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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/

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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O

Hamma Yoom Oromoon Lafa isaa tirraa arihama? Gaafif Deebii Keessummaa keenyan waliin goone hordofaa

 

 

 

 

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/the-genocidal-ethiopia-and-its-janjaweed-style-liyu-police-the-killings-of-59-oromo-men-women-and-children-the-wounding-of-42-others-the-confiscation-of-property-and-the-forcible-removal-of-pe/

Awash Post: Oromo hunger strikers in mortal danger in Ethiopia February 13, 2021

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Oromo hunger strikers in mortal danger in Ethiopia 

Calls grow for immediate US intervention to spare Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, and other political prisoners on the 17th day of the strike. By QABBANEE WAQAYO, Awash Post 13 February 2021

Prominent Ethiopian democracy advocates Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba, along with 22 other political prisoners, are in the third week of a hunger strike, which began on January 27. Doctors, lawyers, and their families warn that the detainees are getting weaker and are now at risk of organ failure or other complications. At least five of the strikers collapsed this week and were rushed to the hospital.

On Friday, Bekele Gerba, deputy chairperson of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was denied medical treatment after his doctors determined that he needed urgent medical attention and demanded his transfer to the hospital.

Held for more than 7 months based on trumped-up charges, the prisoners went on hunger strike as a measure of the last recourse to demand an end to their unjust detention and the harassment and crackdown of their political parties and their members. The strikers are individuals of considerable popular following, particularly among the Oromo youth, and pose a direct and significant electoral challenge to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his party.

Jawar, Bekele, and Hamza Borana are among the leading members of the opposition OFC party. Michael Boran, Abdi Ragassa, and Gammachu Ayana are among the key members and organizers for the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Together, the individuals and their respective parties are seen as credible threats to Abiy’s chances for victory at the polls. Their arrest and detention angered Oromos across the region, and their deaths would almost certainly plunge Ethiopia into an unprecedented political crisis. The Oromo are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, comprising a majority of the country’s population.

Jawar, Bekele, and Hamza, in particular, played a critical role in the pro-democracy Oromo youth movement that ushered Abiy into power in April 2018. However, as the Prime Minister consolidated power and secured his position, formidable Oromo opposition forces became targets of repression and crackdown. The arrest of these highly visible public figures was carried out last year, within hours of the assassination of the popular Oromo artist and activist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa in Addis Ababa, which occurred the evening of 29 June 2020,

Charges brought against Jawar and several members, supporters, and activists of the OFC and OLF though couched in criminal terms, are unfounded. Their detention is political. The defendants and their lawyers contend that the indictment is a blatant overreach and abuse of power meant to remove Abiy’s adversaries from the democratic competition. Their trial is widely perceived as a deliberate and systematic attack against ethnonational movements and the right to self-determination of nations and nationalities protected under the current constitution. The extended detention and nearly eight months of legal wrangling are driven by the ruling party’s desire to remove its most outspoken and popular opponents from the political field before the election.

By late January, the prisoners launched the hunger strike to demand release and an end to what has become a systematic campaign of repression and disenfranchisement against Oromo and other marginalized peoples in the country. In a letter they sent to the Court, Jawar, Bekele and their co-defendants spoke about the Oromo youth who sacrificed their lives to bring about the change in Ethiopia and how those in power betrayed the cause of Oromo and others, systematically excluding genuine voices from the upcoming election and the national conversation about the future of the country. “Because we are no longer able to use the usual tools of non-violent protest and activism from inside the prison,” the letter noted, “we are resorting to the only form of protest available to us.”

So far, the government has chosen to ignore the issue. The hunger strike is taking place as international attention is focused almost exclusively on the war and the humanitarian crises in the northern Tigray region. In other parts of Ethiopia, however, public discontent was on full display this week. Secondary school students in various cities across the east, west-central, and southern Oromia came out to demonstrate, demanding the immediate release of these political figures. Members of the Oromo community across the U.S. and around the world are also staging solidarity rallies. The political crisis and the return of street protests in Oromia underscore the complete reversal of Ethiopia’s promised democratic transition.

Election prospects

In fact, the mounting public concerns over the well-being of the hunger strikers adds another layer to the myriad crises facing Ethiopia. The economy is in dire straits. The COVID-19 pandemic has blunted the growth of the Ethiopian economy. The already high youth unemployment is on the rise. Ethiopia is involved in border disputes with neighboring Sudan. Negotiations over the mega Nile dam with Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly broken down.

Political and ethnic tensions have characterized the tenure of the Abiy government. The last two years saw high-level political assassinations, massive displacement of civilians, and brutal and widespread restrictions on independent voices and opposition activities. Several regions have been under Command Post and communications blackout for nearly two years. Tensions reached a fever pitch in November after Abiy’s government launched a military offensive against opponents in the Tigray region. The fallout from the declaration of hostilities and humanitarian crises unleashed by that war has turned Abiy, the 2019 Peace Laureate, into an international pariah.

As the Abiy regime sets its sights on elections scheduled for June 5, 2021, crackdown and repression against Abiy’s critics and opponents, have intensified. Many of the current crises in Ethiopia result from the Abiy administration’s unilateral decision to postpone elections scheduled for August 2020 using a dubious constitutional process to claim extended legitimacy. The power struggle between Abiy and leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) escalated in September after the latter held regional elections defying Abiy’s orders. Federal authorities responded by withholding budget subsidies. Tensions blew over in November after months of war preparations on both sides.

Conflicting accounts of the war in Tigray have been made impossible for the media to cover or confirm due to a communications blackout imposed in the region. As the world’s attention remains fixed on Tigray, the crises in other parts of Ethiopia, particularly in Oromia and the Beni Shangul Gumuz region, are also unfolding under total darkness. Political discontent across the Southern region, including in Wolaita and Sidama, continue to deepen over the government’s refusal to address statehood demands and implementation.

Given the destruction and the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Tigray and the crackdown against opposition forces across the country, the forthcoming election cannot be deemed credible or seen as a reliable democratic exercise. The conditions for a free, fair, and competitive election are simply not in place. Holding an election under the current situation serves only one purpose: to consolidate Abiy’s authoritarian grip on power while his viable opponents languish in prison, silenced and facing bogus charges. Importantly, unless some dramatic and well-supported alternative is introduced and a pathway negotiated among a range of stakeholders, it would not address any of the country’s explosive challenges. It would simply sharpen and exacerbate them.

Clearly, Bekele, Jawar, and other ignominiously detained political leaders have decided that they would rather die bringing attention to these grievous injustices than being inadvertently complicit in the travesty they see unfolding from behind bars.

National dialogue 

The political crisis in Ethiopia is urgent, and the stakes could not be higher.  Dealing with this unprecedented crisis demands a sober and mature reflection on the country’s complex past and the diverse political loyalties, views, and sentiments that organize and structure contemporary debate about Ethiopia’s future. The government’s authoritarian turn and its fierce determination to silence every critical voice and impose its preferred vision of the future on Ethiopia’s diverse population will have calamitous consequences far beyond the country’s borders. Ethiopia is already facing an existential crisis, and the very continuity of the Ethiopian state as a united and cohesive entity is on the line.

The Tigray war already ruptured the thread that tied the Ethiopian body-politic together; the government’s imperious march to impose a new political settlement has proven deadly.  It is the primary driver of the war in Tigray. In fact, the hostilities in the north drew attention from the mounting challenges in other regions, particularly those areas in Oromia and the Southern region where illegal Command Posts have been in effect since 2018. The risk of state disintegration is likely without external intervention to salvage a semblance of peace and balance.

To avoid further bloodshed and the prospect of state collapse, Prime Minister Abiy must be encouraged to demonstrate leadership in prioritizing the country’s well-being. If advised to return the country to the transitional process and begin the indispensable work of promoting reconciliation and building national consensus, he might play a constructive role in facilitating a plausible pathway forward for Ethiopia. The only way to avoid plunging Ethiopia into the abyss is by initiating an all-inclusive national dialogue and securing a constitutional settlement for the country. This requires, first and foremost, releasing all political prisoners and widening the political space, once again, to facilitate and foster a spirit of dialogue. Such a national dialogue must precede the election to have any legitimacy or impact.

However, it appears that the government is planning to muddle through until the election, where Abiy hopes to secure a five-year mandate in a poll in which he would be the only real contender and the outcome of which is predetermined. Having jailed popular opposition voices within Oromia, the largest electoral constituency in the country, and Addis Ababa, the metropolis where the federal government sits, Abiy seems to believe that securing the five-year mandate will allow him much needed time and authority to consolidate power further and micromanage Ethiopia’s political settlement.

Ethiopia’s allies and partners, particularly the U.S. government, could play a critically important role by understanding this broader context for the crisis in Ethiopia and acting to intervene. Abiy had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to usher in a democratic transition. Unfortunately, he has squandered enormous national and international goodwill, which was topped off by the Nobel Prize.  To pursue an all-inclusive national dialogue is to try to salvage Ethiopia’s configuration as the world knows it.

This project has far-reaching geographical and historical consequences for Ethiopia and U.S. interests in the region. As President Biden rekindles relations with Africa, Ethiopia should be atop that agenda. The Biden administration must prepare for a frank and open conversation with Abiy and other players in the region, making clear that an election with only one contestant is not acceptable and cannot receive the support or recognition of the United States.

In the short run, the lives of highly visible and respected individuals are at mortal risk. The clock is ticking. The prisoners themselves point to the fates of others. More than 30,000 young people who demonstrated peacefully to bring democratic rights to Ethiopia are detained in Oromia alone.

Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Hamza Borana, Abdi Ragassa, Gammachu Ayana, and other pro-democracy leaders and advocates of nonviolent social change are violently treated and jailed to facilitate Abiy’s political advantage. They must be released immediately and unconditionally. To avert the enormous consequences that will inevitably follow their deaths in detention, the U.S. government must lead the international community in proactively and publicly calling for their release.

Related from Oromian Economist sources:-

Aljazeera News: Ethiopia: Concern grows over health of jailed political leaders

Tributes paid to Agitu Ideo Gudeta, an Oromo refugee farmer who championed integration in Italy January 1, 2021

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The Guardian: Tributes paid to Ethiopian refugee farmer who championed integration in Italy

Agitu Ideo Gudeta, who was killed on Wednesday, used abandoned land to start a goat farming project employing migrants and refugees

Agitu Ideo Gudeta stearted with just 15 goats, increasing the herd to 180 in just a few years.

Agitu Ideo Gudeta stearted with just 15 goats, increasing the herd to 180 in just a few years. Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi/ReutersGlobal development is supported byAbout this contentLorenzo Tondo in Palermo@lorenzo_tondoFri 1 Jan 2021

Tributes have been paid to a 42-year-old Ethiopian refugee and farmer who became a symbol of integration in Italy, her adopted home.

Agitu Ideo Gudeta was attacked and killed, allegedly by a former employee, on her farm in Trentino on Wednesday.

Gudeta had left Addis Ababa in 2010 after angering the authorities by taking part in protests against “land grabbing”. Once in Italy, she tenaciously followed and realised her ambition to move to the mountains and start her own farm. Taking advantage of permits that give farmers access to abandoned public land in depopulated areas, she reclaimed 11 hectares (27 acres) around an old barn in the Mòcheni valley, where she founded her La Capra Felice (The Happy Goat) enterprise.

Gudeta started with a herd of 15 goats, quickly rising to 180 in a few years, producing organic milk and cheese using environmentally friendly methods and hiring migrants and refugees.

“I created my space and made myself known, there was no resistance to me,” she told Reuters news agency that year.

“Agitu brought to Italy the dream she was unable to realise in Ethiopia, in part because of land grabbing,” Gabriella Ghermandi, singer, performer, novelist and friend of Gudeta, told the Guardian. “Her farm was successful because she applied what she had learned from her grandparents in the countryside.‘Entire families are arriving at our shores’: Covid drives Tunisian exodusRead more

“In Italy, many people have described her enterprise as a model of integration. But Agitu’s dream was to create an environmentally sustainable farm that was more than just a business; for her it also symbolised struggle against class divisions and the conviction that living in harmony with nature was possible. And above all she carried out her work with love. She had given a name to each one of her goats.”

In a climate where hostility toward migrants was increasing, led by far-right political leaders, her success story was reported by numerous media outlets as an example of how integration can benefit communities.

“The most rewarding satisfaction is when people tell me how much they love my cheeses because they’re good and taste different,” she said in an interview with Internazionale in 2017. “It compensates for all the hard work and the prejudices I’ve had to overcome as a woman and an immigrant.”

Two years ago she received death threats and was the target of racist attacks, which she reported to police, recounting them on her social media posts.

But police said a man who has confessed to the rape and murder of the farmer was an ex-employee who, they said, allegedly acted for “economic reasons”.

Agitu Ideo Gudeta produced organic milk and cheese using environmentally friendly methods.
Agitu Ideo Gudeta produced organic milk and cheese using environmentally friendly methods. Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

The UN refugee agency said it was “pained” by Gudeta’s death, and that her entrepreneurial spirit “demonstrated how refugees can contribute to the societies that host them”.

“Despite her tragic end, the UNHCR hopes that Agitu Ideo Gudeta will be remembered and celebrated as a model of success and integration and inspire refugees that struggle to rebuild their lives,” the agency said.

“We spoke on the phone last week’’, said Ghermandi. “We spent two hours speaking about Ethiopia. We had plans to get together in the spring. Agitu considered Italy her home. She used to say that she had suffered too much in Ethiopia. Now Agitu is gone, but her work mustn’t die. We will soon begin a fundraising campaign to follow her plan for expanding the business so that her dream will live on.”

Gudeta would have turned 43 on New Year’s Day.

Related Articles from Oromian Economist sources:-

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Ethiopian refugee, symbol of integration in Italy, killed on farm

Awash Post: Jawar Mohammed: The war in Tigray is a result of Ethiopia’s mismanaged transition December 1, 2020

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Jawar Mohammed: The war in Tigray is a result of Ethiopia’s mismanaged transition

Ethiopia is back in the global spotlight once again with the outbreak of the war in Tigray. I am saddened but not surprised. For anyone with a cursory understanding of the fragility of Ethiopia’s transitional politics, the escalation of tensions between the federal government and the Tigray state into a full-blown military conflict does not come as a surprise. The tell-tale signs were there for everyone to see as the warring parties openly prepared their respective forces for the eventuality of an all-out armed confrontation.

While the specter of war had been hanging over our heads for at least two solid years, the weeks before the formal commencement of the war were particularly alarming. As antagonisms between the federal government and the Tigray state reached a climax, federal and Tigray state media outlets regularly showed military parades, highly drilled commando paratrooper units, and red-beret Special Forces performed in mock-operations in an apparent show of force. All indications were that clashes were in the offing in a not so distant future. Then came November 4, 2020: The country woke up to the news of yet another deadly war.

We, in the Oromo Protest movement, had precisely anticipated this danger long before the drums of war began to reverberate between Finfinne and Mekelle, and put a considerable amount of effort in a desperate attempt to avert the unfortunate bloodshed. Regrettably, all political actors and outside stakeholders -including us- failed to prevent the war despite having ample time and incentive to do so in what now appears to be a collective failure of imagination. But why did we fail?

Below I will highlight some of our efforts and reflection as to why we could not attain the desired outcome in the interests of setting the record straight and as a useful lesson as we continue to navigate the treacherous terrains of Ethiopia’s utterly mismanaged political transition. Note that since I don’t have access to my journal and other useful reference materials as I sit inside the four walls of a prison cell, I rely on retrieved recollections from memory to outline the sequence of events on the topic.

Long before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed emerged as chairman of the then ruling coalition and eventually took over the stewardship of the transitional process -in fact way before the Oromo Protests erupted- we knew that one of our main tasks was designing a strategy to dislodge the principal handlers of the authoritarian regime from power without plunging what was already a polarized country into a civil war, or even worse, without turning it into a failed state.

We believed that the process of inducing change into a minority-dominated authoritarian rule and its aftermath would have extremely dangerous consequences if not carefully handled. Our fear of a carelessly handled regime change possibly leading to a civil war and/or state collapse, was based on the following assessments of present and historical factors.

History of Ethiopian state formation

Ethiopia is a polity created via the conquest of various national groups, and the successive nation-building projects attempted through forced assimilationist policies aborted with the rise of the national question. The last attempt at nation and state-building through the formation of a multinational federation was also undermined by the authoritarian nature of the regime. Thus, the failure to build a state whose legitimacy is unquestioned by constituent national groups led to the birth of competing nationalisms.

In such a situation, the contest between the power holders and its challengers is highly likely to take an ethnic dimension as each side taps into those competing nationalist narratives, paving way for horizontal conflicts among various national groups. By the time we were designing the strategy against the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), these competing nationalisms were already robust and institutionalized. The risk for horizontal conflicts to arise and transform into a civil war was very high.

Nature of the regime 

EPRDF was dominated by the coalition’s senior partner, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), whose political base is a minority ethno-linguistic group representing merely six percent of Ethiopia’s population. When such minority political groups disproportionately dominate power, as much as holding power yields disproportionate material and sentimental dividend to members and affiliates of this group, the loss of this power or threat thereof, poses perceived or real existential threat both to their accumulated wealth and/or to their safety.

