end is near; and they are facing the final curtain.

How so?

The people have met their most formidable enemy. That enemy was hiding within them.

For decades, that enemy dwelled in their hearts, minds and every cell in their bodies.

That enemy goes by the name FEAR.

But the people have conquered FEAR and in so doing conquered the T-TPLF.

Robert Holmes (“The Ethics of Nonviolence”, 2013 at p. 226”), explained it best:

For power dissolves when people lose their fear. You can still kill people who no longer fear you, but you cannot control them. You cannot control dead people. Walk through a cemetery with a bullhorn, if you like. Command people to rise up, clean the streets, pay taxes, report for military duty, and they will ignore you. Political power requires obedience, which is fueled by the fear of pain to be inflicted if you refuse to comply with the will of those who control the instruments of violence. That power evaporates when the people lose their fear…

Simply stated, nonviolent social change by civil disobedience and mass resistance simply means the people have lost their fear of their oppressors.

What is to be done by people who have lost their fear of their oppressors?

What is to be done in the face of T-TPLF’s declaration of state of emergency and beyond?

In 1901, V.I. Lenin wrote a pamphlet entitled, “What Is to Be Done?” (p. 47). He argued the working class will not be politically mobilized into action simply by fighting economic battles over workers’ wages, working conditions and other economic rights. To transform the working class into a potent Marxist political force, Lenin said it would be necessary to form a “vanguard” of dedicated revolutionaries to spread Marxist political ideas among the workers.  He prescribed, “To bring political knowledge to the workers the Social Democrats must go among all classes of the population; they must dispatch units of their army in all directions.”

I say what is good sauce for the goose is good for the gander. The principles that apply to a violent revolution apply equally to a peaceful nonviolent revolution.

The peaceful nonviolent movement led by the “youth vanguard” cannot win the struggle without educating and empowering all segments of Ethiopian society.

The youth vanguard must educate, inform, empower and mobilize all segments of the  population, all members of ethnic groups in their own languages and traditions, all age and faith groups, all members of the professions and trades in the techniques of nonviolent struggle in the fight for democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

The time is NOW for the youth vanguards of the Ethiopian peaceful nonviolent revolution to penetrate every nook and cranny of Ethiopian society.

The youth vanguard, above all, must teach and preach ETHIOPIAWINET which is simply defined as LOVE.

The ultimate aim of the Ethiopian struggle must be the victory of ETHIOPIAWINET over ethnic hate and ethnic apartheid system.

Teaching and preaching peaceful change must be made synonymous and go hand in hand with teaching and preaching of  ETHIOPIAWINET way of life.

The youth vanguard must teach and preach the philosophy and practice of nonviolent peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET in the schools, colleges and universities.

They must teach and preach peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET in the churches and mosques.

The must teach and preach peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET in the civil service and bureaucracy.

They must teach and preach peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET in the armed forces, the police and security forces.

They must teach and preach peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET among women and girls.

They must teach and preach peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET to the urban and rural youth.

They must teach and preach peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET in the tea rooms, restaurants and bars.

They must teach and preach peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET in the shops and market places.

They must teach and preach peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET in the stadiums and sports fields.

They must teach and preach peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET among the elites, the wealthy and privileged.

They must teach and preach peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET among the poor, the powerless and defenseless.

They must teach-in and teach-out peaceful change and ETHIOPIAWINET.

They must preach on and on!

They must be the change they want to see. They must live a life of ETHIOPIAWINET.

I have been teaching and preaching nonviolent social change and promoting truth and reconciliation for over 12 years.

I got involved in the Ethiopian human rights struggle because I was outraged by the Meles Massacres of 2005.

The Meles Massacres stirred deep emotions in me. For the first time in decades, I realized that though I had left Ethiopia, Ethiopia had not left me. The Meles Massacres made me realize that even though I had moved away from Ethiopia permanently, Ethiopia had not moved out of me permanently. It is a feeling that is hard to explain even today. I can only say that the massacre of those unarmed citizens (and the shocking photographs) triggered in me an emotion of volcanic outrage (that some say still flows unabated; I will not argue with them). I was not merely shocked and appalled; I was shaken to the core.

It has been said that in desperate times, we either define the moment or the moment defines us. It was at this time that I resolved to define my moment by using my pen (keyboard) as a weapon of nonviolent resistance against the tyranny of Meles Zenawi and his gang of criminals in designer suits.

I believe it is my moral obligation (and all human beings) to speak up against human rights crimes and agitate for peaceful nonviolent resistance. In my efforts, I have tried to make a small contribution by providing civic education in nonviolent resistance.

Indeed, before Official Day 1 of my involvement in the Ethiopian human rights struggle on July 3, 2006, I wrote a three-part commentary on civil disobedience and nonviolence and its relevance in the struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia.  I undertook that effort after the Tegbar League Addis Ababa Leadership Committee issued a statement in March 2006 indicating that it

will organize nonviolent actions such as blocking major roads, work slowdowns, boycott of schools, and boycott of products that are produced or sold by EPRDF-affiliated companies. These nonviolent actions are intended to systematically make the country ungovernable and paralyze the Meles regime. There will be no public demonstration and direct confrontation with the blood thirsty Federal Police and Meles Zenawi’s death squad.

To provide intellectual support to Tegbar and spread knowledge about the philosophy and practice of nonviolence and civil disobedience, beginning in April 2006, I issued my series.

In Part I “Of Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence” (April 23, 2006), I examined the ideas of Henry David Thoreau, who inspired Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King in leading an independence and civil rights movement.

In Part II “Of Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence” (May 10, 2006), I examined Gandhi’s use of  “Satyagraha,” which he defined as “truth-force,” “love-force” or “soul-force.” In fighting for human dignity of Indians in South Africa and later independence of India. Gandhi’s message to the colonial oppressors of India was simple. “My ambition is no less than to convert the British people through nonviolence, and thus make them see the wrong they have done to India. I do not seek to harm your people.”

In Part III “Of Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence” (May 18, 2006), I examined MLK’s efforts to bring peace, harmony and interracial unity between black and white people in America”.

Over the past decade, I have written dozens of commentaries promoting nonviolent change, truth reconciliation, direct action and have tried to mobilize Ethiopian intellectuals to join me in the effort.

In October 2008, I wrote a commentary entitled, “The political economy of remittances in Ethiopia”. That commentary was in fact an analysis of the billions of dollars Diaspora Ethiopians send back to Ethiopia. I raised a number of questions which focused on the role of remittances in providing economic buoyancy to help keep afloat, support, prolong and entrench the one-party, one-man dictatorship of the T-TPLF in Ethiopia.

I am gratified to learn of recent efforts by an “international task force calling for remittance boycott against regime in Ethiopia.”

In my September 2013, commentary, “The Diplomacy of Nonviolent Change in Ethiopia”, I wrote abut how people lose their fears of oppressive government and muster courage to fight back with civil disobedience. The “diplomacy” of nonviolent change involves the use of  dialogue, negotiations, compromise, bargaining, concessions, accommodations, cooperation and ultimately peace-making and reconciliation.

In my September 2013 commentary , “Interpreting and Living MLK’s Dream”, I discussed Dr. King’s message of hope and redemption for our time and his unlimited imagination and hope in the infinite capacity of humanity to be humane while acutely aware of  “man’s inhumanity to man”.

In 2014, I joined the boycott of Coca Cola Company for its disrespectful and humiliating treatment of the great Ethiopian patriot Teddy Afro. In my June 2014 commentary“Why I am boycotting Ȼoca Ȼola”, I called on my readers to boycott Coca Cola products. I promised then never to touch a Coca Cola product, a promise I have kept to this day.

In my January 2017 New Year message, “Dare to Dream With Me About the New Ethiopia in 2017”, I shared my dreams of the Beloved Ethiopian Community to peacefully emerge from the nightmare of T-TPLF ethnic apartheid rule. Here are a few of those dreams of: ONE Ethiopia at Peace with itself. Ethiopians finding their unity in their humanity instead of their ethnicity. Ethiopians regardless of ethnicity, religion and region subscribing to the creed, “I am my brother’s, my sister’s keeper.” The day when Truth shall rise from the ashes of lies and lead all Ethiopians on the path of reconciliation in Ethiopia. Human rights extinguishing  government wrongs in Ethiopia. True multiparty democracy with iron clad protections for human rights. Learned men and women using their intellectual powers to teach, preach and touch the people. The release all political prisoners.

Above all, I have a dream of the day when Ethiopia’s young people will put their shoulders to the wheel and take full charge of their country’s destiny, leaving behind the politics of hate and ethnicity; turning  their backs on those wallowing in moral bankruptcy and corruption and creating a new politics for a New Ethiopia based on dialogue, negotiation and compromise.

Simply stated, I dream of the New Ethiopia, rising over the horizon in a peaceful revolution, as a shining “city high on top of the African hill”.

In my December 2013 commentary, “Mandela’s Message to Ethiopia’s Youth: Never give up…!” Never give up and keep on trying to build your Beloved Ethiopian Community! Dare to be great. Change yourselves first before you change society. Keep on trying. Come together. Be virtuous. Be patriotic. Be courageous. Dream big. Lead from behind. Be optimistic and determined.  Learn and educate the people.

In my January 2018 commentary, “Unarmed Truth and Unconditional Love (Reconciliation): Dr. Martin Luther King’s Message to Ethiopians Today”, I examined Dr. King’s lifelong message of nonviolence, peace, reconciliation in the context of Ethiopia’s dire crises today and building of a new Beloved Ethiopian Community.

All Ethiopians have a moral and ethical obligation to engage in peaceful, nonviolent change in their motherland

The time has come for all freedom-loving Ethiopians to stand up and be counted. It is time for truth or consequences. We all have a choice to make: Stand with the people of Ethiopia, or by not doing so stand with their oppressors.  It is a choice without moral relativism or ambiguity. One can choose to be part of a 27 year-old problem or part of the solution to usher in the New Ethiopia.

Dr. King said, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” He explained, “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

The T-TPLF’s state of emergency declaration is an unjust law. It is a law that contravenes God’s law. It violates natural law. It is a government wrong against God-given human rights.

The peaceful, nonviolent struggle in Ethiopia must go on.

We must have Churchillian resolve in our peaceful nonviolent struggle.

Facing an imminent invasion of Britain by the Nazis, Winston Churchill was ready to fight and threw down the gauntlet. “We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, and in the air, on the beaches, the landing grounds, in the streets, in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Ethiopians in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora must go on to the end. We must fight the T-TPLF using every weapon of peaceful nonviolent struggle.

We must fight them with civil disobedience and mass resistance in the schools, in the colleges and universities, in the streets, in the urban and rural areas, in places of worship and public gatherings, in every hamlet, village, town and city.

We must fight the T-TPLF in every open and closed political space, in the workspace and even in the prison space. We must fight them in the monkey courts and in the kangaroo parliaments. We must fight them during the day and in the night. We must fight them in the sunshine and in the rain.

Diaspora Ethiopians in the West must do their fair share. We must fight their lobbyist in the halls of Congress and in the White House. We must fight them in the newspapers, on television and radio. We must fight their trolls in cyberspace and social media.

We must fight them, to paraphrase what Churchill said of the Nazis, and carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New Ethiopia, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of all Ethiopian people from the yoke of T-TPLF ethnic apartheid system.

A very special request, my humble plea to all who are engaged in the peaceful struggle – Please no violence

We must not bring ourselves to the level of the T-TPLF.

That is because we have the most powerful weapon in our hand, hearts and minds.

That weapon is nonviolence.

We must not resort to violence against our brothers and sisters, neighbors and compatriots.  Gandhi said, “the strong are never vindictive” and have no need for violence.

We who advocate nonviolent change are strong! In body, spirit and soul.

Let us heed Dr. Martin Luther King’s words:

Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness… The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate…. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

For 12 years, I have toiled day and night, night and day, to see the daylight, the sunlight of freedom and equal opportunity shine on Ethiopia.

I do not ever want to see Ethiopia full of blind people, blinded by hate and revenge.

My dream is to see Ethiopia blinded by the light of love and of truth.

I have stood with Ethiopia’s young people through thin and thick for a long time

Now I ask them to stand with me in actively practicing NO VIOLENCE. NO DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY. NO REVENGE.

Hate and violence cannot drive out hate and violence out of Ethiopia. Only love, understanding and tolerance can do that.

We are better than the hate mongers, those who use violence to suppress human rights.

Let us become the change we want to see!

============================================================

How can every Ethiopian man, woman and child live up to their moral and ethical obligation to resist T-TPLF tyranny and work for peaceful nonviolent social and political change.

Let me count the ways!

The following document is authored by Prof. Gene Sharp, the “intellectual father of peaceful resistance” and founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the study of nonviolent action. Prof. Sharp passed away on January 28, 2018. He has influenced numerous anti-government resistance movements around the world.

PDF copy of the document is also available.

Prof. Sharp prepared the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action to demonstrate that “practitioners of nonviolent struggle have an entire arsenal of ‘nonviolent weapons’ at their disposal.” He classified those “weapons” into three broad categories: nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation (social, economic, and political), and nonviolent intervention.   

=============  ==============  =================  =============

                                  198 METHODS OF NONVIOLENT ACTION

THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT PROTEST AND PERSUASION

Formal Statements

  1.                    Public Speeches
                      2. Letters of opposition or support
                        3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
                        4. Signed public statements
                        5. Declarations of indictment and intention
                        6. Group or mass petitions

Communications with a Wider Audience

  1.                    Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
                      8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications
                        9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
                        10. Newspapers and journals
                        11. Records, radio, and television
                        12. Skywriting and earthwriting

Group Representations

  1.                    Deputations
                      14. Mock awards
                        15. Group lobbying
                        16. Picketing
                        17. Mock elections

Symbolic Public Acts

  1.                    Displays of flags and symbolic colors
                      19. Wearing of symbols
                        20. Prayer and worship
                        21. Delivering symbolic objects
                        22. Protest disrobings
                        23. Destruction of own property
                        24. Symbolic lights
                        25. Displays of portraits
                        26. Paint as protest
                        27. New signs and names
                        28. Symbolic sounds
                        29. Symbolic reclamations
                        30. Rude gestures

Pressures on Individuals

  1.                    “Haunting” officials
                      32. Taunting officials
                        33. Fraternization
                        34. Vigils

Drama and Music

  1.                    Humorous skits and pranks
                      36. Performances of plays and music
                        37. Singing

Processions

  1.                    Marches
                      39. Parades
                        40. Religious processions
                        41. Pilgrimages
                        42. Motorcades

Honoring the Dead

  1.                    Political mourning
                      44. Mock funerals
                        45. Demonstrative funerals
                        46. Homage at burial places

Public Assemblies

  1.                    Assemblies of protest or support
                      48. Protest meetings
                        49. Camouflaged meetings of protest
                        50. Teach-ins

Withdrawal and Renunciation

  1.                    Walk-outs
                      52. Silence
                        53. Renouncing honors
                        54. Turning one’s back

THE METHODS OF SOCIAL NONCOOPERATION

Ostracism of Persons

  1.                    Social boycott
                      56. Selective social boycott
                        57. Lysistratic nonaction
                        58. Excommunication
                        59. Interdict

Noncooperation with Social Events, Customs, and Institutions

  1.                    Suspension of social and sports activities
                      61. Boycott of social affairs
                        62. Student strike
                        63. Social disobedience
                        64. Withdrawal from social institutions

Withdrawal from the Social System

  1.                    Stay-at-home
                      66. Total personal noncooperation
                        67. “Flight” of workers
                        68. Sanctuary
                        69. Collective disappearance
                        70. Protest emigration (hijrat)

THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION: ECONOMIC BOYCOTTS 
Actions by Consumers

  1.                    Consumers’ boycott
                      72. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods
                        73. Policy of austerity
                        74. Rent withholding
                        75. Refusal to rent
                        76. National consumers’ boycott
                        77. International consumers’ boycott

Action by Workers and Producers

  1.                    Workmen’s boycott
                      79. Producers’ boycott

Action by Middlemen

  1.                    Suppliers’ and handlers’ boycott

Action by Owners and Management

  1.                    Traders’ boycott
                      82. Refusal to let or sell property
                        83. Lockout
                        84. Refusal of industrial assistance
                        85. Merchants’ “general strike”

Action by Holders of Financial Resources

  1.                    Withdrawal of bank deposits
                      87. Refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments
                        88. Refusal to pay debts or interest
                        89. Severance of funds and credit
                        90. Revenue refusal
                        91. Refusal of a government’s money

Action by Governments

  1.                    Domestic embargo
                      93. Blacklisting of traders
                        94. International sellers’ embargo
                        95. International buyers’ embargo
                        96. International trade embargo

THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION: THE STRIKE 
Symbolic Strikes

  1.                    Protest strike
                      98. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)

Agricultural Strikes

  1.                    Peasant strike
                      100. Farm workers’ strike

Strikes by Special Groups

  1.                    Refusal of impressed labor
                      102. Prisoners’ strike
                        103. Craft strike
                        104. Professional strike

Ordinary Industrial Strikes

  1.                    Establishment strike
                      106. Industry strike
                        107. Sympathetic strike

Restricted Strikes

  1.                    Detailed strike
                      109. Bumper strike
                        110. Slowdown strike
                        111. Working-to-rule strike
                        112. Reporting “sick” (sick-in)
                        113. Strike by resignation
                        114. Limited strike
                        115. Selective strike

Multi-Industry Strikes

  1.                    Generalized strike
  2.                    General strike

Combination of Strikes and Economic Closures 

  1.                    Hartal
  2.                    Economic shutdown 

THE METHODS OF POLITICAL NONCOOPERATION 
Rejection of Authority

  1.                    Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
                      121. Refusal of public support
                        122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance

Citizens’ Noncooperation with Government

  1.                    Boycott of legislative bodies
                      124. Boycott of elections
                        125. Boycott of government employment and positions
                        126. Boycott of government depts., agencies, and other bodies
                        127. Withdrawal from government educational institutions
                        128. Boycott of government-supported organizations
                        129. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents
                        130. Removal of own signs and placemarks
                        131. Refusal to accept appointed officials
                        132. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions

Citizens’ Alternatives to Obedience

  1.                    Reluctant and slow compliance
                      134. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision
                        135. Popular nonobedience
                        136. Disguised disobedience
                        137. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse
                        138. Sitdown
                        139. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation
                        140. Hiding, escape, and false identities
                        141. Civil disobedience of “illegitimate” laws

Action by Government Personnel

  1.                    Selective refusal of assistance by government aides
                      143. Blocking of lines of command and information
                        144. Stalling and obstruction
                        145. General administrative noncooperation
  2.                    Judicial noncooperation
                      147. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents
                        148. Mutiny

Domestic Governmental Action

  1.                    Quasi-legal evasions and delays
                      150. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units

International Governmental Action

  1.                    Changes in diplomatic and other representations
                      152. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
                        153. Withholding of diplomatic recognition
                        154. Severance of diplomatic relations
                        155. Withdrawal from international organizations
                        156. Refusal of membership in international bodies
                        157. Expulsion from international organizations 

THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT INTERVENTION 
Psychological Intervention

  1.                    Self-exposure to the elements
                      159. The fast
                                            a) Fast of moral pressure
                                            b) Hunger strike
                                            c) Satyagrahic fast
                        160. Reverse trial
                        161. Nonviolent harassment

Physical Intervention

  1.                    Sit-in
                      163. Stand-in
                        164. Ride-in
                        165. Wade-in
                        166. Mill-in
                        167. Pray-in
                        168. Nonviolent raids
                        169. Nonviolent air raids
                        170. Nonviolent invasion
                        171. Nonviolent interjection
                        172. Nonviolent obstruction
                        173. Nonviolent occupation

Social Intervention

  1.                    Establishing new social patterns
                      175. Overloading of facilities
                        176. Stall-in
                        177. Speak-in
                        178. Guerrilla theater
                        179. Alternative social institutions
                        180. Alternative communication system

Economic Intervention

  1.                    Reverse strike
                      182. Stay-in strike
                        183. Nonviolent land seizure
                        184. Defiance of blockades
                        185. Politically motivated counterfeiting
                        186. Preclusive purchasing
                        187. Seizure of assets
                        188. Dumping
                        189. Selective patronage
                        190. Alternative markets
                        191. Alternative transportation systems
                        192. Alternative economic institutions

Political Intervention

  1.                    Overloading of administrative systems
                      194. Disclosing identities of secret agents
                        195. Seeking imprisonment
                        196. Civil disobedience of “neutral” laws
                        197. Work-on without collaboration
                        198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government

Without doubt, a large number of additional methods have already been used but have not been classified, and a multitude of additional methods will be invented in the future that have the characteristics of the three classes of methods: nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation and nonviolent intervention.

It must be clearly understood that the greatest effectiveness is possible when individual methods to be used are selected to implement the previously adopted strategy. It is necessary to know what kind of pressures are to be used before one chooses the precise forms of action that will best apply those pressures.

