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CBC:#OromoProtests: Oromo community rallies in Calgary over police crackdowns in Oromia/ Ethiopia March 12, 2016

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

Ethiopian community rallies in Calgary to protest police crackdowns in Oromia region

‘They’re leaving farmers without anywhere to go’

By Erika Stark, CBC News March 11, 2016 

Members of Calgary's Oromo community rallied in front of MP Kent Hehr's office on Friday.

Members of Calgary’s Oromo community rallied in front of MP Kent Hehr’s office on Friday. (Colin Hall/CBC)

About 100 people rallied in front of Calgary MP Kent Hehr’s office Friday morning to protest police crackdowns in Ethiopia over plans to requisition farmland in the African country.

It was to support dozens of university students who protested in Ethiopia’s capital on Tuesday, demanding an end to police crackdowns that followed months of demonstrations over plans to requisition farmland in the country’s Oromia region late last year.

Ethiopia rally 2

Protesters held signs and waved flags outside of Hehr’s Calgary office. (Colin Hall/CBC)

The government wanted to develop farmland around the capital, Addis Ababa, and its plan triggered some of the worst civil unrest for a decade, with rights groups and U.S.-based dissidents saying as many as 200 people may have been killed.

In Calgary, Gilcha Mohammed, the chairman of the Oromo Community Association of Alberta, called on the Canadian government to pressure Ethiopian authorities.

“We’re all taxpaying Canadian citizens and we want our government to send a strong message to the Ethiopian government that they can’t continue killing and arresting peaceful protestors,” said Mohammed, speaking above the shouts of the protesters gathered outside Hehr’s Calgary office.

Ethiopian protest

Protesters were crossing their arms during the rally. (Colin Hall/CBC)

“They are confiscating thousands of hectares of land. There’s about 3 million farmers that have been displaced. They’re leaving farmers without anywhere to go and that’s why we’re here.”

Protesters in Calgary marched down the street holding Canadian flags and the flag for the Oromia region.

Ethiopia has long been one of the world’s poorest nations but has industrialized rapidly in the past decade and now boasts double-digit growth. However, reallocating land is a thorny issue for Ethiopians, many of whom are subsistence farmers.

Authorities scrapped the land scheme in January, but sporadic demonstrations persist.

Ethiopian protester

This woman lays down in a form of protest. (Colin Hall/CBC)

Mohammed said Canada should use its influence to encourage a peaceful resolution.

“Canada is a major contributor of foreign aid to Ethiopia and it has a lot of influence over the Ethiopian government,” he said. “We just want Canada to put pressure on the Ethiopian government and even cut that aid if necessary.”

Mohammed said Hehr’s office agreed to meet with the group after the rally.

“We got a good response so far,” he said.


 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/ethiopia-calgary-kent-hehr-rally-1.3487777

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Oromia: #OromoProtests – 100 days of Public Protest March 8, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Oromia, Oromo.
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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests  in Mega town, Borana, Oromia,  Feb 29, 2016Solidarity message to Oromo People and #OromoProtests#OromoProtests iconic pictureXalayaa  Hawwii#OromoProtests, the Oromo Solidarity Project Concordia University, Montreal ( Canada) March 3, 2016. p2#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in EthiopiaEritrean Soccer Team In Melbourn ,Australia Global Solidarity With Oromo Students and People . 1st January  2016Global Solidalirty rally with #OromoProtests in Oromia@Seattle 29 December 2015#OromoProtests December 28, 2015 Akkoon mormii irra jiru The struggle continuesoromoprotests-finfinnee-aau-over-kidnapping-of-two-female-students-their-name-is-lomitu-waqbulcho-3rd-year-afan-oromo-hirut-tule-2nd-year-chemical-engineering-18-december-2012#OromoProtests, healthcare professionals at Bishoftu hospital saying No! to the Master Plan, 14 December 2014‪#‎OromoProtests‬ Global Solidarity Rally Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, 11 December 2015OromoProtests @Finfinnee University  Dec. 7, 2015 picture2#OromoProtests of 7 December 2015Silent sit-ins in the campus arena seem to become the new norm of protest (#OromProtess) when physical challenge of barbarism lets nearly impossible to otherwise. Arba Minch University, Dec. 2015. image2OromoProtests, Najjoo, Oromia, November 26, 2015#OromoProtests @ Jijjiga University, 12 December 2015#OromoProtests, Malka baldho, E. Hararghe, 2nd January 2016#OromoProtests continues in Begi,  Wallaggaa, Arsi, Oromia, 14 Feb. 2016#OromoProtests, Nagelle Borana, 20 Feb. 2016Gaaffiiwwan yeroo ammaaDhaamsa#OromoProtests, Qabosoon itti fufa jedhu aayyoleen

 

Oromo Protests – 100 days of Public Protest


 

By Ethiopia Human Rights Project,  March 2016


 

 

Oromia, the largest regional State in the Ethiopian Federation, has been rocked by series of protests in the past 100 days since mid-November 2015. The protests began with the aim of having the proposed Master Plan of the capital, Addis Ababa, officially referred as the ‘Addis Ababa–Finfinne[1] Integrated Development Plan’ (‘Master Plan’) scrapped. The Master Plan was designed by Addis Ababa City Administration in collaboration with the government of Oromia Regional State and introduced early in 2014. The protestors opposed the Master Plan, which covers 1.1 million hectare of land (approximately twenty fold the current size of Addis Ababa), saying that its implementation will result in the eviction of millions of farmers and families from their land. The first protests against the Master Plan were held mainly by students of Oromia regional State in April/May/June 2014 which resulted in deaths, injuries and imprisonment of many people all over the state. The protests erupted again in November 2015 and continued up until now.

The ‘second round protests’, as it is called by activists, took wider area and longer time than its antecedent. Police brutality have reached its climax and deaths, injuries, mass arrest, kidnapping have tragically been reported in the State. In only the first hundred days of these protests, hundreds of towns and villages have witnessed mass incidents. In addition, death tolls have reportedly reached more than four hundred, thousands of people were injured and tens of thousands people were briefly arrested. Even though the Master Plan has been officially been scrapped by OPDO, ruling party in the regional State, on 13 January, 2016, fifty four days after the second round of the protest erupted, the third round of the protests have continued with a new momentum; what has started as an opposition to the Master Plan seems to end up looking for answers of political questions that have grown in the past two decades.

The Ethiopia Human Rights Project (EHRP) has actively followed the first 100 days of the protests and summarized the issues, causes, and the human rights violations perpetrated by government security forces in response to the protests in Oromia region. Click  the next line to read the  full report:-

EHRP-OromoProtests-100-Days-of-Public-Protests


 

http://ehrp.org/oromoprotests-100-days-of-public-protest/

Oromia: For development’s sake? Land grabbing and the Oromo People in Ethiopia March 6, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Oromia, Oromo.
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Odaa OromooNo To Fascist TPLF Ethiopia's genocidal militarism and mass killings in Oromia, Ethiopiaoromoprotests-tweet-and-share1Gaaffiiwwan yeroo ammaa

Oromia (#OromoProtests):The missing Oromo protesters join a long list of disappearances March 4, 2016

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Odaa OromooNo To Fascist TPLF Ethiopia's genocidal militarism and mass killings in Oromia, Ethiopiaoromoprotests-tweet-and-share1Agazi, fascist TPLF Ethiopia's forces attacking unarmed and peaceful #OromoProtests in Baabichaa town central Oromia (w. Shawa) , December 10, 2015

 

 

The missing Oromo protesters join a long list of disappearances


 

By Hassen Hussein*,  OPride


 

(Opride.com): Last week, I read an angry, anguished and daringly eloquent letter from ijoollee Jalduu, a young Oromo from the flashpoint town of Gindo in southwest Shawa, the epicenter of the still-ongoing popular resistance against the Ethiopian state.

Addressed to his countrymen — at home and abroad — the 25-page chronicle captures the depth of grievance animating today’s Oromo youth to revolt.

To a large extent, the writer dwelled on the transformation of the quarter-a-century-long indirect Tigrean rule to the current military occupation and the accompanying injustices. He also drew parallels between today’s events and emperor Menelik’s foray into the heartland of Oromo territory in the 1880s and the Italian occupation of Abyssinia in the 1930s.

There are many ways in which armies of occupation leave behind indelible marks. One is by their routine practice of snatching away — at night or broad daylight — young able-bodied men and women, some unconnected with the conflict, from their families. The luckiest of these families find their loved ones in some dingy prison or detention center. They may not have them back home again. But they take solace in their ability, however limited, to at least visit them. And the chances to sue, entreat, or pray for their release. Hearing about them, even in the form of rumors and urban legends, is a boon.

The luckier accidentally stumble upon or be alerted by neighbors or passerby to the dead, charred, mangled, mutilated, disfigured or leftover pieces and bits of the once healthy and beautiful bodies of their loved ones in the adjoining or distant ditches, forests, ravine, creek or parts sticking out from a mass grave. Lucky, because at least they get to bury them and get some closure. This does not mean the loss is any less tragic and painful as a mother wailing for her young son killed by the security forces in Olankomi chillingly stated, “they did not kill him. They have killed me.”

The unluckiest are those forever left in the dark, those who have to carry the heavy weight of the missing’s uncertain fate; those who are left with the overwhelming voids that no anguished memory can fill. Haunted by the forever wandering souls of the disappeared, future generations experience the loss—whether the story is told or the window into them is slammed shut.

Like a broken piece of glass, stories of the missing lodge themselves into the psyche stoking our historical memory. With every movement, the piece of glass shifts as if to remind us its presence. The families hold no public memorials and nurse the wound privately, allowing a void to live within them and sometimes it feels as if we also live within it—especially in times of distress such as the one we currently inhabit.

The trauma is the greatest when the missing happens to be a female relation. Growing up, I kept hearing the story of a great aunt snatched away by an unknown soldier in the service of Menelik’s army as it was making its way possibly from Anole and Azule to Calanqo through my mother’s birth village. Such stories are never complete and neither is mine. For example, I do not even know her name—having not asked. However, their incompleteness does not make such stories any less potent.

“Was she a fighter?” we would ask. “No, she was a young girl herding cattle ” my mother intoned.
“Where was her father?” we would ask. “A warrior, he believed a warrior’s code disallowed harming or taking children after an active battle is over” she would say.
“Did he try to get her back?” He did but unsuccessfully.

“Why did her mother not plead with the captors?” My mother answered, “She did, to no avail. The captors did not speak her language and nor she theirs.”
“Where did they take her?” “Nobody knew.”
“Nothing heard from her or about her ever since?”
“You ask too many questions, none,” which signaled it was time to move on to a different story or household or outdoor chore.

Ijoollee Jalduu’s haunting story prompted me to share a poem I wrote at a writers’ retreat in the thick of Minnesota’s famed winter in 2013. It is an ode to this great aunt and to my mother, an angel of a woman whose protective shield wards off dangers and unconditional love sustains, nourishes and keeps me alive to this day, a mother who experienced her share of the tragedies afflicting all mothers in times of civil unrest.

Today’s Oromo youth have more guts in responding to the cries of their mothers who have to deal with such unexplained and unexplainable losses, mothers who would forever be torn between whether to tell the story of their disappeared loved ones to their younger children and grandchildren.

I share this poem now in an attempt to situate the gushing new wounds of the Oromo in the context of our tortured history. The river of innocent young productive men and women disappearing in the hands of armies sent to quell civilians opposing unjust rule and occupation stubbornly continues to flow unbroken. And if we are to talk of a common future, we need to break the silence and end this vicious cycle of violence.

The notorious Agazi special forces unit is wreaking havoc throughout Oromia turning happy and peaceful rural villages into ghost towns. In its footsteps, it is condemning many mothers to lives of eternal anguish by taking away their precious young men and women to unknown destinations never to be seen or heard from again. The brutality is such that no self-respecting Ethiopian of any ideological bent, political orientation or ethnic background can and should remain unmoved. No organized state army should be allowed to terrorize anyone, let alone a huge chunk of society at will and with impunity, and hope to rule the vanquished talking as if its divine right to rule is affronted by our mere show of dissent. Silence towards such doubly insulting injustice is morally indefensible.

