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This statement was originally published on africafex.org on 21 March 2017.
A total of 183 deaths were recorded from July to December 2016 following clashes between protestors and security agents in three countries – Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mali.
In each of the three countries, security agents used excessive force to disperse protestors who were demonstrating against specific issues in their respective countries. The police brutalities resulted in several deaths. A death toll of 150 was recorded in Ethiopia, 32 in DRC and one in Mali.
To date, not one security agent has been prosecuted for any of the killings in the three countries.
Unfortunately, this is just one of the many violations perpetrated against protestors, journalists and media organisations in Africa as reported in the maiden edition of the Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa report by the African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) compiled for the period July to December 2016.
The periodic Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa Report is an intervention by AFEX that seeks to monitor and report on FOE violations (including violations against freedom of assembly and association) and other developments in Africa for the timely intervention by appropriate stakeholders.
Over the six-month period, 63 incidents of violation were recorded in 19 countries across the African continent. State security apparatus were the main perpetrators of the violations. Together, they were responsible for 57 percent (36) of the 63 violations.
State security agents were not only responsible for the killing of the 183 protestors in the three countries; they were also the perpetrators of all 19 incidents of arrests and detentions in 10 of the 19 countries covered in the report. in addition, five out of six media organisations were shut down by state security agents.
State officials were also found to be perpetrators of media and FOE rights violations both online and offline. Of the 63 violations, 10 were carried out by/on the orders of state officials. Thus, state actors were generally the main perpetrators of the various violations reported in the Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa report.
Sadly, only seven out of 63 recorded violations received some form of redress actions.
For the full report on the types of violations cited, other perpetrators, the 19 countries monitored and the targets of the violations, click here.
Oromo-Somali Solidarity Forum Press Release
Date: 16th of March, 2017 Ref: OSSF/01/17
For immediate release
Since November 2016, i.e., for the last five months, the murderous Liyu Police forces, commanded by the President of the Somali Regional State, have been undertaking border raids and attacks against civilians in the Oromia region, in the process killing and displacing many people. The attack is launched on five Oromia zones and 14 districts bordering the Somali region. At least 200 civilians have been killed and many others injured in the attacks according to reports. These senseless attacks were ordered by the TPLF as part of its strategy to weaken the popular uprising underway in Oromia against the minority ruling clique. TPLF has been trying to portray the conflict it maneuvered between the brotherly Somali and Oromo peoples as a dispute between the two regions over the ownership of border towns and localities, a dispute that has been settled through public referenda in 2005/6. The two neighboring ethnic groups have co-existed peacefully for centuries and have a culture of resolving disputes through established traditional conflict resolution mechanisms. Without the sinister hands of the TPLF, this conflict would not have even started. TPLF is hiding in plain sight and should understand that such mischief will not absolve it from the crimes it continues to commit against both the Oromo and Somali people.
The atrocities committed by the Liyu Police did not start with defenseless Oromos. These merchants of death and destruction have been terrorizing their own Somali people for the last ten years at the behest of their TPLF masters. They have committed numerous grave human right violations inside the Somali region and even as far beyond as Somalia with gruesome executions, rape, and burning of villages being their distinctive trademarks.
We at the Oromo-Somali Solidarity Forum hereby condemn this TPLF-engineered reckless conflict which led to the bloodshed of our brotherly peoples. We urge the brotherly Somali and Oromo peoples to stand in solidarity and deny the TPLF the pleasure of achieving the division and animosity it aspires to sow between our people. The ongoing conflict is not a war between Oromos and Somalis. It is a proxy war orchestrated by the TPLF against Oromos through the Liyu Police which is an auxiliary instrument of repression by the desperate minority regime. United, we will overcome TPLF’s 26 years of oppression and mayhem.
Victory to the oppressed Oromo and Somali people!
With profound regards!
Oromo-Somali Solidarity Forum
Addressed to: All Ethiopians, Oromos, Somalis and the international press
This article explores the raison d’être for why the Neo-Agazians – the king makers in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a.k.a. the present-day rulers of Ethiopia – have adopted a non-intuitive strategy of waging a war of attrition against the Oromo through a notoriously brutal proxy, the ill-reputed Liyu Police of the Somali region; whilst they were rather widely expected to reassess their current policy and attempt to pacify Oromia – a state that has been the epicenter of a historic and heroic popular opposition against the government in the last three years. In my opinion, here are some of the primary reasons.
The obsession to smoke out and defeat the Oromo Liberation Army:
TPLF’s general disposition and military escapades over the last twenty five years, would lead a neutral analyst to the conclusion that it is obsessed, more than anything else, with the goal of dismantling the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and its army. As a result of this fixation, Afaan Oromo has earned the unique distinction of becoming Ethiopia’s “language of prisons”, and Oromia has turned into the killing field of the Horn of Africa, where all sorts of human rights abuses are the norm. TPLF’s various military adventures in the Horn of Africa – from its various illegal military interventions in
(Ayyaantuu) -Somalia to its regular incursions into Kenya, as well as its so-called peacekeeping missions in south Sudan – are all motivated by what appears to be a preoccupation to deny the Oromo liberation army (OLA) a base of operation. These military adventures have been carried out without due regard for the cost in human lives, but they have allowed the regime to stay in power by weakening its greatest homegrown threat which comes in the form of OLA.
There is no doubt that the OLF has been downgraded, partly as a result of these actions by the TPLF and the resulting geo-political outcomes. The OLA has diminished in size and effectiveness from its heyday in the late 1980’s, when it was able to engage two formidable opponents – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Ethiopian army in the west, and the latter in the east and the southeast – and thrive at the same time. TPLF’s strategic maneuver and direct military interventions in the neighboring countries contiguous to Oromia in the last two decades should thus be seen in light of its fixation to deny its strategic nemesis, the OLF, a military base of operation – an objective in which it has succeeded to a great extent, thus far.
But, judging by events that have transpired in Oromia in the last three years, particularly in 2016, it appears that the OLF has adapted to these difficult geo-political circumstances and could be poised to take on the TPLF more vigorously than before. Notwithstanding the misguided efforts by some in the diaspora to hijack the Oromo Protests, there are clear signals that the protest movement is orchestrated by the OLF. This development has shaken the regime to its core, from which it is likely not going to able to recover. The Oromo Protests have put the TPLF in unfamiliar territory, forcing it to react to facts on the ground its adversary has set in motion. Albeit at tremendous cost to Oromo lives, round one of this phase of the conflict between the OLF and the TPLF was decisively concluded with the latter substantially degraded politically and economically, if not militarily yet, invigorating the former substantially. Therefore, the ground work seems to have been laid for round two and perhaps the decisive stage of this phase of the conflict; and judging by its current activities, the TPLF is mightily worried (as it should be) about the likely outcomes.
One of the dangerous policies the TPLF is pursuing currently to foil what is shaping up to be a historic faceoff between its forces and Oromo freedom fighters, is to unleash the notorious Somali region paramilitary group on peaceful Oromo citizens in the east, the south and the southeast. In my opinion, the main purpose of this move is to provoke OLF fighters to come out of the woodwork, as it were, in order to engage them militarily before more recent events have a chance to solidify in ways that will benefit the combatants. Based on certain signals that are out there, the OLF might have succeeded in embedding its forces in certain communities in Oromia, and it would be reasonable to assume that the TPLF wants to flush these Oromo fighters by goading them into battles of its choosing. It is a clever move, but it doesn’t appear that the OLF is taking the bait.
The best defense is a good offense:
The principle of “the best defense is a good offense” has successfully been employed in many areas of life that are guided by strategic interactions between two or more actors. Whether it is sporting competitions, competitions for market, or more consequential human conflicts such as wars, players that prevail are often times those that strike first and knock their opponents off their game plan, forcing them to react. Successful war generals and strategic thinkers – including George Washington, Mao Zedong, Machiavelli and others – have utilized this principle with remarkable success.
The TPLF has used this adage throughout its existence – both in the military and the political arenas – initially against the fearsome Dergue, and later on against all opposition parties, including the OLF. In all the engagements I personally witnessed closely, for instance, the TPLF always seemed to relish the initiative to attack – often with surprising speed and agility – forcing its opponents to scramble to assume defensive positions, denying them opportunities to launch their own attacks. The surviving members of Dergue’s armed forces could speak more competently than I can about the efficacy of TPLF’s famed Qorexa tactics in the battle field.
With the OLF adapting to the aforementioned difficult geo-political realities in the Horn of Africa, and OLA likely getting deeply rooted in Oromia, the TPLF appears to have lost the strategic edge it has worked so hard to achieve and maintain. The Oromo Protests have exposed its weaknesses so unmistakably, sending a clear signal to potential partners or enemies, big or small, that the “dogs from Tigray” might have just been neutered and may not have potent bites anymore. Notice the most recent political developments in Somalia, South Sudan, the European Parliament, and even some corners of the US government – developments that mark that the ground has begun shifting from under the TPLF. Therefore, with no obvious OLF military camp it can attack, and a realization setting in among its senior ranks that its strategic opponent might have regrouped enough to start putting some non-trivial points on the board; the TPLF is undertaking unprovoked military aggressions against Oromo civilians in the east, the southeast, the south, and the west via its proxy paramilitary units, certain that the oppressive system it has built over the years cannot be sustained if it is perceived to have lost its mojo. Thus, its latest move is most likely a desperate attempt to send a signal to its friends and foes that it is in control and still calling the shots.
Attempting to ingratiate to the Oromo a Trojan-Horse named the OPDO:
One of the remarkable outcomes of the Oromo Protests was that it annihilated the intricate and oppressive state structure the TPLF had built in Oromia using the so-called Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), an outfit that was created by TPLF to rule and exploit the Oromo. The TPLF doesn’t stand a chance to rule Oromia without the OPDO serving the purpose for which it was invented. To reinstitute its tentacles throughout Oromia, therefore, the TPLF is employing a number of obvious and subtle strategies including the following: launching different initiatives meant to seduce the unemployed youth; promoting a few “educated” Oromo individuals to positions of power; and most importantly, undertaking moves that might ingratiate the OPDO to the Oromo. Lemma Megersa – the shiny-new telegenic puppet of the regime– is assigned a role of play-acting as the second coming of Tadesse Birru on TV, although he is little more than a pawn in a game being conducted behind his back against his own people.
If implemented properly, the unfolding strategy of unleashing the Liyu police on the Oromo would also contribute to the objective of endearing the OPDO to the Oromo to a certain extent. Here is a two-sentence script for this play: The TPLF invades the Oromo by using its proxies just enough to rile up the Oromo from coast-to-coast; then boom, the OPDO comes to the rescue, turning – contrary to reason and logic – into a “legitimate” Oromo organization that can protect the interests of its constituents. Arguably, this drama has thus far played out as planned by its authors, considering how many Oromo activists have fallen for this cruel scheme. Just because they uttered nationalistic soundbites on state TV, some members of the so-called Caffee Oromiyaa are being promoted as defenders of Oromo national interests by individuals who should know better, indicating that the Neo-Agazians might have achieved some of their short term objectives by making the OPDO an acceptable alternative to a segment of our traumatized population. The Oromo national trauma must be so deep that many mistake the enablers of their abusers for their saviors.
Breaking the thriving morale of the Oromo:
Events that have transpired in the last three years in Oromia – particularly the well-orchestrated massacre at the Irreechaa festival on October 2, 2016 and the ethnic cleansing operations being carried out against the Oromo of Hararge, Bale, Guji, Borana, and some parts of Wollega – are well-designed operations by TPLF aimed at, among other things, breaking the thriving morale of the Oromo and checking the rising tide of Oromo nationalism. The TPLF has always banked on riding Oromo nationalism that it believed could be manipulated at will to exploit Oromo resources, and utilized to engage in a campaign against the traditional and historical nemesis of Tigray – the Amhara elites. When this strategy failed – with the Oromo taking a heroic stand to challenge its monopoly of power and exploitation of their resources; and the Oromo and the Amhara showing some signs of solidarity, even if tactically – it resorted to a war of attrition against the Oromo, foolishly thinking that that would break the thriving morale of the Oromo and put the genie back in the bottle.
For those capable of discerning the zeitgeist in contemporary Ethiopia, however, the writing on the wall is unmistakable: Oromo nationalism has prevailed against all odds – thanks to the sacrifices of countless precious Oromo children – and will continue to develop at a pace determined largely by the dialectics within Oromo society. No amount of treacherous designs by the current rulers of Ethiopia, or the ill-will of those who wish to dismantle it, can derail it from its current auspicious trajectory.
Avenging for the loss it has sustained politically, diplomatically, and financially due to Oromo Protests:
As stated earlier, the Oromo Protests have inflicted heavy losses – politically, diplomatically, and financially – on the TPLF from which it will never recover. Although this is not how smart strategic players are supposed to conduct themselves in high-stakes political games, I can’t put it beyond the realm of possibility that avenging for these losses might just be one of the motivating factors for the dangerous course the TPLF has chosen recently. To the extent that the Neo-Agazians are disposed towards having a sense of entitlement to the political and economic power they are currently enjoying undeservedly (there are plenty of evidences indicating that this might be the case), their lashing out against the Oromo – a nation that has effectively foiled their long-term objective of developing Tigray at the expense of Oromia – should not be unexpected.
In summary, the TPLF is a severely wounded entity that is running out of options faster than most so-called experts of the Horn of Africa anticipated. There will not be any measure it will not pursue in order to stay in power for as long as it is feasible. For now, Abay Tsehay and co. are using Abdi Iley and his UK-financed killing-squads as a “Hail Mary pass” to see if that could extricate the TPLF out of its desperate situation. The OLF is expected to execute its game plan with discipline, focusing on the real prize, disregarding the white noise coming out of the diaspora in the virtual space.
Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, Canada has expressed solidarity for #OromoProtests.
The OACC is alarmed by the unsettling grave situation transpiring in Oromia today. Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, the TPLF has hit a new low. The revival and strengthening of Oromo protest over the last two years had shaken the TPLF/EPRDF regime to its core. Even though it has by and large installed military administration using the so called State of Emergency declaration, the TPLF knows that this is a temporary fix that cannot stop the impending Oromo uprising. The regime has realized that it cannot quell the Oromo movement and rule as before.
Therefore, in addition to its old tactic of dividing the Oromo within itself, the regime has now devised and rolled out a new tactic aimed at averting the Oromo rage from itself to a new foe it is fabricating for the Oromos. This new tactic is instigating conflict between the Oromo and all its neighbors. In the last few months, the regime has partially succeeded in one area. In using the puppet Somali regional state, that has committed untold atrocities against its own people, TPLF has declared war and annexed some Oromia territories to Somalia region.