[1] Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973 and later editions.

====================

Additional resources on the application, techniques and experiences of nonviolent resistance in different countries:

https://www.aeinstein.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/198-Methods.pdf

http://canvasopedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Handbook-for-Working-With-Activists.compressed.pdf

http://canvasopedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/50-Crucial-Points-web.pdf

http://canvasopedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/CANVAS-Core-Curriculum_EN.pdf

http://canvasopedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/MOB_English_May2014.pdf

Ethiopia: #OromoProtests: Oromia state rocked by protests. Oromo leader and prisoner of conscience Bekele Gerba freed. February 13, 2018

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Mass protests force Ethiopia to free opposition leader.- The Guardian.

OromiaStrikes

Oromia state rocked by protests and killings amid a 3-day market boycott, OP News


Ethiopia’s Oromia region at standstill as 3-day social shutdown kicks off, Africa News

OMN: Lagannaa Gabaa guyyaa 1ffaa (Gur 12, 2017)

 

Wantii Hundumtuu Uummata Keenyaan Ta’e, Guddaa Galatomaa. Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa


Oromo leader and prisoner of conscience Bekele Gerba freed.

 

 

 


Ethiopia frees Oromo leader and prisoner of conscience Bekele Gerba

(OPride) — Ethiopia on Tuesday released prominent Oromo opposition leader Bekele Gerba and six of his Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) colleagues from prison.

Authorities dropped all charges against the freed leaders, a day after a #OromiaStrikes blocked roads and staged rallies bringing the restive Oromia state to a standstill. The news of Bekele’s release was welcomed with warm and spontaneous celebrations across the country.

Bekele, secretary-general of OFC, was arrested in December 2015 at the height of the three-year long Oromo protests. He was initially charged terrorism but his charges were later reduced to criminal offenses for allegedly inciting violence.

“He just walked out of prison. We have confirmed that all charges against him have been dropped,” Mulatu Gemechu, a member of the OFC’s leadership told Reuters.

The other six OFC leaders released today are Gurmessa Ayano, Addisu Bulala, Dajane Xafa, Getu Garuma, Tesfaye Liban and Beyene Ruda.

The move is a response to deepening protests demanding Bekele’s release and part of a promise Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn made last month to build national consensus and widen the democratic space.

 

Ethiopia frees Oromo leader and prisoner of conscience Bekele Gerba

Mohammed Ademo

 @OPride

Ethiopia on Tuesday released prominent Oromo leader Bekele Gerba and six of his Oromo Federalist Congress colleagues from prison and dropped all charges against them, a day after #OromiaStrikes blocked roads and staged rallies across the state.

  1. Bekele Gerba and his colleagues pose for photo shortly after their release from prison earlier today. They’ve been in jail since December 2015. Text on their shirts reads: “Our land is our bone. We won’t be displaced.” A slogan that has been the battle cry of the .

    View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
  2. Breaking: Prominent Oromo opposition leader @BekeleGerba and 6 of his comrades released from prison this morning. They should not have been in jail in the first place but relieved that Bekele can now access critical medical care. Their freedom is welcome. Critical reforms needed.

  3. Fantastic news to hear reports that Bekele Gerba and his colleagues were released today! Their detention encapsulated the many things that are wrong with ’s judiciary. Hoping Bekele can continue his work with OFC without further arrest or threats/harassment from the govt

  4. Bekele Gerba et al’s release is a victory for and the Oromo people as a whole. His release came on the second day of a statewide in the form of market boycott, which has brought the restive Oromia state to a standstill. https://www.opride.com/2018/02/13/ethiopia-oromia-state-rocked-protests-killings-amid-3-day-market-boycott/ 

  5. To afford Bekele and his colleagues a heroic welcome and in recognition of today’s victory, Oromo activists are expected to call for the suspension of on its 3rd and final day tomorrow. A huge devt. as credible sources warn of plans for re-imposition of martial law.

  6. The third day has been suspended in reaction to release of Bekele Gerba and his comrades. The third day will be dedicated to welcoming heroes and cleaning street.

  7. Here are the heroes! Lafti keenya lafee keenya, hin buqqaanu!!

    View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
  8. Shashemene erupts upon hearing release of Bekele Gerba and comrades

    View image on Twitter
  9. Ambo erupts in celebration of victory

    View image on Twitter
  10. What a victory for those youth who relentlessly pursued justice against incredible odds!

    Whats more inspiring than this?

  11. Bekele Gerba, Gurmessa Ayano, Addisu Bulala, Dajane Xafa, Getu Garuma, Tesfaye Liban & Beyene Ruda

  12. This generation of enlightened Oromo youth/Qeerroo are game changers; change makers. free from prison, among others. Freedom is on the horizon 2018.

    View image on Twitter
  13. The protesters that I saw with my own eyes weren’t violent in any way.

    They had clear demands.

    -The end of dictatorship.
    -The immediate release of political prisoners.
    -The cry to end poverty and systemic economic disfranchisement.

  14. Bekele Gerba released from prison amid protests. Hopeful releases will mark a new chapter in Ethiopian politics https://reut.rs/2Hd5br2 

  15. Amazing news this morning. We learn of the release of Bekele Gerba along with his colleagues. Hoping he can continue to work with OFC and his greater people without the fear of being reincarnated, threatened, and harassed by the government.

  16. : The release of Bekele Gerba and six others is great news! Now, this should lead to the unconditional and immediate release of all prisoners of conscience imprisoned for peacefully voicing their dissent with the Ethiopian government.

    View image on Twitter
  17. Bekele Gerba and seven other prisoners of conscience are released from jail. Releasing innocent individuals who should not have been jailed in the first place should not be seen as a favour doled out to them. The government should go further & release all political prisoners.

  18. It will be interesting to watch how OPDO leaders react as their base erodes little by little. Bekele Gerba is a force of nature and has a lot of appeal to a wide base.

  19. Congrats to () organizers and protesters for the release of and other political prisoners. The government is forced to release them because of your consistent works. Thank you!

  20. We are happy to hear the release of opposition figure, Bekele Gerba, who was illegally arrested, prosecuted and harassed for his fight for human right respect and freedom. We well come his release & fight for the cause he was arrested. Congratulations for his family & friends.

    View image on Twitter

 



Ibsa lagannaa gabaa Oromiyaa yeroodhaaf dhaabuu ilaalchisee kenname


Hoggantoota KFO 7 injifannoon erga hiiksiseen booda Qeerroofi Qarreen haala laguun kun itti deemu malu xiinxaleera.
Xinxala kanarratti hundaayuun laguun guyyaa boruu (roobii) akka dhaabbatuufi guyyaa hafte kana hoggantoota injifannoon hidhaa bayan simachuuf, daandii fi magaalota sochiin guyyoota lamaan darbe keessatti ta’e mara qulqulleessuuf akka oolu murteesseera.
Qindeessitionni Qeerroo diddaafi lagannaa gabaa namusa cululuqaafi injifannoo addaan xumurame kanaarratti lammiilee hirmaatan maraaf kabajaa fi dinqisiifanno guddaa akka qabu ibsuu barbaada.

Bilusummaan Uummata Oromoof, Bilisummaan uummattoota Itoophiyaa maraaf.

Qeerroo Oromiyaa

Guraandhala. 13, 2018

 

Ethiopia: Oromia: The leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress Professor Merera Gudina has been released. #OromoProtests January 17, 2018

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Professor Merera Gudina's speech after the court of Ethiopia denied him hearing. #OromoProtests

OMN: Dura Taa’aan KFO Dr. Mararaan Hidhaa Bahan (LIVE) Amajjii 17, 2018

Click here for Photos: Oromia erupts as Ethiopia govt frees Merera Gudina, Africa News.


Ethiopia releases opposition leader Merera Gudina | Africanews

Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina has been freed after more than a year in detention.

Merera becomes the first ‘political prisoner’ to be released since Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced on 3 January that the government will pardon several convicted politicians and those with cases in court in a bid to foster national cohesion.

Prison authorities told his family that he was released on Wednesday morning and allowed to go back home.

Merera, the leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress, has been in prison since December 2016 and was facing multiple charges, including association with terrorist groups. He denied the charges.

Free at last! Jailed opposition leader in Dr Merera Gudina freed after more than a year in detention.

Influential media portal, Addis Standard tweeted a letter (issued in Amharic) which stated that the charges had been dropped ‘for the benefit of the public and the government’.

A letter announcing to discontinue the multiple criminal charges brought by federal prosecutors against Dr. has been issued by the attorney general Getachew Ambaye. It stated charges were dropped “for the benefit of the public and the government.” cc: @Belay_Ma

Earlier this month, the government said it would pardon and drop the cases against more than 500 prisoners.

The announcement followed more than two years of anti-government protests that have rocked the country, with demonstrators calling for political and economic reforms and an end to state corruption and human rights abuses.

Ethiopia had always denied that there were any political prisoners in the country, as alleged by human rights and opposition groups.


Prominent Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina has been released from prison after more than a year in detention. more at  aljazeera.com



Ethiopie, Merera Goudina libéré de prison


BBC: Merera Gudina, Ethiopia opposition leader, freed

Ethio
Image captionHuge crowds welcomed Mr Merera home

Jailed Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina has been freed after more than a year in detention.

The leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress was released on Wednesday morning and allowed to go home, where he was welcomed by thousands of people.

He has been in prison since December 2016 and was facing charges, including association with terrorist groups.

The Ethiopian government announced on Monday that it would drop charges against more than 500 suspects.

Human rights groups have long accused Ethiopia of refusing to allow opposition groups to operate freely.

The government has denied holding any political prisoners but says the releases will foster national debate and “widen the political sphere”.

Those being freed will first undergo two days of “rehabilitation training”, the government says.

At the beginning of January, Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn announced the government would close Maekelawi – a detention facility in the capital, Addis Ababa, allegedly used as a torture chamber.

Why was Mr Merera arrested?

Mr Merera was arrested in November 2016 at the airport in the capital, Addis Ababa, after he flew in from Brussels.

He had violated Ethiopia’s state of emergency by having contact with “terrorist” and “anti-peace” groups, state-linked media reported at the time.

That month, Mr Merera had criticised the state of emergency in an address to the European parliament.

The government imposed it in October 2016 to end an unprecedented wave of protests against its 25-year rule.

Map of protests and violence in Ethiopia in 2016

More than 11,000 people were arrested, mostly in the Oromia and Amhara regions, which were at the forefront of anti-government protests.

Many in the two regions complain of political and economic marginalisation.

Who else will be freed?

It is still not clear which other politicians will be released.

Ethiopia says it will not free anyone convicted of using force to overthrow the government, destroying infrastructure, murder or causing physical disability.

However, it says it will pardon some of those convicted under the anti-terrorism law.

Critics and human rights groups have accused the government in the past of labelling its opponents, and some journalists, as terrorists.

Rights group Amnesty International says the release of Mr Merera and other prisoners should not be the last.

“Hundreds of prisoners of conscience continue to languish in jail, accused or prosecuted for legitimate exercise of their freedom of expression or simply for standing up for human rights,” Amnesty’s Netsanet Belay said.

Presentational grey line

Five more high-profile Ethiopian prisoners:

Bekele Gerbadeputy chairman of the OFC – arrested together with Dejene Fita Geleta, secretary-general of OFC, and 20 others in connection with the 2015 Oromo protests that resulted in the death of hundreds of protesters.

Andargachew Tsegeleader of Ginbot 7 (designated a terrorist group by Ethiopia) – arrested in 2014 while on transit in Yemen and taken to Ethiopia, where he faces the death penalty after being convicted in absentia. A British national, human rights groups have been pushing for his release.

Andualem Aragievice-president of the Unity for Democracy and Justice party – imprisoned since 2011, and now serving a life sentence on terrorism charges.

Eskinder Negajournalist and blogger – imprisoned since 2011 after criticising the use of anti-terror laws to silence the press. He was subsequently sentenced to 18 years in jail.

Woubshet Taye, journalist and editor – imprisoned since 2011 and sentenced the next year to 14 years in prison for terror-related offences.

 


Ethiopia govt had no business arresting Oromo leader Merera Gudina – E.U. MP

ETHIOPIA

A member of the European Parliament, Ana Gomes, has reacted to the the move by the Ethiopian government to drop charges against leading Oromo politician, Merera Gudina.

According to Gomes, who frequently comments on political ongoings in Ethiopia, Gudina “should never have been jailed.”

The university don who is leader of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has been under detention for a little over a year. He was arrested in December 2016 after returning from an European trip during which time he addressed the E.U. parliament on the political situation back home.

Upon his arrest, the government said he was picked in connection with having flouted an October 2016 state of emergency imposed to quell spreading anti-government protests predominantly in the Oromia and Amhara regions.

He was eventually charged with terrorism but the offense was later downgraded to multiple criminal charges. The case like that of other political elements has been traveling at a slow pace with prosecutors seeking extensions and introducing fresh evidence.

The MEP also commented on Eskinder Nega, an Ethiopian journalist currently in jail. Eskinder Nega is a brave man, paying for freedom and justice for his country. He is still a political prisoner in Ethiopia. He must be liberated! She said in a tweet.

Nega and a Venezuelan writer and journalist Milagros Socorro have recently been honored by Oxam Novib (PEN Awards 2018). “Eskinder couldn’t receive the award because he is in jail for his journalism works,” blogger Befeqadu Hailu wrote.


Ethiopia has released a handful of prisoners – but nothing else has changed,  Mail & Guardian Africa

IRIN: Feature: Ethiopian Oromo refugees face bribes, harassment in Kenya January 12, 2018

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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 NAIROBI, 12 January 2018


A freelance journalist, focusing on humanitarian and development issues

Ethiopian Oromo refugees fleeing to Kenya to escape persecution say they are finding life on the streets of Nairobi no better than the insecurity they left behind, as they are targeted by bribes and harassment and forced into vast camps with few prospects or protections.

The Oromo are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group but have long complained of political and economic marginalisation at the hands of the country’s ruling party, which is dominated by a minority ethnic group, the Tigrayans.

Following 2016 protests demanding political reform, which resulted in a state of emergency and the deaths of more than 600 in the security crackdown, thousands of Oromo made their way to neighbouring Kenya seeking asylum and refuge.

But they did not escape the Ethiopian authorities. Human Rights Watch has reported “numerous cases of harassment and threats” against Oromo asylum seekers in Kenya by Ethiopian government officials.

The rights group has also documented “confessions” by Kenyan police officers in which they admit to being offered bribes by the Ethiopian embassy to detain and intimidate Oromo refugees.

“When I came to Kenya I thought that I would be protected and would be able to start a new life,” said former Oromo politician “Tolessa”, who requested his identity be protected.

“[But] what I’m facing here is no different from what I was facing at home,” he told IRIN. “My future here isn’t very bright.”

Full of “spies”

Oromo refugees also reported attempts by Ethiopian officials to recruit them as informants in Nairobi’s Oromo community, promising land, protection, money, and even resettlement to the United States or elsewhere, Human Rights Watch noted.

“There are a lot of Ethiopian spies here in Nairobi,” one refugee, a former Ethiopian intelligence officer, alias “Demiksa”, told IRIN.

Now a senior dissident, “Demiksa” related what had happened to him back in Ethiopia.

He said that after refusing orders to torture prisoners held in Addis Ababa’s infamous Maekelawi prison, he was accused of being an opposition collaborator, detained, and then tortured himself.

“They tied my hands up and hung me up on the wall with nails and beat me with electric cables around my ankles and on my back,” he told IRIN, fighting tears. “I couldn’t walk for three months,” he added.

“Demiksa” said he was spared capital punishment on one condition: kill or be killed. Handed photographs of two prominent Oromo activists, he was given a loaded gun and told to get into a car.

He accepted the mission – “I had no choice,” he told IRIN – but was able to escape en route to the hit, and then fled Ethiopia.

When he arrived in Nairobi, “Demiksa” was told to register at the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya like all other Ethiopian exiles.

The long arm of Ethiopian security

But Oromo who fear being stalked by Ethiopian intelligence believe even Kakuma is not safe.

“Threats from Ethiopian security officials – working together with local [Kenyan] police – also extend to the refugee camps [in Kenya],” Human Rights Watch researcher Felix Horne told IRIN.

Horne said Oromo activists who have come from cities in Ethiopia fear camp life because of the lack of employment opportunities, the heat, and Kakuma’s physical proximity to Ethiopia.

But they have darker fears too.

Oromo refugees have reportedly been kidnapped from Kenya and taken back to Ethiopia, and there have been similar reports from Sudan, Djibouti, Uganda, and Somaliland.

“This is not unique to Kenya,” Horne said. “The patterns of pervasive Ethiopian security presence utilising local security officials is similar in other countries where Ethiopians flee to.”

Tariku Debela, a political refugee living in Kampala who fled Kenya in April 2016, still remains a target for Ethiopian security forces. He told IRIN that his scars bear witness both to the torture he received in Ethiopia and an attempt on his life in Uganda.

“Some people came to my hotel room, drugged me, and then beat me up,” he explained to IRIN over the phone. “People living nearby heard what was happening and came to my rescue. One of [the attackers] was arrested.”

A Ugandan police investigation revealed “that the men who attacked me were sent from Ethiopia to kill me,” he added.

After imploring the UN refugee agency several times to offer him protection, Debela now stays in a UNHCR safe house, but doesn’t get much else in the way of assistance.

“UNHCR haven’t even tried to help me process my case for resettlement,” he told IRIN. “Since I am a political refugee, I shouldn’t have to stay here for the rest of my life.”

UNHCR has a mandate to provide protection to refugees, including political figures like “Demiksa” and Debela.

“The documentation issued to them by the government and UNHCR gives them the right to reside legally in Kenya and protects them from deportation to their country of origin or expulsion from Kenya,” Yvonne Ndege, senior communications officer at UNHCR, told IRIN.“There are some high-profile cases, such as the Oromo; sometimes their cases are expedited through the registration process,” she added.

But some say this policy exists only in theory.

“In practice, there is very little protection afforded to Oromo refugees,” Horne told IRIN.  “Individuals with serious security issues – some of whom are high-profile individuals – often receive no practical protection whatsoever from these agencies.”

Bribes, harassment, and detention

Kenya has an encampment policy – refugees are supposed to stay in one of two vast refugee camps that house 489,000 people: Dadaab and Kakuma. That means those found in urban centres without proper documentation are vulnerable to extortion and intimidation by the police.

Refugees IRIN spoke to in Nairobi mentioned regularly having to pay bribes to avoid harassment. The going rate is up to $200 for a permit to avoid being sent to Kakuma.

Life for those who can’t afford to pay is bleak. “Because I don’t have my papers I stay at home so that I can be safe from police,” teenager Fozia told IRIN.

Fozia fled Ethiopia following a brutal crackdown on students in her hometown in Oromia. After student protesters dispersed, she says police followed her home, then raped and beat her. She decided to flee.

Despite coming to Kenya as an unaccompanied minor, Fozia hasn’t been helped by the authorities. Without the ability to bribe registration officers at Nairobi’s government-run refugee registration centre, Shauri Moyo, she can’t officially register with UNHCR for refugee status determination.

“I was given a movement pass to Kakuma, but I feared going there, especially as a young girl,” she explained.

Neither can Fozia afford to bribe officials to gain an all-important exemption permit that would allow her to legally avoid going to Kakuma.

“Without that, I’m told by UNHCR to either go to Kakuma or register for exemption at Shauri Moyo,” she said.

Many other refugees face the same hurdles.

“I still haven’t received exemption,” another former Oromo politician and victim of torture in Maekelawi who preferred to remain anonymous, told IRIN.

“I’ve been ordered to bribe officers with $200 to gain exemption from camp,” the former politician said. “I don’t have that sort of money. I also stay indoors to avoid having to pay police officers that harass me.”

Following registration with Shauri Moyo, refugees can then apply for a government of Kenya “alien card” for asylum recognition. But several refugees told IRIN that this process also entails under the table payments – ranging from $300 to $485.

Such allegations of corruption and extortion are denied by Kenya’s Refugee Affairs Secretariat, known as RAS.

UNHCR “concerned”

Once refugees are able to access asylum, their cases are referred to UNHCR for refugee status determination, which is necessary for official recognition as a refugee.

But many refugees are having to wait years to even get an interview.

“I was supposed to have an appointment in March this year,” one woman complained. “You just turn up to their office [UNHCR], stand in line, and wait for your turn. Then they tell you that they can’t see you that day.”

She went on to explain how they typically just give you another appointment letter with a different date and year and tell you to wait.

“They didn’t even give me another appointment date last time – they just told me that they would call me,” she said. “I still haven’t heard anything yet [since her March appointment].”

Recognising these concerns, the UN refugee agency insisted it is committed to improving the registration system.

“UNHCR is concerned about the time being taken for asylum seekers and refugees to receive proper documentation,” UNHCR’s Ndege told IRIN, adding that it was working to streamline its registration processes.

But Horne from Human Rights Watch said neither UNHCR nor RAS are doing enough right now to protect vulnerable Oromo.

