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Seyoum Teshome is a professor at a university in Ethiopia and writes to fight the spread of fear that has engulfed his country as a result of an increasingly repressive administration. In September 2016, Seyoum was arrested and charged with incitement to violence against the state. In this blog, he describes the treatment of prisoners in one of Ethiopia’s rehabilitation centres, where he was detained further to his arrest. Thousands of Ethiopians like Seyoum have been arrested and tortured in rehabilitation centres since the state of emergency was imposed in October 2016.
It was around 6:30 am on 30 September 2016 when I was rudely awakened by loud knocks on my door and someone shouting out my name. Peeping through the keyhole, I saw around 10 local police officers. Some of them were staring at the door while others were guarding the corridor.
I said to myself, “Yap! At last…here you go, they have come for you!”
One of them asked if I was Mr Seyoum Teshome to which I replied in the affirmative. They said they wanted to talk to me for a moment, so I opened the door. They showed me a court warrant which gave them permission to search my house. The warrant indicated that I had illegal weapons and pamphlets to incite violence against the government.
Accused without evidence
After searching my entire house and despite finding no signs of the said items, they arrested and took me to a local police station. They also carried off my laptop, smartphone, notebooks and some papers. Confident that they hadn’t found the items mentioned in the court warrant, I was certain of my release. However, three hours later, I found myself being interrogated by a local public prosecutor and two police investigators. The interrogation eventually led to the commencement of a legal charge.
I was scheduled to sit a PhD entry exam on 2 October 2017 at Addis Ababa University, something I had been working towards for a very long time. Throughout the interrogation, my pleas for the case to be hastened so that I wouldn’t miss the rare opportunity to pursue a PhD course fell on deaf ears. My colleagues had provided a car and allowance fee for a police officer to go with me to the university so that I could sit the exam. This is a standard procedure. Yet on that day, they were not willing to lend me a hand. I was stuck in pre-trial detention due to Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and missed my chance.
Little did I know that, in just 12 hours, I would be the state’s guest for merely expressing my opinion.
The day before my arrest, I had given an interview to Deutche Welle-Amharic radio station about the nation-wide teachers meeting where I commented that, in Ethiopia, expressing one’s own opinion could lead to arrest, exile or possibly death. Little did I know that, in just 12 hours, I would be the state’s guest for merely expressing my opinion.
On 3 October 2016, I was presented in court. I was accused of writing articles and posts on social media sites aiming to incite violence against the government. In addition to the two notebooks and papers they had taken from my house, the investigator had also printed 61 pages of the 58 articles I posted on the Horn Affairs website that year. In total, they brought more than 200 pages of written and printed writings as evidence to support their allegations. I denied all the charges.
Another court session was scheduled in 10 days to allow the police to conclude their investigations. The 10 days lapsed and the police requested an additional seven days to complete their investigations on me while denying me bail.
On 20 October 2016, a jury found there was no evidence to support the police department’s claims. I thought the matter was over but I was immediately accused of contravening the State of Emergency that had been declared on 9 October 2017. A piece of paper with some writing on it was presented as evidence to support the charge.
The Police initially took me to Tolay Military Camp and later transferred me, together with others arrested, to Woliso Woreda Police Station in central Ethiopia, outside Addis Ababa. We were shoved into a 3×5 metres squared detention room where we joined more than 45 other people already there. It was very hard to find a place to sit. I survived suffocation by breathing through a hole beneath the door. After that terrible night, I was taken back to Tolay where I stayed until 21 December, 2016 – 56 days after my arrest.
Access to food in the first 20 days was limited. We were made to walk while crouching with our hands behind our heads. We also walked barefoot to and from the toilet and dining areas. Due to this treatment, three of my fellow detainees suffered cardiac arrest. I don’t know whether or not they survived. I also heard that a woman’s pregnancy was terminated.
Every day, a police officer came to our room and called out the names of detainees to be taken for the so-called “investigation.” When they returned, the detainees had downtrodden faces and horrible wounds on their backs and legs. Waiting for one’s name to be called was agony.