Although authoritarian rules of this type mostly enrich only a small clique of voracious sharks in the upper echelons of power, the fear of existential threat is usually shared by the rank and file within the party structure as well as by the entire population from which the dominant group hails.

The power holding political elite also tap into this fear to mobilize the mass and thereby insulate themselves from potential harm. Given this scenario, power contestations between those in power and their challengers could easily turn into a horizontal ethnic conflict. The fact that institutions of the federal government were dominated by elites of TPLF’s minority group meant that such a sense of existential threat and subsequent horizontal conflict could fracture those institutions, risking state collapse. I have written about this in 2010 on Tigrayan Nationalism. Our concern was exacerbated when we witnessed events in Syria and how a threatened power holding minority could wreak havoc, as I argued here in September 2012.

The above factors weighed heavy on our minds when designing a strategy to induce change towards a democratic transition in Ethiopia. The core principles of our strategic approach were as follows:

  1. While demanding that the TPLF cede power by mounting pressure through popular protests that indicated that change was inevitable, we also advocated that they should be given assurances against a punitive redistribution of wealth, aggressive persecution, and prosecution for past crimes should they give up federal power without further bloodshed. The assurances would also include a guarantee of autonomy for the Tigray Regional State so it could continue to be protected by federal forces against external threats. It was agreed to clearly and repeatedly communicate this to them formally and informally.We were very much aware of the gross human rights violations and corruption the TPLF dominated EPRDF had been engaged in. After all, Oromos and Oromia were the primary victims of brutality and exploitation. Yet, as painful as it is, we felt that sacrificing justice would be necessary to avoid a catastrophic civil war and broaden the chance for the transition into a sustainable democratic system.
  2. To reinforce this assurance and reduce uncertainty, it was believed that we should adopt a non-violent popular movement rather than an armed struggle. We believed civil disobedience posed less existential threat than armed confrontations. Furthermore, the transition should be through reform rather than overthrowing the regime entirely, and that is it should be led by reform-minded elements or factions within the ruling party who hold onto power rather than the opposition. We thought it would be simpler to assuage fears by the TPLF leadership of aggressive persecution, if they relinquished power to members of their ruling coalition than opposition groups that they considered more hostile.
  3. During the resistance movement, civilian members of the minority group should be protected to reduce the development of a sense of collective insecurity among the Tigrayan people. This was effectively implemented during the four and half years of the Oromo Protest. No Tigrayan was harmed by protesters. Even senior political and security elites were spared from direct attack. These strategies worked better than we could hope for. The resistance movement overall cost us thousands of lives but the TPLF finally understood that it was no longer tenable to cling on to power in the face of mounting pressure. The leaders wisely accepted the golden parachute, agreeing to hand over power to then OPDO, and retreated to their home state.

It all went according to plan thus far but our scheme had a second phase. The first, as discussed above, was dislodging the TPLF from power without causing a civil war in the process. The second phase was reintegrating and reconciling TPLF members to be part of the new democratic multinational federation. We believed that reconciling and reintegrating them was as crucial for the success of the transition as carefully dislodging them from power was.

It was the failure to effectively implement this second phase that significantly contributed to the current crisis. There are many reasons and enough blame to go around on why this phase failed. From my perspective, the following are a few of them:

  1. The plan to implement the second phase began to falter from the very beginning of the transition. On the eve of the transition, tension began to increase between TPLF hardliners and the incoming reformist team. At the ruling coalition council’s meeting convened to elect new leadership, the TPLF lodged a harsh and abusive criticism on the designated chairman and Prime Minister-elect, Abiy Ahmed, and went as far as refusing to cast even a single of their 45 votes for him. This created a bitter rift between the group that needed to be reconciled and the person responsible for presiding over the reintegration process.
  2. Another reason is that those tasked with implementing the second phase had different understandings, motivations, and tactics from those who planned it. In other words, those who came to power to lead the transition and those at the forefront of the protest movement had a different understanding of the way forward. The freshly minted “reformist” leaders saw the TPLF as a mortal threat to consolidating power rather than an old regime that could be useful to facilitate the transition process if properly reconciled with and reintegrated into the plan.Part of the problem was that individuals who came to play a decisive role in government were not active participants in the negotiations that led to the transition – not only did they not share our concerns nor did they feel that they should abide by the terms of those agreements. Instead of actively reassuring TPLFites and the larger Tigrayan elite, they pursued aggressive purging, harsh criticisms of their track records, and persecution of many key members of the TPLF including army generals and businesses. This led the TPLF and majority Tigrayan elites to believe they were deceived into giving up power with false promises strengthening the position of hardliners and silencing moderates.They immediately resorted to aggressive and combative rhetoric, having felt that they immediately became a target despite holding onto their end of the bargain to relinquish power. Their fear was exacerbated by how the peace deal with Eritrea was handled. Their exclusion from the peacemaking process with their archenemy made the TPLF feel the reproach was motivated by the desire to create an alliance against them rather than a sincere effort to end the decade’s long hostility between the two countries.Those who ascended to federal power also had reasons to feel insecure and threatened by TPLF’s deep state. They suspected TPLF operatives to be behind several acts of violence, such as communal clashes and the attempted assassination of Abiy himself. For the new power holders, the TPLF was sabotaging the reform effort as a means of blackmailing and undermining the federal government. The TPLF did not do much to reassure them either. In fact, harsh criticisms forwarded by some of its senior officials against the Prime Minister further heightened the sense of insecurity by the central government.The grenade attack at the rally organized in support of the new Prime Minister in June of 2018 was officially blamed on former chief of intelligence, Getachew Assefa, yet he was re-elected to the Executive Committee in a clear act of aggression. The fact that key elites in both camps had known each other for long has also resulted in personalized animosity. More importantly, leaders of the two sides grew up under an authoritarian culture where imposing one’s views and interests on the other with the use of force was a norm, and reaching compromises to bridge differences was regarded as a sign of weakness.
  3. It was obvious that the ruling coalition needed to reform, or at least rebrand itself, to remain in power and remain relevant. In fact, the coalition partners had agreed to reform the party even before the transition had begun. It was also obvious that TPLF’s dominant role would be reduced to reflect the new power order. And such reduction of power would create sour feelings in various sectors, hence the need for careful negotiations, power bargains, and discussions. Yet no such negotiations and discussions were undertaken during the early period of the transition.

On the contrary, such possibilities were deliberately avoided in favor of false harmony. For instance, at the 11th EPRDF Congress in Hawassa, the TPLF gave 100% of its vote to PM Abiy to continue as chairman of the coalition; this was despite their increasing resentment and fear towards his actions such as the purging of Tigrayan security and military officials and his right-wing leaning political rhetoric that contradicted EPRDF’s core leftist ideology and the perceived threat Abiy’s rhetoric carried to their regional autonomy.

During the early months of the transition, at the time when deeper discussion and negotiations were needed, the coalition stopped its usual culture of holding regular meetings and debates guided by the coalition’s principles of ‘democratic centralism’ in which differences are supposed to be ironed out internally rather than exposed to the public.

The EPRDF’s Executive Committee of the 36 powerful individuals rarely met. Even the crucial issue of merging the party, which was agreed upon in Hawassa, was avoided until the last minute. There was no real and genuine discussion and negotiation about the matter. When the issue was finally tabled, it was presented as a take it or leave it to matter on both sides with no desire for finding a middle ground.

Instead of negotiations, power bargains, and persuasions, deceptions and threats were deployed in public from both sides. After such a badly managed merger affair, the bond that tied the Tigray region and the new power holders in the federal government was all but severed. In a polity where a single party rule from federal to village level was the norm, two parties with an ugly break up began ruling the federal and regional governments, making their relationship more cumbersome than that between two sovereign countries hostile to one another. After the merger fiasco, the enmity between the two sides became official and preparations to forcefully assert their respective interests began to be pursued publicly.

To say that the postponement of the regional and national elections due to the COVID-19 is the single most important factor that ignited the current conflict is to arrive at an erroneous conclusion.

The relationship between the two had been severely damaged way before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. As I have argued in several interviews the two sides were already preparing for war long before election politics gripped public consciousness.

One could safely argue that the election postponement was a missed opportunity to reset the relationship and to negotiate an amicable political settlement but the two sides only used it as an opportunity to further de-legitimize each other as they prepared behind the scenes for today’s armed showdown. The postponement might have sped up the war, but for anyone closely observing Ethiopia, it was obvious that the two sides had made up their mind to settle their differences by the barrel of the gun rather than around the negotiating table. The writing was on the wall.

In the absence of mutually reassuring communication and negotiation, insecurity on both sides, that is TPLF’s fear of retribution for past misdeeds and Abiy’s concern of losing control due to acts of sabotage by TPLF’s deep state was worsening. Hence each side focused on taking defensive actions to neutralize perceived threats. Abiy by purging them from security and bureaucracy and TPLF by building its military capability and attempting to broaden its political and security alliance outside Tigray.

The securitization of the relationship facilitated for hardliners to dominate TPLF’s decision making while pushing Abiy and the federal government to rely on and come under increasing influence personalities and entities that advocated violent resolution of the TPLF issue. Sadly, international actors, perhaps underestimating the likelihood of a war breaking out, did little to diffuse the ever-growing tension. Even worse some foreign states and ambassadors took sides emboldening the quarreling forces to be more aggressive and combative.

Thus, the war in Tigray did not suddenly erupt due to the attacks on the Northern Command of the National Defense Forces. The Northern Command has been a hostage of the Finfinne – Mekele political gridlock for the last two years. The Tigray regional government had openly declared that no weapon could leave the region and the army’s movement had been severely restricted. As the tension increased, Tigray feared the federal government would use the Northern Command to forcefully take over the region from within the territory, while the federal authorities were worried that the heavy armament in possession of the Northern Command could be used by the TPLF to launch an attack not only within the regional state but even on the center.

In other words, the Northern Command was seen as a crucial element that could tip the balance of force in the power struggle between Finfinne and Mekelle. After squandering opportunities to negotiate a mutually reassuring deal during the early months of the transition and with external actors fanning the tension rather than pressing for resolution, the war was inevitable.

Finally, at the risk of self-praise, let me highlight some of those little efforts. As one of the people involved in designing the Oromo Protests strategies, I spent a considerable amount of time pondering, writing, and speaking to stakeholders about how to dislodge TPLF from power and safely reintegrate them. I played an active role in the first phase – in dislodging the TPLF – and tried to play a bit of an advisory (mediator) role in the second.

In the first phase, I had direct participation in the discussions and negotiations. In the second phase, I tried to urge the two sides charged with the matter to take reconciliation and reintegration as a priority. For instance, when PM Abiy and President Lamma came to the US, one of the main topics of our discussion was how to handle the TPLF conundrum.

Having had a positive reaction from them, I called President Debretsion while Abiy and Lemma were still in the U.S. and explained to him the urgency of this task. I also informed both Abiy and Debretsion that activists and public intellectuals would wage campaigns to shape public opinions in favor of reconciliation and reintegration. To work towards this end we would travel to Mekelle right after my return to Ethiopia. Both sides thought this was a good idea.

Upon my return, I communicated with both sides to arrange the trip to Mekelle. Those in Finfinne advised me to travel to Bahir Dar first to prevent possible suspicion and negative reactions from the Amhara side. Mekelle also agreed and I first traveled to Bahir Dar. However, my travel to Mekelle was repeatedly delayed and postponed primarily as the relationship between the two sides deteriorated. Those at the federal government were reluctant while Mekelle also grew suspicious of our true intentions. The plan was finally canceled when the former spy chief, Getachew Assefa, was elected to TPLF’s Executive Committee (EC) in defiance of the federal government’s arrest warrant against him.

Although the plan to travel to Mekelle to help with public opinion did not materialize, I did not give up lobbying for the two sides to solve their differences through negotiations. That tragic day the chief of armed forces and the president of the Amhara region were assassinated, I was extremely alarmed by how state media in Amhara and Tigray regional states were fanning the tension. I decided to reach out to veterans of the ANDM and TPLF in the respective regional states to plead with them to tone down the hostility and honor the martyrs of both sides.

This conversation developed into an idea of veteran politicians, drawn both from the EPRDF and opposition side, conducting back door negotiations between Mekelle and Finfinne to facilitate formal negotiations among the officials. Six individuals from both sides were selected. The plan was endorsed both by PM Abiy and president Debretsion. But for reasons I still don’t know it was abandoned before any face-to-face meeting was held. After the effort failed, I realized any effort to solve the problem amicably would prove futile. When we talked to them, officials of the two sides were more interested in soliciting our support for the inevitable confrontation.

Reconciliation and reintegration of TPLF was one of the primary focuses of my advocacy when meeting foreign diplomats as well. For instance, a few days after returning to Ethiopia I had meetings with ambassadors of some 20 countries including that of the U.S. and the European Union. In those meetings, I emphasized the crucial importance of resolving the TPLF/ Tigray issue for the success of the transition and emphasized that failure to reconcile would have serious ramifications for the country and regional stability. I urged these diplomats to put pressure on both sides to negotiate. In several meetings with foreign diplomats and officials in the last two and half years in the Horn Region, Europe, and the US, I have been pleading the same point, but I am not sure if it was taken seriously.

Conclusion

We dreamed of and planned for a peaceful transition to democracy. Nonviolently dislodging and then reintegrating the power holders in TPLF’s base was the centerpiece of our plan. We strongly believed successfully dislodging followed by reconciliation would be an essential component of not only successfully transitioning Ethiopia to democracy but also building on the multinational federal state by avoiding falling back into a catastrophic civil war. It did not work as we hoped.

While our plans to weaken and dislodge the TPLF turned out to be more successful than we had anticipated, efforts to reintegrate them into the transitional set up proved inadequate, forcing us to confront our worst fear – a civil war. Ironically, we choose to let EPRDF, the party that tyrannically ruled, continue to lead the transition believing that opposition taking over through regime change carries more risk of war.

Yet it is the split within the ruling coalition that brought about what we hoped to avoid. This reminds me of what the chairman of Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Professor Merera Gudina, said at the start of the transition that ‘Abiy’s main difficulty was managing the EPRDF rather than dealing with the opposition’ or something to that effect.

As I jot down this piece, the war is raging and the federal government has said it was marching to capture Mekelle. Regardless of which side wins in key battlefronts or the war itself, it’s obvious that Ethiopia loses on multiple fronts. Even before the war erupted the much-hoped-for transition was severely harmed by confrontations of the two sides and several other factors.

The main reason why we wanted to ease out TPLF with the offer of a golden parachute – assuring them that they would not be targets of vengeful persecutions and punitive redistribution of wealth, they would preserve their regional autonomy as well as receive protection from foreign adversaries – was to save the federation from eventual fragmentation.

We operated with a working assumption that any perception of an existential threat by the TPLF, which dominated the political and security apparatus of the Ethiopian state for almost three decades, could lead to the collapse of some of the federal institutions it built and held together. A look into the impact this war is having on the cohesion of the Ethiopian army provides a glimpse into the disastrous outcome of this fallout.

The war in Tigray is a direct result of a poorly managed transition into a democratic dispensation, which should not be viewed as an isolated problem. It is a tragic collective failure of the country’s political leadership – all of us, not just Abiy and the TPLF. There is enough blame to go around. One person or party could bear larger or lesser responsibilities but we all played a role. Through our acts of omission and commission, we squandered this great opportunity for a peaceful democratic transition and placed the country at a horrible civil war that could rip it apart.

From my prison cell, I cannot pretend to be up to speed with everyday developments on the war and the efforts of external actors to end it before it causes irreversible damage. It would therefore be presumptuous of me to try to offer concrete recommendations with limited information at hand. All I could do for the time being is plead with all sides to give peace a chance; remind various political groups to refrain from fanning the war and instead exert pressure to end the hostility.

Even if this war ends with the defeat of the TPLF leadership, genuine efforts must be made to reconcile and reintegrate the disenfranchised Tigrayan political, security, and economic elites into the country’s governance structures. The defeat of TPLF does not necessarily mean the end of the ‘Tigrayan problem’ for the Ethiopian state. The resurgence of wounded Tigrayan nationalism is inevitable unless extra care is given to avoid the victimization of Tigrayans. For instance, the disputed border between Amhara and Tigray states should be carefully handled not to leave cause for future conflict.

The unfinished issue of the Eritrean border also requires sensitive handling. In both border disputes, a ‘winner takes it all’ approach must be avoided.

The international community and regional players should exert maximum pressure to save this country from further mayhem by insisting on the immediate cessation of hostilities and encouraging Ethiopia’s political forces to resolve their differences through an all-inclusive national dialogue.

Finally, if any actor, be it state or non-state, believes they can achieve victory through a war in this country, they are mistaken. Certainly, one can defeat the other on the battlefield, but neither side would be victorious in building a peaceful and sustainable political order. We are poised to lose the country if we keep insisting on advancing our particular interest through the use of force. In our part, during the Oromo Protests, we consciously chose to wage nonviolent struggle because we believed it would give us a better chance of bringing about a transition to a multinational democratic federal system.

At the OFC, we firmly believe -as always-that nonviolent struggle and an all-inclusive dialogue remain Ethiopia’s best hope to successfully transition into a democratic order, ensure enduring stability and achieve sustainable development, and are committed to abiding by these principles. It has worked for us in the past. We hope it serves us better in the future as well.

