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Northern Frontier Voice: Oromos face chilling oppression in Ethiopia as AU & UN watches August 31, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistGrand #OromoProtests Global Solidarity Rally, 16 August 2016 Held in London 13

 


Oromos face chilling oppression in Ethiopia as AU & UN watches


 

It is happening again, sadly. The government in Ethiopia is back to its signature of killing, maiming and jailing its own people because they are exercising their chance of rejecting state excesses using the only means available: taking to the streets to protest.

Ethiopia is a country that has effectively obliterated several channels that normally help foster a healthy communication between citizens and the state .The sorry state of independent media and civil society organization is distressing; and every day lived experienced of Ethiopians and their contacts with authorities at any level is alarmingly toxic.
Authorities in Ethiopia should have therefore been the last ones to get started by the idea of citizens taking to the streets to make their grievances heard. Alas, that is not to be.

Hundreds and thousands of students and residents in more than 100 cities and towns in Oromiya Regional State (Oromiya for short), the largest and most populous state in Ethiopia, are in and out of the streets since early Nov. last year. Like every experience when Ethiopians were out on the streets protesting state excesses, every day is bringing heart breaking stories of Ethiopians suffering in the hands of security personnel. Since Nov.12th 2015, when the first protest broke out in Ginchi, a small town 80km west of Addis Ababa, countless households have buried their loved ones; young university students have disappeared without a trace; hundreds have lost limbs and countless others are jailed

Ethiopians are once again killing, miming and jailing Ethiopians.
The immediate trigger factor is the possible implementation of the infamous Addis Ababa and Surrounding Oromiya Special Zone Integrated Development Plan, popularly known as ‘the Addis Abeba Master Plan.’

The federal government claims it is a plan aimed at only creating a better infrastructure link between the capital Addis Abeba and eight towns located within the Oromiya Regional State Special Zone. But the reason why it is having a hard time selling this otherwise fairytale like development plan is the same reason why it is responding heavy handedly to any dissent against it: it is what it wants to do.

The current protest is led by the Oromos, who are the largest ethnic majority in Ethiopia. In all the four corners of the Addis Ababa surrounding localities, Oromos also make up the single largest majority whose way of lives have already been affected by mammoth changes Addis Ababa has been having over the last Century.

Domocracy Yes, #OromoProtests

They are rejecting the central government’s top down plan because they are informed by a merciless history of eviction and dispossession. Several researches show that over the last 25 years alone about half a million Oromo farmers have unjustly lost their farmlands to give way to an expansion of a city that is xenophobic to their way to being.

Not the first time

Sadly, this is not the first time Ethiopians are pleading with their government to be heard in regards to the so-called ‘Master Plan.’ The first protest erupted in April-May 2014 when mostly Oromo student protesters from universities in Ambo and Jimma in the west, Adama in the east and Medaawalabu in south east Ethiopia, among others, expressed their disapproval of the plan. Like today, they have resorted to communicate with authorities the only way they possibly can: take to the streets to protest. And like today authorities have responded the only way they have so far responded to Ethiopian voices calling for justice: killing tens, maiming hundreds and incarcerating thousands.

As of 1991, when the current regime first came to power, students, mostly Oromo students, have staged several protest rallies calling for justice. Each time the end result has been nothing short of a disaster.

Although the 2014 Oromo students protest marked the first of the largest protest against the central government, a not so distant memory of Oromo students’ protests and subsequent crackdowns reveal a disturbing history of state brutality gone with impunity. To mention just two, in late ’90s Oromo Students at the Addis Ababa University (AAU) protested against a systematic expulsion of hundreds of Oromo students, who, authorities claimed, had links with the then rebel group, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). But many of those who protested against the dismissal of their dorm mates soon joined the growing list of expulsion; hundreds of were also jailed. Today mothers speak of their kids who have disappeared without a trace since then. And in early 2000 Oromo students have taken to the streets to protest against the federal government’s decision to relocate the capital of the Oromiya regional state from Addis Ababa to Adama. Many of them were killed when police opened fires in several of those protests, including the one here in Addis Ababa.

