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Ethiopia’s decision on ‘political prisoners’ in context January 11, 2018

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Ethiopia’s decision on ‘political prisoners’ in context

By , Al Jazeera, 10 January 2018

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]


On January 3, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn made two major announcements: his government will release political prisoners and close down a notorious detention centre at the heart of Ethiopia’s capital,widely known as a torture chamber for dissidents and government opponents. Desalegn announced the decision as part of a wider package of reforms aimed at fostering national reconciliation and widening the democratic space.

Rights groups welcomed the announcement as “an important step toward ending long-standing political repression and human rights abuse in the country” while others saw the move as a significant concession to the relentless protests of the last two years by the Oromos and Amharas – the two largest ethnic groups in the country.

As local and international media began to scrutinise the rationale, implications and consequences of the announcement, most of the commentary focused on Ethiopia’s perceived admission that there are political prisoners in the country. US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce even issued a statement praising Ethiopia for “finally acknowledg[ing] that it holds political prisoners.”

Shortly after the announcement, however, the government distanced itself from this interpretation by emphasising the fact that the prime minister never used the term “political prisoners” in his initial statement.

Indeed, Desalegn only referred to “political leaders and individuals whose crimes have resulted in court convictions or have resulted in their ongoing prosecution under the country’s law,” in his statement and never gave a clear indication as to which prisoners will be eligible for release.

Ethiopia’s political prisoners

The Ethiopian government has always denied consistent and widespread reports by human rights groups that it holds political prisoners. Like his predecessor, the late Meles Zenawi, who adamantly denied politicising the legal system to stifle dissent and opposition, Desalegn has also repeatedly dismissed the suggestion that Ethiopia is holding political prisoners.

Shortly after he took power in 2012, Al Jazeera’s Jane Dutton asked Desalegn if he intends to “confront” the legacy of political repression he inherited from Zenawi and take steps to release the “thousands of [political opposition] languishing in jail”. Desalegn said, “There are no political opposition that are languishing in prison.”

In May 2015, shortly before the country’s national election in which the ruling party won 100 percent of seats both at the national and regional levels, Al Jazeera’s Martine Dennisasked Desalegn about the imprisonment of “record number of journalists” to which he replied “these are not journalists …The moment you join a terrorist group, you become a blogger”.

There can be no justification to hold some political prisoners or journalists, bloggers and scholars while releasing high-profile leaders of political parties.

No sitting government would publicly admit to holding political prisoners, and – even after last week’s announcement – Ethiopian government still appears to be refusing to do so. But evidence suggests that very few governments in the world today hold more political prisoners than Ethiopia.

Since assuming power, the government frequently used the legal system to lock up members and leaders of the opposition. Indeed, the courts served as potent instruments of repression and power consolidation second only to the military-security apparatus.

Since the early days of the regime and particularly following the adoption of the country’s notorious anti-terrorism law in 2009, there has been a frightening politicisation of the legal system and the administration of justice. With or without disguise, Ethiopia used its courts and other institutions of justice to harass, intimidate, and eliminate political opposition from the political space.

In the early days of the regime, several members of opposition parties have been held in detention centres throughout the country without charges, particularly in the Oromia regional state. Actual or suspected members of the Oromo Liberation Front have been arrested in mass and detained without charges. More than two decades later, the whereabouts of several individuals including prominent Oromo politicians such as Nadhi Gamada and Bekele Dawano are still unknown.

Following the contested election in 2005, the government rounded up leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) who made significant electoral gains that denied the incumbent its majority. Since the government adopted its notorious anti-terror legislation, more than 1,000 people including opposition political leaders, journalists, bloggers, activists, scholars, and religious figures, have been charged with terror-related crimes. It is estimated that tens of thousands of individuals are currently in jail because of the government’s intolerance to dissenting views.

What makes these individuals political prisoners is not their innocence or guilt but the fact that their arrest, prosecution, and conviction were purely motivated by political ambitions as opposed to normative concerns with the rule of law and justice. In other words, the legal process is set in motion not for the determination of guilt and innocence but for political expedience, to pursue the dual goal of delegitimising political foes and physically eliminating them from the political space.