Jawar Mohammed
November 2020
Qaliti Federal Prison, Ethiopia

Oromia: The Athletic Nation Report: Oromo Athlete Shura Kitata Tola wins the 2020 #LondonMarathon. Colourful victory for the Oromo athletes on the the day of the colourful #Irreecha2020 Festivals in Oromia and the Globe October 5, 2020

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Oromo Athletes Shura Kitata Tola and Sisay Lemma win the 2020 London Marathon on the day of Irreecha, Oromo Thanksgiving day. Shinning and colourful victory on the event of the colourful Oromo national cultural festival

The most dramatic of finishes at the London Marathon, Oromo Athlete Shura Kitata Tola is the 2020 London Marathon Winner in the Elite Men’s Race on Sunday 4th October 2020. Vincent Kipchumba of Kenya and Sisay Lemma of Oromia are winners of the 2nd and 3rd places respectively. Brigid Kosgei of Kenya wins the London Marathon 2020 Elite Women’s Race. American’s Sara Hall is the 2nd. World champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya finishes third in the Women’s Race.

(THE DAILY MAIL): Shura Kitata wins the London Marathon as Ethiopian pulls off shock victory in the sodden capital ending Eliud Kipchoge’s reign as the king of the iconic race. Shura Kitata has won the London Marathon in a thrilling race in the capital. The Ethiopian emerged victorious over the route of 19.7 laps of St James’s Park. Kitata’s win puts an end to Eliud Kipchoge’s reign as the king of the race. The 35-year-old had not lost over 26.2miles in seven years but was shocked. 

In those shoes, with those lungs and that record, we just about assumed Eliud Kipchoge could walk on water. Nothing like a rainy day for disproving that theory and nowhere quite like the grounds of Buckingham Palace for dethroning kings.

Chances are the greatest runner the roads have ever seen will win again. But those are considerations for another day.

For now it is a time to wonder how it went so very wrong in St James’s Park and why. That is because he didn’t just lose to Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata, the 2018 runner up and a worthy champion here in 2:05.41. Shura Kitata has earned a shock victory at the sodden and chilly London Marathon on Sunday

The Ethiopian emerged victorious in a thrilling finale as he saw off Vincent Kipchumba 

Why a National Dialogue in Ethiopia Would Fail & Why it Would Succeed in a Sovereign Oromia September 26, 2020

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Why a National Dialogue in Ethiopia Would Fail & Why it Would Succeed in a Sovereign Oromia

by Soretti Kadir – a storyteller, facilitator, and activist

Originally published by Media Ko: https://mediako.tv/opinion-pieces/

Find Media Ko on all social media @mediaoneko

A national dialogue or nationwide community dialogue is often promoted as the most productive path when a society is divided by beliefs, experiences, desires and destinies. In the case of Ethiopia, a national dialogue does not have the capacity to bridge the divides that exist in perceptions of history and its impact on current power and societal dynamics. However, a nationwide community dialogue convened in a sovereign Oromia republic could see this divide finally healed. I argue so for three key reasons. 

Firstly, for dialogue to create a story that can open opposing sides to the common humanity of the other, there needs to be an acceptance of one or more foundational truths. The foundational truth of the Oromo as it relates to the construction of the Ethiopian state is one that contradicts what promoters of Ethiopian nationalism believe is an uncompromisable truth of the founding of the Ethiopian state – that all people living within the boundaries of Ethiopia take a singular national expression as an intimate and personal identity. This truth is perceived as strengthening the Ethiopian national body politic and the rejection of this is seen as an effort to destabilize this same political construct.

Secondly, the Ethiopian state, from its inception until this very moment in time, has actively participated in emboldening the normalisation of anti-Oromo sentiment. This is in contradiction to the spirit of a constitution recognizing that Ethiopia is a multinational federation. The state has demonized high profile and grassroots leaders who promote a multinational agenda.

This leads to the final reason as to why national dialogue convened within the framework of the Ethiopian state will fail. Despite the right of people to identify more or less strongly with the national identity of their choosing within a multinational country, all attempts at dialogue happening now will center the Ethiopian identity as the common and most important denominator, dismissing that for many, identifying as “Ethiopian” is neither a priority, a need, or a part of any genuine process of healing.

In a sovereign Oromia, the state’s conceptual and practical power will take the truth of the Oromo from the margins and establish it as a common narrative in a way that takes diverse people through its narration educationally, compassionately, and authentically. By nature of something new being born, a sovereign Oromia has the opportunity to create a new community narrative that, backed by legitimization of the state, can build common ground without compromising on the Oromo’s, or any other people’s, right to be who they are. 

Creating Ethiopia was not a benevolent process. It did not involve willing parties sitting at a table and deciding that they would now like to come together under the Ethiopian umbrella. It was a brutal process of colonisation and displacement brought upon diverse and sovereign people in the southern, eastern, and western directions of the horn of Africa region. One of these peoples, the largest people in terms of population size, was the Oromo. Since monarchical rulers like Tedrows and Menelik II colonised the Oromo, there have been many forms of organized resistance against this imposed rule. The initial resistance to the earlier Abyssinian rulers did not subside because the Oromo mass saw that it was in their benefit to join the colonizing people in their nation-building project. Instead, it began to subside (only to resume with the next generation) because, despite fierce resistance, the onslaught was costing too much life. This is important to understand because there has never been a moment where the Oromo mass accepted that the Ethiopian nation-building project belonged to or served them until the rise of PM Abiy Ahmed

Abiy represented the opportunity that perhaps, despite the project of Ethiopia never seeing the Oromo mass as more than it could subject, things could change with Abiy, who was put in power by a grassroots movement led by Oromo youth and farmers and eventually joined by people in other regions in Ethiopia. That hope disappeared once Abiy’s idea of reconciliation revealed itself to be a regurgitation of the same story: forget what happened, you’re Ethiopian now, and the people who massacred your people to bring you Ethiopia should exist in our memory as a singular reality – as heroes.

Dialogue is predicated on the hope that when multiple truths emerge, a negotiation of emotional realities takes place to find a relationship between experiences that can honor all. It requires letting go of the old and creating something new, together. As one person, I believed that we could let go of our old imagination of Ethiopia and bring forth something entirely novel. I invested time and energy in manufacturing a dialogue framework of my own and pitching to anybody that would listen in Finfinnee, the country’s capital. I believed that once others understood how the founding of Ethiopia resonated with such a large portion of the people within its borders, our negotiations would surely lead us to desire the formation of new collective memories, to wanting genuine safety and justice for each other, and to the putting aside of the centralization of figures that could never be celebrated by your average Oromo, Sidama, or Somali household. It is not that Ethiopia can not eventually get there. It’s that in the context of how much people need a narrative that does not afford the Oromo a dignified place in the story of Ethiopia, the deep systemic – and community-level transformation needed will take generations. In that process, the Oromo who advocate for themselves as unapologetically Oromo, those who defend their lands and even those who do not show up with this vocality or visibility, will experience displacement, killing, torture, and marginalization. 

I just can’t imagine, considering the costs, that waiting it out could possibly be worth it. If the Oromo were to secure sovereignty over their lands, they would be in a systemic position to rewrite the story of who they are. I do not underestimate that this too will be a delicate process as there are millions of people of other ethnicities who call Oromia home. However, I believe that a story that is unapologetic about who the Oromo are, what they experienced in becoming assimilated into Ethiopia, and how that has led to the need of uncompromisable sovereignty is possible in a way that takes others on an authentic journey about the truth of the lands that they now call home.

If the state tells a different story, then the power dynamics can hold space for a new narrative to emerge and if that happens, I believe that the quality of the relationship between people of different language groups and ethnicities may have a real chance of being strengthened upon values of egalitarianism and humanity. What we have to realize in considering the value of this argument is that on the part of the Oromo, it is not, nor has it ever been, a finding of common humanity in the Ethiopian national identity that has kept peace between the Oromo and non-Oromos, as Ethiopianists and the state would like the world to believe. It has been the Oromo’s binding reverence of Safuu – the belief that in all moments is the need to protect and uphold a universal balance. This is what has made co-existence in Oromia possible. It is this same reverence of Safuu that requires us to now rectify one of the most significant imbalances that exists within the reality of the Oromo – the displacement from our lands, resources and Oromoness. 

The assassination by the Ethiopian state of popular Oromo artist and activist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa in late June 2020, the politically motivated arrest of Oromo politicians, journalists, activists and the extrajudicial killing, imprisonment and torture of politically active and non-politically active Oromo people across Oromia is a part of Ethiopian state culture. In an attempt to find a mechanism that could open up the national project of Ethiopia to people of diverse national identities, the 1995 constitution articulated a multinational framework and governance model for the Ethiopian state. In theory, this should have levelled the playing field and cultivated respect for regional sovereignty. The federal apparatus would have become a sort of roundtable where regions participated in shared rule and the genuine representation and negotiation of regional interests within this political centre. The multinational structure is an unrealised dream and the opportunity for this hope to be revived has been dangerously depleted by the systemic effort of the Ethiopian state to create an image of the Oromo as a whole, and in particular, of those protective of the Oromo national interest, as sub-human and unthinking.

This kind of assault is not something that one bounces back from. Its impact transcends generations and leaves a people and story stuck in a resistant position. In the case of the Oromo lands and people in Ethiopia, this narrative makes the ungoverned and unchecked exploitation of Oromo land and resources possible. If advocating the Oromo national interest is seen as borderline demonic and the saving grace is the further assimilation of the Oromo into the unitary Ethiopian state, then there is nobody to protect the agricultural and small business community in Oromia. There is no frame of reference that recognizes that cultural and economic sovereignty that matters.

When I look at other struggles against cultural and economic imperialism around the world, I wonder if other oppressed peoples had the chance to free themselves entirely from governance and storytelling frameworks that see them as collateral, would they wait? I don’t know, because it is also the best of human nature to remain patient on the course of collective transformation, but I think that it is equally beautiful to stand upright and say, enough is enough, I deserve to live free now, not tomorrow, not with the dream of freedom, but I deserve to live in the reality of freedom, now. Stories are compelling, and the story that has permeated the Ethiopian consciousness over the last 60 days and, in different forms, the last 100+ years, is a story that protects the idea that Ethiopianism in Ethiopia equals the best of humanity and anything competing equals the worst of humanity. This is the primary story of the state and its various apparatuses. No genuine dialogue can occur within such a  framework.

If national dialogue were to occur in the sovereign Republic of Oromia tomorrow, I think that the goal would not be to create a subversive or overt path for non-Oromo people to find and define themselves in the Oromo national identity. Instead, it would be purposed to, at a grassroots level, resolve dehumanizing and othering representations of people to each other to enable individual and collective healing and to create measures that act as organic barriers between communities and violence, in the future. Ideally, we would know of the success of this dialogue, not by the extent of the assimilation of identities, but by the successful integration of new dominant truths and stories, creating an opportunity for a nationalistic comradeship and solidarity over assimilation or submission. If national dialogue were to happen in Ethiopia tomorrow, it would hold no water because of the political persecution of Oromo political leaders, the ten thousand plus Oromo people currently being held illegally, and the extrajudicial killings in Oromia that, instead of being held to account, have been rationalized by the state.

But let us imagine that a national dialogue was still to be convened in Ethiopia despite all of the above. The goal would not be to create space for the acceptance of a multinational framework. It would hold the Ethiopian identity at the center, as the common ground, and success would be predicated on the strengthening of the ongoing assimilation process. The ends, in this context, immobilize and make valueless the means. The functionality of dialogue depends on the readiness of the conveners of this dialogue, and all of its participants, to embrace new truths. With the Oromo still experiencing the state as a colonial body, resistance politics feel essential to survival. And with the colonial body uninterested in relinquishing its exploitatory status over the Oromo and other nations, how can it arrive at a dialogue with the capacity to take from it, direction for the kind of deep-seated transformation that is required for Ethiopia to become an entity free of its violent past, and belonging anew to all that live within its borders? It can not. To wait another decade or so for it to be ready to, is not a price that I think the Oromo, or any other nation in Ethiopia, should have to pay. 

The Oromo concept of Safuu sees true togetherness as possible only when true sovereignty is honoured. It makes sense: how can I be connected to you when there is no whole me? Only I can tell you of my wholeness, that which gives me dignity and strength, this can not be decided for me. The conversation about self-determination is often considered politically, but it is first and foremost a matter of humanity. For dialogue to be productive for everyone, people must arrive within their power, and that power should never be formed at the expense of weakening others that come to the table. The goal should not be maintaining something old, but creating something new, and that only works if each party is as interested in the maintenance of the other’s humanity as they are in maintaining their own. None of these pre-conditions can be fulfilled in the Ethiopia we know today, nor, in reading all political activities indicating the direction in which Ethiopia is growing, should we expect it, at least without extreme loss of life in the next decade. In the new Republic of Oromia, the hope for this conversation to contribute to the initial nation-building efforts is more realistic. With the right dialogue practitioners, planning and nuanced execution, a national spirit that is honest about the past, respectful of diversity and collaborative in its future-making is possible to nurture. Oromo values exist not just to serve Oromo’s, but when they flourish, they will create a society of equal standing for all who respect these values. In the context where the Oromo interest over land and livelihood is less compromised (we still have work to do in protecting against vicious capitalist interest), the Oromo identity no longer living on the margins and under subjugation, and this new governmental paradigm protecting against any other identity ever experiencing the same marginalisation, we can imagine a political environment less in need of ethnic-based nationalism. With this kind of freedom, who knows what kind of political thought and vision may emerge from within communities? But before we can talk about building national consensus via dialogue, we have got to get free from the colonial empire that has tried and failed to fashion itself as a democracy. 

Oromia (Finfinnee): Excerpts from Jawar Mohammed’s speech in court 04 Sep 2020 September 5, 2020

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Excerpts from Jawar Mohammed’s speech in court 04 Sep 2020

Finfinne Intercept

What I find alarming even more so than the individual charges levelled against us is the state of the overall justice system in this country. Allow me to address this not just to the bench presiding over this case but also to the second-man in charge of the Attorney General’s Office who is present amongst us in this courtroom today. The justice system is under the total control of the ruling party and has utterly failed due to political interference by those in positions of power. I would like for you to understand this. It is evident from the prosecution’s request for the court to grant anonymity for witnesses so they can testify against us from behind-the-curtain that this is a political trial. And the fact one of the witnesses was dropped today and that four others were dropped the other day further demonstrates that the entire exercise is politically motivated. I am not saying this because I’m terrified of prison. When I made the decision to join politics, it’s with the full knowledge that such eventualities might arise and with the conviction to accept any consequences. Prison is an elementary challenge. I’m ready to die for my people and for the cause I believe in. If I die today, I go with a peace of mind and a smile on my face. I won’t have any regrets. I’m pleading with you not out of the personal desire to get a favourable ruling on this case but because I want the country’s judicial system to improve for the sake of future generations. This reminds me of the ordeals the earliest Oromo nationalist movement leaders had to go through inside the courtrooms of Imperial Ethiopia [and the death penalty they were given] 40 years ago; trailblazers such as Captain Mamo Mezemir who graduated with great honours from the then imperial military academy. What is happening to the current crop of leaders (potentially his grand children) today is no different. This is disgraceful. Political differences are resolved through dialogue, not in a litigation before a court of law. This exercise helps neither our politics nor the country’s judicial system. On the contrary, it will further worsen the political polarisation, courts will lose public trust and this will precipitate the disintegration of the country. All evidences indicate that that is where we’re heading. The current Prime Minister had apologised for putting freedom advocates through a reign of terror for 27 years in contravention of the constitution and the laws of the country, and had admitted that that was a wrong path to follow. However, what we’re witnessing is a continuation of the same old unlawful practice. I maintain that political differences cannot be resolved in a court of law and that no resolution will come out of such futile undertakings. I urge you to stop wasting the resources and energy of everyone involved. You can jail us as you please, free us as you please or hang us if you deem it necessary but I implore you to stop the blatant mockery of justice and the law. I thank you! –Translated from the Afaan Oromo version originally published by Oromo Political Prisoners Defence Team.

Oromia: Dr Birhanu Nega alone displaced and took the farmland of 217 Oromo farmers household. That means he alone displaced and grabbed the farmland of more than 1000 Oromos using the racist and anti Oromo regime. September 5, 2020

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/Directio/nአቅጣጫ

By Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni

Dr Birhanu Nega alone displaced and took the farmland of 217 Oromo farmers household. That means he alone displaced and grabbed the farmland of more than 1000 Oromos using the racist and anti Oromo regime. Could these Oromo victims get justice from the racist Neftagna regime? Not at all. Over the last 15 years alone, Addis Ababa expanded three fold by displacing about 1,500,000 Oromo people. Literally, the racist and anti Oromo regime committed genocide on our people. Still, system driven, land grab and the genocidal mission against the Oromo people continued in the name of development, religion, business etc. It is forgone conclusion that the Oromo people cannot seek justice from the racist regime. Then, what type of political discourse could an Oromo hold with the racist system that calls an Oromo who speak about the equality of the Oromo people in that country an extremist, terrorist and so forth? None! From now on, the Oromo people should not fool themselves and wast any time by talking about democracy, election, law etc for there is none! Oromos who talk about these nonexistent things should also stop lying and giving false hope to the Oromo people. It is critically important to know that unless and until the racist Neftagna System is defeated, subdued and dismantled, let alone equality, the Oromo people will not be considered as human beings in Ethiopia. These dehumanization of the Oromo!? We have all seen it. We are all living it! Therefore, let all Oromos focus only on organizing and mobilizing the Oromo people to defeat, subdue and dismantle the racist Neftagna System!