As a result of the terroristic and violent action of the notorious semi criminal roving band called Liyu Police, to date more than two-hundred Oromos are killed and many more hundreds are maimed, and thousands of goats and chattels are looted from the people. In addition, thousands are evicted from their land and homes. The Liyu Police, with the blessing of the Ethiopia government, is today occupying significant part of Oromia. Unless stopped immediately, this has a great consequence for the future territorial integrity of Oromia.
Evidence is coming out that the regular TPLF army members are not only participating in the Liyu Police raids against the Oromo population, but are also leading it from behind. One of the fundamental functions of any government is to keep peace and stability. In Ethiopia, the irony is that it is the government that foments conflict and instability.
The Oromo and Somali population should not fall prey to this malicious TPLF tactic of divide and rule. There is no enmity between the Oromo and Somali population. They should rather be wise and stand together and fight this cancerous regime that is becoming the source of all conflict in the country.
Unless and until it is removed from power, it should definitely be expected that the TPLF will concoct similar conflicts between the Oromo and other ethnic groups. Thus, it’s incumbent on the Oromo population to keep vigilant and guard against such political machinations.
It is only the lack of strong Oromo government and the division between the Oromos that has made Oromia vulnerable and to be overrun by any force at will. And it’s only the concerted effort of the Oromo population, in alliance with all peace loving peoples of Ethiopia, that can put an end to this troubling situation.
Today, it is the Somali militia, and tomorrow, unless we are prepared, it’s going to be militia forces from other regions that are going to occupy and slaughter our defenseless and forsaken population with impunity. Therefore, it is high time that all Oromos, including those in the government who still have a little nationalism left in them, come together, strengthen their unity, and confront this dangerous situation in unison.
This is a national issue that should worry every Oromo irrespective of any political and any other differences. At this crucial stage of our people’s struggle, it’s especially incumbent on Oromo political organizations, by taking into account the gravity of the situation, to close their gap more than any other time, and lead our people to the final victory.
Oromo-American Citizens Council (OACC) is a Minnesota non-profit organization established and functioning since 2002. We are made up of Oromo-Americans and others who are concerned about Oromo issues. Among others, we advocate for equal rights of Oromos in Ethiopia, expose human rights violations, and help initiate dialogue and reconciliation among various Ethiopian groups.
The Ethiopian Somali Liyu Police led by the Ethiopian Federal government’s killing squad have been engaged in a cruel war for the past six months against the Oromo nation in fifteen districts of Oromia. The Oromia districts that have been invaded by the two aforementioned forces are in east and east- west Hararge Zone, Eastern Oromia, Guji, Borana and Bale, South Oromia zones, Southern Oromia of Oromia Regional State.
Somali Liyu Police Invading Southern Oromia
The Ethiopian Federal government, which in theory has a state duty and a responsibility to bring peace and harmony among the nations and nationalities in the country, is actually engaged in instigating a war between the Ethiopian Somali and Oromo nations. High casualties have been registered on both sides in the past six months. Hundreds of Ethiopian Somali Liyu Police led by the Federal government’s killing squad have entered into Oromia villages, attacked and killed and abducted hundreds of Oromos and looted properties; over 750 goats, ships, and camels were taken.
According to the HRLHA informants, the Oromia Regional State nominal administrative leaders, including Lema Megersa- the president- turned a blind eye while the citizens they claimed to be governing have been killed, abducted, and displaced from their lands and villages and dehumanized by the warriors of the Ethiopian Somali Liyu Police led by the Federal government of Ethiopa’s killing squad.
Recently, the invasion into Oromia has expanded into the western part of Oromia Regional State. The Federal government force in Gambela crossed into West Wallaga, Oromia Regional State villages and displaced thousands of Oromos in Qelem Zone of Anfillo and Yatii districts. The HRLHA informants also disclosed that the Ethiopian Killing squad force is on intensive training on the western side of Oromia regional state boundary in Benshangul regional state preparing to invade Oromo villages in the western part of Wallaga zone of Oromia Regional State.
During the recent skirmish between Liyu Police and Oromo people on February 23, 2017, in Bale, Sawena district at Qilessa village Southern Oromia, 19 Oromos were killed and 13 wounded. In the same fight, 35 were killed and 50 wounded from the Ethiopian Somali Liyu Police invaders by Oromo civilian resistance force.
According to the HRLHA informants, the total casualties in connection with the invasion by the Ethiopian -Somali Liyu Police led by the Federal government’s killing squad in Oromia Zones of Guji, Borana, Bale and east and west Hararge zones caused the deaths of over 200 Oromos and injured over 150 and many were abducted and taken to Somali Region. The report from our informants also confirmed Oromo self-defense civilians killed over 260 invaders, members of Liyu police and Ethiopian Federal Killing squads, and injured many others.
This meaningless and reckless action by the Ethiopian Federal government will destabilize the region in general and Ethiopia in particular.
It is clear that the Ethiopian Federal government is demonstrating its hidden agenda- to eliminate the Oromo nation under the pretext of boundary conflict between nations and nationalities. During the Oromo self-defense attack against Somali Liyu Police, many invaders were killed and others injured. This shows that the plan to invade Oromia in all directions may lead to a civil war, which suggests that the Federal Government of Ethiopia is deliberately plotting to cause a war among nations and nationalities in the country.
Ethiopians have been under extreme repression ever since October 8, 2016- a State of Emergency in fact. The Ethiopian government has used a state of emergency in order to kill, imprison and abduct citizens from their homes and workplaces in Oromia and Amhara regional states. During the past four months- under the State of Emergency- over 70,000 Oromos, including pregnant women, seniors and underage children have been taken to concentration camps in Xolay, Zubway, Didessa, Huriso and other places. There, they have been tortured, exposed to communicable diseases and malnutrition from which hundreds have died.
The cause of the civilian unrest in Ethiopia during the past two years was the marginalization of the citizens from the political and fair distribution of their economic resources; they have also been evicted from their ancestral lands without consultation and compensation. Evictions from the land around the city of Addis Ababa after the declaration of ” The Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan”- evictions which have confronted by the Oromo nation from all walks of lives and have caused the deaths of over 2000 Oromos by the federal government sniper force Agazi- still continue. In the Month of February over 200 People have been displaced by the government and their lands have been taken. Every day a number of people are detained all over Oromia and Amhara regional States and tortured.
Today, over ten million Ethiopians are daily exposed to hunger and poverty while the Ethiopian government has invested billions of dollars of foreign aid in training killing squads to kill its own people, claiming that Ethiopians were not dying from hunger and poverty.
A call on International Communities:
The HRLHA once again renews its calls to the international community to act collectively in a timely and decisive manner to request the Ethiopian government to stop instigating war among the Nations and nationalities in Ethiopia, a situation that could easily lead to civil war.
The HRLHA further requests that members of the UN Human Rights Council urge the Ethiopian government to allow the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteurs to visit the country to assess the human rights situations of political prisoners and others in detention centers all over the country
The HRLHA calls upon major donor governments, including the USA, UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Australia to make sure that their aid money is not used to train the Ethiopian Government’s killing squads to dehumanize the citizens of Ethiopia
The US Department of State WASHINGTON, D.C. HEADQUARTERS
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Washington, D.C. 20520
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“Injustice Anywhere Is A Threat To Justice Everywhere. We Are Caught In An Inescapable Network Of Mutuality, Tied In A Single Garment Of Destiny. Whatever Affects One Directly, Affects All Indirectly.” Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, 16 April 1963, USA
The TPLF Never Quashes the Oromo Revolution.
The Oromo nation’s new waves of struggle against the ongoing oppression began in October 2015, is continuing unabated; despite the imposition of state of emergency by TPLF’s ruthless regime since October 2016. Several hundreds of Oromo civilians have been summarily executed on monthly basis ever since; and to date hundreds are getting slaughtered by TPLF’s terrorizing agents known as ‘Agi-azi’, in addition to Ogaden Sumali Liyu militia, the national army and security forces. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of Oromo civilians are rounded up and taken to various torturing chambers all over the country; where the prisons of the country mainly entertain Oromo prisoners – to the extent where people assume that the language of all prisons in Ethiopia became Affan Oromo. The Oromo’s prominent opposition figures such as Baqala Garbaa and Professor Marara Gudina among hundreds of thousands of Oromo prisoners remain unlawfully incarcerated. Therefore, the Oromo’s current revolution is the outcome of over century old grievances resulted from deep-seated injustice imposed on the nation by successive Ethiopian rulers including the current TPLF’s ruthless regime.
Therefore, the aim of the Oromo nation’s new form of struggle is not about demanding the regime to answer their mysterious, unrealistic and alien quests. To the contrary, the Oromo nation unanimously rose to unconditionally demand its Waqaa, Allah, Magano, Yahweh, Egiziabher (God-given) unalienable rights to decent life, liberty, freedom of choice and self-determination, the pursuit of happiness and dignity; all denied to the nation by this regime for the last 26 years. The Oromo nation as the rest nations and peoples of Ethiopia is demanding ‘Nothing More, Nothing Less’.
Furthermore, the Oromo nation as the rest peoples of Ethiopian is demanding the current TPLF’s terrorist regime to stop the ongoing exploitation of their vast resources and economy, displacements of millions of Oromo peasants from their ancestral lands and livelihood (to vacate it for TPLF’s military commanders and its collaborators to trade with it under the pretext of elusive investment and fake development). The Oromo is demanding its denied rights to be unconditionally restored.
Sadly, the response of TPLF’s ruthless regime to date remain live bullet and mass incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Oromo civilians where inhumane treatments in various prisons is extreme. To make the situation worst, the current deployment of Ogaden Liyu militia (Agi’Azi within it) to massacre the Oromo people from East to South Ogaden neighboring areas is demonstrating the virulent nature of TPLF’s brutal regime to the Oromo nation in particular, to the rest peoples and nations of Ethiopia in general. Lessons the peoples of Ethiopia have learnt thus far are evident that this regime never respect its own constitution which vehemently denounces (at least on paper) its harrowing actions to unarmed civilians. Wholly disregarding its constitution, the regime remains responding all quests of the Oromo, Ogaden Sumali, Sidama, Amhara, Konso, Gambella, Benshangul and the rest peoples and nations of Ethiopia with live bullet and unprecedented level of brutality since it has assumed power in May 1991.
The West and Their Hypocrisy
Overwhelmingly occupied with jungle mentality of over four decades, to date the TPLF’s architects resorted to responding to any peaceful quests of the subjects with brutality and cruelty of unheard proportion in Empire’s history. The military commanders of the TPLF, blatantly terrorize unarmed civilians in front of the oblivious Western diplomats whose mouths remain zipped when vested interests’ posse eerie silence. Whilst the said oblivious diplomats watching in front of their noses, the TPLF’s killing machines who are mainly trained and equipped with modern snipers by the USA, France, the UK and some other EU countries military and security personnel, summarily execute the unarmed Oromo, Ogadenia, Amhara, Gambella, Konso, Sidama and the rest peoples of various nations. Obliviously, regardless, they pore aid money to date. To have such confidence in executing unarmed civilians and mass arresting tens of thousands of civilians, the TPLF’s politicians often receive tacit agreement from their surreptitiously watching Western sponsors who always pay deaf ears and blind eyes to the suffering of the majority of stakeholders.
West’s politicians, particularly during the era of Tony Blair’s Premiership, when once TPLF’s late leader PM Meles Zenawi, was regarded as their darling; the West has tacitly given him outright authority to do whatever he wishes on his subjects as long he runs their agenda in the horn. This has been obliviously reinforced by the repeated visits of the USA’s, Germany’s and UK’s leaders and high level officials including last year’s visit of the USA’s former president, Barak Obama. Their Medias remain as oblivious as their politicians, whilst wasting their time talking about the ailing Robert Mugabe, instead.
Due to the above geopolitical interests of the West and concomitant silence in the face of unfolding executions, the TPLF ruthless regime became bold, callously, blunt, confident, unrepentant and stubbornly determined to assure the subservience of the majority to its barbaric rule. Particularly, with this end, it is the Oromo nation to be mainly focused upon, the Amhara standing the second in the queue. The ultimate reasons why the Tigrean regime is focusing on brutalizing the Oromo nation is twofold. The first is the Oromo’s economic importance for its plan of exponentially increasing the capacity of their domestic and international bank accounts. Those, TPLF’s military commanders, once who were penniless when they occupied Finfinnee (Addis Ababa), over quarter of a century ago, now become multimillionaires by looting, primarily the wealth of the Oromo nation as the region has got vast resources including immense minerals and abundant cash crops; as Oromia remains their primary cash cow. The second reason is the Oromo’s being major single entity in Ethiopia. Hence, unless the regime, divides and silences the Oromo nation and the second largest nation of Ethiopia, the Amhara, TPLF knows that its survival will be at stake. Cognizant of this, the regime leaves no stone unturned to humiliate and silence the Oromo nation primarily and the Amhara secondly.
III. TPLF’s Erroneous Belief That the Smouldering Fire Has Been Extinguished.
It’s imperative that TPLF believes that, it has accomplished its tasks after the imposition of state of emergency. Gullible belief, as far as the situations in Oromia and Amhara regions are concerned. The fire is steadily Smouldering. The same is true in all regions. Moreover, TPLF particularly believes that its infamous quislings have silenced the 4th and 5th largest nations of the county, the Sidama and Ogaden Sumali. In the cases of both Sidama and Ogadenia, this is the case simply because it uses notorious cadres of the country known for their barbaric actions against their own people whilst implementing TPLF’s agenda in their respective regions although in Ogaden, the ONLF is fiercely fighting the enslaving regime. The hideous personalities include, the infamous ‘Shiferaw Shigute’ who has worked hard to humiliate the Sidama nation time and again whilst facilitating, and committed crimes against the Sidama people in addition to his major roles in displacing tens of thousands of Sidama peasants from their ancestral lands by leaving them destitute. Abdi Mohammed Omar of the Ogaden Sumali (regional puppet president), who is known for his viciousness and blood thirsty nature as his Sidama counterpart, is responsible for the death and incarceration of tens of thousands of Sumali civilians. This is the wicked puppet who is overseeing the official commanding aspect of Ogaden Liyu militia under the watchful eyes of TPLF’s generals, whilst implementing the current massacre of the Oromo civilians from east to south east. The two notorious cadres known for their both barbarism and moronic nature, are instrumental in dehumanizing their own peoples and beyond. Besides, the Smouldering fire in Oromia and beyond won’t be extinguished until it successfully achieves its objectives.
Is the Division of Oromo Diaspora Playing Against the Oromo’s Interests?