It took eight days before my name was finally called. I sat in front of five investigators flanked on either side by two others. While I was being interrogated, detainees in another room were being beaten. I could hear them crying and begging their torturers to stop.
Moved by what I had witnessed, I decided to secretly gather the detainees’ information. It didn’t take long before I was discovered by the authorities. On a hot afternoon, they came to my room and called my name. A group of investigators ruthlessly began beating me, to the point where I fainted three times. The beatings were unbearable so I finally confessed to collecting information in the camp. The chief investigator was then called in so that I could also confess to him.
By then, I had gained enough strength to renounce my earlier confessions which angered the Chief Investigator very much. He drew a pistol and threatened to kill me for making a fool out of them. I stretched turned around and spread my arms wide. Then, I said, “Fear of death doesn’t make me confess against myself! Go ahead, shoot!”
Amazingly, the commander ordered me to go to my room and take a shower. I didn’t believe it. I still don’t. I quickly ran off. I was released a little over two weeks later.
Though I finally left Tolay, those memories and emotions are still with me. Though I am still afraid of another arbitrary arrest and being sent back to prison, what I fear more is the totalitarian state that complete denies freedom. . While there, I told myself that, if I made it out, I would raise international awareness on the government’s outrageous treatment of prisoners.
Last week on March 22, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who also chairs the Ethiopian Tourism Transformation Council, officially introduced the Amharic version of Ethiopia’s new tourism logo ‘Ethiopia, Land of Origins’. It is now called Midre Kedemt in Amharic.
The Prime Minister unveiled the Amharic version of the new logo while attending the fourth regular meeting of the Council, which was established three years ago in March 2014 along with the Ethiopian Tourism Organization. Reason? To transform the country’s ailing tourism industry.
A sign of urgency to reboot the country’s tourism industry plagued by, among others, poor tourism infrastructure and absence of meaningful coordination, both the Council and the Organization were established following a regulation issued by the Council of Ministers (CoM) in August 2013.
The ups and downs
Tourism in Ethiopia has been witnessing an increasing- if modest- growth since the country officially opened its doors to foreign tourists in 1963. According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MOCT), the most significant dip in the number of foreigners visiting Ethiopia happened during the 17 years in power of the military Derg regime from 1974 to 1991. Since then, following the coming into power of the incumbent in 1991, the numbers have shown a steady growth from 64,000 to 750,000 during the 2014/15 fiscal year.
That was until November 2015, when anti-government protests that would grip the country throughout 2016 first started, an unexpected turn of an event both the Council and the Organization seemed not prepared to handle.
“That [the time the protests began] was when we started to notice the difference,” says a tour operator who requested anonymity. “More and more clients began asking questions about security as the [protests] got international press coverage. Pretty soon the low season was upon us and the number of tourists plummeted as we [feared]. But we didn’t expect that more than 95% of our bookings for the high season would end up being canceled.”
The high season in Ethiopia typically starts in September, when the main rainy season is over; and it ends around February when it becomes too hot to take tourists to famous destinations such as the Danakil depression.
Encouraged by the steady inflow of tourists before the start of the protests, our source invested in two 4WD cars. “We bought two cars towards the end of the last fiscal year,” he explained. “We borrowed money from a bank and invested some from our own accounts. But there are no tourists now and we can’t even rent the cars to business tourists coming to Addis Abeba. We don’t know what to do. We are just paying rent, maintaining a small staff and hoping for the best at the moment.”
Although order seemed to have returned following the declaration of the current state of emergency in October last year, and “we are getting more requests now than before, it is not enough to maintain our business,” our source worries. “If things continue at this rate, we will be forced to close down. We picked a bad time to expand our business.” He also said most of their clients come from abroad after communicating with them via the internet, which suffered its own share misfortune as the country shut down internet following protests. Walk in and domestic clients account only for less than 2% of their total bookings, he said.