While the Ethiopian government still appears to be refusing the mere existence of thousands of political prisoners in the country, last week’s announcement, however incomplete, is a step in the right direction.

The closure of the infamous torture chamber commonly known as Maikalawi is another welcome development that signals a departure from the repressive practices of the past. But it needs to be noted that the prime minister did not admit that his government used the prison as a torture centre. He instead noted that the prison will be closed and turned in to a museum as result of its role in past atrocities.

Yet there are many credible reports (pdf) showing that opposition politicians, protest organisers, journalists, suspected dissenters and other voices critical of the government are taken to Maikalawi and subjected to torture or other forms of inhuman and degrading treatment under the rule of the current regime.

The real reasons behind the announcement

The decision to release political prisoners and close down the detention centre is a compromise between the four political parties that make up the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition. But understanding the political considerations behind the announcement requires a proper understanding and appreciation of the two central issues: the constitutive and operational logic of the EPRDF and the nature of the crisis destabilising the country for well over two years.

EPRDF is the brainchild of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a Marxist-Leninist movement that fought to liberate the Tigray ethnic group, which comprise six percent of Ethiopia’s more than 100 million people. In the final days of Ethiopia’s civil war, the TPLF orchestrated the creation of three satellite parties – Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) – that ostensibly represent their respective ethnic groups.

The TPLF assembled these puppet organisations to consolidate its grip on power. They helped broaden TPLF’s appeal beyond Tigray and bolster its political legitimacy while also enabling it to smother real opposition from autonomous parties such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the All Amhara Peoples Organization (AAPO).

For 26 years, TPLF used this vassal configuration to dominate all aspects of the country’s political life, while mercilessly muzzling dissenting voices both from within and outside the party. The discontent and suffering that have been simmering underground for decades exploded into the open in November of 2015 when Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the country, took to the streets in protest.

In July of 2016, the Amharas, the second-largest ethnic group in the country, joined the protest, creating a nationwide protest movement that reconfigured the political landscape and brought the government to its knees.

The protests not only exposed the structural anomalies at the heart of Ethiopia’s political system, but also brought about a significant reconfiguration of the asymmetric relationship between the four parties that make up the EPRDF. TPLF lost its absolute power within the coalition as its junior partners began to reinvent themselves and side with their respective people.

This is particularly evident in Oromia, where the new leadership of the region refused to play second fiddle. OPDO began to flex its muscles, knowing full well that as the party with the most seats in parliament, and the largest population, it can cripple the government. In a major break, the new leaders of OPDO began protesting the disproportionate and indiscriminate policing, harassment, imprisonment, and torture of Oromos by security forces.

In a joint press statement of the four parties that make up the ruling coalition, Lemma Megersa, the leader of OPDO and the president of Oromia regional state, characterised Maikalawi as “a site in which our citizens have been castrated for years“. Megersa, a transformational figure with a distinct ability to appeal to people across competing nationalist narratives and fault lines that divide Ethiopian politics, went on to argue that “while it is one thing to close it down, it is important that we look at the justice sector more broadly, from investigation to prosecution, trial, and sentencing.”

While the proposed package of reforms are in the interests of the OPDO and ANDM, it is not clear to what extent the other parties, particularly the TPLF, which still controls the intelligence, the military and the federal police, is genuinely committed to enforcing measures, which, if fully implemented, would ultimately reduce its influence within the coalition, the government and the state more generally.

TPLF’s hegemonic status depends on fostering hostility and division, not national reconciliation and democratisation. Indeed, just three days after the announcement, the Federal Police announced a “deep investigation” into “Qeerroo Oromo” (Oromo youth) movement, a decision which collides head-on with the party’s stated goals of national reconciliation and democratisation.

The government acknowledges the unprecedented nature of the crisis facing the country and rightly identifies national reconciliation and widening the democratic space as two of the most significant policy objectives necessary to save the country from plunging into the abyss. However, the government cannot pursue these goals while at the same time proposing measures in conflict with these imperatives.