Although in 2005 the federal government decided to relocate the capital of Oromiya back to Addis Ababa, fifteen years later Ethiopian prisons are hosting hundreds of students who were jailed following their protest against the decision in the first place; hundreds of them have left the country via Kenya and have become homeless in foreign lands. Less mentioned are also the lives that have been altered forever; the hopes that were dashed; the students’ quest to study and change their lives that were cut short; a country that is deprived of its young and brightest; and family fabrics that were shattered.
State impunity and all that

Following the 2014 Oromo students’ protest and the killing spree by the federal and the regional state police, Abadula Gemeda, speaker of the house of people’s representatives and former president of the Oromiya regional state, promised to bring to justice those who were responsible for the killing.

But two outstanding experiences explain why Abadula’s words were mere rhetoric. And the government in Ethiopia should address both if it wants to remain a legitimate representative of the people it claims to govern.

First, so far no one who represents the government has been held accountable for the killings, maiming, disappearances and unjust incarceration for countless Ethiopians following protest crackdowns. No matter how excessive the use of force by its security agents against unarmed protesters is, the government knows (and acts as such) it can simply get away with it, as it did several times in the past. This is wrong. A state that has no mechanism to hold its rogue agents accountable for their excesses is equally guilty.

In addition to that, in what came as a disturbing twist, the government has adopted a new strategy aimed at portraying itself as a victim of public vandalism. It is rushing to clean itself of the crimes committed by its security agents. Using its disproportionate access to state owned and affiliated media currently the government is presiding over the stories of victimhood more than those whose lives have been destroyed by it. In an act of shame and disgrace to the profession, these state owned and affiliated media are providing their helping hands to complete the act of state impunity.

Second, the central government’s first answer to the repeated cries of justice by Ethiopians is to communicate with them through its army. Like in the past, in the ongoing protests by the Oromo, which have largely focused on cities and towns within the Oromiya regional state, protesters are not only facing the regional state’s security apparatus but also the merciless hands of the federal army reserve. This is an act that not only trespasses the country’s constitutionally guaranteed federal arrangement but also makes the horrific crimes committed by necrophiliac security agents against protesters to get lost in unnecessary details, hence go unpunished.

Public protests in the past and the manner by which the current government dealt with them should teach the later a lesson or two. But the first and most urgent one is that it should stop killing, maiming and jailing its people’s questions.

In addition to the unknown numbers of those who have been killed by the police and the army in the wake of the ongoing protest, cities have seen their hospitals crowded with wounded Ethiopians of all ages; hundreds of individuals, including senior members of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), are already thrown into jails without due legal process. In clear violation of the constitution by none other than the state most of them are held incommunicado in places unknown to their loved ones

In the wake of his release after serving four years in prison, Bekele Gerba, the prominent opposition figure, told this magazine in April last year that prison was “not a place one appreciates to be, but I think it is also the other way of life as an Ethiopian.” Sadly, Bekele is once again thrown in to jail because that is Ethiopia does to its people’s questions. But an end to this is long overdue.

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Poverty, Deprivation, Capability and Economics August 30, 2013

Posted by OromianEconomist in The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, Uncategorized.
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World map showing countries by nominal GDP per...

World map showing countries by nominal GDP per capita in 2008, IMF estimates as of April 2009. Sbw01f’s work, but converted to an SVG file instead. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘It has to be known that  the social structures, the power relations, that have generated and continue to generate poverty.’