This is a human story of conflict. Many Ethiopian mothers have suffered the same unwarranted grief decade after decade. Most often than not, the perpetrators and their victims spoke no one language, literally and figuratively. The stories are told and retold not to open new wounds but to keep the memory of the disappeared alive and for some closure, which had eluded many a grieving Ethiopian mother, Oromo or otherwise, for generations.

An Ode to my Great Aunt

You stole my great aunt, so I know her only in fragments
In late night stories from my mother
When you dragged her away, after pillaging the village
Was it for a wife?

Or a lifelong joy toy, eternal symbol for your oomph and triumph over my forebears
Tell me; did you sap her youth and ditch her on the road to Calanqo?
Or smother her in a fit of martial anger to avenge a buddy’s passage to the underworld
A fart boasting to hide his fortuitous escape from Lenjiso’s righteous wrath in Anole
Only to be sent over the hill standing on great grandpa’s cliff path
Before he abandoned her doomed rescue; tell me soldier, I am speaking to you.

Or was it to desecrate the sacred land that resented your booted feet?
Tell me, I need to understand,
Did you hurl her off as war booty to your homeland, I know not where?
Or did you hand her over along with the loot to your emperor?

Tell me, how long before her spirit ceased to kick and scream against your unrelenting clutch?
Before it too slid below your iron-fitted feet soothing her into becoming one of them creatures
Falling in love with their captors dying from within to stay alive from outside
Or dead defiant to the bitter end.

Tell me, did you make her one of your many concubines to nurse and cure your manly wounds?
Please do tell me, with no language shared, did you sign or gesture to make her forget her folks or accept her forlorn fate?
Do tell me, did she bear you children, nephews and nieces I had not known?
Please tell me, did you baptize her into your religion?
To be welcomed as your captive companion into heaven
I hope you flame in hell, forever forsaken.

Then again, the fruits of your aggression
Might have been my transgressed kin
The open wound in my mother’s heart that hurt to day’s end.

—-

* Hassen Hussein teaches Leadership and Management courses at the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, and can be reached at hxhuss10@smumn.edu

Star Tribune: Minnesota’s Oromo community rallied at the State Capitol to protest treatment at the hands of the Ethiopian government. February 29, 2016

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

Minnesota’s Oromo community rallied at the State Capitol on  29 Feb 2016 in solidarity with OromoProtests in OromiaMinnesota’s Oromo community rallied at the State Capitol on  29 Feb 2016 in solidarity with OromoProtests in Oromia. p2Minnesota’s Oromo community rallied at the State Capitol on  29 Feb 2016 in solidarity with OromoProtests in Oromia. p3

Minnesota’s Oromo community protests at Capitol

By Christopher Aadland

About 200 members of Minnesota’s Oromo community rallied at the State Capitol on Monday to protest treatment at the hands of the Ethiopian government.

The protest was in response to a crackdown on Oromo protestors in Ethiopia, who have opposed government plans to evict farmers from their land to expand Addis Abba, Ethiopia’s capital city.

Hundreds of Oromo — the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia — have been killed by the Ethiopian government since last November, protestors say, and thousands more have been imprisoned for opposing the government.

More recently, march organizers said, the Oromian region of the East African nation has been under martial law.

To put pressure on the Ethiopian government, protestors called for the United States to withhold aid to the Ethiopian government until the violence stops.

“We’re frankly upset over our government not caring enough to stop this,” said Najat Hamza, a community activist and member of Oromo Womens Organization of Minnesota. “We always felt the United States stands for human rights and in this instance their not.”

This was the fourth time Minnesota’s Oromo community. Monday’s march coincided with others nationwide, said Urgo Shanka, one of the event’s organizers and a youth coordinator with the Oromo Womens Organization.

Aadland is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.

http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-s-oromo-community-protests-at-capitol/370546771/

MPR News: MN Oromos decry human rights violations in Ethiopia, say violence continues February 27, 2016

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Odaa OromooWomen mourn during the funeral ceremony of a primary school teacher who family members said was shot dead by military forces during protests in Oromia

#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


MN Oromos decry human rights violations in Ethiopia, say violence continues

By Doualy Xaykaothao · · Feb 26, 2016

The Ethiopian government may have backed off its planned capital expansion after deadly protests last fall, but ethnic Oromo in Minnesota say violence and arrests continue. Here, people mourn the death of an alleged protester shot dead by Ethiopian forces. Zacharias Abubeker | AFP | Getty Images 2015

Oromia: Resolutions of the Union of the Oromo Gadaa Councils February 27, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Gadaa System, Oromia, Oromo.
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Odaa OromooWaajjira Gadaa Tuulamaa

From: The Union of the Oromo Gadaa Councils
Re: Announcing Resolutions of the Union of the Oromo Gadaa Councils
Date: February 24, 2016

The Union of the Oromo Gadaa Councils,
Alarmed by of the recent disturbances in the Oromia Regional State,
Cognizant of the need to find solutions to the causes of the disturbances,
Deeply disturbed that the lives of our compatriots were lost and properties damaged in connection with the unrest and disturbance of the peace in Oromia,
Having deliberated on the matter as representatives all Gadaa Councils sitting together in Finfinnee on February 23-24, 2016, we

  1. Call for the immediate cessation of the ongoing conflict; financial compensation to be paid for loss of life in accordance with Gadaa tradition; and release of all those imprisoned without any charge against them,
  2. Request the government to address the demands of the people immediately,
  3. Encourage our people to continue to present their demands peacefully; we plead for everyone to refrain from damaging property while doing so,
  4. Demand an immediate halt to the practice of evicting farmers from their land without their consent and without adequate compensation. We call upon the government to look into the damage created by past mistakes and ensure that the victims are made whole,
  5. Announce that the Union of the Oromo Gadaa Councils is ready to discuss and seek solutions to the crisis that has now disrupted the peace of our country,
  6. Have decided that the upcoming Irreecha (Thanksgiving holiday of the Oromo people) festival be celebrated in the City of Finfinnee,
  7. Have resolved to create an independent source of income for the Councils in order to strengthen the Gadaa system,
  8. Have resolved that henceforth the Spring Irreecha festival be celebrated at Tullu Bossettii, Bossettii District, East Shawa and a week later at Tullu Sirree, Iluu Galaan District, East Shawa,
  9. Call upon people with no affiliation with the Gadaa councils who are now interfering in Gadaa affairs to refrain from engaging in Gadaa-related acts for which they have no representation; and strongly urge government and media agencies not to extend any assistance to anyone who do not have the authority of the Gadaa Councils,
  10. Demand that Oromo cultural centers and sacred sites be respected and the sites be legally-protected with issuance of title deeds; and declare that the Union of the Oromo Gadaa Councils is prepared to work with the appropriate agencies to implement this resolution,
  11. Resolve to strengthen Waaqeffanaa, the Oromo traditional religion, in accordance with the Gadaa System, the religion’s original tenets and the Oromo moral system of safuu,
  12. Resolve to do our part to protect our natural resources everywhere in our regional state.

The Union of the Oromo Gadaa Councils
Agreed upon in Finfinnee
February 24, 2016
Gadaa Will Flourish in Peace
Developing a Self-Sufficient Nation

Ibsa-Gumii-Tokkummaa-Abbootii-Gadaa-OromooEN

Oduu Amma Nu Gahe/Breaking News (Gur. 25, 2016)

DW NEWS: NGO highlights plight of Oromo in Ethiopia February 26, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Oromia, Oromo.
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Odaa OromooAgazi, fascist TPLF Ethiopia's forces attacking unarmed and peaceful #OromoProtests in Baabichaa town central Oromia (w. Shawa) , December 10, 2015

 

#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

Human Rights Watch says security forces are continuing to persecute members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo. Hundreds have allegedly been killed in recent protests over a government plan to expand the capital Addis Ababa into Oromo land.

http://www.dw.com/en/ngo-highlights-plight-of-oromo-in-ethiopia/av-19071523

Oromia: Ethiopia: Govt Accused of Bloody Crackdown On #OromoProtests February 26, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Oromia, Oromo.
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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests iconic pictureagazi-fascist-tplf-ethiopias-forces-attacking-unarmed-and-peaceful-oromoprotests-in-baabichaa-town-central-oromia-w-shawa-december-10-20151

Ethiopia: Govt Accused of Bloody Crackdown On Protesters

 

By All Africa and Al Jazzera,   22 February 2016

Ethiopian security forces are carrying out a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests in the country’s Oromia region and thousands of people are being held without charge, a human rights group has said.

The demonstrations began in November due to a government plan to expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa into Oromia, which surrounds the capital, raising fears among Oromo people that their farms would be expropriated.

Addis Ababa, which has accused the protesters of having links with “terror groups”, dropped the plan on January 12 and announced the situation in Oromia was largely under control.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), however, said the protests were continuing.

Ethiopia’s information minister, Getachew Reda, told Al Jazeera that he had not yet read the report and so could not comment on it.

HRW noted that researchers were unable to determine how many people have been killed or arrested because access to Oromia is restricted.

“[Ethiopian] activists allege that more than 200 people have been killed since November 12, 2015,” the rights group said.

In a previous document at the beginning of January, HRW reported at least 140 killings.

“Flooding Oromia with federal security forces shows the authorities’ broad disregard for peaceful protest by students, farmers, and other dissenters,” Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said on Monday.

“The government needs to rein in the security forces, free anyone being held wrongfully, and hold accountable soldiers and police who used excessive force,” Lefkow added.

The rights group called on the Ethiopian government to end excessive use of force by its security forces, free everyone detained arbitrarily, and conduct an independent investigation into killings and other security force abuses.

The Oromos are the largest ethnic group in the horn of Africa country.

Ethiopia: Oromo protests will continue unless government ceases ‘killings and torture’

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/ethiopia-oromo-protests-continue-unless-112251659.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=fb

Ethiopia’s crackdown on land protests ongoing – rights group

 

 

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/ethiopia-s-crackdown-on-l/2537982.html#.VsxcELyVBqn.twitter

PROTEST CRACKDOWNS: BEYOND THE BODY COUNT

The Atlanta Black Star: The Ethiopian government is reportedly continuing its crackdown on the Oromo people February 24, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Human Rights, Oromia, Oromia News, Oromo.
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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

Human Rights Watch Reports Daily Killings As Ethiopian Government Continues Oromia Crackdown

 

Women mourn during the funeral ceremony of a primary school teacher who family members said was shot dead by military forces during protests in Oromia

Photo: Women mourn during the funeral ceremony of a primary school teacher who family members said was shot dead by military forces during protests in Oromia, Ethiopia in December 2015. (Reuters)


The Ethiopian government is reportedly continuing its crackdown on the Oromo people.

According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, about 200 protesters have been killed in the latest government operation. Oromia, home to the Oromo people, is Ethiopia’s largest region. Demonstrations in the region broke out when the government attempted to clear a forest for an investment project. Protests escalated when the government decided to expand the borders of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, to incorporate surrounding towns in Oromia, according to The International Business Times.

Government forces have used heavy-handed tactics to squash the protests, including rounding up and detaining protesters, torture and even extra-judicial killings, according to The Atlanta Blackstar. Many of the early protests were led by students, but that has not stopped the violence from security forces.

“They walked into the compound and shot three students at point-blank range,” said a 17-year-old student in a Human Rights Watch report. “They were hit in the face and were dead.”

The IBT said there are almost daily reports of killings.

“Things have become considerably more violent in the last few days,” said Felix Horne, Horn of Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government needs to back down and stop the brutal crackdown.”

It’s difficult to get accurate information about what’s going on because Ethiopia does not have a free media. Human Rights Watch says it is relying on information leaking out via social media posts. The foreign-based Oromo Media Network is also reporting on the situation. However, its signals have been jammed by the Ethiopian government. Government forces have also reportedly smashed OMN satellites and jailed people who have shown their broadcasts.

However, the Ethiopian government denies there is a problem and dismissed Human Rights Watch’s latest report.

Getachew Reda, Ethiopia’s communications minister, told the BBC the report was an “absolute lie” and questioned how Human Rights Watch could report on the situation from New York. He also blamed the latest violence on armed gangs “who are trying to stir up emotions in the public.”