“Country guidelines on Ethiopia that officers use to assess asylum claims should be updated as they are over 10 years old and do not remotely reflect the current situation in Ethiopia,” he said.

Oromo opposition to rulers in Addis Ababa stretches back centuries. The current ruling party, the EPRDF, has used federalism to dilute that dissent, but it has persisted.

Charlie Ensor/IRIN
An Oromo activist in Nairobi, crosses his arms in an Oromo symbol of solidarity

In the unrest in 2016 and 2017, the Oromo were joined by the second largest ethnic group, the Amharas, in the demand for political reform – posing a significant challenge to the government.

Reform at last?

In a surprise announcement at the beginning of the month, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced that his government would close Maekelawi prison and release political prisoners in a move he said would advance political dialogue with opposition groups.

“The regime realises that the political landscape is shifting rapidly and that they have to find a way forward to deal with ethnic tension and communal violence,” Ahmed Soliman, associate researcher at Chatham House, told IRIN.

But this all depends on how sincere the government is on reforming and its willingness to admit the violations it has committed – including in neighbouring countries.

As Amnesty International researcher Fisseha Tekele put it after Desalegn’s announcement: “A new chapter for human rights will only be possible if all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment are effectively investigated and those responsible brought to justice.”

(TOP PHOTO: Eastleigh, Nairobi. Home to Nairobi’s refugees. CREDIT: Charlie Ensor/IRIN)

ce/oa/as/ag


 

Mohammed Al-Amoudi transferred to maximum security prison January 11, 2018

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Al Amoudi


Mohammed Al-Amoudi transferred to maximum security prison

Tesfa News ESAT News, January 10, 2018

The Ethiopian born Saudi tycoon, Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi and all the remaining detainees that were held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel have been transferred to Al-Ha’ir prison, a maximum security prison south of Riyadh.

The Middle East Monitor quoted the Arabic Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news site as saying authorities have transferred the remaining detainees being held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel to Al-Ha’ir prison because they have refused to pay large payments, 70% of their wealth, to secure their freedom.

The report said nearly 60 detainees were transferred to the most high security prison in the Kingdom. The prisoners include Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal as Prince Turki Bin Abdullah and a number of government officials who refused to make the large financial payments for their release.

Among those transferred to the maximum security prison is Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi whose worth is 10.6 Billion dollars and owns businesses in hundreds of millions of dollars in Ethiopia. He works works closely with the TPLF oligarchy that granted him thousands of hectares of agricultural land and several prime plots in the capital Addis Ababa. He hit jackpot with gold in Ethiopia and has been mining gold for over two decades. His agricultural and construction projects stretch all across the country.

Early in November Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the arrest of about 200 princes and businessman accused of high level corruption.

But the purge was also seen as a move to raise money for the cash strapped Kingdom’s treasury. Authorities aimed at raising 100 billion dollars in return for the release of the suspects.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah had been released after paying more than $1 billion for his release. And a few others had reportedly reached settlement for their freedom.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel is now available for booking starting next month, according to its website.


 

Genocide in plain sight: TPLF’s (mass-) red-terror against the Oromo people. #Prevent #Genocide December 25, 2017

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Genocide in plain sight: TPLF’s (mass-) red-terror against the Oromo people

 By Aba Orma

The Ethiopian Somali state liyuu police force well trained by TPLF to kill Ogaden and Oromo civilians

The TPLF/EPRDF government has orchestrated genocide against the Oromo people with the help of TPLF’s Janjaweed, the Somali para-commando known as the “Liyu Police”. Even the ruling party admitted to that. Then why is the world community silent and allowed the regime to commit genocide after genocide against the peoples in Ethiopia?  Are they afraid that declaring such will collapse the TPLF/EPRDF government and that in turn will bring chaos to the country like that of South Sudan? America is once again knowingly or unknowingly failing to stop genocide in Ethiopia. The alternative to America’s inaction is even much costly in human lives and stability of the Horn of Africa. Whether they like it or not, it is paramount to address and redress the Oromo quest for self-determination to bring peace and stability in the region.

TPLF spokpersons and representatives always represented the Oromo killings and genocide in simplistic terms as ethnic/border conflicts whereas the truth is they are the instigators. Under normal circumstances, governments spin and twist facts to fit their narratives. Medias and observers seek facts and correct spins toward justice. In the Oromo case, the TPLF government spins and the West accepts that as facts and spread it further and provides financial and military supports.

“Genocide is the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group”. The violence in Oromia meets the criteria of genocide because it is racially based. The Liyu Police that TPLF generals trained, armed and advised from Somali ethnic group massacred, burned houses, confiscated properties, and displaced more than 700,000 Oromos from their homes in an ethnic cleansing. The West has spoken for much less scale of displacement and massacre as genocide.

The Oromos should not expect Colin Powel of South Sudan to rise for them or actor George Cooney to speak up on behalf of Oromos. They have only themselves and heroes like athlete Feyisa Lelisa and artist Hachalu Megersa amongst us who are willing to risk everything and speak up heroes.

If the Oromo activism we see today had started five years ago, it would have matured, crystalized and would have made a larger impact today. But we are where we are and the time is short. Without any more delay the Oromo activists put aside their difference must come together and have a unified voice to speak up for their brothers and sisters in peril.

The Oromo people had had enough and are rising up in Unisom from all corners of Oromia. From East Oromia to West Oromia, from South Oromia to North Oromia to central Oromia to change this rotten system and replace it with a bright, tolerant, and democratic system.   The OPDO seems to have discovered its voice and forced by people’s fundamental human rights question started to challenge the TPLF supremacy. We should all applaud for the courage they have shown us so far and at the same time make it clear to them that the relative support they are getting from their people is not here to stay if they don’t continue to stand up for the people and stop the genocide against their people, stop the exploitation of Oromia to build and rebuild Tigray, and restore the fundamental rights of the Oromo people: the right to self-determination.

The usual TPLF machination is not acceptable. Any cosmetics changes are not acceptable to the Oromo people. Expelling and courting few corrupted TPLF members in the name of reform is not acceptable. The acceptable outcome is a total and complete accountability for each and every innocent life taken away under their command, complete and total surrender of Oromia to the Oromo people.

Any short-hand settlement with the TPLF group will not solve the problem except exposes the inferiority of OPDO to the minority Tigray group with super-size power over the Federal government. It will ignite intensified resistance to the regime and OPDO. The rank-and-file of OPDO who witnessed the horror against their people closely are echoing the Oromo people’s question. Lemma and his young team of leaders have only one choice, to stand with their people to the end. Capitulating to this group with the push of the old guards that spoiled TPLF brats and got them to where they are today is a gigantic mistake of historical proportion.

The Oromo people expect to the minimum, in order of importance, the following condition to be met before any kind of arrangement or agreement with the TPLF group:

  1. Prime Minster H/Mariam Desalegne is incompetent and no more viable to lead the federal government and must resign from his post immediately. He failed the Oromo people when he intentionally chose to ignore the genocide against them and choose to speak selectively on the wrongful death of 31 Somali. The Parliament appoints a new prime minster with its full power.
  2. Every non-Oromo TPLF/Agazi army should leave Oromia and the internal security must be left to the Oromia police. The Oromo members of the army are organized under the command of Oromo generals. Agazi and its TPLF generals led genocide against the Oromo people.
  3. Immediate resettlement of the more than 700,000 Oromos displaced by the “Liyu Police”.
  4. Oromia state government must form an independent commission to investigate and bring to justice the people responsible for the Irreechaa Massacre, the Cheelenko Massacre, and TPLF’s Janjaweed, the Liyu Police.
  5. The composition of the country’s army and its leaders must be proportional to the population
  6. All illegally appropriated lands in the name of investment back to the people.
  7. All political prisoners must be released without any precondition
  8. The Oromia state must take charge of all prisons in Oromia. No Oromo should go to prison outside Oromia.

Any machination and hand twisting will only expose the true power of OPDO as a representative of the largest people in the country and consolidates the struggle in one and only one direction. The independence of Oromia!

NEWSWEEK: DID ETHIOPIA ‘SPY ON OROMO DISSIDENTS’ LIVING IN THE UK? December 11, 2017

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“The solution for Ethiopia is not in spying over political dissenters like us, it is in listening to the people and meeting their demands” Habte said.

DID ETHIOPIA ‘SPY ON OROMO DISSIDENTS’ LIVING IN THE UK?

The Ethiopian government has allegedly carried out a spyware campaign targeting dissidents living abroad, including in the U.K., a report has claimed.

Canada-based research group Citizen Lab alleged that Ethiopian dissidents were targeted with emails containing “sophisticated commercial spyware posing as Adobe Flash updates and PDF plugins”.

The report further claimed that Ethiopia used a commercial spyware product manufactured by Israel-based Elbit Systems Ltd to spy on dissidents.

Those targeted included dissidents from the Oromo community, one of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups, the U.S.-based media outlet Oromo Media Network as well as one of the researchers conducting the investigation.

Etana Habte, an Oromo activist and PhD candidate and Senior Teaching Fellow at SOAS, University of London, was also targeted.

He believes the government allegedly targeted him to identify people behind protests in Ethiopia’s Oromia state, which was rocked by months-long demonstrations, some of which turned deadly.

“By spying over us they mainly want to identify a wide circle of people who communicate with us on the movement at home,” he told Newsweek.

“They wanted to break into our privacy, collect information from our communications with one another, because they believe the leadership of Oromo Protests communicates with us.

“The solution for Ethiopia is not in spying over political dissenters like us, it is in listening to the people and meeting their demands” Habte said.

The Ethiopian embassy in London has not responded to a request for a comment on the allegations.

Ethiopian Communications Minister Negeri Lencho declined to comment on the report, according to Reuters.

Researchers said their findings raised questions on Elbit’s human rights due diligence practices.

The company said in a statement: “The intelligence and defenses agencies that purchase these products are obligated to use them in accordance with the applicable law.” It added that it only sell products to defense, intelligence, national security and law enforcement agencies approved by the Israeli government.

Deadly protests explained

Oromia protests
People mourn the death of Dinka Chala who was shot by Ethiopian forces in the Yubdo Village, about 100 kilometers from Addis Ababa in the Oromia region, on December 17, 2015. Dinka Chala was accused of protesting, but his family says he was not involved. Oromia was rocked by months-long protests, some of which turned deadly.ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Demonstrations started in Oromia in late 2015, where people initially protested over government plans to expand the territory of the capital Addis Ababa, with farmers raising concerns that increasing the size of the city would lead to forced evictions and loss of farming land.

The government later scrapped the plans, but protests continued. Oromo people argued for a greater inclusion in the political process and the release of political prisoners.

The protests, labelled as the biggest anti-government unrest the country has witnessed in recent history, later spread to Amhara and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) region.

The unrest continued throughout 2016.

Last October, the government implemented a six-month-long state of emergency, which was further extended by four months in March, to tackle the unrest.

Critics of the state of emergency claimed the government was trying to quell protests by, among other things, restricting freedoms and banning certain media outlets, including the Oromia Media Network. The government denied the allegations.

Rights groups have criticizied Ethiopia for the way it handled protests, accusing the military and the police of using excessive force to quell demonstrations.

The response to the unrest resulted in the death of at least 669 people, a figure the government confirmed in a report released in April.

While the country’s Human Rights Commission recommended prosecution of some police officers, it maintained that the overall response by security forces was adequate.


 

THE THIRD OROMO LEADERSHIP CONVENTION, DECEMBER 1-3, 2017 December 7, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistOromo Leadership Convention 10-12 March 2017

 

THE HOUSTON STATEMENT OF THE THIRD OROMO LEADERSHIP CONVENTION

ON THE CRISES IN ETHIOPIA

The Third Oromo Leadership Convention was held in the City of Houston, Texas December 1-3, 2017.  The delegates participated in extensive discussions concerning the situation in Ethiopia based on analyses presented by several scholars. The delegates established that the Oromo Protest that started in 2014 has opened new possibilities for transformative change in Ethiopia.  They also recognized that, because of the protests, the historic Oromo struggle has advanced from resistance against oppression to reconstruction in preparation for the imminent political transition in Ethiopia.

The country is in throes of deepening multidimensional crises.  This is the conclusion of an assessment jointly prepared by Ethiopian intelligence and defence officials otherwise known as the National Security Council.  There is a historic opportunity for transition to a genuinely participatory democracy that emerges from below. There is also the danger that the opportunity could be squandered. To protect the gains made and to soldier on towards ultimate victory, we urge all Oromo nationalists to do their part to deny the forces of reaction the chance to launch a counterrevolutionary offensive against the Oromo struggle.

We issue this statement as the consensus of the delegates to the Third Oromo Leadership Convention calling on all those who support the longstanding goals of the Oromo national movement to facilitate a peaceful transition to a new political dispensation of a participatory democracy.

IMMEDIATE MEASURES

Immediate steps need to be taken to reverse the deepening crisis by asserting the legitimacy of any existing constitutional body. A peaceful and democratic transition addresses the current crisis of legitimacy and sets the stage for the restoration of democratic-constitutional state.  The following can be taken as steps for action.

Legislative Authority

  1. Reasserting authority. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the core of the governing party, now admits that it is responsible for the deepening political and economic crises in Ethiopia. Because of its culpability in precipitating the crisis, the TPLF incapable of addressing the profound problem of lacking of a visible, authoritative, and widely acceptable leadership that has paralyzed the country for some time must be addressed. The federal legislature is the only body where the voices of all constituencies are said to be represented on a proportional basis. It must reassert its authority to prevent harmful laws from passing.  This would constitute a major step towards a smooth transition to a genuine participatory democracy.
  2. Transparent Debate:  Responding to demands of the people should be the focus of the elected representatives of the people. Parliament should debate the ongoing crisis and take steps to restore order based on the wishes of all constituencies. The parliamentary deliberations should be done publicly in order to win the support to all constituencies.
  3. Critical First Steps: The federal parliament can institute the following confidence-building measures to give chance to an orderly transition.a.       Repeal unconstitutional laws: The Anti-Terrorist Law, the Press Law and the Civil Society and Charities Law are designed expressly to prevent citizens from exercising the human rights enshrined in the constitution. They are unconstitutional and should be repealed. The law for registration of political parties, the electoral law and the various regulations and directives issued under it, and the law on public political meeting and peaceful demonstration must be revisited with a view to allowing the people maximum freedom to associate, organize, assemble, demonstrate, and express their political views, interests, and petition for their rights within the ambit of their constitutional human rights.

    b.       Release all political prisoners: Opposition leaders who now languish in prison are victims of these unconstitutional laws. With the repeal of these laws, it then follows that they should be released unconditionally.

    c.        Reform the System: The instruments of “dominant-party rule” are: a justice system that is subservient to the will of the ruling party; a security system that operates to eliminate opposition and resistance; and a national election commission whose reason for existence is to declare the ruling party’s election victories without counting the votes. Parliament must engage in a genuine and sustained justice sector reforms, security sector reforms, electoral system reform, reform of all democratic institutions of representation (House People’s Representatives), inclusion (House of Federation), human rights (Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and  the Institute of the Ombudsman), and accountability (Auditor general and Anti-corruption Commission).

  4. Outlawing Illegitimate Authority: There is widespread perception that there is a private source of power behind the public institutions. Decisions are first hammered out in private and then forwarded to the public legislature for enactment. Rendering the parliament functional can obviate the dangers that the private centres of power are likely to pose to protect their ill-gained power and privilege.

Executive Authority

There is only one way out of the present crises: the legislature should act as the true and supreme source of power [as per art 50(3) cum 54(4) of the Constitution] and stop waiting for somebody to give it direction. The incumbent executive entity has no credibility or legitimacy.  Parliament must institute a governing structure that observes the rule of law.

  1. Reformed Executive: Parliament must do everything to resuscitate the civilian governing bodies and end rule by the security organs of the state. To do this, Parliament must form a new, more inclusive, more credible, more functional, and more representative government in such a way that expresses the wishes of the people as manifested in the protests.
  2. Marshall Support: Following the adoption of this process of peaceful and systematic transition, the legislatures of the regional states should pass resolutions in support of the reform agenda. And the residents of these administrations should be mobilized to support the actions of their legislatures.
  3. Re-establish Security: There is increasing reliance on coercive means and institutions, which is eroding the effectiveness and legitimacy of civilian institutions. We believe the Ethiopian Defence Force (EDF) is responsible for the deteriorating security situation characterized by a “breakdown of the rule law,” “apparent lawlessness” and “episodic conflicts” and it at least complicit in the death and mayhem that is still creating havoc throughout Oromia. The legislature must assert civilian control over the EDF and arrest the deepening political and economic crises.
  4. Internally Displaced Persons:  We condemn the massive displacement of Oromo from the Somali regional state.  The deliberate act of organizing the eviction of a group of people because of their identity is crime that must be investigated and the perpetrators of the crime brought to justice. The president of the Somali regional state, Abid Mohammed Omer aka Abdi Illey, should be brought to justice for the crime against humanity his forces committed against innocent Oromos. Parliament must immediately conduct inquiry into the source of funding and the legal basis for its operation. Parliament should also work towards disarming and disbanding this unruly paramilitary forces such as the Liyu Police that the regional president uses to advance his egregious agenda of ethnic cleansing and replace it with a properly recruited and trained State Police.
  5. Reassuring stakeholders: Interested foreign powers need to be reassured that their interests would not be negatively affected. In particular, legitimate foreign investors should be reassured that their outlay is safe. It should be made abundantly clear to these parties that a sort of internal stability drawing on democratic legitimacy would render it a better guarantor of regional stability than an order that is internally challenged.  This should in fact make the donor countries evaluate their uncritical support for the regime and push for a transition to a democratic order.

OROMO POLITICAL COMMUNITY

We affirm our ultimate national objective is belief stated in the OLC Charter, An Oromo Covenant, that the Oromo people shall always draw inspiration from their gadaa democratic heritage and shall remain a self-governing, participatory democracy founded on respect for fundamental human rights.

In this Convention, we concluded that a true democratic transition in Ethiopia can only be viable if it addresses the long standing demands of the Oromo national movement as expressed in our time by the Oromo protests. While they are expressed in multiple ways, the Oromo demands are captured in the all-encompassing expression, abbaa biyyummaa, which is the demand for sovereignty over the governance, the resources and the ownership of our homesteads, land and country.

As we anticipate ushering in this new political dispensation, we urge all Oromo political parties to deliberate on the current situation carefully and systematically and offer a clear roadmap for what will be implemented in the wake of the inevitable collapse of the regime in power.

CIVIL SOCIETY FORCES

The revival of the Abba Gadaa institutions is evidence of Oromo cultural renaissance and revitalization of Oromo indigenous political heritage. The Abba Gadaa councils are a genuine Oromo institution that must be strengthened. In this respect, we support the councils’ work and express our wishes for the following.

  1. The Union of the Oromo Gadaa Council is urged to call the Oromia gadaa assembly to consider national issues once a year.
  2. The different regional gadaa councils established at the many former gadaa assemblies should begin to legislate rules that will strengthen the functions of the gadaa institutions.
  3. The regional gadaa councils should take measures to create institutions that take account of their adaptability to the present generation’s needs and demands.
  4. The councils must continue to build civil society institutions, particularly the inclusion of women into gadaa structures.
  5. Oromo communities and other peoples find the indigenous institutions of conflict resolution more expeditious and judicious than the lengthy litigation handled by formal institutions. We urge the regional gadaa councils to begin to take measures to relaunch alternative dispute resolution processes and institutions to complement the functions of formal institutions.

 

DONE IN HOUSTON, TEXAS, ON THIS 3rd DAY DECEMBER 2017.

 


 BACKGROUND


The first Oromo Leadership Convention (OCL) held in Atlanta, Georgia, November 11 – 13, 2016, took place at a time of heightened risks for the Oromo protests. There was pent-up anger in the country over the Ireecha Massacre and deep apprehension concerning the just declared state of emergency in Ethiopia. The second was held in an atmosphere profound uncertainty with many Oromos wondering whether the protests movement had atrophied. There was concern that Command Post, the military unit in charge of the state of emergency had succeeded in arresting the momentum of change the Oromo protests had unleashed.

OLC_3rd_convention.jpg

The situation today is very different. We can be more confident that the struggle has moved on to a more hopeful stage. We are on the cusp of becoming free but that outcome is not assured. It is a critical period in the history of our nation and out longstanding struggle. At this stage, the OLC needs to aim to address current challenges continue to assist the struggle at home and complete the struggle with triumph.

To contribute our part to the current phase of the Oromo national movement, the OLC Coordinating Committee to affirm the decision that was made at the Washington Convention and announce that the third convention will be held in the City of Houston from December 1-3, 2017.

AGENDA

We believe that the Oromo national movement has entered a decisive, if uncertain, stage. The OLC was organized to nudge the Oromo struggle forward, affirm the unity of the nation and organize its national politics. At this stage of the struggle, we maintain that Oromo nationalism has moved from a defensive posture to an assertive model. The delegates will evaluate the road we have traveled and chart course for the future of our nation.

