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Scholars At Risk Net Work: Release Scholar-Activist Bekele Gerba March 16, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Baqqalaa Garbaa.
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Release Scholar-Activist Bekele Gerba

March 16, 2017 – Scholars at Risk (SAR) is concerned over the arrest and ongoing incommunicado detention of Professor Bekele Gerba, a foreign language professor at Addis Ababa University and the deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), who is facing terrorism-related charges that apparently stem from his peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association.

SAR understands that on December 23, 2015, Ethiopian federal security forces arrested Professor Gerba, a prominent Oromo rights activist, after entering and searching his home. His arrest occurred against a backdrop of protests and intensifying clashes between the Ethiopian government and supporters of the rights of the Oromo minority, over the government’s renewed implementation of its “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan.” Sources suggest that Professor Gerba’s arrest was a reaction to the protests taking place across the Oromia region.

Upon his arrest, Professor Gerba’s family and witnesses were reportedly told that he would be taken to Maekalawi prison, where they could visit him in 24 hours. The day he was scheduled to appear in court, however, Professor Gerba allegedly disappeared and has since been held incommunicado. SAR understands that on April 22, 2016, an Ethiopian court brought terrorism-related charges against Professor Gerba and 21 others in connection with the protests. Prosecutors have since presented as evidence videos of a speech Professor Gerba gave at an August 2015 conference organized by the Oromo Studies Association and a December 2015 interview with a foreign-based, Ethiopian media outlet. SAR further understands that Professor Gerba has reported that he and his co-defendants have suffered ill-treatment during their detention.

SAR calls for emails, letters, and faxes respectfully urging the authorities to release and drop all charges against Professor Gerba; or, pending this, to ensure his well-being while in custody, including access to legal counsel and family, and to ensure that his case proceeds in a manner consistent with Ethiopia’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and free expression.

Click here for the full text: Release Scholar-Activist Bekele Gerba

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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

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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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

 

Demand the Immediate Release of Oromo Peace Activist Bekele Gerba from Ethiopian Prison January 5, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoo

Free Bekele Gerba

 

Baqqalaa Garbaa

https://www.change.org/p/demand-oromo-peace-activist-bekele-gerba-s-immediate-release-from-ethiopian-prison

On the evening of Dec 23, 2015, Bekele Gerba, was at home, reading at his desk in the company of his wife and son when armed Ethiopian federal security forces surrounded his home, entered and searched his house against his will, and forcibly arrested him. His family and witnesses were told that he would be taken to Makalawi, an infamous high security prison where they could visit him in 24 hours. But they were not allowed to see him. The day he was scheduled to appear in court, he disappeared. Later, he was taken to a hospital where word got out that he had been beaten to unconsciousness during an interrogation at a military camp. He continues to be denied visitation. Right now, he is being held incommunicado, and we have grave concerns that his health is deteriorating.

Bekele Gerba is the Deputy Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress party and a widely respected peace advocate. He is a renowned voice for nonviolence, urging only peaceful forms of resistance to violent oppression in Ethiopia.  He envisions peaceful struggle as the preferred means for attaining democracy, unity, and justice. He has become a significant voice of this generation. 

His arrest late December was not his first. In August 2011, following a meeting with Amnesty International about Ethiopia’s human rights violations, Bekele was imprisoned, charged under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism proclamation and sentenced to eight years. Similarly trumped up charges are frequently used to silence any voice of opposition to the government. He was released in late March 2015 upon appeal, and upon his release, he was invited to the U.S. to deliver keynote remarksat an academic conference.  He spent a week in Washington, meeting with members of the diplomatic community. He met with Congress members, State Department officials, media outlets and human rights groups. He gave an interview to NPR’s Michele Kelemen about the lack of political space in Ethiopia and to Al Jazeera’s The Stream.Recently, he spoke to Al Jazeera about the Ethiopian government’sviolent crackdown on widespread Oromo protests against proposed large-scale land takeovers that will displace millions of farmers.

For most of his life, Bekele was a professor of foreign languages. A few years ago, he declared that he could not simply witness the widespread and systematic oppression, ethnic persecution and grievances of his people, the Oromo, and the Ethiopian government’s merciless targeting and killing of the Oromo. Amnesty International reported, “between 2011 and 2014, at least 5000 Oromos have been arrested based on their actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government.”  Now thousands more are being rounded up and arrested by federal security for participating in peaceful protests.

Please stand with Bekele and join me in signing this petition calling for the immediate release of Bekele Gerba. And please send this petition to your Representatives and Senators.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”- MLK

https://www.change.org/p/demand-oromo-peace-activist-bekele-gerba-s-immediate-release-from-ethiopian-prison

LETTER TO
Pres. Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, UN Amb. Samantha Power, UN General Sec. Ban Ki Moon
Representative Ed Royce
Representative Chris Smith
and 2 others

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

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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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/

 

 

Oromia: Baqqalaa Garbaa Woyyaaneen maaliif hiitee akkas itti taphatte? September 8, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Baqqalaa Garbaa, Because I am Oromo.
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Baqqalaa Garbaa Woyyaaneen maaliif hiitee akkas itti taphatte?

Awash Post, Birraa (September) 8 Bara 2015

 

Abdii Gammachuu: Bilisummaan nuti laga, gaaraafi daggala keessa barbaannu daandii Finfinnee, Amboofi Adaamaa irra jirti. Nuti onnee hidhamuufi mindaa baatii muraasaa dhabuuf qophoofte qabna taanaan.

Hedduun keenya ob.Baqqalaa Garbaa osoo inni hinhidhamin dura irra jireessatti oduudhaan beekna. Yeroo inni mana hidhaa tureefi mana murtii deddeebi’us daran isa barre, waa’ee isaa kan odeeffamus hanga tokko dhageenye. Baqqalaa qajeelatti kan barre, akka yaada namoota hedduutti, erga inni mana hidhaatii bayee asi.

Ob. Baqqalaan sabboonaa Oromoo isa dhugaati. Isa waan itti amanu hojjatuufi isa saba isaaf jedhee lubbuu isaafi jireenya maatii isaa hallayyaa irraan tiratu. Baqqalaan nama rakkoo Oromoo hubatuufi nama ammas daandiin hallayyaa rakoofi qaanii kana keessaa ittiin baanu itti mul’atu. Baqqalaan sabboonaa figoota Oromoo qofa osoo hintaane gamnaafi nama siyaasni galeef. Egaa Woyyaaneen murataafi dhimma oromoo irraa akkas dubbataa kana kan ganna hedduuf nurraa hiitee dararaa turte. Oromoof namni gaariin hinbarakatu. Kan mataa olqabate, dhugaa qabatee waa’ee saba isaan quuqamaa dubbate mootummaan usee hin ilaalu. Namni ummtaaf firaa mootummaaf diina. Mootummaan yeroo hunda isa ummnni jaalatuufi abdatu kan hidhee itti taphatu. Kan abshaalummaafi bilchinaan fundura isaa dhabbate mootummaan ilkaan itti qarate.

Woyyaaneen dhaadannoo keenya hindhageettu, bookkisa keenyas akka sodachisaatti hinfudhattu. Hunda tuffatti. Kolfaa bira dabarti. Kan isii sodaachisu, hirriba malee halkan guutuu isii teessisu, isa mataa gadi qabatee, tarsiimoofi tooftaa isii qajeellotti hubatee, dadhabinaafi cimina isiis gargar baafatee, tooftaa tolfatee harka garaa jalaan isii balleessuu hujii godhateedha. Isa alaa bookisuufi geerraru osoo hintaane xiinxanaa keessaatitu nuballeessa, umrii keenya gabaabsa jedhaniiti kan hedduu sodaatan. Mallas Zeenaawiis yeroo lubbuun jirutti namootuma ykn gareedhuma akkanaa irraa fagotti uf tiksaa ture. Hundaafis dhaamee kan darbe kanuma. Baqqalaan leenca Finfinnee keessatti gogaa hoolaa uffatee fundura isaanii dhaabbate ta’uu mootummaan hubate; mirkaneeffate. Bofni mataa olqabate rukutamuu hinqabuu? Yeroo isaanitti hinfudhanne. Akuma innuu irra deddeebi’ee dubbate, ragaa sobaa wolitti qabatanii, mana hidhaa Kangaroo uumatanii murtii hamaa Baqqalaa irratti dabarsan.

Yaanni cimaan qawwee caala

Baqqalaa waan hanga ammaatti raawwatee miti kan rakkoo kana hundaaf isa saaxile, akka amantaa kootti. Humna (potential) fi yaada (idea) inni qabuudha mootummaan qaxxaamura guddaa akka isarra kaayu kan godhe.  Dhugumatti yaanni nama kanaafi dandeettiin isaa, deeggarsa ummata bal’aa argate taanaan, gaaga’amni inni sirna abbaa irree kana irraan gayu salphaa hinta’u. Hubannoofi amantaan mootummichaas kanuma.