ዶ/ር ብርሃኑ ነጋ ብቻ 217 የኦሮሞ ገበሬ አባወራዎችን (በትንሹ ከአንድ ሺህ ህዝብ በላይ) አፈናቅሎ መሬታቸውን ወስዷል። እነዚህ ኦሮሞዎች ከዘረኛው ነፍጠኛ ስረዓት ፍትህ መጠየቅ ይችላሉ? በጭራሽ! ይህ አሁን ያወቅነው አንድ ሰው ብቻ ስረዓቱን ተጠቅሞ የፈፀመው ግፍ ነው። ባለፉት 15 ዓመት ብቻ አዲስ አበባ አንድ ሚልዮን አምስት መቶ ሺህ የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ላይ ጄኖሳይድ ፈፅማ በቆዳ ስፋት ሶስት እጥፍ ሰፈታለች! በልማት፣ በሃይማኖት፣ በንግድ፣ በተለያዩ የሌብነት ስልቶች የኦሮሞ ህዝብ መሬት መቀማቱን ቀጥሏል። ይህን የተደራጀ ስረዓታዊ ወረራ እና ጄኖሳይድ ለስረዓቱ ሌቦች አቤት በማለት የኦሮሞ ህዝብ የሚያገኘው አንዳች ፍትህ የለም። ለኦሮሞ ህዝብ እኩልነት የሚናገር ፅንፈኛ በሚባልበት ስረዓት ውስጥ የምን ፖለቲካ ነው ኦሮሞ የሚያካሄደው? የለም! የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ከዚህ በኋላ ለአንድ ቀን እራሱን ዲሞክራሲ፣ህግ፣ ምርጫ፣ ቅርጫ እያለ ማታለል የለበትም። ይህን ውሸት መፍትሄ ብላችሁ የምታወሩ ኦሮሞዎችም አቁሙ! የነፍጠኛው ስረዓት ካልተሸነፈ እና ካልገበረ የኦሮሞን ህዝብ እንኳን እኩልነት፣ እንደሰውም አይቆጥርም። ውሸት ነው እንዳትሉ እያያችሁት እና እየኖራችሁት ነው። ስለዚህ የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ብቸኛ ግብ የነፍጠኛው ስረዓት ማፍረሰ እና ማስገበር ብቻ መሆኑን አውቃችሁ በሙሉ ኃይላችሁ ህዝቡን አንቁ እና አደራጁ!!

Related:

Azhar Kïa Abadir

Amhara businessmen Belayneh Kindie and Worku Aytenew took 250 hectares of land from the hearts of Addis through direct involvement of the retard. Haile G/S took free land from South, Oromia and Amhara in the name of building resort. These three Amhara looters are behind all of Addis land grab and why they are supporting this retard. Oromo businessmen Dinku Deyasa and Gemshu Beyene are chased away from their mother land. Gemshu is still in Oromia but Dinku was attacked by mafias several times. It is so sad that Oromo’s resources are looted by these crooked Amharas but Oromos are killed on their soil because they born Oromo. This madness must be stopped by the blood of Oromos. This struggle must be the binding one. You have well prepared leaders and there will be no risk of power sabotage afterwards. In this short time, peaceful struggle aimed at deteriorating the mafia’s economy must be strongly executed. This is a bitter struggle. Military is told to shoot anyone on the road so that direct confrontation is risky. However, self defense is legal whenever the military is attacking you while you are protesting peacefully. Military has no legal ground to kill peaceful protesters. It is beyond its mandate and should be taught a desirable lesson like of Tegarus. Military seems to be brave on Oromos because they knew that Oromos are peaceful. Effective road closure surrounding Addis will bring down this mafia. Never carry gun or other artileries. Just peacefully. You will definitely win and determine your fate. Amharas who did not support this mafia are just your families and protect them taking any respobsibilities. However, any nation and nationalities who support this mafia have to learn some lessons. All lessons should of economic deterioration.

Oromo is winning! Luel Henok

የኦሮሞን መሬት ለመቀማት እጅግ ቀላሉ መንገድ -ትናንት፣ ዛሬና ነገ-(The Easiest way to grab Oromo’s land)****************************

1. አንድ ጨረቃ ቤተ እምነት ይሰራል!

2. ከዚያ በዙሪያ የመጤ ሰፋሪዎች ጨረቃ ቤት ይሰራል!

3. እድርና ማህበር ይበዛል!

4. መብራት:ውሃና ስልክ በፊውዳል ሰንሰለት በፍጥነት ይገባላቸዋል!

5. ከፖሊስና ፀጥታ አካላት ሰንሰለት በመፍጠር አካባቢያችሁን ጠብቁ በሚል ያስታጥቋቸዋል!

6. ኦሮሞ ያለ ቤተ እምነት በራሱ መሬት ላይ መቀበር አልችልም ብሎ ስላመነ መቀበሪያ አገኘሁ ብሎ ይደሰታል:ተጨማሪ መሬቱን ይሰጣል;ንብረቱን ይሰጣል::

7.በአገልግሎትና በበአላት ስም የሚመጣ ፊውዳል እዚያው ቀርቶ ጨረቃ ቤት ይሰራል!

8. ኦሮሞ ምስጢራቸውን እንዳያይባቸው የትኛውም አገልግሎት ውስጥ አያስገቡትም!

9. ቆይቶ ኦሮሞና ኦሮሙማ ጠፍቶ….ባዶ እጁን ቀርቶ;ቤተሰቡን በትኖ; መቀበሪያ አገኘሁ ያለውንም ሳያገኝ ተሰዶ መንገድ ዳር ሞቶ ማዘጋጃ ይቀብረዋል::ይሄ ትናንት ነዉ። ዛሬም ይሄ እንዳለ ሆኖ ሌላ ሀይል ተጨምሯል። ሴቶችና ህፃናት ከየጎዳናዉ ተሰብስበዉ የደብተራዎች ሚዲያ በሆነዉ ESAT እና EBC ዜና ይሰራል። ለዶ/ር ምልኬሳም ይደወላል። በዚህ ስልት አንፎ አካባቢ የተጀመረዉ ቆሟል። ነገስ? ነገ ኦሮሞ ነቅቶባቸዋልና ቄሮ በራሱ መሬቱን ያፀዳል።=with Worku Bedada=

Oromia: EZEMA and PP: The clash over the Oromo land September 1, 2020

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EZEMA and Urban Land – Addis Ababa

By Faisal Roble, August 31, 2020,

EZEMA, a political party in Ethiopia that is birthed out of remnants of EPRP, All-Amhara Organization, Medhin led by a fascist individual known as Goshu Wolde, and remnants of former landlords once again betrayed the ongoing revolution; first it stood by when Oromo comrades were killed and jailed; and then it temporarily ended up forming what could be a short unholy alliance with PM Abiy’s Prosperity Party (PP). The two joined hips not because they love each other but because they want to break the Oromo spirit. Their unholy unification is based on the ever-elusive pan-Ethiopianims – a crude ideology that sacrifices regional and local histories in favor of a never substantiated Solomonic history – a history that is more of a myth than a real history based on the histories of the peoples of Ethiopia.

To cement its image as the guardian of a radical version of Ethiopianism negotiated on the concept of Andinet-fusuminet, a narrative that seeks to protect the left-over of an old oppressive system, EZEMA has hastily released what could be perceived as its land policy. In it, it falters on the question of urban land of Addis Ababa. Reading EZEMA’s 15-pages report, I understand that there is an attempt to delineate the distribution of about hundreds of thousands of acres of vacant suburban land and the distribution of 96,000 condominiums. It would have been a high toll if their study was not politically charged.

EZEMA makes an accusation without showing any proof that a large portion of the 96,000 condominium units are reserved for workers belonging to the Oromia regional state. It adds that the rest is distributed to Dr. Abiy’s cronies.There are some truths to EZEMA’s accusation, especially when it accuses the government of PP of handing keys of finished units to government bureaucrats. Such a practice is common even in the regions. It is customary for both federal and regional governments to give prime land to cronies. PP functionaries in the regions are as guilty of this accusation as they come. In the process, often legitimate owners of such lands are pushed aside.Having said that, the spirit of EZEMA’s August 2020 report is to express its philosophy on the land question pertaining to Addis Ababa. In the report, EZEMA saws the unprovable suspicion that Dr. Abiy’s government is illegally handing finished units to Oromo. In a clever way, it reinvigorates the debate on the question of Addis Ababa and comes to saying that urban land is grabbed by Oromo with the approval of Dr. Abiy’s government. But how does this accusation sit with the killings of Oromo politicians and Oromo activists by the same government? It is this argument that makes EZEMA’s August report nothing but a false pretext to cleverly revive the debate over Addis Ababa at this sensitive time when Oromo advocates are in jail and have no freedom of expression.

The thin thread that holds EZEMA and PP has always been to silence the Oromo and other nationality voices so that urban land of Addis Ababa is “managed” without resistance. In other words, the EZEMA report is the tool for a fight for the control of one of the most important resources that belongs to Oromo – LAND. And this fight is an affirmation that Ethiopia’s history in the last century has been the looting and defending of land by different forces. The urban land question finally saws a wedge between two wrong sides whose unholy alliance is unsustainable. The clash over Oromo land will soon foment open conflict between EZEMA and PP. A Somali adage says: a stolen she camel will never produce a legitimate calf. The original sin of stealing Oromo land must first be corrected before land is legalized to consumers. We need a serious and democratic land policy.

Finally I am #free YassinJuma: Kenya Journalist Yassin Juma after he was released from Ethiopian prison he wrote this letter while in the hospital fighting COVID! August 24, 2020

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Yassin Juma, Independent Journalist,Filmmaker,Fixer, Media-Consultant

Greetings,

I, Kenyan Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker Yassin Juma would like to take this opportunity to express my utmost gratitude to the Oromo community in Africa and the Diaspora for the support extended to me while I was incarcerated.

This is also to confirm that I have been released from detention and I’m currently under isolation at a Covid-19 government facility in Finfine.

According to a statement by the Ethiopian government the reason for my release after horrendous and endless 48 days (and a re-arrest) was that they realised I had been “wrongfully detained” because of “Language barrier”.

I was touched when I called my family for the first time in 50 days and they all again and again would mention the support extended by numerous Oromo people who called from the diaspora or visited them at the family home in Nairobi to find out how they were doing. That really touched me. I can’t thank you enough. I needed that support while in detention as I was overwhelmed by responsibilities taking care of a large extended family, a paralysed hospitalised brother’s medical bills and two orphans. You made it easier for them by having my back and holding their hands.

I cant talk much as am still in Ethiopia and all my focus is exerted on my current battle i.e fighting Corona. Kindly remember me in your prayers. The Oromo community offered 4 brilliant Lawyers to represent me in court at zero fee. I cannot thank you enough for this selfless act. Many thanks to Lawyer Kedir Bolli, Lawyer Abdelatef Elemo and the rest of the team. Lawyer Kedir, a formidable lawyer, would always say this before our court proceedings….”Rabbi Jira,” and yes indeed Rabbi Jira!I also have a message sent to the Oromo community from the detainees I left behind which I will officially share with you once once I’m back on social media.

Galatoomaa.

Yassin Juma, Kenyan Journalist

War biopic, political history and family memoir frame ‘Oromo Witness’ August 21, 2020

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War biopic, political history and family memoir frame ‘Oromo Witness’

“My people are getting killed in Ethiopia–mothers, fathers, children. That makes me cry,” said Samira Ahmed who wipes her eyes while listening to a speaker at a rally of the Oromo community in Minnesota at the State Capitol Friday May 9, 2014. They are against the Ethiopian government for the killing and imprisonment of peaceful Oromo protesters during a peaceful rally the week before. (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

By FREDERICK MELO | fmelo@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press August 21, 2020

In the opening pages of “Oromo Witness,” author Abdul Dire drives from engineering classes at the University of Minnesota to a restaurant on Minneapolis’ Lake Street to pick up his uncle, Hangasu Wako Lugo, who is busy mopping floors at his second job.

The humble setting is an unlikely new battlefield for the St. Paul Public Schools food service worker and grandfather of 12. Hangasu Wako Lugo, a former rebel strategist, is better known in some circles for playing no small role in the Ethiopian Civil War of 1974-1991.

It’s a path his father and uncle forged before him when they engineered a peasant uprising against Ethiopia’s feudal government in the 1960s from the country’s Oromia region in the south.

Hangasu Wako Lugo was still a child during the Bale Revolt of 1963-1970, one in a long line of frustrated attempts to win new freedoms for the nation’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo people. By the time the emperor is jailed in a military coup, he’s already come of age in the capital city of Addis Ababa, educated in military academies and ready to help lead a movement of his own through the Oromo Liberation Front — a movement he would later part with in anger and frustration.

(Courtesy of Flexible Press)

Hangasu Wako Lugo’s harrowing personal story frames the first book-length nonfiction work to roll out from Minneapolis-based Flexible Press (flexiblepub.com), which has been publishing Minnesota-centric novellas, short stories, essays and poetry since 2017.

“I think it’s an important story,” said publisher William Burleson. “Here’s a guy pushing a broom in a Minneapolis restaurant, but look at the life he’s led.”

Part ethno-political history, part war biopic, part family memoir, “Oromo Witness” reads like a love letter to both the Oromo people and to a beloved mentor whose resourcefulness is built on that of generations of tribal leaders before him.

Dire, a Woodbury resident and technical service specialist at 3M, relied heavily on interviews with his uncle and other Oromo refugees in their 70s, 80s and 90s to paint a compelling ethnic and political biography of Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation after Nigeria, told from the perspective of its suppressed ethnic majority.

“Our community is really invisible to most Minnesotans,” said Dire, who came to the U.S. as a teen and frequently participates in mission trips back in his homeland. “I was hoping this book would provide a little glimpse on who the Oromo people are to our friends and neighbors.”https://ba86f6bee9c2edb1a131ceec139bc9aa.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The Bale Revolt would span seven years of fighting, forming an important precursor to a student movement that continues to this day. It would also be a close precursor to the Cold War-era civil war, which combined with Ethiopia’s infamous famine would kill more than 1 million Ethiopians and force many ethnic Oromo to flee the country.

With the Soviet-backed Communist Derg and later the Tigray running the government, thousands of Oromo refugees, including Hangasu Wako Lugo, would eventually land in the Twin Cities, many of them in and around St. Paul. The metro is now believed to be home to as many as 40,000 Oromo, the largest concentration outside Ethiopia.

While “Oromo Witness” revolves largely around the Bale Revolt and Oromo efforts to regroup in Somalia during the civil war, Dire traverses at least 120 years of history — from imperial rule to the bittersweet freedom represented by his uncle’s mop bucket in 2006 — with conversational ease.

Abdul Dire (Courtesy of Flexible Press)

“My uncle comes from an oral tradition, where history is primarily passed on through stories,” Dire said. “But now in Minnesota, there’s a language gap. He really sees this book as bridging that gap.”

That’s not to say the details are pleasant. One story has it that after subjugating the southern tribes of the Oromia region in the 1890s, a northern emperor made an example of those who resisted his rule by mutilating the hands of the men and the breasts of the women.

Fast forward more than a century, and the book’s cautiously optimistic epilogue takes the reader through 2018, when Ethiopia greeted the arrival of its first Oromo prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, to oversee a nation still beset by political corruption and ethnic strife.

Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for ending a two-decade border conflict with neighboring Eritrea, but the past few weeks have been more turbulent. In late June, an unknown assailant shot and killed acclaimed Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa in the capital city, setting off violent riots that have in turn left dozens dead.

A TIMELINE:

— 1890s: Using colonial weapons, Emperor Menelik and the Tigre and Amhara ethnic communities invade the Oromo region to their south, incorporating the nation’s largest region into modern Ethiopia as a feudal society.

— 1895-1896: After a treaty dispute erupts in fighting, Ethiopia’s emperor defeats Italian forces and Ethiopia remains a sovereign nation.

— 1890s and 1900s: Oromo language is banned in official state transactions, and the Oromo become pastoral tenants to their northern landlords, the Tigre and Amhara. The Oromo to this day remain the nation’s largest single ethnic group, representing 40 percent or more of the nation’s population.

— 1930 to 1974: Emperor Haile Selassie rules Ethiopia, though his reign is interrupted for five years by Italian conquest prior to World War II.

— 1936: Italy invades Ethiopia. Emperor Selassie flees to England. The Arsi Oromo in southern Ethiopia side with the Italians. Despite sham local elections under Italian governors, the Oromo briefly regain the freedom to use their traditional language in court, on the radio and in other aspects of civil society.

— April 6, 1941: During World War II, British and Ethiopian troops drive Italian forces out of Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, traditionally known as Finfinne. Emperor Selassie is restored to power.

— 1943: Oromo leader Muhammad Gada Quaallu, the people’s representative in the Bale region during Italian rule, organizes 60 to 70 men to block the Ethiopian army’s return to the Bale city of Dello. The national army returns days later to reoccupy Dello. The uprising is crushed.

