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Ethiopia: #OromoProtests: Oromia state rocked by protests. Oromo leader and prisoner of conscience Bekele Gerba freed. February 13, 2018

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Mass protests force Ethiopia to free opposition leader.- The Guardian.

OromiaStrikes

Oromia state rocked by protests and killings amid a 3-day market boycott, OP News


Ethiopia’s Oromia region at standstill as 3-day social shutdown kicks off, Africa News

OMN: Lagannaa Gabaa guyyaa 1ffaa (Gur 12, 2017)

 

Wantii Hundumtuu Uummata Keenyaan Ta’e, Guddaa Galatomaa. Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa


Oromo leader and prisoner of conscience Bekele Gerba freed.

 

 

 


Ethiopia frees Oromo leader and prisoner of conscience Bekele Gerba

(OPride) — Ethiopia on Tuesday released prominent Oromo opposition leader Bekele Gerba and six of his Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) colleagues from prison.

Authorities dropped all charges against the freed leaders, a day after a #OromiaStrikes blocked roads and staged rallies bringing the restive Oromia state to a standstill. The news of Bekele’s release was welcomed with warm and spontaneous celebrations across the country.

Bekele, secretary-general of OFC, was arrested in December 2015 at the height of the three-year long Oromo protests. He was initially charged terrorism but his charges were later reduced to criminal offenses for allegedly inciting violence.

“He just walked out of prison. We have confirmed that all charges against him have been dropped,” Mulatu Gemechu, a member of the OFC’s leadership told Reuters.

The other six OFC leaders released today are Gurmessa Ayano, Addisu Bulala, Dajane Xafa, Getu Garuma, Tesfaye Liban and Beyene Ruda.

The move is a response to deepening protests demanding Bekele’s release and part of a promise Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn made last month to build national consensus and widen the democratic space.

 

Ethiopia frees Oromo leader and prisoner of conscience Bekele Gerba

Mohammed Ademo

 @OPride

Ethiopia on Tuesday released prominent Oromo leader Bekele Gerba and six of his Oromo Federalist Congress colleagues from prison and dropped all charges against them, a day after #OromiaStrikes blocked roads and staged rallies across the state.

  1. Bekele Gerba and his colleagues pose for photo shortly after their release from prison earlier today. They’ve been in jail since December 2015. Text on their shirts reads: “Our land is our bone. We won’t be displaced.” A slogan that has been the battle cry of the .

    View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
  2. Breaking: Prominent Oromo opposition leader @BekeleGerba and 6 of his comrades released from prison this morning. They should not have been in jail in the first place but relieved that Bekele can now access critical medical care. Their freedom is welcome. Critical reforms needed.

  3. Fantastic news to hear reports that Bekele Gerba and his colleagues were released today! Their detention encapsulated the many things that are wrong with ’s judiciary. Hoping Bekele can continue his work with OFC without further arrest or threats/harassment from the govt

  4. Bekele Gerba et al’s release is a victory for and the Oromo people as a whole. His release came on the second day of a statewide in the form of market boycott, which has brought the restive Oromia state to a standstill. https://www.opride.com/2018/02/13/ethiopia-oromia-state-rocked-protests-killings-amid-3-day-market-boycott/ 

  5. To afford Bekele and his colleagues a heroic welcome and in recognition of today’s victory, Oromo activists are expected to call for the suspension of on its 3rd and final day tomorrow. A huge devt. as credible sources warn of plans for re-imposition of martial law.

  6. The third day has been suspended in reaction to release of Bekele Gerba and his comrades. The third day will be dedicated to welcoming heroes and cleaning street.

  7. Here are the heroes! Lafti keenya lafee keenya, hin buqqaanu!!

    View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
  8. Shashemene erupts upon hearing release of Bekele Gerba and comrades

    View image on Twitter
  9. Ambo erupts in celebration of victory

    View image on Twitter
  10. What a victory for those youth who relentlessly pursued justice against incredible odds!

    Whats more inspiring than this?

  11. Bekele Gerba, Gurmessa Ayano, Addisu Bulala, Dajane Xafa, Getu Garuma, Tesfaye Liban & Beyene Ruda

  12. This generation of enlightened Oromo youth/Qeerroo are game changers; change makers. free from prison, among others. Freedom is on the horizon 2018.

    View image on Twitter
  13. The protesters that I saw with my own eyes weren’t violent in any way.

    They had clear demands.

    -The end of dictatorship.
    -The immediate release of political prisoners.
    -The cry to end poverty and systemic economic disfranchisement.

  14. Bekele Gerba released from prison amid protests. Hopeful releases will mark a new chapter in Ethiopian politics https://reut.rs/2Hd5br2 

  15. Amazing news this morning. We learn of the release of Bekele Gerba along with his colleagues. Hoping he can continue to work with OFC and his greater people without the fear of being reincarnated, threatened, and harassed by the government.