Mootumichi nama ummata ufjala hiriirsu, nama hawaasa onnachiisuu, isa tooftaa tarsiimoo isaanii jalaa ittiin fashaleessu qabatee mul’atu tasa arguu hinfedhu. Mormituun heddu. Hooggantoonni paartilee mormitootaas baay’ina dhaabilee siyaasaa yoo caalan malee hinhanqatan.  Dhaabuma Baqqalaan keessa jiru keessatti kan isaa olitti angoo qabu jira. Hoogganoota heddu, Dr. Mararaaas dabalatee,  hireen harka mootummaa kanaatti mana hidhaatti tortoruu isaan hinmudanne. Baqqalaan, hundi beektu,  dhaabicha keessatti nama lammaffaati. Tapha dirree siyaasa irratti, biyyuma abbaa irree keessattis, dhaaba seeraan galmaayee socho’u tokko keessatti nama sadarkaa ol’aanaa irra jiru sababuma xiqqoon (sanuu uumanii) mana hidhaatti galchanii duubaan namatti cufuun kasaaraa siyaasaa heddu akka qabu ykn fiduu malu tilmaamama. Mootummaan Itoophiyaas gaafa Baqqalaa Garbaa hidhuuf murteessu kuni jalaa hindhokanne.  Garuu, mootummaan maaliif Baqqalaa hidhuuf murteesse? Deebiin gabaabaan mootummaan filannoo ufii baduu ykn Baqqalaa balleessuu irra gayuu isaa agarra. Namni qawwee mitii shimala cimaa hinqabne tokko akkam akkasitti mootummaadhaan sodaatama jedchuun keessan hinhafu. Maaliif jennaan yeroo heddu hedduun keenya kan namni dhuunfaas ta’ee mootummaan baay’ee sodaatu qawweedha jennee waan amannuuf. Dhuguma qawween waan sodaatamu. Dhimmi Baqqalaa qawween alatti wonti sodaatamu heddu akka jiru ifatti mul’ise; hubannoofi amantaa keenya kan  hanga ammaa qabnu hanga  tokkos ta’u irra debinee akka gamaaggamnu osoo nuhindirqin hinhafne. Yaanni namoota irraa dhagayamaarus kanuma calaqqisa.

Yaanni cimaan qawweefi boombii akka caalu dhagayuu hinoolle. Viktor Huugoon wanni tokko woraana addunyaa hunda caalu yaada yeroon isaa geette jechuu isaa quba qabduu? Baqqalaan Garbaa yaada yeroon isaa geette qabateeti kan socho’u: hundi keenya dandii Finfinnee, Amboo, Adaamaa, Naqamte, Ciroo, Roobee, Jimma, Asallaafi Yaaballoo irratti akka tokkotti  mootummaa nu saamu, nu ajjeesuufi nubuqqisu afoo dhaabbachuu qabna jechuun isaa. Heedduu keenyatti yaanni kuni kan hojjatu fakkaatee hinmul’atu. Mootumichi garuu yaanni kuni hundarra hedduu hamaa fi yaada yeroon isaa geette ta’uu qajeelchee beeka. Mallas Zeenaawii kan angoo barbaaduufi isa haqa isaa gafatuuf mirga gaara bahuu ykn dagallatti galuu malee mirga haqa isaa daandii Finfinnee, Amboofi Adaamaa irratti gafachuu hinlaanne. Diinni karaa ittiin injifatan namatti mul’isaa? Hattuun faana waan hattee namatti argisiistii? Dhimmoonni biraa akkuma jiranitti ta’ee, jechummaan Mallas suni karaa ittiin qabsoofnee mirga keenna argannuu waan nutti himu heddu ufkeessaa qaba; qalbiidhaan yoo waa xiinxalluu kan dandeennu ta’e. Haga ammaatti iccitiin dubbii kanaa kan galeef Baqqalaafi namoota muraasa qofaaf. Hedduun qabsaawota keenyaa dirree diinni itti naaf bayi jedhu irratti kan argamuu fedhan. Kuni namoota tokko tokkotti gootummaa fakkaatuu nimala. Akka tarsiimootti garuu, kuni isa injifannotti nama geessuu miti. Sun Zuun, abbaa tarsiimoo kan jedhamu, diina keessan kallattiin dhaqaa rukutaa hinjenne. Kan inni addunyaa gorse dadhabina diinaa gargar baasaa san booda bakka qaawwalti jirtuun seenaa rukutaadha.

Eenyummaa Baqqalaafi balaa inni sirnicha irraan gayuu danda’u qajeelatti kan hubate mootummaan, bitaa fi mirga erga ilaalee booda, nama akkanaa ummata keessatti gadi lakkisuu mannaa itti cufanii iyyiisnsa Dayaaspooraa,  balaaleffannaa mootummoota dhihaa fi jaarmayaalee mirga namaaf falman keessummeessuu woyyaa filate.  Santu irra laafaa ta’eeti kan Woyyaanetti mul’ate. Waan dogoggoraanis hinfakkaatu. Kanneen eenyummaa Baqqalaa akka gaaritti hubataniif tankaarfiin isaanii sirriidha. Kabajaa mirga bineensotaafi jettee bofa si’idduuf jiru ufitti hindhiistu. Woyyaanetti iyyiinsa Dayaaspooraa ilkaan hinqabneefi balaaleffannaa jaarmayaalee mirga namaaf falman irraa balaan Baqqalaa gessu  hedduu guddaafi yaachisaa itti ta’e. Kanaaf kan jiruu isaa irraa buqqisanii Zuwaayitti dabarsan.

Murannoon waan itti amane qabachuufi onneedhaan daandii Oromoo nibaasa jedhe irra dhaabbachuu qofaa miti kan Baqqalaa Garbaa adda godhu. Haala amma keessa jirru kanatti daandii Oromoo rakkoo keessaa baasuufi qabsoo deemsisu akka gaaritti adda baafata. Tooftaa diinaa nihubata. Tarsiimoon balaan sabicharra gayaa jiru ittiin qolachuun danda’amus akka dansatti itti mul’ata. Karaan rakkoo keessaa ittiin baanu heddu akka jirus irra deddeebi’ee dubbata. Inni garuu kan irra gabaabaafi baasii (lubbuufi qabeenyaanis) irra xiqqaa gaafatu akka filmaata jalqabaatti fudhata. Karaan rakkoo keessaa ittiin baanu heddu. Ta’us, inni qoree hinqabne, kan gufuun hindanqamne tokkollee hinjiru. Karaa gabaabaaf isa gufuun itti hinheddummaanne adda baafachuufi filachuun gamnummaadha. Karaa kiyya malee daandiin biraa hinjiru jechaa wolafoo dhaabachuudha kan umrii qabsoo dheeresse; inuma bakka tokko tokkotti kan ummata qilee irraa balleesse. Hubannaa siyaasa sadarkaa kanaa qabaachuun mootummatti  amuummachuudha. Kanaafis Baqqalaan qarriffaa diinaa keessa seene.

Gaarummaan Baqqalaa heddu. Namni haasawa Baqqalaa Garbaa tibbana godhaa ture dhaggeeffate cimina nama kanaa heddu hubata. Gama kootiin namni danddeettii haasawa isaa hindinqisiifanne heddu na hinqunnamne. Akka nama hundaa galautti, haasawuu qofa osoo hintaane sadarkaan ufitti amaniinsa isaa hedduu guddaadha. Nama siyaasa tokko irraas kan eeggamu qabxiin tokko kana. Nama danddeettii gudada qabu , nama dubbatee nama amansiisu, haasawaan nama harkisu Woyyaaneen arguu hinfeetu; keessattuu yoo namni suni Oromoo ta’e. Baqqalaan akkas yaadaan, jechaan, gochaan hedduu cimaa ta’ee mul’achuun isaa qorra sodaa worra angoo irra jirutti gadi lakkise; isaan roqomsiise. Gara sababuma hinjirreen harkaafi miila sabboonaa Oromoo kana xaxuutti isaan geesse.