The government must come to terms with the transformations of the last two years and open up the political process for all voices that seek a hearing and bodies that seek visibility. This means adopting the broadest possible definition of political prisoners and releasing all those whose arrest, detention, prosecution, and conviction have been driven by political considerations.

There can be no justification to hold some political prisoners or journalists, bloggers and scholars while releasing high-profile leaders of political parties. If there is any lesson the government can learn from the protests of the last two years, it is that more repression will only escalate the crisis, not contain or avert it.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

What's fuelling protests in Ethiopia?

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What’s fuelling protests in Ethiopia?


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Fascist Ethiopia’s regime (TPLF) extends its state of emergency by four months March 30, 2017

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Al Jazeera : Ethiopia extends state of emergency by four months

Opposition parties complain that the emergency is being used to clamp down on their members and activities.


The country’s ruling coalition is controlled primarily by the Tigray ethnic group, who accounts for only 6 percent of the population [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]
The country’s ruling coalition is controlled primarily by the Tigray ethnic group, who accounts for only 6 percent of the population [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

The Ethiopian parliament has extended by four months a state of emergency it declared six months ago after almost a year of often violent anti-government demonstrations.

The widely expected extension comes amid reports of continued violence and anti-government activities in some rural areas.

At least 500 people were killed by security forces during the year of protests, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch group – a figure the government later echoed.

“We still have some anti-peace elements that are active and want to capitalise on disputes that arise among regional states in the country,” Ethiopia’s defence minister, Siraj Fegessa, told MPs when he called on them to approve the extension on Thursday.

“In addition, some leaders of the violent acts that we witnessed before are still at large and are disseminating wrong information to incite violence.”

Opposition parties complain that the emergency powers are being used to clamp down on their members and activities, especially in rural regions far from the capital, Addis Ababa.

The state of emergency, declared on October 9, was a reaction to protests that were especially persistent in the Oromia region. Many members of the Oromo ethnic group say they are marginalised and that they do not have access to political power, something the government denies.

OPINION: The Oromo protests have changed Ethiopia

A wave of anger was triggered by a development scheme for Addis Ababa, which would have seen its boundaries extended into Oromia. Demonstrators saw it as a land grab that would force farmers off their land.

The protests soon spread to the Amhara region in the north, where locals argued that decades-old federal boundaries had cut off many ethnic Amharas from the region.

Crushed to death

Map of Oromia region in Ethiopia [Al Jazeera]

The Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups together make up about 60 percent of Ethiopia’s population.

The country’s ruling coalition, which has been in power for a quarter of a century, is controlled primarily by the Tigray ethnic group, who make up six percent of the population.

Tensions reached an all-time high after a stampede in which at least 52 people were crushed to death fleeing security forces at a protest that grew out of a religious festival in the town of Bishoftu on October 2nd.

In the following days, rioters torched several mostly foreign-owned factories and other buildings that they claimed were built on seized land.

The government, though, blamed rebel groups and foreign-based dissidents for stoking the violence.

The state of emergency initially included curfews, social media blocks, restrictions on opposition party activity and a ban on diplomats traveling more than 40 kilometres outside the capital without approval.

Authorities arrested over 11,000 people during its first month.

Some provisions of the state of emergency were relaxed on March 15th, two weeks prior to Thursday’s announced extension. Arrests and searches without court orders were stopped, and restrictions on radio, television and theatre were dropped.

Protesters run from tear gas being fired by police during Irreecha, the religious festival in Bishoftu where at least 52 people died [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

The #OromoProtests have changed Ethiopia November 22, 2016

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oromoprotests-one-year-on-struggle-november-2015-2016an-oromo-youth-hero-shanted-down-down-woyane-on-the-face-of-mass-killers-tplf-agazi-at-bishoftu-2nd-october-2016-oromoprotestsirreecha-malkaa-birraa-2016-at-horaa-harsadii-bishoftuu-oromia-this-brave-oromo-woman-is-one-of-the-murdered-by-fascist-tplf-ethiopia-2nd-october-2016Congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado in solidarity with Oromo protests at the global Solidarity Rally in Denver, USA. 29 August 2016 p2

The Oromo protests have changed Ethiopia

The struggle of the Oromo people has finally come to the attention of the global public conscience.

 irreecha-malkaa-2016-bishoftu-horaa-harsadi-oromia-oromoprotests
Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia


By Awol Allo, Al Jazeera

November 12 marked the first anniversary of the Oromo Protests, a non-institutional and anti-authoritarian movement calling for an end to decades of systemic exclusion and subordination of the Oromo.