  16. : The release of Bekele Gerba and six others is great news! Now, this should lead to the unconditional and immediate release of all prisoners of conscience imprisoned for peacefully voicing their dissent with the Ethiopian government.

    View image on Twitter
  17. Bekele Gerba and seven other prisoners of conscience are released from jail. Releasing innocent individuals who should not have been jailed in the first place should not be seen as a favour doled out to them. The government should go further & release all political prisoners.

  18. It will be interesting to watch how OPDO leaders react as their base erodes little by little. Bekele Gerba is a force of nature and has a lot of appeal to a wide base.

  19. Congrats to () organizers and protesters for the release of and other political prisoners. The government is forced to release them because of your consistent works. Thank you!

  20. We are happy to hear the release of opposition figure, Bekele Gerba, who was illegally arrested, prosecuted and harassed for his fight for human right respect and freedom. We well come his release & fight for the cause he was arrested. Congratulations for his family & friends.

    View image on Twitter

 



Ibsa lagannaa gabaa Oromiyaa yeroodhaaf dhaabuu ilaalchisee kenname


Hoggantoota KFO 7 injifannoon erga hiiksiseen booda Qeerroofi Qarreen haala laguun kun itti deemu malu xiinxaleera.
Xinxala kanarratti hundaayuun laguun guyyaa boruu (roobii) akka dhaabbatuufi guyyaa hafte kana hoggantoota injifannoon hidhaa bayan simachuuf, daandii fi magaalota sochiin guyyoota lamaan darbe keessatti ta’e mara qulqulleessuuf akka oolu murteesseera.
Qindeessitionni Qeerroo diddaafi lagannaa gabaa namusa cululuqaafi injifannoo addaan xumurame kanaarratti lammiilee hirmaatan maraaf kabajaa fi dinqisiifanno guddaa akka qabu ibsuu barbaada.

Bilusummaan Uummata Oromoof, Bilisummaan uummattoota Itoophiyaa maraaf.

Qeerroo Oromiyaa

Guraandhala. 13, 2018

 

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Bekele Gerba, a university Professor & one of the prominent political prisoners is in a critical condition denied of medical care in #Ethiopia. #MedicalCare4BekeleGerba #FreeBekeleGerba #OromoProtests @ScholarsAtRisk February 1, 2018

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Free Bekele Gerba and all political prisonners in Ethiopia


Bekele Gerba, a university Professor & one of the prominent political prisoners is in a critical condition denied of medical care in Ethiopia. #MedicalCare4BekeleGerba #FreeBekeleGerba #OromoProtests @ScholarsAtRisk

NEWS: IMPRISONED OPPOSITION LEADER BEKELE GERBA RISKS LOSING LEFT EYE VISION, HIS DISTRAUGHT DAUGHTER SAYS    

Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa Wal’ansa Fayyaa Dhabuun Nu Gaddisiisa: Maatii, VOA Afaan Oromoo

አቶ በቀለ ገርባ ግራ ዐይናቸው መጎዳቱን ልጃቸው ቦንቱ በቀለ ገለፀች. VOA


#MedicalCare4BekeleGerba: Activists launch online campaign amid jailed leader’s deteriorating health,  OPride 


Ethiopian activists on Thursday launched an online campaign demanding the release of and immediate medical treatment for jailed Oromo opposition leader, Bekele Gerba. The campaign is themed, “Bekele Gerba’s eye is our eye. He won’t lose his sight while we watch idly.”

Bekele, the deputy chairperson of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), is at risk of losing his eyesight due to hypertension and other health issues. The Qilinto prison administration, where he has been held since December 2015 accused, among other things, of inciting the #OromoProtests, have refused to allow Bekele to seek medical treatment at a local private clinic despite a referral from government hospital in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Bekele, a champion of nonviolent movement and who during previous prison term translated Martin Luther King’s speeches to Afaan Oromo, was widely expected to be released as part of government amnesty announced last month. However, so far, authorities have remained tight-lipped about whether his release and the release of other prominent political prisoners is forthcoming. Merera Gudina, the chairperson of OFC, was released 12 days ago.

“The doctors told us Bekele needs specialized doctors to treat his retinal blood vessels which are severely damaged due to a high blood pressure he has been experiencing since his detention, which has not been treated,” his distraught daughter, Bontu, told Addis Standard on Thursday. “We don’t know what is going to happen, my father’s left eye vision is completely blurred and he is in pain.”

At the last check-up, Bekele’s blood pressure reportedly came in at 190/110, which according to Addis Standard, “is considered hypertensive crisis or an emergency.” 