If a herd of buffalo remain united creating fence like defense, stands its grounds and doesn’t run away from its predators, none of them could be easily devoured. However, once a herd loses its ground, frightened, panicked and start to run away, natural separation occurs -thereby become an easy prey. We human beings are not different. If we are united and defy any oppression, no oppressor on planet will be able to enslave his/her subjects. Nowhere on planet, oppression has been successful unless the subjects are divided, manipulated and mentally defeated to allow themselves to be enslaved. This has been the case during the era of European colonization of Africa and the rest parts of the world; and it is the case as we speak all over the world. This has been the case in human history since mankind began a socially organized life. Yet, failing to assert such simple analogues, we fail time and again. We make the same mistakes repeatedly. This can be the case, when we are less aware of or our ego overrides the needs of our downtrodden groups of society for whom we may claim, are ready to sacrifice our lives, whilst quashing their dream as we continue bickering on little issues.
Finally, I dare to be bold (although I might be told it’s none of my business), on the fact that, the division and subdivision of Oromo Diaspora and opposition groups for minor issue is playing to the advantage of the TPLF’s ruthless regime. The division of the Oromo Diaspora is allowing to the regime to buy time. The Oromo players must stop, rethink and act quickly to save the situation before it gets out of control, thereby, elongate the suffering of the Oromo people those who are paying ultimate sacrifices with their precious lives day and night. If we remain as stubborn as we seem now, let all of us not forget that we’re committing inexcusable historical error. Humbly, I remotely believe that any Oromo wants this to be the case. Therefore, it’s now, the right time to act.
The Silence of The Sidama Nation Must Come to An End!
The relationship of Oromo and Sidama nations is much deeper than mere solidarity, one might entertain as a temporary show case only benefiting politico-diplomatic gesture. Both Kush brothers share deeper unity in several ways. Their view of the world around them and beyond, their perception of justice and equality as well as governance under egalitarian systems ‘Gadaa and Luwa’, their religious belief are of similar nature, not only they are of similar stock. The Sidama and the Oromo nation share numerous attributes- not exhaustively such as cultural and psychological as well as socio-economic. Their being are closely intertwined in such a manner that, sometimes becomes indistinguishable. If one studies the Arusi and Bale Oromo and traditional Sidama society, their stark similarities are unprecedented.
Moreover, Oromo and Sidama nations’ resistance movements predate the creation of the current barbaric incumbent, TPLF. Since Hailesilassie and prior to the latter, including during the Abyssinian king, Menelik II, Oromo and Sidama nation have shared both bad and good times together. They have been in quest for their liberty and freedom taken away from them together. Both nation are the victims of the current injustice. Whilst the Tigreans were part and parcels of the subjugating empire, the solidarity of the Sidama and Oromo has been there. Therefore, at this critical moment in the history of the Oromo nation, while its sons and daughters are gunned-down in broad day lights by Tigrean barbaric regime; to me as a principled Sidama man, the current uncustomary silence of the nation is extremely unsettling. Thus, I urge the Sidama nation to rise and walk shoulder to shoulder with its Oromo brothers and sisters. The propaganda of the regime conveyed and enforced through notorious ‘Shiferaw Shigute’ network, evidently, so far has confused the Sidama nation. Such deceitful propaganda should be critically considered and scrutinized to be eventually regurgitated. There is no excuse, for the current silence, thus I reiterate that, the Sidama must stand with its Oromo cousins and disallow its land from being used by the TPLF’s brutal regime, to incarcerate and torture Oromo brothers and sisters, old and young alike.
The Unity of All Peoples of Ethiopia Is Paramount to Dismantle Brutal TPLF.
Having a meticulously planned objective; using violence, assassination, massacres, land confiscation and expropriation of the entire wealth of the country, for the last 26 years, the TPLF’s regime has demonstrated its virulence to all peoples of the country. Not only to the other peoples, it has also shown its hideous nature to its own people to achieve its objectives. A good example could be drawn from its barbaric action when it has masterminded the massacre in ‘Hawzen’ market place where hundreds of Tigray civilians have been mercilessly bombed by the fighter jet coordinated by TPLF. Its action was planned to blame on its predecessors to gain international sympathy. Therefore, the TPLF’s regime has time again shown its barbarism and viciousness to all peoples of the country. The solution, thus is needing a strategic unity, maintaining differences as they are, until we get rid of this ruthless regime. The current revolution started by gallant Oromo nation is serving as a vehicle to achieve such objectives, thus shouldn’t be aborted by the brutal crackdown on a peaceful and purpose-driven Oromo youth and the entire nation.
All peoples of Ethiopia need to synchronize their struggle, temporarily leaving their petty differences aside, until this bestial regime is brought down to its knees. We must, rethink our actions before we rush into entertaining petty differences whilst men and women, youth and old citizens are gunned-down in broad day light in all parts of the country. None of us can afford continuing in such heartless and soulless manner; if we genuinely aspire the emaciation of our nations and peoples from over a quarter of a century subjugation and brutality of unprecedented scale. The time is today. Let’s move with strategic togetherness before it’s too late.
Denboba Natie, (my opinion not of my political party or alliance)
Several members of Ethiopia’s Somali region’s Liyu special police were reportedly killed by armed locals on 14 February in Gursum district, Oromia region, allegedly in response to recent raids into the area by these security forces, according to Ethiopian opposition media. Locals also seized unspecified amounts of police ammunition and weapons during the violence.
Earlier in February, both an Oromia government official and an Oromo opposition party had claimed Somali regional police involvement in recent cattle raids, looting, and killings in Oromia’s East Haraghe (which includes Gursum), Bale, Guji, and Borena zones.
Complicity by the Ethiopian government, dominated by its Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) wing, in these raids would most likely be part of a strategy designed to prevent the formation of a cross-ethnic domestic opposition and marginalise the ethnic-Oromo opposition ahead of the scheduled end of the state of emergency in April.
Jane’s Defence Weekly (abbreviated as JDW) is a weekly magazine reporting on military and corporate affairs, edited by Peter Felstead. It is one of a number of military-related publications named after John F. T. Jane, an Englishman who first published Jane’s All the World’s Fighting Ships in 1898. It is a unit of Jane’s Information Group, which was purchased by IHS in 2007. The magazine has a large circulation and is frequently cited in publications worldwide
It is well known that areas in eastern and southern Oromia are already hit by drought and weakened. The people are deprived of water and food by the government and there is no adequate humanitarian assistance in the region. Using this opportunity, the paramilitary forces of the fascist Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) regime, Agazi and Liyu Police, are deployed alongside the border of Oromia and Ogaden region committing massacres. In the past four weeks alone, the Liyu Police slaughtered more than 200 innocent Oromo people. These paramilitary forces are engaged in ethnic cleansing through armed attacks against unarmed Oromo civilians, women and children. The barbaric Agazi and Liyu Police are burning down villages, displacing thousands of people from their ancestral land, and carry out pillage in several districts of Oromia, for instance Qumbii, Cinaaksan, Gursum, Mayyuu Mulluqqee, Miidhagaa Lolaa, Odaa Diimaa, and Hara Funaanni. It is to be remembered that, since 2008, the Liyu Police have committed similar massacres in villages in Hararge province of eastern Oromia repeatedly. These are undertaken by the Somali regional state Liyu Police under the Tigrayan fascist regime’s direction and instruction. The Liyu Police has been committing attacks on civilians in several villages in Ogaden region itself. The TPLF, spearheaded by the Liyu Police, had already committed genocide in Ogaden region, which is well documented by international human rights groups, including Genocide Watch. Now, the TPLF has unleashed the abusive force on Oromia with the pretext of the state of emergency it declared to crash a peaceful protest.
The situation in Ethiopia has been declared by some bloggers (see for instance Prof Chris Blattman) as the most under-reported conflict in the world right now. This is rather true. Though some media outlets reported on the recent political turmoil in Ethiopia, such as some German press in the context of the recent visit of Chancellor Merkel to Addis Ababa, generally very little has been reported on the unrest.
Already in November 2015, the first protests against the Ethiopian Government unfolded in the Oromia region when the government wanted to expand the margins of the city of Addis. As this implied the resettlement of the local Oromo population -the largest ethnic group in the country- this was seen as a further expression of political and economic marginalisation.
The situation calmed down a little over spring 2016 and erupted again in the summer when the Amhara people in the North started anti-government protests. The military was deployed and further unrest unfolded again in the Oromia region – and for the first time an alliance between the Oromo and the Amhara was built. Since November 2015, at least 500 people have been killed by security forces and tens of thousands have been arrested, according to Human Rights Watch. What started as a protest against the expansion of Addis turned into an expression of general dissatisfaction with the government’s authoritarianism and lack of political and economic participation for more than two and a half decades.
On 9th October, the Ethiopian Government declared the state of emergency for the first time in 25 years. This was after more than fifty people died at a religious festival of the Oromo people close to Addis. A week after, further details on the state of emergency were made public. Now, the government can arrest and detain for six months (the duration of the emergency state) any person breaching emergency laws and conduct searches without a court warrant. There are now severe restrictions to the freedom of assembly and protest, and any communication with foreign governments or foreign NGOs “that is likely to harm sovereignty, security, and constitutional order” (translation provided by Horn Affairs) as well as any communication with “anti-peace groups” is prohibited. Moreover, the Government can monitor and restrict “messages transmitted” through different sorts of media outlets. This is reflected in cutting off the internet via the mobile network for two months – a major internet access route in Ethiopia – as well as the similar disconnections for social media.
Shortly after declaring the state of emergency (on 15th October), the Ethiopian Government also announced reforms, including changes to the electoral system from ‘first past the post’ to a proportional system. A change of cabinet has already taken place and tackling corruption has been declared a priority.
So why are these developments in Ethiopia the most under-reported conflict of the world, to stay with the initial phrase?
To reiterate: Ethiopia is experiencing political unrest over an extended period of time and the state of emergency has been declared for the first time in 25 years. This should be reason enough to report on the situation, but there is more: Ethiopia has the second largest population in Africa with nearly 100million inhabitants, only topped by Nigeria. Secondly, Ethiopia’s GDP grew rapidly over the last few years at a rate of 9.6% in 2015. Thirdly, Ethiopia is considered as a bulwark against Jihadist Islamist movements in the Horn of Africa. Despite recently retreating some forces, Ethiopia has sent it troops to fight al-Shabab – the official al-Qaeda branch in Somalia.
These economic and security features of Ethiopia are at the same time a factor, if not the main reason why the West reports so little on the current political situation. Though the low coverage of Ethiopia is also related to the fact that other issues happen in the world and dominate Western media, the situation in Syria and Trump’s election to name a few. It is likely that Ethiopia’s importance to the West heavily contributed to the lack of coverage. Looking at the ever increasing Official Development Assistance (ODA) levels to Ethiopia by Western states, most notably the US and the UK, it seems as if the West buys into two arguments of the Ethiopian Government: political participation and democratic rights are less important than Ethiopia’s economic development and regional stability in the fight against terrorism. This is also reflected in the US and UK’s national focus on the ‘war on terror’ and their own balancing of national security in relation to human rights. A similar dynamic exists with regard to the World Banks and other donor priorities of poverty reduction over issues of political governance when they decide on Ethiopia’s ODA levels.
Though it has to be mentioned that the US, amongst others, expressed that they were ‘deeply concerned’ over the situation in Ethiopia, actions speak louder than words. It needs to be seen whether or not Western ODA levels continue to grow. And in the same manner, we should report on whether or not the Ethiopian Government will really deliver on its reform promises.
Ethiopia: War Crimes Against the Oromo Nation in Ethiopia
HRLHA Urgent Action 22nd January 2017
The Oromo nation is under severe coordinated internal and external attacks by TPLF/EPRDF- sponsored mechanized killing squads. In the past three months, since the state of emergency was declared on October 8, 2016, the Ethiopian TPLF/EPRDF government has deployed its killing squad Agazi force all over Oromia and massacred over 1200 Oromo youths, mothers and fathers in their homes and in the streets, imprisoned tens of thousands, committed rape, and disappeared other thousands . Over seventy thousand Oromos from all walks of life have been arbitrarily detained- under the pre-text of rehabilitation (Tehadiso)- picked up from their homes, workplaces, streets and taken to concentration Camps of Xolya, Huriso, Diddessa and also to unidentified concentration camps. In these concentration camps, tens of thousands Oromos have suffered and died from torture, communicable diseases, and malnutrition without receiving medical treatment.
The external attacks have been perpetuated against Oromos by TPLF/EPRDF trained special force (Liyu Police) from the Somali regional state in the eastern boundary. The Liyu Police is a special killing squad of the TPLF/EPRDF government in the Ogaden Region, a group established in 2008 under the pretext of protecting the people of the region from the opposition political organization, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) fighting for the self determination of Somali people in Ethiopia.
The Liyu police has routinely conducted heinous massacres in Ogaden villages ever since its formation and committed genocide against its own family members in the past eight years.
According to The Guardian, published Thursday, 10 January 2013 , millions of pounds of Britain’s foreign aid budget were spent on training an Ethiopian paramilitary security force that stands accused of numerous human rights abuses and summary executions. The Guardian has also mentioned in its news that an internal Department for International Development document formed part of a tender to train security forces in the Somali region of Ogaden, as part of a five-year £13m–15m “peace-building” program has recently been discovered.
In its Urgent Action on May 2013 HRLHA reported that the Liyu Police had illegally crossed into Oromia in 2013 and attacked the defenceless people; 700 different types of cattle and other valuable possessions were reported to have been looted and over 20,000 Oromos from Rasa Harre, Marfata, Qillee, Mulqee, Dirraa, Waldayyaa, Biqqoo and Libee community fled to the highland areas in Eastern Hararge Zone.
Since then, the TPLF/EPRDF- sponsored Liyu Police periodically has repeatedly attacked the neighboring Oromia districts in Bale, in Eastern Harge zones. The attack of the Liyu police has escalated into invasions all over Oromia’s neighboring districts multiple times in the past one and half months.
According to the HRLHA informants, this is the part of internal and external coordinated plan of TPLF /EPRDF government to totally eliminate the Oromo nation by using paramilitary Liyu Police. (synonym for Janjaweed militia which loosely translates to ‘devils on horseback’) . Janjaweed militia were group of killers deployed by Sudan government against the Darfur people in 2003 in which over 480,000 people were massacared and over 2.8 million have been displace)
Acording to the report we received from our informants, overr 150 Oromos have been killed and many wounded during the war between Liyu Police and the Oromo civilian in Gursum, Qunbi, Babile, Chiksan, Gursum, and Jarso (Eastern Hararge), Seweyena, Meda Welabu, Dawe Sarariti and Raytu (Bale Zone), Liban and Laga Dawa (Guji Zone), Funanagrsu and Elele (Borana Zone) of Oromia.
The TPLF/EPRDF is committing war crimes against the Oromo nation by deploying its highly trained killing squads from the internal Agazi Force and by the external Liyu Police funded by foreign governments. The World Community should not remain silent and witness when such systematic war crimes are taking place against the Oromo Nation in Ethiopia, crimes that are similar to those committed in Rwanda and Darfur.