His frustrations are shared by many tour and travel companies that joined the market recently. Not only tour operators but those working in the transport sector were affected as well, according to Getnet Asefa, a freelance driver/guide. Getnet, who used to make an average 500birr (around $21) per day as a freelance guide, says he is now considering a change in career. “Last year at this time, I worked at least 4 days a week,” he says, “Now getting tourism work has become very difficult. Some of my friends have started working as taxi drivers. At this point, we don’t know what is going to happen next and that is scary.”
The effect is also felt among tour and travel agencies that on the surface seemed to be doing well. “We are concerned that the company won’t survive this year,” says Yenealem Getachew, managing director of Horizon Ethiopia Tour and Travel plc. “We don’t expect to be reimbursed for our losses. But we do have many commitments. For example, we have to pay profit tax at the end of the year. Some of us have bank loans. When you have a debt to service, that is the first thing you want to take care of. If you can’t do that, you start to lay off employees.”
Yenealem said his company has asked the government for help but they “still haven’t got a response. I think they are more concerned about companies with physical damage. They don’t seem to grasp that without clients we tour operators get nothing.”
In late Oct. 2016, Ethiopia Ministry of Culture and Tourism, MOCT, has established a command post to assess the damage the industry sustained as well as to ensure the “safety of tourists”. “We went to see the damage caused by the protesters,” Tewedros Derbew, Tourist Services Competence and grading directorate director at the ministry and head of the committee, told Addis Standard. “We called the owners for a meeting to discuss how to help them as well as to offer moral support. We have now sent a report to the investment commission detailing their losses. We have also distributed questionnaires to tour operators but we haven’t received their responses yet.”
Tewedros admits “the industry has been severely affected. There is no question about that.” But contrary to the actors in the industry say, he insists “no tour and travel company was forced or threatened to close down or let go of its employees because of it.”
The opposite of…
In late 2015, around the same time the protests began, MOCT announced that it wanted to “triple the number of foreign visitors, to more than 2.5 million, by 2020”, and make Ethiopia become one of Africa’s top five tourist destinations.
In a stark difference to what the actors in the industry and several reports say in post-protest Ethiopia, in a January 2017 report to the house of people’s representatives, Hirut Woldemariam, the new minister at the ministry of culture and tourism, reported that despite the current state of emergency 300,000 tourists have visited the country during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, generating $872 revenue to the country.
But as in every sector, data for this sector is prepared by the government itself. If one goes by Hirut’s numbers above for example, more tourists have visited Ethiopia during its turbulent year than in its years of peace. In Oct. 2015, one month before the start of the protests, the same ministry said that during the 2014/15 fiscal year, 750,000 tourists have visited Ethiopia, fetching in $2.9 billion income to the county. That figure is close to the $3b the government expected to earn from the industry by the end of its first Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) in 2015.
In Oct. 2016, Lonely Planet has rated Ethiopia 10th out of the “Top Ten Countries to visit in 2017.” But, that announcement seemed to contribute little when it comes to shaking off Ethiopia’s image in the aftermath of the widely reported yearlong protests.
“Image is everything for a country’s tourism sector,” one expert says. “We had just managed to overcome decades of bad publicity caused by famines and violent regime changes. [As of late] Ethiopia had been named one of the emerging tourist destinations. The country’s overall infrastructure was getting better. Then this [the protest] happens. It will take a long time to recover from the effects of the unrest. It is difficult to predict just how long.”
Other issues many tour operators cite in relation to the decline in tourism are the substandard services and accommodations, inadequate maintenance given to tourism infrastructure and destinations, and the lack of communication between tour operators and government agencies.
“Take Lalibela for example. It looks exactly the way it did 10 years ago but the entrance fee has increased,” says Yenealem. “Our hotel bookings are dropped with little to no notice when there are big events like Epiphany in Gondar. The local guides monopolize any work to be done on the sites [including] increasing entrance and guide fees at will and they chase away anyone who refuses to have a guide.”