A quick timeline of Bekele’s ordeal:

  • Bekele was detained in December 2015 for allegedly inciting the popular Oromo protests.
  • Bekele was charged in April 2016 along with 21 defendants that included defendants Dejene Fita Geleta, Secretary General of OFC, and Gurmesa Ayano, another senior member, with various articles of the country’s sweeping Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.
  • A federal high court in July acquitted five of the 22 defendants, and reduced the terrorism charge against Bekele to crime charges under article 257/A of the 2004 Criminal Code.
  • In August, a panel of three judges at the Federal High Court denied Bekele’s request for bail.
  • On Oct. 30, 2017, the  Supreme Court overruled the high court decision and granted Bekele bail on appeal.
  • The court ordered Bekele’s release pursuant the posting of bail bond for 30, 000 birr (about $1, 000.)
  • On Oct. 31, the Qilinto prison administration refused to release Bekele claiming that the file number was incorrect.
  • On Nov. 1, the high instance court, also known as cassaction bench, suspended the bail. Bekele was asked to file a response.


A Moment Of Significance And Opportunity For Ethiopia January 15, 2018

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Uncategorized.
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A Moment Of Significance And Opportunity For Ethiopia – OpEd

Graham Peebles, Eurasia Review,  14 January 2018


Since November 2015 unprecedented protests have been taking place in Ethiopia: angry and frustrated at the widespread abuse of human rights and the centralization of power in the hands of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) tens of thousands have taken to the streets. The ruling party’s response to this democratic outpouring has been consistently violent; hundreds have been killed and beaten by security forces, tens of thousands arrested and imprisoned.

In an attempt to gag the people, a highly repressive State of Emergency was imposed in August 2016. It failed, the protests continued, the movement strengthened. The regime then tried to inflame ancient ethnic differences amongst various groups by staging attacks using plain-clothed security personnel. In the border region of Oromo and the Ogaden Tesfaye Robela of the Ethiopian Parliament claims that over 10,000 people have been killed. ESAT News (the sole Ethiopian independent broadcaster) quotes the findings of a parliamentary report into the ethnic clashes, which concluded that: “based on interviews with victims of the violence, squarely puts the blame on Somali Region Special Police, local police and militia for perpetrating the killings.” The Liyu Police is controlled by the Ethiopian military.

Despite these attempts to extinguish the movement for change, the people of Ethiopia are continuing to demand freedom, justice and democracy; this time they will not be silenced. The minority powers within the ruling EPRDF coalition – The Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) and the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) have been empowered by the popular uprising and there are signs that they are at last standing up to the majority TPLF members. Under pressure from the OPDO and ASDM and in a further attempt to distract attention from the protests and undermine the protestors’ claims, on 3rd January the government put out a convoluted statement relating to political prisoners.

The Prime-Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that the regime would release “some political prisoners”, prisoners that for the last 27 years they have denied even existed. ESAT News (which is based in Europe and America) reports he went on to announce that, “members of political parties and other individuals would be released to widen the political and democratic space” and that “the government would review the cases of certain individuals affiliated with political parties, including party leaders, [and] in some cases, charges would be dropped or people would be released or pardoned, depending on investigation results.”

His words, which have been widely reported in mainstream media, were not only disingenuous they were ambiguous and inconclusive. He failed to acknowledge that those imprisoned for expressing political dissent had been falsely incarcerated; repeatedly stating they were behind bars because they were guilty of breaking the law.

Whilst the release of any political prisoners at all would be a move in the right direction, in its present form the policy, if indeed it is a policy and not simply a public relations exercise aimed at international benefactors, is an insult to the thousands languishing in prison for no other reason than they disagree with the ruling TPLF. The statement is inadequate and needs clarification: who will be considered for release and when? Does it include opposition politicians charged with fictitious terrorist offences under the universally condemned Anti-Terrorist Proclamation of 2009? Will this long-overdue gesture mean that politicians who have been forced to live in exile for fear of arrest and imprisonment can safely return home?

These and other pressing questions need to be raised by opposition groups and human rights organizations, and indeed Ethiopia’s major donors — America, Britain and the European Parliament, all of which have allowed the TPLF to trample on human rights and the people for decades. Intense pressure must be applied on the government to articulate its intentions and, for once in their tyrannical reign, do the right thing and release all political prisoners, including journalists, bloggers, protestors and activists of all kinds.

It was also announced by the PM that Maekelewi prison in Addis Ababa, which has been used as a torture chamber by the TPLF for years, will be closed down, and rather bizarrely, turned into a modern museum, unless common sense prevails and it is demolished. This is a positive development but is again short on detail, there has been no mention of what will happen to the inmates. All political prisoners held there should be released unconditionally, and an independent international monitoring group established to oversee the release and or transfer of all other detainees.