The TPLF government and the TPLF surrogate and the so- called Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) must be held accountable by the world community for their systematic war crimes against the Oromos.
The 2003/2004 Genocide against Darfur in Sudan is a striking lesson; the people there were killed indiscriminately and, more sadly, the perpetrators would go unpunished until it culminated in a full genocide. What is happening in Oromia regional state today resembles more or less what happened at the embryonic stage of the Darfur genocide in Sudan.
Even the AU, whose headquarters is in the center of Oromia/Addis Ababa, remain actionless after thousands of Oromo children, seniors, men and women have been massacred by the TPLF/EPRDF killing squads in the past year. The donor governments such as the USA, the UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia and government agencies (African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, EU Human Rights Commission and UN Human Rights Council) have not found the courage to take concrete action, other than expressing their concerns. Such inaction doesn’t reflect the AU’s and the UN’s obligation under their own Constitutive Act, which provides for intervention inside a member state against genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
This is a cosmopolitan ideal of protecting people inside states against mass atrocities as a matter of common obligation. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P), coined in 2001 under the leadership of the Canadian government and adopted by 150 heads of states and governments in 2005, obliges the international community to intervene to stop atrocities.
As a matter of principle, a state shoulders the primary responsibility to prevent and protect its own citizens against horrific acts, but if it is unable or unwilling to prevent and protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, the responsibility is thus shifted to the international community. The R2P states, “ when a state is unable or unwilling to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, the international community has the responsibility to intervene”.
Today, one critical question on everyone’s lips is whether the United Nations is living up to its mandate, more particularly, of maintaining international peace and security. Amid ongoing human rights crises in Ethiopia it is hard to figure out what exactly the UN & AU have done to uphold their responsibilities. Nevertheless, it is not too late to act today.
For the Ethiopian human rights crisis, two ways can be helpful in restoring peace and stability. In this, the international communities and agencies (AU, EU & UN) can play a decisive role:
Major donor governments, including the USA, the UK & Canada, Sweden, Norway and Australia should stop funding the authoritarian TPLF/EPRDF government
Put pressure on the TPLF/EPRDF government to allow neutral investigators to probe into the human rights crisis in the country as the precursor to international community intervention
The HRLHA therefore calls, yet again, upon the international community to act collectively in a timely and decisive manner – through the UN Security Council and in accordance with the UN charter on a case-by – case basis to stop the human tragedy in Oromia.
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The Ethiopian empire was founded not based on the will of its nations and nationalities. It was formed by force by elites from the north with help of the European powers. Since its formation, Ethiopia has never respected the interests of other nationalities in the empire. Today, as in the past, the empire is serving only elites from the Tigray, particularly TPLF and members of its pseudo organizations, while majority of ordinary people from other nationalities, particularly the Oromos, are languishing under its tyranny. Subsequently, the economic, socio-cultural and political exploitations have continued unabated. Tired of such tyranny, the Oromo revolutionaries and the youth has stepped up an uprising that has engulfed the entire nation since 2014. Though the responses of the TPLF security forces were brutal, killing hundreds of peaceful protesters and detaining tens of thousands, the protest has continued and even expanded to the Amhara regional state and to the southern Nations and Nationalities regional state.
Desperate to control the people’s uprising, TPLF first declared a command post rule and then a state of emergency. However, neither of the command post nor the state of emergency has stopped the protest as TPLF hopes. Today, there is no political order in the country especially in Oromia and Amhara regional states. Failed to control the situation in the country, TPLF and its pseudo allies used various strategies to silence people’s quest for freedom and democracy. Since clinch on power, TPLF has been instigating a conflict along national and religion lines. Interestingly, after selfinstigating conflict using its undercover security agents, often it presents itself as a mediator while supporting one group with all sorts of logistics up to militarization. Subsequently, TPLF uses this self-instigated conflict as a propaganda on its statecontrol media to tell the people that TPLF is the best, perhaps the only, remedy for the state to continue as a nation. These are among the strategies that this minority group uses to stay on power. Contrary to this fact the TPLF and its dictatorial rule that are destroying the integrity of the country it claims to maintain.
In Oromia, there are countless instances where TPLF intentionally created a conflict between Oromos and other ethnic groups such as Somali. The current “Oromo -Somali conflict” in East and west Hararge, Bale, Borena and Guji zones seem unique in its nature from previous incidents. A well-trained special police forces (aka Liyu police) solely composed of ethnic Somalis are the fore front of the conflict. This conflict, perhaps a war, has been going on for now three weeks and hundreds of innocent Oromo people have been killed by this special police forces.
Although these special forces are composed of carefully selected ethnic Somalis, it is commanded by a TPLF general Abrhaa Qurater and is also enforced by TPLF Agazi Special Force. The Ethiopian government, as usual, is trying to divert this war as if it is just a conflict between Oromo and Somali farmers. Unlike previous conflicts, this is a large-scale war encompassing East and West Hararge, Bale, Borena and Gujii zones. It is also worth noting here that this Somali special forces are trained by Britain for a so called counter insurgency. The UK- and US-governments also finance the training and supported with all the logistics, which are now murdering innocent Oromo farmers in the East, south-east and southern Oromia bordering the Somali regional state. The TPLF government is using this special police forces, trained supposedly for counter insurgency, to raid just unarmed Oromo farmers. It not a simple conflict to ransack cattle and camels, as TPLF tried to present, however, it a war of ethnic cleansing by a well-trained police forces. Not only those directly involved in the war but also those who trained and armed them will be responsible for such atrocity on hundreds of innocent people.
Our people are fighting back with what they have, but one should note that these are a well-trained and armed forces. Thus, they need support from all Oromos in Oromia and across the globe. This is the time that we standup for the right cause, and show our support for those in dire need, putting aside our little differences. Thus, we call upon all Oromo in Oromia and in diaspora to stand with those who are facing the TPLF special forces with bare hand. The only ever lasting solution we have at stake now is to remove TPLF from power for once and for all. This is possible only when we all united and act as one people for one goal, remove TPLF, the killer of our people. We also call upon all Oromos who are currently serving at various posts in police and military camps of the TPLF to turn their weapons against the enemy of your people.
Those who supported the TPLF killing machinery financially as well as in logistics will not escape from accountability. Thus, we call upon the Western governments, specially the government of USA and UK who financially sponsored the training of such killing machinery should immediately withdraw their support and held the TPLF government accountable for all the killings and destruction. Finally, we would like to call upon all people in Ethiopian to stand together to bring an end to the TPLF tyranny.
Victory to the Oromo people!
Oromo Liberation Front
January 21, 2017
(Ayyaantuu News):There has been frequent, but in fact subsequent, attacks launched by what is called the Liyu Police Force of the Somali Regional State on different districts of Oromia along the South, South east and east particularly along the Hararghe, Bale and Borana lowlands. More than 200 people are estimated to have been killed so far. The Liyu Police, as commanded by the psychopath Abdi Illey did repeatedly commit war crimes and crimes against humanity on civilians in the Ogaden region. Most of the units of the Liyu police are said to have been recruited from Illey’s own clan. After he established the murderous militia group and took the command and control of it, Mr. Illey has literally turned himself into a war lord. He never gives sh* about what the officials at the federal gov’t had to say. It’s even with in the public domain that he spitted on the face of the puppet prime minister HMD in Jigjiga while he was there as a ‘guest of honor’ during the celebration day of what they call “nations and nationalities day” in 2013. While even most of the cabinet ministers of the federal government go on the routine per diem scales on trips to foreign countries, Abdi Illy makes it so differently. The man even contracts and commissions top security guards while reserving hotel rooms in some of the top hotels of the cities he goes for trip to.
It has been a matter of generic knowledge among the public that the Afar-Issa-Somali conflict over land was the cause for the dismissal for three-fourth of government cabinet members in the Somali regional State a couple of years back. At the heart of the conflict lies, as the Afar diaspora network claims, the Somali-Issa militia forces did expand their control into the heart of the Afar land reaching to the banks of the Awash River and the strategic highway linking Addis Ababa to the port cities of Assab and Djibouti. Apparently, the dispute was halted by TPLF’s interventionist deal that favored the position of the Afar. But insider informants had it that the TPLF-imposed decision to seal the deal favoring the position of the Afar asymmetrically divided the 12-membered cabinet of the Somali Regional State into a fiercely fighting group of 4 to 8 members. Accordingly, 8 of the 12 cabinet members including the then vice-president did reject the decision while 4 of them (including the president Abdi Illey) accepted the TPLF-imposed decision. But the whole saga then went astray so much so that the 8 cabinet members in the Somali Regional State who opposed the move had to be all fired out to implement the land dispute deal proposed by the TPLF, at the end of the day. Abdi Illey’s 4-membered group in the cabinet, a minority by any democratic sense, had to turn victorious by firing all the 8 others (including the vice-president) because Abdi Illey & co had the keen supported from TPLF Generals. What is more??
Why the TPLF wanted to favor the Afar in the tribal land dispute/conflict?
For the TPLF, the Afar region is just part of the greater Tigray it envisions. If article 39 of Ethiopia’s facade federalism is to be first invoked by the TPLF (the maker and its breaker) any time it reads greater risk in the wider Ethiopian politics, Tigreay will secede taking Afar along with it — we all know it and they all know it too. Tigreans have not only political and economic supremacy in the Afar areas but they even dominate the urban culture in there – much like the Amhara do in Oromia due to the lingering legacy of the imperial era and that of the derg. Most businesses in the Afar towns are owned by business men of Tigray origin who are affiliates of the TPLF, more often than not. So, for the TPLF, it’s a natural instinct choice for any land dispute deal between the Afar and the Somali being sealed in favor of the former. But more importantly, the TPLF can make sure that the later won’t lose the land it claimed or at least be compensated for it by what could possibly be paid by a party that had no involvement either in the conflict or in the deal to seal it at the end of the day. Here is where Abdi Illey’s attack on Oromia, as supported by the TPLF Generals comes in. He has already been declared as “the best person of the year” by the TPLF’s mouth piece called “Tigraionline.com”. Sooner or later, we will be told that some remote territories disputed among some tribal pastoralists of the Oromo and Somali have been given to the later. And that seals the backdoor deal between Abdi Illey and the TPLF Generals.
It’s conceivable that the OPDO are neither aware of it nor capable of stopping this deal. They are created to contradict the Oromo in the very first place. While the Liyu police not only raids Oromo villages crossing borders but also killing their cadre sitting in office, the OPDO did nothing other than dialing on the old digits of the Arat kilo palace. The response was loud and clear though: ‘the number you calling doesn’t exist’. But they are still calling….so amazing…….
So, the public should defend itself against these TPLF’s mercenary group called Liyu police by all means possible. We believe semi-organic bodies like the Oromia Police shall stand by the side of the public. We will overcome this dirty war of the TPLF too!
Despite the country’s constitution professing the equality of ‘all the peoples of Ethiopia’, for the past 25 years ‘equality’ has been a factor of who has the most firepower among the rebel groups that toppled the former military regime in 1991. As a result of the political atmosphere in the country, wherethe best armed takes all, all aspects of the federal government (i.e. intelligence, military, police, state banks, airlines and core sectors of the country’s economy) are now dominated by an elite from a Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that represents only 6% of the general population.
Divide and rule: For 25 years, the TPLF elite has guaranteed its grip on state power through the divide-and–rule tactic of festering ethnic animosity. The Amhara and the Oromo are their prime targets. Hate speech against the Amhara (the second–largest ethnic group in the country)was broadcast on state– and party–owned mass media outlets, denigrating millions of people by referring to them as ‘timkehetegna’, which means ‘the conceited’ The killing and jailing of the Oromo (the largest ethnic group in the country) has been normalised, thereby creating an entire generation of people who feel like second-class citizens in their own country.
Ethiopia is seeing an increasing number of civilian protests, which are brutally suppressed by the government. It seems that the elite in power needs to heed the lessons taught by the Rwandan genocide: Do not play with ethnic hatred.
Oromo Liberation Front fighters. Photo: Jonathan Alpeyrie/ Wikimedia Commons
The year-long, nationwide and unceasing popular anti-government revolt in Ethiopia has brought the country’s ‘ethnolinguistic federalism’experiment to a dead end. Despite the country’s constitution professing the equality of ‘all the peoples of Ethiopia’, for the past 25 years ‘equality’ has been a factor of who has the most firepower among the rebel groups that toppled the former military regime in 1991. As a result of the political atmosphere in the country, where the best armed takes all, all aspects of the federal government (i.e. intelligence, military, police, state banks, airlines and core sectors of the country’s economy) are now dominated by an elite from a Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that represents only 6% of the general population.
Divide and rule
For 25 years, the TPLF elite has guaranteed its grip on state power through the divide-and–rule tactic of festering ethnic animosity. The Amhara and the Oromo are their prime targets. Hate speech against the Amhara (the second–largest ethnic group in the country)was broadcast on state– and party–owned mass media outlets, denigrating millions of people by referring to them as ‘timkehetegna’, which means ‘the conceited’ The killing and jailing of the Oromo (the largest ethnic group in the country) has been normalised, thereby creating an entire generation of people who feel like second-class citizens in their own country.
There is a lesson to be learned from the Rwandan genocide: Do not to play with ethnic hatred.
Threatening the country they lead
Unlike the former military regime, which relied on force to crush any opposition but never compromised on the sovereignty of the nation, the current TPLF–led dictatorship is unprecedented in its threat to wreak havoc if its absolute power is contested. The late Meles Zenawi was often seen using this tactic of bullying the country whenever his party’s reckless corruption and unconstitutional dominance over the federal government was questioned.
One aspect of the mayhem that Meles designed and his colleagues now desire to unleash isthat of instilling hatred among the people of Tigray and other ethnic groups by turning anycriticism of them as leaders of the country into an attack on the Tigray people. This hate–mongering is evidence that the elite does not have the Ethiopian people at heart, onlypower. The Tigray people have not only been betrayed by the TPLF elite but they are alsobeing manipulated as the party tries to hide its many failing. Tigray deserves peace and development as much as the other parts of Ethiopia, not to be taken hostage by the corrupt and power-hungry TPLF, which is terrorising them.
For the first time in the 25 years of minority control of the federal government, the people of the two major ethnic groups, the Amhara and the Oromo, have come together to create a common front of the oppressed. This unexpected show of unity has sent a shockwave throughthe TPLF elite, who is frantic and has sent in the military, armed with tanks, helicopters and missiles, against civilians – as if people who are simply demanding their rights and equalitywere foreign invaders.
Country at a crossroads
The current popular opposition in the Oromia and Amhara regional states is a great opportunity for the government to re–examine its divisive policies, admit to its failings and design a reconciliatory road map that would save the nation from descending further into conflict. The elite, however, still chooses to use special killing squads, military force, burning prisons and killing prisoners in custody.