Lots of plans
In addition to the five-year plan by the MOCT, in September 2016, The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has handed over Ethiopia’s Sustainable Tourism Master Plan (STMP) 2015-2025 to the then minister of tourism and culture, Ayisha Mohammed Mussa. It targets to lift the number of international visitors to five million in the year 2025. The projected income from the industry to increase from ETB14.197 billion in 2012 to ETB180 billion in 2015. The corresponding number of jobs in the tourism sector will increase from 985, 500 to 4.8 million, according to the document.
As part of its several initiatives to revive the industry, as of last week, the Ethiopian Tourism Organization is organizing a series of workshops in several cities in North America including New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto.
ETO has also recently signed, for an undisclosed amount of money, an agreement with New York-based CornerSun, a tourism marketing and public relations firm to “represent and promote Ethiopia” to travel trade and media throughout the United States and Canada. Since it was formed in 2014, the organization, led by an industry veteran Solomon Tadesse, has spent more time and resource to promote Ethiopia by participating in various fairs and exhibitions outside the country.
With all that said and all the inconsistencies considered, however, tour operators worry that the number of tourists visiting Ethiopia will continue falling short than both the five year plan by the ministry and ECA’s STMP have anticipated.
Last week and this week, while Solomon Tadesse, along with a group of hotels as well as tour and travel company owners, is doing a three-city roadshow in the Americas, some tourists who want to take chances to visit Ethiopia signed onto Lonely Planet’s online forums to complain about complicated visa requirements at Ethiopian embassies abroad and a steep rise in domestic flight fare by the state monopoly, Ethiopian Airlines, an indication that beyond the protest-tainted image the industry is facing as of late tourists are also dealing with other problems that are equally urgent; but problems that are less the focus of the endless plans to revive the sector, including a new logo. AS
1. Col. Gebremedihin Gebre, Shhinelle Zone Coordinator and deputy commander of Somali Special Forces
2 Col. Fiseha, chief of intelligence of somali regional government, specializing particularly in Oromos and Oromia issue, also heads and supervises Fefem zone security
3. Col. Gitet Tesfaye , coordinates and leads disputed borders issue and security
4. Major Desalegn Haddish, Babile front intelligence chief
5 Major Abraha Sisay, heads training of mercenaries and somali recruits at Bobas training center
6 Brigadier General Hadgu Belay, advisor to the president of Somali region on security and organizational affairs on security at regional government level
7 Col. Gebretensae, heads and coordinates Somali militias organization Oromo mercenaries working with the TPLF officials
1. Lieutenant Hassan Ali, former member of defense forces of Ethiopia, now commands a Liyu Police unit consisting 120 members at attacking Erer district( wereda)
2. Captain Mohammed Ibrahim, with a unit of 120 members at Babile front( WEREDA)
3 Sergeant Usman Mohammed, Garalencha district
4 Sergeant Jibril Ahmed spies on Oromo militia in Gursum district, to Fafam direction
5 Sergeant Mohamed Usman, Raqe, Meyu Muluke areas military operations
6 Sergeant Fuad Aliyi, Chinaksen district
* The Liyu Police and Somali region militia are organized in 26 regiment each consisting up to 500 personnel.
“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)
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!
Ethiopian Regime Destruction of Somalia communities along the Somali Border
ONLF Press Release
May 31, 2015
The Special killing squads of the Ethiopian Regional Administration in Ogaden called the Liyu police, which is funded, trained and armed by the Ethiopian government has committed genocide in the villages near Shilaabo district of Ogaden along the Somali border, killing hundreds of civilians and burning several villages. Among the dead are more than 50 women, children and the elderly, who were wantonly cut into pieces. The epicentres of these massacres were the villages of Lababaar, Xaadh Xaadh, Xindhowreed, and other villages towards the Barmagoog and the Somali border near the Gal-Mudug region. The killings started on the May 26 and are still on going.