1.      Envisioning a Pluralistic Society: Oromo is a unified nation with a social organization that recognizes differences of age, kinship, gender, religion and region. Historically, these differences have served the purpose of organizing the society into unity. In our time, we must begin to recognize that the unified Oromo nation contains diverse groupings and must take steps to begin to live as a free, open and pluralistic society and practice a cultural of pluralism which contains the values of diversity, tolerance, commitment and communication. The Houston Convention envisages kicking off a national convention on pluralism in the Oromo context.

2.      Forging of political solidarity: At this stage, the Oromo movement has overcome the distractive political divisions within the Oromo society while deepening a culture of pluralism. The Oromo movement needs to overcome divisions that obstruct cooperation and strengthen solidarity with other groups. OLC will invite Oromo scholars to discuss ways of strengthening internal diversity and external solidarity with non-Oromo groups.

3.      Recognize the contribution of artists: Throughout the Oromo struggle, artists have helped inform the larger Oromo society about social issues, harmonize social activists within the movement; informed the movement ideals and goals to people outside the movement; dramatized movement goals directly to historicize, tell and retell the history of the Oromo movement.  The OLC will highlight these contributions and encourage artistic expressions to advance the struggle across the finish line.

OUTCOME

The Houston convention will issue a manifesto that will reaffirm that Oromo unity is built around gadaa principles and Oromo aspirations are shaped by gadaa values; declares the principle of living together in a pluralistic society; and underscores the importance of solidarity calling for cooperation based on common purpose and common interest and establishing ways of resolving differences.

 

VENUE

The leadership convention will take place in Houston, Texas, December 1-3, 2017 at the Omni Houston Hotel at Westside, 13210 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas, 77079. Click here to Book your Hotel : https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/houston-westside/meetings/olc-2017-oromo-leadership-convention                            

Click Here to register  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-third-oromo-leadership-convention-tickets-39790792331

CONVENER

The Oromo Leadership Convention Coordinating Committee

OFFICIAL DOCUMENT

 

​Ethiopia (TPLF): Privatizing EFFORT: why & how?  — Ethiopian Think Thank Group December 1, 2017

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The TPLF Corruption network

Why privatize it?  Because they now realize they are likely to loose political power and the new power holders whoever they might be will be tempted to nationalize the EFFORT conglomerate. So privatizing it before hand is a preemptive measure. They assume no new regime will be brave enough to nationalize private company. Note that although privatized the company will continue to fulfill its founding objective…allow Tigrean elites dominate the economy. They new ‘private’ owners will be party leaders, relatives and loyalists who will own it on behalf of the oligarchy.

 

TPLF leaders are planning to transfer EFFORT to their individual ownership in the name of make it IPO, document reveals. Remember they claim EFFORT was established by money they got from Western donors due to the 1980s drought and meant to rehabilitate war affected people of Tigray. In reality most of the seed money was […]

via ​Privatizing EFFORT: why & how?  — Ethiopian Think Thank Group

OSA’S STATEMENT ON DISPLACED OROMOS: AN URGENT CALL TO THWART THE ESCALATING HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN ETHIOPIA November 26, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

OSA’S STATEMENT ON DISPLACED OROMOS: AN URGENT CALL TO THWART THE ESCALATING HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN ETHIOPIA

OSA

Oromo Studies Association (OSA) | November 26, 2017

The Oromo Studies Association – a multi-disciplinary academic organization established to foster scholarly studies in all fields pertaining to the Oromo people – would like to bring to the attention of prominent political leaders and influential policy makers, the building humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa; with the so-called Liyu Police of the Somali region – a paramilitary force that has been organized, trained and armed by the Ethiopian government – waging an undeclared war against Oromo communities in eastern, southeastern and southern Ethiopia. While these undeclared wars have subjected the Oromo to crimes comparable in magnitude to the one the Rohingya of Myanmar are currently facing (the offensives have already claimed the lives of thousands, and caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Oromo civilians) ; they are not gaining the attention they deserve in the global centers of power and among the international media for reasons that are neither convincing nor clear.

But, for the social norms of tolerance and coexistence built over centuries of largely positive interactions, interdependence and intermingling among the brotherly peoples in Ethiopia , these aggressions could have conceivably plunged the country into chaos and bloodletting that would have surpassed the Rwandan genocide. There is no guarantee that these norms will hold indefinitely with the Somali regional government continuing to unleash its unaccountable force against Oromo communities in the border areas; committing all sorts of appalling crimes, likely with the intention of uprooting them from their ancestral lands (Qe’ee). OSA is deeply concerned that this will end in humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions unless extreme interventions are undertaken immediately to stop these unprovoked and deadly aggressions.

Some are erroneously reporting these outrageous attacks by one side as inter-ethnic conflicts between Oromo and Somali forces , based on a glib observation that the former are naturally fighting back to defend themselves and their Qe’ee. The fact of the matter is that these conflicts are taking place with encouragement from, and an active participation of, the powerful group that currently dominates the Ethiopian government, aka the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Indeed, credible evidences suggest that these assaults are instigated by Ethiopian generals working in close concert with the enigmatic character Abdi Iley (the president of the Somali regional government) and his criminal enterprise known as the Liyu Police.

The Liyu Police – a Janjaweed-like paramilitary group – was instituted by the Ethiopian military in 2008 as a counter insurgency force against the Ogaden National Liberation Front(ONLF), an outfit that has been fighting for the rights to self-determination of the Somali people in Ethiopia. Even though this paramilitary group has been implicated in mass killings, kidnappings, rape, and other disturbing human rights abuses documented by respectable human rights organizations , it has never been held to account, largely because it is doing the dirty work of the Ethiopian central government. It should be noted here that numerous calls for independent investigations into the troubling activities of this group have always been rejected by the regime in Addis Ababa, with media organizations affiliated with the TPLF becoming reliable defenders of the Liyu Police. The deal is that Abdi Illey executes – through his clan-based militia – TPLF’s pernicious schemes, in return for being allowed to wield absolute political power over his captive population, while being protected by powerful forces in Addis and beyond.

Unable to stop the ever widening #Oromo Protests even after deploying its vicious army unit known as the Agazi (recall the Irreechaa Massacre of October 2, 2016 and the subsequent declaration of a state of emergency that lasted for ten months ), the TPLF appears to have chosen waging a proxy war with the Oromo people using the Liyu Police, with a hasty calculus that the strategy might weaken its arch-enemy, the Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromo (QBO) – the youth group behind the ongoing #Oromo Protests. It is to be recalled that the QBO had forced the TPLF to abandon its secretly-hatched major policy initiative – the inaptly named ‘the Addis Ababa and the Nearby Oromia Towns Integrated Master Plan’ – a ploy that was meant to empower a few fat cats in Addis Ababa at the expense of millions of farmers in central Oromia.

Finding itself in unfamiliar territory because of #Oromo Protests – and quickly losing its carefully-crafted image of a ‘strong developmental-state’ capable of ‘delivering the goods’ and policing not just Ethiopia but the entire Horn-of-Africa – the TPLF appears to be in a desperate bid to regain some of its mojo, by activating the deadly Somali-region militia and unleashing it on innocent Oromo citizens. As some have pointed out, the key rationale behind this reckless and deadly move was to goad the Oromo to start fighting with the brotherly Somali people, with the aim of deflecting their attention from (and weakening their resolve of resisting) the tyrants in Addis Ababa. The TPLF has perfected this approach in its nearly three-decades-old rule, effectively using it to exploit the pre-existing fault-lines between the elites of the two major ethno-national groups in the country, the Oromo and the Amhara. With leaders from the two groups showing signs of rapprochement, the TPLF appears to be on a fishing expedition of orchestrating conflicts between the Oromo and the Somali populations to prolong its oppressive rule in the country.

As of yet, the Oromo have refused to take the bait, by and large keeping their focus on the real enemy that has been the cause of much of their misery. Despite being subjected, essentially because of their identity, to a myriad of atrocities by the heavily-armed tag team of the Ethiopian army and the Liyu Police, the Oromo have not taken any kind of retaliatory measures against innocent Somali citizens living in Oromia; instead, they are marshalling their limited resources in trying to rehabilitate the hundreds of thousands of their compatriots that were evicted from the Somali region and the border areas, practically keeping the situation from devolving into inter-ethnic conflicts that could have devastating implications in the region and beyond.

The question responsible people should ask under these circumstances ought to be: is this a sustainable state-of-affairs? Should leaders with a stake in World peace continue to count on the goodwill and the essential comity of the Oromo people and ordinary Ethiopians to justify their lack of focus and serious interest in the looming disaster in the Horn of Africa? OSA scholars – most of whom are serving in Western universities with distinction – believe that the call for liberty and justice in Oromia in particular and Ethiopia in general can no longer be muzzled by sheer force; nor can it be twisted with any amount of political machination. Therefore, we call upon influential and responsible political leaders and policy makers in the West to find creative ways (there are plenty, as they hold the purse strings) that will force the Ethiopian government to: 1) disband the Liyu Police, bringing to justice the principal players in the violence that uprooted close to half a million Oromo civilians from their homes and livelihood; 2) rehabilitate the displaced population, making sure they are properly compensated; 3) make a complete U-turn in how it deals with the predominantly peaceful #Oromo Protests; and, 4) address – without any delay – the legitimate political, economic and cultural demands of the Oromo people and the other ethno-national groups in the country. OSA believes strongly that the cost of doing nothing will be orders of magnitude higher than the cost of measures that may have to be taken immediately to induce the TPLF to change its behaviour.

Respectfully,

Teferi Mergo, PhD
President, Oromo Studies Association

Cc:
Donald Trump, President

The United States of America

Angela Merkel, Chancellor
Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Theresa May, Prime Minister
The United Kingdom

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister
Canada

Emmanuel Macron, President
République Française

Xi Jinping, President
中华人民共和国

Paolo Gentloni, Prime Minister
Repubblica Italiana

Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister
The Commonwealth of Australia

Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister
大日本帝國

António Guterres, Secretary General
The United Nations

Donald Tusk, President
The European Union

Idriss Déby, Chairperson
The African Union


 

Oxfam: Hungry in a world of plenty: millions on the brink of famine: In Ethiopia alone, 700,000 people are on the verge of starvation. It is estimated that 8.5 million people are hungry in the country. November 26, 2017

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13.6 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are facing dangerous food shortages.
In Ethiopia alone, 700,000 people are on the verge of starvation. It is estimated that 8.5 million people are hungry in the country.
A prolonged drought has caused crops to fail and livestock to die in huge numbers.
The situation could get much worse between now and September and likely to continue until April 2018, if people cannot get the help they need, as food stocks are low before the next harvest.

 

Across the Lake Chad Basin, some 7 million people struggling with food insecurity need asistance.

“Famine does not arrive suddenly or unexpectedly, it comes after months of procrastination and ignored warnings. It is a slow agonizing process, driven by callous national politics and international indifference.” By Nigel Timmins, Oxfam

 


Today, the world stands on the brink of unprecedented famines. About 30 million people are experiencing alarming hunger, severe levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. 10 million of them are facing emergency and famine conditions. Famine is already likely happening in parts of northern Nigeria, while Yemen and Somalia are on the brink. Thanks to aid efforts, it has been pushed back in South Sudan but the food crisis continues to spread across the country.

These are just four of the many countries that are facing high levels of food insecurity this year. In Malawi, Sudan, Afghanistan, DRC or Syria millions of people do not have enough food to feed their families. The situation in some of these countries could worsen if the international community do not address urgent needs and resolve the root causes.

What is famine?

Famine represents the most serious food insecurity situation in terms of both scale and severity.

It occurs when a substantial number of people are dying due to a lack of food or because of a combination of lack of food and disease. When more than 20% of households cannot eat, acute malnutrition exceeds 30% and death and starvation are evident we cannot talk about a humanitarian “emergency” situation anymore but a “famine”. Learn more about the language of food crises.

Famine threat on the map

Famine threat on the map, 8.5 million people are hungry in Ethiopia alone

 

What are the main causes of famine?

There is not a single root cause that just explains all famines – each context has its unique aspects. However, there is always a fatal combination of various factors that can include conflict, insecurity, access, chronic poverty, lack of trade and severe weather events such as persistent drought.

For example, ongoing war and conflict are the primary drivers of the situation in north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, and for Somalia it is drought and weak governance after years of conflict. In some parts of Ethiopia and Kenya, communities are also suffering from a catastrophic drought which makes it incredibly hard for them to buy food locally or have any source of income.

What is sure is that we always have the power to prevent and end famine, but we always let it happen. A declaration of famine is effectively an admission that the international community has failed to organize and act in time and that national governments have been unable or unwilling to respond.


Oromo group decries ‘ongoing genocide’ in Ethiopia November 20, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Oromo group decries ‘ongoing genocide’ in Ethiopia

New group wants Americans to more forcefully oppose alleged abuses in Ethiopia.
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ERIN ADLER, STAR TRIBUNELeft to right: Amy Bergquist, Advocates for Human Rights staff attorney joins Husen Beriso, Endris Hundissa, Kathleen Seestadt, Nagessa Oddo Dube, Genemo Uka and Amsalu Mayessa, all members of the United Oromo Voices group. A panel discussion will focus on publicizing the plight of the Oromo people, including ongoing alleged human rights violations that some say the U.S. government ignores while continuing to support Ethioipia. Oromia is a region of Ethiopia and Oromos are an oppressed ethnic minority.

A new group dedicated to raising awareness of human rights violations in Ethiopia against the Oromo — an Ethiopian ethnic minority with a significant Minnesota presence — held its first event Sunday in Minneapolis.

More than 70 people crowded into Norway House to hear the “Ethiopia to Minnesota” speakers panel, sponsored by United Oromo Voices, a coalition formed about six months ago.

Panelists spoke about Ethiopia’s history and ethnic groups, its current government and ideas for how the country can change.

“We need Americans to understand us, to push their representatives to [be a] voice for the Oromos to stop the ongoing genocide,” said Nagessa Oddo Dube, a United Oromo Voices member.

Minnesota has the largest concentration of Oromos in the United States. The Oromos are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, making up between 33 and 50 percent of the country’s population.

The state demographer’s office says 8,500 Oromos live here, but the Oromo Cultural Institute of Minnesota believes the number is much higher. Oromos are often mistaken for Somalis in Minnesota and thus not very visible, Dube said.

Dube recounted how he survived years of persecution in Ethiopia as an Oromo activist, including repeated arrests, beatings, threats and a murder attempt.

Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 400 protesters and others and arrested tens of thousands more during widespread protests in the Oromia region since November 2015, according to Human Rights Watch.

United Oromo Voices aims to inform Americans that Ethiopia is the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid among low-income countries, funds they say support a government that terrorizes the Oromos by unlawfully arresting them, imprisoning, torturing and even killing them.

The St. Paul-based Center for Victims of Torture sees more Oromos than any other ethnicity, said Curt Goering, the center’s executive director.

Staff there treat torture victims’ physical wounds — broken bones and perforated eardrums — and provide counseling for the psychological ones, Goering said.

“It gives you some sense of the magnitude of the severity of the human rights violations,” Goering said on the panel.

Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, attended the discussion to show support for the Oromo, many of whom are his constituents, he said.

“My neighbors are Oromo, my best friends are Oromo,” said Hoffman, who authored a Minnesota Senate resolution in 2014 calling out Ethiopia for killing 85 college students.

Pending resolutions in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives condemn the Ethiopian government’s human rights violations — including allegedly killing hundreds and arresting thousands of dissidents, journalists and other civilians — and demand political prisoners’ release.

Kathleen Seestadt, an event organizer and group member, has been working with the Oromo community since 2001. The night was a success, especially because many non-Oromos showed up, she said.

“The real challenge is to get people who don’t know the Oromos [to come],” Seestadt said.


The Oromo Alternative: Freedom, Equality, Justice and Dignity in a Participatory Democracy November 19, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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The Oromo Alternative: Freedom, Equality, Justice and Dignity in a Participatory Democracy

By Ezekiel Gebissa & Jawar Mohammed, Horn Arguments,  November 17, 2017


 

The Oromo Protest, approaching its fourth year, is now an established historical fact as an Oromia-wide, yearlong resistance movement involving the entire Oromo population. Despite frustrating obstacles to the attainment of its broad goals, the resistance has had many successes. It has rocked an entrenched authoritarian political system to its roots, nibbling down the Ethiopian federal government to paralysis and compelling the Oromia regional government to embrace the demands of the Oromo people. It has exposed the inequities of an economic system purported to be on an inexorable trajectory of growth and broad-based benefits for all citizens. The Ethiopian military, the third largest in Africa, deployed extensively to put down the resistance, was shown to be impotent against unarmed but determined protestors. In sum, the Oromo Protest, an epochal event in Ethiopia’s history, has occasioned the rise of an emergent Oromo nation and a resurgent Oromo nationalism.

In the last half century, the goals of Oromo nationalists have always been the same as the political demands of other Ethiopians. But when the Oromo raise them, they invariably evoke a rhetorical question: “What do the Oromo really want?” This is not an honest query but a mischievous scheme designed to marginalize the Oromo nation, disparage Oromo political demands, and criminalize the Oromo nationalist movement. It is a ploy employed by Ethiopia’s powerholders to make the Oromo the perpetual outsider and cast the Oromo national movement into a subversive nationalism.

Within the framework of this ploy, Oromo nationalism is consistently labeled as a separatist movement that injects discord into domestic politics and threatens the stability of the existing state system in the Horn. In scholarly literature, Oromo nationalists are depicted as disciples of Eritrean secessionists whose objective is the dismemberment of the Ethiopian state. In Ethiopian popular consciousness, Oromo nationalists came to represent a relic of the era of liberation movements who, unlike the levelheaded “democrats” of our time, want to tear down the state, subvert democracy, thwart development and disrupt peace. Simply put, Oromo nationalism was rendered a genie that should be kept inside the bottle.

The eminent British anthropologist Paul Baxter observed this phenomenon nearly forty years ago. In a definitive article published 1978, “Ethiopia’s Unacknowledged Problem: The Oromo,” he wrote:

The efflorescence of feelings of common nationhood and of aspirations for self-determination among the Oromo has not been much commented upon. Yet the problem of the Oromo people has been a major and central one in the Ethiopian Empire ever since it was created by Minilik in the last two decades of the nineteenth century.  If the Oromo people only obtain a portion of the freedoms which they seek then the balance of political power in Ethiopia will be completely altered. If the Oromo act with unity they must necessarily constitute a powerful force.

For the next four decades, even though both the Oromo nation and Oromo nationalism continued to play a critical role in matters of war and peace, in the formation and fall of regimes, and in the quest for equality and justice, the Oromo question remained Ethiopia’s unacknowledged problem that must be confined the periphery of Ethiopian politics.

Ethiopia’s Unacknowledged Problem

The contemporary Oromo struggle emerged during the revolutionary fervor of the late 1960s as a movement against national and class oppression. During this time, the impoverished, overtaxed and landless Oromo peasants Bale presented their grievances in an armed rebellion, the Bale Rebellion, which lasted several years. Oromo elite who served in the imperial regime as civilian and military officials, realizing that their place was always subordinate to the dominant Amhara, started to join the nationalist camp. In 1963, their dissatisfaction coalesced into an organized movement with the establishment of the Mecha Tulama Self-help Association (MTA).

By the late 1960s, the Bale rebellion had been quelled and the MTA had been outlawed by the imperial government. In response, Oromo nationalists founded a political organization named the Ethiopian National Liberation Front (ENLF) in 1971.  Led by Hajji Hussien Sorra, one of the leaders of Bale rebellion, the ENLF’s declared objective was to overthrow Haile Sellassi’s “feudal regime” and to create a “progressive republic” based on a decentralized union comprised of autonomous regions. Specifically, it supported land distribution to peasants, freedom of the press, release of political prisoners and the right to organize political parties and professional associations. Put succinctly, the focus of the Oromo nationalists during this period was on the restoration of human dignity for an Oromo and respect for the identity of the nation.

In the 1970s, the Ethiopian Student Movement (ESM) became the locus of opposition political activities against the imperial government. Oromo nationalists were not just members of the ESM unions but also served in various leadership roles. In these capacities, they participated in the articulation of the two major political questions, encapsulated in the motto of “land to the tiller” and “the question of nationalities,” that have since shaped Ethiopian politics. These same political demands that animated the ESM also galvanized Oromo nationalists.

The twin questions of land and identity culminated in the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974. During the early phases of the revolution, Oromo nationalists gave critical support to the Derg government for issuing the Land Nationalization Proclamation of 1975 and introducing various measures to allow cultural expressions of the various nationalities of Ethiopia. Many Oromo nationalists became leaders of the various political parties of the time including the All Ethiopia Socialist Union or Me’ison (Haile Fida) and the Revolutionary Struggle of Ethiopia’s Oppressed or Eche’at (Baro Tumsa) and the League of the Proletariat or Wez Liig (Senay Likki). Once the Derg consolidated its power, it made any talk of the nationalities question a treasonable crime. Oromo nationalists in urban centers were subsequently imprisoned, tortured and killed. Oromo farmers in the eastern region were labelled collaborators of the Said Barre regime, rounded up indiscriminately and summarily executed.