Although the protests were sparked by a government plan to expand the territorial and administrative limits of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, into neighbouring Oromo towns and villages, they were manifestations of long-simmering ethnic discontents buried beneath the surface.

Inside Story – What’s fuelling protests in Ethiopia?

The Oromo are the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and East Africa, comprising more than 35 percent of Ethiopia’s 100 million people. Yet, Oromos have been the object of discriminatory and disproportionate surveillance, policing, prosecution and imprisonment under the guise of security and economic development.

The year-long protests, which brought decades of hidden suffering and abuse to the Ethiopian streets, were held under what Human Rights Watch described as a “near-total closure of political space”.

As the protests grew in magnitude and intensity, the government responded with overwhelming and disproportionate force, unleashing what Amnesty international called “a vicious cycle of protests and totally avoidable bloodshed”.

The failure of the government to respond to long-standing grievances and the deployment of disproportionate violence which killed hundreds, exacerbated the tension, transforming what was a single-issue protest into a formidable mass anti-authoritarian movement.

The protests reached a turning point on August 6, 2016, when hundreds of thousands of people marched in more than 200 towns and cities to resist the government’s draconian and ever-escalating repression.

Another milestone came on October 2, 2016, when security forces fired tear gas and live bullets on a crowd of over two million people gathered to celebrate Irreecha, a cultural festival in which Oromos from all walks of life congregate to celebrate life and nature. While the government acknowledged the deaths of 52 people, local reports have put the number in the hundreds.

State of emergency

On October 9, 2016, the government declared a state of emergency, giving security forces and the army new sweeping powers in one of the most censored countries in the world, where the security apparatus is already extensive and permeates all levels of social structures, including individual households.

The government blocked mobile internet, restricted social media, banned protests, closed down broadcast and print media, including the influential Addis Standard magazine, and imposed draconian restrictions on all political freedoms. In its recent report analysing the effect of the emergency, Human Rights Watch described the measures as the securitisation of legitimate grievances.

Suddenly, the Oromo story moved from the periphery of Ethiopia’s political discourse to the centre.

According to the government’s own figures, more than 11,000 people have been arrested since the emergency was imposed.

Under international law, states can impose restrictions on the exercise of rights and freedoms “in times of public emergency threatening the life of the nation”. However, a state of emergency does not give the government carte blanche to do as it pleases.

Governments can only take those measures that are necessary and proportionate to the threat. The measures being taken by the Ethiopian state go far beyond what is required by the exigencies of the circumstances.

In the name of economic development and national security, it established a permanent state of emergency to obscure its lack of democratic mandate, making “development” and “security” the ultimate standards of the regime’s legitimacy.

Oromo Protests at Rio Olympics

The protests rose to global prominence when Feyisa Lilesa, an ethnic Oromo marathon runner, crossed his wrists above his head in an “X”, a gesture that came to define the Oromo protests, as he crossed the finishing line at the Rio Olympics to win the silver medal.

If the Oromo protests are a battle of ideas, a contest between those who seek equal opportunity and those who deny these opportunities to all but a few, a conflict between bullets and freedom songs, it was also a battle for the control of the narrative.

Ethiopia declares state of emergency as protests continue

Unequal access to education and the means of narrative production excluded the Oromo from mainstream knowledge frameworks, rendering them invisible and unnoticeable, and condemning their culture and identity to a precarious subterranean existence. The Rio Olympics reconfigured this dynamic.