For the past 25 years, ‘equality’ has been a factor of who has the most firepower among the rebel groups that toppled the former military regime in 1991.
In addition, it is now spending taxpayers’ money and foreign aid on the launching of media campaigns to derail the unity of the Amhara and the Oromo people.
A silent coup
Following the first wave of uprising by the Oromo last year, the Ethiopian military, controlled by the TPLF, has made official its unequivocal allegiance to the ‘Revolutionary Democracy’ policy, which is the governing policy of the ruling party. This act of merging party and government into one practically re-mandated the defence force of Ethiopia into being a mere protector of the minority elite and, by implication, declared the country’s constitution obsolete.
This is a silent coup. This fact becomes evident when one considers the supposed industrialisation of Ethiopia, which is to be led by the military, under the Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC). This is a corporation under the Ethiopian National Defence Force that is fully controlled by generals who were former TPLF rebel leaders. They were tasked by the late Meles Zenawi with the industrialisation of the country. This dangerous disregard for the constitution amounts to running a government inside a government and is pushing Ethiopia towards being an ethnic apartheid state. This can only lead to more violence.
Embracing real democracy
Just a few months ago, the government won 100% of the seats in parliament seats. Voterigging is suspected. The whole country erupted in opposition, showing the real danger of authoritarianism.
Sending in an army, equipped with tanks and missiles, against civilians – as the government has done against the people of Amhara – for no reason other than the fact that they exercisedtheir democratic rights, is not how democracy works. Such a display of power is the most cowardly and desperate exhibition of despotism.
It is incumbent on the people of Ethiopia not to fall for the traps set by the elite, who seem more determined than ever to encourage ethnic conflict and hatred through their media propaganda.
The path of national reconciliation
Unfortunately, due to the divide-and–rule policy of the government over the past 25 years,Ethiopians have been targeted for their ethnicity: The Amhara, Oromo, Anuak, Somali, Tigray, Kembata, Konso and many other ethnic groups have been targeted at different times. This is a sad reality and testifies to the policy of hate–mongering that is practised by the elite.
The government of Ethiopia needs to stop encouraging further division and animosity. No Ethiopian should be targeted for his or her ethnicity. There is a lesson to be learned from the Rwandan genocide: Do not to play with ethnic hatred.
However, it is incumbent on the people of Ethiopia not to fall for the traps set by the elite who now, more than ever, seem determined to encourage ethnic conflict and hatred through their media propaganda. Our silence today will not save us sorrow tomorrow. We should say no to the machetes of hatred that the country’s leaders are selling in their media. We should say no to the use of our name to justify the killing of any Ethiopian.
The martyrdom of our time is saying no to hatred and ethnic conflict while calling for equality and justice for all.
The cruel Fascist Ethiopia’s regime (TPLF) is killing Oromo children on daily basis. Since 6 August 2016, over 25,000 Oromo nationals of all walks of life have been in military concentrations/torture camps. The figure is rising daily. This figure does not include the over 50,000 detained before 6 August 2016.
Targeted killing continues across Oromia.This is Galataa Admaasuu, a young man of age 19. He was returning home after watching a soccer game at a cafe in the evening of August 19, 2016 when the regime’s force with sniper bullets hit him 3 times and killing him on spot in front of Dambi Dollo Hospital, in Qelam Wallaggaa. In the past few days we have been receiving several such targeted killing using snipers or by staging night time raid to homes.
Kun Galataa Admaasuu dargaggeessa umri 19 kan galgala kaleessaa osoo kubbaa laalee galaa jiruu loltuun Wayyaanee rasaasan dhahee fuuldura Hospitaal Dambi Doollootti ajjeeseedha.
Mallicha Guyo, former lecturer at Dire Dawa University and currently a graduate student of Constitutional & Public Law at AAU is among the many peaceful demonstrators unlawfully detained during the Grand #OromoProtests, 6th of Augus 2016 in Finfinnee and still kept in regime’s secrete detention centres.
Akkuma beekamufu hiiriiraa guddicha sanbata xiqqaa sani irratii namoota kumatamat lakkawaamu achii buute dhaban hamami hin jedhamu…namni maqaan isaa Malicha Guyyoo jedhamu kan barsiisa university Dire dawa tii damee seeraa barsiisuu amma MA university finfinnet constitutional and public law baracha Jiru achii buute isaa dhaban…..mee nama qoonqoo isaa qabu faa yoo argate inbox na godhii.
Godina Wallaggaa Lixaa Anaa Baaboo Gambeel keessatti gaafa 06 /07/2016 hirirraa guutu Oromiyaattii ta’e irraattii anaan Baaboos hirmachuun mormii jabaa dhageessisanii tura sanan wal qabatee namoonnii hedduun hiidhamuufi manii hiidhalee hankakee mana barumsaatii uummattaa hiidha akka turan gabaasun keenya ni yaada tamaa ammaas namoonnii hedduun hiidhaatii dararamaa yoo jirata dargagoo lamaa
1 Jafar Caaliif
2 Jafar Qawwee kan
jedhaman immoo mana hiidhaatii basanii essa akka isaan geessan hin beekamu! Uummanniis dararraa guddaa keessa jira!
An Oromo national Taagal Daaqaa Waaqgaarii is among thousands of peaceful protesters who have been unlawfully detained by the TPLF security agents during the Grand #OromoProtests rally in the capital Finfinnee, on the 6th of Aug, 2016. It’s believed that Mr. Tagal & thousands of others unlawfully detained during these peaceful protests are currently being tortured at a Military Camp called Awash Arba, in the remote Afar regional state. The regime is torturing thousands to death in such a remote military barricades across the country.
Oromo youth, Yaasiin Xaahaa, original from Jimma, kidnaped by fascist Ethiopia’s regime forces on August 6, 2016, Grand #OromoProtests Rally in Finfinnee. His whereabouts unknown.
This is Kebede Gemeda, a 70 year elder. He was arrested at the Grand Rally in Finfinne. He was beaten so badly that he lost one of his eye sight completely. They thought he was dying so they took him out of the military camp and threw up near his house.
Oromo national Jibriil Mohaammad, from Jimmaa Arjo shot four times at gun point by Agazi on 6 August 2016 at Grand #OromoProtests.
#Oromoprotests alert: The regime now using collage campus as concentration camp in addition to several military camps. For instance some 25000 protesters arrested in Hararge have been taken to Kombolcha Agricultural College. Their head has been shaved and they are crammed into classrooms in hundreds.
NOTE: These colleges are mostly built and run by money donated from American and European tax payers. So tell your representatives. Jawar Mohammed, OMN reports, 20 August 2016.
VOA Afaan Oromoo reports how fascist TPLF Ethiopia’s regime soldiers killed a man named Hora Wajiso in his own home and then imprisoned his wife with her infant child.
#OromoProtests, Must watch Al Jazeera new video News of August 20, 2016, Hundreds have been killed by agazi police forces during a peaceful demonstration across the country (Oromia, Ethiopia).
Darajee Birbirsaa, Oromo national, civil engineering graduate kidnapped by fascist forces on 19 August 2016 and his where about is unknown.
kuni darajee birbirsaa jedhama. bara 2015 wallaga university irra civil engineering dhan eebifame kan turee yoo tauu dalagaa male hanga ammaatti magaala Itayya godina arsi keessa turee haa tauu malee akka lakkobsa Habashaatti Hagayya 12 bara 2008 poolisi feedaralattin ergaa fudhatame booda eessa akka dhaqee hin beekamuana sirreessa aanaa fi goodinaa keesattis hin argamnee.isaa walii is namooni abdalla dasee jedhamuu fi muktar abdoo jedhamuu dhabanni jiraan.
Jundii Abboomsaa Badhaasoo, Oromo business man from Arsi, Martii district kidnapped on 17 August 2016 and his whereabout is unknown
GodinaArsii Bahaa Aanaa Martii ganda Golagotaa keessaa nama Jundii Abboomsaa Badhaasoo jedhamu guyyaa dheengaddaa mana murtii irraa waraqaa fidanii mana isaatti seeraan sir barbaanna jedhaniinii ani Wayyaaneetti hin bulu reeffa kiyya malee jiraa kiyya asii na hin fuutan jedheenii gootummaan dura dhaabbate. Achii jaarsoliin fuudhanii magaalaa geessanii halkan kalee namoota 16 waliin halkan saa’aa 9 makiinaa lamaan fe’anii achi buuteen hin beekamne. obbo Jundii Abboomsaa Badhaasoo abbaa qabeenyaa lafa bishaan hektaara hedduu yoo ta’u, akkasumas eessuma wallisaa Ibroo Ibsaa; kan akka abbaatti guddisee asiin gahee hanga har’aatti gargaaree sirboota hedduu hojjisiise.
Aman Aliyii Xaha, Oromo national was shot at gun point by fascsist Ethiopia’s regime forces on 6 August Grand #OromoProtests in Haramayaa and died on 20 August 2016.
Godina Haragee Bahaa Haramayaa keessatti Hirira guddicha Hagayya 6, 2016 irrati dhahamee harra lubbuun isaa dabarte.”
OSG’s letter to United Nations Human Right Council : Ignoring a wave of unlawful killings and enforced disappearances in Oromia is fueling further catastrophic in the region. osg-call-for-urgnet-action
HRLHA Urgent Action
Ethiopia: State – Sponsored Terrorism and Military Brutality in Oromia HRLHA Urgent Action
August 17, 2016
Ethiopia, a UN Human Rights Council member since 2011, and an elected member of the UN Security Council as of 2017 is committing state- sponsored terror against the Oromo nation in violation of the UN Human Rights Council responsibility for the promotion and protection of all human rights and the UN Security Council responsiblities for maintaining international peace and security as well as the human rights treaties it has signed and ratified. The government- trained and highly funded Agazi force shot Gebeyehu Jalata, a medical doctor, several times at his personal clinic in East Wallaga Nekemt town on August 6, 2016 while he was allegedly treating wounded protestors at his clinic. Dr. Gebehu Jalata was taken to the Nekemt hospital for treatment and died on August 15, 2016 . The Agazi killing squad also invaded Mr. Hora Fajisso’s home- he is a farmer in East Showa Zone Adami Tulu district, Batu town- and murdered him in his bed in front of his three children and his wife at 5:00 am on August 16, 2016. During the grand nationwide Oromo nation protests on August 6,2016, the Agazi force killed at least 70 people and arrested tens of thousands of others in Oromia Regional State. 1-ethiopia-government-sponsered-terrorism
Among Oromo nationals killed on August 06, 2016 the Human Rights League (HRLHA) reporters managed to get the names of the following 65 people:-
(Nairobi) – Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 400 protesters and others, and arrested tens of thousands more during widespread protests in the Oromia region since November 2015. The Ethiopian government should urgently support a credible, independent investigation into the killings, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses.
The 61-page report. “‘Such a Brutal Crackdown’: Killings and Arrests in Response to Ethiopia’s Oromo Protests,” details the Ethiopian government’s use of excessive and unnecessary lethal force and mass arrests, mistreatment in detention, and restrictions on access to information to quash the protest movement. Human Rights Watch interviews in Ethiopia and abroad with more than 125 protesters, bystanders, and victims of abuse documented serious violations of the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly by security forces against protesters and others from the beginning of the protests in November 2015 through May 2016.
“Ethiopian security forces have fired on and killed hundreds of students, farmers, and other peaceful protesters with blatant disregard for human life,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should immediately free those wrongfully detained, support a credible, independent investigation, and hold security force members accountable for abuses.”
Human Rights Watch found that security forces used live ammunition for crowd control repeatedly, killing one or more protesters at many of the hundreds of protests over several months. Human Rights Watch and other organizations have identified more than 300 of those killed by name and, in some cases, with photos.
Ethiopia’s Bloody Crackdown on Peaceful Dissent, an interview with Ethiopia researcher Felix Horne
The November protests were triggered by concerns about the government’s proposed expansion of the capital’s municipal boundary through the Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan. Protesters feared that the Master Plan would displace Oromo farmers, as has increasingly occurred over the past decade, resulting in a negative impact on farm communities while benefiting a small elite.
As protests continued into December, the government deployed military forces for crowd-control throughout Oromia. Security forces repeatedly fired live ammunition into crowds with little or no warning or use of non-lethal crowd-control measures. Many of those killed have been students, including children under 18.
The federal police and military have also arrested tens of thousands of students, teachers, musicians, opposition politicians, health workers, and people who provided assistance or shelter to fleeing students. While many detainees have been released, an unknown number remain in detention without charge and without access to legal counsel or family members.
Witnesses described the scale of the arrests as unprecedented. Yoseph, 52, from the Wollega zone, said: “I’ve lived here for my whole life, and I’ve never seen such a brutal crackdown. There are regular arrests and killings of our people, but every family here has had at least one child arrested.”
Former detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were tortured or mistreated in detention, including in military camps, and several women alleged that they were raped or sexually assaulted. Some said they were hung by their ankles and beaten; others described having electric shocks applied to their feet, or weights tied to their testicles. Video footage shows students being beaten on university campuses.
Despite the large number of arrests, the authorities have charged few individuals with any offenses. Several dozen opposition party members and journalists have been charged under Ethiopia’s draconian anti-terrorism law, while 20 students who protested in front of the United States embassy in Addis Ababa in March were charged with various offenses under the criminal code.
Access to education – from primary school to university – has been disrupted in many locations because of the presence of security forces in and around schools, the arrest of teachers and students, and many students’ fear of attending class. Authorities temporarily closed schools for weeks in some locations to deter protests. Many students told Human Rights Watch that the military and other security forces were occupying campuses and monitoring and harassing ethnic Oromo students.
There have been some credible reports of violence by protesters, including the destruction of foreign-owned farms, looting of government buildings, and other destruction of government property. However, the Human Rights Watch investigations into 62 of the more than 500 protests since November found that most have been peaceful.
The Ethiopian government’s pervasive restrictions on independent human rights investigations and media have meant that very little information is coming from affected areas. The Ethiopian government has also increased its efforts to restrict media freedom. Since mid-March it has restricted access to Facebook and other social media. It has also restricted access to diaspora television stations.
In January, the government announced the cancellation of the Master Plan. By then, however, protester grievances had widened due to the brutality of the government response.
While the protests have largely subsided since April, the government crackdown has continued, Human Rights Watch found. Many of those arrested over the past seven months remain in detention, and hundreds have not been located and are feared to have been forcibly disappeared. The government has not conducted a credible investigation into alleged abuses. Soldiers still occupy some university campuses and tensions remain high. The protests echo similar though smaller protests in Oromia in 2014, and the government’s response could be a catalyst for future dissent, Human Rights Watch said.