In the present world, poverty, particularly   as it is experienced in the developing countries, has become the main topic to a great deal of discussion among economists and policy
makers, and there have been various campaigns  going on to overcome it: “to make poverty history.” The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) project is for front of these undertakings. In these makings, the issue is absolute deprivation, and the current widely accepted standard defines poverty as living on less than $2 per day and extreme poverty as living on less than $1 per day. The $2 per day and $1 per day figures are in terms of 1990 purchasing power. The World Bank uses these standards to report each year on the number of people living in poverty and in extreme poverty. The definition of poverty in terms of absolute deprivation may make good sense. When people do not have the basic necessities – the food, the shelter, the clothing – that they need to lead a reasonable life, they are living in poverty. Although we might not agree over the exact baseline.  There may look nothing wrong with the term.
However, there are problems with this absolute deprivation term of poverty. Primarily, there is the problem of whether or not an income measure can actually handle what we understand by people living in an ‘unreasonable’  condition of deprivation; not all the things that
make for a reasonable existence can be directly  transformed to purchasable goods and services. Besides, there is the problem of what we mean by ‘deprivation’. Of course, economic well-being – cannot be properly  measured and clearly understood by a single, absolute measure. In particular, the meaning cannot be properly  captured by  individual’s or a people’s absolute level of income. Actually, this issue has been widely recognized by the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI), Sen’s capabilities concept, and to some extent by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) campaign. Achieving an income goal alone does not eliminate poverty. A closely related issue  is that poverty (or well-being) cannot be captured properly by any single measure or single combination of measures, such as the HDI. Both the terms of poverty and economic well-being do not take into account issues of inequality in the distribution of income or the distribution of other measures of well-being. This failure to take into account issues of distribution in defining poverty (economic well-being) is conceptually and practically  problematic. If poverty is understood in absolute terms without consideration of distributional issues, the social structures that generate poverty tend to be ignored. It has to be known that  the social structures, the power relations, that have generated and continue to generate poverty. As  Arthur MacEwan  of University of Massachusetts Boston argues: ‘To a large extent, the poor are poor because they lack power, and they lack power because they are poor. When power is brought into consideration, the focus of policy shifts towards such issues as land reform and the effective control of state actions – i.e., of the underlying factors that determine spending on health care, education and other social services. The problem of poverty, then, would be approached as a socio-political problem, not simply as a technical problem. (Technical changes can bring about changes in socio-political relations, and that is one of the reasons, in addition to their direct impacts, that they are often good. But technical solutions are less likely to be effective when they are implemented without consideration of power relations.’  For instance, as studies on the Horn of Africa recognize, the colonizing Abyssinian Ethiopian structure has been  a very serious development problem in Oromia. In recent debates the UN and other international organizations are taking human rights issues to a center stage in the discussions of eliminating poverty as it is to  define the post 2015 actions. Actually, individual human rights and collect (group) rights must be at the center stage  in processes of poverty eliminations and achieving development. A person can be  socially and economically deprived and made incapable to achieve life goals not only as individual but also because he/she is a member of a group.  That is what we have learnt from the experiences and studies on  indigenous people such as the Oromo nation under Ethiopian social and political structures.

The discussion of  poverty may be as old as disciplines of economics and philosophy.  Economists  and philosophers including  Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Rawls, Amartya Sen, and many more have discussed the subject. The capabilities concept of economic well-being has been established  and extensively discussed by Amartya Sen. He maintains that “…the right focus for assessing standard of living is … something that may be called a person’s capability…., the capability to function …that comes closest to the notion of standard of living.”  The following site is interesting  further discussions: http://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=econ_faculty_pubs&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bing.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Dpoverty%252C%2520capability%2520and%2520deprivation%253Awhat%2520economists%2520say%26pc%3Dconduit%26ptag%3DADE7BA551541340B0B5F%26form%3DCONOMX%26conlogo%3DCT3210127%26ShowAppsUI%3D1#search=%22poverty%2C%20capability%20deprivation%3Awhat%20economists%20say%22

Another Interesting current economic article on the subject of poverty is rebeloged  here with kind acknowledgement to the author:

“How important should the subject of poverty be within the discipline of economics? Some economists appear to think it is a very small issue compared to the magnificent mathematics of general equilibrium theory. Others believe that economics should fundamentally be about the sources of human well-being and misery, and that understanding poverty is absolutely fundamental for economics. How should we try to sort this out? Among the contemporary economists who have given the greatest attention to poverty and deprivation, Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze are particularly outstanding. Their research on well-being, quality of life, and hunger set a standard for the point of viewthat says that life quality and deprivation need to be at the top of the list of economic research goals. Here I’m thinking of books like Inequality ReexaminedPoverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, and Hunger and Public Action. The neoclassical free market purists stand at the other end of the garden.  The economists of the Chicago School put primary emphasis on the beneficent effects of untrammeled market behavior, and they give little attention to the “market imperfections” that poverty and deprivation represent. (The word “poverty” does not occur in the index of John Van Overtveldt’s good intellectual history of the Chicago School, The Chicago School: How the University of Chicago Assembled the Thinkers Who Revolutionized Economics and Business.) Poverty seems to be viewed as a normal and fair result of the workings of market institutions: some people make large contributions and earn high income, and others make small or zero contributions and earn low income.”  Daniel Little, Rebloged from http://understandingsocietyglobaledition.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/poverty-and-economics/ read more from http://understandingsocietyglobaledition.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/poverty-and-economics/