— 1960: After a decade in the Goba prison, Muhammad Gada Quaallu and his allies are executed by hanging at the order of the emperor. Dire Irressa, the author’s grandfather, dies among them.

— 1960: While Emperor Selassie is visiting Brazil, military leaders seize the capital city of Addis Ababa and hold the prince hostage. The military coup fails when the emperor returns.

— 1963-1970: The Bale Revolt. With weapons provided by the Somali government, ethnic Oromo guerrilla rebels from the Bale region combat the larger Ethiopian Army, keeping the emperor’s military forces from dominating the tribes along the Genale River.

— 1974: Led by military forces, the Derg coalition overthrows Emperor Selassie in 1974, abolishing feudalism. Rather than usher in a new era of political stability, the coup marks the beginning of the Ethiopian Civil War, during which at least 1.4 million die from famine and violence.

— 1974-1991: Rebels from a variety of ideologies rise up against the Soviet-backed Derg in a civil war that ropes in neighboring Eritrea, which had fought its own war of independence against Ethiopia. The Soviet Union withdraws its support from the Derg in the late 1980s.

— 1977-1978: With Soviet and Cuban help, Ethiopia defeats Somalia’s efforts to invade the disputed Ogaden region and claim it for its own. The Ogaden War, which greatly weakens Somalia’s military, is a precursor to the Somali Civil War.

— 1980: The Oromo Liberation Front moves its base of operations to Somalia, an on-again, off-again ally.

— June 1991: The left-wing Tigray People’s Liberation Front end the civil war and establish a transitional government. One governing party dominates Ethiopian politics to this day.

— 2014: Amnesty International documents rampant discrimination in a report entitled, “Because I Am Oromo: Sweeping Repression in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia.” The report finds that 5,000 Oromo were jailed by the Tigray-dominated government from 2011 to 2014 on suspicion of planning protests. Many were jailed without charges.

— 2015-2016: Protests in Minnesota and around the world call attention to the plight of the Oromo people, who have been shut out of top jobs in Ethiopian industry and government. Highlighted are government efforts to displace Oromo farmers by annexing farmlands around the capital city of Addis Ababa.

— April 2018: Abiy Ahmed, the first Oromo chairman of Ethiopia’s ruling party, becomes national prime minister. He will go on to end a border war with Eritrea and win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.

The last effort to destroy the name ‘OLF’ is set on. Ifajeen dhumaa maqaa “ABO” jedu balleessuu qasiifamee jira July 29, 2020

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The last effort to destroy the name ‘OLF’ is set on

By Obbo Ibsaa Guutama

It is saddening to hear that the elderly freedom fighter and the chairman of OLF Party is under house arrest for unexplained cause. Whatever he may be accused of cannot be outside what he has done as an Oromo national and on behalf of his party.

He is the personification of that party. Therefore, his comrades should not do anything that will compromise his leadership until he is legally replaced. It is the party in power that has arrested him. Therefore, remaining party officials are expected to sever any relation with that party unless sanctioned by him. Otherwise it amounts to collaboration with enemy of the party and therefore betrayal to its constitution not pure rebellion against him. On the surface the matter may seem one party’s internal affairs. But it should be clear to any one that it is far beyond that when viewed against the present happenings. It is in the category of alien interference in Oromo affairs; Hacaaluu’s killing and imprisonment of Jawar Mohamad and all Oromo leaders and nationals. It is part of the genocide going on in many parts of Oromiyaa. Many Oromo nationalists might have conflicts with Chairman Daawud Ibsaa. But at this trying time solidarity with him becomes a duty of Oromummaa. Enemy conspiracy may pulldown in turns billboards carrying name “OLF” never OLF itself.

Oromiyaan haa jiraattu.

Ifajeen dhumaa maqaa “ABO” jedu balleessuu qasiifamee jira: Manguddichi qabsaawaa bilisummaa, hogganni Gola ABO, Daawud Ibsaa kaasaa hin ifsamneef manaa akka hin baane taasifamuu dhagahuun nama gaddisiisa. Waanti inni ittiin himatame maaluu haa tahu waan Oromoo ta’ee fi gola ofii bakka bu’ee hojjetee ala hin ta’u. Golichaaf fuula namummaa kan kennuufii isaa. Kanaaf jaallewwan saa hagamu qurrama qabaatanuu hanga seeraan bakka buufamutt waan hoggansa saa gaaffii keessa galchu raawwachuu hin qabanii. Gola aangoo irra jirutu isa qabe. Kanaaf qondaaloti dhaabichaa hidhaa irraa hafan yoo inni hin hayyamin hariiroo gola sanaa waliinii kutuu qabu. Sana malee diinatt galuu fi heera golichaa ganuutt malee, isaan mormanii kan itt fincilanitt hin fudhatamu. Irrakeessaan wanti kun dhimma gola tokko keessaa fakkaachuu danda’aa. Garuu waan amma ta’aa jiruun yoo walitt ilaalamu akka sana irraa fagoo ta’e hundaaf ifaa ta’uu qaba. Akaakuu halagaan dhimma Oromoo keessa seenuu, ajjeechaa Hacaaluu, fi hidhamuu Jawaar Mohamadii fi hogganoota Oromoo fi sabboonota hundaatii. Qaama qaceefixiisa Oromiyaa bakka hundatt gaggeefamaa jiruuti. Sabboonoti Oromoo hedduun Dura Taa’aa Daawud Ibsaa waliin waldhabdee qabaachuu ni danda’uu. Garuu yerottii qortuu kanatt tumsuufiin dirqama Oromummaa ta’a. Sadoon nyaaphaa saanqaa maqaan “ABO” irra jiru darabeen gadi buusuu ni dandaha, ABO gonka hin danda’uu.

Oromiyaan haa jiraattu!

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Oromo political struggle had its goal as establishing independent republic Oromiyaa. Something went wrong when some went back to the initially rejected position by founding fathers of movement for independence. That is where the Oromo should have the courage and determination to go back to. Anything they tried short of that have failed for their arbitrary imprisonment, torture, killings and exiles never stopped. Enslaved people have to be completely free from their enslavers to negotiate with them on equal terms for any eventuality. They have first to unequivocally stop taking them as their subservient devoid of the right to self-determination. There cannot be freedom for nations and nationalities until the empire under which they are imprisoned is dismantled and they are set free to decide on their own. All polities in Africa are colonial made and should not be looked upon as indivisible and sacred. Oromiyaa and Ethiopia are African countries; it should not be seen as if one is above the other because fall time caused. Just like Dr. Abiy said you shall destroy us before you destroy Ethiopia, there are those that say you have to destroy us before you completely destroy Oromiyaa. Before wellbeing of human beings is more endangered by spite of dictators, peace lovers have to come to the rescue. Nafxanyaa system hopefuls and their lackies’ fooling of democratization, federalism, common history etc. must stop and the truth put up. So far, no member of the oppressor group has comeout to solve existing problems in good faith. As one of ancient nations of Africa Oromo stand for Pan Africanism is unquestionable. They want strong union in which all peoples’ political, social and economic interests are reflected. Ethiopia must be liberated from Nafxanyaa colonizer’s mentality to live with. Oromo love freedom and are now determined more than ever to pay what it takes to realize it. It is the most honorable to die fighting against injustice rather than on one’s knees. Therefore, get organized wherever you are starting from grassroots. Overseas, strengthen your community associations. It is there that you can test how far you can go together overcoming personal greed and narrowness of the mind. It is only if you overcome that that you can pass to a higher level. Any trial that does not start from the bottom up will collapse before going farther. For the purpose remember you are not the tribe or region or the religion or any group you come from but proud Oromo. Whatever you plan is to empower the Oromo to overcome their chronic colonial problem. All patriots so far relentlessly advocating for their national cause will have legitimacy in their communal base. In case Homefront is disabled that they may be called upon to lead the struggle cannot be ruled out. Therefore, they have to get organized with that in mind. There are Oromo community associations throughout the world. There are also attempts to coordinate efforts of all Oromo communities on country and global levels. Go back and strengthen those. The most urgent need our people require is rescuing victims of Nafxanyaa system genocide. The assassination of the beloved artist Hacaaluu Hundeessaa and killings and mass arrests that came after that is only the continuation of more than 150 years of genocide. Oromo nationalist’s determination is called for to alleviate the victims’ agonies and go after those instigating genocide from behind the riff raffs. Before the worst comes to the region their names and evil deeds should be exposed and brought to international court of justice. Now family support, medication, legal expenses and support for those wounded and imprisoned are urgent. For this thing is not going away soon, a permanent accountable task force/institution of professionals and volunteers may need to be formed. Since the source and the target are the same it could be advantageous to centralize fund raising to enable prioritizing budget according to urgency of need. Then similar institution for research and information seems a must. Legality and transparency in all endeavors is helpful. Let theory turn into practice. Task of diaspora can be summarized as providing with money, advocacy, material and knowledge.

Oromiyaan haa jiraattu!

Ibsaa Guutama

Definition of Qeerroo and Faannoo: When one talks of Qeerroo and Faannoo one has to understand the difference in concept. Qeerroo are young men who are not married and defending society is one of their roles. Qarree means unmarried virgins. Literally Qeerroo is plural of leopard. The Oromo take their young to be as brave and daring as the leopard and leopardess. They are not war mongers but come out only when the nation’s honor and interests are challenged and when duty calls. Fannoo means leaderless campaigner (zamach) volunteer campaigner, war monger (Desta Takla Wald dictionary p. 990). Faannoo are not limited to age group but includes all that are rebellious and unruly. It will therefore, be a mistake to understand it as Qeerroo when Amaaraa says Faannoo. Conceptually Faannoo is aggressive while Qeerroo is peaceful youth until it is provoked to engage. Abbaa Duulaa is always assigned to lead them in battle so cannot be leaderless.

Oromos say Ethiopia has become a ‘dangerous country for us’ at Paris rally July 12, 2020

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Oromos say Ethiopia has become a ‘dangerous country for us’ at Paris rally

France 24 12 July 2020

Oromos say Ethiopia has become a ‘dangerous country for us’ at Paris rally

Ethiopia has seen deadly unrest since Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead at the end of June, with Oromos denouncing their marginalisation within a country that many experts are saying is becoming an authoritarian regime once more – despite the election of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in 2018. Oromos in Paris gathered to protest on Monday.

As they gathered around the statue holding aloft the flame of liberty at Place de la République – a major site for demonstrations in the French capital,  near the ultimate symbol of protest, the Bastille – the Oromo protesters made their anger clear. Placards and banners read “Free all political prisoners”, “Abiy Ahmed, dictator” and “Justice for Hachulu”.

The demonstration was organised in response to the killing of popular singer Hachalu Hundessa, who was seen as a crucial voice for the Oromo people in Ethiopian politics. The day after he was shot dead in the capital Addis Ababa, crowds of demonstrators converged on several big cities – especially in the Oromia region, which surrounds the capital.

Violence soon flared, with at least 239 people killed in the protests that shook Ethiopia last week, according to the country’s police. Authorities said some people were killed during the security crackdown while other were killed in clashes between different ethnic groups. More than 3,500 suspects were arrested.

The Oromo demonstrating in Paris were worried about this crackdown and expressed support for sweeping political change. “We need equality and justice in our country,” said Mussa, a 25 year-old migrant from Ethiopia.

Notably, a statement from the association organising the demonstration said that Hundessa was murdered “on government orders”, motivated by the fact that “He was Oromo”. Since then there has been a twist in the case. On Friday, Ethiopian Attorney-General Abebech Abbebe said that “the assassination was intended to be a cover to take power from the incumbent by force”, without providing details.

Intra-Oromo ‘civil war’

Abiy Ahmed is himself an Oromo. But the community is divided. “There’s a civil war going on within the Oromo group at the moment,” said Ethiopia specialist René Lefort. “Oromo are fighting against other Oromo; there are those who support Ahmed and those who have taken up arms against the government,” Lefort said.

At Place de la République, one protester who gave her name as Duniya argued that Ahmed has not done enough for the Oromo: “We thought that Abiy Ahmed supported our cause because he is Oromo, but over the past year Ethiopia has became a dangerous country for us,” she said.

This is part of a broader “repression of human rights, which affects everyone in the country”, added Fisseha Tekle, an Amnesty International Researcher on Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is becoming “more and more of an authoritarian regime”, Lefort said. He noted in particular the “thousands of political prisoners locked up all over the country” and “a press that’s starting to censor itself”.

The demonstrators in Paris also denounced these abuses. “The internet has been cut off in Ethiopia since June 30; we don’t know how our families are,” Mussa said. “We don’t know what’s going on in Ethiopia from day to day,” Duniya added.

Ahmed was not always such a divisive figure. In April 2018, his electoral victory was seen as heralding a brave new world – with the release of thousands of prisoners, the lifting of bans on hitherto repressed opposition parties and the repeal of illiberal laws. To cap it all off, Abiy was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for creating a peace deal to end longstanding conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

But modern Ethiopia’s first-ever Oromo leader has failed to maintain the soaring popularity that characterised his honeymoon period, especially amongst the Oromo ethnic group. “Ahmed has done nothing to stop the country from being torn apart by inter-ethnic conflicts,” Lefort said. “His main objective is to assert his power.”

This article was translated from the original in French.

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WORLD MUSIC MATTERS

Hachalu Hundessa: the Oromo singer who helped transform politics in Ethiopia

The Conversation: #HaCaaluuHundeessaa: charismatic musician who wasn’t afraid to champion Ethiopia’s Oromo July 8, 2020

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Anyone who steps into the public sphere in Ethiopia is also a potential political leader. In this atmosphere, an outspoken musician runs a high risk of falling foul of the authorities.

One such story unfolded last week – the inexplicable, and still unresolved, murder in Addis Ababa of Hachalu Hundessa, the 34-year-old singer from the southern region of Oromia. The Oromo make up Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group and are frequently referred to as a ‘marginalised majority’ that has been locked out of power until the last election.

The country is still stunned. Addis Ababa has erupted in protests that have left scores dead and dozens arrested. With the arrests of Oromo leaders, protests have spread as far as Minneapolis and London, cities with Oromo diasporas.

Politically motivated killings are certainly nothing new for Ethiopia, but this particular murder has touched the biggest nerve in decades, in part because Hachalu Hundessa was perceived to be a man of the people.

The murder is consistent with an ongoing story of musicians as political dissidents in a tinderbox regime. As perhaps the most beloved Oromo musician, he was a pre-eminent cultural figure for a third of the population – some 35 million people. His murder illustrates the total enmeshing of cultural, political and economic challenges in a country experiencing seismic changes.

Hachalu Hundessa always considered himself to be at risk, and people loved him because he didn’t let that risk keep him quiet. Click here to read the full article

Oromia’s Ambo city: ‘From freedom to repression under Abiy Ahmed’ March 13, 2020

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Ethiopia’s Ambo city: ‘From freedom to repression under Abiy Ahmed’

By Bekele Atoma, BBC Afaan Oromoo, 12 March 2020

People gather for the rally of Ethiopia's new Prime Minister in Ambo, about 120km west of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on April 11, 2018
Image captionAbiy Ahmed drew a huge crowd when he visited Ambo city in his first week in office

Under Ethiopian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed, the city of Ambo has turned from being a symbol of freedom into a symbol of repression, as the security forces try to curb the growth of ethnically inspired rebel and opposition groups that threaten his “coming together” vision.

Ambo, which has a large student population because of its university, was at the centre of mass protests that saw Mr Abiy rise to power in April 2018 with a promise to end decades of authoritarian rule in a nation with more than 100 million people belonging to at least 80 ethnic groups.Getty ImagesAmbo is where we are going to build the statue of our liberty, our New York”Abiy Ahmed
Ethiopia’s prime minister

Most of Ambo’s residents are Oromos – and the protests were largely driven by anger that despite being Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, they were marginalised from political and economic power, with no Oromo ever serving as prime minister.

Acknowledging Ambo’s role in bringing about change during a visit to the city within days of becoming the first Oromo to hold the prime minister’s post, Mr Abiy said: “Ambo is where we are going to build the statue of our liberty, our New York.”

At a fund-raising event in February 2019, the prime minister sold his watch for 5m birr (about $155,000, £120,000) to kick-start development in the city.

It was a further indication of the huge political significance he attached to Ambo, traditionally regarded as a stronghold of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a former rebel group which laid down arms following peace talks with Mr Abiy.

People fill the road after the rally of Ethiopia's new Prime Minister in Ambo, about 120km west of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on April 11, 2018
Image captionStudents were at the forefront of demands for change

But a year later, there are few signs of development in Ambo, which is about 100km (60 miles) west of the capital Addis Ababa. Instead, residents are once again complaining of a return of police brutality, with young men being randomly beaten up or detained as they go about their daily lives.

‘I was lucky’

I witnessed some of this during a visit to Ambo.

In one instance about six policemen forced two young men to kneel in front of pedestrians, before kicking them and hitting them with sticks.

In another instance, two young men were forcibly taken to a police station. Their elbows were tied behind their backs. One of them pleaded, in vain, with the officers to untie him.

No-one dared to intervene for fear that the police would assault them too.BekeleBBCI saw policemen walk around with scissors, giving haircuts to young men perceived to have long hair or afros”Bekele Atoma
BBC journalist

The policemen were from the regional force – and their numbers were swelled last Sunday when hundreds more graduated, raising fears that the crackdown will intensify ahead of the general election slated for August. That is the first time that Mr Abiy will face the voters since the ruling coalition chose him as prime minister to order to quell the nationwide protests.