Lilesa’s decisive intervention at one of the world’s biggest stages drew overdue attention to the story of oppression that remained largely invisible to mainstream media.

Suddenly, the Oromo story moved from the periphery of Ethiopia’s political discourse to the centre. As the news media filtered the Oromo story into the global public conscience via Lilesa’s expression of solidarity, it provided a revealing perspective on the fiction underneath the country’s reputation as a beacon of stability and an economic success story.

Achievements

This movement has already changed Ethiopia forever. It brought about a change of attitude and discourse in the Ethiopian society, repudiating the ideological proclivities and policies of the state. It enabled the society to see the government, its institutions, its symbols and its western enablers differently.

Topics that used to be considered taboo only a year ago, such as the supremacy of ethnic Tigrean elites, are no longer off limits. In short, it enabled suffering to speak.

A year after the protests erupted, and after hundreds of funerals were held, what remains uppermost in the memory of the protesters is not the dead. It is not even the bereaved. It is the stubborn persistence of the Qabso – struggle – in the face of great sacrifice, and the defiant and unrelenting call for equality and justice.

The government knows that it walked right up to the edge of the precipice. But, if it fails to address the grievances of protesters, if it continues to ignore the social fabric ripped apart by policies of divide and rule, if it does not provide justice to the inconsolable grief of parents whose children were shot by security forces, and the quiet but intensely agitated youth who have become the beating hearts of this defiant generation, it may plunge into it.

Awol Allo is Lecturer in Law at Keele University, UK.

Al Jazeera: Ethiopia ‘ruthlessly targeted’ Oromo ethnic group, report finds. #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution October 30, 2016

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Former detainees describe beatings, electric shocks and gang rape, according to Amnesty International report


Ethiopia has “ruthlessly targeted” and tortured thousands of people belonging to its largest ethnic group for perceived opposition to the government, rights group Amnesty International said in a report released Tuesday.

The report, based on over 200 testimonies, said at least 5,000 members of the Oromo ethnic group, which has a distinct language and accounts for over 30 percent of the country’s population, had been arrested between 2011 and 2014 for their “actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government.”

“The Ethiopian government’s relentless crackdown on real or imagined dissent among the Oromo is sweeping in its scale and often shocking in its brutality,” said Amnesty International researcher Claire Beston.

The rights group said those arrested included students and civil servants. They were detained based on their expression of cultural heritage such as wearing clothes in colors considered to be symbols of Oromo resistance – red and green – or alleged chanting of political slogans.

Oromia, the largest state in Ethiopia, has long had a difficult relationship with the central government in Addis Ababa. A movement has been growing there for independence. And the government has outlawed a secessionist group, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which has fought for self-determination for over 40 years.

Since 1992, the OLF has waged a low-level armed struggle against the Ethiopian government, which has accused the group of carrying out a series of bombings throughout the country.

Amnesty said that the majority of Oromo people targeted are accused of supporting the OLF, but that the “allegation is frequently unproven” and that it is “merely a pretext to silence critical voices and justify repression.”

“The report tends to confirm the claims that diaspora-based Oromo activists have been making for some time now,” Michael Woldemariam, a professor of international relations and political science at Boston University, told Al Jazeera. “What it does do, however, is provide a wealth of detail and empirical material that lends credibility to claims we have heard before.”

Missing fingers, ears, teeth

Former detainees – who fled the country and were interviewed by Amnesty in neighboring Kenya, Somaliland and Uganda – described torture, “including beatings, electric shocks, mock execution, burning with heated metal or molten plastic, and rape, including gang rape,” Amnesty said.

Although the majority of former detainees interviewed said they never went to court, many alleged they were tortured to extract a confession.

“We interviewed former detainees with missing fingers, ears and teeth, damaged eyes and scars on every part of their body due to beating, burning and stabbing – all of which they said were the result of torture,” said Beston.

Redwan Hussein, Ethiopia’s government spokesman, “categorically denied” the report’s findings. He accused Amnesty of having an ulterior agenda and of repeating old allegations.

“It (Amnesty) has been hell-bent on tarnishing Ethiopia’s image again and again,” he told Agence France-Press.