According to The IBT, the European Parliament passed a January resolution condemning the government’s crackdown on largely peaceful protesters. However, the U.S. government has not criticized the Ethiopian government, and has called for dialogue. According to The IBT, Ethiopia received $580 million in aid from the U.S. in 2012. Additionally, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. government uses Ethiopian bases to fly drone missions against terrorists groups in Somalia.

Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said countries that donate money to Ethiopia should pressure the government to stop the killing.

“Ethiopia’s donor countries have responded tepidly, if at all, to the killing of scores of protesters in Oromia,” said Lefkow. “They should stop ignoring or downplaying this shocking brutality and call on the government to support an independent investigation into the killings and other abuses.”


 

Read more at:-

Human Rights Watch Reports Daily Killings As Ethiopian Government Continues Oromia Crackdown


 

#OromoProtests: Tear gas and bullets from security forces have become a regular part of the state’s crackdown in Ethiopia’s Oromia state February 23, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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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 EthiopiaOromoProtests @Finfinnee University  Dec. 7, 2015

Security Forces in Ethiopia Have Killed More than 200 People, Rights Group Says


By Kayla Ruble,    Vice News, February 23, 2016


Gudina dreams every night of the student she saw with blood pouring out of their mouth after being struck by a bullet fired by Ethiopian security forces during a protest in December. At a related protest in a different town, 17-year-old Gameda saw security forces enter a school compound and shoot three students point blank, and then carry the bodies away.

Tear gas and bullets from security forces have become a regular part of the state’s crackdown in Ethiopia’s Oromia state, as students keep up a protest movement against the government’s plan for expansion and development of the capital, Addis Ababa. Many say the plan will push the Oromo people off their lands.

According to a report from Human Rights Watch this week, Ethiopia has continued to violently suppress the demonstrations that sparked in November, killing protesters and arresting thousands more without charges. Several people the advocacy organization spoke with said they were subjected to torture and sexual assault while detained.

“Continuing to treat the protests as a military operation that needs to be crushed through force shows the complete disregard the government has for peaceful protest and freedom of expression,” said Felix Horne, Human Rights Watch’s researcher for the Horn of Africa.

“Things have become considerably more violent in the last few days,” he said. “Given the limitations on independent reporting on the ground, it’s hard to know precisely what has been happening.” The organization, which is the source of the eyewitness accounts, has changed the names of people it mentions and even avoids specifying their gender, to protect them for the crackdown by the government Tensions are longstanding between the Oromo and the government, lead with a heavy hand by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

The demonstrations started in mid-November in Oromia, the nation’s largest state and home to 27 million people, including 3.3 million living in Addis Ababa. The Oromo, who are the country’s largest ethnic group, are opposed to the government’s Addis Ababa and Surrounding Oromia Special Zone Development Plan. Activists claim the development agenda will swallow up Oromo land and displace farmers as the capital grows outward.

That expansion reflects Ethiopia’s status as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The International Monetary Fund ranks it among the top five expanding economies globally, with a gross domestic product that expanded 10.3 percent from 2013 to 2014. The capital development plan is in line with the economic and urban growth, with plans for building highways, roads, parking lots, market areas, and an airport.

On November 12, elementary and high school students formed the first demonstration in the town of Ginci, about 55 miles from Addis Ababa. As a part of the controversial development project, work had just begun on clearing a forest at the edge of town. Activists said the students engaged in peaceful demonstrations, and videos at the time showed them often standing in silence.

Over the next few weeks, protests began to spread to towns throughout the state as part of a larger and years-long Oromo movement. The Oromo account for more than 80 percent of the Oromia state population. Nationally, they represent more than 35 percent.

Many Oromos say they have not benefitted from the country’s development. Literacy rates and government representation are bleak for the Oromo.

This is not the first protest against the so-called Master Plan; there was a similar uprising in April and May of 2014 after the development plan was approved. A crackdown by security forces left dozens dead and hundreds arrested.

As the current movement unfolded, the recent demonstrations quickly surpassed the scale of those from 2014. By January activists estimated upwards of 140 people had been killed and, according to Human Rights Watch, killings and violence have been reported daily. That figure has since risen to more than 200 people.

With Desalegn and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front controlling the parliament and the judiciary, while having eroded independent civil society and media, Horne said that the protest crackdowns were limiting one of the few outlets for criticism left.

“If Oromia’s citizens have concerns how are they to peacefully express it?” he said. “As we’ve seen the last three months, if you take to the streets you run the risk of being shot by security forces who view protest movements as something to be crushed through brutal force.”

Follow Kayla Ruble on Twitter: @RubleKB


 

https://news.vice.com/article/security-forces-in-ethiopia-have-killed-more-than-200-people-rights-group-says

Oromia: Ethiopia’s #OromoProtests: A problem that repression can’t solve February 23, 2016

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Ethiopia’s Oromo protests: A problem that repression can’t solve


 

By Simon Allison, Daily Maverick, 23 Februray, 2016

Photo: Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest against the Ethiopian regime in Valletta, Malta, December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The Ethiopian government likes to be in control – of the economy, of opposition movements, of independent media. Like it or not, the tough approach has worked, at least in terms of the country reaching its development goals. But repression is a blunt instrument and the ongoing Oromo protests should force a rethink. By SIMON ALLISON.

The demonstrations began in November 2015. In towns and villages all over Ethiopia’s vast Oromia province, people gathered to voice their frustration at the government.

Their grievances? Specifically, they were unhappy about the unveiling of the Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan, a document that detailed step-by-step how the capital city would suck more land from the province for minimal compensation. Generally, they were protesting a long history of oppression and marginalisation of the Oromo community. The Oromo, despite being Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group are largely excluded from positions of power and have historically been last to access rights and benefits from the state.

The scale of these protests – the wide geographical spread, and the sheer numbers of people who turned out – scared the government who responded with force.

Supposed ringleaders were detained; curfews imposed in several towns and security forces were called in to deal with the angry crowds. Things soon got ugly even though protestors were largely peaceful (although not always – several government buildings were stormed and looted). The same cannot be said for the police, however, who reacted with tear gas, grenades and bullets. By the end of the year, an estimated 150 people had been killed.

The brutal crackdown was the government’s stick. There was also a carrot. In January, in an apparent concession, the government scrapped the Addis Master Plan, saying it had heard and heeded the voice of the people.

This was all too little, too late. Too little because it’s an open secret that the expansion of Addis will continue – it can’t not – but now with even less direction or regulation; and because the government did not address ongoing discrimination against Oromo people. Too late because the brutality of the state crackdown had merely proved the protestors’ point, and reinforced their grievances.

So the protests continued. As did the brutal response. “Almost daily accounts of killings and arbitrary arrests have been reported to Human Rights Watch since 2016 began. Security forces, including military personnel, have fatally shot scores of demonstrators. Thousands of people have been arrested and remain in detention without charge,” reported Human Rights Watch this week.

The rights group added: “The plan’s cancellation did not halt the protest. The crackdown continued throughout Oromia. In late January 2016, Human Rights Watch interviewed approximately 60 protesters and other witnesses from various parts of the Oromia region in December and January who described human rights violations during the protests, some since mid-January. They said that security forces have shot randomly into crowds, summarily killed people during arrests, carried out mass roundups and tortured detainees.”

Sure enough, the Ethiopian government was quick to deny the Human Rights Watch Report. “[An] absolute lie,” said Communications Minister Getachew Reda, speaking to the BBC. Reda blamed the trouble on armed gangs “who are trying to stir up emotions in the public”. At the same time, Reda lashed out at Human Rights Watch, saying that it was “a stroke of magic” for the organisation to get its information from “halfway around the world”. This is disingenuous: as Reda well knows, and as theDaily Maverick reported last month, the reason that organisations like Human Rights Watch cannot maintain an uncompromised presence in Ethiopia is because government restrictions make this impossible.

Although the government may be reluctant to acknowledge them, there’s no doubt that the Oromo protests are real. It is also clear that the government’s usual tactics for dealing with opposition movements – a hefty dose of police brutality combined with targeted detentions and a slick PR machine – is not making them go away this time round.

Maybe it’s time to try something different. In this instance, a little less repression might go a long way. Real engagement and compromise could alleviate the protestors’ immediate concerns, while reassuring them that the government does cater to its large Oromo constituency.

It’s an experiment worth conducting. The Oromo are far from the only disaffected community in Ethiopia and there’s a real danger that the unrest could spread, particularly to the large Muslim minority, who have a recent history of large-scale anti-government demonstrations themselves. This would not only threaten the government’s authority, but also undermine or even reverse its impressive development statistics. Having made such impressive socio-economic progress, the Ethiopian government’s automatically autocratic response to any kind of opposition risks reversing their gains. There’s got to be a better way. DM


 

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2016-02-23-ethiopias-oromo-protests-a-problem-that-repression-cant-solve/#.Vsza0lSLRdg


 

UNPO: Oromo: Unity Found Between Oppressed Groups in Ethiopia February 23, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, UNPO.
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Oromo: Unity Found Between Oppressed Groups in Ethiopia

By UNPO, 22nd February 2016

The oppressive Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has found itself facing increasing anti-government protests over the last few years and months. More significantly, these protests have shown another trend, which has been the increased action taken jointly by oppressed groups, such as the peoples of Amhara and Oromia. This comes as a result of the continual violent suppression of opposition by state forces, oftentimes resulting in arbitrary arrests, injuries and even death. The recent increase in unified response, however, gives some hope for the future of democracy in the country.

 

Below is an article taken from DissidentVoice.org:

 

Division and fear are the age-old tools of tyrants; unity and peaceful coordinated action the most powerful weapons against them.

Frightened and downtrodden for so long, there are positive signs that the Ethiopian people are beginning to come together, – peacefully uniting in their anger at the ruling party – the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) — a paranoid brutal regime that suppresses the people, is guilty of wide-ranging human rights violations, and has systematically encouraged ethnic divisions and rivalries.

Anti-government protests have been growing over the last few years, and in recent months large-scale demonstrations have taken place throughout Oromia and also in Gondar, where university students have been demonstrating, demanding, academic rights, freedom, democracy and justice.

Tribal groups, particularly the peoples of Amhara and Oromia (the largest ethnic group – accounting for 35% of the population), have come together.  Thousands have been marching, running, sitting, shouting and screaming.

Government slays Peaceful Protestors

The EPRDF’s response to the demonstrators’ democratic gall has been crudely predictable: brand protestors ‘anti-peace forces’ and terrorists, then shoot, arrest and imprison them.

Whilst Human Rights Watch (HRW) say security forces have killed at least 140 people, independent broadcaster ESAT news estimates the number to be over 200. The government, which human rights groups state authorised the police and military to use “excessive force, including…live ammunition against protesters, among them children as young as 12”, has so far admitted 22 fatalities.

ESAT reports at least1,500 have been injured and to date over 5,000 arrested (in Oromia alone), including Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromia’s largest legally registered political party, and his son. Senior members of the OFC, as well as members of other opposition parties and their families, have also been imprisoned. Scores more people are harassed, their homes searched. Acting on behalf of an unaccountable government, security forces are “on a mission of wanton destruction of human lives and properties”.

State plan cancelled by protest

The under-reported protests in Gondar (in the Amhara region) were triggered by two separate, but related issues: government cession of an expanse of fertile land -– up to 1,600 square km, to Sudan under new demarcation proposals — and the widespread belief that state forces are responsible for a mass killing that took place in November 2015 against the people of Qimant. Leaders of The Gondar Union Association told ESAT news they believed the murders were “committed by TPLF [government] cadres, who then blamed it on the Amhara people to incite violence among the two groups.”

In Oromia, where protests began in April 2014 throughout the region, it was the government’s plan to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, on to agricultural land.  Hundreds of smallholders would have been displaced, villages destroyed, livelihoods shattered. Following months of demonstrations the government has announced that the plan is to be scrapped. The official statement virtually dismissed the protestors’ opposition, claiming it was “based on a simple misunderstanding” created by a “lack of transparency”.

Activists reacted with derision to the government’s condescension, and vowed to continue protesting unless their longstanding grievances of political exclusion are addressed. Sit-ins and peaceful demonstrations have continued in various locations across Oromo, evoking more violence from the ruling party’s henchmen.