Qabsoon karaa nagaa Oromoof ni hojjata

Mootummaan namoota akka Baqqalaa kanniin qawwee mitii dullaa sona qabu hinqabne kan akkas sodaatuuf waa malee miti. Yaanni Baqqalaan faati deemaniin, qawwee kan caaluufi samuufi onnee namaa keessatti facaafamee hidda godhannaan kufaatii guddaa kan qaqqabsiisu ta’uu isaa sa’aa kanatti mootummichi hunda keenya irra hubateera. Ummanni Oromoo bilchaateera. Kana booda dhaaba siyaasa kamiinuu irraa kan eeggamu ummata ijaaruufi hujii irratti bobbaasuu qofa. Kuni osoo gamtaan ykn wolhubannaan ta’ee irra bayeessa. Yoo kuun kana jedhu inni kuun kun hinta’u jedhee wolbushessuun hujii wolharkaa balleessuu fi gara diigamiinsaatti wolgessuudha. Kan argaafi taajjabaa turres kanuma. Oromoon waanuma  fedhe haajedhuu, karaa kamiinuu haasocho’uu, harka duwwaas taanaan, tarsiimoofi tooftaa isaa hanga tokko sirreeffatee, waanuma jedhu san hujitti geeddarraan waan fedhu akka salphatti akka argatu diinni qajeelchee bareera. Yoo bartoonni Amboo ka’an hangam ardiin akka sochootu, Woyyaaneen akkam akka dhamaatu hundi beektu. Osoo wonti akkasii bakka hundatti yeroo tokkotti, kuni ijaarsa siyaasaafi qindoomina guddaa gaafata malee waan hindanda’amu jedhamee bira darbamuu miti, osoo ta’ee maaltu akka dhufuu danda’u tilmaamaa. Addurreef harki lachuu mirga. Wanti kumee hedduuf hawwine balbaluma jirti. Maaliif karaa ufitti dheeressina, dararaa ufitti heddumeessina garuu?

Baqqalaan qabsaayaa Oromoo dhugaa ta’uu fi kallattiin qabsoo isaa kan deemsisu ta’uu isaatiif ragaan addaa barbaannu hinjiru; gochi mootummaa ragaa guddaadha. Yaada gaarii qabaachuufi karaa sirrii irra jiraachuun qofti gayaa miti, garuu. Yaannis hujitti jijjiiramuu qaba. Daandii sirrii irra dhaabbachuun konkolaataan rukutamutti nama geessa; tankaarfachuudha falli. Milkaayinni yaada Baqqalaafi garee isaa guutummatti kan hundaayu tokkoon tokkoo keenyaa hangam isaan deeggarre ykn bira dhaabbanne waan jedhu irratti. Yoo shakkiidhuma qabsoon karaa nagaa eessayyuu hingeettu jedhuun xaxamnee, waa’ema gaaga’ama 1992 nurra gaye akka ragaatti qabanee,  filannoon hatamuu irraas dubbataatuma yoo  kan  jiraannuu, Oromoo , eessayyuu hingeennu. Tasa waan yaannu hinargannu. Qabsoon karaa nagaa, akkuma hayyonni heddu irratti wolii galan waan gatii malee geggeffamuu miti. Gatiin kafalamuu qaba. Gatiin kafalamus qaaliidha. Mootummaa abbaa irree gara nyaattoo ykn mararfannaa tokko hinqabne wajjiin wol’aansotti jirra kana hindagatinaa. Erga bara 1992 kaasee gatiin kafalamaatuma jira. Gahaa ta’uu dhabuu isaa bira rakkoon kan jiru. Oromoon baatii baatitti kumaatamaan hidhamnaan, kumaatamaan ajjeeffamnaan, kumatamaan saamamnaa haqaafi bilisummaan sahuu hawwinu wonti harka ummataatti hingalleef tokko hinjiru.

Oromoodha hanga ammaatti humna isaa xiqqeessuufi namaa gadii uftaasisuu kan hayyame. Baqqalaan daandii Finfinnee irratti mirga koo nitikfadha jechuun isaa akka badii guddaatti ilaallamuu qofa osoo hintaane akka duumessa balaa roobuuf deemuuttis fudhatame, mootummaadhaan. Onneedhaan, ufitti amaniinsa sadarkaa ol’anaatiin mirga kootiif asumaa dubbadha, asuma keessattis haqa kootiif falmadha jechuu isaati kan dubbii itti dhale. Yeroo heddu nama akkas jajjabaatee isaan afoo dhaabbatu worri Woyyaanee nisodaachisu, nidoorsisu tooftaa adda addaan akka biyya irraa baqatu taasisu. Namoota heddu irratti tooftaan kuni yoo hojjatu argina. Yaaliin kuni hundi nama hincal’isiisu ykn gara baqaatti hingeessu taanaan tankarfiin itti aanuu kanuma Baqqalaa Garbaa irratti fudhatame. Oromoon nama  diina afoo dhaabbatee hanga dhumaatti falmatuun malee isa akka sinbiraa darbata takkaan gir jedhee biyya irraa baduun miti kan bilisoomu. Namoota  murannoo akkanaa qaban rakkoofi gufuu heddutu mudata. Obsaafi cicha sadarkaa ol’aanaa waan qabaniif malee namoonni kunniin dur harka laatan ykn baqatan ture. Yeroo dheeraadhaaf Baqqalaa hidhanii dararuudhaan yaaliin Baqqalaa rifaasisuufi ummatas (miseensotaafi deeggartoota) biraa bittinsuu gahaan godhameera. Itti milkaayanii garuu? Ammati hinmilkoofne. Erga Baqqalaan hidhaa bayee kan taajjabne, gama hamilee Baqqalaa cabsuufi yaadaa inni durii kaasee qabate gachisiisuutiin mootummaa kasaaraa guddatu mudate. Gara boodaatti karoorri inni Baqqalaafi fakkaattota isaaf qabu maal akka ta’e kan arginu ta’a.

Qabsoon Oromoo yadaafi mul’ata haarawaa barbaaddi

Mooraa Oromootti namni yaada haarawa qabu hedduu barbaadamaa ta’utu irra jira; rakkoo hedduufi wolxaxaa ta’e  qabna waan ta’eef. Yaanni rakkoo Oromoof furmaata argamsiisuu malu kallattii hunadaa burqutu irra jira. Hujii hojjatamu hunda keessatti, qabsoo bilisummaas dabalatee, woldorgommiin yaadaa jirachuu qaba. Akkamitti bilisoomna? Tarsiimoo, daandiifi tooftaa kamtu dafee bakka hawwinuun nugaya? Gara boodaatti Oromoon yoo daandii kam qabate naannoo Gafa Afrikaatti irra fayyadamaa ta’a? Yaadota ijoo kanniin irratti namoonni beekumsa qaban, kallattii qilleensa keessaafi alaa hubataa, yaada bifa wolirraa hincinneen burqisiisuu qaban. Wonti nama gaddisiisu garuu, namni tokko bilchina yaadaafi siyaasaa hangamuu cimaa ta’e haaqabaatuu, keessumattuu yaanni isaa kan yeroo heddu odeeffamuun adda ta’e taanaan, balaaleffanna guddatu isa mudata.

Namni tokko hangamuu beekaa ykn yaanni isaa cimaa yoo ta’e bakka deeggarsi ummataa bira hinjirretti eessayyuu hingayu; hinmilkaayu. Namni Oromoof qabsaaya jedhu kamuu kan deeggaramuu qabu cimina yaada isaatiin. Kanniin yaada burqisiisan, hangamuu yaanni isaanii adda ta’ee haa mul’atuu,  jajjabeeffamuufi kabajamuu qaban. Deeggarsi, wolbiradhaabbannaafi woliif birmannaan naannoofi wolbeekumsaan osoo hintaane cimina yaadaa qofarratti kan hundaaye ta’uu qaba. Miseensa ykn deeggaraa dhaaba tokkoo wan taaneef qofa yaada gaarii  kallattii biraatii bubbisu yoo kan tuffannuu rakkoo woggaa dhibbaaf yomuu fala hinargannu. Nuti garuu namoota yaada haarawa ykn waan fala ta’u  qabna jedhan nituffanna, maqaan adda addaas itti laatna. Hamileen isaanii rukutama; akka dheessanii  manatti galan taasifama. Akkanatti wolqancarsine. Gocha dadhabaa akkanaan mootummaa goobsine. Ufis dadhabsiifnee ummatas dukkana hamaa keessatti hanbisne.