I also saw policemen walking around Ambo with scissors, giving haircuts on the spot to young men whom they perceive to have long hair or afros.

They considered my hair to be an afro but I was lucky – they let me off with a warning to chop it off myself, which I did not do as I was going to leave Ambo in two days’ time.

‘I was unable to access the internet’

Police just assume that men with such looks are troublemakers and supporters of rebel leader Kumsa Diriba, who they see as a major threat to western Oromia’s stability and Mr Abiy’s vision of forcing a new sense of national unity, known as “coming together” .

Kumsaa Diriba
Image captionRebel commander Kumsa Diriba refuses to make peace with the government

Having spurned Mr Abiy’s peace overtures in 2018, Mr Kumsa, who is also known as Jaal Maro, is continuing to push for the “liberation” of Oromia from his forest hideout in the remote west.

He split from the OLF, the biggest Oromo rebel group, after it decided to turn into a political party, taking with him an unspecified number of fighters under his command.

The government suspects that Mr Kumsa’s rebels have infiltrated Ambo, and were responsible for the bomb blast at a pro-Abiy rally held last month to show that the prime minister still commands significant support in the city.

The rebels, via their supporters and anonymous accounts, have also been slowly gaining a profile on social media in an attempt to raise discontent against the government, especially through the circulation of the names of victims of alleged brutality by the security forces.

The government’s attempt to keep a lid on dissent has led to frequent internet shutdowns in much of western Oromia since January, and in some areas people cannot even make or receive phone calls. This is despite the fact that Mr Abiy has promised to liberalise the telecom sector and end the monopoly of state-owned Ethio Telecom.

Presentational grey line

Read more about Ethiopia:

Presentational grey line

In an interview with BBC Afaan Oromoo, the deputy chief of staff of Ethiopia’s Defence Force, Gen Berhanu Jula, hinted that the shutdowns were linked to military operations to dismantle camps under Mr Kumsa’s control, while a senior official of Mr Abiy’s newly formed Prosperity Party (PP), Taye Dendea, denied that innocent people were victims of the security force operation.

“The government has no reason to target civilians, we care about our people more than anyone else,” Mr Taye told BBC Afaan Oromoo.

In Ambo, I was unable to access the internet over my mobile phone throughout my three-week stay. On the two occasions I went to an internet cafe, it had poor broadband connection and I had to wait for a long time before I could check my emails and social media accounts.

Residents suspect that apart from government concerns about the rebels, the shutdowns are intended to limit political campaigning and starve young people of news ahead of the general election.

Residents point out that Jawar Mohammed – who is probably the most prominent and controversial Ethiopian social media activist – is now also making life difficult for the prime minister.

Jawar Mohammed (C), a member of the Oromo ethnic group who has been a public critic of Abiy, addresses supporters that had gathered outside his home in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa after he accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him October 24, 2019
Image captionSocial media activist Jawar Mohammed has joined an opposition party

When exiled in the US, Mr Jawar used Facebook effectively to get Oromos on to the streets to rise against the former government.

Having returned to Ethiopia after Mr Abiy took power, he briefly became a supporter of the prime minister but is now a fierce opponent.

Nobel laureate booed

Mr Jawar put out a video on Facebook soon after Mr Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October, accusing the government of trying to remove his guards from his home in Addis Ababa as part of a ploy to orchestrate an attack on him.

Despite government denials of any such plan, Mr Jawar’s supporters staged protests against Mr Abiy in parts of Oromia – in one instance, burning copies of the prime minister’s newly published book, which outlines his “coming together” vision.

When Mr Abiy subsequently visited Ambo for a meeting with selected guests in a hotel, pro-Jawar youths staged a protest and booed the prime minister, who had been awarded the Nobel prize for his “decisive initiative” to end the border conflict with Eritrea, and for the “important reforms” he had initiated in Ethiopia with a pledge to “strengthen democracy”.Abiy AhmedGetty ImagesKey facts: Abiy Ahmed

  • Bornto a Muslim father and a Christian mother on 15 August 1976
  • Joinedthe armed struggle against the Marxist Derg regime in 1990
  • Servedas a UN peacekeeper in Rwanda in 1995
  • Enteredpolitics in 2010
  • Becameprime minister in 2018
  • Wonthe Nobel Peace Prize in 2019

Source: BBC

Mr Jawar has joined the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), which has formed an alliance with the OLF and the Oromo National Party (ONP) to contest the election on what is expected to be a strong ethno-nationalist ticket.

In Oromia, it is likely to pose the biggest electoral challenge to Mr Abiy’s PP, which was launched in December after a merger of eight of the nine regional parties which make up Ethiopia’s ruling coalition.

Mr Abiy hopes that the PP will foster national unity and keep ethnic nationalism in check.

Chart showing the ethnic make-up of Ethiopia

But he has taken a huge risk as the mass protests that propelled him to power were not just about political freedom – but also about the right of each group to express their ethnic identities more freely and to have greater autonomy for their regions.

So, as far as ethno-nationalists in Ambo and elsewhere in Oromia are concerned, Mr Abiy has sold out.

Worrying for the Nobel laureate, Defence Minister Lemma Megersa, a fellow Oromo with political clout, also expressed doubts about the PP’s formation in November, though party officials say he and Mr Abiy have been ironing out their differences since then.

“The merger is not right and timely, as we are in transition, we are on borrowed time. Dissolving the regional party to which the public entrusted their demands is betraying them,” Mr Lemma said at the time.

For Mr Abiy’s supporters, he offers the best hope of getting Ethiopia’s myriad ethnic groups to work together, and avoid the country’s disintegration.

They are confident that he will demonstrate his popularity by leading the PP to victory in the election, though its legitimacy is bound to be questioned if the crackdown in Ambo continues.

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Media captionWhat was Ethiopia’s PM like as a child?

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New York Times: With Many Dents to Its Image, Nobel Peace Prize Is Hit With a Few More

Myanmar’s onetime champion of democracy and Ethiopia’s prime minister join a roster of figures who, one way or another, have given the Nobel Peace Prize a contentious image.

The Reform, the Philosopher King, and the Oromo Struggle

Star Tribune: Minnesota teen beats the odds, dreams of building a school in her native Ethiopia March 8, 2020

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Minnesota teen beats the odds, dreams of building a school in her native Ethiopia

On March 19, this 18-year-old will be one of five honorees at the 28th Children’s Defense Fund-MN Beat the Odds celebration.

Star Tribune, *Gail Rosenblum, 6 March 2020 

KEN FRIBERG PHOTOGRAPHYZubeda Chaffe.TEXT SIZEEMAILPRINTMORE Gail Rosenblum@GROSENBLUM

Zubeda Chaffe, 18, is a typical high school senior in many ways. She played soccer, basketball and ran track, participates in City Wide Student Council and works at the Hennepin County Library with the Teen Tech Squad. But those examples belie the extraordinary effort required of Chaffe to get to this point. At 7, she and her Oromo family fled Ethiopia fearing for their lives. She started school knowing only her name in English. On March 19, Chaffe will be one of five honorees at the 28th Children’s Defense Fund-MN Beat the Odds celebration. A full-time PSEO student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, she shares childhood memories, her take on American kids and her goals after college.

Q: Before your harrowing journey from Ethiopia to the United States, do you have happy memories?

A: I remember that me and my sister used to play with shiny rocks. They were so beautiful. We collected rocks and we played house. I’d go to the lake with my friends to get water and we’d spend the whole day there. I remember watching the cattle with my brothers.

Q: But no school?

A: I was a girl and girls didn’t attend school. Besides, in my village of Welega, there wasn’t a school for kids my age. None of my 11 siblings attended school either, because that was not a goal of life where I lived.

Q: At 7, your world shifted dramatically. What do you remember?

A: My Oromo people are a minority so it wasn’t safe for us in Ethiopia. We first traveled to the capital city of Addis Ababa where we stayed for about six months. Then my father told us we had to flee secretly to Kenya. Two of my siblings and I, all of us under age 8, were put in a truck. There was no other way. Some of the truck drivers were really mean and just gave people water. We had a pretty nice driver. He fed us twice. But we didn’t know if we’d ever see our parents again.

Q: Happily, you were reunited.

A: We were reunited in Kenya where we lived for two and half years, moving constantly, separated, reunited, moving again. We learned basic English in a school there. Finally, we got our visas.

Q: How did you end up in Minnesota and what were your first memories?

A: I have an older brother living here. He wanted us to leave Ethiopia. We arrived in Minnesota on March 18, 2008. It was freezing. I expected more because of the stories I heard about America. I thought there would be kings and queens (laughs). But I was happy to come to America at last.

Q: You began elementary school knowing only the alphabet and how to say your name in English. Did you consider begging your parents to let you stay at home?

A: I had to repeat first grade but I did it and I kept going to school. One of the main reasons my brother brought me to America was to get an education and give back. My family and friends back home don’t have that opportunity. I want to show them it’s possible and I hope that they do not have to move across the world to have such opportunities.

Q: Your Beat the Odds award comes with $5,000 for college. How do you plan to use it?

A: I’m looking at the University of Minnesota and Macalester College. I want to major in global studies, join the United Nations and go back home to Oromia and teach children, maybe open a school. I want to help in any way possible.

Q: The immigration question is front and center in our country’s conversation today. What do you want people to understand about the immigrant experience?

A: Being a refugee, I can understand and empathize with the immigration problems going on today in this country. I’ve faced all of that. Being away from my parents to have a better life than what they had. They had hopes for me in the same way many parents feel when they are apart from their children today. I know the fear. I want people to know who we are, understand our struggles and the fact that we leave our homes and everything behind to find safety.

Q: Do you still have family in Ethiopia? What do they tell you about the political climate there?

A: There’s been an internet shutdown for the past five months due to the election process. I haven’t heard from my extended family. I don’t know if they’re alive.

Q: When you think about the adversity you’ve faced in your life so far, do you ever get frustrated with your peers who complain when they can’t get the newest iPhone?

A: I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s different the way I grew up. I see the American kids and compare myself; their moms are calling to them, “Dinner is ready!” I have to go work for my family’s next meal. I have to compete against people who already know about life here. I’m just trying to catch up. They have to sometimes put their feet in somebody else’s shoes. Sometimes I wish I was an American child whose parents had everything. But I also know that I am blessed to have had the opportunity to experience American culture and mix it with my own.

Q: CDF received more than 300 applications for Beat the Odds candidates, from which only five were selected. That must make you feel pretty good.

A: I was happy and surprised. I didn’t know my story was good enough. But I have actually beat the odds. Now I have to put that in my heart and believe it.

*Gail Rosenblum is editor of the Inspired section. She’s also an author, journalism instructor and public speaker who has worked for newspapers and magazines for nearly 40 years. 

Ethiopia Insight: Preaching unity but flying solo, Abiy’s ambition may stall Ethiopia’s transition February 26, 2020

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Preaching unity but flying solo, Abiy’s ambition may stall Ethiopia’s transition

Ethiopia Insight, February 25, 2020 by René Lefort

The fatal error of Ethiopia’s acclaimed premier Abiy Ahmed has been to place his standing ahead of his country’s democratic transition.

“God only can save us” is currently a popular phrase in a rural village in North Shoa in Amhara region. “You can rely only on yourself and your arms to protect your environment,” is another

The churches are full. A feeling of insecurity is rife and arms contraband is profitable. At twilight, people rush home and double-lock the door. In this area of this region at least, the omnipotent party-state, pervasive and intrusive since its takeover in 1991, is absent: there are no meetings, no 1-5 system in which one household headed a cell of four neighbours, and no local development work. The village (kebele) chairman’s tasks are confined to delivering documents. He had not held any meeting at the district (wereda) level for more than two months.1 Local development agents are busier trying to solve local conflicts than fulfilling their mission. “We now act like a fire brigade,” one says.2 Local militia are reluctant to be involved in maintaining law and order because of the authorities’ lack of popular legitimacy.

The prevailing popular feeling is fear. Fear because the age-old pyramidal ruling structure has disappeared; besides authority’s absence, the traditional social hierarchy has crumbled. “We cannot even order our own children,” elders complain. Fear because in this unprecedented present and unknown future “something bad could happen” repeat people, even if the area is peaceful, petty crime normal, and the source of these “bad” things unidentified. Most believe some form of armed confrontation is on its way.

In many, if not most parts of Ethiopia, except in Tigray region, the mengist—together the authority, the power exemplified in governance, in the state apparatus and civil servants—has vanished. Amhara region, as a whole, seems severely affected. Areas north-west of Gondar are still lawless, and the Qemant area remains restive after bouts of something close to ethnic cleansing last year. Since Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in April 2018, Wellega, Guji and Borana zones in Oromia have suffered armed, in some cases ethnic, conflicts and clashes have occurred between Afar and Somali. According to the Attorney General’s Office, at least 1,200 people were killed and more than 1.2 million displaced by violence or the threat of violence over the last Ethiopian calendar year (September 2018-September 2019). The universities have become a cauldron of ethnic hostility, sometimes murderous.

The vacuum at the local level is partially occupied by informal groupings and a kind of community self-regulation. In the same kebele where fear reigns, an informal group of youngsters is headed, de facto, by members of the emerging middle-class in their forties (typically grain merchants, shopkeepers, and so on). What would be considered as the new small-town proletariat, such as young casual labourers, is over-represented in this group. Farmers form less than a third of members. The youngsters are the only body which show some muscle. “We are treated with big respect by the authorities”, they proudly proclaim.

By the same author: Climbing Mount UncertaintyAbiy Ahmed has delighted with bold reforms, but also made three errors.

The weakened authorities, kebele chairman, village militia, wereda officials, have to work through them; traditional authorities such as priests, elders, and model farmers (who worked hand-in-hand with the former ruling power) have been forced to take a backseat. These youths now take care of maintaining basic law and order. They replace local officials in organising new kinds of development work, this time in accordance with unmet community demands, like building a road and a church.  “We support Fano”, they say, but claim to be distinct from that Amhara youth group, probably because it is described variously as a protest movement or a militia.

Discussions about various parts of Oromia offer the same or an even more serious situation. The rise of informal youth groups and their de facto recognition by the authorities is widespread. Given such a power vacuum in governance, their role can be beneficial, but on occasions, they have certainly acted as vigilantes, even as predators. Whatever their state of organisation, their strength makes them a force that cannot be ignored. They will not necessarily shape the transition, but they have the ability to impede it, if they consider it is going too far off their script.

This may not be so clear in urban areas where perception of the situation is affected by an upper-class bias. Addis Ababa and other larger towns are oases where, even if deeply disorganised, higher levels of the state and governance can still more or less operate. In Addis Ababa, indeed, it is largely business-as-usual, except for the crime situation, which is of increasing concern; but even in Addis Ababa, wereda and kebele administrations are more often than not at a virtual standstill. “The state has collapsed” or “Ethiopia is statelessness” is a frequently heard assessment outside these towns.

Vaguely clarifying

Despite their activity, the probability remains high that the millions of youngsters that brought Abiy to power through their protests in 2015-18 will be the real losers in the end. The same people who held to positions in the former ruling party and the state, and instrumentalized these to accumulate wealth, from the top down to the level of kebele chairman, largely remain in situ: the reform process doesn’t affect them, it even supports them. Nothing shows that this oligarchic fortress has been shaken, except for the politically motivated targeting of a few individuals, mostly Tigrayan. Corruption reached an unprecedented level in the last years. If the former senior official quoted in Foreign Policy is right (“Abiy and his colleagues were brought to power less by the street than by the venality of Oromo elites”), then the new ruling power has to return the favour. It is doubtful if the new economic liberalisation, yet to be fully or thoroughly debated, will really tackle the unemployment problem in quick time.

The future of the country essentially remains the exclusive affair of a few powerful political figures through a grand elite bargain in which youngsters had, and are likely to have, no say. The danger, in the short term, is their continuing frustration could lead to even greater focus on ethnic solidarity and mobilisation, and that this will be used by politicians for their own purposes in the federalist-Ethiopianist debate. Youth unemployment and political marginalization remain potential time bombs.

In November, Abiy announced the creation of Prosperity Party, to replace the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), in order “to change the form and content of EPRDF to make it fit to the struggle that the time requires”. EPRDF’s ethnic parties coalition had governed the country since 1991 – Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Amhara Democratic Party (ADP), Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) and Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM). It had become effectively bankrupt and irreparably divided over the previous years. The foundation of Prosperity Party was a forceful operation to seize control of what remained.

The aim appears to be to re-evaluate the EPRDF’s foundations of ethnic federalism and the developmental state and acquire the support of as many as possible of the perhaps 7 million members of its constituent parties while making up for the exodus of some members by incorporating formerly affiliated ‘agar’ parties, which represent peripheral regions (Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, Harari and Somali). It was also intended to provide the prime minister with a functional ruling tool that a paralysed and collapsed EPRDF could no longer be.

This was a major change, a fundamental political clarification. Ethnicity was the foundation of the previously dominant political parties, both inside and outside the EPRDF. Prosperity Party is being structured along a clear political divide, endorsing some main trends of the ‘Ethiopianist’ political current, which had been largely silenced since the beginning of the 1990s. It is aimed particularly at the country’s ethnically mixed cities. Membership is not based on ethnicity—anybody can join whatever his ethnicity and residence, while under EPRDF’s rule one could join only the party of his ethnicity. In the leading organs, the representation of each ethnic group will not be equal as in the EPRDF but probably roughly proportionate to their population.