The Liyu police, which routinely conducts these heinous massacres in other Ogaden villages, went to Lababaar and demanded money from livestock at the village well. The people, who had no money, told the Liyu police commanders that they could not afford the exorbitant prices levied against them. The Liyu Police leader ordered the beheading of several elders. The people resisted and several members of the community were summarily executed. Then the Liyu police started spraying the remaining civilians with bullets.
The people decided to resist and then, the Liyu police started attacking all the villages in the area and shooting every one on sight, specially targeting women and children who are defenceless.
These communities, who reside on both sides of the border, are now a target for the Liyu police. The Ethiopian regular army closed the border crossings between Somalia and the Ogaden and is assisting the Liyu police with ammunition and medical support, while cornering and killing the wounded and escaping civilians to Somalia in order to obliterate any evidence.
ONLF condemns the Ethiopian government in the strongest term possible for unleashing these Gestapo-like killing squads on the Somali people in the region and calls the international community to send a fact-finding mission to the Ogaden to investigate the current incidence and the general conduct of the Liyu police in the Ogaden. The Ogaden is closed to international independent media and no independent local media is allowed.
ONLF informs the Somali people in Somalia that the Liyu Police is an Ethiopian regime created army that is being used to suppress all Somalis in Ogaden and is not the army of any Somali clan in Ogaden. Therefore, they shall hold the Ethiopian regime responsible for this catastrophe.
Finally, ONLF calls all Somalis in Ogaden and Neighbouring Somalia to unite against the Ethiopian regime that is responsible for the current malaise in the Horn of Africa and avoid the clan animosities being kindled and sponsored by the Ethiopian regime.
A week of clashes with Ethiopian paramilitary unit in Somalia leaves 35 dead
Mail & Guardian, 1st June 2015
Ethiopia has been in quite some cross-border controversy lately; two weeks ago its security forces entered and took over a Kenya police station.
FOR the second time in two weeks, Ethiopians security forces are being accused of unauthorised or heavy-handed action in neighbouring countries.
In the latest incident at least 35 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in a week of clashes in villages near Somalia’s border with Ethiopia, officials and traditional elders said Sunday.
The sources said the clashes involved Somali clan militia and members of the Liyu police, an Ethiopian paramilitary unit operating in Ethiopia’s ethnic Somali region.
“The Liyu Police Unit launched an attack on innocent civilians. They are attacking villagers and killing people who keep livestock,” Hussein Weheliye Irfo, the governor of the Galgadud region in central Somalia, told reporters.
He said the Somali government was aware of the clashes and also called for the intervention of Ethiopia’s government and the African Union force in Somalia, AMISOM.
On May 18, Kenya security forces were put on high alert after about 50 heavily-armed Ethiopian soldiers and police officers crossed the border and reportedly took over a police station.
According to Kenya’s leading newspaper Daily Nation, police said the incident at Illeret Police Station in North Horr came just a week after surveyors had completed demarcating the Kenya-Ethiopia border.
The Ethiopians disembarked and took strategic positions around the police station.
They inspected the area and took photos of the area, which is 16 kilometres from the border.
“Their intention is not clear,” read a brief from Kenya’s Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet’s office in Nairobi.
Week of Galgadud fighting
Speaking on the Galgadud incidents, sources in the region said fighting started a week ago and escalated on Friday.
“It is effecting a vast area and the casualties are very high, 35 dead bodies have been counted so far,” Mohamed Garane, a traditional elder in Guricel district where the wounded are hospitalised, said by telephone.
Another elder in the region, Daud Moalim Ise, said the Liyu force had used “excessive force” and said up to 45 had been killed.
“We have received around 29 wounded, most of them civilians. Many others are unable to reach here,” added Ali Omar, director of the main hospital in Guricel district. “Among them are women and children with severe gunshot wounds.
It was not apparently clear what sparked the clashes, which are separate from ongoing battles between African Union troops and Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab insurgents in the far south of the country. Several sources said the fighting may surround allegations that a Liyu police member had raped a local woman.
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.