Oromo Rage

The Oromo people see the government’s violence as part of a systematic attempt to oppress and marginalise them. As Amnesty International (AI) states in its report ‘Because I am Oromo’: “Thousands of Oromo people have been subjected to unlawful killings, torture and enforced disappearance.” People without any political affiliation are arrested on suspicion that they do not support the government – “between 2011 and 2014, at least 5,000 Oromos have been arrested”. Amnesty asserts that recent regime violence was “the latest and bloodiest in a long pattern of suppression”. This description of government intimidation and brutality will sound familiar to most Ethiopians.

Whilst it was the ‘master-plan’ for Addis Ababa that brought thousands onto the streets, anger and discontent has been fermenting throughout the country for years. Feelings fuelled by restrictions on fundamental freedoms, and human rights violationsmany of which can only be described as State Terrorism.

Power Hungry

The EPRDF have been in power for 25 long, and for many people, painful years. The ruling party was formed from the four armed groups that seized power in May 1991, including the now dominant Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Despite the theatre of national “elections” being staged every five years since 1995, the EPRDF has never been elected. Last year’s sham saw them take all 547 parliamentary seats. In order to convince a suspicious, if largely indifferent watching world (the EU refused to send a team of observers to legitimise proceedings) one might have expected a token seat or two for an opposition party, but the government decided they could steal every one and get away with it, their arrogance confirming their guilt.

The Tigrean ethnic group makes up a mere 6% of the country’s 95 million population, but the TPLF (or Weyane as they are commonly called) and their cohorts dominate the government, the senior military, the judiciary, and, according to Genocide Watch, intend “to internally colonize the country”, a claim that the ethnic Somalis living in the Ogaden region, as well as . the people of Amhara and Oromia, all of whom are subjected to appalling levels of persecution, would agree with.

Undemocratic, repressive regime

The Government claims to adhere to democracy, but says the introduction of democratic principles will take time. ‘Outsiders’ (critics such as HRW, Amnesty International and the EU) ‘don’t understand’ the country: thus Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn pretends Ethiopia “is a fledgling democracy – a house in the making”.

Well, it is not a house being built on any recognizable democratic foundations: human rights, civil society, justice and freedom, for example. Indeed there is no evidence of democracy actual or potential on the government’s part in Ethiopia. On the contrary, despite a liberally-worded constitution, the ruling party tramples on human rights, uses violence and fear to suppress the people and governs in a highly centralised manner: Opposition parties are ignored, their leaders often imprisoned or forced to live abroad; the government, Amnesty International (AI) states, routinely uses “arbitrary arrest and detention, often without charge, to suppress suggestions of dissent in many parts of the country.”

The judiciary is a puppet, as is the “investigative branch of the police”, Amnesty records, making it impossible “to receive a fair hearing in politically motivated trials”, or any other case for that matter. Federal and regional security services operate with “near total impunity” and are “responsible for violations throughout the country, including…the use of excessive force, torture and extrajudicial executions.”

There is no media freedom; virtually all press, television and radio outlets are state-owned, as is the sole telecommunications company – allowing unfettered surveillance of the Internet. The only independent broadcaster is internationally based ESAT.  The Government routinely blocks its satellite signal, and employee family members who live in Ethiopia are persecuted, imprisoned, their homes ransacked.

Journalists who challenge the government are intimidated, arrested or forced abroad. Ethiopia is the fourth most censored country in the world (after Eritrea, North Korea and Saudi Arabia) according to The Committee to Protect Journalists, and “the third worst jailer of journalists on the African continent”. The widely criticized, conveniently vague “2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation” – used to silence journalists – and “The Charities and Societies Proclamation”, make up the government’s principle legislative weapons of suppression, which are wielded without restraint.

The 99%

The vast majority of Ethiopian people – domestic and expatriate – are desperate for change, freedom, justice and adherence to human rights; liberties that the EPRDF have total contempt for. Their primary concern is manifestly holding on to power, generating wealth for themselves, and their cohorts, and ensuring no space for political debate, dissent or democratic development.

Without a functioning electoral system or independent media, and given government hostility to open dialogue with opposition parties and community activists, there are only two options available for the discontented majority. An armed uprising against the EPRDF – and there are many loud voices advocating this – or the more positive alternative: peaceful, consistent, well-organized activism, building on the huge demonstrations in Oromia and Gondar, uniting the people and driving an unstoppable momentum for change.

Ethiopia is a richly diverse country, composed of dozens of tribal groups speaking a variety of languages and dialects. Traditions and cultures may vary, but the needs and aspirations of the people are the same, as are their grievances and fears. Tolerance and understanding of differences, cooperation and shared objectives could build a powerful coalition, establishing a platform for true democracy to take root in a country that has never known it.

People can only be trapped under a cloak of suppression for so long.  Eventually they must and will rise up. Throughout the world there is a movement for change: for freedom, justice and participatory democracy, in which the 99% have a voice. The recent demonstrations in Ethiopia show that the people are at last beginning to unite and are part of this collective cry.

http://unpo.org/article/18941

HRW: Oromia: Ethiopia: No Let Up in Crackdown on Protests Killings, Detention of Protesters Enter Fourth Month February 22, 2016

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Ethiopia: No Let Up in Crackdown on Protests

Killings, Detention of Protesters Enter Fourth Month

By Human Rights Watch, 21 February 2016

(Nairobi) – Ethiopian security forces are violently suppressing the largely peaceful protests in the Oromia region that began in November 2015. Almost daily accounts of killings and arbitrary arrests have been reported to Human Rights Watch since 2016 began.

Security forces, including military personnel, have fatally shot scores of demonstrators. Thousands of people have been arrested and remain in detention without charge. While the frequency of protests appears to have decreased in the last few weeks, the crackdown continues.

Protesters in Oromia region, Ethiopia.

Protesters in Oromia region, Ethiopia, December 2015.

“Flooding Oromia with federal security forces shows the authorities’ broad disregard for peaceful protest by students, farmers and other dissenters,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government needs to rein in the security forces, free anyone being held wrongfully, and hold accountable soldiers and police who used excessive force.”

The Ethiopian government has said that the situation in Oromia is largely under control following the government’s retraction on January 12 of the proposed “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan.” The controversial proposal to expand the municipal boundaries of the capital, Addis Ababa, into farmland in Oromia sparked the initial demonstrations.

The plan’s cancellation did not halt the protests however, and the crackdown continued throughout Oromia. In late January 2016, Human Rights Watch interviewed approximately 60 protesters and other witnesses from various parts of the Oromia region in December and January who described human rights violations during the protests, some since mid-January. They said that security forces have shot randomly into crowds, summarily killed people during arrests, carried out mass roundups, and tortured detainees.

Women mourn during the funeral ceremony of a primary school teacher who family members said was shot dead by military forces during protests in Oromia, Ethiopia in December 2015. December 17, 2015.

Women mourn during the funeral ceremony of a primary school teacher who family members said was shot dead by military forces during protests in Oromia, Ethiopia in December 2015. December 17, 2015.

While there have been some reports of violence during the protests, including the destruction of some foreign-owned farms and looting of some government buildings, most of the protests since November have been peaceful. On February 12, federal security forces fired on a bus after a wedding, killing four people, provoking further protests. A February 15 clash between federal security forces and armed men believed to be local police or militias, resulted in the deaths of seven security officers, according to the government.

On January 10, security forces threw a grenade at students at Jimma University in western Oromia, injuring dozens, eyewitnesses reported. Multiple witnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces stormed dormitories at Jimma University on January 10 and 11, with mass arrests and beatings of Oromo students.

Security forces have arrested students, teachers, government officials, businesspeople, opposition politicians, healthcare workers, and people who provide assistance or shelter to fleeing students. Because primary and secondary school students in Oromia were among the first to protest, many of those arrested have been children, under age 18.

Security forces harassing students in Oromia, January 2016.

Security forces harassing students in Oromia, January 2016.

“They walked into the compound and shot three students at point-blank range,” one 17-year-old student said describing security force reaction to students chanting against the master plan. “They were hit in the face and were dead.”

Human Rights Watch spoke to 20 people who had been detained since the protests began on November 12, none of whom had been taken before a judge. Fourteen people said they were beaten in detention, sometimes severely. Several students said they were hung up by their wrists while they were whipped. An 18-year-old student said he was given electric shocks to his feet. All the students interviewed said that the authorities accused them of mobilizing other students to join the protests. Several women who were detained alleged that security officers sexually assaulted and otherwise mistreated them in detention.

The descriptions fit wider patterns of torture and ill-treatment of detainees that Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have documented in Oromia’s many official and secret detention facilities. Numerous witnesses and former detainees said that security forces are using businesses and government buildings in West Shewa and Borana zones as makeshift detention centers.

At time of writing, some schools and universities remain closed throughout Oromia because the authorities have arrested teachers and closed facilities to prevent further protests, or students do not attend as a form of protest or because they fear arrest. Many students said they were released from detention on the condition that they would not appear in public with more than one other individual, and several said they had to sign a document making this commitment as a condition for their release.

Human Rights Watch has not been able to verify the total numbers of people killed and arrested given restrictions on access and independent reporting in Ethiopia. Activists allege that more than 200 people have been killed since November 12, based largely on material collated from social media videos, photos, and web posts. Available information suggests that several thousand people have been arrested, many of whose whereabouts are unknown, which would be a forcible disappearance.

Human Rights Watch has documented 12 additional killings previously unreported. Most of these occurred in Arsi and Borana Zones in southern Oromia, where protests have also been taking place but have received less attention than elsewhere. This suggests that the scale of the protests and abuses across Oromia may be greater than what has been reported, Human Rights Watch said.

The Ethiopian government’s pervasive restrictions on independent civil society groups and media have meant that very little information is coming from affected areas. However, social media contains photos and videos of the protests, particularly from November and December.

The Oromia Media Network (OMN) has played a key role in disseminating information throughout Oromia during the protests. OMN is a diaspora-based television station that relays content, primarily in the Afan Oromo language, via satellite, and recently started broadcasting on shortwave radio. The Ethiopian government has reportedly jammed OMN 15 times since it began operations in 2014, in contravention of international regulations. Two business owners told Human Rights Watch they were arrested for showing OMN in their places of business. Federal police destroyed satellites dishes that were receiving OMN in many locations. Students said they were accused of providing videos for social media and of communicating information to the OMN. Arrests and fear of arrest has resulted in less information on abuses coming out of Oromia over the last month.

The Ethiopian government should end the excessive use of force by the security forces, free everyone detained arbitrarily, and conduct an independent investigation into killings and other security force abuses, Human Rights Watch said. Those responsible for serious rights violations should be appropriately prosecuted and victims of abuses should receive adequate compensation.

On January 21, the European Parliament passed a strong resolution condemning the crackdown. There has been no official statement from the United Kingdom, and the United States has not condemned the violence, instead focusing on the need for public consultation and dialogue in two statements. Otherwise, few governments have publicly raised concerns about the government’s actions. As two of Ethiopia’s most influential partners, the United Kingdom and the United States should be doing more to halt the violent crackdown and to call for an independent investigation into the abuses, Human Rights Watch said.

“Ethiopia’s donor countries have responded tepidly, if at all, to the killing of scores of protesters in Oromia,” Lefkow said. “They should stop ignoring or downplaying this shocking brutality and call on the government to support an independent investigation into the killings and other abuses.”

For additional information and accounts from eyewitnesses and victims, please see below.

Student protests in Oromia began on November 12, 2015, in Ginchi, a small town 80 kilometers southwest of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, when authorities sought to clear a forest for an investment project. The protests soon spread throughout the Oromia region and broadened to include concerns over the proposed expansion of the Addis Ababa municipal boundary, known as the “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan.” Farmers and others joined the protest movement as the protests continued into December.

Many protesters allege that the government’s violent response and the rising death toll changed the focus of the protests to the killing and arrest of protesters and decades of historic Oromo grievances came to the forefront. Oromia is home to most of Ethiopia’s estimated 35 million Oromo, the country’s largest ethnic group. Many Oromo feel marginalized and discriminated against by successive Ethiopian governments. Ethnic Oromo who express dissent are often arrested and tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention, accused of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front, which has waged a limited armed struggle against the government and which parliament has designated a terrorist organization.

On December 16, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that the government “will take merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilizing the area.” The same day, the government communication affairs office minister, Getachew Reda, said that “an organized and armed terrorist force aiming to create havoc and chaos has begun murdering model farmers, public leaders and other ethnic groups residing in the region.” Since that time, federal security forces, including the army and the federal police, have led the law enforcement response in Oromia.