The political programme of Prosperity Party has yet to be fully defined, but incorporates elements of the traditional EPRDF and anti-ethnic federalist forces, a kind of catch-all hybrid aiming to gather as much as possible under a ‘big tent’ approach. As a result, it still looks somewhat confused and contradictory. It lacks clarity on how it plans to respect both individual and groups rights, on the kind of federalism it will promote, and how it will be nationally and regionally structured to bring together citizenship and ethnic identities. In the economy, its plan for the government to intervene to make up for market shortfalls sounds much like the EPRDF’s approach.

Prosperity Party will operate under the prime minister’s new philosophy of medemer (which translates roughly as ‘synergy’) but this appears to be a set of ethical values that has yet to be concretely translated into a policy or an economic strategy. The core of Abiy’s convictions seems to be shaped by a mix of looking at Ethiopia and the outside world through the lens of his fervent and strict religious beliefs and what he calls Ethiopian philosophy or “Ethiopian values”. He hasn’t publicly detailed their specificities, but, according to members of his entourage, the core is religious. Ninety-nine per cent of Ethiopians belong to a monotheist faith. Is it by chance only that the name Prosperity Party echoes the rising ‘prosperity gospel’ among Christian evangelists?

By the same author: Abiy’s first Q&A raises questionsAbiy Ahmed’s first press conference left some tough questions unanswered

The founders of Prosperity Party strongly reject the EPRDF’s centralism. But, according to new party’s rules, its supreme body, the Executive Committee, has strong rights over the appointment of the heads of its regional branches and their executive power, among others. Time will tell how far a degree of democracy will triumph over the age-old practice of centralisation in Ethiopia. Besides, one wonders how far the support gained by moving closer to Amhara elite positions, by shifting to the more centralist and less ethnic-based federalism sharing it favours, and by giving full membership to the previously affiliated parties, is now being counterbalanced by distancing itself from ethnic nationalisms, which are strongly visible and have never been so powerful.

Prosperity Party’s birth was controversial, with Tigray ruling party questioning its legality. In the EPRDF Executive Committee, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) voted against the dissolution of the coalition. According to different sources in Mekele, who participated in the committee, two heavyweights, Lemma Megersa, Minister of Defence and former president of Oromia, and Muferiat Kamil, chairwoman of the Southern party and Minister of Peace, openly expressed strong reservations and abstained.3 Since then, Abiy’s relationship with the TPLF has deteriorated. The TPLF’s chairman, Debretsion Gebremichael, has said he considered those who created Prosperity Party as “traitors”. Members of another former EPRDF coalition, the former Oromo Democratic Party are divided on the merger; a substantial proportion of the elite among the Oromo people themselves appear to be against it. The support Abiy had in Oromia has shrunk.

Another member of the EPRDF coalition that was dissolved when Prosperity Party was formed was the Amhara Democratic Party, which represented the Amhara people. A significant element of this grouping prefers the opposition National Movement of Amhara’s (NaMA) ethno-nationalist programme. Even among the leaders of the affiliated parties, some have started to fear they will have little weight in Prosperity Party’s leadership due to their probably small representation and the dilution of their regional leadership after their parties disappear in the melting-pot of the national Prosperity Party.

Prosperity Party’s programmatic and organisational blurring, its obvious internal heterogeneity and its awkward position in relation to much present political reality, at odds with the overriding ethno-nationalist push, will all affect its efforts to fill the power vacuum in Addis Ababa and remobilise the party-state apparatus, a precondition to re-establishing law and order. It’s hard to see a clear comparative advantage of the Prosperity Party compared with the EPRDF in this regard, or ways in which the former could succeed where the latter failed. Instead, the signs are it may fall back on repression to beat off the opposition challenge.

Fatal error

The new party is Abiy’s attempt to break the stalemate of the last few years and to resolve the political crisis which has persisted and even deepened since he took office, over the ‘ethnic federalist’ and ‘Ethiopianist’ divide. But for some, his approach is too flexible – he “shifts his loyalty as necessary to serve his interests”, according to academic researcher Mebratu Kelecha in Ethiopia Insight. The result, claims a condemnatory Addis Standard editorial, is that “he has isolated himself from closest allies and a vast political base”.

The best example is Defence Minister Lemma, who was a key player in the recent transition. Abiy, multiple sources say, has systematically undermined Lemma’s positions in the government and the party. The editorial goes on: “Abiy focused on attempts to materialize the transition solo… To say today he is all alone is not an overstatement.” This is far away from the idea of medemer. The editorial concludes that “this is not the time to abandon him”, but fails to offer arguments in his support.

Abiy’s fatal initial error, which has led to many of his other missteps, is to have pursued the wrong objective. Regardless of the fate of his leadership, Abiy should have focused on trying to lead the country to a peaceful and orderly transition in order to give it its best chance of success. Instead, he seems to have deprioritized the transition’s success in favour of becoming the next in a long line of Ethiopian ‘Big Man’ rulers. For example, several high officials and journalists in Mekele and Addis Ababa have reported that during a meeting with around 50 Tigrayan businessmen on 24 November, gathered to start a shuttle diplomacy between him and the TPLF, Abiy said: “I am the leader for the next five years; if I don’t get enough votes in the ballot boxes, I will rig the elections”. His justification: “This is Africa”.

If this is Abiy’s genuine position, it means he is ready to climb to the “Big Man” rank by force if necessary. This tendency left its mark on Abiy’s instrumentalization of the creation of the Prosperity Party, which blurred its positive political aim. Then at least parts of the formal and informal opposition, like the Qeerroo and Fano, could react forcefully too, adding a very perilous factor to the already dangerous situation.

By the same author: Abiy inspires farmers’ revoltEmboldened by national change, rural youth are taking the fight to the local power structure

One example of his personalised approach has been the way Abiy bypasses institutions. If these operated according to the constitution, they would be powerful enough to exert control over his activities. To avoid this, he has created different bodies, for example, the Administrative Boundaries and Identity Issues Commission, usually staffing them on his own recommendations. They largely overlap, and in effect replace, already existing institutions. There was another worrying sign recently of a disregard for constitutionalism when Abiy appointed new ministers rather than recommending them to Parliament. Abiy, in fact, has chosen to build a personalised network through transactional deals, requesting the mediation of elders and religious leaders, or face-to-face dialogue.

He has also followed the example of the TPLF when it took power in 1991. It ostracised the Amhara so as “to end their hegemony”,4 and imposed its own creation, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, as the representative of the Oromo people. This denied them what some saw as their true representatives from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), who were part of the transitional government until they clashed with TPLF and were exiled. As a result, the TPLF failed in the vital task of national reconciliation, and this contributed heavily to the problems of the past few years.

In turn, Abiy has allowed the demonization of the TPLF and threatened to strangle the Tigray region it represents, riding a wave of wide criticism, even hatred, and aligning with Amhara and Oromo elites. This has exacerbated ethnic division, exactly the opposite of his motto of medemer. Similarly, in rebalancing (justifiably) the ethnic composition of the state apparatus, particularly the army and the security services, Abiy and his supporters have acted with blind relentlessness, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, overcompensating the Oromo. He is also widely perceived to have appointed a disproportional number of officials sharing his Pentecostalist faith. One close Ethiopian observer of national politics called it an “Evangelical state capture”,5 at least at the top; and there have been increasing criticisms on social media on the weight of these “converted Christians”.

This has affected Abiy’s legitimacy. His original popularity was nurtured by quasi-mystic expectations that he would be the saviour of the country, a messianic tone strengthened by Abiy’s presentation of himself as a prophet. The international media depicted him as an apostle of democracy. Now, critics are emphasising that he was elected without a popular mandate, by only three of the four components of a delegitimized and decaying EPRDF. For the transition to have a chance to succeed, he should have focused on galvanising it, himself remaining aloof so as to position himself as a neutral broker. Instead, he prioritised his personal agenda. And the rallying cry of his new book, ‘Medemer’, hasn’t yet provided an alternative to assemble widespread support, despite being published in Amharic and Afaan Oromo and widely distributed.

Fortress Mekele

An important element in this, at least in the short term, remains the stance of the TPLF, as it offers the most stark denunciation of Abiy’s ruling approach and policies. Popular wisdom claims that the Tigrayan party opposes Abiy’s reformism and is still pushing the image of a dogmatic Marxist-Leninist party, dreaming of revenge and a return to national power, ruling Tigrayans with an iron fist, and doing its best to plunge the whole country into chaos. This is hardly accurate. Certainly, although it achieved undoubted economic and social success over the past two decades, the TPLF bears a huge responsibility, not because it single-handedly created Ethiopia’s problems (it didn’t) but because it failed to do enough to vanquish the age-old demons it inherited, including the infamous “question of nationalities” born of Emperor Menelik II’s southern conquests in the late nineteenth century and raised by the student movement which condemned Amhara domination. Similarly, Meles Zenawi, the TPLF politician who was prime minister from 1995 until his death in 2012, despite de jure devolution, operated a system of age-old authoritarian centralist power, at least after his 2001 purge. The TPLF failed to resolve these, and other issues

Tigrayans are certainly deeply bitter about the way TPLF’s coalition colleagues assisted their stigmatisation and this contributes largely to their retreat to the bunker of Tigray. “Why should I marry a fiancé that cheated on me?” was the headline of an Aiga Forum article. They feel encircled, from the north by ‘Shabia’ in Eritrea; from the south by the Amhara. TPLF propaganda, through its media and in meetings, repeats day after day that the population must mobilise behind it to counter this encirclement. Tigrayans fear a bloody future. But they are probably the only people in Ethiopia today who are sure of their strength, and Tigray is the only region to be peaceful and effectively governed.

The authoritarian stand of the TPLF cadre has evolved, whether willingly or unwillingly. This followed merciless popular criticism of the party in 2017. It meant the TPLF’s six-week-long Central Committee meeting at the end of 2017 was the most self-critical of the assemblies held at that time by the EPRDF’s four components. It launched a reform process which deepened and accelerated after Abiy’s election. Having lost its position and strength in Addis Ababa, with most of its key officials retreating to Mekele, the capital of Tigray, the TPLF knew that it had to regain the full confidence of Tigrayans to reassert itself by considering old popular grievances and the local emerging political forces.

By the same author: Local bosses may fill party-sized holesEthiopia has traditions of local self-government—could they induce voters to look at independent candidates for Parliament?

At the grassroots level, the Front now tries to distance itself from the state. For example, for the first time, it has taken note and begun to implement the request that wereda officials should be selected from the district itself and that their appointment should at least be supported by the population. The possibility of fairer elections for the next parliament is not out of the question. One has to accept that Tigray is the only one of Ethiopia’s nine regions which has started to proceed with the reform process in an orderly fashion. For example, allowing demonstrators to block a road for at least three days to protest against a district restructuring was inconceivable a couple of years ago, as was Tigrayans frequently and loudly criticising TPLF in public spaces.

Indeed, as in the rest of Ethiopia a new generation of ethno-radical activists has emerged, particularly among graduates in the towns. Members of the Tigrayan elite can now have their say through new social media outlet Digital Woyane, and the new parties of Baitona and Third Woyane, the second being even more ethno-nationalist than the first. The name of a soon-to-be established organisation is explicit: the Tigray Independence Party.

The TPLF is dealing with these new more nationalist forces by playing a double game. It gives them some room in order to prove its new openness, while also demonstrating it is sticking to a moderate position vis-à-vis more radical trends; although it has also to take these into account. It may even concede a few constituencies to Baitona in the next election. Yet these ethno-radical movements know where the red lines are: they urge TPLF to assert Tigray’s self-rule, to liberalize the political landscape, and to soften its grip on the economy, but advocate that at this perilous time there is a need to prioritize a common front against Tigray’s adversaries.

Alternatively, Arena and the Tigrayan Democratic Party are distancing themselves from ethnic federalism, and so they are treated as plague carriers. They were probably the target of TPLF leader Debretsion when he denounced the “internal forces that are operating to disturb the peace and the unity of Tigray”, even though the last TPLF extraordinary congress decided that TPLF “should continue to work with all legal oppositions in Tigray”.

The TPLF’s leadership is worried, of course, but appears calm and confident. It affirms that the party is more “cohesive”, “principled” and “experienced” and that the bond between the Front and Tigrayans is stronger than in any other region. They highlight the age-old fighting capacity of Tigray, and note that some of the country’s most skilled former senior military officers are now in the region. When asked about armament, they respond: “don’t worry for that!”. A huge security training campaign is ongoing. A former leading Tigrayan commander summarized: “there is not one army in the whole Horn which can defeat us”.6 They appear to be confident in the systems of resilience that Tigray has built over the years precisely to face the kind of situation it now confronts.

Tigray police parade in Mekele ahead of TPLF’s 45th anniversary; February 7, 2020; social media

The TPLF strategy is threefold, according to senior members. In the first instance to “to maintain peace, security and development in Tigray”, which means to assert the “de facto state” which it has imposed since the end of the 1980s when it started to control the whole region. Secondly, it wants to reach “peaceful coexistence” with Addis Ababa, including, if requested, involvement in key national issues, like security. Taking for granted Abiy’s failure, it also aims “to avoid a situation in which Abiy would take the whole nation down with him”. It is, therefore, working on building an alternative force, coming together “with link-minded political groups”, sticking to the basis of the constitution, ethnic federalism.7

This is rather ironic for a Front which itself did much to “emasculate the federal arrangement”, as one of its historic figures puts it.8 It insists that otherwise all other political, economic, and other issues are negotiable. It believes such an alternative force will not be able to organize formally before the elections, so each ethnic party should campaign under its own flag. The current preparations now underway will, however, lay the foundation for a coalition in the next Parliament.9

The TPLF knows the other ethnic federalist parties remain wary of it due to the repression it waged against them for years. It doesn’t want to appear as the architect of such a coalition. Some of its leading members concede that to regain the confidence of their proposed partners, a sincere and extensive mea culpa is necessary. They are also convinced that a programme stripped back to the pillars of the constitution is not enough to build the coalition. They need to design a framework to engage in fruitful negotiations. They know the best way to attract allies is for Tigray to demonstrate clearly it has reformed; that there will be democratization in Tigray and no ambition for TPLF to recapture its former leading role at the center.

The range and the pace of this and the role of the TPLF in coalition-building are at the core of the present robust debates inside the Front. But the main opinion among the Tigrayan elite, as underlined by a local journalist, appears to be that “the best thing that Tigray can do is to sit out the more and more critical evolution taking place in the rest of Ethiopia”.10 Wait and see: the ball is in the other court.

Appealing for TPLF’s “experience”, last November, Prime Minister Abiy made a clumsy and painful attempt at reconciliation, through the mediation of the group of around fifty Tigrayan businessmen in Addis Ababa. It produced deeper tension. Abiy offered no political arguments, but proposed three options. The first was that the TPLF should merge with Prosperity Party or secondly that it should join Prosperity Party with the same status that the “agar” affiliated parties previously had with EPRDF. A third option was for the TPLF to send, say, ten high-level figures to Addis to work with him. He also proposed that Debretsion could be appointed as Deputy Prime Minister, a role he shared under former premier Hailemariam Desalegn. The TPLF categorically refused. It said it could not compromise over the Prosperity Party program but it was ready to negotiate on national issues, particularly security and the holding of peaceful elections.11

By the same author: Lost in electoral maze under Abiy’s gazeDespite Ethiopia’s challenges, there is little sign of corresponding action from the political elite.

The Prime Minister reacted by threatening a full blockade of Tigray, the cutting of federal funds (around 70 percent of Tigray’s budget), the firing of all Tigrayans in the federal institutions, cutting off all communications between Tigray and the rest of the country and even changing the banknotes. Such “a blockade would be tantamount to a declaration of war”, said a TPLF military figure. “We will not stand idly”.12 We would react with “a military engagement”. Abiy knows that, just as he knows the balance of forces. The federal army without the Tigrayan element of its middle management would find it difficult to operate effectively. A full blockade remains improbable.

On the other side, secession would be endorsed by the Front only if it had no other option, and even that remains highly improbable. Ordinary Tigrayans would never accept it because it is unthinkable for those who see Tigray as the cradle of Ethiopia. Whatever their declaration of loyalty to the TPLF, the Tigrayan business community is mostly invested outside Tigray. Even for strong ethno-nationalists, a secessionist Tigray could be sustainable “only if surrounded by peaceful and friendly states”,13 which would be very unlikely.

TPLFites believes the main risk is of a “Badme scenario”, in which a minor incident led to uncontrolled escalation, as happened in that little-know area to trigger the Ethio-Eritrean war in 1998, rather than any attempt at a blockade. Conversely, they also consider an eventual armed confrontation is looking increasingly likely. For most observers, however, the tension between Tigray and Addis Ababa is secondary, because of the geographical, demographic, and economic marginality of this region. The crucial danger lies at the centre between the two colossi, Oromia and Amhara.

Disintegration or dialogue?

