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Odaa OromooNewsweek#OromoProtests‬ (1st March 2016) in Qarsaa town. Oromo nationals Muraadii and Kadir Siraj Ahmed killed by AgaziOromo Woman confronts Agazi in CalanqooNo To Fascist TPLF Ethiopia's genocidal militarism and mass killings in Oromia, Ethiopia#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia


A woman and her child in Oromia awaits medical attention.
A woman and her child await medical attention in Oromia, Ethiopia, January 31. A severe drought and anti-government protests in Oromia have increased restrictions on press freedom in Ethiopia, according to a journalists’ association.EDMUND BLAIR/REUTERS


Press freedom in Ethiopia is dwindling in light of recent anti-government protests and the severe drought in the Horn of Africa state, according to a journalists’ association.

Two journalists and a translator were arbitrarily detained for 24 hours on Thursday when reporting on the protests in Oromia, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA) on Monday. Bloomberg correspondent William Davison and freelance journalist Jacey Fortin, along with their translator, were not given any reason for their detention. Their phones and identification cards were taken during the arrest.

Protests among the Oromos, who constitute Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, have been ongoing since November 2015 and were originally directed against plans by the federal government to expand the capital Addis Ababa. At least 140 protesters were killed between November 2015 and January, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). The Addis expansion plans were dropped in January but the protests—which have morphed into a general expression of dissatisfaction with the government among Oromos—have continued and demonstrators are still being subjected to “lethal force,” HRW said on February 22. The Ethiopian government has said that “destructive forces” —including some from neighboring Eritrea—have hijacked the protests and would be dealt with decisively.
The FCAEA said that the detentions marked “a worrying escalation” in Ethiopia, which already has a poor record for allowing journalists to operate freely. Ethiopia was ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom in 2015 by non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders, which recorded six newspapers closing and more than 30 cases of journalists fleeing abroad in 2014. “Ethiopia is well-known for its tough stance on journalists but this is a worrying spike of arbitrary detention of media workers at a time of increased interest in Ethiopia,” says Ilya Gridneff, chairman of FCAEA. “Journalism is not a crime and those in Ethiopia should not be treated as criminals.”Davison told Newsweek that the risks of reporting on certain topics in Ethiopia is too high because of the threat of detainment. “It was a shock to be held overnight in a prison cell and not be given any explanation of what we were being held for,” says Davison. The “very heavy and militarized response” to the Oromo protests “raises the chance that reporters are going to be obstructed from doing their work,” he says.

Newsweek contacted the Ethiopian Embassy in London but was yet to receive a reply at the time of publication.

Coupled with the Oromo protests, Ethiopia is currently experiencing its worst drought in around 50 years, partly due to the El Nino weather pattern. Up to 15 million people in the country require emergency humanitarian food assistance and the United Nations is appealing for $50 million to help the government cope with the crisis.



Oromia: Ethiopia’s #OromoProtests: A problem that repression can’t solve February 23, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Oromo protests: A problem that repression can’t solve


By Simon Allison, Daily Maverick, 23 Februray, 2016

Photo: Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest against the Ethiopian regime in Valletta, Malta, December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The Ethiopian government likes to be in control – of the economy, of opposition movements, of independent media. Like it or not, the tough approach has worked, at least in terms of the country reaching its development goals. But repression is a blunt instrument and the ongoing Oromo protests should force a rethink. By SIMON ALLISON.

The demonstrations began in November 2015. In towns and villages all over Ethiopia’s vast Oromia province, people gathered to voice their frustration at the government.

Their grievances? Specifically, they were unhappy about the unveiling of the Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan, a document that detailed step-by-step how the capital city would suck more land from the province for minimal compensation. Generally, they were protesting a long history of oppression and marginalisation of the Oromo community. The Oromo, despite being Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group are largely excluded from positions of power and have historically been last to access rights and benefits from the state.

The scale of these protests – the wide geographical spread, and the sheer numbers of people who turned out – scared the government who responded with force.

Supposed ringleaders were detained; curfews imposed in several towns and security forces were called in to deal with the angry crowds. Things soon got ugly even though protestors were largely peaceful (although not always – several government buildings were stormed and looted). The same cannot be said for the police, however, who reacted with tear gas, grenades and bullets. By the end of the year, an estimated 150 people had been killed.

The brutal crackdown was the government’s stick. There was also a carrot. In January, in an apparent concession, the government scrapped the Addis Master Plan, saying it had heard and heeded the voice of the people.

This was all too little, too late. Too little because it’s an open secret that the expansion of Addis will continue – it can’t not – but now with even less direction or regulation; and because the government did not address ongoing discrimination against Oromo people. Too late because the brutality of the state crackdown had merely proved the protestors’ point, and reinforced their grievances.

So the protests continued. As did the brutal response. “Almost daily accounts of killings and arbitrary arrests have been reported to Human Rights Watch since 2016 began. Security forces, including military personnel, have fatally shot scores of demonstrators. Thousands of people have been arrested and remain in detention without charge,” reported Human Rights Watch this week.

The rights group added: “The plan’s cancellation did not halt the protest. The crackdown continued throughout Oromia. In late January 2016, Human Rights Watch interviewed approximately 60 protesters and other witnesses from various parts of the Oromia region in December and January who described human rights violations during the protests, some since mid-January. They said that security forces have shot randomly into crowds, summarily killed people during arrests, carried out mass roundups and tortured detainees.”

Sure enough, the Ethiopian government was quick to deny the Human Rights Watch Report. “[An] absolute lie,” said Communications Minister Getachew Reda, speaking to the BBC. Reda blamed the trouble on armed gangs “who are trying to stir up emotions in the public”. At the same time, Reda lashed out at Human Rights Watch, saying that it was “a stroke of magic” for the organisation to get its information from “halfway around the world”. This is disingenuous: as Reda well knows, and as theDaily Maverick reported last month, the reason that organisations like Human Rights Watch cannot maintain an uncompromised presence in Ethiopia is because government restrictions make this impossible.

Although the government may be reluctant to acknowledge them, there’s no doubt that the Oromo protests are real. It is also clear that the government’s usual tactics for dealing with opposition movements – a hefty dose of police brutality combined with targeted detentions and a slick PR machine – is not making them go away this time round.

Maybe it’s time to try something different. In this instance, a little less repression might go a long way. Real engagement and compromise could alleviate the protestors’ immediate concerns, while reassuring them that the government does cater to its large Oromo constituency.

It’s an experiment worth conducting. The Oromo are far from the only disaffected community in Ethiopia and there’s a real danger that the unrest could spread, particularly to the large Muslim minority, who have a recent history of large-scale anti-government demonstrations themselves. This would not only threaten the government’s authority, but also undermine or even reverse its impressive development statistics. Having made such impressive socio-economic progress, the Ethiopian government’s automatically autocratic response to any kind of opposition risks reversing their gains. There’s got to be a better way. DM