Ethiopia’s brutal crackdown warrants a much stronger, united response from concerned governments and intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch said. While the European Parliament has passed a strong resolution condemning the crackdown and a resolution has been introduced in the United States Senate, these are exceptions in an otherwise severely muted international response to the crackdown in Oromia. The UN Human Rights Council should address these serious abuses, call for the release of those arbitrarily detained and support an independent investigation.
“Ethiopia’s foreign supporters have largely remained silent during the government’s bloody crackdown in Oromia,” Lefkow said. “Countries promoting Ethiopia’s development should press for progress in all areas, notably the right to free speech, and justice for victims of abuse.”
The Ethiopian government is engaged in its bloodiest crackdown in a decade, but the scale of this crisis has barely registered internationally. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 400 people, including many children, have been killed by the country’s security forces in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region, with lethal force unleashed against largely peaceful, student-led protests.
For the past seven months, security forces have fired live ammunition into crowds and carried out summary executions. While students were first on the streets, many others have joined them, including teachers, musicians, opposition politicians and healthcare workers. Tens of thousands of people have been arrested, some of whom remain in detention without charge, and there are credible reports that detainees have been tortured or beaten – some of them in public. Hundreds of other people have been forcibly disappeared.
In normal circumstances, a crackdown on this scale would generate large-scale media attention and prompt strong international censure. But global media coverage has been very limited, in part because of Ethiopia’s draconian restrictions on media reporting and the difficulties journalists face in accessing the region. The response of governments internationally, including the British government, has also been extremely muted.
The reason for this is not a lack of information: diplomats in the country have a fairly good idea of what is going on in Oromia. Instead, it appears to be a flawed political calculation that the UK’s massive investment in Ethiopia’s development efforts (over 300 million pounds of aid is provided annually) would be undermined by public criticism or greater pressure on the government to rein in its abusive security forces.
The other obstacle is Ethiopia’s acute food crisis, where a severe drought – the worst since the famine of 1984-85 – has left 18 million people in need of aid. Global attention on this issue has led many governments around the world to overlook or downplay the other very urgent crisis unfolding in Oromia.
But these trade-offs are short-sighted and counter-productive. Ethiopia’s repression and its deepening authoritarianism hinder, rather than help, the country to combat food insecurity, promote development and tackle a range of other challenges. And they create the conditions for further instability and polarisation.
Ethiopia Ethiopia is struggling with its worst drought for 30 years, with millions in dire need of life-saving aidGetty Images Indeed, it was the very lack of respect for rights in the Ethiopian government’s approach to development that first triggered unrest in Oromia last November. The early protests were a response to the so-called ‘Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan’, which proposed a 20-fold expansion of the municipal boundary of the capital.
Protesters objected that this top-down initiative from the government, introduced without meaningful consultation or participation of the affected communities, would displace thousands of ethnic Oromo farmers from land around the city. Those displaced by similar government initiatives over the past decade have rarely received compensation or new land on which to rebuild their lives – and protesters feared a repeat of this experience on a larger scale.
Dinka Chala Mersen Chala, brother of Dinka Chala, who was killed by Ethiopian forces for protesting, but his family says he was not involved ,December 17, 2015, Oromia.Getty Images Concerns were also expressed about mining and manufacturing projects in Oromia and their impact on the environment and access to water. In mid-January 2016, the government announced it had “cancelled” the Master Plan. But despite this, the government does not seem to have changed its approach (it is still marketing land to investors, for example), there has been no let-up in the repression, and the protests continue. The government’s violent response and the rising death toll have further inflamed the situation and decades of historic Oromo grievances around cultural, economic and political marginalisation have come to the fore.
With or without the plan, the forced displacement of farmers looks likely to continue – as it has in many parts of Ethiopia – unless the Ethiopian government fundamentally changes its approach to development. That would mean treating communities as genuine partners in the development process, meaningfully consulting them, and allowing them to shape development projects. And it should mean opening up space for peaceful dissent and political opposition, as well as independent media.
In the short-term, the Ethiopian government could ease tensions by releasing all those arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned, establishing a credible independent investigation into the killings and other violations – with those responsible for abuses held to account – and it could start a dialogue with the Oromo community about their legitimate grievances that have fuelled these protests.
But given the awful rights record of the government in Addis this seems highly improbable without stronger international pressure. As a major development partner to Ethiopia – including support for work in the Oromia region itself – the British government should use its leverage more assertively and help galvanise a concerted international response – one which highlights, to the Ethiopian government, the cost of its ongoing repression. And it should press the Ethiopians to pursue a development strategy that respects human rights, rather than tramples all over them.
The missing Oromo protesters join a long list of disappearances
By Hassen Hussein*, OPride
(Opride.com): Last week, I read an angry, anguished and daringly eloquent letter from ijoollee Jalduu, a young Oromo from the flashpoint town of Gindo in southwest Shawa, the epicenter of the still-ongoing popular resistance against the Ethiopian state.
Addressed to his countrymen — at home and abroad — the 25-page chronicle captures the depth of grievance animating today’s Oromo youth to revolt.
To a large extent, the writer dwelled on the transformation of the quarter-a-century-long indirect Tigrean rule to the current military occupation and the accompanying injustices. He also drew parallels between today’s events and emperor Menelik’s foray into the heartland of Oromo territory in the 1880s and the Italian occupation of Abyssinia in the 1930s.
There are many ways in which armies of occupation leave behind indelible marks. One is by their routine practice of snatching away — at night or broad daylight — young able-bodied men and women, some unconnected with the conflict, from their families. The luckiest of these families find their loved ones in some dingy prison or detention center. They may not have them back home again. But they take solace in their ability, however limited, to at least visit them. And the chances to sue, entreat, or pray for their release. Hearing about them, even in the form of rumors and urban legends, is a boon.
The luckier accidentally stumble upon or be alerted by neighbors or passerby to the dead, charred, mangled, mutilated, disfigured or leftover pieces and bits of the once healthy and beautiful bodies of their loved ones in the adjoining or distant ditches, forests, ravine, creek or parts sticking out from a mass grave. Lucky, because at least they get to bury them and get some closure. This does not mean the loss is any less tragic and painful as a mother wailing for her young son killed by the security forces in Olankomi chillingly stated, “they did not kill him. They have killed me.”
The unluckiest are those forever left in the dark, those who have to carry the heavy weight of the missing’s uncertain fate; those who are left with the overwhelming voids that no anguished memory can fill. Haunted by the forever wandering souls of the disappeared, future generations experience the loss—whether the story is told or the window into them is slammed shut.
Like a broken piece of glass, stories of the missing lodge themselves into the psyche stoking our historical memory. With every movement, the piece of glass shifts as if to remind us its presence. The families hold no public memorials and nurse the wound privately, allowing a void to live within them and sometimes it feels as if we also live within it—especially in times of distress such as the one we currently inhabit.
The trauma is the greatest when the missing happens to be a female relation. Growing up, I kept hearing the story of a great aunt snatched away by an unknown soldier in the service of Menelik’s army as it was making its way possibly from Anole and Azule to Calanqo through my mother’s birth village. Such stories are never complete and neither is mine. For example, I do not even know her name—having not asked. However, their incompleteness does not make such stories any less potent.
“Was she a fighter?” we would ask. “No, she was a young girl herding cattle ” my mother intoned.
“Where was her father?” we would ask. “A warrior, he believed a warrior’s code disallowed harming or taking children after an active battle is over” she would say.
“Did he try to get her back?” He did but unsuccessfully.
“Why did her mother not plead with the captors?” My mother answered, “She did, to no avail. The captors did not speak her language and nor she theirs.”
“Where did they take her?” “Nobody knew.”
“Nothing heard from her or about her ever since?”
“You ask too many questions, none,” which signaled it was time to move on to a different story or household or outdoor chore.
Ijoollee Jalduu’s haunting story prompted me to share a poem I wrote at a writers’ retreat in the thick of Minnesota’s famed winter in 2013. It is an ode to this great aunt and to my mother, an angel of a woman whose protective shield wards off dangers and unconditional love sustains, nourishes and keeps me alive to this day, a mother who experienced her share of the tragedies afflicting all mothers in times of civil unrest.
Today’s Oromo youth have more guts in responding to the cries of their mothers who have to deal with such unexplained and unexplainable losses, mothers who would forever be torn between whether to tell the story of their disappeared loved ones to their younger children and grandchildren.
I share this poem now in an attempt to situate the gushing new wounds of the Oromo in the context of our tortured history. The river of innocent young productive men and women disappearing in the hands of armies sent to quell civilians opposing unjust rule and occupation stubbornly continues to flow unbroken. And if we are to talk of a common future, we need to break the silence and end this vicious cycle of violence.
The notorious Agazi special forces unit is wreaking havoc throughout Oromia turning happy and peaceful rural villages into ghost towns. In its footsteps, it is condemning many mothers to lives of eternal anguish by taking away their precious young men and women to unknown destinations never to be seen or heard from again. The brutality is such that no self-respecting Ethiopian of any ideological bent, political orientation or ethnic background can and should remain unmoved. No organized state army should be allowed to terrorize anyone, let alone a huge chunk of society at will and with impunity, and hope to rule the vanquished talking as if its divine right to rule is affronted by our mere show of dissent. Silence towards such doubly insulting injustice is morally indefensible.
This is a human story of conflict. Many Ethiopian mothers have suffered the same unwarranted grief decade after decade. Most often than not, the perpetrators and their victims spoke no one language, literally and figuratively. The stories are told and retold not to open new wounds but to keep the memory of the disappeared alive and for some closure, which had eluded many a grieving Ethiopian mother, Oromo or otherwise, for generations.
An Ode to my Great Aunt
You stole my great aunt, so I know her only in fragments
In late night stories from my mother
When you dragged her away, after pillaging the village
Was it for a wife?
Or a lifelong joy toy, eternal symbol for your oomph and triumph over my forebears
Tell me; did you sap her youth and ditch her on the road to Calanqo?
Or smother her in a fit of martial anger to avenge a buddy’s passage to the underworld
A fart boasting to hide his fortuitous escape from Lenjiso’s righteous wrath in Anole
Only to be sent over the hill standing on great grandpa’s cliff path
Before he abandoned her doomed rescue; tell me soldier, I am speaking to you.
Or was it to desecrate the sacred land that resented your booted feet?
Tell me, I need to understand,
Did you hurl her off as war booty to your homeland, I know not where?
Or did you hand her over along with the loot to your emperor?
Tell me, how long before her spirit ceased to kick and scream against your unrelenting clutch?
Before it too slid below your iron-fitted feet soothing her into becoming one of them creatures
Falling in love with their captors dying from within to stay alive from outside
Or dead defiant to the bitter end.
Tell me, did you make her one of your many concubines to nurse and cure your manly wounds?
Please do tell me, with no language shared, did you sign or gesture to make her forget her folks or accept her forlorn fate?
Do tell me, did she bear you children, nephews and nieces I had not known?
Please tell me, did you baptize her into your religion?
To be welcomed as your captive companion into heaven
I hope you flame in hell, forever forsaken.
Then again, the fruits of your aggression
Might have been my transgressed kin
The open wound in my mother’s heart that hurt to day’s end.
* Hassen Hussein teaches Leadership and Management courses at the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
#Oromoprotests this mother is a 7 month pregnant and has 6 kids, lives in the West Arsi zone ofthe #Oromia state in #Ethiopia. When the Tigreans led security forces came to her home searching for her husband, she came out of her home and falled, kneeled down to his legs and begged him, not to kill her and her kids. Other militias went to her home to search for her husband and couldn’t find him. She kept begging them in #AfaanOromoo and #Sidamalanguages, as she doesn’t speak Amharic. The militias don’t speak either of these languages. Finally, they have mercilessly killed her firing five bullets to her. It is a very painfully to see such a tragedy, and her kids are now orphans. That’s how #democracy is being built in #Ethiopia by#TpLF. #ያማል
Will Expressing Concern Prevent State-Led Mass Murder in Oromia, Ethiopia?
By Habtamu Dugo*, Finfinne Tribune, 1st February 2016
The number of Oromo civilians killed, maimed, tortured, disappeared and raped by Ethiopian government forces has been increasing after Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom met with the European Union and US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers. Ignoring concerns by the EU and Ambassador Powers over Ethiopia’s government’s violent responses to peaceful Oromo protesters, Tedros’ government has continued with the killings and many other forms of atrocities against the Oromo people, including killing children.
The number of state-led killings has now increased to 185, according Abiyi Atomsa, an Oromo activist who provided the “minimum death tolls”. Another source, Ethiopia Crisis, a group that monitors the crisis and provides updates on the violence, reported on January 29, 2015 that the number of people killed for peacefully protesting against the government over land grabbing “exceeds 200.” A month ago, Human Rights Watch reported that 140 members of the ethnic Oromo were killed for protesting a government plan to expand the boundary of Addis Ababa city into Oromia regional state by evicting Oromo farmers. HRW stated “arrest of respected politician” Bekele Gerba, Deputy Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress, marked the escalation of the crisis.
The European Union Parliament, which correctly assessed the crisis and debated on it and passed a 15-point “resolution on the situation in Ethiopia”, is the only international actor with concrete plans to curb massive rights abuses by the Ethiopian government in Oromia if and when this monumental resolution is translated into actions. Not only did the EU parliament condemn the excessive use of violence by government forces against peaceful protesters, it also called for impartial investigations into killings and other human rights violations and for the prosecution of responsible government actors. More importantly, the EU made it clear that aid to Ethiopia will be contingent upon the protection of human rights going forward. The resolution “stresses that financial support to Ethiopia from the EU should be measured attending to the country’s human rights record and the degree to which the Ethiopian government promotes reforms towards democratization, as the only way to ensure stability and sustainable development.”
Contemptuous of the EU and concerns of Western nations providing aid, $3 billion amounting to half of Ethiopia’s national budget, the Ethiopian regime has not taken any steps to de-escalate the situation. In fact, it’s escalating the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters in Oromia and Gambella regions.
The United States government has failed to follow the good example set by the EU parliament; the US does not yet have a concrete plan to curb the unfolding crimes against humanity against the Oromo population by the Ethiopian state. Despite a stark omission of violence against the Oromo protesters by Ethiopian government from a recent White House National Security Council statement, the State Department and some US diplomats have publically expressed increasing levels of concerns about the killings in Oromia, and urged the Ethiopian government to “allow peaceful protests” and called for “a meaningful dialogue about Oromo community [people’s] concerns.”
While increasing expressions of concern are welcome by the Oromo people, all these statements from the US government lack any concrete plans on how to stop the atrocities by the Ethiopian government. Having observed the reluctance by the United States, the Ethiopian government continued with massive atrocity crimes in the state of Oromia. These statements cleverly avoid the need for involving political actors in the said dialogue. It is very well known that the situation calls for more than a dialogue at this stage—a possible change of system or a comprehensive negotiation of a transitional order involving all political actors with opposing ethno-nationalist agenda. Activists on social media tweeted to the White House, the State Department and Ambassador Samantha Powers and demanded a more concrete action that would lead to holding the regime accountable.