On January 12, the ruling coalition’s Oromia affiliate, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), announced on state television that the “Addis Ababa Master Plan” would be cancelled. While the decision was an unprecedented change of policy, people Human Rights Watch interviewed suggest that there has been confusion over the actual status of the plan and whether government will follow through with the cancellation.

After the Addis Ababa master plan had originally been announced in 2014, protests occurred throughout Oromia, which security forces dispersed using live ammunition, killing at least several dozen people. Hundreds were arrested. Many of the arrested remain in custody without charge. Most of the approximately 25 students that Human Rights Watch interviewed from the 2014 protests who had been detained alleged torture and other ill-treatment. Many formerly detained students have not been permitted to return to their universities. On December 2, 2015, five Oromo students were convicted under the counterterrorism law for their role in the 2014 protests. There has been no government investigation into the use of excessive and lethal force during the 2014 protests.

Summary Killings, Unnecessary Lethal Force
In the early weeks of the 2015 protests, security forces who responded to the demonstrations were largely Oromia regional police, who used teargas against protesters, although with some incidents involving live ammunition. Many of the killings initially reported occurred after dark when security forces went house-to-house searching for protesters. They killed some students who tried to flee and others in scuffles during arrests, while the exact circumstances of many deaths are unknown.

Under international human rights standards, law enforcement officials may only use lethal force in self-defense or to prevent an imminent threat to another’s life.

After a December 16 announcement by the prime minister that the government would “take merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilizing the area,” witnesses said federal police and military forces were deployed in more parts of Oromia alongside the regional police. Many protesters alleged that the federal police and soldiers fired into crowds.

Wako – a 17-year-old protester from West Shewa whose name, along with others, has been changed for his protection, described the change:

During the first protest [in mid-November], the Oromia police tried to convince us to go home. We refused so they broke it up with teargas and arrested many. Several days later we had another protest. This time the [federal police] had arrived. They fired many bullets into the air. When people did not disperse they fired teargas, and then in the confusion we heard the sounds of more bullets and students started falling next to me. My friend [name withheld] was killed by a bullet. He wasn’t targeted, they were just shooting randomly into the crowd.

Gudina, a 16-year-old Grade 10 student from Arsi Negelle, described the authorities’ response to a protest in early December:

All the schools got together and took to the streets. As we protested, teargas was thrown, we kept marching and then from behind us we heard bullets, many students were hit and fell screaming. One very young student from my school I saw had been shot in throat and blood was pouring. I have dreams every night of that student.

Protesters from Arsi, West Shewa, Borana, and East Wollega zones all described similar events in which security forces, predominantly federal police, shot into crowds with live ammunition, especially since mid-December. They gave little or no warning about using teargas and live ammunition.

Three high school students from Arsi who were interviewed separately described an incident at their school. Kuma, a 17-year-old student, said:

We heard a Grade 6 student was killed in [neighboring village]. To show our solidarity we decided to protest. When the different classes came together and started marching toward the government office, security forces moved toward us. They threw teargas, and then we heard the sound of gunfire. My friend [name withheld] was shot in the chest, I saw him go down and bleeding. We ran away and I never looked back. His mother told me later he had been killed. He was 17 years old.

Security forces entered a school compound near Shashemene apparently to discourage their participation in a planned protest. Gameda, a 17-year-old Grade 9 student, said:

We had planned to protest. At 8 a.m., Oromia police came into the school compound. They arrested four students [from Grades 9-11], the rest of us were angry and started chanting against the police. Somebody threw a stone at the police and they quickly left and came back an hour later with the federal police. They walked into the compound and shot three students at point-blank range. They were hit in the face and were dead. They took the bodies away. They held us in our classrooms for the rest of the morning, and then at noon they came in and took about 20 of us including me.

Arbitrary Arrests, Detention
Several dozen people told Human Rights Watch about friends and colleagues who had been arrested without a valid basis, including many whose whereabouts remain unknown. Fifteen protesters from various parts of Oromia described their own arrests. Usually in the evening following a daytime protest, security forces would go door-to-door arresting students, including many who had not participated, including an 8-year-old in the Borana zone on January 9. They primarily targeted men and boys, but many women and girls were also arrested. Those arrested were taken to police stations, military barracks, and makeshift detention centers.

Kuma, a Grade 7 student from Borana zone, was arrested in early December, held for five days in an unknown location, and beaten with a wooden stick:

They said to me “Why were you in the demonstration? This means you do not like the government. Why? We do good for you.” Then they kept saying we had relations with the OLF [Oromo Liberation Front, which the government considers to be a terrorist group]. What does demonstrating have to do with the OLF? I was released after signing a paper that I would not go in public with more than one person. Many people in our town were released after signing this paper. Several days later there was another protest, I didn’t go, but knew I would be arrested again. I sat at home hearing gunshots all day long hoping I didn’t know any of those that would be killed.

Gameda, a Grade 7 student, said he was arrested at his school compound on the day of a planned protest:

For 10 days I was held at the police station. For the first three days, they would beat me each night on the back and legs with a wooden stick and ask me about who was behind the protests and whether I was a member of the OLF. I was released and several weeks later the protests started again in our town. They arrested me again. Same beatings, same questions. My family bribed the police and I was released.

The authorities have imposed collective punishment on people deemed to have been helping protesters. Lelisa, a woman who assisted students fleeing the security forces in Arsi in early December, said:

I wasn’t at the protests but I heard gunfire all day long and into the night. Students were running away and hiding themselves. Ten students came to me and asked for help so I hid them from the police. The police were going door-to-door at night arresting students. They came to my house, arrested all the boys and I convinced them that the three girls were my daughters. Then an hour later they came back and arrested my husband. They beat him in front of me, when I begged them not to kill him they kicked me and hit me with the butt of their gun. They took him away. I have heard nothing from him since.

Negasu, an owner of a private school, said he was arrested because students at his school were involved in the protest:

I owned a private school in [location withheld]. The students protested but the police did not break it up violently, they just filmed it and then arrested many people at night. Four of the protesters were from my school. So the police came at night and arrested me and took me to a military camp [name withheld]. For five days I was held in a dark hole by myself. It was freezing and they did not feed me for two days. I was beaten each night and accused of giving money to opposition groups, to the Oromo Federalist Congress and to OLF. They also accused me of posting videos to social media and sending to OMN. They just make things up. They closed my school and froze my bank account. They took my house also. Now I have nothing and the students are either going through what I did in detention or are not able to go to school because it’s been closed.

Students who were perceived to be vocal or had family histories of opposing government were particularly at risk. Lencho, 25, said:

I was known to be vocal and was a leader among the students. My father was known to oppose the government. I did not even participate in the protests because of fear but I was identified as one of the mobilizers. I was arrested, and when I got to the police station I saw local government officials, a local Oromo artist [singer], my teacher, and all of the outspoken students of our high school. They were arresting those that they thought were influential. I don’t even think any of them were in the protests because of fear.

Prominent Oromo intellectuals, including senior members of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), a registered political party, have also been arrested. On December 23, Deputy Chairman Bekele Gerba was arrested at his home and taken to Addis Ababa’s Maekelawi prison, where torture and other ill-treatment have been documented. On January 22, he appeared in court, and prosecutors were granted an additional 28 days for investigation, suggesting he is being investigated under the abusive Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. Bekele has been a moderate voice in Oromia politics and a staunch advocate for non-violence.

In addition to those perceived to be actively involved in the protests, security forces have arrested influential people, including prominent Oromo businessman, teachers, professors, and numerous singers and artists. One teacher said:

The students protested. At night they came and arrested many of them, my students were calling me all night to tell me the police were at their door. Then I heard that most of the teachers had been arrested, too. I was away from town at the time. Then the woreda[district] administrator called and told me I was to be held responsible for my student’s behavior since I did not talk them out of it. I had already been in trouble because I did not attend a workshop at the school on the master plan and how we were to convince students it was good for them.

A well-known Oromo singer, now living in exile, said:

I released a song on Youtube [in December] that spoke about the protests and the need for students to stop the silence and speak out about the abuses our people face. I had been arrested three times previously for my songs. My songs have always focused on Oromo history and culture but I was always careful for the songs not to be seen as political in any way. But they arrest you anyway. After my third detention, I stopped censoring myself and spoke openly through my music. Hours after my song was released, I got word from the local administrator that I was to be arrested so I ran away from my home and haven’t been back.

An Ethiopian intelligence official acknowledged to Human Rights Watch in January 2016 that targeting public figures was a deliberate government policy. “It is important to target respected Oromos,” he said. “Anyone that has the ability to mobilize Oromos will be targeted, from the highest level like Bekele, to teachers, respected students, and Oromo artists.”

Human Rights Watch also interviewed a number of students who had been detained during the 2014 protests, eventually released, and then were arrested again as soon as the protests began in November 2015. Some described horrendous treatment in detention. Waysira, a then-second year university student, said:

[In 2014] I was arrested for two weeks. I was stripped to my underwear and beaten with sticks. They applied electric wires to my back. They wanted me to admit being OLF and to say where my brother was – who they suspect was OLF. Eventually they released me. I wasn’t allowed to go back to school, so I have been sitting around doing nothing ever since. I went back to my family’s village. When the protests started again in Oromia, they came to my house and arrested me again. There hadn’t been protests in that area, but there were on the campus I had been suspended from. They accused me of mobilizing students, and beat me for two days. Then I was released. They wanted to target anyone they thought might be thinking of protesting.

Torture, Ill-Treatment in Detention
All of the students interviewed who had been detained said the authorities interrogated them about who was behind the protests and about their family history. They said interrogators accused them of having connections to opposition groups – typically the legally registered Oromo Federalist Congress and the banned Oromo Liberation Front. Interrogators accused some students of providing information to diaspora or international media and a number of students said their phones, Facebook accounts, and email accounts were searched during detention. These descriptions of interrogation match patterns Human Rights Watch has documented in Oromia over several years.

Tolessa, a first-year university student from Adama University, said:

It was the evening after the protest. We were recovering from the teargas and trying to find out who had been shot during the protest. Then the security forces stormed the dormitories. They blindfolded 17 of us from my floor and drove us two hours into the countryside. We were put into an unfinished building for nine days. Each night they would take us out one by one, beat us with sticks and whips, and ask us about who was behind the protests and whether we were members of the OLF. I told them I don’t even know who the OLF are but treating students this way will drive people toward the OLF. They beat me very badly for that. We would hear screams all night long. When I went to the bathroom, I saw students being hung by their wrists from the ceiling and being whipped. There was over a hundred students I saw. The interrogators were not from our area. We had to speak Amharic [the national language]. If we spoke Oromo they would get angry and beat us more.

Meti, in her 20s, was arrested in late December for selling traditional Oromo clothes the day after a protest in East Wollega:

I was arrested and spent one week at the police station. Each night they pulled me out and beat me with a dry stick and rubber whip. Then I was taken to [location withheld]. I was kept in solitary confinement. On three separate occasions I was forced to take off my clothes and parade in front of the officers while I was questioned about my link with the OLF. They threatened to kill me unless I confessed to being involved with organizing the protests. I was asked why I was selling Oromo clothes and jewelry. They told me my business symbolizes pride in being Oromo and that is why people are coming out [to protest]. At first I was by myself in a dark cell, but then I was with all the other girls that had been arrested during the protest.

A 22-year-old woman told Human Rights Watch she was arrested the night of a protest in late December and taken to what she described as a military camp in the Borana zone. She was held in solitary confinement in total darkness. She said she was raped on three occasions in her cell by unidentified men during her two-week detention. On each occasion, she believed there were two men involved. She was frequently pulled out of her cell and interrogated about her involvement in the protests and the whereabouts of her two brothers, who the interrogators suggested were mobilizing students. She was released on the condition that she would bring her two brothers to security officials for questioning.

Right to Health, Education
The authorities have targeted health workers for arrest during the protests, and as a result some wounded protesters have been unable to get treatment. Demiksa, a student from Eastern Wollega, said that he was refused medical treatment in late December for his injured arm and face after he was pushed to the ground in a panic when Oromia regional police fired teargas at protesters: “[The health workers] said they couldn’t treat me. The day before security forces had arrested two of their colleagues because they were treating protesters. They were accused of providing health care to the opposition.”