The current of change

Despite being enshrined as rights within Ethiopia’s liberally worded constitution, for over two decades all forms of freedom of speech and political dissent have been virtually outlawed. Anyone who openly disagrees with or questions the ruling party is seen as a threat, and persecuted, arrested, imprisoned and, commonly, tortured. The Anti-Terrorism Act, together with The Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSP), both passed in 2009, are the primary tools of suppression within the regime’s Arsenal of Control.

Both laws have been widely criticized by Human Rights groups; responding to the CSP in 2012 Amnesty International said that, “The law has had a devastating impact on human rights work, both in terms of the practical obstacles it creates for human rights defenders, and in exacerbating the climate of fear in which they operate.” This is of course precisely what it was intended to do. Commenting on the Anti-Terrorist Proclamation when it was drafted, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that it provided “the Ethiopian government with a potent instrument to crack down on political dissent, including peaceful political demonstrations…It would permit [indeed has facilitated] long-term imprisonment and even the death penalty for ‘crimes’ that bear no resemblance, under any credible definition, to terrorism.”

For 27 years the TPLF group within the coalition have dominated all life in the country and like all such tyrannical regimes they have ruled through violence and fear. But we are living in new times; the days of tyrannical regimes is all but over, those that persist are sustained by the polluted energies of the past and are on their death bed. The people of Ethiopia sense that this is their time, that change is not only possible, but is coming.

The government’s half-baked move to release a few political leaders will not appease anyone, but should embolden many. It reveals a crack in the democratic facade presented by the regime, which must be split open under the force of sustained political activism, civil disobedience and public protest.

The minority members of the coalition — the OPDO and ANDM — now have an opportunity, indeed a responsibility to act boldly, to stand up and take a lead. As representatives of the two largest ethnic groups in the country they are in a position to do a number of things: demand The Anti-Terrorism Act, and The Charities and Societies Proclamation be immediately repealed, compile a comprehensive list of all political prisoners (working in cooperation with Amnesty International or The Ethiopia Human Rights Project), and vigorously press for their immediate release. Then, providing opposition politicians are released and political groups outside the country — including Ginbot 7 — are allowed to operate freely, work vigorously to campaign for fair and open elections (such a thing has never taken place in Ethiopia) to be held sometime in late 2019. This is a moment of significance in the country. There is an unstoppable force for justice and freedom sweeping across the world and Ethiopia is firmly within that current of change.


 

Oromia: Struggle Towards a Peaceful Sociopolitical Transformation in Ethiopia: Bekele Gerba as one of the Leading Icons February 14, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, African American, Baqqalaa Garbaa, Because I am Oromo, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia.
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Odaa Oromoo

Struggle Towards a Peaceful Sociopolitical Transformation in Ethiopia: Bekele Gerba as one of the Leading Icons

By  Begna F. Dugassa, Ph.D.

Bekele Gerba translated Martin Luther King’s book  ‘I HAVE A DREAM’  into Oromo language while he was in prison.

Bekele Gerba translated Martin Luther King’s book  ‘I HAVE A DREAM’  into Oromo language while he was in prison.



 

The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) led government of Ethiopia is portraying Bekele Gerba as a violent man and charging him with instigating violence. Ordinary people are characterizing him as a compassionate, kind and a caring teacher, a professor and a humble political prisoner. Some people take it further and think Gerba acquired his political philosophy from the great leaders of our recent past such as Gandhi of India, Martin Luther King of America and Nelson Mandela of South Africa. If that is the case, inspired by those renowned leaders Gerba is humbly facing humiliation. In reality, who is Bekele Gerba?

Bekele Gerba is a deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). In my short personal conversation with him, I found him to be a good listener, humble, compassionate and forgiving. I agree with the view of those who say that he has been influenced by the principles of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.  In addition, as a school teacher and professor he might have been influenced by Paulo Freire’s teaching facilitating students “learn to read the word and the world”.  He has a strong character and compassion for a peaceful mass movement. At one point he said “promoting a peaceful movement is not the path that scary leaders choose to prevent personal risks, it is a strategy they follow to humbly accept personal humiliation and reduce harm to the public[2]”.
Bekele gerba speaks

 

In Gerba’s mind, the principles of Gandhi, King and Mandela are not foreign ideas to him and to the Oromo people; they are indeed consistent with the Oromo principles of nagaa (peace) and (Gada) democratic system of governance which are enshrined in the Oromo culture. He believes that only a peaceful mass movement can guarantee real change and sustain building a democratic society in Ethiopia. In Gebra’s mind and heart, violence has no place. In several interviews, he repeatedly and emphatically noted that even those who are involved in the killing and those who are ordering the killings and imprisonment knew that they are wrong and in the backs of their mind they feel guilty.  He believes such self-righteous individuals will realize their wrongs and gradually join the peaceful mass movement.