In the aftermath of this unparalleled brutality, some Oromo nationalists joined the armed struggle in the Chercher highlands in the East. At the same time, Oromo nationalist intellectuals framed Oromo nationalist goals in terms of freedom from the Amhara nafxanya class who had oppressed and persecuted Oromo peasants and from the descendants of the nafxanya in urban areas who kept Oromo professionals in perpetual second class status. As Leenco Lata, a leading leader of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) put it in a recent interview on ESAT, “framing the Oromo national question as a colonial question was necessary because Oromoness itself was threatened with extinction by the assimilationist policies of the imperial regime.”  The political program that was sketched in the context of a worldview shaped by the prevailing realities of the time culminated in the regime change of 1991.

In the 1990s, the Oromo struggle began to move away from the guerilla movement posture it had for decade to a mass movement on Ethiopia’s national political stage. Within the framework of the language-based federal structure, the use of the Oromo language as the working language in Oromia and the use of Latin script in writing in Afaan Oromo, the Oromo people gradually overcame the cultural domination of the era of assimilation and came to realize that they have a common destiny as a unified nation. This sense of unity was reinforced by protest songs, resistance literature, cultural performances and a public display of new symbols of national pride. The annual Irreecha festival, celebrated in Bishoftu from the early 1990s onwards, became a manifestation an Oromo cultural renaissance and a nationalist struggle that had entered a more mature stage of political evolution.

By 2000, Oromo cultural consciousness, resulting from cultural renaissance and mounting deprivation caused by the barefaced exploitation of the Woyyane era, began to coalesce as an organized collective action. The forest fire of 2000 in Bale and opposition to the relocation of the capital of Oromia from Addis Ababa to Adama in 2003 prefigured a more powerful and resilient civic action that erupted a decade later in 2014. This was the university student-led protests opposing the planned implementation of the now infamous Addis Ababa and Surrounding Oromia Special Region Integrated Development Master Plan.

Since 2014, despite ebbs and flows, the Oromo protest has continued to this day. Even though this epochal phenomenon has yet to achieve its goals, it has incontrovertibly changed the face of Ethiopian politics permanently. With the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) ending its quarter century long drama of dissimulation and promoting the longstanding agenda of Oromo nationalist movement, Oromo nationalism become the leitmotif of politics in Oromia and in Ethiopia. As such, the fate of the Ethiopian polity is now inextricably linked with answering the Oromo demands for freedom, equality and justice. Ethiopia’s unacknowledged problem has been acknowledged as Ethiopia’s political problem that can no longer be externalized or pushed to the periphery.

Oromo Protest, an Oromo Renaissance

The Oromo Protest, the current stage of the long Oromo struggle, is characterized by fast, aggressive, sharp-paced resistance actions that took advantage of technology, artistic expressions and the ingenuity of organizers. Tech-savvy activists creatively employed new communication technologies—especially social media via the Internet—for the mobilization of collective action and the subsequent creation, organization, and implementation of tactical moves in pursuit of strategic goals. They were able to use the Internet to initiate and organize a broad spectrum of activities, including consumer boycotts, public protests, stay-at-home strikes, and demonstrations.

In addition to organizing and implementing collective actions on the ground in Oromia, social media technologies were used to coordinate transnational actions between activists in the diaspora and their counterparts at home. The technologies were used in promoting a sense of community and collective identity among Oromo society, creating less-confined political spaces, establishing connections with other social movements, and publicizing the Oromo cause to gain support from the global community.

One of the internal characteristics of the Oromo protests is the activists’ devotion to planning and execution of sophisticated civil actions. The activists created symbols, notably the crossed hands over the head, and employed new methods, tactics and actions which were quickly adopted by protestors in major cities, towns and villages across Oromia. Though Oromia-wide in scope, the network of activists who organized and led the protests remained invisible to the regime’s security apparatus. Unable to pin-down the organization and leadership of the protests, the regime resorted to a dragnet approach which landed leading Oromo political leaders in jail and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Oromo in concentration camps. Thousands more were forced into exile while thousands more were summarily executed by security forces acting with impunity.

Their sacrifices are not in vain. The Oromo Protest has ended the era of secretly-conceived, elite-directed and vertically-implemented bad policies. Confronting the regime with waves of demonstrations and insisting to have a voice in their government, the protestors have impressed on the current and future powerholders the true meaning of the principle of popular sovereignty. Streaming into the streets for nearly a year in the face of a heavily armed military that has no qualms raining bullets on unarmed citizens, the Oromo protesters have shown the futility of the use of brute force against a conscious and determined citizenry. Demanding respect for the constitution, the federal arrangement, and the rule of law, the protestors have defended the gains of the Oromo national movement.

Until the Oromo Protest, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) managed to remain in power by dividing the Oromo people into supporters of the “good” OPDO who are pro-peace, pro-democracy and pro-development “patriots” and of the “evil” OLF who are anti-peace, anti-democracy and anti-development “terrorists.” These dichotomies have now dissolved. The political rhetoric of the current OPDO leaders is indistinguishable from those of an OLF nationalist whom they have despised for a quarter century. Oromia government officials and diaspora-based activists now speak with one voice about the future. This signifies the convergence of Oromo interests and an emerging consensus in addressing the longstanding and current demands the Oromo people.

The apparent unity purpose among Oromo political forces is one of the enduring legacies of the Oromo Protest. Oromo demands are no longer the pawn of the competing positions enunciated in political programs. Through the slogans, chants, placards, speeches, songs and other forms of expression, the Oromo protestors have re-articulated the longstanding Oromo quest for self-determination. At this stage of the struggle, the Oromo people demand positive liberty, the freedom to exercise democratic rights, constitutional rule, respect for human rights and the right to live in peace. They also demand negative liberty or freedom from violence, authoritarian rule, deprivation, arbitrary detention, torture and murder by security forces.

Rearticulated as such it is clear that the longstanding demands of the Oromo people for self-determination are not antagonistic to the demands of all peoples in Ethiopia. They are not only the same demands as other peoples of Ethiopia but also consistent with the rights that are enumerated in the Ethiopian constitution and in notable international human rights declarations and convents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). By expressing Oromo demands so clearly and unambiguously, the Oromo protestors have rendered ineffective the TPLF’s tactic of presenting Oromo demands as a plot designed to dismember and destroy the Ethiopian state.

The Oromo Protest’s immediate impact is on the Oromia government leaders. At least three cases exemplify the new leaders’ transformation. First, when Lemma Megersa, President of the Oromia region, decided to stay away from the Irreecha celebrations of 2017, he showed a rare political acumen of exercising leadership by refraining from acting impulsively. Second, during the celebrations at Lake Arsadi, Burayuu and in other places all over Oromia, the Oromia police acted in the best police tradition that the force’s mission is “to protect and serve.” Third, after the Liyu Police of the Somali region engineered the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Oromo from the Somali region, the regional government quickly organized a relief effort to attend to the needs of the displaced. The senior leader of the OPDO, Abba Duulaa Gammada, realizing that his seat of power wasn’t matched by the authority to effect change, resigned in protest. In recent weeks, the new leaders have foiled the plot to instigate conflict between the Amhara and Oromo people and helped diffuse public fear of an impending inter-ethnic conflict by holding a solidarity conference in with the people of the people of the Amhara region.

It is true that the current OPDO leaders were forced by the resilience and determination of the Oromo Protest to respond to popular demands. Regardless, they made the right decision in choosing to heed the people’s voice, embrace the protestors’ vision and desist from doing more harm. Beyond these overall adjustments, the specific actions they made since the Ireecha festival of 2017 are important not just in resolving existing problems but also in terms of their implications for the future. A leader avoiding an opportunity to bask in limelight is a first in Ethiopia. A police force exercising restraint not to shoot at protestors sets a precedent that will be a model of police behavior in the future. A high level official giving up power rather than continue to be a hatchet man presages a new era in Ethiopian politics. The ‘reformed’ OPDO is an unmistakable example of the institutionalization Oromo nationalism.

The Oromo Protest has also reshaped Oromo nationalism forcing its intellectual leaders to reckon the many lost opportunities, strategic blunders, and self-destructive initiatives that have obviated progress toward self-determination. There is now an emerging Oromo nationalism that is pragmatic and is oriented towards solving the problems of everyday life. It is nationalism that is not and cannot be depicted as destructive, dystopian and iconoclastic. It is nationalism that is rational and has a responsible approach to nation-building. No longer the pariah in Ethiopian politics, the new generation of Oromo nationalists is now a positive force for desirable change and for devising workable solutions for Ethiopia’s future.

The Oromo Protest has shown that the force that poses a threat to the unity of Ethiopians is not the Oromo demand for self-determination, which in fact is the ultimate exercise of democratic rights, but a government that is committed to perpetuating a single group’s domination of the state by pitting against each other the various nations and nationalities in the country. The solution to the country’s ills cannot be achieved by denying the right to choose one’s ethnonational identity. The future of unity lies in the construction of a genuine multinational federation based on equality, justice, human dignity and constitutional rule. This is the Oromo alternative vision to a workable social contract for a future of peace and prosperity.

The Oromo Alternative

Nearly forty years after Paul Baxter bemoaned Oromo political marginalization and lack of unity among them, in 2012, the eminent University of Chicago sociologist, the late Donald Levine, expressed optimism about the role of the Oromo in Ethiopia in an article entitled “the Oromo vision could electrify Ethiopia.” He writes:

Oromo leaders could promote wider understanding of the democratic ethos of the remarkable political Gada system and invite themselves more robustly into the Ethiopian center, with a vigorous campaign to reform democratic procedures, protect human rights, and guarantee civil liberties for ALL Ethiopians. Such a role would be in keeping with the expansive project of the Oromo people and their most salient traditional virtues.”

The Oromo vision that Levine proposed for Ethiopia is precisely the vision that the Oromo Protest has put forth. It is a vision of a freedom, equality, justice and dignity in a participatory democracy. What makes it so compelling is that it is shaped by Oromo indigenous knowledge traditions rather by transplanted ideologies or borrowed experiences that have thus far proven to produce only failed experiments and false starts for positive change. The Oromo vision reaffirms Oromo democratic ethos, notions of inclusive economic development, principles of peace-maintenance and respect for human rights rather than by opposition to the now defunct Ethiopian colonialism. As such, it offers a refreshing alternative to the current one-party dictatorship and holds out a realistic hope for attaining a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Ethiopia.

In addition, Oromo nationalism is no longer an urban-centered movement led by a handful of elites but a broad-based social movement involving Oromos from all walks of life. Protests occurred in all of the twenty-one zones of Oromia and in over 200 cities and numerous villages. The absence of a distinct class of elite leaders did not result in chaos and the reign of unruliness in Oromia during the protests. Despite the effort to fan inter-ethnic suspicion and instigate conflict, the protest exercised great restraint not to let emotions run high and create a circumstance where non-Oromo citizens in Oromia could be harmed. By acting responsibly, the protestors have shown that Oromo nationalism isn’t a negative nationalism that poses a threat to non-Oromo or to Ethiopia’s unity but a movement rooted in the Oromo tradition of social inclusiveness, tolerance and willingness to relate to non-Oromo on the basis of common humanity.

These are positive reasons as to why non-Oromo Ethiopians should find a more reliable, stable, and enduring partner in Oromo leaders to create people-based solidarity against domination. Because of the new realities in Ethiopia, solidarity is now possible on the basis of broadly shared democratic, cultural and geographic values. The majority of Ethiopians are members of a national community of the badly governed. The risk of not having solidarity is too grave and the penalty of refusing to forge one too high. That imposes the moral imperative of seeking solidarity based not on ill-defined uniformity or uncritical acceptance of the other but on common ground and common purpose, and mutual acceptance of each other’s differences, and a willingness to tolerate each other’s excesses. It is solidarity for a more positive future which envisions a shared commitment to the ideals of democracy, human rights, government accountability and transparency and other ideas of both positive and negative freedoms.

Even governments who have interest in the Horn of Africa region should find in the Oromo a more credible and better alternative to the incumbent regime to stabilize the region. This is not to suggest that the Oromo cause should be subservient to the needs of the rest of the world, but a simple statement that the Oromo peoples’ quest for fundamental human rights, rooted in its own heritage and traditional values, is not antithetical to international principles that have avoided conflict and sustained peace in the world. Oromo nationalist leaders realize that the Oromo cause is more attainable if it is aligned with the needs of the international community.

Fascist Ethiopia’s regime (TPLF)’s another genocide plan (state terrorism). Wal-gahiin Mana-maree nageenya biyyoolessaatiin taa’ame shoroorka’u TPLF mul’isa. November 13, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

TPLF Ethiopia regime federal security officers conduct mass torture in Kilinto and Maikelawi jails.png

AS EXCLUSIVE: DOCUMENT PRESENTED AT THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING REVEALS ETHIOPIA FACING ALARMING MULTI-FRONT CRISIS

Addis Standard, 12 November 2017

Major points discussed in the document include:

  • The country’s federal system is facing imminent threat
  • Security breakdown contributing to rising public anxiety
  • Immeasurable human and material cost caused by recent conflicts
  • Absence of rule of law prevalent
  • Security crisis negatively impacting the economy
  • Diminishing foreign aid due to human rights related concerns
  • Crippling effect on the tourism industry as well as hurting the country’s image
  • Security crisis curtailing the ability of the security establishment to discharge its constitutional 

Although It Mentions Egypt And Eritrea As Two Foreign Agitators, The Document Squarely Blames The Crisis On The “Internal Vulnerability” Of Current Leadership

It proposes the establishment of a joint command post/joint committee between the federal and regional security establishment 

 

Addis Abeba, November 12/2017 – A document assessing the current security and political situation in Ethiopia and was presented at the National Security Council meeting, held on Friday Oct. 10/2017, revealed in detail that Ethiopia was currently confronted with alarming level of multi-front crisis.

The meeting was held at the office of PM Hailemariam Desalegn and was attended by Siraj Fegessa, minister of defense & head of the National Security Council, General Samora Yenus, chief of staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and other high level federal intelligence and defense officials, presidents of regional states and their security officials, as well as federal and regional state senior members of the police and the militia.

The document, which was jointly prepared by the country’s intelligence and defense officials, and was viewed exclusively by Addis Standard, reveals that the current security crisis, which was exacerbated by the prevalent of “absence of rule law”, was the most serious of all threats the country was facing as of late. It blames that”lawlessness” and “dissent” were alarmingly taking national forms by expanding throughout the country, threatening the federal system. Such incidents, according to the document, were fueling public anxiety and loss of confidence in the government.

“Genocide” 

But the most disturbing detail in the document was the part in which it discussed the recent violence in several towns and villages within the Ethio-Somali and Oromia regional states, which resulted in the death of unknown numbers of civilians and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Oromos from the Ethio-Somali regional state as well as hundreds of Ethio-Somalis from towns in Oromia regional state.

The document described the situation as having “resulted in genocide and mass displacement of people; witnessed inhuman and atrocious killings of civilians; and created a moral and psychological scar among the victims.”  It further said that this incident revealed the presence and prevalence of an “unnamed terrorist organization which “has not taken responsibility” for the crimes committed. “The people have lost trust in their constitutional right to move freely and live peacefully.”

The document also mentioned the proliferation of arms within the country and its nature in changing hands among various ‘agent provocateurs’.  The combined effect of this was crippling the country’s security apparatus to discharge its constitutional duty because it was engaged in “putting conflicts sprouting in several places under control”.

Economy & tourism 

The economy is severely hurting, according the document, and the flow of foreign currency was drying. Foreign aid, too, was diminishing due to conditions attached to human rights abuses, and the country’s tourism was significantly affected and its image tainted. But most alarmingly, the document admitted that domestic investment was facing heavy challenges and unprecedented level of capital flight by those who have already invested in the country was seen recently. The economy was also affected by stockpiling of commodities as well as the proliferation of money laundering by increasing numbers of individuals; and it admitted that the country’s taxation system was unable to collect due taxes to help the economy, which was also hit by “illegal export of prohibited commodities” through organized illegal traders.

Blame on leadership

The document mentions Eritrea and Egypt as well as the presence of a coordinated cyber propaganda as fueling tensions within the country; but at the same time it puts the blame on the vulnerability of  the political leadership and its inability to address public grievances in the last two and half years. It also points fingers at the direct involvement of the leadership in recent conflicts. Instead of guiding the public and the youth to productive ways of live, it says, the leadership was involved in guiding them to dissent and destruction, immersing itself in a zero sum game. “The problem is political”, it says, and “it can only be solved politically.”

Joint command post/joint committee

But its recommendation is an establishment of a joint command post (sometimes referred in the document as mere “joint committee”) between the federal and regional security establishments.

The immediate aim of this joint command post/joint committee was highlighted in eight different points. This include the work that needed to be done to secure the free movement of people from places to places; securing major roads throughout the country on 24 hour bases of patrolling; bringing to justice those who were involved in recent conflicts; prohibiting of illegal rallies; rehabilitation of displaced Ethiopians back to their homes; strict control of anti-public armed forces; control of the movement of illegal arms, human trafficking as well as contraband trades; as well as strengthening of the security apparatus at every level.

This joint command post/joint committee, would be organizing a monthly joint meeting between federal and regional security establishment after/on the second week of every month; and it would be submitting its reports directly to the Prime Minister’s office.

Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, which last for several hours, Siraj Fegessa said that a consensus  between federal and regional states was reached to coordinate the security establishment of both to tackle the growing security crisis. “We have evaluated the security risk in the country which has been recurring since last year and we have prepared a detailed plan to control the situation,” Siraj was quoted by a local newspaper as saying . “We met with the stakeholders since we have to work together.”

Addis Standard received further information that there would be additional similar meetings to hammer out more details on the document, which was distributed as a working paper to everyone who participated in the meeting held at the PM’s office on Friday.

AS


Click here to read related article from OE sources: Ethiopia: Government-Fuelled Conflict & the Need for Unity




Wal-gahiin Mana-maree nageenya biyyoolessaatiin taa’ame shoroorka’u TPLF mul’isa.

Awash Post, Sadaasa, 12, Bara 2017


Manni-Maree nageenyaa biyyoolessaa jeeqamuu, nagaa fi tasgabbii dhabuu biyyattii irratti marii taasisee jira. Keessattu haala naannoo Oromiyaa keesssa jiru irratti mariin kan xiyyeeffate. Mariin kunis kan gaggeeffame waajjira Minstera Muummee Haayilamaariyaam Dassaalanyitti ture. Walitti qabaan mana mari nageenyaa Muummichi Ministera HD fi Ministerri Ittisaa biyyaa fi hogganaa Mana-maree Nageenyaa obbo Siiraaj Fageessaatin gaggeeffameera. Humnoonni nageenyaa federaalaa fi naannoo, pireezdaantonni naannolee, koomishinaroonni poolisii fi ajajoonni Raayyaa Ittisaa biyyaa marii kana irraa qooda fudhataniiru.

Marii ol’aantummaa isaani kabjsiisuu fi qor-qalbii isaani tasgabbeessu raawwachuu irraa woyyaanonni takkaa duubatti hin jenne. Barbaachisummaan marii kanaas nagaa fi tasgabbiin Oromiyatti qixa barbaadamuun argamuu dhabuu fi karoora nageenyaa kallattii funduraa irratti kaayuudha. Ajandaan dhoksaa marichaas sochii fi gaaffi ummanni Oromoo dhimma abbaa biyyummaa fi dimokraasii irratti kaasaa jiru humnaan danquuf kan kiyyeeffameedha. Qaamolee nageenya federaalaa fi naannoo diriirsuun sagalee ummataa ukkaamsuudha. Qor-qalbii qeerroo fi dhageetti bulchiinsa haaraa OPDO’s cabsuu ni barbaadu.
Haa ta’uu malee ummanni Oromoo sodaa marii nageenyaati miti; labsiin hatattamaa fi ajajni garee komaandi postitiin baati 10f kennamaa ture gaafi fi fedhii ummataa dhaabuu akka hin dandeenye ifa. Hidhaa, tumaa fi dhiigni balbala Oromoo hundatti dhangala’aa ture qabsoo cimse malee tasuma hin gufachiifne. Marii fi konfiransii nageenyaa jechuun qabeenya ummataa fi mootummaa qisaasuu irra gaafi fi yaada ummataa dhaga’uun furmaata waaraa ture. Kana gochuuf woyyaaneen ijaa fi gurra hin arganne. Tuffiin cimaanis keessaa isaaniti belbela. BMNO fi hawaasa bal’aa wajjiin dhimma furmaata ta’uu malu: hidhamaa hiikuu, kan ajjeefamani, qe’ee fi qabeenya irraa buqqa’aniif beenyaa barbaachisu kaffaluu irratti ifaan mari’achuu male. Gochaan hammeenyummaa fi gar-jabeenyaa poolisii federaalaa, Agaazii fi woraanna ittisa biyyaatin ummata Oromoo irratti raawwataa turanif ummataa fi bulchiinsa naannootiin kabaja woyyaaneen barbaaddu mulqamuunis mata dhukkubbi cimaa itti ta’eera.