Health workers said security forces harassed them and arrested some of their colleagues because they posted photos on social media showing their arms crossed in what has become a symbol of the protest movement. A health worker in East Wollega said he had been forced at gunpoint to treat a police officer’s minor injuries while student protesters with bullet wounds were left unattended. The health worker said at least one of those students died from his injuries that evening.

Many students said the local government closed schools to prevent students from mobilizing, or because teachers had been arrested. Some students said they were afraid to go to class or were refusing to go to school as a form of protest against the government. Four students who had been detained said that security officials told them that they would not be allowed to return to their university. A Grade 6 student who said she had the highest marks in her class the previous year said that the principal told her she would not be allowed to go back to school because she attended the protests. As a result, she decided to flee Ethiopia.

Human Rights Watch previously documented cases of students who were suspended after they participated in the 2014 protests, a pattern that is also emerging in the aftermath of the current protests.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/02/21/ethiopia-no-let-crackdown-protests

Oromia: Ethiopia: #Oromoprotests will continue unless government ceases ‘killings and torture’ February 22, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Oromia, Oromo.
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Oromo protests will continue unless government ceases ‘killings and torture’
By , International Business Time, IBTimes UK,  22 February 2016
Oromo students Protests, Western Oromia, Mandii, Najjoo, Jaarsoo,....#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
Protesters in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest state, are continuing as the government keeps killing, torturing and jailing peaceful demonstrators, an activist alleged during an interview with IBTimes UK. The source, who spoke on conditions of anonymity for security reasons, alleged that the death toll at the hands of security forces stands at 270.
Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, have been protesting since November 2015 against a government’s draft plan that aimed to expand the boundaries of the capital Addis Ababa. Demonstrators argued the so-called “Addis Ababa master plan” would lead to forced evictions of Oromo farmers who will lose their lands and become impoverished as a result.
Protesters also claimed that forced evictions as well as a perceived marginalisation by the government are already occurring and they threaten the survival of the Oromo’s culture and language.
Although the government decided to scrap the plan following increasing demonstrations, Oromo people continued to demonstrate arguing they did not trust the authorities.
“The protests continued because the government kept on killing, jailing and torturing people for taking part in the Oromo protests,while giving contradictory press releases saying it scrapped the plan, but continuing to prosecute those who took part in the protests,” the activist told IBTimes UK. 
The source added that at least 30,000 people have been arrested. “Our basic demand are: Stop the killings, release all political prisoners, bring to justice all the perpetrators of the killing, tortures and disappearances, establish independent investigators into the matter, compensate victims’ families,” the activist continued.
“We also call on the government to withdraw its army from the Oromia region, where it was deployed to crackdown on the protests as the region’s police force couldn’t control demonstrations”.
The activis’ comments came one day after Human Rights Watch released a report warning that killings of Oromo protesters at the hands of security forces, including the military, continue.
“Security forces, including military personnel, have fatally shot scores of demonstrators,” the rights group said. “Thousands of people have been arrested and remain in detention without charge. While the frequency of protests appears to have decreased in the last few weeks, the crackdown continues.”
IBTimes UK has contacted the Ethiopian embassy in London for a statement, but has not received a response at the time of publishing. Speaking to the BBC, communications minister Getachew Reda denied the government was cracking down on demonstrators.
He also denied that protests were ongoing and claimed attacks on public buildings were carried out by armed gangs “who are trying to stir up emotions in the public”.
In a previous interview with IBTimes UK, Abiy Berhane, minister counsellor at the embassy, confirmed that an investigation had been launched to establish the exact death toll of people who “fell victim to the violent confrontation with security forces as well as the extent of property damage”.
Regarding the allegations of violence against demonstrators and civilians, he said: “These are just one of the many fabrications that are being circulated by certain opposition groups as part of their propaganda campaign. The unrest cannot be described as a national crisis.
“The disturbances orchestrated by opposition groups have now subsided as the general public understood that the integrated master plan is still at a draft stage and will only be implemented after extensive public consultation in the matter takes place and gains the support of the people.”
Read more at:-
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ethiopia-oromo-protests-will-continue-unless-government-ceases-killings-torture-1545199

#OromoProtests and State/Government Terrorism in Ethiopia February 16, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Oromia, Oromo.
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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests iconic pictureDeath toll climbs as #OromoProtests still rage in Oromia state ( Ethiopia); schools remain closed. As of 30 january 2016. Fascist Ethiopian regime conducts genocide against Oromo people.Hanna doja. Oromo child, 1st grade student in Kombolcha, Horroo Guduruu, Oromia. Attacked  by Ethiopian regime fascist  forces on 31st December  2015

Oromo Protests and State/Government Terrorism in Ethiopia


 

Western governments praise Ethiopia for achieving the fastest growing economy in Africa and for being a key ally in the fight against terrorism. This hides the brutal reality of land grabbing, state/government terrorism, and the incredible cost in human lives and livelihoods. Ethiopia is a multinational country of 100 million people, and all of these nations have suffered state brutality in varying degrees. The country is tightly gripped by the totalitarian repression of a single-party dominated by the elite of a minority ethnic group from Tigray.

This minority regime has created absolute control over the country’s politics, economy, military and media, thus stifling every form of creative dissent. To hang onto power, it has marked every legitimate dissent as terrorism and waged wars against its own people. A handful of Tigrayan elites have used economic growth as a smokescreen behind which they carry out bloody atrocities of land grabbing. They have gobbled up the wealth of the nation to satisfy their insatiable greed and lust for power, thus leaving close to 20 million of their fellow citizens to face starvation.

This regime targets Oromos particularly because they are the most populous nation inhabiting a vast arable and mineral-rich land. The current Oromo protest is an expression of deep grievances under 25 years of such state terrorism, land grabbing and violent repression. It demands the world’s immediate attention. Below is a summary of Oromo protests and the various responses.

Oromo Protests

– The protest was ignited by elementary and secondary school students in the small town of Giincii on November 12, 2015

– In no time, this spread like wild fire to all parts of Oromia, and Oromos from all walks of life joined the peaceful protests.

– Beautiful images of peaceful protests filled social media. People marching with raised crossed arms or sitting with bowed heads became powerful symbols of peaceful protests.

– The protests attracted wide-spread solidarity from the Oromo diaspora around the world, from other peoples of Ethiopia with similar grievances, and from the Ethiopian diaspora.

The Issues

– The Ethiopian government has been robbing Oromos of their ancestral lands in the name of development. It has been forcefully evicting millions without adequate compensation or anywhere to go. Hard-working people are reduced to landless, homeless beggars.

– Global land rush has intensified local land grabbing where the government has been violently robing land from the various peoples and leasing out to foreign investors.

– Land is sacred for indigenous Oromos. As they say, dubbiin lafaa dubbii lafee ti [the issue of land is the issue of bones]. Land contains the bones of ancestors symbolizing the depth of the Oromo worldview, knowledge system, history, culture, and identity – a deep spiritual connection. Evicting Oromos from their land is erasing their very existence.

– The trigger for the current peaceful protests is a small soccer field which was taken away from the local youth in the small town of Giincii. Young students in the local primary and secondary schools protested. Enraged by earlier land grab where the nearby Cillimoo Forest was taken away for clearing, parents and other citizens joined the student protests. The environment is as sacred as the land for Oromos; they protect it with their lives.

– By the time the peaceful protests spread and engulfed the whole of the Oromia Regional State, the issue had crystallized around the Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan, which is the expansion of the capital city into the Oromo lands without any consultation with the people. The government denies that the plan is being implemented, but it is de facto forcefully evicting Oromo farmers from their land and violating their constitutional rights.

– The Master Plan represents an aspect of the ongoing systematic destruction of Oromo identity, history and culture. The protest against the Master Plan is an expression of bottled up grievances, and longstanding issues of injustice and fundamental human rights.

– In 2014, the government mercilessly massacred 78 Oromos, mostly university students peacefully protesting the Master Plan. When bullets are the answer, legitimate grievances remain unaddressed. The current protests raise the same unanswered questions.

– The Master Plan is a smokescreen behind which the government carries out systematic destruction of Oromo identity, history and culture. The Master Plan is only the visible tip of the iceberg; it only calls attention to the deeper grievances around the violation of constitutional rights fundamental human rights and justice.

Government Response: Genocide

– The government responded to peaceful protests with its usual bloody violent repression. Its inciting agents killed people, and burned property to tarnish the beauty of the peaceful protests and create an excuse to unleash the military force against unarmed protesters.

– In a dramatic move on 16 December 2015, the Prime Minister vowed to mercilessly crush the protests and deployed the draconian counter-terrorism law to crush the peaceful protesters he marked as terrorists. In effect, this is a declaration of a state of emergency where the administration of the Oromia Regional State is suspended, and Oromia is ravaged by a military force centrally commanded by the Prime Minister. The Ethiopian state turned its military on its own citizens, drowning the people in bloodbath.

– State tyranny has unleashed an all-out genocidal war against Oromos. Merciless killing, beating and mass arrests are now a daily reality in Oromia. Soldiers regularly break into homes and university dormitories, brutally beating people and savagely raping women. In this terroristic punishment of the entire Oromo population, children as young as 8 are killed alongside older people of 85. Girls as young as 12 are gang raped alongside older women. Mothers are killed along with their children. Artists, musicians and journalists are imprisoned and tortured. In universities, Oromo university students are particularly targeted, beaten and killed, imprisoned and tortured. Oromo peace activists and members of opposition political parties are beaten and imprisoned.

– In the current carnage of state terrorism alone (between November 12, 2015 and January 12, 2016), various sources report that over 200 Oromos have been killed while more bodies are still being discovered in the forests, rivers and ditches. Over 2000 people are mercilessly beaten and seriously injured while some are being denied medical treatment. Over 10,000 are imprisoned, and many of these are being tortured at this time.

– While states are responsible for protecting universities from attack according to the UN Human Rights Council, the Ethiopian State has turned universities into war zones and military camps where no critical dialogue can take place. Oromo students are hunted down and beaten, raped, killed or imprisoned. Others run away from university campuses because it is impossible to learn under such conditions of state terrorism. The Ethiopian state is systematically carrying out epistemic genocide against Oromos to destroy their intellectual capacity and stifle critical questioning.

International Response: Silence

– Human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and some Western media have been reporting the atrocities. However, the response from Western governments has been largely silence or mild statements that don’t mean much in terms of addressing the carnage.

– Nations promoting democracy have blindly endorsed the government’s shameless claim of 100% election victory, thus completely stifling dissent. While anyone with a rudimentary sense of democratic process would know how ridiculous this is, Western governments have chosen to endorse the violent totalitarian repression of fundamental freedoms and rights.

– They have emboldened the Ethiopian government to continue its atrocity with impunity. De facto condoning the brutal repression, major donor countries like the U.S.A., the UK and European Union continue to provide aid money with little or no attention to the respect of basic human rights or constitutional rights of the people.

– They continue to praise Ethiopia for development even when humanitarian organizations report that a staggering 20 million need help this year, even as they know this increasing need for food aid by a country that registers double digit economic growth is a sign of failed policy and failed governance.

Our Demand

Any nation genuinely interested in promoting peace and democracy should be outraged by the blatant massacre of peaceful protesters legitimately demanding the respect of their constitutional rights. We demand that Western governments, particularly the donor nations, denounce the atrocities of the Ethiopian government and ask it to immediately and unconditionally:

1) lift the merciless military rule imposed on the Oromo people

2) stop the killing, beating, raping, imprisoning and torturing of innocent people

3) release all peaceful protesters and political prisoners

4) bring to justice those responsible for the genocidal atrocities

5) restore the constitutional rights of the people to hold peaceful rallies

6) avail itself to the calls for peace and national reconciliation

7) allow people to participate in the affairs affecting their lives and livelihoods

8) start participatory development that includes people’s development


 

Oromo-Protests-vs-Ethiopian-State-Terrorism-Brief

Tokkummaa Tokkummaa Yaa Ilmaan Oromoo Tokkummaa: Oromo live concert in South Africa February 14, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Muscians and the Performance Of Oromo Nationalism, Oromia, Oromo Music.
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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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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.