Rakkoo keessa jirru kana keessaa bayuuf ilaalcha wolii kabajuun dirqii ta’a. Yoo danda’ame ammoo ifatti yaadaanis ta’ee human qabnuun woliif birmachuu, wolcinaa dhabbachuu qabna. Yeroo karaan haqaa kiyya, kan isin bilisoomsus anuma jedhamu dabreera. Hundi oromoo yaada bilisummatti nugeessu minjala irra kaayuu qaba; ifaaf bilisatti. Kan irra baasu, hedduu funduratti nutankaarfachiisu filachuun kan sabboontota hundaati.  Hedduuun keenya yaada caalaa ta’es hinomishnu. Kanuma durii irratti kan mataa woldhukkubsinu.  Ugginee mootummaa abbaa irree afos hindhabbannu. Hidhamuufi lubbuu dhabuufis ufqopheessinu. Namoonni heddu hidhamuuf mitii mindaa baatii tokkoo dhabuuf qophii miti. Xiqqaachuu namoota murannoo qabaniiti kan qabsoo saba kanaa akkas lafarra harkise, saba guddaa kanas kan dukkana gabrummaafi hiyyummaa keessatti hanbise. Bilisummaan nuti laga, gaaraafi daggala keessa barbaannu daandii Finfinnee, Amboofi Adaamaa irra jirti. Nuti onnee tumamuu, hidhamuufi mindaa baatii muraasaa dhabuuf qophoofte qabna taanaan. Dirqama nurraa eeggamu bayuu dadhabnee Woyyaaneen ‘akkana, akkas’ nugoote jedhaa woggaa 25’f jiraanne.

http://www.awashpost.com/2015/09/08/baqqalaa-garbaa-woyyaaneen-maaliif-hiitee-akkas-itti-taphatte/

NPR: Ethiopian Prisoner, Bekele Gerba, Urges U.S. To Put Pressure On His Country Over Human Rights. #Oromia #Africa August 27, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Baqqalaa Garbaa.
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http://www.npr.org/player/embed/434975424/434975425

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/08/26/434975424/just-out-of-jail-ethiopian-leader-brings-a-sharp-message-to-obama?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social
(NPR) – Just a few months ago, Bekele Gerba was languishing in a high security Ethiopian jail, hearing the cries of fellow prisoners being beaten and tortured. Now, the 54-year-old foreign language professor is in Washington, D.C., for meetings at the State Department. His message: The Obama administration should pay more attention to the heavy-handed way its ally, Ethiopia, treats political opponents — and should help Ethiopians who are losing their ability to earn a living.

Gerba is a leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress, a political party that represents one of the country’s largest ethnic groups. With estimated numbers of about 30 million, the Oromo make up about a third of Ethiopia’s population.

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In 2011, Gerba was arrested after meeting with Amnesty International researchers and sent to prison on what he calls trumped up terrorism charges, often used in Ethiopia against political dissidents. In court he made remarks that have been widely circulated in Ethiopia and beyond: “I am honored to learn that my non-violent struggles and humble sacrifices for the democratic and human rights of the Oromo people, to whom I was born without a wish on my part but due to the will of the Almighty, have been considered a crime and to be unjustly convicted.”

Gerba was released from jail this spring in advance of President Obama’s July visit to Ethiopia. A soft spoken man, who seemed exhausted by his prison ordeal and his numerous appearances at U.S. universities and think tanks, Gerba tells NPR that Obama’s trip sent all the wrong messages.

“He [Obama] shouldn’t have shown any solidarity with that kind of government, which is repressive, very much authoritarian and very much disliked by its own people,” Gerba says.

Since Ethiopia’s ruling party and its allies control all of parliament, his party doesn’t have a voice, he says. What’s more, he says, his people are being pushed off their land by international investors.

“The greatest land grabbers are now the Indians and Chinese …. there are Saudi Arabians as well,” he says, adding that many families are being evicted and losing their livelihoods.

Gerba says those who do get jobs are paid a dollar a day, which he describes as a form of slavery. He is urging the U.S. to use its aid to Ethiopia as leverage to push the government to give workers more rights and allow people to form labor unions.

Gerba’s case has been featured in the State Department’s annual human rights reports. He describes himself as a Christian who believes in non-violence and says he spent his four years in prison pouring over the sermons and speeches of Martin Luther King and translating them into the Oromo language for a book that he hopes to see published. The title: “I Had A Dream.”

Bekele Gerba is not sure what he will face when he returns home from the U.S. When he was jailed, his wife, a high school teacher, lost her job. His family has struggled financially and psychologically.

“Nobody is actually sure in Ethiopia what will happen to him anytime,” he says. “Anytime, people can be arrested, harassed or killed or disappeared.”

Still, he plans to return home next week. He’s expected to return to his job at the Foreign Languages Department at Addis Ababa University.

Related:-

Oromia: Former prisoner of conscience, Bekele Gerba, warmly welcomed at Washington Dulles International Airport. Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa, keessummaa Kabajaa OSA ta’uun Washingiton Diisii seenan. August 6, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Studies Association, OSA.
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???????????OSA Annual conference 2015Oromia's former prisoner of conscience, Bekele Gerba, warmly welcomed at Washington Dulles International Airport1

Bekele Gerba, 54 and a father of four, went to elementary school in Boji Dirmaji and completed his high school in Gimbi senior secondary school. Bekele was graduated with BA degree in foreign language and literature from the Addis Abeba University (AAU) and taught in Dembi Dolo and Nejo high schools in western Ethiopia, among others. He finished his post graduate studies in 2001 in teaching English as a foreign language at the AAU and went to Adama Teachers’ College, 98kms south of Finfinne (Addis Ababa), where he taught English and Afaan Oromo. Suspected of allegedly supporting students’ riot that took place a year before, Bekele was dismissed in 2005 by the college. He then came to Addis Abeba where he taught in two private universities for two years until he was employed in 2007 as a full time lecturer by the AUU where he continued teaching English.

Bekele’s political career began in 2009 when he joined the opposition party, Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), as a member of the executive committee and head of the public relations department. Bekele participated and lost in the 2010 parliamentary elections in which the ruling EPRDF claimed more than 99% of the seats in parliament.

Bekele Gerba was first arrested on 27 August 2011 along with Olbana Lelisa, senior member of the Oromo People’s Congress party (OPC), who is still in jail. Both were arrested after having a meeting with representatives of Amnesty International (AI), who were expelled soon after.

Both Bekele and Olbana were then charged under the country’s infamous anti-terrorism law on a specific charge of being members of the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and inciting a secessionist rebellion. In Dec. 2012, Bekele and Olbana were sentenced to eight and thirteen years in prison respectively.

Upon appeal to the Supreme Court, his sentencing was reduced to three years and seven months with a right to parole. After the merger in 2012 of OFDM and Oromo Peoples’ Congress (OPC) that became known as the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) Bekele was appointed as First Deputy Chairman while he was still serving his sentence. Although he was paroled and was eligible to be free in 2014 Bekele was released in the first week of April 2015 only after he finished his sentencing.

Belele represented OFC in the so-called Ethiopian election in May 2015, but the government refused to count the ballots in fear of losing the election. Instead it declared itself, blatantly, a winner with 100% voting count and became laughable around the world.

By the invitation of Oromo Studies Association, Bekele Gerba arrived, this morning, in Washington DC to take part in OSA’s annual conference, which starts on August 1, 2015. He is a keynote speaker of this year’s OSA.

Many Oromos in Washington DC Metro region will have the opportunity to meet the man who went to jail for speaking the voice of millions of Ethiopians, in particular Oromo.

Bekele was welcomed by a large group of Oromo, this morning, at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Source: Ayyaantuu News

Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa, keessummaa Kabajaa OSA ta’uun Washingiton Diisii seenan.

(OMN:Oduu Adol.30, 2015)  Waggoota arfan darbaniif manneetii hidhaa Itoophiyaa gara garaa keessatti hidhamnii hiraarfamaa kan turan, Itti’aanaan dura ta’aa paartii KFO Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa,keessummaa kabajaa Waldaa Qorannoo Oromoo ta’uun Adoleessa 30,2015 Washingiton DC seenan.

Obbo Baqqalaan turtii isaanii batii tokko dhufu keessatti hawaasa Oromoo Ameerikaa Kaabaa keessa jiraatan waliin wal arganii dhimma Oromoo fi Oromiyaa irratti mari’achuuf fedhii akka qaban OMN tti himaniiru.

Pirezidantiin Waldaa Qorannoo Oromoo Obbo Jawaar Mohaammed ,gamasaaniin Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa keessuumaa kabajaa Waldaa Qorannoo Oromoo bara kanaa ta’anii akka argamaniif tattaaffii ol’aanaa taasisaniin milkaa’uusanii beeksisaniiru.

Obbo Jawaar itti dabaluun akka jedhanitti,Obbo Baqqalaan akka hidhaa bahaniin Waldaan Qorannoo Oromoo/OSA’n/ akka gara dhufanii hawaasa oromoo waliin walarganiif gaafatee,visa waan dhorkatamaniif hin milkoofne ture.Haat’utii garuu isaan odoo abdii hin kutanne tattaaffii taasifameen amma milkoofnee keessuummaa kabajaa ta’anii argamuu danda’an jedhan.

Kanamalees jedhu Pirezdantiin Waldaa Qorannoo Oromoo Obbo Jawaar Mohammed, waldaan Qoranoo Oromoo hawaasa Oromoo waliin ta’ee Obbo Baqqalaa hiiksisuuf tattaaffii gochaa turuu isaa eeranii amma immoo isaaniin asiin gahuudhaaf irratti hojjatamee milkii argameetti WQO gammachuu guddaatu itti dhagahama.Hawaasnis waraqaa qorannoo isaan dhiyeessaan bahee akka dhaggeeffatu garanumaan yaamicha godhaniiru.