Britain has also expressed concern through its member of parliament. James Duddridge, member of the UK Parliament, posted a message on Twitter saying that he, “raised concerns with Tedros Adhanom [Ethiopia’s MFA] about Oromo protests—important for authorities to exercise restraint and address the root causes.” This expression of concern on social media is welcome, but it raises a question as to whether the United Kingdom has any concrete plans to hold the government it helps finance accountable over killings and other forms of crimes against humanity in Oromia and all parts of Ethiopia. Social media activists pointed out to the UK MP that expressing concern will not alter the violent behavior of the Ethiopian government toward Oromo civilians. Activists cited that the killings continued after James Duddridge expressed concern. So, the concern did not have any impact on the behavior of the regime.
However, except for issuing foreign travel advice in Ethiopia to protect its citizens, the British Home Office has not issued a statement condemning the excessive use of force against Oromo civilians. Like the U.S., the U.K. has no publicly-available plan with which to hold its aid darling Ethiopia accountable over massive human rights abuses. The British Department for International Development has kept pumping aid into Ethiopia without accountability mechanism in place regarding how this aid would be used.
Although asking favors is not a bad thing, the Oromo people are not asking the West to do them a favor when they protest in Western cities such as Washington DC, Seattle, Minneapolis, Ottawa, London, Berlin, Melbourne and so on. They are asking for the withdrawal of foreign aid or the conditioning of aid on the protection of human rights because they believe currently the Ethiopian government is using foreign aid to finance its military campaigns in civilian quarters in Oromia and Ethiopia. Oromo demonstrators in the United States, Canada, and at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, demanded them to stop supporting “tyrannical Ethiopian government that is killing children in schools, colleges and universities across Oromia.”
The United States is not committed to democracy and human rights in Ethiopia despite decades of paying lip service. Nothing speaks louder about America’s lack of commitment to human rights and democracy in Ethiopia than US President Barack Obama infamously calling the current one-party totalitarian Ethiopian government “democratically elected,” during a visit to Ethiopia. The US government does not have a detailed plan with which to hold the autocrats in Ethiopia accountable. It is certain that expressing concern will not stop the ethno-partisan government of Ethiopia from carrying out its habitual and planned atrocities against the Oromo people.
In Oromia, none of the perennial questions raised by millions of Oromo marchers in hundreds of cities and villages have been answered so far. The Ethiopian government has not bowed to international laws, its own constitution, and toothless expressions of concern and condolences from Western diplomats and politicians over killings.
Since December 15, Oromia civilian administration has been illegally suspended in Oromia and Oromia has been brought under military rule. The Oromo people were declared “terrorists, witches and devils” by Prime Minister Hailemariam Deslagn and Information Minster Getechew Reda and centrally-coordinated merciless military actions were threatened and acted upon. Henok Gebissa, a visiting international law fellow at Washington Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia, writes about the military occupation of Oromia as follows: “The current military control in Oromiya exactly resembles the famous Nazi Law known as The Third Reich of 1933 that Nazified all German law in order to grant arbitrary power to Hitler to detain and convict Jews.” In this case, the military is giving arbitrary power to elites of Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front ruling Ethiopia. Gebissa also described growing humanitarian crises where, in addition to all schools in Oromia, the government has deployed the military to hospitals in order to prevent injured individuals from getting medical treatment. People are left to die in the streets from bleeding caused by gunshots.
The first step in finding solutions to questions of land ownership and self-rule raised by the Oromo protesters is to stop the killings. Stop firing live ammunition into crowds of innocent school children with backpacks. But so far international actors have not demonstrated the will to stop the killings, let alone find a solution to politico-survival questions raised by the Oromo people.
The Oromo people have not taken the government announcement that it’s going to cancel the master plan as credible because they know that there is no written document to prove that it has canceled the plan. They also don’t trust the ruling party which was ordered to make the statement to dampen the protests and to curtail international media interest in the ever-deepening crisis. The Oromo upgraded their question to the question of national self-government, democracy, justice and release of all political prisoners.
Making over 45 million people in Ethiopia, the Oromo in the homeland and in the diaspora are asking Western partners of the Ethiopian government to at least choke the flow of aid until they (international actors) come up with plans to end pervasive violence and to ensure the creation of a new democratic order that respects the will of the people. Cutting aid to Ethiopia is no simple action since aid accounts for a good half of Ethiopia’s budget and obviously a significant part of that budget is funding the military being used by one group to persecute non-coethnics with the current rulers of Ethiopia who do not represent the Oromo or the rest of the country.
The international community must also urge that journalists, media, human rights organizations, humanitarian organizations and independent observers have access to Ethiopia in general and to hotspots of unfolding crises such as Oromia, Ogaden, Gambella and other regions needing urgent humanitarian help in particular.
The Ethiopian government thrives on massive surveillance and information control whenever it engages in massive atrocities internally. Human Rights Watch’s Ethiopia researcher, Felix Horne writes profoundly that it is such monopolistic control over information by government that has rendered the “massive crisis” invisible to the world. Horne’s recommendation to Ethiopia’s partners: “But they should also be clear that Ethiopia needs to ensure access to information and stop disrupting telecommunications and targeting social media users. The world needs to know what is happening in Oromia—and Ethiopians have a right to know what is happening in their country.”
Simon Allison writes that “Ethiopia exploits AU role to suppress international criticism,” including surveillance on AU activities by the National Intelligence and Security Service of Ethiopia. As result, AU has been effectively prevented from saying anything on Oromo protests.
If the Ethiopian regime continues to deny access to affected regions, the world is correct to assume that Ethiopia is hiding crimes against humanity against the Oromo people and others. The denial of access to information has made it difficult to assess the real magnitude of the crisis although it’s clear the crisis is massive. Number of people being killed by the government is increasing, but the world does not know about it. Death tolls cited in this piece are minimum estimates and they are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the atrocities by government forces are concerned because the regime intentionally prevents any “negative news from coming out of Ethiopia.”
* Habtamu Dugo is Adjunct Professor of Journalism and Communications at Howard University, Washington DC. He is also member of the OSA Board of Directors. He can be reached at email@example.com
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn confers with President Barack Obama
“Badessa” was a third-year engineering student in western Ethiopia in April 2014 when he and most of his classmates joined a protest over the potential displacement of ethnic Oromo farmers like his family because of the government’s plan to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, into the farmland.
The night of the first protests he was arrested and taken to an unmarked detention center. Each night he heard his fellow students screaming in agony as one by one they were tortured by interrogators. “I still hear the screams,” he told me later. Eventually his turn came to be interrogated. “What kind of country is it when I voice concern that my family could lose their farm for a government project and I am arrested, tortured, and now living as a refugee?”
Since mid-November, large-scale protests have again swept through Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region, and the response from security forces has again been brutal. They have killed countless students and farmers, and arrested opposition politicians and countless others. On January 12, the government announced it was cancelling the master plan, but that hasn’t stopped the protests and the resultant crackdown.
Although the protest was initially about the potential for displacement, it has become about so much more. Despite being the biggest ethnic group in Ethiopia, Oromos have often felt marginalized by successive governments and feel unable to voice concerns over government policy. Oromos who express dissent are often arrested and tortured or otherwise mistreated in detention, accused of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a group that has long been mostly inactive and that the government designated a terrorist organization.
The government is doing all it can to make sure that the news of these protests doesn’t circulate within the country or reach the rest of the world. Ethiopia’s allies, including governments in the region and the African Union, have largely stood by as Ethiopia has steadily strangled the ability of ordinary Ethiopians to access information and peacefully express their views, whether in print or in public demonstrations. But they should be worried about what is happening in Oromia right now, as Ethiopia — Africa’s second most-populous country and a key security ally of the US — grapples with this escalating crisis.
This may prove to be the biggest political event to hit Ethiopia since the controversial 2005 elections resulted in a crackdown on protesters in which security forces killed almost 200 people and arrested tens of thousands .
Although the government focuses its efforts on economic development and on promoting a narrative of economic success, for many farmers in Oromia and elsewhere economic development comes at a devastating cost. As one Oromo student told me “All we hear about is development. The new foreign-owned farms and roads is what the world knows, but that just benefits the government. For us [Oromos] it means we lose our land and then we can’t sustain ourselves anymore.”
It has become almost impossible for journalists and human rights monitors to get information about what is happening, especially in smaller towns and rural areas outside Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia is one of the most restrictive environments for independent investigation, reporting, and access to information, earning the country a top-10 spot in the global ranking of jailers of journalists. For the past decade, the government has limited access to information by regularly threatening, imprisoning, and prosecuting individual activists, bloggers, and journalists and sending a clear public message that the media must self-censor and that dissent or criticism of government policy will not be tolerated.
Independent media have dwindled—more than 70 journalists have fled the country since 2010 and five of the last independent publications closed down before the May elections. Meanwhile the state-run media parrot the government line, in this case claiming that the Oromo protesters are linked to “terrorist groups” and “anti-peace elements” who are “aiming to create havoc and chaos.”
Very few international journalists are based in Ethiopia. Those who have attempted to cover events on the ground since the protests began have braved threats and arrest, but these are a few lone voices.
Given restrictions on local and international media, you might think that ordinary citizens, local activists, and nongovernmental organizations would fill the gaps and document the events in Oromia. But Ethiopia’s human rights activists and independent groups have been crushed by draconian legislation and threats, and even ordinary people are often terrified to speak out. People who dare to speak to international media outlets or independent groups have been arrested. The government taps phone lines and uses European-made spyware to target journalists and opposition members outside the country.
Since the protests began, the restrictions have become even harsher. Authorities have arrested people, including health workers, for posting photos and videos or messages of support on social media. The state-run telecom network has also been cut in some areas, making it much more difficult to get information out from hotspots.
Radio and satellite television outlets based outside Ethiopia, including some diaspora stations, play a key role disseminating information about the protests within Oromia, as they also did in 2014 during the last round of protests. Last year numerous people were arrested in Oromia during the protests merely for watching the diaspora-run Oromia Media Network (OMN).
The government has frequently jammed foreign stations in the past, violating international regulations in the process. When the government is unable to jam it puts pressure on the satellite companies themselves. Throughout the protests government agents have reportedly been destroying satellite dishes.
Yet despite the clear efforts to muzzle voices, information is coming out. Some protesters are losing their fear of expressing dissent and are speaking openly about the challenges they are facing. Social media plays a key role in disseminating information as people share photos and videos of rallies, of bloodied protesters, and of expressions of peaceful resistance in the face of security forces using excessive force.
In the coming days and weeks Ethiopia’s friends and partners should condemn the use of excessive force by security forces that is causing tragic and unnecessary deaths. But they should also be clear that Ethiopia needs to ensure access to information and stop disrupting telecommunications and targeting social media users. The world needs to know what is happening in Oromia—and Ethiopians have a right to know what is happening in their country.
Felix Horne is the Ethiopia researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Oromia Regional State /Ethiopia: More Victims of Extra-Judicial Killings, Kidnappings, Arrests and Detentions
HRLHA Urgent Action
December 25, 2015
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has confirmed that deaths resulting from the ongoing crackdown of peaceful protesters in various parts of the regional state of Oromia has now reached 122, while mass arrests and detentions have also been intensified. Top officials of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) party have been targeted in the most recent cases of kidnappings, arrests and detentions. Accordingly, Mr. Dajane Tafa, Deputy General Secretary of OFC, was kidnapped by federal armed forces and taken away to yet unknown destination yesterday morning, December 24, 2015 around the area known as Giyorgis, in the centre of the Capital Finfinne/Addis Ababa on his way to work. In the same way, Mr. Bekele Garba, Deputy Chairman of the OFC, who spent about four years in jail on fabricated allegations and released recently, was also arrested yesterday afternoon from his home in Adama and taken away also by armed federal forces. HRLHA has been informed that homes of both Mr. Dajane Tafa and Mr. Bekele Garba have been searched for hours; and that of Mr. Bekele Gerba in particular remained invaded and surrounded by the federal armed forces until late in the afternoon.
HRLHA: A Call for the UN Human Rights Council to Create a Commission of Inquiry for Oromia Regional State/Ethiopia
Dec 24, 2015
Shocked and grieved by the unprecedented tyrannical actions and gross human rights violations perpetrated by the Ethiopian Government against the Oromo Nation in the past twenty five years, since the present government came into power in1991;
Condemning the recent deadly violence against Oromo peaceful demonstrators staged against the so called “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan”- violence that has already claimed more than 200 lives including, children and senior citizens in December 2015 alone with more than 50,000 imprisoned;
Recalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of person, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful demonstration and assembly,
Recalling further that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest and detention,
The HRLHA calls on the United Nations Human Rights Council:
to create an international commission of inquiry to investigate the recent alleged serious violations of international customary law and international human rights law by the Ethiopian Government
to request the UN Commissioner of Human Rights to dispatch a mission to Oromia Regional State/Ethiopia immediately to investigate the alleged violations
In the meantime, the HRLHA calls upon the UN Human Rights Council to use its mandate to put pressure on the Ethiopian Government:
to immediately bring the “Agazi” paramilitary members who cold-bloodedly attacked the peaceful demonstrators to justice
to unconditionally free all Oromo prisoners of conscience and others arbitrarily detained, including those held before for no reason and during the peaceful protests of April-March 2014 and November – December 2015 against the ” Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan “
to refrain from reprisals against Oromos who have taken part in peaceful demonstrations
The Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government’s gross human rights abuses against the Oromo Nation in the past 25 years have been widely reported by domestic, regional and international human rights organizations and international media including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty (AI), the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and others.
According to a media report, just last month alone, 600 Oromo farming families were evicted from Sululta, one of the towns in Oromia affected by the Addis Ababa Master Plan of the Ethiopian Federal government. The Master Plan evictions in Sululta came in November 2015, just before the latest escalations of Oromo protests as Oromo students in particular, and the Oromo public in general, engage the Federal government to stop the Addis Ababa Master Plan as well as the overall land-grabbing campaigns being undertaken by the Federal government in the name of “development” across Oromia. The report about the Master Plan evictions of 600 Oromo households in Sululta contradicts the Ethiopian Federal government’s stated position that the Addis Ababa Master Plan is still in its drafting phase awaiting public deliberations. Last year, during the April-May 2014’s #OromoProtests, the government promised to open the Master Plan for public deliberations only to forego that phase of the policy-making altogether. Protesters say the government’s promise of public deliberations are only tricks to buy time to fully implement the Master Plan and other land-grabbing campaigns across Oromia.