As disccused in the above sources, poverty is not only a matter of lack of income.  And also economic  growth alone does not alleviate poverty.  As it has been analysed in following sources: “The problem with seeing poverty only through the lens of income is that it leaves economic growth as the only option to remove poverty. The underlying assumption is that the poor will be someday and somehow able to earn enough money to take care of all their needs, starting with having sufficient food. The problem is that the poor also lack skills to earn sufficient money, they are denied credit or loan by the banks, they have no access to quality education and healthcare facilities, and face social discrimination and political marginalization. Therefore, it is rather naive to expect that just because the economy is doing well, they will suddenly start having good income and come out of poverty. Thanks to the efforts of eminent economists such as Indian Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and late Dr Mahbub ul Haq of Pakistan, better ways of measuring poverty and human well-being than income have emerged. If the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) launched in 1990 provided the first global tool to probe the standard of living, a bigger thrust was given in 2010 by the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) that uses 10 different indicators to probe various deprivations the poor face. An application of the MPI analysis on the above two countries reveals an entirely different picture. Ethiopia has 90 percent poverty while Uzbekistan reveals just 2 percent multidimensional poor. What we learn from this is that the society in Uzbekistan looks after its people much better than the Ethiopian society. Therefore, poverty is better understood in terms deprivations, not lack of income. Economic Growth Alone is not “Development.” The real purpose of development is to enhance the well being of people and raise their standard of living, for which economic development is an important tool. However, this tool has been converted into an end in itself. Another popular view sees “development” as technological development; other contemporary concepts of development are industrialization and increasing the GDP growth (and keep doing it forever!). The way international business is being steered through global treaties, it appears that the world is being converted into a big bazaar and people into mere tools of production and consumption. The per capita consumption has emerged as modern measure of development and hence, of the well being of people. Hence, people of “developed” nations are the biggest consumers on the planet. Rest of the world is catching fast to beat them in this competition.” http://goodpal.hubpages.com/hub/Looking-at-Poverty-Beyond-Lack-of-income

Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom. Poverty is a call to action – for the poor and the wealthy alike – a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence, and a voice in what happens in their communities. Poverty is the state of being without, often associated with need, hardship and lack of resources across a wide range of circumstances.’http://www.fightpoverty.mmbrico.com/poverty/what.html

“Since poverty is often so linked with human development, or lack of it, the 1996 report took a special look at poverty and concluded that income poverty is only part of the picture. “Just as human development encompasses aspects of life much broader than income, so poverty should be seen as having many dimensions,” says the report. As a result, the report introduced a new, multidimensional measure of human deprivation called the capability poverty measure, (CPM). The CPM focuses on human capabilities, just as human development index does. Instead of examining the average state of people’s capabilities, it reflects the percentage of people who lack basic, or minimally essential human capabilities, which are ends in themselves and are needed to lift one from income poverty and to sustain strong human development. The CPM considers the lack of three basic capabilities. The first is the lack of being well nourished and healthy, represented in this case by the proportion of children under five years who are underweight. The second is the lack of capability for healthy reproduction, shown by the proportion of births unattended by trained personnel. The third is the lack of capability to be educated and knowledgeable, represented by female illiteracy. The composite index emphasizes deprivation of women because, says the report, “It is now well known that the deprivation of women adversely affects the human development of families and of society.” Comparing the new capability poverty measure with the income poverty index, the report found that while 21 per cent of the people in developing countries are below the income poverty line, 37 per cent face capability poverty.   That is, 900 million people in developing countries are income poor, but 1.6 billion are capability poor.”    http://www.womenaid.org/press/info/poverty/cpm.html