Hawaasa Oromoo Washingiton Diisii jiraatan simannaa ho’aa Obbo Baqqalaaf buufata xiyyaaraa Verjiniyaatti kan taasisaniif oggaa ta’u namoonni argaman marti yaada kennaniin Obbo Baqqalaan hiikamanii dhufanii ijaan arguu isaaniitti akka gammadan OMN tti himaniiru.

Miseensi boordii Waldaa hawaasa Oromoo Washingiton Diisii Adde Biraanee Beekaa Galatoo,simannaa kana booda yaada nuuf keniiteen waaggoota afran dabran guutuu akka Obbo Baqqalaan hiikamaniif hiriira mormii baanee iyyaataa turre.Har’a garuu mana hidhaa Itoophiyaa san keessaa hiikamanii qaamaan asitti walitti dhufnee ijaan walarguu kiyyaaf gammachuu koo guddaadha.Obbo Baqqalaan, anaaf goota yeroo keenya kana keessaatti ijaan arge waan ta’eef inni goota Oromoo lubbuun jirudha jetteetti.

Miseensii Paartii KFO damee alaa Obbo Karrasaa Kiisii fi lammii Ameerikaa akkasumas bakka buutuu Waldaa Qorannoo Oromoo Adde Qabbannee Waaqayyoo/Boonii/ waldura duubaan OMN tti akka himanitti Baqqalaa garbaa sagalee uummata oromoo ti.gotummaa inni nuugarsisetti hedduu gammanneerra jedhan.

Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa keessuummaan kabajaa Waldaa Qorannoo Oromo bara kanaa,waraqaa qorannoo isaanii dhimma Oromoo fi Oromiyaa irratti kan dhiyeessan ta’uun beekameera.

Abdii Fiixeetu gabaase.

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/07/obbo-baqqalaa-garbaakeessummaa-kabajaa-osa-tauun-washingiton-diisii-seenan/

OSA 2015 Annual Conference:-

http://gadaa.net/FinfinneTribune/2015/08/keynote-speech-by-ob-bekele-gerba-at-the-oromo-studies-associations-2015-annual-conference/

OSA2015AnnualFinalConferenceProgram-1

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/08/gaaffii-fi-deebii-obbo-baqqalaa-garbaa-waliin-taasifame-kutaa-xumuraa/

BEKELE GERBA SPEAKS! May 17, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Because I am Oromo.
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Addis Standard – I would like to congratulate you for being a free man at last. But what was it like to be in prison?

 

Bekele Gerba – Prison is not a place one appreciates to be. But I think it is also the other way of life as an Ethiopian; unfortunately it has become the fate of many of our people. You will find a lot of students, youngsters, brothers and sisters, sons and fathers, husbands and wives. Especially when it comes to the Oromo, they are there in great numbers. Therefore going there or being there was a very good experience by itself because you will understand the agony and the hardship our people are facing at the moment. There are lots of problems there too, from the type of food people eat to the type of bed they sleep on. But there are a lot of things to learn from them so I think for me it has been a place of training.
What was your everyday life like and what was your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge was the first one year and two months when I was kept in maximum security in Kality prison. The room was very small and the type of people we were with are regarded as deadly criminals in this country; they fight and even the police are scared of them. Sometimes they use drugs and they fight easily with anybody. It is a very difficult place. After being there for a year and two months I was sent to Ziway. Ziway is a place where people who come from the countryside are always kept; people who are economically not well off, mainly people who are allegedly suspected of having links with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). And most of them are Oromos there.
There is this popular term that says ‘the prisons in Ethiopia speak Afaan Oromo.’ Is it what you are confirming to me now?
Exactly. If you take away the large number of thieves (the most popular crime there [in Ziway] is theft – and say may be out of 5000 or 6000 prisoners there about 3000 or 4000 thieves) and if you take away those people who are suspected of corruption, very few in number in fact, the rest you can say they are all Afaan Oromo speakers.

inside 3
How did that make you feel as a politician whose party represents the Oromo and as an Oromo?
In one way I am very glad to be there because I felt myself sharing the agony of my own people. How am I different from those people? Those people went to prison because they demanded their rights; I was also there because I demanded my rights. In this country I thought that the Oromos are being excluded from the political and from the economic spheres or participation, something I always object. Therefore I am very glad to be there. I remember the first day I went to the court before my arrest just to see how the court was proceeding when about 500 or 600 Oromos were imprisoned and then taken to the court. I went there as a party member to witness and to see what was going on around. I felt very badly because I saw the prosecutors organizing false evidences; they were calling upon people and they were giving them orientations to testify against people whom they didn’t know at all, whom they have never seen before. I was sad and I called some media that day and gave a brief interview. I think it was after the airing of that interview that the government started following me in order to stop what I was doing. But since I was the spokesman of my party that was the job given to me – to give press conferences or sometimes press releases of what was going on around the party and anything related to the Oromo people. But after I went to prison I was relieved because I had to experience the agony of my people; I had to share their pain and I am glad for that.
Going by your own explanation, if living the pain and agony of your fellow countrymen brought you relief, how did that affect your other life that you stood for? You had a family, you had a political life, and you had a career that you had to leave behind.
Like anybody else, like a human being, when you miss your family of course you feel sad. But my family is no different from other peoples’ family. For example there is a family that I know, the husband was in prison and when he was released the wife was taken to prison. Their children are growing up without a father at one time and a mother at another; my children are no better than these. And if only my family, if only a group of people enjoy normal life and the great majority are not doing the same, I think your happiness or your joy cannot be complete. Of course when I first went there I thought my family would be affected very badly but they are very courageous and they were very supportive psychologically. They were very strong and thanks to many Oromos my children did not quit school and my family has not suffered as such economically.
Your daughter Bontu gave an interview to Afuraa Biyyaa radio station once and told the station you were suffering from ill health. Walk me through that. What happened? How did you maintain your health afterwards?
During the first two three days soon after I was taken to Ma’ekelawi [prison] I started having severe headache and the nurses told me that my blood pressure was high. I had never had that experience before. I was then taken to the Police Hospital and was diagnosed with the same thing; the nurses told me that I looked like a chronic hypertensive patient. I have not had that kind of medical history. Since then until I came out of the prison a few days ago, my blood pressure has been on the rise; I think may be because of the tension, I don’t know. But I am happy that after I was released I am quite okay. I haven’t taken any medication or I have not consulted any physician since my release; I feel I am healthy.

Inside 1
What did help you maintain your everyday sanity when you were there? Was it your interaction with other inmates? Did you have access to books?
The first year was a very difficult time and we have not had enough books and we didn’t know how to smuggle books or any magazines or anything to be read. We have not had any relations with the police; that was a very difficult time until we adjusted ourselves to the prison situations. But later on we started having some books to read that some friends brought for us. We started reading and on a small scale started writing, although it was very difficult to get it out because every three weeks or so the prison police would conduct a search and take away anything that is written; that was the difficult part of it. But after I went to the prison in Ziway I had a chance to meet senior people from the army and from the air force who were accused of staging a coup. Those are people like General Tefera and General Asamenew who were taken to Ziway together. We stayed together and they are very understanding people; they like reading, they like discussions and I enjoyed the discussions. We shared books; we read whatever books we could lay our hands on. That helped me to squeeze through all these bad times.
Moving out of your time in prison, can you tell me what it was like growing up as Bekele Gerba, an Oromo child?
Surprisingly the place I was born and raised is a typical monolingual area. All the people around, all the shop owners or all the government employees and all the school staff speak only one single language, Afaan Oromo. It is a very special place I can say even by Oromia standards. Therefore I didn’t know whether there was any kind of difference between one ethnic group and the other or if there was any kind of oppression elsewhere. But when you go to colleges and universities you will begin to realize there are various ethnic groups and there are various things you will find difficult to tolerate. When I went to the big towns like Addis Abeba and I speak my own language in a taxi or in a bus people turn around and take a look at me; that was when I started to get surprised. And then the consciousness, the social consciousness – not as such political – the reality makes you a bit conscious. However I have not had any bad experience until I graduated from university and went to Wolega again as a high school teacher. And I like speaking languages; I am an outgoing person. I have no problem living with other ethnic group members. But it is later on that I came to understand that there is something wrong going on against the ethnic group I came from.
Is that what drove you to get involved in politics?
Yes. Even in my employment for about 25 years I had never been involved in politics. I was simply an academician and I thought that politics was not a job for everyone. I am a teacher and if I am a good teacher in my profession I thought that will do and that was that. But gradually I found out that my peoples’ grievance is not addressed in a way that it should be. So I thought I could get involved in politics to contribute my share. I don’t know whether I had done anything or had made any change because before I could do anything substantial I was taken to prison. My life experience as a politician is not more than three years.
But within that short period as a politician, I think it was during the 2010 election debate that in a rather succinct argument you spoke about the use and abuse of land distribution and said land was used to advance political causes. What made you take that very strong stand against the ruling party?
You know land is the most important resource in this country, not only in this country but everywhere. It is this resource that everybody who comes to power tries to get control of. If you simply open your eyes and look at what happens around Addis Abeba, then you will see how people are being evicted, and how other people who cannot explain where they get that amount of money from are being catapulted overnight into so much wealth. From my own experience I had a lot of friends who were brought up with me, who had been teachers with me yesterday but who had a lot of money today. That’s okay if it is a legal one.
Realizing that I tried to make a kind of taxonomy, a kind of classification, even though I cannot recall it perfectly now. Accordingly our level of citizenship is divided into various categories. There are people who when they travel around they see a land their eyes fell on and feel like having it and who can have it. Whoever is born and brought there they don’t care. So they can evict everybody and they can sell or hand it over to their friends. I call these people first class citizens. And many of these people are who claim themselves to have liberated us by struggling for 17 years. But what they did not do is liberate these poor farmers; in fact in this regard the Dergue did better for me because it took the land from the landlords and distributed it to the poor farmers, to the tillers. But this time it is the other way round.
And then there are others – regional officials like if you take the Oromia cabinet members, or the SNNPR cabinet members or the Amhara if you like – they can be categorized as second class citizens. They have their power to take any land they wish but there is a power above them. Frankly this power is the power of the TPLF who are the first class citizens. Second class citizens can sell and give but there are others above them who will watch them and who will control them. And then there are the lower hierarchies like the municipalities, for example, or like the Zonal administrators. They have also the same power but above them they know that there are two more hierarchies and may be sometimes they can be accountable. They know that whatever is remaining from the top two, they will get some amount.
And then there are others who do not own anything, who do not own any land but who just look and witness what is going on around, but who are quiet, who are made to become voiceless, who cannot do anything – like the civil servants. And finally the last one is the farmer. He is the farmer who is being looted, who is being evicted, but if at all something happens, like if the country is at war with neighboring countries or with any enemy, these are the people who are called upon to die for this land, a the land for which they don’t have any power on, for the land from which they can be evicted any time. It is the sons and daughters of these people who are going to the warfront and pay with their dear lives. But on the ground they have nothing. For example if you go around Addis Abeba and take a look at someone who is guarding a building and then ask who that man is, he will immediately tell you he was born and brought up there. And he will tell you that it was his land on which that huge building is built. These are mainly Oromos by the way.