Qaamolee nageenya naannoo fi federaalaatiin rukutamuu, butamuu fi ajjeefamuun ummata Oromoo haaraa hin turre. Sirna bulchiinsa woyyaanee keessatti Oromoon kanuma keessumeessaa, argaa fi dhaga’aa as gahe. Mariin Manni-maree Nageenyaa biyyaalessaa kaleessa gaggeesse kan calqabaatis miti. Erga labsiin mana marii nageenya biyyoolessa hundeessuu lakk.257/2001 bahee amata 16 ta’eera. Labsichi duras kallattii fi al-kallattiin hojima irra ture. Yeroo rakkoo fi nagaatis dhimmuma itti bahaa turan. Kanaaf maqaa wal-gahii, marii fi konfaransitin shirri qabsoo Oromoo danquuf taasifamu hundi nageenyaa fi tasgabbi biyyaas hin fidu; falmii fi qabsoo ummata Oromootis tasuma gufachiisuu hin danda’u.

It is a mistake to ignore the emancipatory potential of the Oromo movement November 11, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Oromian Affairs, Oromian Voices, Oromians Protests, Uncategorized.
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A post written by someone named Wond Wossen about what’s currently transpiring in Ethiopia has been circulating on my social media sphere (find the link to his post at the bottom of this page). Upon seeing it I could not help but write another perspective because the points raised by Wond Wossen are not only problematic but also commonly expressed. I find many problems with his analysis.
Let me just mention a few:
Like most political analyses on Ethiopia, Wond Wossen makes the grave mistake of centering elites at the expense of ordinary people’s movement for justice. He frames what’s happening in Ethiopia today as a simple struggle between two factions of the same ruling elite. In doing so, he has completely erased the struggle that the Oromo people have been waging for decades. For the past 50 years, Oromos have been articulating and demanding for a transformation of Ethiopia’s political, social and economic and cultural space. More recently, the Oromo protests from 2014 onwards has brought to the fore the most pressing issues not only in Oromia but across Ethiopia—issues of land grab, unjust imprisonment, economic marginalization, denial of civil liberties, repression of all sorts, lack of political representation, nepotism and corruption and so on. For three consecutive years, Oromo people have been demonstrating against a violent regime and forcing it to contend with their demands. Remember, the cancellation of the Master plan?
Wond Wossen, like so many Ethiopian analysts, fails to recognize the emancipatory potential the Oromo movement has not only for the region but also for Ethiopia at large. Not only does he completely dismiss the just Oromo movement, he also reduces the Oromo public to mere cheerleaders for power. He seems to suggest that the only thing the wider Oromo public—whether in the diaspora or in Ethiopia — are interested in is to see some Oromo faces in what he considers to be “powerful positions” in the federal government. He could not be more wrong. Oromo people have not been dying en masse so that some Oromo person will hold an important position within the current system. They continue to risk their lives to transform the social, political and economic culture of Ethiopia. They have been risking their lives to end economic, political and social marginalization. He does not seem to know much about the historical relationship between OPDO and the Oromo public. In so far as Oromo people are rallying behind the new OPDO leadership, it is cautiously, as artist Jambo Jote told top ranking members of OPDO at a gathering last week. Unlike what Wond Wossen suggests, the Oromo public is not going to settle for mere cosmetic changes. They have not been dying on the streets to see some OPDO faces in power while they are ripped from their lands, their family, friends and comrades languishing in prison and their political life reduced to rubber stamping 100% wins for EPRDF. Whatever new rhetoric and project OPDO has developed it can be understood only in the context of the Oromo movement. OPDO leaders did not wake up one morning and thought, “today, we have to challenge the TPLF for federal power”.
Sadly, Wond Wossen is not alone in erasing the potential of Oromo movements to transform Ethiopia’s long-standing authoritarian political culture and establishment. This is actually part and parcel of the problem Oromo people have with the Ethiopian state infrastructure—which dismisses Oromo aspirations, contributions, values, institutions, and political traditions. What is even sadder is this erasure is happening at a time when the Oromo people’s movement, and others that for now go unnoticed, may well be in the process of transforming the country right before our eyes.
Many analysts on Ethiopia seem to think that these lofty principles such as democracy, equality and justice will come about when supposed political parties from Ethiopia and the diaspora get together and “negotiate” on how to put the country “on the path of democracy and stability.” Wond Wossen mistakenly assumes that democracy is a top down process, arrived at after a meeting or series of meetings in American or European capitals. Isn’t that exactly how we got into the mess we are in right now? Democracy is not something that is given from above; it is the product of a balance of social forces and comes about in a given society through particular processes. Democracy, contrary to what Wond Wossen suggests, doesn’t come about because TPLF or OPDO gathers a crowd and tells them they are now free. Or because TPLF sits down with OLF and G7 and whoever else and decides to share a piece of the pie.
Wond Wossen also completely misses the fact that competition between various elites has the potential to open up space for democratic processes to emerge. The best example is when the OPDO started standing up for itself; it opened up all sorts of spaces and possibilities. Make no mistake; this is not because the OPDO has overnight transformed itself into a beacon of democracy and justice. For example, the relationship between Oromia Police and the citizens have changed dramatically. Whereas the police used to unleash violence on protesters, now they take pictures with them and there is an expectation that they will protect protesters, not shoot at them. This is something unheard of in the entirety of the EPRDF rule. Wond Wossen suggests that the Oromia Regional government returned grabbed land to its rightful owners to score points against the TPLF. In reality, one of the major demands of the Oromo protests was the issue of land grab. If OPDO is returning stolen land back to the people, it is because that is what the people have been demanding. If he thinks this is all about scoring a point, he should ask himself why the regional government could not return land in 2006 or 2012. In the same vein, he also misconstrues the actions the regional government is taking against the vast network of contraband trades in the region as mere retaliation against TPLF. However, the heart of the matter is that the contraband trade is the manifestation of the economic marginalization the people are fighting in the region. For example, Oromo Khat farmers have been impoverished while there is a flourishing multimillion-dollar Khat trade in the region. Same thing can be said about Coffee and other commodities. So, targeting the contraband trade is ensuring that the region’s people benefit from their labor. Whether or not OPDO also manages to score a point against TPLF is secondary. The point here is that political elites don’t do things out of the kindness of their hearts; they take decisive actions when there is a demand from below requiring them to act. Political situations create conditions for particular kinds of policies or actions to be taken. In doing so, they determine what is politically advantageous for them in the changing context and what is not.
Another very good example of what I am talking about can be seen in the arena of freedom of expression. On OBN, the regional State controlled media; viewers are now consuming content that would have been considered taboo just a year ago. The Oromo Federalist Congress recently held a press conference on OBN; the network is creating space for Oromo intellectuals and activists to hold hours long discussions on the most sensitive political questions. In an unprecedented gathering with top OPDO officials, some of the most critical Oromo artists expressed their opinions freely on the draconian censorship of their art. In response, Lemma Megerssa declared that the era of censorship of Oromo art has come to an end. Within days, songs that were hitherto banned from the regional TV network were on air to the delight of millions. The point here is not that certain songs were played or that interviews were held and etc. I am also not here to glorify the regional government. I am merely trying to underscore the fact that certain political conditions create space for democracy and freedom of expression among other things. This is not a gift the ‘elite’ give to the people. To think so is a huge mistake. We must see these things in light of the protests and the demands that the Oromo people continue to place upon the system. We also have to appreciate the domino effect and emancipatory potential that this will have for the rest of Ethiopia.
Needless to say, to reduce the entirety of what is happening in Ethiopia today, as a struggle between TPLF and OPDO is not only to miss the point but also to be incredibly shortsighted and miss major developments that are happening right below the surface. Unfortunately, for people who are used to viewing political change only coming from Addis and radiating to the “periphery” it must be unfathomable that Oromos, and others in the margins are transforming Ethiopia from the ‘regions’.
Here’s Wond Wossen’s post https://www.facebook.com/wondwosenn…


UNPO: Oromo: Protests Leave 8 Dead October 13, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Oromo Protests, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist
Oct 13, 2017

Oromo: Protests Leave 8 Dead


Photo Courtesy of Quartz

Protests this week in Oromia have raised concerns, with one on Wednesday 11 October 2017 killing 8 people. Sections of the Oromo diaspora accused the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of having orchestrated these deadly demonstrations, since they were organized unlike the others.

Below is an article published by OPride:

At least 8 people were killed and more than 30 others injured on October 11, 2017 in renewed protests across Ethiopia’s restive Oromia state. Peaceful protests were reported again on Thursday in several Oromia towns, including Woliso in West Shawa, where locals reported a peaceful rally of more than 15,000 people.

Yesterday’s deadly protests appear to have been organized unlike previous ones, which were usually, although not always, preceded by media announcements from abroad. In fact, some diaspora-based activists denounced yesterday’s demonstrations as the work of spoilers and agents of the ruling Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Officials from the Oromia regional state also said the protests were planned by forces that want to weaken Oromo unity.

The protests went ahead despite calls for their cancellation. Demonstrators took to the streets in large numbers in more than dozen towns in West Arsi, West Shawa, Wallaga, and Hararge zones. The protests in the latter have been ongoing and largely in response to continued incursions by the Liyu Police of the adjoining Somali Regional State of Ethiopia.

For days, several Oromo activists warned protesters not to join the protests called by unknown individuals under the banner of “waamicha harmee” – meaning Oromia’s call – out of concern that protests lacking clear political goals were fruitless. Although the organizers were unknown, the slogans were nothing unusual: Down down Wayane, release opposition leaders from prison, and no to fake federalism.

What does this mean? Does it mean diaspora activists are being left in the cold by home-based groups who have their own agenda other than waiting on a hollow promise of change to be midwifed by Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) at some future date? Does it mean the OPDO has lost control of the streets? Does it indicate the lack of coordination and clear chain of command within the grassroots movement? Was this the inevitable instance of social media being weaponized by state actors? Were there targeted and geotagged campaigns within Ethiopia by TPLF agents and social media consultants?

Prior to yesterday’s protests, senior OPDO leaders held massive town hall meetings in flashpoint towns, including Ambo, and it appeared they were connecting with the public. But the widespread protests upended it all. In three-years of protests, the prelude to Irreechaa 2017 was the only time protest leaders across the Atlantic were seen to be on different pages. The peaceful conclusion of this year’s thanksgiving festival signaled that the fences were all mended. Then came the Malka Atete celebrations in Sabata and Burayu towns in central Oromia. The latter events differed from Irreecha by the unusually large display of Oromo resistance flags.

The sheer size of flags at the event came as a surprise because leaders of the Oromo Gadaa council had called on all attendees not to bring any flags and partisan emblems. This led to spirited debates among Oromo activists for several days. Others speculated that the unusually large display of the flags must be the work of some organized group, perhaps even the regime with the aim of using it as a pretext for violent crackdown and justification for another Oromia-wide state of emergency.

The development was significant enough that even pro-TPLF bloggers weighed in. For example, Horn Affairs editor Daniel Berhane noted that when people hoist that flag and mention the name Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), they are not referring to the OLF faction in Asmara but the nation’s spirit of resistance against oppression. This focus on the flag and OLF prompted the Asmara-based group to aggressively pushback on social media, even appearing to suggest it was behind the protests.

From what we know, OLF and its affiliated Qeerroo Bilisummaa did not publicly call Wednesday’s protests and its reach doesn’t extend as widely as the protests were. They simply lack the kind of grassroots organizational capacity necessary to pull off demonstrations of this size. Besides, the group calls its protests Fincila Xumura Gabrummaa (FXG), the final push to end Oromo subjugation, and no calls for protests under this slogan went out. Most importantly, it would have formally claimed responsibility for the massive turnout if it was behind it. Besides, some of the slogans, for example about making the federation meaningful, are contrary to the demands of the Asmara group.

Regardless, #OromoProtests is entering a new critical phase. Many hope that this week’s deadly protests were but a one-off instance of breakdown in communications and leaders of the grassroots movement will move swiftly to assert control. A repeat of a similarly uncoordinated protest would be seen as a sign of rupture within the protest movement. If past trends are any indication, the grassroots movement has been so resilient that it overcame its shortcomings after each hiccup.

Revolutions are slow-cooking. However, prolonged revolutions tend to self-destruct and atrophy. The culprit is usually the appearance on the stage of dark forces that may not necessarily be in line with the overall objective of the movement other than disrupting the status quo. Without the decisive battles that mark watershed moments and make whatever gains are made irreversible, revolutions are still in uncertain waters.

So far the gains made as a result of the huge sacrifices incurred over the past three years are largely symbolic and rhetorical…with the possible exception of the change of attitude by Oromia police as well as the Oromia regional administration. It had once appeared as if the latter is in charge. Yesterday’s mass protests requires a rethink of all calculations by the OPDO and diaspora activists and all responsible forces.

That said, OPDO leaders should not and could not rest on their laurels. The youth protesters have great sympathy for their plight and dreams of autonomy from the domineering Center. Arresting suspects in the killing of protesters yesterday is a remarkable departure from the past and could only increase sympathy towards the regional government. However, sympathy is far from loyalty. Besides, the organization is only recently baptized as part of the Oromo struggle for freedom rather than a Trojan horse for the TPLF, which was the prevailing view among the Oromo public until 2014, when nation-wide protests broke out, and more incontestably after October 2016 when Lemma Megersa and his nationalist wing of young Turks took the helm at the organization. Protesters will garner confidence only after seeing concrete change at the federal level. The changes in Oromia state level are encouraging. The state-run media outfit is putting out critical reports and airs documentaries critical of the federal authorities that have refused to heed the demands of the Oromo people and instead ordered not only killing of peaceful protesters but also displacements of thousands from their ancestral homes using a proxy army, the Somali regions Liyu Police. But that is far from enough.

Labeling it as the work of the enemy harkens back to the dark days of the past when Oromo against Oromo rivalries undermined a united struggle against oppression and marginalization.  Rather than the work of an enemy or http://www.satenaw.com/breaking-news-least-eight-killed-dozens-wounded-protests-across-oromia/internal saboteurs, the protests could also signal a renewed push towards taking the struggle into a new stage aimed at changing the TPLF regime.


Related:-

#OromoProtests

Satenaw:Breaking News…… At least eight killed, dozens wounded in protests across Oromia

Protests in different Oromia towns, Ethiopia, continued on Wednesday and Thursday; at least six people were killed and more than 30 wounded during protests. –  By Solomon Abate, Salem Solomon, Tizita Belachew (VOA) |

 

Fox News:  6 dead as protests surge again in Ethiopia: Official

Tesfa News:Protests flared up in Oromia, scores killed

 

Prof Al Mariam: ‘My Letter to President Trump Requesting Targeted Sanctions Against the TPLF Regime in Ethiopia’ October 3, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

bishoftu-mascare-2nd-october-2016-fascist-ethiopias-regime-tplf-conducted-masskillings-against-oromo-people-at-irreecha-celebration

My Letter to President Trump Requesting Targeted Sanctions Against the TPLF Regime in Ethiopia

October 2, 2017

Donald Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Re: REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST PERSONS AND ENTITIES INVOLVED IN THE IRRECHA MASSACRES ON OCTOBER 2, 2016 AND OTHER CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY COMMITTED IN ETHIOPIA 

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing this letter for two purposes. First, I wish to thank you for imposing sanctions[1] on certain senior current and former South Sudan government officials and South Sudanese companies responsible for undermining peace, security and stability in that violence-wracked country.

Second, I am writing to request imposition of similar sanctions against members of the ruling regime in Ethiopia self-styled as the “Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front” led and dominated by the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), an entity listed as a terrorist organization in the Global Terrorism Database[2] (GTD).

The last act of terrorism committed by the TPLF, according to the GTD, was on August 16, 2016[3].

I believe it is fair and proper to give credit where credit is due. While some have claimed the sanctions imposed on South Sudan’s leaders and their accomplices are meager and inadequate[4], I believe the action sends a clear and unambiguous message to all Africans in positions of power that protection of human rights is a central component of an America-first U.S. foreign policy in Africa, a fact that has been underscored by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson[5].

I am especially elated to learn the U.S. Treasury Department “will forcefully respond to the atrocities ongoing in South Sudan by targeting those who abuse human rights, seek to derail the peace process, and obstruct reconciliation in South Sudan.” Such a resolute statement goes a long way in reassuring not only the people of South Sudan but also all Africans that the U.S. will not merely talk the talk about being on the “right side of history” but also walk the talk by acting decisively and selectively against individuals and entities engaged in gross human rights violations.

I wish to point out for the record that the sanctions you have imposed in South Sudan are in stark contrast to the Obama administration’s lifting of sanctions against the Sudan in its last week in office.

During his presidential candidacy in 2007, Barack Obama said[6], the “genocide in Darfur [Sudan] is a stain on our souls… As a president of the United States I don’t intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.”

In the final week of his presidency, on January 13, 2017, Mr. Obama turned a blind eye to the genocidal Sudanese regime and stood on the “wrong side of history” when he rescinded  sanctions authorized pursuant to  Executive Order 13067[7] of November 3, 1997 and Executive Order 13412[8] of October 13, 2006 related to the policies and actions of the Government of Sudan.

In issuing his rescission of Executive Order 13761[9],  Mr. Obama whitewashed the bloody genocidal crimes of the Sudanese regime by speciously claiming that regime has shown “positive actions over the past 6 months”. The “actions” allegedly included maintaining cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in the Sudan, improving humanitarian access and counterterrorism cooperation.

It is said, “one swallow does not make a summer.” It is incomprehensible to me how Mr. Obama could gloss over and excuse atrocities committed over a period exceeding two decades on mere gestures of good behavior over six months.

What is even more appalling is Mr. Obama’s duplicity and hypocrisy in completely ignoring Sudan’s close ties with North Korea and purchase of weapons from that rogue regime for use in the commission of human rights violations and atrocities. In lifting sanctions against the Sudan, Mr. Obama also conveniently ignored the fact that Sudan has been on the list[10] of state sponsors of terrorism since 1993 and had provided a haven to Osama bin Laden.

Perhaps one should not be surprised by Mr. Obama’s stratagems and sophistry in exculpating those on the “wrong side of history”, as he used to call them. When Mr. Obama visited Ethiopia in July 2015, he unabashedly declared the TPLF regime, which claimed electoral victory by capturing 100 percent of the “parliamentary” seats, as “democratically elected[11].”

In light of Mr. Obama’s double-speak and duplicity on human rights in Africa, I find your recent targeted sanctions against South Sudan and the tenor of your administration’s emerging human rights policy forthright, refreshing and encouraging.

I believe selective and targeted sanctions such as the one imposed against South Sudanese leaders and companies can serve as effective tools of an America-first foreign policy in advancing the cause of human rights globally, and particularly in Africa. Targeted sanctions selectively and purposefully focus on leaders, their family members and supporters, political elites and segments of society known to be directly responsible for human rights violations or in aiding, abetting and giving material support in the commission of such violations. Blanket sanctions are more likely to inflict greater hardship and suffering on the general population, and often those engaged in gross human rights violations find ways to circumvent them. It has been observed that “targeted sanctions” or “smart sanctions” are like “smart bombs”, considerably reducing collateral damage on civilian populations.

I believe in the old saying, “What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” What is good for South Sudan is good for Ethiopia.

I am requesting that you follow up with targeted sanctions against current and senior members of the “Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front” led and dominated by the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front and other entities aiding and abetting that regime in the commission of human rights violations in Ethiopia. The evidence of human rights violations supporting targeted sanctions against the TPLF regime is overwhelming, incontrovertible, substantial and compelling.

The Irreecha Massacres of October 2, 2016

On October 2, 2016, troops loyal to the ruling Tigrean Peoples’ Liberation Front opened fire indiscriminately on crowds at a religious festival known as “Irreecha” attended by an “estimated 2 million people[12] in the town of Bishoftu, some 45 miles southeast of the capital Addis Ababa.

The TPLF regime reported 52 dead from what it said was crowd “stampede[13] caused by anti-government elements”. In a televised address, the regime’s prime minster blamed the victims for provoking troops into using indiscriminate deadly force.

On October 3, 2016, Freedom House issued a statement[14] on the Irreecha Massacres demanding an independent investigation: “The deaths in Bishoftu occurred because security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition at a crowd of over a million people celebrating a religious occasion. The government of Ethiopia should allow a truly independent body to investigate the tragedy at Bishoftu as well as security forces’ well-documented record of using excessive force against peaceful gatherings.”

Eyewitness reports including statements by accredited Voice of America Amharic Service program journalists revealed that heavily armed regime troops had taken tactical positions behind the VIP grandstand hidden from direct view of the crowd and suddenly opened live fire on the unarmed and peacefully protesting crowd after the official program could not proceed due to crowd demands and chants against the regime.

On October 8, the TPLF regime declared a “state of emergency” suspending the constitution and instituting martial law under an entity called “Command Post[15]”.