UNPO: Oromo: Ethiopian Government Resumes Oppression of Protesters February 11, 2016

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Oromo: Ethiopian Government Resumes Oppression of Protesters

UNPO, February 11, 2016

 

A tireless struggle continues on Addis Ababa’s streets and in other 100 towns of the Oromiya Region where a multitude of students try to make their voices heard against the creation of the Addis Ababa Master Plan.  The protests started in November 2015 and the Government’s reaction has brought to a number of deaths, injuries and imprisonments. Additionally, it seems that the Government has no intention to investigate the local authorities’ abuses and general aggressive behaviour, which also included several arbitrary detentions without due legal process.

 

 

Photo courtesy: ©Serge Tenami

Here is an article published by: AllAfrica.com

 

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 Abeba, 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 Abeba 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 Abeba surrounding localities, Oromos also make up the single largest majority whose way of lives have already been affected by mammoth changes Addis Abeba has been having over the last Century.

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 Abeba 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 Abeba to Adama. Many of them were killed when police opened fires in several of those protests, including the one here in Addis Abeba.

Although in 2005 the federal government decided to relocate the capital of Oromiya back to Addis Abeba, 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.

 

Oromia (Finfinne): Appeal of Oromo Student’s Union (OSU) to International Community February 11, 2016

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Odaa OromooDeath toll climbs as #OromoProtests still rage in Oromia state ( Ethiopia); schools remain closed. As of 30 january 2016. Fascist Ethiopian regime conducts genocide against Oromo people.

Appeal of Oromo Student’s Union (OSU) to International Community

February 10, 2016, Finfinne (Addis Ababa), Ethiopia

QeerrooTo:

  • Multinational organizations (UN, EU, AU, and others)
  • Countries supporting the Ethiopian regime in the name of development, peace and security, education, science and technology (USA, European countries, Canada, Australia, and others)
  • Human rights organizations (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa, and others)
  • Oromo political organizations
  • Oromo studies Association (OSA)
  • Oromo community organizations all over the world and all other concerned bodies

We members of Oromo Student’s Union (OSU) appeal to the international community that we are currently living under difficult conditions. It is evident that the Ethiopian regime is committing genocidal crime on the Oromo people in general and the Oromo students in particular by deploying its military and police force and terrorizing us for peacefully protesting demanding our rights asking the legitimate and rightful questions of our people. Our questions are the questions of our people. Our demands are the demands of our people. Our demands can be divided into two major categories:

  1. Basic human rights must be respected. While the Oromo constitute the majority of the Ethiopian population, Oromia constitute the largest territory, and the region is the economic backbone of Ethiopia, the Oromo people have been marginalized in every arena. Over the past 24 years the Oromo people do not have proportional power and economic share in the country and have been ruled under the EPRDF which in essence is maneuvered and completely controlled by the TPLF party. Since the mass base of the TPLF/EPRDF is the minority Tigrean population, it has been in constant conflict with the Oromo people in Oromia. The Oromo people are ruled under the barrel of the gun being constantly killed, arrested, tortured, students dismissed from schools, civilians kidnapped and disappeared, are forced to leave their country and become refugees in several countries around the globe. Therefore we demand that the basic human and democratic rights of the Oromo people be respected and a system based on equality, justice, democracy, and a government based on the needs of our people be established.
  2. Master Plan must be stopped. Starting from 2014 we protested against the so called Master Plan of the TPLF/EPRDF regime, a plan which incorporates several Oromian towns into the capital Finfinne (Addis Ababa), evicts Oromo farmers from their ancestral land, eradicates Oromo culture, language and identity, planned to sell Oromo land and plunder Oromia’s natural resources, divide the map of Oromia into two, and causes pollution and environmental degradation. We presented our appeal in writing several times requesting that the Master plan be stopped. Instead of answering our request to stop the Master plan, the regime announced another plan to incorporate major Oromian towns which is another plan to incorporate the entire of Oromia under the jurisdiction of the federal government which on the other hand is controlled by the TPLF. When our requests fell into deaf ears we protested peacefully. The answer to our peaceful protest has been brutal killings, beatings, mass arrests, kidnappings and disappearances, inhuman torture by the regime’s so called Agazi troops. In addition to some 80+ people who were killed in 2014, more than 200 peaceful citizens, mostly students have been killed since November 2015. Thousands others have been wounded. Countless others have been jailed and are under severe torture. oromo-student-union-appeal-to-international-community-feb-2016-1

Financial Times on #OromoProtests: A dispute that started over a football field has evolved into one of the biggest challenges to the Ethiopian state since the end of the civil war a quarter of a century ago. February 9, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests iconic picture

 

 

#OromoProtests: “This is a popular uprising against political marginalisation, non-representation and corruption,….”


 

Ethiopian land protests put down with deadly force


A dispute that started over a football field has evolved into one of the biggest challenges to the Ethiopian state since the end of the civil war a quarter of a century ago.
When local officials expropriated the school pitch for developers, students took to the streets of Ginchi, a small town 80km from Addis Ababa, the capital.
Their protest was swiftly put down. But the incident was symptomatic of a wider collision in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies as the government seeks to transform a predominately agrarian society through industrialisation, commercial farming and urbanisation.
The Ginchi protest was the first spark in an outpouring of opposition to local and federal government in which at least 140 people died between November and last month, according to human rights groups. The protests spread across Oromia state, home to millions of subsistence farmers from the Oromo, the largest group in Ethiopia’s federation of ethnic nationalities.
Their anger was directed at local governments affiliated with the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (which with its allies controls all 547 seats in parliament) because of perceived corruption plaguing land deals as speculators surf rising property prices in towns around the capital.
At the same time they accuse the federal government of riding roughshod over local sensitivities with a plan to extend administration of overcrowded Addis Ababa into Oromia, which surrounds the capital.
“The master plan is about taking Oromia land and expanding Addis. It will create job opportunities but not for the farmers because their land is being taken,” says a labourer in the satellite town of Sululta.
Sululta, where factories and new housing developments encroach on traditional farmland, was one of about 30 Oromo towns that were the scene of mass protests in December. Peasant farmers pouring down on horseback from the hills to join protesting students were met with tear gas and bullets.
Elsewhere police stations and symbols of the state were attacked. In some isolated incidents so were private businesses.
“They are giving permission [to build] for the people who are rich but they are not giving permission for poor people,” said a farmer near the town of Chancho. He had been unable to obtain a permit to build a house for his son on his three-hectare barley plot, and had one mud construction torn down near a towering cement plant. Another farmer said he was given tiny compensation when compelled to surrender land to local officials who sold it on.

Such parochial grievances conflate with broader frustration among the Oromo at the perceived dominance in federal institutions of the Tigrayan ethnic group. Oromos make up about 40 per cent of Ethiopia’s 90m population, Tigrayans, who spearheaded the 1991 revolution, about 6 per cent.
“This is a popular uprising against political marginalisation, non-representation and corruption,” says Merera Gudo, head of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress and one of the few senior members of his party not under arrest.
The government a month ago shelved the blueprint to expand Addis. Since then an uneasy calm policed by security forces has settled over the region.
But the episode has exposed a fundamental contradiction in the way Ethiopia is governed — between the federal state as enshrined in the constitution and the reality of centralised, authoritarian power.
“The master plan was intended to co-ordinate planning between Addis and satellite towns . . . Infrastructure would be developed, bottlenecks in housing addressed and the dynamic of the economy maintained,” says Arkebe Oqubay, a minister and former Addis mayor who acknowledges there was insufficient consultation with those likely to be affected. “It left room for misinterpretation and proper explanation has not been done,” he adds.
Abel Belete, a political analyst in Addis, says it was unprecedented for Ethiopian authorities to back off in this way under popular pressure. “It is a sign of weakness,” he says.
Despite the climbdown, underlying tensions remain, with the population appearing cowed rather than persuaded.
“Thinking for the people and thinking for the country are very different. You can stamp on the people and still promote the country,” says a young Oromo professional who was afraid to speak openly for fear of arrest.
He recognises efforts by the government of Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister since 2012, and Meles Zenawi, his predecessor, to deliver services, create jobs and invest in infrastructure. But like many of the 100,000 graduates emerging from new universities each year, he wants greater democratic rights and opportunity.
“We are not free to express ourselves. That means people are not involved in the development process,” he says.
Ethiopia’s semi-authoritarian government has fostered some of the fastest economic growth in Africa while resisting liberal market orthodoxy and giving the state a central role in development. It is an experiment keenly watched by other African governments more constrained by democratic process.
But the Oromo protests are interpreted by some observers as one sign that Addis Ababa’s strategy also has limits.
“Ethiopia is undoubtedly fragile even if the underlying state is strong,” says an Addis-based diplomat from the region.

 
When local officials expropriated the school pitch for developers, students took to the streets of Ginchi, a small town 80km from Addis Ababa, the capital.
Their protest was swiftly put down. But the incident was symptomatic of a wider collision in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies as the government seeks to transform a predominately agrarian society through industrialisation, commercial farming and urbanisation.
The Ginchi protest was the first spark in an outpouring of opposition to local and federal government in which at least 140 people died between November and last month, according to human rights groups. The protests spread across Oromia state, home to millions of subsistence farmers from the Oromo, the largest group in Ethiopia’s federation of ethnic nationalities.
Their anger was directed at local governments affiliated with the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (which with its allies controls all 547 seats in parliament) because of perceived corruption plaguing land deals as speculators surf rising property prices in towns around the capital.
At the same time they accuse the federal government of riding roughshod over local sensitivities with a plan to extend administration of overcrowded Addis Ababa into Oromia, which surrounds the capital.
“The master plan is about taking Oromia land and expanding Addis. It will create job opportunities but not for the farmers because their land is being taken,” says a labourer in the satellite town of Sululta.
Sululta, where factories and new housing developments encroach on traditional farmland, was one of about 30 Oromo towns that were the scene of mass protests in December. Peasant farmers pouring down on horseback from the hills to join protesting students were met with tear gas and bullets.
Elsewhere police stations and symbols of the state were attacked. In some isolated incidents so were private businesses.
“They are giving permission [to build] for the people who are rich but they are not giving permission for poor people,” said a farmer near the town of Chancho. He had been unable to obtain a permit to build a house for his son on his three-hectare barley plot, and had one mud construction torn down near a towering cement plant. Another farmer said he was given tiny compensation when compelled to surrender land to local officials who sold it on.

Such parochial grievances conflate with broader frustration among the Oromo at the perceived dominance in federal institutions of the Tigrayan ethnic group. Oromos make up about 40 per cent of Ethiopia’s 90m population, Tigrayans, who spearheaded the 1991 revolution, about 6 per cent.
“This is a popular uprising against political marginalisation, non-representation and corruption,” says Merera Gudo, head of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress and one of the few senior members of his party not under arrest.
The government a month ago shelved the blueprint to expand Addis. Since then an uneasy calm policed by security forces has settled over the region.
But the episode has exposed a fundamental contradiction in the way Ethiopia is governed — between the federal state as enshrined in the constitution and the reality of centralised, authoritarian power.
“The master plan was intended to co-ordinate planning between Addis and satellite towns . . . Infrastructure would be developed, bottlenecks in housing addressed and the dynamic of the economy maintained,” says Arkebe Oqubay, a minister and former Addis mayor who acknowledges there was insufficient consultation with those likely to be affected. “It left room for misinterpretation and proper explanation has not been done,” he adds.
Abel Belete, a political analyst in Addis, says it was unprecedented for Ethiopian authorities to back off in this way under popular pressure. “It is a sign of weakness,” he says.
Despite the climbdown, underlying tensions remain, with the population appearing cowed rather than persuaded.
“Thinking for the people and thinking for the country are very different. You can stamp on the people and still promote the country,” says a young Oromo professional who was afraid to speak openly for fear of arrest.
He recognises efforts by the government of Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister since 2012, and Meles Zenawi, his predecessor, to deliver services, create jobs and invest in infrastructure. But like many of the 100,000 graduates emerging from new universities each year, he wants greater democratic rights and opportunity.
“We are not free to express ourselves. That means people are not involved in the development process,” he says.
Ethiopia’s semi-authoritarian government has fostered some of the fastest economic growth in Africa while resisting liberal market orthodoxy and giving the state a central role in development. It is an experiment keenly watched by other African governments more constrained by democratic process.
But the Oromo protests are interpreted by some observers as one sign that Addis Ababa’s strategy also has limits.
“Ethiopia is undoubtedly fragile even if the underlying state is strong,” says an Addis-based diplomat from the region.