 

Inside 2
Were you speaking that because the majority of this case is happening in and around lands predominantly belonging to the Oromos or was it because it is a trend that represents the rest of the country?
The pattern is all the same. In the name of investment people are being evicted in the South, in Amhara or even in Tigray regions. What makes Oromia very different is that the land is very close to the center and the investors, these high officials and the government representatives, all these wealthy people want to dwell around it; they want the area very much. The land is very nice, the location is very good, and the weather is good. So everyone puts his eyes on it. Otherwise the trend is all the same everywhere.

But the government argues it is offering compensations…

 

What does compensation mean? How much money is enough for someone who is evicted forever? Not only him but his children, his grandchildren and the next generation? What makes this very difficult is these people don’t have any profession other than farming. They don’t have any other skill. So how much compensation is enough for these people?
Speaking of which, last year in May a number of University students were killed, imprisoned and have disappeared, I am sure you have heard about it, because they were protesting against the Addis Abeba Master plan, which wanted to include around eight peripheral localities known as the Oromia Region Special Zone. What was your take on that? How did you react when you heard about it?
This is obviously a crime. A massive crime has been committed, and people must be accountable for it. The students did not die in vain for me. They paid sacrifices in order to protect the constitution of this country which says each of the nine regions and the two city administrations has specific boundaries. Addis Abeba has its boundary too. Even though it has not been demarcated on the ground, it was a boundary which is lesser than what it was during the Dergue and greater than what it was during Hailesellasie regime. This was how it was agreed upon during the Transitional Government [24 years ago]. But today the outskirts have turned into Addis Abeba. On daily basis massive farmlands of the farmers are being included into the boundaries of Addis Abeba. So, when I say these students didn’t die in vain, I meant that it was simply to protect the constitution. The Vatican City State is in Rome but the Vatican City state cannot say I have to expand into Rome. That is not possible.
For me the idea is not to expand Addis Abeba as such; it is not to turn it into a beautiful or into a modern city but to change the social structure of Addis Abeba and its vicinity. By doing this what will happen is the language spoken around those areas will change. If you take Dukem, Legatafo, Burayu, Legedadhi or Sululta not long ago, may be some ten years ago, Afaan Oromo used to be the main language. But this doesn’t exist any longer. That is what I call language shift. There is a shift when you change the population, when you change the social structure, then the culture and the language will be destroyed. This is how the Australian Aborigines lost their languages, lost their identity, lost their history, and lost everything. This is how Red Indians in North America lost their identity, lost their language and lost everything. I think for me this is not different. Even though we live in the same country, and we call ourselves Ethiopians – and for me I call myself as an Ethiopian and as an Oromo at the same time – the idea is grave. Javier Perez De Cuellar, the former UN Secretary General in his writing entitled “Our Creative Diversity” wrote: “Put a people in chains, strip them, plug up their mouths, they are still free. Take away their jobs, their passport, the tables they eat on, the bed they sleep in, they are still rich. A people become poor and enslaved when they are robbed of the tongue left to them by their ancestors, they are lost forever.” No one likes to be lost forever.

 

Inside 4
But the argument from the ruling party and sympathizers of the plan is that they need to do whatever they are doing because Addis Abeba is also the capital of the federal government, the seat of the AU and of the ECA, you if like. How do you react to that argument?

 

Why so much focus on developing Addis Abeba only? Why is that? Why not Bahir Dar? Why not Hawassa why not Mekele? Why is the focus on Addis Abeba? And why is Addis Abeba so much concerned about the development of Oromia? When you say it is the capital of the country do you mean it is the seat of the diplomatic community? and the federal government? It is not only because of the diplomats and the civil services in the federal government that Addis Abeba is expanding. It is because of various reasons, one of which is perception – people think they are safe in Addis Abeba than any other cities in the regions. But we can work on that, the government can work on developing other cities. There is no problem in doing that. The other problem is it is not only because Addis Abeba is the capital of the federal government, it is a self-administered, a self-chartered city. It is regarded as having a status of a region. But regions, as I said earlier, have their own borders. That is all. If the constitution is no longer working, then Addis Abeba can expand indefinitely. Otherwise you cannot cut some part of Tigray and hand it over to Amhara and cut some part of Afar and hand it over to the Somali. Constitutionally it has been made impossible. That is it. No single region should be allowed to trespass that. The third is why is Addis Abeba concerned about the plan? Where is the regional government if Addis Abeba is making a plan for Oromia?

 

Do you think this dilemma traces its root from the very federal system the country says it is following? What, in your opinion, does the federal system currently in use in Ethiopia mean to the ordinary people? Do you think it is losing its relevance beyond being a toll deployed to serve political ends? Or as a famous Oromo legal expert once said, I quote: “beyond dishes, dances and dresses”? What does it represent?

 

Constitutionally this country is a federal country but as many people think, this is not a gift from the ruling EPRDF. Federalism evolved or it came out of the situation that existed 24 years ago. Twenty four years ago there were about 17 armed groups actively engaged in rebellion, with all their weapons and strongholds. So when the Dergue collapsed there was no way out of the political deadlock except to go for federalism because everyone could have gone home on his own way; the Oromos had the OLF, the Ogadens have the ONLF and so on. So except federalism no other kind of government was possible.

 

I think it is an argument that Leenco Lataa recently wrote in one of the local newspapers published here. That said how do you evaluate the last 24 years? Has the country lived up to the federalism arrangement? Where did the county perform best, if there is any, and where did it lag behind?
I have not read what Leenco has written. But it is true that federalism was dictated by the situation at the time. But since then what’shappening is its concept and practice is being eroded on a daily basis. If you look at regions I don’t think they are even electing their own rulers. Practically I think the country is as unitary and as centralized as it has been before. There was one big man, the late Prime Minister [Meles Zenawi] who used to appoint regional officials without the consent of the people of the regions, who used to transfer them to the federal government as he likes. That was what was happening and continued to this day. In federalism you plan your own way, levy taxes in your own way, you execute it in your own way; your priority is different from the federal government or other regions. That is not what’s happening now, but if you take Addis Abeba city for example, which is also the seat of the Oromia regional state, in the name of self-administered city its officials singlehandedly decide on the fate of the city and its areas. For them the creation of the Addis Abeba recreational ground in Burayu may be a high priority. But for the Oromia region to which the area belongs to a school of high standard may be its priority. But as things are happening now the federal government plans by itself and executes by its own finance. That is not true federalism.

 

So you are firmly implying that the federal system the country is following now was dictated by the existing circumstances 24 years ago but fell short of its purpose?