Elections have been scheduled for August 29. The results are unpredictable, to say the least. The relative strengths of Ethiopian nationalists and ethnic federalists remain a subject of speculation, though a majority of observers agree that if the present ratio of force persists, the latter are likely to win. But the margin of victory is debatable and there are major uncertainties. The political landscape remains fluid, and it is far from clear how functional either Prosperity Party or any ethnic coalition will be.

At the grassroots level, former EPRDF cadres, frequently despised, will not get sudden popular support by claiming to be members of Prosperity Party. Previously, candidates were parachuted in their constituencies. This time, local support or at least some meaningful popular acceptance, will be compulsory. The elections, both national and regional, will be locally determined as never before. This raises the question: what weight will the youngsters, the Qeerroo, Fano, etc., bring to the electoral process? And will this be peaceful or violent?

The outcome of the election could be very different in the Amhara and the Oromo regions. In the Amhara region, the rise of the Ethiopianess nationalist discourse fits with the broad political expectation. Everything else is subsidiary. People in the regional kebele mentioned above want a ‘Big Man’. Mengistu Hailemariam is often mentioned with nostalgia. They present an alternative: either Abiy will prove he can re-establish a minimum of security, and they will support him, and the Prosperity Party; if not, they will look for what they call an “Amhara shield”, i.e. vote NaMA.

In Oromia, the quest for authentic self-rule seems to be the overwhelming priority. Discussions between members of the “elite”, national or party leaders, may have been continuous, but little detail has been disclosed. One thing that seems clear is that policy hasn’t been prioritized. Daud Ibsa, the head of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), says: “the policy issue is very secondary… For our people, the first essential and most important issue is to elect their own representatives”. Jawar Mohammed, a leading Oromo activist, says: “there is really no ideological difference between Oromo political parties… just tactical difference”. When a key leader of an Oromo federalist movement was asked about the political content of an agreement just concluded between the Oromo federalist forces, he replied: “it doesn’t matter”.14

By the same author: Localism can edge Ethiopia forwardsTo end paralysis, the political landscape needs to be restructured along ideological lines.

Such comments raise the question: why not a merger of the Oromo federalist parties? OLF, Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and Oromo Nationalist Party (ONP) have just created a Coalition for Democratic Federalism to “jointly field candidates for Oromia regional State Council and to form a national coalition with other parties that share similar programs and operate in different regional states”. According to reports, they plan to form a regional coalition government “based on election results”, with its head, and possibly the future Prime Minister, will be chosen according to the votes. But it remains a coalition, not a merger. A merger would have meant the choice and appointment of a party chairman, but rivalry between the leaders of the parties and Jawar, who is also joining the coalition, meant this was impossible. Nevertheless, they may well deny Abiy a victory even in Oromia.

One possible scenario, widely shared at even a popular level, is that as elections comes closer, the security situation will continue to deteriorate and other problems will inexorably increase. This will end in the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency and the emergence of a new ‘Big Man’, possibly someone other than Abiy, as front man for the federal army. But some sources close to or formerly part of the military high command consider this too optimistic. They claim such a situation would inevitably be preceded by extensive ethnic conflicts. They are convinced that the army would then split along ethnic lines and, if not, wouldn’t be sufficiently numerous to adequately intervene. According to one, this would also be the case if the Prime Minister tried to impose his centralizing agenda.

In fact, already today, parts of Oromia, the Southern region, parts of Amhara, and Benishangul-Gumuz are governed by a Command Post, in effect a kind of state of emergency under which the military have the controlling role. The same is the case along many inter- regional borders. It appears more than half of Ethiopian territory is de facto under the command of the federal army. Besides, it is not altogether happy about the situation. The army is “gutted”, as one security specialist puts it;15 despite extensive changes in commands, it doesn’t consider Abiy respectfully, and he isn’t as confident of his control as he would like.

By the same author: Federalist façade for centralist frontAn incoherent EPRDF staggers on as the PM tries to cobble together a centrist alliance.

There has already been continuing and extensive militarization across the country. In the Amhara kebele mentioned above, the only authority channel which remains effective is the one in charge of security affairs. According to the militia head, previously under the authority of the kebele chairman, the militia apparatus has been “restructured” to be also incorporated into the regional Amhara security system.16 Even one of the de facto leaders of the group of youngsters confesses that he is constantly in touch with this system. Overall, it seems likely that the regional special forces now outnumber the federal army.

An alternative option, frequently mentioned over the last few months, is for a “national dialogue”. The best opportunity for this already passed months ago; now it would be far more difficult to organize. Abiy’s interest in this is also questionable, even though he claims to set great store by dialogue. Nor is there much evidence that the main political forces would support it. Their positions are so irreconcilable that any real agreement looks out of reach. A well-known Ethiopian journalist adds the “essentialist” argument, not rooted in any obviously visible or quantifiable factors, but based on analysis of personalities: political leaders would prefer to sink together rather than to accept the pre-eminence of any one of them.17

Indeed, in the first instance, of course, any such compromise as would be involved in a national dialogue would reflect a balance of forces. Today, both ethno-federalists and Abiy’s centralist followers, proclaim their absolute certainty they are in a majority. And who is mistaken? In fact, none of the leading political personalities have any mandate to decide on the country’s future. In advance of elections, this would be an undemocratic coup de force. It would be ironic if the whole political class, which expresses its support for democracy, forgot that only the electorate can legitimately arbitrate on these crucial issues. It would be to put the cart before the horse.

A national dialogue is needed, however, to focus urgently on one issue: a roadmap for the elections. In addition to the problems outlined, the obstacles facing an acceptable and effective election in August are tremendous: the neutrality of the electoral board and of the state apparatus, the appointing of the 250,000 to 300,000 electoral officials needed, the modalities of a modus vivendi for campaigning, security and other areas. But Prime Minister Abiy remains the only person who is in a position to drive this successfully, and his Western supporters are those who can encourage him decisively to do this.

The West, and above all the U.S., has been giving Abiy unfailing support. Ambassador Michael Raynor calls the Prime Minister a “visionary”. He says: “The United States firmly believes that Ethiopia’s political and economic reforms offer the surest and quickest path to securing the prosperous, stable and politically inclusive future for all Ethiopians”. It may not be clear if the U.S. State Department has a clear strategy regarding Ethiopia but certainly Ambassador Raynor looks like having a free hand to implement his own views.

By the same author: A flicker in the gloomIf Abiy transforms EPRDF into a single party, at least it will offer a possible—albeit still risky—way out of the morass by presenting two distinct choices.

Some of his advisers are privately unequivocal: the aim is to maintain Abiy in power for years at any cost, handling not only Ethiopia but the whole Horn because of its weight in the region. Their vision is Manichean. On the good side, there is Prime Minister Abiy and his followers. On the bad side is ethno-nationalism, an offspring of the archaic “tribalism” which has so deeply hurt Africa. Their rejection is visceral: Jawar Mohammed is evil and, with the Qeerroo, the source of all Ethiopia’s ills; in addition, the TPLF remains a hopeless Marxist-Leninist survivor.

This myopic approach stems first from the assumption that there is no alternative to Abiy to provide what the U.S. and other outside powers value above all: stability. His liberal economic stance is highly welcome at a time when the U.S. has decided to try to counter China in Africa. It is the main trade partner, the main investor and the main lender in Ethiopia. The fact that the U.S. Ambassador is also an Evangelist contributes to allowing his relationship with the premier to develop well beyond the usual diplomatic niceties. The result is that money and experts have poured in “The United States has invested over USD three billion in Ethiopia in the last three years alone”, insists Ambassador Raynor.

Additionally, U.S. officials are “embedded” in key Ethiopian economic ministries, and more widely. Ethiopia has just received pledges of around $6 billion from multilateral creditors, including an exceptionally generous loan of $3 billion from the International Monetary Fund, presumably to shore up Ethiopia’s balance of payments when the birr is floated. Meanwhile, the West turns a blind eye to any abuse of power, or renewed political repression, such as what Amnesty recently called a “intensification of the crackdown on dissenting political views”, not to mention excesses by the federal army, particularly in Wellega, against armed groups with links to OLF.

Abiy seems set to continue on his current track despite the many dangers lurking there because, among other reasons, he can be sure the West will give him carte blanche. But by putting all their eggs in Abiy’s basket, the West is not only closing all other options for itself, it is also threatening its own interests—Ethiopia’s stability. The alternative, a national dialogue to craft an election roadmap, requires Abiy’s full commitment, and he needs all the help he can get if the process is to be successful. His foreign supporters must therefore shift their policies to align with Ethiopian realities and throw their full weight behind getting an effective electoral process, including, of course, putting pressure on Abiy himself. It is high time for both the Prime Minister, and his Western supporters, to do the right thing for the country.

Related articles from Oromian Economist sources:-

Why Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party could be bad news for Ethiopia

The new pan-Ethiopian party created to replace the EPRDF coalition risks bringing the country to the edge of an abyss.

Ethiopia’s naive peacemaking could lead to war

HRW WORLD REPORT 2020

Africa News: I did it for Oromo: Jawar Mohammed explains decision to join Ethiopia opposition party January 2, 2020

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I did it for Oromo: Jawar Mohammed explains decision to join Ethiopia opposition party

I did it for Oromo: Jawar Mohammed explains decision to join Ethiopia opposition party

ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia’s prominent activist Jawar Mohammed explained that he joined the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress party (OFC) because of its strong stand on federalism.

Jawar’s membership in OFC comes five months before general elections that will test the popularity of reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the east African nation of more than 100 million people.

“I have been working with the party as a supporter for a long time,” Jawar told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

I will use my influence, network, and experience to help strengthen the party.

“I am attracted to the party because of their clear and strong stand on federalism.”

Jawar and the party are expected to call for greater autonomy for Ethiopia’s regional states, including Oromia, which is the largest and most populous.

‘‘The Oromo objective is very clear. It boils down to self-rule, which can be translated into cultural, political and economic autonomy, having full ownership over the wealth God has given us…also being able to govern our home region by a government elected by the Oromo people.’‘

Bitter ethnic rivalries resulting in violent clashes are one of the most serious challenges to Abiy’s government. More than 1,200 people were killed and more than 1.2 million others displaced in clashes in the country within the past year, Ethiopia’s Attorney General Office disclosed in September. The clashes, most of which took place along ethnic lines, threaten Abiy’s reforms.

Falling out with Abiy

Until recently, Jawar was seen as an ally of the prime minister. When he was living in the U.S. many say Jawar played a key role on social media in mobilizing widespread protests that led the previous prime minister to resign and saw Abiy rise to power in April, 2018.

Last year, Abiy relaxed restrictions on political activists which allowed Jawar and others to return to Ethiopia without fear of arrest.

But recently frictions emerged between Abiy and Jawar. In October Abiy criticized “media personalities with foreign passports” for causing troubles in Ethiopia, a comment widely seen as criticism of Jawar.

A day later, Jawar alleged there were attempts to remove his government-provided security guards and hundreds of his supporters flocked to his residence to offer him protection. Unrest that followed in some parts of the country, mainly Oromia, resulted in the deaths of several dozen people.

Jawar’s plan for 2020

Jawar, owner of the Oromo Media Network which has a television station, website and magazine, has more than 1.7 million followers on Facebook and a large support base in the Oromia region.

“I will use my influence, network, and experience to help strengthen the party,” he said, adding that the party will decide what office he will run for in the upcoming elections in May, 2020.

One last hurdle remains before he can launch a political career, however. Jawar holds U.S. citizenship, which prevents him from being a candidate for office in Ethiopia. He said he has started the process of relinquishing his U.S. passport and regaining his Ethiopian citizenship. He said “it will be completed soon.”

Jawar is seen by many as a polarizing figure. While many in Oromia consider him a hero who pushed hard for change in Ethiopia, others call him an opportunist who is waiting for the right time to assume power.

“Jawar joining the opposition party’s leadership would convert the party into a major political force, as he is popular among Oromo and has considerable ability to influence and mobilize Oromo voters using his various media platforms,” William Davison, International Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, told the AP.

Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia has been awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. Baga gammaddan, baga gammanne!! Congratulations!! #NobelPrize #NobelPeacePrize October 11, 2019

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Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, the Prime Minister of Federal Republic of Ethiopia and head of the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) that governs the state of Oromia, wins the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister, wins 2019 Nobel peace prize

Award recognises efforts for peace, in particular in resolving Eritrea border conflict

Abiy Ahmed
 Abiy ended a 20-year military stalemate with Eritrea three months after coming to power in April 2018. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

The prime minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, who forged a peace deal with Eritrea last year, has won the 2019 Nobel peace prize.

The award recognised Abiy’s “efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”, said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Norwegian Nobel committee’s chair.

One of Abiy’s biggest achievementssince coming to power in April last year was the peace deal signed three months later, which ended a nearly 20-year military stalemate with Eritrea following their 1998-2000 border war.

Abiy has also pushed through reforms at home, dramatically changing the atmosphere in what was regarded as a repressive state. His public renunciation of past abuses drew a line between his administration and those of his predecessors, as did the appointment of former dissidents and large numbers of women to senior roles.

Abiy said: “I am so humbled and thrilled … thank you very much. It is a prize given to Africa, given to Ethiopia, and I can imagine how the rest of Africa’s leaders will take it positively to work on the peace-building process in our continent.”

A pro-Abiy rally in Addis Ababa in June last year.
 A pro-Abiy rally in Addis Ababa in June last year. Photograph: Mulugeta Ayene/AP

Other figures who were considered in the running for this year’s prize included the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Hong Kong pro-democracy activists.

Ninety-nine Nobel peace prizes have been awarded since 1901, to individuals and 24 organisations. While the other Nobel prize laureates are announced in Stockholm, the peace prize is awarded in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

Abiy, 43, a former military officer specialising in cyber intelligence, has forged a reputation as a daring leader prepared to take risks to tackle decades-old problems.Timeline

Abiy Ahmed’s achievements

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The peace deal with Eritrea surprised and delighted tens of millions of people across east Africa. The conflict had cost both countries dearly in lives and scarce resources, and was a brake on development across much of the volatile region.

Eritrea, which has a population of about 4 million, gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war.

The Nobel committee acknowledged that “peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone”.

It said that when Abiy “reached out his hand, President Afwerki [of Eritrea] grasped it, and helped to formalise the peace process between the two countries”.

More recently Abiy played a key role in brokering a political deal in neighbouring Sudan that halted a slide into violence after the fall of the veteran dictator Omar al-Bashir, while retaining many of the gains made by pro-democracy protesters.

António Guterres, the UN secretary general, said winds of hope were blowing across Africa.

“This milestone has opened up new opportunities for the region to enjoy security and stability, and Prime Minister Ahmed’s leadership has set a wonderful example for others in and beyond Africa looking to overcome resistance from the past and put people first,” Guterres said.

Abiy Ahmed addresses delegates during the signing of Sudan’s power-sharing deal in Khartoum in August.
 Abiy Ahmed addresses delegates during the signing of Sudan’s power-sharing deal in Khartoum in August. Photograph: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters

Abiy, who often relies on bold personal initiatives and charisma to drive change instead of working through government institutions, is the country’s first leader from its largest ethnic community, the Oromo, who have long complained of economic, cultural and political marginalisation.

Domestic reforms have included lifting bans on political parties, releasing imprisoned journalists and sacking a number of previously untouchable officials, some of them accused of torture.Abiy also appointed women to half the ministerial posts in his cabinet.

In Addis Ababa, larged crowds have been welcoming home exiled dissidents. Residents who once feared speaking publicly about politics now talk of little else. Flags and symbols long banned by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) fly across the city.

Other initiatives, such as the planting of millions of trees, have won further international support.

‘Abiy Ahmed is our miracle’: Ethiopia’s democratic awakening

 Read more

Born in western Ethiopia, Abiy joined the resistance against the regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam as a teenager before enlisting in the armed forces, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel. He has a doctorate in peace and security studies.

After a stint running Ethiopia’s cyber intelligence service, he entered politics eight years ago and rose rapidly up the ranks of the Oromo faction of the EPRDF, which has historically been at odds with the Tigrayans.

Analysts say Abiy’s mixed Christian and Muslim background and his fluency in three of the country’s main languages help him to bridge communal and sectarian divides.

Dino Mahtani, a deputy director of International Crisis Group’s Africa programme, said: “Abiy’s award is a reflection of the west’s hope for transformational change in Ethiopia. But peace in Ethiopia is under threat by outbreaks of violence following Abiy’s political liberalisation project that, despite all its good intentions, has also contributed to unleashing centrifugal political forces in the country.”

In an interview with the Guardian shortly after Abiy survived an apparent assassination attempt in 2018, one of his personal acquaintances said the leader was “always looking ahead for the future”. Former colleagues said shelves of books on religion, philosophy and science filled Abiy’s office.

“He is physically active and very well organised … He did not have a secretary because he wanted his office to be accessible. His office door was literally never closed,” one said.

Nobel Peace Prize 2019: Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed wins for role in ending 20-year war with Eritrea, The Independent

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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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.”


More from Oromia Economist sources:-

 

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

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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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
ኢትዮጵያ ንግድ ባንክ 1000259030138
ኦሮሚያ ህብረት ሥራ ባንክ 1000072131111
(OBN)


 

Oromo do not want to be called Ethiopia but Oromiyaa. But they value peace and stability more than anything else July 29, 2018

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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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

oromianeconomist


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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5 comments

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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1 comment so far

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