The report also documented protests that erupted in April and May over a plan to expand the capital Addis Abba into Oromia territory. It said that protests were met with “unnecessary and excessive force,” which included “firing live ammunition on peaceful protestors” and “beating hundreds of peaceful protesters and bystanders,” resulting in “dozens of deaths and scores of injuries.”

Oromo singers, writers and poets have been arrested for allegedly criticizing the government or inciting people through their work. Amnesty said they, along with student groups, protesters and people promoting Oromo culture, are treated with hostility because of their “perceived potential to act as a conduit or catalyst for further dissent.”

Al Jazeera and wire services. Philip J. Victor contributed to this report. 


 

Al Jazeera Stream: Protests and state violence: Felix Horne, HRW, and President Jimmy Carter speak on #OromoProtests June 23, 2016

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Al Jazeera: Politics, War & Conflict in Ethiopia: ‘Ethiopia is boiling’ May 8, 2016

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Abdirahman Mahdi of ONLF: ‘Ethiopia is boiling’

Senior leader of Ethiopia’s Somali rebel group discusses a growing alliance of groups seeking self-determination.

Al Jazeera, 07 May 2016

Abdirahman Mahdi of ONLF

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2016/05/ethnic-somali-abdirahman-mahdi-onlf-ethiopia-boiling-160507083254836.html


Ethiopia, Africa’s oldest independent country, is one of the West’s closest allies in the Horn of Africa.

Bordering Kenya, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia, this vast nation is home to about 80 different ethnic groups, many with their own languages and customs.

Despite Ethiopia’s demographic diversity, the country’s power structure in mainly centralised in its capital Addis Ababa, located in the heart of the country.

And this is resented by some of Ethiopia’s many different ethnic groups.

To the far east of the country lies Ethiopia’s Somali region. The people there have Ethiopian nationality but identify as Somalis. Many there say that their desperately poor region is starved of resources.

This has led some to rise up and challenge the government.

Self-determination struggle

A movement for self-determination for Ogaden, which is officially known as the Somali region, led by the Ogaden National Liberation Force (ONLF), began in the mid-1980s. ONLF took up arms a decade later.

Their attacks led the Ethiopian government to send in troops and to carry out what many describe as a brutal crackdown on the some five million ethnic Somalis who live in this arid region.

Thousands of people have died in a struggle that few outsiders are allowed to witness. It’s an invisible conflict that has cost lives and livelihoods, and despite several rounds of talks in recent years, has no end in sight.

After decades of conflict with little or no progress, should ONLF give up their fight?

“How long did South Africa [take to] defeat Apartheid? When you are fighting for your rights, time is not an issue,” Abdirahman Mahdi, a founding member and the foreign secretary of ONLF, tells Al Jazeera.

The only policy in the Somali region they have is to dominate it, to exploit the oil, to consider the people as just a nuisance, and to exploit our resources and kill our people. Even if they allowed 10% of our rights in 1994, this fighting would not have started.

Abdirahman Mahdi, founding member and foreign secretary of the Ogaden National Liberation Force (ONLF)

“My father was fighting for our rights and my children will fight for our rights. So for us, justice is the only solution – there is no other way.”

Madhi denies that ONLF wants to secede from Ethiopia and claims this is “a misconception that’s being propagated by the Ethiopian regime”.

ONLF’s fight, he says, is about seeking the “right to decide our future”.

The movement wants the “right to self-determination, including even leaving the country”. ONLF “cannot decide what the Somali people want. What we are saying is let them be given their right to decide.”

He says: “Free choice is not secession; free choice means you can choose the right to live together in peace and dignity.”

ONLF’s fight is not with federalism nor with ethnicity, Madhi says. “The issue is when one group wants to dominate the rest of the people in Ethiopia. So we are going to dismantle that.”

Madhi speaks of the marginalisation of Ethiopia’s Somali region. “[Until] recently, we had only one secondary school after 100 years of Ethiopian occupation, we had one hospital … Our women have no maternity services.”