 

Yes it didn’t serve its purpose. I am saying this because we know so many people who were elected by their constituencies, but who are moved from power by the federal government. To bring another example, in March 2011 about one thousand Oromos were taken to the Ma’ekelawi prison in Addis Abeba but the Oromia regional state didn’t know; they didn’t have any knowledge of the Oromos taken by federal security agents from every corner of Oromia. Here is when one should ask what is this regional government doing? Did the regional government invite the federal government to come and act on its behalf to bring these people to justice? Are they incapable of bringing them to justice in their own region? So what is federalism?
Let’s talk about ethnic federalism. Do you think there is a deliberate misrepresentation and exploitation of what ethnic federalism stands for? An exploitation by the powers that be of deploying the concept as a means to prolong their time in power, and a deliberate attempt by people who advocate for the so called unity using the side effects of ethnic federalism?

 

People say ethnic federalism doesn’t take us anywhere. But I simply say that the ethnic federalism that came about 24 years ago because of the situation we were in is a necessary evil that we cannot avoid. Because our identity, our language, our culture has been denied for many years before that and it is only through this way that we can promote our language, our culture, and our identity. But it is true that it is a very broad topic but I don’t believe in the idea of the unionists because on party level, for example within Medrek, there were various ethnic based parties like the Arena Tigray. You know if you scratch any party you will find out that the issue of ethnicity is underlined but by the name it implies something else, just like we have the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Does it mean it is federal? Does it mean it is democratic? There is nothing in a name. Therefore for me every party in this country is an ethnic based party. I am not saying it’s a bad thing; it becomes bad when one ethnic group becomes a foe to another.
Politically, it becomes bad when it is used as a tool of repression against others; when it is imposed. When somebody imposes his own agenda on another, then the problem comes. If you say don’t speak your language speak only mine then here comes the problem.
But willingly I can learn your language and you can learn mine. For example people complain that we are not able to work in the regions because we don’t know the language. In the first place you are there because you want to sell your knowledge, your skill and your service, is that not? If I went to Tigray to sell my knowledge, my skill or to sell my expertise then I have to interact with the people who want to be served in the language they understand. Nobody is disallowed to work there. But the only thing is serve these people in the language they understand. Otherwise if I am an Oromo and if I want to go to Tigray and ask all the Tigray people to speak Afaan Oromo, I think that is crazy and it should be addressed. This is a situation that often goes wrong. But people love their language very much, they want to promote their culture, they want their identity very much. If there is another mechanism by which this can be addressed, such as by geographic kind of federalism, that is okay.

 

Does this reinforce your belief in a just ethnic federalism system that this country has to wake up to one day?
Yes and we have to appreciate our diversity. Look, if we are of the same age, wearing the same clothes, of the same height, of the same color, eat the same food, and dance the same way to the same music this world would be nasty, it would be really ugly! Very ugly! We don’t want to turn this earth into hell. We want our diversity. We want other people to sing in their own way, speak in their own language, to wear different kinds of dresses. I think the idea of trying to bring everything into one is not a sane idea.
I would like to ask you the next question as someone who is an Oromo politician. Currently there are at least two predominant Oromo discourses. The first is the discourse for secessionism, although it’s a discourse that looked as if it was losing ground since the split within the former administration of the OLF, many people think it has surfaced again when the “Oromo first” debate came about in the recent past. The second is the Oromo discourse supporting a greater autonomy within the federal government – a better way of federalism that gives the Oromo a greater say in their affairs. For this group secessionism is no longer the call of the day. Where does Bekele Gerba stand? What do you see as a better way forward for the Oromo people?
Well my stand is very clear in this issue. I always say that first the rights of the Oromo should be respected. The Oromos are located in the middle of this country; they have formed this country, they are part of this country, they will remain in this country. You cannot think about Ethiopia without the presence of the Oromos. They have sustained it and they are in the center of this massive land. Therefore I think what is very important is that their rights is respected; there should be no compromise. If so I can boldly say from what I have seen and experienced that the Oromos are not after secession. But the problem is when the situation continues like it is now; when the exploitation, the eviction, the attempt to assimilate, to destroy their language, to destroy their culture, to destroy their identity goes on in such a way I think people may think otherwise. It is true that people who are following this very closely may assume the situation is getting desperate. But for me it’s not that desperate and I still believe that things can be put in the right track, and the wrongs can be righted. If we start righting the wrongs, then I think the question of an independent Oromia or an independent land will not be a very serious issue.

 

But it is exactly what many Oromos feel is not happening. For them this very grim situation the country keeps on generating has continued. Reports indicate that the exile of the Oromo has continued en mass as we speak; the jailing, the killing, the mysterious disappearance of University students just a year ago didn’t help either. Don’t you think this makes the secessionism discourse to gain momentum? As someone who has been in the center of the politics in the country do you see there is still hope for peaceful struggle for the rights and respect of the Oromo? Is there a room for that? Does the political space allow for that to exist?

 

Inside 5
There is a challenge. But I think there is still hope. I always believe that things can change gradually. Because of the culture we were in for hundreds, or may be thousands of years, we used to think changing a government is only possible by violence, or armed struggle. But I think that time has passed now; it is possible to change regimes and to confront governments by peaceful means of struggle. If people are very much committed to peaceful struggle, I think the situation will change and the government must exploit this situation – meaning that, as an opposition,we are very helpful, we can contribute much. Going to the jungle and destroying everything, crashing everything and building it when you come back again as new doesn’t take this country anywhere. And if the current leadership was wise, they could have designed many ways in which armed struggle in the future would not be a possibility. But I don’t think they are smart. The legacy now is that people are still toying with armed struggle. Ten years ago when the opposition, Kinijit, won Addis Abeba and much of the country, things would have changed a lot had they been given what was theirs at that time. People would begin to trust that it is possible to change regimes without war, thorough the ballot box, and the political tradition itself would have been one step forward. But we lost that. We lost that chance because of the power mongering attitude of the ruling EPRDF; we lost that big chance.

 

But don’t you think the refusal of the opposition to get into the parliament itself has contributed?
But they [the opposition] had pieces of information about Addis Abeba at that time that all the treasury that used to belong to Addis Abeba city administration were handed over to the federal government including transport facilities; the state capital of Oromia was called back again and Oromia was to tax the city. So it was because of what the EPRDF did that the opposition refused to accept the city. I am not saying they did a good job, or the right thing; I think they could have taken the challenge. All I am saying is it was because of what EPRDF did that everything turned into ashes and the possibility of changing regimes and leadership in this country through the ballot box failed.

 

Ethiopia is about a month away from holding yet another general election. Do you think elections for a country like Ethiopia are a means of sustaining power for those who have it; for the sake of the L word – legitimacy, as many argue? Or do you believe it is a means to change the political order peacefully?
From the experience we have so far I don’t think EPRDF is ready to give power anytime. If you look at what they are doing now in terms of the use of media space, they allocated 500 hours, but they designed it in a way that they can take a bulk or the large share once again. In the last election [in 2010] 10 million ETB was allocated to all the parties out of which 9.5 million went back to the EPRDF and 300, 000 ETB went to EDP. Do you believe if I tell you that we received just 3,600 ETB? That was about 175 Euros. This time they have allocated 30 million ETB and if you ask around you may find out that more than twenty something millions of it went back to the pocket of EPRDF again.
Soyou are saying holding elections is just another way of legitimizing the time in power?
That is it. It is already a foregone conclusion. For me EPRDF has already won. I think there is very little thing we expect from this election.
So what does it mean to be in an opposition party trying to survive under such circumstances? What makes your party decide to exist all together?
The objective of a political party is not only to seize power. If you can get the wrongs to be corrected by the ruling party that is already something; if you can do it yourself that is even better. But if you cannot do it and someone does it then that is also fine. Therefore we will try to contribute our best in this regard, irrespective of the hard situations we find ourselves in; there is no way out. We don’t want to go to armed struggle; we don’t want to show on television Ethiopians killing Ethiopians for power. So even though pursuing peaceful struggle is very difficult I personally always appreciated the likes of Mahatma Gandhi; I have always appreciated the struggles of people like Martin Luther King and I think we have to continue that way. Rome was not built in one day.