The first time I heard the name of Bekele Gerba was when a friend forwarded me his powerful speech that he made on the 2010 election debate.  His speech was thoughtful and articulate.  He is a linguist and his language skills have given him the tools needed to articulate the aspirations of the Oromo people.  In many parts of the world having individuals who are thoughtful and articulate is desirable and such individuals are usually respected and rewarded. However, things are different in the eyes of the Ethiopian government officials.

Like many other dictators, the TPLF- led Ethiopian government sees human rights activists as “the enemy”. Soon after Bekele Gerba met the Amnesty International research team, the Ethiopian security forces charged him for crimes he never committed and threw him into jail. TPLF officials fear him not because he is a violent person or conspiring to promote violence, but because he is thoughtful and articulate.  The Ethiopian government’s concern is that he can articulate the demands and the aspirations of the Oromo people to the Amnesty International research team.  For that the TPLF officials fabricated a dramatic type of crime and sent him to jail. He was released from prison in 2015 after serving four years.

 

In 2015, the Oromo Studies Association (OSA invited Bekele Gerba (an Oromo) and John Markakis (a Greece-American) to be two keynote speakers. OSA always encourages diverse perspectives and views (because no one has a monopoly on knowledge) to be presented at its annual conferences. Bekele was a university professor before he was imprisoned. Before that he was a school teacher.  His lived experiences, and career as a school teacher, university professor, politician and then political prisoner have given him a wide range of perspectives. He was therefore an excellent candidate to be invited by the OSA as one of the keynote speakers.   When I learned he was to be one of the OSA’s keynote speakers, on the one hand I was happy that I was going to be able to hear his first hand presentation.  On the other hand, I was concerned because many Oromo intellectuals are leaving the country and I wanted him to stay in Oromia to provide the leadership. My reason is I knew one of the motives of the TPLF government is to deny the Oromo people all forms of leaderships.

I know that Bekele Gerba has spent four years in prison for a crime he never committed.   I know he clearly understands the social problems that afflict the Oromo people and the causes of those problems. I also know he has met hundreds of Oromo prisoners who are languishing in Ethiopian prisons “because they are Oromo”. He knows that thousands more of Oromo men and women who are languishing in several prisons “because they are Oromo”.  Therefore, in my mind I pictured him asssumured in my mind assumeman. ee social conditions in which the Oromo people live. ( from “ pictured him….” to the end is a mess. Better fix it!) He meet thousands  an angry man.  However, when I met him and talked to him he did not look like an angry man. He was not angry at those who imprisoned him. It is not that he was not hurt. Indeed, he was deeply hurt. Yet, he overcame the pain he went through and chose to forgive those who subjected him to pain. When I clearly understood his deep commitment to a peaceful mass movement and his forgiveness to those who imprisoned him, I was deeply touched. As Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for the US president, once said “forgiveness is a way of opening up the doors again and moving forward, whether it’s a personal life or a national life” I realized the motive of Gerba to forgive is to move forward. I am deeply touched by this.

Let me tell you why I am deeply touched. When I was writing my Ph.D dissertation I was interested in human rights and public health. Therefore, it was natural to associate with students who geared their research interests to peaceful social movements such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. At that time a friend who was focusing on Gandhi’s philosophy organized a research conference and invited me to present a paper. I presented a paper on Famine and Human Rights in Oromia. In the paper I explored the ways human rights violations perpetuated by consecutive Ethiopian regimes were contributing to cause famine. One of the audience members knew the situation that I was talking about and asked me if Gandhi type leaders need to be born in Ethiopia. I answered the question saying “thousands of Gandhi types of leaders are being born every year, but the social conditions of Ethiopia do not allow them grow. If Gandhi was born in Ethiopia, he would have been killed while he was still young”.  I further elaborated saying “although the British colonial rulers and the US slave holders were brutal, the system allowed many British and US citizens to be guided by a sense of “ethics”. Such a system allowed diversity within the dominant group of citizens and for this reason some of the members of the dominant group sympathized with the causes of those who were marginalized. However, the Ethiopian system does not allow diverse opinions to flourish.  Abyssinians like Wallelign Mekonnen who are inclined to promote social justice for the oppressed people are killed and such killing has suppressed others.  Oromo elites who tried to develop inclusive politics- like Haile Fida- and who tried to reform the Ethiopian Empire could not survive long.  Consistent with Newton’s law of motion that states “to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” and many Oromo leaders who came after Fida chose to focus on organizing the Oromo people.   I was convinced that in such political conditions Gandhi and Martin Luther King types of leaders and inclusive leaders could not grow to be national figures.

When I talked to Bekele Gerba and listened to his interviews, I started to question my own assumptions. Clearly he has successfully overcome the challenges that I identified above and developed a deep commitment to a peaceful mass movement and inclusive politics. The question I had in my mind at that time was, would the Ethiopian government allow such a thoughtful individual who fully adheres inclusive politics (diversity, equity and self-rule on one hand and unity on the other.