The region, he says, suffers from a brutal trade and aid embargo and a military occupation, which he alleges has resulted in the rape of 30% of the region’s women and more than 30,000 detentions.

“How can you develop people you are raping?” he asks.

Madhi says ONLF is an Africanist movement, the struggle is expanding and the group is now working with other ethnic groups in the country by staging “peaceful mass demonstrations”.

“Our alliance is now expanding,” he says. “Like the Arab Spring, we are going to start insurrection all over the place. Ethiopia is now boiling … The regime is now in disarray; they’re divided. The people of Ethiopia have now risen up. They want their rights. We are tired of one clique dominating the rest of Ethiopia.”

On Talk to Al Jazeera, Madhi discusses the future and vision of ONLF, the criticism that he is out of touch with the needs and situation of the people in Ethiopia’s Somali region now that he lives abroad, and he responds to allegations of human rights abuses committed by ONLF and that the group is armed and trained by Eritrea.


http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2016/05/ethnic-somali-abdirahman-mahdi-onlf-ethiopia-boiling-160507083254836.html

We Appreciate Al Jazeera for Airing Oromo’s Persecution in Ethiopia July 7, 2013

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Al Jazeera The Stream/English: We Appreciate Al Jazeera for Airing Oromo’s Persecution in Ethiopia

Dawaa Oromoo

Oromo, a single largest [over 40 million population] ethnic group in Ethiopia, is under repression of successive Ethiopian regimes for more than a century. Generally speaking, Ethiopia is a prison of Oromo people. Over the last 130 years, in Ethiopia, the power is under two minority ethnic groups [namely, the Amhara and Tigre]. The Oromo and other southern nations (Ogaden, Gambela, Afar, Sidama, etc) repressed by the northern, better known as Abyssinian [Amhara and Tigre] regimes. The Oromo people are uniquely targeted by consecutive Ethiopian regimes because of its resources, geographic strategy, and fear from its majority in number.

Oromos are languishing countless human right abuses and yet untold stories of persecution. As human right activists, we are advocating for the God’s given right to human being and its dignity as the United Nations identified in its The Universal Declaration of Human Rights :
“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,”
We are witnessing the fate of Oromo under the successive Ethiopian regimes since it becomes our crucial concern. True media like Al Jazeera should be appreciated to show the countless untold stories committed against Oromo people. In Ethiopia, there are more than 25,000 political prisoners, of which 90% are Oromo prisoners.
According to Oromo Support Group (OSG), a non-political organization which attempts to raise awareness of human rights abuses in Ethiopia, as of May 2012, it has reported 4,407 extra-judicial killings and 992 disappearances of civilians suspected of supporting groups opposing the government where most of these are Oromo.
The current regime has sold out more than 3 million hectares of fertile land to the foreigner investors after forcedly displacing Oromo farmers from their ancestral land. These grabbing of land ended the indigenous people without shelter and foods. This displacement of the Oromo people accompanied by limitless human right violations set the Oromo to be the vast number of immigrants in the horn of Africa.

Currently, there are situations that engaged in genocidal cleansing in East Hararge zone of Oromia by the armed forces of the Ethiopian regime. In Central Oromia, thousands of people and their livestock died due to the industrial pollution directly released to rivers and lakes. Forests including a UNESCO’s registered and privileged as diversity of living habitat located in Ilu Aba Bora zone of Oromia are dismantled by the TPLF’s company (EFFERT).

Successive Ethiopian regimes developed lofty discriminations that mainly targeted Oromo people. This trend apparently observed among, both the past and current, Ethiopian regimes and affiliates. Since the current regime is reassuring the subjugation, marginalization and repression policy of the old regime, both systems are incorporate and consent among each other on the Oromo cause.

We very appreciated your recently casted story “Oromo Seek Justice in Ethiopia” on June 25th, 2013.

There are countless human right abuses completed against Oromo. We urge all media like Al Jazeera to dig out and show to the world. We believe Al Jazeera Stream will continue to be the voice of voice less people. We thank all the Al Jazeera teams.

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