Here’s an excerpt from the DW report:
One Oromo farmer from Sululta, a town part of the ‘integrated master plan’ located 26 kilometers (16 miles) to the north of Addis Ababa, spoke to DW on condition of anonymity. He claimed that in late November alone, the government evicted 600 farming families on the grounds that their land was needed for the construction of a factory. When asked if they had received fair compensation and a new home, the farmer told DW that the money given to them was ‘very meager,’ and that the families had so far not been given a place to relocate to.
Oromia/Ethiopia: Region-Wide, Heavy-Handed Crackdown on Peaceful Protesters
HRLHA Urgent ActionDecember 05, 2015For Immediate ReleaseThe Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa expresses its grave concern at the continuation of gross human rights violations in Oromia Regional State, violations that have regularly occurred since 1991 when the TPLF/EPRDF came into power.
The most recent heinous crime was committed- and is still being committed- against defenseless school children protesting against the approval of “the Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” by the Oromia Regional State Parliament a month ago. The peaceful protest involved many elementary school, high school, university students and civilians. Among them were students in Western Oromia zones, Najo, Nekemt, Mandi high schools and in other towns, in Central Oromia in Ginchi, Ambo, Addis Ababa high schools and the surrounding towns, Eastern and Southern Oromia zones, in Haromaya , and Bule Hora Universities and many more schools and universities. In violation of the rights of the citizen to peaceful demonstration enshrined in the Ethiopian Constitution Chapter two, article 30 (1) states “Everyone has the right to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peaceably and unarmed, and to petition. Appropriate regulations may be made in the interest of public convenience relating to the location of open-air meetings and ‘the route of movement of demonstrators or, for the protection of democratic rights, public morality and peace during such a meeting or demonstration” students in all of these places were severely beaten, imprisoned or even killed.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa emphasizes that the ongoing violence and crimes committed in Oromia Regional State for over two and a half decades by the TPLF perpetrators against the Oromo Nation amount to war crimes, and crimes against humanity- a clear failure of the Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO) authorities, an organization claiming to represent the Oromo Nation. The members of this bogus political organization have proved to be not the Oromo peoples’ true representatives, but rather stand-ins for their real masters who have compromised the interests of the Oromo Nation. The Oromia Regional State authorities/OPDO did not resist the TPLF regime when Oromo children, farmers, intellectuals, members of political organizations were killed, abducted, imprisoned, tortured and evicted from their livelihoods by TPLF security agents in the past two and half decades. Instead, they helped the TPLF regime to control the political and economic resources of the Oromia Regional State. TPLF high officials and ordinary level cadres in Oromia Regional State engaged in enriching themselves and their family members by selling Oromo land, looting and embezzling public wealth and properties in the occupied areas of the Oromo Nation, and committing many other forms of corruption.
Committing atrocities and crimes against humanity are failures to comply with obligations under international law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the principles of proportionality and discrimination. With many civilians suffering from the crimes and serious violations of human rights, and by not taking any measures to ensure the accountability of those responsible for these crimes and violations, it has become clear that after all these years the so called Oromia Parliament(Caffee Oromiyaa) has betrayed the Oromo people by not protecting them. The OPDO members and the Oromia Parliament (Caffee Oromiyaa) members should not continue in silence while Oromo children are brutalized by Aga’azy squads deployed by the TPLF for ethnic cleansing. The Oromia Parliament (Caffee Oromiyaa) and OPDO have a moral obligation to dissolve their institutions and stand beside their people to resist the TPLF regime’s aggression.
The HRLHA believes that the gross human rights violations committed by the TPLF government in cooperation with OPDO in the past two and half decades against Oromo Nation have been pre-planned every time they have happened. TPLF regime security agents imprisoned, killed, tortured, kidnapped, disappeared, and evicted from their ancestral lands thousands of Oromo nationals, simply because of their ethnic backgrounds and to acquire their resources. The TPLF inhuman actions against Oromo civilians are clearly genocidal, a crime against humanity and an ethnic cleansing, which breach domestic and international laws, and all international treaties the government of Ethiopia signed and ratified.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) expresses its deep concern over the safety and well-being of these Oromo nationals who have been arrested without any court warrant and are being held in different police stations, military camps, “Maekelawi” compound, the main federal police investigation center, in Central Addis Ababa and in different unknown places.
Therefore, HRLHA calls upon governments of the West, all local, regional and international human rights agencies to join hands and demand an immediate halt to these extra-judicial actions, terrorizing civilians and the immediate unconditional release of the detainees.
The HRLHA also calls on all human- rights defender non-governmental, civic organizations, its members, supporters and sympathizers to stand beside the HRLHA and provide moral, professional and financial help to bring the dictatorial TPLF government and officials to international justice.
The HRLHA is a non-political organization that attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the people of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa. It works to defend fundamental human rights, including freedoms of thought, expression, movement and association. It also works to raise the awareness of individuals about their own basic human rights and those of others. It encourages respect for laws and due process. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies.
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Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
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Fax: 41 22 739 7377
Po Box: 2500
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ETHIOPIA: Flagrant Human Rights Abuse against Oromo Nationals Continues
HRLHA Urgent Action
Feb 01, 2015
For immediate Release
It is cruel, brutal and inhumane to hang any person for any wrongdoing particularly in Ethiopia, a country that claims democracy is its core principle of governance. The execution of Ketama Wubetu and his friend by Ethiopian solders- by hanging on a fence- on December 09, 2014 in Salale zone of Dera District in the regional State of Oromia was barbaric. If the hanged men were members of an opposition group fighting against the government, once they were captured they should have been brought to justice.
Sadly enough, the government soldiers shamelessly displayed the bodies of these two Oromo nationals to the public- including children. This kind of inhuman and fascistic action will not solve the political crisis in the country. Rather, it will complicate and escalate it to another level. The fascistic action committed against the two Oromo nationals by the government army clearly shows that justice in the country is dysfunctional and symbolic.
By doing this the Ethiopian Government has blatantly violated international humanitarian law and international human rights law principles including international human rights standards.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa highly condemns the federal armed force, as well the Oromia regional state militia, for their fascistic acts against these two individuals and calls upon the Ethiopian government to bring the killers to justice. The Government of Ethiopia should also explain the situation to the world community particularly to the UN Human Rights Council that it is a member of.
The HRLHA calls upon regional and international donors, UN member states and Organizations to take measurable steps against the Ethiopian TPLF/EPRDF government for its persistent brutal, dictatorial, and suppressive actions against civilians. It also urges all national, regional and international diplomats, donor countries and organizations and human rights groups to join hands in putting pressure on the Ethiopian government so that it invites immediately neutral body to investigate the human rights situation in the country.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has reported (May 1st and 13th, 2014, urgent actions, www.humanrightleague.org) on the heavy-handed crackdown of the Ethiopian Federal Government’s Agazi Special Squad and the resultant extra-judicial killings of 34 (thirty-four) Oromo nationals, and the arrests and detentions of hundreds of others. Amnesty International in its most recent report on Ethiopia – “Because I am Oromo – Sweeping repression in the Oromia region of Ethiopia” – has exposed how Oromo nationals have been regularly subjected to arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention without charge, enforced disappearance, repeated torture and unlawful state killings as part of the government’s incessant attempts to crush dissent.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to the Ethiopian Government and its concerned officials as swiftly as possible, in English, Amharic, or your own language expressing:
explanation for its brutal and fascistic action against citizens and invite immediately nutria body for investigation
the Ethiopian authorities to ensure that the killers are brought to justice immediately
Send Your Concerns to:
His Excellency: Mr. Haila Mariam Dessalegn – Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland Fax: + 41 22 917 9022 (particularly for urgent matters) E-mail: tb-petitions@ohchr
Human Rights Treaties Division (HRTD)
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson – 52, rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva (Switzerland)
: +41 22 917 97 06
Fax: +41 22 917 90 08
Secretariat contact details
Secretariat of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson – 52, rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva (Switzerland)
Committee on Enforced Disappearance (CED)
Human Rights Treaties Division (HRTD)
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson – 52, rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva (Switzerland)
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) would like to express its deepest concerns about the so-called “Border dispute” between Oromo and Ogadenia nationals which began at the beginning of this month- for the second time in four years- in eastern Hararge Zone of Oromia Regional State.
According to a report obtained by HRLHA from its local reporters in eastern Oromia, the border clash that has been going on since November 1, 2014 around the Qumbi, Midhaga Lolaa, and Mayuu Muluqee districts between Oromo and Ogadenia nationals, has already resulted in the deaths of seven Oromos, and the displacement of about 15,000 others. Large numbers of cattle and other valuable possessions are also reported to have been looted from Oromos by the invaders. .
The HRLHA reporter in the eastern Hararge Zone confirmed that this violence came from federal armed forces (the Federal Liyou/Special Police) from the Ogadenia side; the Oromos were simply defending themselves against this aggression- though without much success because the people were fully disarmed by the federal government force prior to the clash starting.
The names of the seven dead Oromos obtained from the HRLHA reporter are:
Mohamed Rashid Godobe
Qumbi, (Mino Town)
Yusuf Hasa Ibrahim
Qumbi (Mini Town)
The HRLHA reporter also confirmed that, in the invaded areas of Mayyuu Muluqqee, Midhagaa Lolaa, and Qumbii districts, the hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced have fled to the highland areas in the eastern Hararge Zone in search of temporary shelters and other basic needs.
Meanwhile, the federal government forces in coordination with the Oromia regional state police are harassing the Community of Grawa in the district of east Hararge Zone of Oromia regional state, saying that they are clearing the community of risky weapons including “Mancaa” the traditional instrument the people of this zone use for cutting trees and other purposes. During this weapons disarming campaign, among those who resisted handing over their “Manca”, Shek Jemal Ahmed, 32 was beaten to death by the federal forces in Grawa district in October 2014.
The HRLHA has reported in May 2013, the government-backed violence against Oromo in the name of border dispute around the Anniya, Jarso and Mi’esso districts in eastern Hararge Zone between the Oromia and Ogaden regional states which had claimed the death of 37 Oromo nationals and the displacement of about 20,000 others
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa urges the Ethiopian Federal Government and the Regional Government of Oromia to discharge their responsibilities of ensuring the safety and stability of citizens by taking immediate actions to bring the violence to an end and facilitate the return of the displaced Oromos back to their homes. It also calls upon all local, regional and international diplomatic and human rights organizations to impose necessary pressures on both the federal and regional governments so that they refrain from committing irresponsible actions against their own citizens for the purpose of political gains.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to the Ethiopian Government and its concerned officials as swiftly as possible, in English, Ahmaric, or your own language expressing:
Refrain from creating the so-called “border-dispute” between Oromo and Ogadenia nations by its “Liyyu Force” literary mean special force camped in Ogaden regional state
Respect the Responsibility to protect (R2P) which states, a state has a responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing.
Bring the killers of innocent citizens to the court,
Send Your Concerns to:
His Excellency: Mr. Haila Mariam Dessalegn – Prime Minister of Ethiopia
P.O.Box – 1031 Addis Ababa
Telephone – +251 155 20 44; +251 111 32 41
Fax – +251 155 20 30 , +251 15520
Office of Oromiya National Regional State President Office
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland Fax: + 41 22 917 9022 (particularly for urgent matters) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org this e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You
Office of the UNHCR
Telephone: 41 22 739 8111
Fax: 41 22 739 7377
Po Box: 2500
African Commission on Human and Peoples‘ Rights (ACHPR)
48 Kairaba Avenue, P.O.Box 673, Banjul, The Gambia.
A Summary of Oromos Killed, Beaten and Detained by the TPLF Armed Forces during the 2014 Oromo Protest Against The Addis Ababa (Finfinne) Master Plan Compiled by: National Youth Movement for Freedom and Democracy (NYMFD) aka Qeerroo Bilisummaa
July 05, 2014
It is a well-documented and established fact that the Oromo people in general and Oromo students and youth in particular have been in constant and continuous protest ever since the current TPLF led Ethiopian government came to power. The current protest which started late April 2014 on a large scale in all universities and colleges in Oromia and also spread to several high schools and middle schools begun as opposition to the so called “Integrated Developmental Master Plan” or simply “the Master Plan”. The “Master Plan” was a starter of the protest, not a major cause. The major cause of the youth revolt is opposition to the unjust rule of the Ethiopian regime in general. The main issue is that there is no justice, freedom and democracy in the country. The said Master Plan in particular, would expand the current limits of the capital, Addis Ababa, or “Finfinne” as the Oromos prefer to call it, by 20 folds stretching to tens of Oromian towns surrounding the capital. The Plan is set to legalize eviction of an estimated 2 million Oromo farmers from their ancestral land and sell it to national and transnational investors. For the Oromo, an already oppressed and marginalised nation in that country, the incorporation of those Oromian cities into the capital Addis Ababa means once more a complete eradication of their identity, culture, and language. The official language will eventually be changed to Amharic. Essentially, it is a new form of subjugation and colonization. It was the Oromo university students who saw this danger, realized its far-reaching consequences and lit the torch of protest which eventually engulfed the whole Oromia regional state.
For the minority TPLF led Ethiopian regime, who has been already selling large area of land surrounding Addis Ababa even without the existence of the Master Plan, meeting the demands of the protesting Oromo students means losing 1.1 million of hectares of land which the regime planned to sell for a large sum of money. Therefore, the demand of the students and the Oromo people at large is not acceptable to the regime. It has therefore decided to squash the protest with its forces armed to the teeth. The regime ordered its troops to fire live ammunition to defenceless Oromo students at several places: Ambo, Gudar, Robe (Bale), Nekemte, Jimma, Haromaya, Adama, Najjo, Gulliso, Anfillo (Kellem Wollega), Gimbi, Bule Hora (University), to mention a few. Because the government denied access to any independent journalists it is hard to know exactly how many have been killed and how many have been detained and beaten. Simply put, it is too large of a number over a large area of land to enumerate. Children as young as 11 years old have been killed. The number of Oromos killed in Oromia during the current protest is believed to be in hundreds. Tens of thousands have been jailed and an unknown number have been abducted and disappeared. The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa, who has been constantly reporting the human rights abuses of the regime through informants from several parts of Oromia for over a decade, estimates the number of Oromos detained since April 2014 as high as 50, 000
In this report we present a list of 61 Oromos that are killed and 903 others that are detained and beaten (or beaten and then detained) during and after the Oromo students protest which begun in April 2014 and which we managed to collect and compile. The information we obtain so far indicates those detained are still in jail and still under torture. Figure 1 below shows the number of Oromos killed from different zones of Oromia included in this report. Figure 2 shows the number of Oromos detained and reportedly facing torture. It has to be noted that this number is only a small fraction of the widespread killings and arrest of Oromos carried out by the regime in Oromia regional state since April 2014 to date. Our Data Collection Team is operating in the region under tight and risky security conditions not to consider lack of logistic, financial and man power to carry the data collection over the vast region of Oromia.