In December 2015, the Ethiopian government arrested Bekele Gerba again. When I heard the news, it reconfirmed my view about the system. Professor Merera Gudina rightfully characterized the ways the TPLF leadership thinks and functions when he said “although the TPLF has left the jungle behind, the jungle did not leave them behind.” The TPLF leadership needs to walk up and move away from the violent mindset that was instrumental to them when they were in the jungle. Leading a country with a population of a hundred million and leading a guerilla force are quite different things. They need to realize they are heading the second most popular and linguistically the most diverse empire or federal state in Africa.  They need to understand they are heading a country where the headquarters of the African Union is located and hundreds of diplomats stationed. They need to realize that the rule of law of the jungle is unsustainable.

 

The TPLF leadership need to understand Newton’s law of motion that states “to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Imprisoning Bekele Gerba and his colleagues does not silence the voice of the Oromo people who are demanding social justice, human rights and rule of law.  The voices that the Oromo people clearly and loudly spoke, from the North to South, and East to West in the last three months has delivered a clear message: “we do not allow any forms of injustice”. Consistent with Newton’s law of motion, as the TPLF oppress the Oromo people, evict them from their land, imprison and kill their children, the voices of the people demands for social reform and structural changes will dramatically increase. The TPLF leaders need individuals like Gerba and his colleagues who can be instrumental in facilitating smooth political change and lead social transformation in the country.

Gerba and his colleagues are the beloved sons and daughters of Oromo people and they want them free.  Certainly, Gerba and his colleagues are in a better position to secure not only the Oromo children but also, the Tigray children and others. Having said this, let me leave my note with the quote below and encourage the TPLF leadership to reevaluate their framework of thinking, free all political prisoners and join the peaceful march led by Gerba and his colleagues.

Today, I see thousands of Mahatma Gandhis, Martin Luther Kings, and Nelson Mandelas marching forward and calling on us. The boys and girls [i.e. Gerba & others] have joined. I have joined in. We ask you [the TPLF leadership] to join, too.

Kailash Satyarthi

Begna F. Dugassa, Ph.D.


[1] Begna Dugassa, Ph.D., promotes human rights and health. He researches and writes in human rights and public health.  His recent work is published in the Journal of Preventive Medicine in February 2016. The title of the article: Free Media as the Social Determinants of Health: The Case of Oromia Regional State in Ethiopia.
[2] Translation is mine.

Oromia: Human Rights Watch: Arrest of Respected Politician Escalating Crisis in Ethiopia January 7, 2016

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

Dispatches: Arrest of Respected Politician Escalating Crisis in Ethiopia

By Felix Horne

Free Bekele Gerba

Over the past eight weeks, Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, has been hit by a wave of mass protests over the expansion of the municipal boundary of the capital, Addis Ababa. The generally peaceful protests were sparked by fears the expansion will displace ethnic Oromo farmers from their land, the latest in a long list of Oromo grievances against the government.

Security forces have killed at least 140 protesters and injured many more, according to activists, in what may be the biggest crisis to hit Ethiopia since the 2005 election violence.

The crisis has taken another worrying turn: on December 23, the authorities arrested Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromia’s largest legally registered political party. There had been fears he would be re-arrested as the government targets prominent Oromo intellectuals who they feel have influence over the population. He was first taken to the notorious Maekalawi prison, where torture and other ill-treatment are routine. The 54-year-old foreign language professor was reportedly hospitalized shortly after his arrest but his whereabouts are now unknown, raising concerns of an enforced disappearance. Other senior OFC leaders have been arbitrarily arrested in recent weeks or are said to be under virtual house arrest.

This is not the first time Bekele has been arrested. In 2011, he was convicted under Ethiopia’s draconian counterterrorism law of being a member of the banned Oromo Liberation Front – a charge often used to silence politically engaged ethnic Oromos who oppose the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). He spent four years in prison and was only released shortly before the elections last May. The OFC ran candidates but the EPRDF coalition won all 547 parliamentary seats, a stark reflection of the unfair electoral playing field.

Bekele is deeply committed to nonviolence and has consistently advocated that the OFC participate in future elections, despite the EPRDF’s stranglehold on the political landscape.

By treating both opposition politicians and peaceful protesters with an iron fist, the government is closing off ways for Ethiopians to nonviolently express legitimate grievances. This is a dangerous trajectory that could put Ethiopia’s long-term stability at risk.

The Ethiopian government should release unjustly detained opposition figures including Bekele and rein in the excessive use of lethal force by the security forces. They should also allow people to peacefully protest and to express dissent and ensure that farmers and pastoralists are protected from arbitrary or forced displacement without consultation and adequate compensation.