On November 12, 2016, the regime officially reported[16] arresting “11,607 people, including 347 women”. The U.S. State Department in its 2016 human rights report[17]stated, “Many [of the thousands arrested] were never brought before a court, provided access to legal counsel, or formally charged with a crime.” The actual number of persons arrested was significantly higher than officially reported. In March 2017, the Command Post “announced that 4,996 of the 26,130 people detained for allegedly taking part in protests would be brought to court.”

An “investigative report” on the Irreecha Massacres released by the regime’s human rights organization in April 2016 rubberstamped the regime’s original position: “The violence happened because the protesters were using guns and so security forces had no other option.”

In its June 2016 report entitled “Such a Brutal Crackdown’: Killings and Arrests in Response to Ethiopia’s Oromo Protest”, Human Rights Watch stated, “security forces in Ethiopia have used excessive and lethal force against largely peaceful protests that have swept through Oromia, the country’s largest region, since November 2015.”

On September 19, 2017, Human Rights Watch in its 33-page report entitled “Fuel on the Fire’: Security Force Response to the 2016 Irreecha Cultural Festival” provided details on the regime’s “use of force in response to restive crowds at 2016’s Irreecha.” The report “found evidence that security force personnel not only triggered the stampede that caused many deaths but subsequently shot and killed some members of the crowd.”

Over the past year, the TPLF regime has committed unspeakable atrocities in Northern Ethiopia including Gonder, Wolkait, Bahr Dar and other locations.

The Irreecha Massacres are only the latest in the 26-year sordid history of gross and egregious human rights violation by the TPLF regime in Ethiopia.

On May 16, 2005, one day after the general election, the late leader of the TPLF regime, Meles Zenawi, also declared a state of emergency, outlawed all public gatherings and placed under his direct personal command and control all police, security and military forces in the country. Zenawi personally authorized the use of deadly force against any protesters in the post-election period. As a result, nearly a thousand people were either killed or severely wounded by regime troops. Zenawi subsequently set up an Inquiry Commission. That Commission was forced to go into exile following harassment and threats by the TPLF regime to falsify its findings. In November 2006, that Commission shared[18] its findings with members of the Africa Subcommittee in the House of Representatives. The Inquiry Commission laid the entire blame at the feet of the TPLF regime and rejected their spurious claims and justifications for use of deadly force.

partial list of the names of the victims of the Meles Massacres is publicly available.

list of names of those security, military and police officials directly involved in the post-2005 election massacres is also available. The TPLF regime to date has taken no action against these officials.

In May 2014, troops loyal to the TPLF regime massacred at least 47 university and high school students in the town of Ambo 80 miles west of the capital Addis Ababa. Eyewitnesses reported significantly higher casualties and fatalities than officially reported. Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement[19] condemning the “shooting at and beating [of] peaceful protesters in Ambo, Nekemte, Jimma, and other towns”. According to HRW, the student “protests erupted over the release of the proposed Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan” which would “expand Addis Ababa’s municipal boundary to include more than 15 communities in Oromia” and displace Oromo farmers and residents.

In December 2003, the TPLF massacred hundreds of Anuak people in Gambella in Western Ethiopia. Human Rights Watch documented  that TPLF troops “subjected Anuak communities throughout the region to widespread and systematic acts of murder, rape, torture, arbitrary imprisonment and the destruction of entire villages.” Genocide Watch sent a fact-finding team in Gambella and secured[21]  authentic documents “proving that the Gambella massacres were planned at the highest levels of the Ethiopian government, and even given the code name “Operation Sunny Mountain”. A report[20] by the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program on the Anuak Massacre concluded, “From December 2004 to at least January 2006, the ENDF (Ethiopian National Defense Forces) attacked and abused Anuak civilians in Gambella region – wantonly killing, raping, beating, torturing, and harassing civilians.”

In 2007, the TPLF regime massacred hundreds of people in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Human Rights Watch in its June 2008 report[22] entitled “Collective Punishment: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia’s Somali Region” documented, “Ethiopian troops have forcibly displaced entire rural communities, ordering villagers to leave their homes within a few days or witness their houses being burnt down and their possessions destroyed and risk death.”

The TPLF regime has refused to undertake meaningful and credible investigations into these crimes against humanity despite requests by human rights groups and even the U.N. The TPLF regime has refused entry to all UN special rapporteurs since 2007 to investigate human rights violations in Ethiopia.

The TPLF regime has dismissed and ignored all calls for an independent investigation of the Irreecha Massacres by United Nations top human rights official[23]the African Commission[24], the European parliament[25], and members of United States Congress[26].

The difference between the South Sudanese regime and the TPLF regime on human rights is the difference between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Both regimes are peas in a pod. Thus, what is good enough for the South Sudanese regime is good enough for the TPLF regime.

I believe an America-first human rights policy which employs targeted sanctions to promote human rights, democracy and peace in Africa is not only necessary but also likely to produce outcomes that are consistent with the values and principles of American taxpayers.

Millions of refugees are leaving Africa to come go to Europe and North America because life is hell for them in Africa under brutal and bloodthirsty dictatorships, not merely to seek better economic opportunities. The U.S. can effectively deal with this problem by addressing the root cause of migration out of Africa, namely, brutal and oppressive dictatorships that treat their citizens as slaves and their countries’ treasuries and resources as their private estates. Selective and targeted sanctions aimed at the financial and logistical incapacitation of leaders, political elites and segments of society known to be directly responsible for human rights violations or engaged in aiding, abetting and giving material support in the commission of such violations in Africa is the proverbial two-by-four that will quickly get their attention.

For well over a decade, I have argued without pause that the best way to help Africa is to let Africa help itself. Africa can never be free until African leaders are held to account and forced to abandon the culture of panhandling, which have perfected as an art form. The U.S. must end its aid welfare program to African dictators who siphon off much of that aid and deposit it in their private offshore bank accounts. Your transition team hit the nail on the head when it demndaed answers from the State Department to the following question: “With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen?”

I wish I could definitively answer that question for you. But I can say definitively that to begin the effort to find out “how much of our funding is stolen” in Africa, we must make targeted sanctions a central part of the America-first foreign policy in Africa.

Mr. President, what I am asking is not anything extraordinary. I am merely requesting that you impose the same targeted sanctions you imposed on the leaders, supporters and business entities in South Sudan to the leaders, supporters and business entities responsible for human rights violations in Ethiopia. What is good enough for South Sudan is good enough for Ethiopia.

Mr. President, when Mr. Obama visited Ghana in his first trip to Africa in July 2009, he said, “Now, make no mistake: History is on the side of these brave Africans, not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.”

The people of Ethiopia and the people of Africa are on tenterhooks to find out if you are going to stand with African dictators or the common people yearning to breathe free.

I am betting my bottom dollar that you will stand with the people of Africa and not the dictators who lord over them, as did Mr. Obama.

I will guarantee that you will have 100 million fans in Ethiopia if you institute targeted sanctions against members of the TPLF regime and its cronies involved in gross human rights violations, and win more than a 1.2 billion Africans if you make targeted sanctions a core part of your America-first policy in Africa.

I guarantee it!

Sincerely,

Alemayehu (Al) G. Mariam, M.A., Ph.D., J.D.
Professor and Attorney at Law

Cc: Hon. Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State
Hon. Steven T. Mnuchin, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Hon. Nimrata “Nikki” Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

==========================
[1] https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0152.aspx

[2] http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/Results.aspx?perpetrator=2127

[3] http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/IncidentSummary.aspx?gtdid=201608260003

[4] http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/09/06/u-s-sanctions-south-sudanese-leaders/

[5] https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2017/05/270620.htm

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEd583-fA8M

[7] https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Documents/13067.pdf

[8] https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Documents/13412.pdf

[9] https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/DCPD-201700026/pdf/DCPD-201700026.pdf

[10] https://www.state.gov/j/ct/list/c14151.htm

[11] https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/world/africa/obama-calls-ethiopian-government-democratically-elected.html?mcubz=3&mtrref=www.google.com&gwh=BBE0F6C584580DEF4C73E4D0F43ECE1F&gwt=pay

[12] http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/03/africa/ethiopia-oromo-deaths/index.html

[13] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/ethiopia-stampede-violent-clashes-death-toll-oromia-disaster-bishoftu-protest-more-than-100-a7342951.html

[14] https://freedomhouse.org/article/ethiopia-more-150-dead-after-security-forces-fire-crowd

[15] http://www.ena.gov.et/en/index.php/politics/item/2067-command-post-established-to-oversee-implementation-of-emergency-rule

[16] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/ethiopia-state-emergency-arrests-top-11000-161112191919319.html

[17] https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/#wrapper

[18]http://www.ethiomedia.com/addfile/ethiopian_inquiry_commission_briefs_congress.html

[19] https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/05/ethiopia-brutal-crackdown-protests

[20] http://hrp.law.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Ethiopia_2006_Report.pdf

http://www.genocidewatch.org/ethiopia.html[21]

[22]https://www.hrw.org/report/2008/06/12/collective-punishment/war-crimes-and-crimes-against-humanity-ogaden-area-ethiopias

[23] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-violence-un-idUSKCN10L1SY

[24] http://www.achpr.org/sessions/59th/resolutions/356/

[25] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2016-0023+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN

[26] https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hres128/BILLS-115hres128ih.pdf

Africa News: Ethiopia’s ethnic Oromos, tourists gather for Irreecha 2017 September 30, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Irreecha, Uncategorized.
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[Photos] Ethiopia's ethnic Oromos, tourists gather for Irreecha 2017

ETHIOPIA

The Irreecha festival is an annual thanksgiving festival by Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group. It takes place in the town of Bishoftu – located about 45km away from the capital Addis Ababa.

The 2016 edition was marred by deadly chaos after security operatives were said to have fired live bullets towards protesting participants. Millions of attendees are expected to gather on this occasion at Lake Arsede, Bishoftu (Debre Zeit), and surrounding areas.

Preparations are underway for the weeklong event which starts from October 1 and concludes on or around October 8, in the the Oromia region. We present pictures from preparations thanks to Ethiopian news portal, Addis Standard.

 Related Articles (Oromian Economist Sources):-

https://twitter.com/Abbaacabsa/status/914171824572915717

https://twitter.com/Abbaacabsa/status/914171824572915717

OPRIDE: Oromia gears up for Irreecha 2017: Reports, photos and analysis from Bishoftu

 

 

 

 

Pool Photo

The United States Embassy in Ethiopia has issued a security message for its citizens with respect to Sunday, October 1 Irreecha festival in the Oromia region.

The September 29, 2017 statement titled ‘Security Message for U.S. citizens: Security Awareness in Oromia Region,’ cited the deadly chaos of last year as a key reason for its latest alert.

Millions of people – ethnic Oromos from across the country, around the world and tourists – are expected in the town of Bishoftu – located about 45km from Addis Ababa for the annual thanksgiving ceremony.

The chaos of last year is a major concern for rights groups and political watchers in the region. The Oromo regional authorities a week ago announced that there will be no armed personnel deployed for this year’s session.

The U.S. has in recent past issued alerts for the Oromia region but more to do with supposed ethnic clashes between people in the region and the adjoining Somali region.

The full statement from the embassy read:

“The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens that, beginning on October 1 and concluding on or around October 8, the Oromia region will celebrate its annual Irreecha. Millions of attendees are expected to gather on this occasion at Lake Arsede, Bishoftu (Debre Zeit), and surrounding areas.

“Noting that at last year’s Irreecha a tragic stampede resulted in numerous deaths, and given the ongoing potential for civil unrest, the Embassy advises U.S. citizens to postpone travel to Bishoftu (Debre Zeit) and its surrounding areas until after the celebration has concluded.

“Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security,” it concluded.


Ethiopians gather for festival marred by bloodshed

At least 50 Oromo people died last year at the Irreecha festival after police fired tear gas and started a stampede.

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha in 2016 [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

A year ago, Firommisa Darasa barely made it out of Ethiopia‘s Irreecha festival alive, managing to escape from a deep ditch where dozens perished.

The tragedy happened after police fired tear gas at anti-government protesters, sparking a stampede.

Last year’s bloodshed at the annual religious festival held by Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo people, became a turning point in months of anti-government protests that prompted the government to declare a nationwide state of emergency.

While dissatisfaction with Ethiopia’s government still runs deep among the Oromo, last year’s protests have since died down.

Those planning to attend this year’s Irreecha festival say they are hoping for the best when Sunday’s gathering begins in the resort town of Bishoftu, southeast of the capital Addis Ababa.

“I feel fear inside but if I don’t come, the people around me won’t come. This is our ancestral celebration and we will have to keep it,” said one of the festival-goers, 28-year-old Firommisa,

At least 50 killed

The Oromo people began protesting in late 2015, angered by a government proposal to expand Addis Ababa that they feared would deprive them of land without proper compensation.

Those tensions exploded at last year’s Irreecha when activists took to the stage and began shouting anti-government slogans, prompting police to open fire with tear gas.

At least 50 people were killed in the ensuing stampede, according to government figures. Activists put the death toll much higher.

Changes have been made this year at the festival grounds adjacent to a lake in the town 60km southeast of the capital.

A new open-air amphitheatre has been built and cobblestones laid on the ground, while the ditch that claimed so many lives last year has been fenced off.

The presence of armed security forces was seen as exacerbating last year’s chaos, but the Oromia regional government said this year there would be no weapons.

“This year will be different because there will be no political involvement from the government and no security from them as well,” said attendee Dachassa Gosa, 22.

WATCH: Ethiopia’s bereaved families seek justice (2:31)

Irreecha, or thanksgiving, is the most important annual festival of the Oromo people and it celebrates the end of the months-long rainy season and the upcoming harvest.

While traditionally a time to give thanks and pray for prosperity and abundance, it has increasingly been an opportunity for the Oromo to assert their identity and criticise government policies they say marginalise them.

Last year’s deaths re-ignited the protests across the Oromo region, but this time the targets were government and foreign-owned businesses, with several destroyed.

All told, the months of violence left more than 940 people dead, according to the government’s human rights commission, while arrests topped 22,000.

The bloodshed only ended with the declaration of a state of emergency, which was lifted in August.

However many Oromo say their grievances were not addressed and sporadic strikes and protests still occur.

READ MORE: 669 killed in Ethiopia violence since August

US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the Ethiopian government to “act with restraint” this time around and to take measures to ensure there is no repeat of last year’s tragedy, while calling for a proper investigation into what happened.

“Certainly, if there were to be a return to what happened at least year’s Irreecha, you would expect that would lead to much wider unrest,” HRW researcher Felix Horne told AFP news agency.

Oftaha Oromoo travelled from a district hours away to join the celebration but expects a more subdued event this weekend.

“Personally I am still angry, but we have to be patient and celebrate,” he said. “This year, we want to remember the people who died.”

Source: AFP news agency

OROMIA: IRREECHAA: THE CHERISHED OROMO HERITAGE AND ITS CHALLENGING TASK September 30, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Irreecha Birraa, Irreecha Oromo, Irreessa, Uncategorized.
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1 comment so far

Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Irreecha Oromo 2014 Hora Harsadii, Oromia

IRREECHAA: THE CHERISHED OROMO HERITAGE AND ITS CHALLENGING TASK

Getaachew Chemeda ( Member: Gadaa Meelbaa)


14440855_1012083622242098_3525717134028063329_nSince time immemorial Oromo men, women, youths, and elders have been rallying together to express thanks and happiness to their Waaqa, who according to the Oromo concept of colour is symbolised by the colour gurraacha, meaning black. By its very original concept the colour gurraacha (black) did not stand for mourning, grief or for the expression of sorrow. It was used to symbolise the invisible supreme power that can do and undo anything anywhere in the universe. Having this narrative tradition in mind, the Oromos have been getting together around rivers or lakes to thank their Waaqa Gurraacha at the end of the rainy season. They strongly believe that, it was Waaqa who delivered them from the restraining rainy season and brought them to the cherished flowery season. This great event, called Irreecha in Afaan Oromoo, is celebrated every year at the end of September or in the first week of October. https://youtu.be/Pk3W49aKXDY

Irreecha holds an important social event in Oromo people’s aspiration for peace, prosperity, abundance, fertility, and a hope for the renewal of a new social life. Like ancient Egyptians who used to celebrate the yearly inundation of the River Nile as a symbol of life giving, Oromos have been celebrating their new year on the side of river banks or lakes which, according to Oromo mythology, is the source of all life. Some of the hymens ancient Egyptians sang while praising the Nile were:

Oh Nile! You rise out of the earth and come to nourish Egypt! You quench the thirsty desert! You bring forth the barley! You create the wheat! You fill the granaries and the storehouses, not forgetting the poor. For You we pluck our harps, for You we sing! [1]                        

                                     Creation Narrative Stories

It was not only the ancient Egyptians or the Oromos who had creation stories in relation to water. In the Japanese telling stories, we find water holding the core of the dawn of creation. First, there was an ocean, out of which the many Japanese Islands were believed to have been created. There was a god known as Izanagi and a goddess Izanami. The gods, as a couple, had three children, of whom the grandson of the Sun Goddess had become the first Emperor of Japan, Nippon, as known to the native population.[2]

The gods used a long spear and stirred up mud at the bottom of the ocean.  It was out of the stirred up mud those more than 6000 Japanese islands were believed to have been created. On the eastern side, out of the glittering Pacific Ocean, the sun rose every morning. It was the cherished sun’s rays which had a big role in illumining, nourishing, and bringing up the Japanese archipelagos to life. This is the Japanese thought of their land, Mount Fuji being the most beautiful and sacred one.[3]

For the Japanese, Japan has not only been their country.  Japan has been their world and their religion. The creation story the people share in common and the passionate love they have for their country has continued to make up the coherent faith of their oneness. And, out of the cherished mythology, they have undoubtedly benefited enormous groundwork principles for their social and technological advancement we are witnessing today.

When we come to the antique Scandinavians of northern Europe, we find similar watery creation stories. In the beginning there was an abyss filled with water. The water froze; and lastly melted down. Out of the melted water, a giant being of human form called Ymir emerged. Thereafter, a man and woman were created out of Ymir’s armpits. In short, this was the beginning of ancient Scandinavian telling stories about the myth of human creation.[4]

The Oromo myth of creation holds the view that water being the source of androgynous being. According to Oromo narration story, by the unfathomable wisdom of Waaqa Gurraacha, the androgyny was divided in to two parts and became male and female. After the division, the two opposite sexes began to live separately on the either side of the river. Though they were able to see each other across the river, they were hampered from joining each other by the overflow of the river.  When the river subsided and sank down into its course, during the flowering season, they were able to cross the river and embraced each other.[5] Here was the point, during the flowering season, according to Oromo belief, when the first gaa’ila  (engagement for marriage) started to blossom.

Many of us may remember when newly married Oromo couples were coming to Irreecha at Hora Harsadii, enforced by nobody but only inspired by the tradition to get the blessings of the hayyuus and Abbaa Gadaas. But that was not performed on October 2, 2016 because of the heinous massacre carried out by the incumbent Ethiopian regime that disrupted the whole process of the ceremony.

Having this entire narrative story in mind, defending and combatting all challenging obstacles and heinous crimes imposed on them, the Oromos have continued to celebrate their yearly thanksgiving Irreecha festival, dressing beautiful national costumes suited for the occasion.

Norms of Irreecha Celebration

Today, at national level, millions of Oromos are celebrating Irreecha Birraa, on the side of Hora Harsadii in Bishooftuu town. At national or local levels, there are traditionally agreed upon norms that govern the whole process of the ceremony from the beginning to the end, which is deeply rooted in the strongly and humanely established Oromo views for peace, love, prosperity, and human dignity. Based on Oromo clans’ successive generation by birth, there are individuals who offer blessings first, second, and so on. This is dually (angafaa fi qixisuu) restructured in Oromo kinship organisations whose function of check and balance has become basic foundation for the indigenous Gadaa  Oromo Democracy to flourish.

The ceremony commences first by offering thanks and greeneries to Waaqa, followed by blessing all creatures of Waaqa to be at peace with each other. They also give admiration and honour to Waaqa’s wisdom who gave them a perfect bliss of land with abundant natural resources. This is one of the inherent reasons why the Oromos are cherishing their ancestral homeland, Oromiyaa (Biyya Oromoo) as part of their natural right, be it in peace or war times.

In the case of Irreecha Birraa, it is the Abbaa Malkaa who ‘opens the door’ of the malkaa (river) by charmingly welcoming those who arrived at the site in peace.[6] Those distinguished hayyuus from senior and junior clans (mana angafaa fi qixisuu) and the Abbaa Gadaa from the incumbent Gadaa party are traditionally honoured to take leading positions in giving thanks and blessings to all. Even the Ayyaantu-Qaalluus, who are believed to be the guardians of the laws of Waaqa and the  custodians of Oromo traditional religion, have no seniority right  to claim either to take the leading position or to give blessings first. They have their own defined time and place to do so. Failure to honestly follow those agreed upon traditional charter, could lead to chaos and eventually to the disintegration of the society. Nevertheless, despite so many apartheid walls erected among Oromo regions by builders of the imperial palace of political Ethiopia (in contradiction to historical Ethiopia), the Oromos are not able to be divided by the walls. They are chiselling down the walls and are patiently moving forward in unison.