 

How did your prison experience change your political determination? Did it reshape you in any way? Will you go back practicing politics again?
I think I am stronger than I was when I went to prison; I consider myself more prepared and stronger than before. And I can never be out of politics; I don’t want to be out of politics.
When you were handed the eight year sentence back in 2012, you made a speech that became a symbol of the rally behind the ‘free Bekele Gerba’ campaign. In this speech you said that if you were to ask an apology you would ask it from the “Almighty” and, I quote: “from my people for failing to speak to the depth of their suffering in the interest of the co-existence of people.” Don’t you think it’s exactly this attitude of putting the “interest of the co-existence of people” at the expense of the suffering of others that is sustaining repression in this country? That people like you keep silent for the sake of co-existence?
If you see what is happening in this country by members or group of people coming from certain ethnic groups against other ethnic groups you will be very sad. But these people should live together. This peaceful co-existence can be built if I have some share; if you and the others have some share as well. Personally, for example, I cannot speak everything that I saw of what happened to the Oromos at some point in this prison known as Kilinto; it was really very sad. Well coordinated and against one single ethnic group of prisoners, who are not able to defend themselves – both by the police, by the officials, by fellow prisoners, virtually everybody other than members of that ethnic group. But you don’t speak everything and at the same time you don’t generalize too because if TPLF has done something bad it doesn’t mean the whole Tigraians are like that. At the end these people have to live together. The TPLF may not be there after some point, but these people must continue to live together, so we should not put that kind of animosity among people. So there are times when you don’t speak everything. That was the idea; it is only for peaceful co-existence of these people. I did nothing for my own benefit and I am not scared for my life if I have spoken everything; I have not addressed it very well only because I want these people to co-exist. That is it.

 

Currently there are many political activists who are behind bars, and as many are exiled. Some of these youngsters are the same people who looked up to you as a role model. What do you say to them? How should they continue to be the voice for those who are rendered voiceless? What advice do you give them because many of them are the same young activists who spoke for you when you couldn’t from your prison cell? What words of wisdom do you share with them?
First I would like to thank everyone who supported me, who supported my family, who demanded my release, and who never forgot the cause for which I was there…I would like to thank them all. But at the same time you know doing politics in Ethiopia is a very difficult task, because the politics is, whether we like it or not, geared in such a way that it is ethnically motivated. Everybody tries to see everything from his ethnic group point of view.
Is that a bad thing?
No, it is not bad. It becomes bad when what you want to achieve is at the expense of other ethnic groups. There should not be any hidden agenda that will exclude the other ethnic groups; whether we like it or not every group, every individual wants his right as we want ours. It is only by self-respect that we can maintain peace and brotherhood in this country. Now you may ask if there is peace in this country. The fact that the guns are silent, the fact that there is no war going on in the country doesn’t necessarily mean that it is as such very peaceful. We are carrying around so many things that can ignite any time. So the young generation must think about its future. This young generation should not listen if they hear these old politicians of the 1960s or 1950s who are old professors and who wrote many things and researched around but who do not contribute to the peaceful co-existence of the people of this country. They are gone, their time is gone and their time is going. But the young generation must think about its own future. And that future should be based on the idea that all should respect one another. We should respect one another. The right of one group or one ethnic group or one community depends also on the right of the other ethnic group. If there is injustice somewhere it will affect justice everywhere. When the Amharas are attacked the Oromos, the Tigraians, the Sidamas, the Somalis and so on must act. That’s what I believe in.

 

Photo: Addis Standard

http://addisstandard.com/bekele-gerba-speaks/

Oromo Political Prisoner Bekele Gerba Freed. Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa Hiikamanii Jiru. #Oromo March 31, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Because I am Oromo.
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Itti aanaa dura ta’aa paartii mormituu Warraaqsa Federaalistii Dimokraatawaa Oromoo kan turan Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa hidhaa waggaa sadii fi baatii torbaa booda kaleessa Bitooteessa 30 bara 2015 hiikamanii jiran. Himannaan shoroorkeessummaa irratti dhiyaatEe murtiin hidhaa waggaa saddeetiI eega irratti muramee booda ol-iyyannaa dhiyeeeffatanii turaniin gara hidhaa waggaa sadii fi baatii torbaatti gad cabeef. Akka seera Itiyoophiyaatti hidhaa na irratti murame sadii keessaa harka lama akkaan xumureetti mirgi gadhiifamuu naa kennamuutu irra ture kan jedhan obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa garuU kanas dhorkameen hidhaa na irratti murame xumuree ba’uuf dirqame jedhu.

Kaleessuuma yeroo gadhiifamuuf turantti illee eega baafamanii booda, waan qoratamuu qabuutu jira jechuun yeroof mana hidhaatti isaan deebisuu isaanii dubbatu Obbo Baqqalaan. Booda garuu magaalaa Finfinneetti si geessinee qoranna jedhanii Zuwaay irraa kokolaataa seennee Moojoo akka geenyeetti achuumatti na gadhiisan jedhhan. Akka Obbo Baqqalaan jedhantti himnannaan irratti dhiyaatee ittiin adabaman kan sobaa ta’uu fi ragaan dhiyaates qindeeffamee ta’uu dubabtanii jiru. Haallii fayyaa isaanii ogeessa wal’ansa fayyaan ilaalamuu kan fedhu ta’uus kan sadarkaa hamaa irra hin jirre ta’uu Raadiyoo Sagalee Amerikaaf Ibsanii jiru.

Gaaffii fi deebii geggeedffame armaan gaditti caqasaa

http://www.voaafaanoromoo.com/content/article/2701292.html

http://gadaa.net/FinfinneTribune/2015/03/ob-bekele-gerba-speaks-with-voas-jaallannee-gammadaa-after-freedom-from-unjust-imprisonment/

(Oromedia, 31 Bitootessa 2015) Ob Baqqalaa Garbaa Bitootessa 30, bara 2015 hidhaa hiikamuun gabaafame.
Maddeen keenya Finfinnee irraa akka nuuf gabaasanitti, Ob Baqqalaan murtii dabaa mootummaa Itoophiyaa irraa itti darbe fixanii bahan.

Ob Baqqalaan miseensa paartii karaa nagaa biyya keessa sochooú, Warraaqsa Federaalistii Dimokiraatawaa Oromoo taánis, mootummaan Wayyaanee garuu miseensa ABO ti, jechuun akka hidhe beekamaadha.

Abbaa ijjoollee afurii kan taán Ob Baqqalaa Garbaa waggaa saddeetiif akka hidhamu dhaddechi Itoophiyaa Muddee 11, 2012 itti murteesse. Yeroo sanatti akka murtiin laafuuf dhiifama akka gaafatu gaafatamnii diduu fi waan hojjatanitti akka hin gaabbine ibsachuun isaanii kan yaadatamu.

Akka sirnaa fi seera biyyattiitti Ob Baqqalaan hidhaa isaanii harka sadii erga fixanii cabsaa seeraatiin hiikamuu qabu turan.

Haataúutii, loogii sanyummaa fi sabummaatiin haga yoonaatti hidhaa keessa turruun isanaii kan beekamu.

Ob Baqqalaan Yunvarsitii Finfinneetti barsiisaa Afaanii ti.

Ob Baqqalaa Garbaa fi Ob Olbaanaa Leellisaa Hagayya  27, 2011 humnoota tikaa mootummaa Itoophiyaatiin hidhaman.

http://oromedia.net/2015/03/30/ob-baqqalaa-garbaa-hiikame/

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/03/omn-hubachiisa-bitootessa-30-2015/

Oromo Political Prisoner Bekele Gerba Freed; the Ideals (Land Grabbing, Environment, National Equality) He Got Imprisoned for Still Unresolved

 Bitootessa/March 31, 2015 · Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com

Oromo media outlets, OMN and Radio Afuura Biyyaa, have confirmed the release from prison of the Oromo political prisoner Ob. Bekele Gerba, who was the Deputy Chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) at the time of his arrest in August 2011. Ob. Bekele Gerba had been unjustly imprisoned for about three and half years. According to information we have received, his fellow prisoner Ob. Olbana Lelisa, the high-ranking leader in the Oromo People’s Congress party (OPC) at the time of his arrest with Ob. Bekele Gerba in August 2011, remains imprisoned unjustly.

Issues Ob. Bekele Gerba Imprisoned for Remain Unresolved …

BEKELE GERBA LAND-GRABBING AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION:
In 2010 – a year before his arrest, Ob. Bekele Gerba passionately debated during the General Election about land-grabbing, especially land-grabbing around Finfinne, and the appalling environmental pollution in Oromia and beyond (listen below); his firm stand on these issues had brought land-grabbing around Finfinne and environmental pollution to the forefront of the people’s consciousnesses at the time and since then.  http://gadaa.net/FinfinneTribune/2015/03/oromo-political-prisoner-bekele-gerba-freed-the-ideals-land-grabbing-environment-national-equality-he-got-imprisoned-for-still-unresolved/

BEKELE GERBA ON NATIONAL EQUALITY FOR OROMOS AND OTHER NATIONALITIES IN ETHIOPIA:
His firm stand on national equality has been also widely reported by the media (listen below); Ob. Bekele Gerba made the appeal for national equality for Oromos and other oppressed nationalities in Ethiopia as a political prisoner facing the Ethiopian government’s politically biased and motivated court in November 2012.

http://gadaa.net/FinfinneTribune/2015/03/oromo-political-prisoner-bekele-gerba-freed-the-ideals-land-grabbing-environment-national-equality-he-got-imprisoned-for-still-unresolved/