These steps would be an important way to show Oromo protesters that the government is changing tack and is genuinely committed to respecting rights. Without this kind of policy shift, desperate citizens will widen their search for other options for addressing grievances.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/01/07/dispatches-arrest-respected-politician-escalating-crisis-ethiopia

 

Oromia: OFC’s letter to the diplomatic community. #OromoProtests December 25, 2015

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Odaa OromooOromo Federalist  Congress

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The arrogance of the Ethiopian regime comes partly from the lack of serious pressure from the international community, especially from countries such as the US and the African Union, which watches the senseless drama silently.

The Master Plan is the continuation of the massive land grabbing across the country in such places like Gambella, Beni-Shangul, Afar and Oromia.

 

 

OFC’s letter to the diplomatic community


 

To: Members of the Diplomatic Community:


We, the Executive Committee Members of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), a legally registered political party, make an urgent appeal to members of the diplomatic community on behalf of the Oromo students and the larger Oromo population.

The Ethiopian government is committing an atrocious act of brutality against Oromo students and the larger population, who are peacefully protesting across Oromia for their rights. Consequently, most universities, colleges, high schools as well as elementary sections across Oromia are also closed. Far worse, for the last four weeks, over 85 students and ordinary citizens have been mercilessly killed; thousands have been wounded while several thousands have been detained. Moreover, the government security personnel have targeted our members who were candidates and observers during the 2015 elections. None of the imprisoned persons are charged with any crime and brought to the court of law as the Ethiopian law requires. We think, the arrogance of the Ethiopian regime comes partly from the lack of serious pressure from the international community, especially from countries such as the US and the African Union, which watches the senseless drama silently.
As you might aware, the Oromo youth and the larger Oromo population are demonstrating against the so-called Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromia towns Integrated Development Plan (Master Plan), which was done without the consultation of the local population whose livelihood, depends on land. Similar opposition to the same plan in 2014 claimed not less than 78 students’lives in Ambo town and other Oromo areas. No one was made accountable for that vicious act.

The Ethiopian government that shelved the plan for one year arrogantly revived it recently, provoking a fresh unrest. During this interregnum, except in few limited areas, at that under a controlled environment, the government did not conduct any discussion with the Oromo population on the Master Plan and its effect on poor Oromo farmers. Furthermore, none of the opposition parties and independent civil organizations was consulted as stakeholders. Sadly, for its brutal killing of students in 2014, the Ethiopian regime did not face any condemnation from the donor governments which prop up the regime except the western-based human right organizations, which did a good job. Thus, encouraged by the silence from the diplomatic corps and their foreign governments, it is now repeating the same act with a new vigor and sense of impunity.

Contrary to the claim of the Ethiopia government, the Oromo students and population are not against development per se. The Oromo students are protesting against massive land grabbing and the displacement of Oromo farmers from their ancestral land under the guise of development in several places. For your information, we have evidence that shows – after the 2005 elections alone more than 150,000 farmers were displaced with their families from the environs of Addis Ababa and nobody knows as to where about of these farmers and their children. Land is not just a material possession for the Oromo. It is intimately tied to their way of life and who they are. Thus, the Oromo students are also protesting against the systematic destruction of their traditions, values, language and other distinct Oromo traits that follow the loss of their ancestral land. Moreover, students are protesting the de facto annexation of Oromian territory that follows the implementation of the Master Plan that envisages encompassing nearly 3 times the current boundaries of the city. This is not only land grab, but also power grab, dismantling of the federal system and an existential threat for the Oromo.

Even before the implementation of the Master Plan, the City of Addis Ababa had exponentially grown horizontally into the peripheral Oromia territory. As a result of this, hundred thousands of farmers have continued to be disposed of their land, the only basis of their livelihoods. As indicated above, thousands who were disposed of their land at a nominal compensation have left their ancestral land and some of them moved to the harsh and unforgiving city life in Addis Ababa where they have become either homeless, daily laborers or beggars. The Master Plan is the continuation of the massive land grabbing across the country in such places like Gambella, Beni-Shangul, Afar and Oromia. Far worse, the corrupt government officials and cadres are recklessly displacing poor farmers for their own personal enrichment.

We strongly believe that looking away from the crimes of the Ethiopian regime and allowing it to terrorize millions of its citizens under the guise of fighting international terrorism is both morally as well as politically wrong. And partnership in fighting international terrorism should not be taken as a license to kill innocent citizens by authoritarian regimes such as that of Ethiopia. As we write this appeal to you, the Oromia region is under a practical state of emergency where the army, the federal police and other armed units of the regime have become the law of the land by themselves. Therefore, we urge you to put an utmost pressure on the Ethiopia government to stop its senseless killings and cease to use excessive force. We further request you to support the legitimate question of the Oromo students and ask the Ethiopian government to immediately stop the implementation of the Master Plan, release imprisoned students and other citizens as well as bring to justice those who have used excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators. As this is also a delayed reaction to the total robbery of the May 2015 elections by the EPRDF regime, we urge you to advise the regime to engage the country’s democratic forces by opening up the political space for all the concerned stakeholders so as to find a durable solution through a national dialogue.