         Is Irreecha a Religion?

As common to any Oromo meetings or conferences, thanking Waaqa and blessing each other precede the opening of the agenda of the meetings. There is no exception for the thanksgiving Oromo new year celebration, Irreecha. Since the Oromo name of Waaqa is the centre of Oromo Natural Religion, the solemn invocation of Waaqa at Irreecha or elsewhere cannot be avoided. This is the core issue, the authenticity of Oromo natural religion and Oromo morality that seem to have scared general managers of ‘Revelation Industries’ and their sponsors in Oromia. They are prompted to develop phobic images against essential Oromo values: vilifying, desecrating, defaming, and bedevilling Oromo material and spiritual assets as a whole. Why? The answer is so unilineal, not parallel.

Irreecha has been one of the major Oromo events that distinguishes, makes, and marks the identity of an Oromo personality as a member of the nation.

  • It is a social festival that praises Waaqa who helped them come together in peace and embrace the incoming bright-sunny season.
  • It is a social festival that sees off the out-going rainy season, wishing its recurrent appearance in peace, happiness, abundance, fertility, equality, fraternity and a hope for victory against all forms of evils.  

But, as has obviously been duplicated by foreign media outlets, particularly after the Irreecha massacre of October 2, 2016, there is a clear tendency to look on Irreecha as a ‘religious festival’. It is quite villainous and sinisterial to depict the general Oromo sense of Oromo-self only from a single perspective. Is Habasha’s Inkutatash not Qiddus Yohannes’ religious celebration or is it a new year festival?  Is Tigrian’s Ashanda the worshipping of Churches of Saints or season greetings? Is European Christmas the celebration of Christ’s birth day, or is it the continuation of pre-Christianity European culture of winter solstice celebration?

When it comes to Irreecha Oromo, it is propagated as heathenish or animist religion that makes a tree or a river the centre of worship. This can simply be attested from the recently publicised sub-human propaganda by a self-declared “Prophet” named Suraphael Demise https://youtu.be/u2hrjMaSeqM

We do not understand whether such inconsiderate propaganda is really a reflection from a fully-developed human brain or is it a proxy psychological war sponsored by the monstrous Satan.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           If one wants to talk or know about Oromo religion, it is called Waaqeffanna, not Irreecha. Where is the self-organised Waaqeffannaa religion right now? One may ask the Tigrian Ethiopian regime, sitting in Minilk’s imperial palace; muddling the peoples of that empire,  sponsoring divisive and xenophobic people like Suraphel  Demise.

Waaqeffannaa by its natural origin, contrary to revelationists’ assertions who claimed to have seen visions and heard voices, is neither a claimed vision nor claimed heard voices. Had it been a claimed vision or claimed voices, it could have been dwelling on narrating about a place of everlasting torture or about a place of eternal delight in the afterlife. In the narrative story telling of Waaqeffannaa there were no individuals who did claim any visions or heard voices for its establishment as a religious institution. It emerged naturally out of the organised Oromo people’s activities in the remote antiquity. Henceforth, Waaqeffannaa, as a natural religion, has become the common vision of Oromo people’s common mind. It is free from claiming any received information of the afterlife, be it from the chamber of the sinners or from the chamber of the pious. However, Waaqeffannaa may wonder or speculate what could be happening beyond the veil of a man’s soul (lubbuu) after his dead body was ceremonially buried. Revealed religions claimed and are still claiming that they had unveiled the veil, saw the souls, and heard their voices from chambers of the ‘hell and heaven’.

In its strictest sense, Irreecha is not a religious institution. It is a ritualised social event; certainly, adorned and accompanied by Oromo Natural Religion known as Waaqeffannaa. Waaqeffannaa and Irreecha have been with the Oromos, by the Oromos, and for the Oromos since the dawn of creation long before the conception of revealed religions.

                 The Irreecha Massacre and the “Tasa” Monument

 An attempt to ban the Irreecha festival started the time when Oromos lost their sovereign rights to Abyssinian firearms under the supreme commandship of King Minilk of Shewa. After the Tigrian-led Ethiopian regime took the imperial palace by force in 1991, the orchestration to ban the Irreecha ceremony was concluded. This time, the regime took the first apartheid action by banning the revived Matcha-Tulama Self-Help Association and the freely organised Waaqeffaanaa religious association. Instead of directly banning Irreecha, however, like Matcha-Tulama and Waaqeffanaa, the regime renewed the old Nugus-Orthodox tactics of hijacking anything good of the Oromos and good for the Oromos.

A delegate led by Abba Duulaa Gammadaa, the then president of ‘Oromia Regional State’ was despatched to Hora Harsadii to hijack Irreecha. The delegate failed to accomplish the mission it intended to seal and returned to the palace in dismay. Here was planted the seed of the evil action that took thousands of innocent lives on October 2, 2016 at Hora Harsadii, Bishooftuu.

Ahead of the massacre, the regime meticulously orchestrated provocative tactics that could incite the people against itself. It imposed rules that are too antagonistic to the established Irreecha tradition. When the people reacted to the evil provocation, its ill-behaved security forces started firing life bullets from the ground and from armoured vehicles against millions of celebrants. Military helicopter flew over them spraying teargas on them. On this day, that barbaric action changed the happy Oromo Irreecha event to a bloody grief.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_3miIwY4mQ&t=33s

The regime and its killing forces rejoiced the success of their fascistic actions on human carnages. The regime’s trumpet Prime Minister, Haile Mariam Desalegn, was so quick to deny the massacre and said, “No single bullet was heard; but because of stampede about 52 people were killed.” Finally, like Muktar Kadir who thanked the Agazi killing forces, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister thanked the regime’s mercilessly firing forces  https://youtu.be/Q6cSzgiZdc8

To remember the success of their evil plan, the Tigrian-Ethiopian regime erected a very offensive stone they call “Memorial Monument”. A deaf monument, that speaks of nothing about the root cause of the massacre. Sadly, what is inscribed on the monument seems to be articulated in the way it could depict the lost human lives as unworthy ones. It reads in Afaan Oromoo “Tasa Lubbuun Isaanii dabreef, for suddenly passed away lives”

This “Tasa Monument” was erected in a faraway place where the actual massacre did not take place

 Conclusion

The Oromos have tried to do everything positive for Ethiopia. But why are they being reciprocated with negativity for their positive generosity? When the Oromos are coming out for peace, those who are making huge business in the name of “Ethiopia” are incessantly confronting them with vibrant forms of violence, persecution and marginalisation.

 In former days, before Oromo country and their central holy site, Walaabu, had fallen to naftenya’s bayonet, Oromo generations in every Oromo clan were making pilgrimage to Walaabu. The purpose of the journey was more of religious, that they sought the anointment and blessings of Abbaa Muudaa, who was believed  to be the eldest son of Oromo [Orma], the Spiritual Father of the nation holding the centre of Oromo Natural Religion, the belief in Waaqa Tokkicha.[7]

The pilgrims, who were scattered in north-east Africa, representing their clans, used to travel a long journey and arrived at the Muuda site. On their return to their clans, they came back with qumbii (myrrh), which the Abbaa Muuda distributed to them as a symbol of his fatherly holy blessings. This had been considered as dangerous and anti-peace to Abyssinian crosses and crowns. Subsequently, with the invention and consolidation of the ‘New Ethiopia’, qinyi gizaat, (the Amharic version for colonial empire) by King Minilik of Shewa, Oromo’s journey to the Muuda holy site was prohibited. It was finally banned at the beginning of the twentieth century. Huntingford who collected good information from various sources wrote:

”—after the Abyssinian conquest of [Oromia], however, the pilgrimage was forbidden owing to its political and nationalistic influence.—as opportunities for stirring up Oromo patriotism and forming plans of rebellion for men of all the  Oromo tribes met at Walaabu.”[8]

This inhumane and erratic ideology will get nowhere. It is now far from halting down Oromo people’s aspiration for regaining their lost freedom. We, including those in ati-Oromo camps, are daily watching and witnessing the reality on the ground.  The more direct wars and propaganda campaigns are pouring on the Oromos, the more their heroisms are reinvigorated. Irreecha will continue to march forward with its noble objectives of thanksgiving social festivities: vitalising, remaking, and remarking Oromummaa (Oromo-ness).


Related:-

IRREECHA – THE COLORS, THE IDENTITY AND THE PRIDE OF OROMO NATION

Morning Star: The Ethiopian Government Proxy war Retaliation against Oromo: Boarder Attacks September 7, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

The Ethiopian Government Proxy war Retaliation against Oromo: Boarder Attacks

The Ethiopian Government Proxy war Retaliation against Oromo: Boarder Attacks
          BY Najat Hamza
The Ethiopian Government Proxy war Retaliation against Oromo: Boarder Attacks
It is very hard to shed light on a human suffering when the world is bombarded with one tragic human history after another. The world has become a show case for various forms of violence, famine, indifference, greed and pure hate. It seems like mother nature has joined the destructive trends by unleashing the worst weather disasters known to us in recent years with more devastation to come. However, all of us come from a home, a place, people we call our own, my own place is Oromia. Oromia is a country fighting to survive. My people, Oromo have been fighting to restore their dignity and self-worth for generations under various Ethiopian regimes. The last 25 years under the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front is no different. We have fought to advance our right to life, to equality, to justice and to democracy on our own land and the fight still rages on.
In recent years Oromo people have resisted the dictatorial regime of Ethiopian in every way they can and still up in arms with it. People have taken it to the streets, they have boycotted government programs, markets, public meetings and tax hikes to show their dissent. The Ethiopian government answered their legitimate demands with more death, torture, disappearances, incarcerations, displacements and denial of necessities. These measures are taken against the Oromo people as an attempt to salience us once and for all. It is hard to care about one issue, in the world filled with nothing but chaos, nonetheless it is about unnecessary human suffering.
The complacency of Western government in this validated violence against the Oromo people and other ethnic groups all over Ethiopia will not be overlooked. The western enablers of a rotten regime unleashing unimaginable suffering on its own people is perplexing to say the least. It raises questions like, what is the geopolitical gain of the West for the complacency of this violence against innocent people? What does each Western country gain for turning a blind eye in this ethnic cleansing? How could one advocate for human rights and democracy and enable such a regime all at the same time? And many more questions that are even more harder to understand.
The boarder attack wages all over Oromia particularly East and West Hararge region is the result of retaliation against people who simply asked for their right to be respected. They are paying with their lives, limbs, incarcerations, rapes, displacements and hunger simply because they dared to ask for their God given rights. How can any of us show indifference to our brothers and sisters along the Oromian boarders while bullets rain on them daily? What would take for Oromo people to say we are in this together, we have to stand together, we must fight together and we will win together? Do we sit and wait for the bullets to come to each of our door steps to care? The suffering of one Oromo person is not enough to sound an alarm for those of us near and far? Why are Oromos on the boarder dying? You know why? Because they spoke for all of us, for Oromia, for each acre of land that makes Oromia a country that it is, that is why they are being sprayed with bullets.
The political differences between us about how to get to the mountain top should not be a hindering force for our progress nor should it be a catalyst for indifference. The current artificial bickering among us, character assassinations, name callings, and all destructive agendas will not allow us to serve the ultimate goal. The goal is to see a country we all call home from vultures of every kind past, present and the future. The goal is secure our home, so that generations that come after us will not be prosecuted simply for who they are. You can disagree, debate, and even walk away from ideas but what you should not do is turn it into smear campaign. It helps no one, particularly those we suppose to assist. Those who are standing in front of fire with their bodies to die for the same ideas we cannot even agree on.
The confusion of diaspora politics is having some effect in the way we respond to tragedies as they unfold. We suppose to help with, funds, advocacy and being moral supporters for the real heroes back home fighting for their survival. What are we doing we cannot contribute the bare minimum? What the use of our elaborate ideas if can turn to something practical that could help our people? Who is the hero? Who is dying? Why are they dying? What is our call? How do we serve the purpose? In what way can we serve the purpose? These are the questions we should ask ourselves, we are fortunate enough to be in someone else’s country, enjoying peace. We can use this advantage to help our people in an impactful way.
Oromia does not need leadership, a mouthpiece, or self-serving individuals from diaspora. What they need is a support system from us. A support system that can deliver financial, moral and political on the ground. They need a ground to stand on, to fight their own fight. We can be their ground, we can be their support, as soon as we understand it is never about us. It has always been about those who refuse to run from their country and fight try to make it better. It is about the Oromo people in Oromia. What are you going to do about that?

Related:

Najat Hamza speaking to Aljazera about the state sponsored political crackdown or Severe measure on peaceful protesters in ETHIOPIA , On Oromo people and many others ,We thank you for an amazing explanation of the crackdown by Ethiopian government within very short time!


TPLF Ethiopia’s Regime Money Laundering Activities & Its Networks August 26, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Illicit financial outflows from Ethiopia, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

$500,000.00 | TPLF and Money Laundering: The Key Questions to Ask | Must Watch

Ethiopia- Oromia : police apprehended a man traveling with US$541,671

 

Somali-Ethiopian Social and Economic Development Association (SESEDA)  

SESEDA is TPLF’s organization that collects aid money for criminal activities.

Ogaden: Abdi Iley declares secession from Ethiopia if his thief agent won’t get released

caa38-som

tplf-ethiopias-federal-army-abbay-tsehaye-and-samora-yunus-are-architects-of-the-ongoing-ethnic-cleansing-against-oromo-in-south-and-eastern-oromia

Related:

Is usaid helping the people of Ethiopia/Oromia or working with the TPLF mafia regime??

There is gross  Human rights abuse in Ethiopia and the TPLF mafia regime is getting away with torture and killing!!

 

ANALYSIS 

A substantial sum of money has been illegally flowing out of Ethiopia during the last decade. What is even more worrying is not just that the levels of out flows are high but also the sizes of illicit capital outflows have been rising at alarming rates. This rather unique pattern has attracted the attention of the general public as well as those of bilateral and multilateral donor agencies.

I will also attempt to put some flesh on the bones of facts presented in the GFI database. I will do so by shedding some light on the political economy context of the illicit capital outflow (IFFs) from Ethiopia.

Stolen money trails

The natural starting point is to get a sense of magnitude on the levels and trends. The GFI data is summarized and plotted in Fig. 1. For the time being we focus on the total flows, that is the heights of each bar denoting sizes of annual illicit money outflows. The sum of the blue and red colors gives total amount of money illegally moved aboard from Ethiopia during that year. This ranged from USD $0.4 billion in 2004 to USD $5.6 billion in 2010.

The average annual outflow was $2.6 billion during 2004 and 2013. This is a sizeable sum of money by any standard. For instance, according to estimates reported by the World Bank, the amount of official development assistant (ODA) Ethiopia received in 2010 was $4 billion but total amount of IFFs during that year was $5.6 billion.

This means in 2010 alone Ethiopia’s IFFs exceeded the ODA it received that year by $1.6 billion. In other words, Ethiopia’s IFFs amounted to diverting the entire aid money of 2010 to foreign banks and then still transfer abroad an additional sum of money.

During the entire period (2004 to 2013) the total amount of money that Ethiopia lost due to IFF was $26 billion. This amounts to stealing nearly $300 per citizen. Alternatively, the size of stolen money was about 11 times the total the amount of emergency aid being sought from donors in the current year to buy cereals from abroad and feed the drought victims.

Potential culprits

One may wonder – who are the culprits responsible for Ethiopia’seconomic fraud at such massive scale? The GFI categorizes possible perpetrators into three groups: (a) financial institutions; (b) complicit business counterparts, mainly importers and exporters; and (c) government officials.

In the Ethiopian case, it is reasonable to exclude financial institutions because there is no foreign bank operating in Ethiopia, and the domestic private banks are extremely tightly controlled. Ethiopia’s most influential banks, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) and the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), are owned and run by the government. Therefore, in the context of Ethiopia it is safe to include (a) under (c).

That is to say Ethiopia’s IFF can only be undertaken by importers, exporters or government officials. One would hasten to add that there is a huge extent of overlaps between government officials and big businesses in Ethiopia, since big businesses are highly interconnected with the government and/or they are directly or indirectly owned and run by government officials.

Money diversion channels

Now we can shift our attention back to fig. 1 and consider the breakdowns of the IFFs, the individual component denoted by the blue and red sections in each bar. The GFI applies a methodological framework that accounts for two types of illegal movements of money from one country to another.

The first one is export or import trade misinvoicing. This is measured by using a methodology called Gross Excluding Reversals (GER). This simply mirrors exports by one country with imports of another country and vice versa. For instance, items of imports recorded by Ethiopia should agree with records of exporters to Ethiopia in all aspects – value, quantity and quality.

The second one is various leakages in the balance of payments, measured by using the “hot money narrow” (HMN) approach.The latter one is often referred to as “net errors and omissions” in the balance of payment jargon. For instance, if a donor agency or country recorded $1 million grants to Ethiopia but this does not appear in the records by the authorities in Ethiopia, then the GFI records this as a leakage from Ethiopia’s balance of payment.

It is clear from Fig. 1 that the bulk of illicit money transfer from Ethiopia has taken place using trade misinvoicing, denoted by the blue component of the bar. In 2004, trade misinvoicing constituted only 14% of the total IFFs. In 2013, however, this proportion has grown to 100%, the entire IFFs began to be accounted for more and more by trade misinvoicing. For the entire period under discussion, $19.7 billion (or 76% of the total IFFs) was conducted through trade misinvoicing. The year 2010 is an exception – diversion of “hot money” dominated in that year; it constituted 55% of the total IFFs.

False invoices

Trade misinvoicing can take place in one of the following four ways: over invoicing exports, under invoicing exports, over invoicing imports and under invoicing imports. In Ethiopia’s case, the GFI report indicated import over-invoicing is by far the most important method of transferring money abroad. During the period under analysis, about $19.7 billion was transferred abroad through import over-invoicing.

It is critical to understand how import misinvoicing hurts the Ethiopian economy. This is important in the context of huge public construction projects with substantially large components of imports of machinery and other equipment. For instance, an acquisition of a set of machinery whose real value is $1 million is recorded with inflated invoice of $1.5 million.

The importer allocates project budget at the inflated import value, pays the real value to the supplier and then siphons-off the difference (in this case $0.5 million) and deposits it in a foreign bank account. The real damage to the economy happens in terms of inflated capital expenditure. Perhaps the opportunity large capital projects provide for corrupt officials could be the ulterior motive for the uncontrollable urge to attach such a high priority to large capital projects in economic development strategies.

However, it should be noted that public capital projects are often financed through commercial loans that should be paid back with cumulative interests in years to come. The economic return to capital project would partly depend on the cost consideration at project implementation stage.

The GFI also finds some export trade misinvoicing in Ethiopia’s foreign trade, over-invoicing by $6.5 billion as well as $3 million under-invoicing. In trade based money laundering, the most common types of misinvoicing are import over-invoicing and export under-invoicing. As noted above, the case of import invoicing has no complications – so much over invoicing has taken place and it explains the bulk of trade based money laundering in Ethiopia. However, the case of export over-invoicing is uncommon.

Export over-invoicing do happen although they are rare, e.g. China’s trade with Hong-Kong. Export over-invoicing is required when there is a need to plough back money from abroad and report it as inflated foreign direct investment. This is likely the case with Ethiopia where the authorities have been desperate to report higher foreign investments particularly in the first half of the period under analysis.

Ethiopia’s capital flights dwarfs rest of developing countries

It would prove useful to know how bad Ethiopia’s IFFs is relative to other countries. Fig. 2 below compares Ethiopia with its neighbors, the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) as well as the average of developing countries (DCs). The comparison was done by expressing total illicit money outflowas percentage of GDP. The years are grouped into three intervals. For reasons discussed further below, it would prove useful to contrast pre- and post-2005. Accordingly, I have isolated 2004 and then divided the remaining years into two equal intervals.

This revealed astonishing patterns of illicit money outflow from Ethiopia which starkly contrasted with those for other countries. First, throughout the years Ethiopia’s records considerably exceeded those for its two immediate neighbors, Kenya and Tanzania. Second, a comparison of 2004 across the countries shows that Ethiopia’s illicit money outflow was way below the Uganda, SSA, and the DCs averages.

Third, the situation changed dramatically from 2005 onwards. Ethiopia outstripped Uganda, and then closed the gap with the SSA average. Fourth, Ethiopia’s average annual money outflows between 2010 and 2013 reached 11% of the country’s GDP, considerably exceeding the corresponding figures for the other countries – SSA (5%), DCs (4%), Uganda and Tanzania (2%) and Kenya (0.013%). Fifth, it is important to note that illicit money transfers abroad constituted smaller and smaller percentages of GDP for most countries over the years, implying substantial improvements in transparency in their economic management. The situation in Ethiopia sharply contrasts with this reality – illicit money outflow becoming a larger and larger percentage of Ethiopia’s GDP. This indicates transparency in Ethiopia’s economic management has gone from bad to worse over the years.