Regards,

For the OFC Executive Committee, Merera Gudina (PhD) & Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations,
Chairman, Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC)
Vice – Chairman & Head of Foreign Affairs of MEDREK.

 

 

Oromia: Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa fi Obbo Dajanee Xaafaa To’annaa Jala Oolan. Fascist Ethiopian Regime (TPLF) unlawfully Arrested Baqqalaa Garbaa and Dajanee Tafaa of Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) December 25, 2015

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Odaa OromooBaqqalaa GarbaaBaqqalaa Garbaa and Dajanee Xaafaa of Oromo Federalist CongressFree Bekele Gerba

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/12/25/omn-oduu-mud-24-2015/

Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa , Itti-Aanaa Dura taa’aa KFO/OFC fi Dajanee Xaafaa itti-aanaa barreessaa KFO/OFC guyyaa ardhaa qabamuun Himame. Sochii Uummataatiin kan bararuqe mootummaan Shororkeessaa Woyyaanee hoggantoota gootota ilmaan Oromootaa kana Obboo Baqqalaa Adaammaarraa loltuu Lammii Tigraay qofa 21 qabatee mana marsee qabee gara Maakalaawitti yo geessu Obboo Dajanee Xaafaa ammoo Yuuniverstii Rift Valley bakka inni barsiisurraa qabanii mana geessanii and mana isaa sakatta’anii gara Maakalaawitti geessuun himameera.
Obboo Baqqalaan kanaan durallee woggoota 4 wolakkaa f mana hidhaa kan ture yo ta’u obbo Dajaneenille nama woggaa dheeraaf qabsoo karaa nagaa keessa turee dha. Ob Dajaneen 2005-2010 aanaa callayaarra filatamee paarlaamaa keessa turuun beekkama.

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/12/24/omn-oduu-amma-nu-gahe-muddee-242015/

 

 

Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa Deebisanii To’annaa Jala Oolan

 

 

Muddee (Dec.) 24, 2015

Kan dhiyeenya mana hidhaa dhaa gad dhiisaman Itti aanaa dura taa’aan kongresa Federaalawaa Oromoo Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa akka lakkoobsa Itiyoopiyaa har’a galgala naannoo Sa’a 12 mana isaanii Adaamaa jiru irraa hunoota mootummaan qabamuu maatiin isaanii nuu mirkaneessaniiru jechuu dhaan barreessaan dhaabichaa Obbo Baqqalaa Nagaa dubbataniiru.

 

Bonnie Holcomb: OSA’s Board Chair – message regarding the unlawful arrest of Bekele Gerba of OFC

Bekele Gerba was arrested last night 7:30 PM local time in Adama by 14 uniformed and armed Federal Police. They came with a paper callng for the arrest of “Bekele Gerba Tuji.” Bekele was reading at his desk in the company of his wife and son. He responded peacefully that this is not his proper name, that he had broken no law and refused to go with them or allow them to search the house. They brought another two intelligence people in civilian clothing who led a search the house without a stated purpose against his objection that his rights were being violated. He was taken by force without a charge in front of his wife, son and three witnesses who were EPRDF members. He was put into the back of a Federal Police vehicle and taken away. At that point his wife was told not to follow them and that she could visit him at the Makelawi prison after 24 hours.

This is the highly-respected man with a reputation of utmost integrity who translated the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr into Oromo language while serving and a prisoner of conscience from 2011-2015. He is an official in the legitimate Oromo opposition party in Ethiopia. He delivered the keynote address at the 2015 Oromo Studies Association calling upon Oromo protest peacefully to assert their rights. I personally accompanied him to visit the State Department Ethiopian Desk officer, State Department Democracy Rights and Labor representative who also reported to the African Desk officer. He spoke with members of the Atlantic Council at a session on August 27, with National Endowment for Democracy, RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, Freedom House, offices of Congressional Representatives from Minnesota and the House Subcommittee on Africa. He was interviewed by NPR and Al Jazeera. At all meetings he spoke clearly about the crisis the Oromo were facing with violation of all rights guaranteed by the Ethiopian constitution, the outright confiscation of land, the closure of all political and social space for expression. He urged support for peaceful demonstration by Oromo in Ethiopia, and received assurances that the United States fully supports democratic expression. Now is the time for all who heard and understood his message to stand in support of Bekele and the Oromo protesters who peacefully demonstrated in response to illegal land seizure and egregious violations of their rights.

http://www.ayyaantuu.net/bonnie-holcomb-osas-board-chair-message-regarding-the-unlawful-arrest-of-bekele-gerba-of-ofc/