More at:-


 

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ca4ee89e-ce77-11e5-831d-09f7778e7377.html#axzz3zgeTM22s

#OROMOPROTESTS: ETHIOPIA SHOULD STOP KILLING, MAIMING AND INCARCERATING ITS PEOPLE’S QUESTION February 9, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooDeath toll climbs as #OromoProtests still rage in Oromia state ( Ethiopia); schools remain closed. As of 30 january 2016. Fascist Ethiopian regime conducts genocide against Oromo people.#OromoProtests of 7 December 2015#OromoLivesMatters!Stop killing Oromo Students

ETHIOPIA SHOULD STOP KILLING, MAIMING AND INCARCERATING ITS PEOPLE’S QUESTION

EDITORIAL, ADDISSTANDARD, 9 FEBRUARY 2016

 

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 Abeba, 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 Abeba 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 Abeba surrounding localities, Oromos also make up the single largest majority whose way of lives have already been affected by mammoth changes Addis Abeba has been having over the last Century.
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 Abeba 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 Abeba to Adama. Many of them were killed when police opened fires in several of those protests, including the one here in Addis Abeba.
Although in 2005 the federal government decided to relocate the capital of Oromiya back to Addis Abeba, 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.


Editorial: Ethiopia should stop killing, maiming and incarcerating its people’s question

Oromia: The New Agenda for Oromo Struggle February 9, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Oromia.
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Odaa Oromoo

The New Agenda for Oromo Struggle

Ibsaa Guutama, Gubirmans

Oromo youth have created a new agenda that is no more limited to elites but mobilizes the whole population. It is a fluid process that can engulf any impediment on its way. During those days when Oromo were totally suppressed and placed under alien rule and all possible rights were denied no one from the colonizers camp had come out to say “please have compassion for them” When they found no way out from boundless oppression their youth of the sixties were able to find an opening and filled them with hope that liberation was possible. To fulfill that they drew a political program and vowed that they will not turn back until democratic Republic Oromiyaa is found. When they saw this, Ethiopians came out on them from all corners and threw contempt and insults. Even today no one among them has come out to say “they have the truth, wrong is being done on these people in particular, let us correct our policy and find viable solution”. They talk much about unity; its content is for them and is not meant to include non-Ethiopians like the Oromo. One person from among them, student Walalliny Makonnin is being condemned to this day for writing about the right of nations for national self-determination.

To hoodwink the question people have for ownership of their country they started saying all peoples of Ethiopia have questions of class the harm done to Oromo is no different from others and so can be overcome through class struggle. Oromo youth fooled by this rallied to fight their wars. Later they were betrayed and crushed. Some that survived joined those that had held firmly to the question of independence and freedom. Though some dropped out of the struggle by unknown pressure those that newly joined the struggle are numberless. They are still trying to repeat those lies. But there will be no turning back until what is aimed for is achieved. Youth that excel their elders and more proud of their identity are coming forth. The question is not one that can be gaged bay Wayyaanee but one that is feared to bring about her demise. She knows that people’s arms cannot be bent with Agaazii club; that is why the struggle for her is becoming the last birth pang and so catastrophic.

Oromo revolutionaries had taken vow that in Democratic Republic Oromiyaa human rights for all Oromiyaan citizens will be realized equally. In the same manner that it will be a country where universal human rights shall be respected and will not be where they are gagged and humiliated like in Ethiopia was ensured by fathers that built organization for the struggle. To get these rights respected Oromiyaa will not expect permission or suggestion from any one. The youth have asserted that the right of nations to national self-determination is a birth rights not something that someone bestows on a nation. All nations and nationalities that want to befriend them have to accept this truth. Oromiyaa is not a twig of anybody but a self-dependent country. Historically Oromiyaa is known as a country that allows others to live with it its laws not one that pushes away immigrants. With Oromo let alone human beings all living things will not be touched outside the law, it is also safuu (unethical).

Despite that knowledge, there are those that are sneaking around to create discord among Oromiyaans. To fend off these is the duty of all natural and naturalized Oromiyaa citizens. That is only to get own law respected not from fear of anyone. With Oromo anyone refusing to abide by the law is equally accountable for one’s action. If the exclusive right of the Oromo over Oromiyaa is not recognized that life for them has no meaning is already determined. Never again will they live denied the democratic heritage of their forefathers, suppressed by minority and traitors. There are groups that have taken this determination seriously and started to correct therir approaches. This is victory for Oromo youth.

To rally their constituency some Ethiopian elites still repeat what their fathers were bellowing on them that countries occupied during formation of their empire are their exclusive gift from their day of birth. That is why they are lamenting that “a country cannot be created with struggle for identity”. This shows that they are stunned by the coming forth of identity they thought to have suppressed long ago. The Oromo has nothing to fight for more than to get their Oromummaa (Oromoness). Oromummaa means personality, land, history, culture and resources. For what are they expected to fight if not for these? There is no doubt that identity of Oromo is created by Oromiyaans and identity of Ethiopia is created by Ethiopians. The Oromo had never accepted and will not accept formation of Ethiopian identity by crushing that of the Oromo. The colonies have broken their chains. Henceforth their will not be any capable “moderate” Oromo that could help driving the Oromo back to chains.

Agenda of the struggle has now changed from the first phase. The doubt about Oromo unity created between diaspora Oromo has been aborted and its being as strong as steel has been assured by Oromo youth. They have also asserted that the Oromo struggles only for one thing, for realization of being owners of their country and get back the lost right of national self-determination including independence. Oromo youth has never mentioned about secession but independence; they do not even understand what it means. The struggle is not to replay the role of Obbo Goobana Daaccee but to correct his mistakes. That did not benefit even him but rather destroyed him.

Aliens are trying to divide Oromo activists into extremists and moderates similar to the situation in 1998. That is what the Oromo say patriots and galtuu. Then without Oromo notice among them it was heard from foreign diplomats. If they say it will happen it happens. They split apart without delay. For this reason without neglecting, it is advisable to be vigilant and ward of alien hand that could possibly come through galtuu. No one should lend ears for those that say it is only from the Wayyaanee that Oromo have to guard themselves. Oromo nationals have to abstain from all that deny the right Oromo have to independence. All have to know that no one can represent all Oromo until such a time when a common leadership comes out and declare a national policy for alien relations. If they are not those that want to reinstitute Ethiopian dominance over their people, all oppressed nationalities have to worry about liberation of their country from oppression. For that first responsibility is theirs. If all could make efforts on ones part to create a peaceful environment, equality, love and happiness will not be difficult.

Those who want to reload Ethiopianess that was once forcefully imposed over others are nowadays heard groaning. Oromo had served as fountain of oppressor’s power and power of reaction over a long period of time. Now the majority of Oromo have returned to use their power for their own liberation. If there are remnants they are only the sluggish that is only burden not a force for the aliens. Based on this fact it must be known that Oromo have drawn a new political agenda of struggle. To relate to Ethiopia as oppressed and oppressor is no more but as equals. There is no weaponry that the incumbent government did not pile in its arsenal. But that cannot defeat the power of determined people. Hence what is required is to facilitate how peoples of the region could live in peace and tranquility as good African neighbors. If they try to set relations they have with the Oromo just like in the past it could be inviting catastrophe on their own people. Rather than tackling the impossible problem of mounting Oromiyaa as before, it would be better for them to adjust their tactics and strategy to reality.

Even if it was not intentional for the youth, they are able to get attention to the Oromo question by touching soft parts of Western Governments. The recent resolution of European Parliament seems that they are saying “we regret for imposing on you Minilik and Haayila Sillaasee. Had they not been enmeshed in their policy “national interest has priority over all others” and though they pushed aside their moral principle and said they will continue to give help to Ethiopia, they could not hide that situation in Oromiyaa had pricking their conscience. We hope that the condition that may result from that could make it a must for them in the course of time to take similar measures as the Europeans. Both see what is going on from the angle of their interest.

The Oromo people are under disaster. The Wayyaanee has scattered terror in them that they spend day and night with fear. Every home of Oromo mother has become a home of mourning. With pain of wounds in their hiding place and tortures in prisons Oromo youth everywhere are moaning and are subjected to live in nightmares. Families of the imprisoned are suffering from hunger, thirst and lack of necessities. The education system is disrupted and Oromiyaa is being taken back one generation. All nationals are expected to give priority for search of solutions to said problems. Though their rising together has given hope, if warding off with equal force is not started there is a possibility of untimely retreat from the struggle. At his moment what is wanted is one that stands by their side and give encouragement and help in devise strategy together not one that vaunts from a distance. Results may delay but victory for the truthful is inevitable.

Oromo political organizations are still following the old trend. They are just starting beating drums calling for unity when people back home are already fighting in unison. Even then they had never been sincere, for each want to appear as chief on every forum and the ego do not want to be swallowed in unity of decadent organizations. They are unable to pull themselves out of the force of habit of previous years. There is no one among them that clashed in the field of struggle for the cause they claim to stand for. It is like the saying, “Birds fight in the air for meat on the ground”. They think individually as opposed to collecting thinking that the struggle requires. Why did all leave OLF forming miniature Odaa, to sit idle in foreign land? There are those who say OLF lacks democratic practice and compassion. That should worry no body now; it has become history since what happened in the country. The question now must be going back to play own role or pull out of politics? Since they had been spending most of their time in fund raising they may continue with it in case they could be fringe benefit for the nation.

By this time Oromo should have a quarter where they could receive fugitives for protection. Every year, we hear about killing enemy fighters, not about liberation of a land. There were times when false information was fed. For instance, once we were shown fighters slaying camel for food. We believed the camel died to save the struggle. We did not know that she was commercial created to help in collecting alms. Be as it may what happened after that? They showed us some fighters lining up to hand over to the enemy arms supplied by the people. Many strange things not fitting the struggle for liberation were seen since then. Abba Jifaar, Mootii of Jimma is often quoted for saying “Respect starts at home” rising as the little Abba Jobir arrived at a meeting late as planned. Note that no one will remain sitted when he rises. It would be ridiculous to believe organizations that could not handle those nearest to them with due respect are sincere in their call for unity to the far offs. Unity and comradery becomes reliable only if they start at home.

But there was no soul that came out and took responsibility and accountability for all that happened. A political organization requires strict discipline and transparency. If one is not in a surrounding where one can apply own laws it will be difficult to question common member or member of the leadership for good or bad. The lack of consequences for infringement of rules is one of the causes of schism. If they melt (unite) together another episode jarring to our ears is going to be performed otherwise to expect them to bring more benefit for the country than what they did so far, will be lying to and cheating the people. People’s leadership is one that lives in the country, to deserve that they have to go back and reestablish themselves the soonest possible.

As it stands now difference between Oromo diaspora organizations and those of the Habashaa are not visible. Oromo organizations and elites are forming warm relations with Habashaa ones without any preconditions. They are taking the Oromo youth and farmers movement as giving them the opportunity to overthrow the Wayyaanee and strengthen the empire. It should have been the time to dismantle the empire system by keeping the enemy at arm’s length. Blood and sweat of Oromo children is not something to be used as negotiation tool by any one. The Oromo can communicate only with those that recognize their exclusive right over Oromiyaa beforehand.

Organizations having Oromo name and working as opposition parties are having hard time for being Oromo their Ethiopianess having been denied. They are the ones that taste the abuses Oromo people are daily undergoing. They wanted Ethiopia, which has demonstrated enough that it does not want any Oromo as equal partner. Members of legally registered organization like Bekela Gerba, Dejene Tafa, Bekele Nega, Addisu Bullala, Desta Dinka, Derejje Merga, Gurmessaa Ayana (sic) are said to have been added to old list of old prisoners for being Oromo. Baqqalaa Garbaa went back from US after promising in front of the world in mid 2015 to conduct non-violent struggle. He was trying to implement terms of the constitution in collaboration with terrorist like TPLF. It seems they imprisoned him with allegation of inciting the Oromo people’s struggle, and now he is found between life and death. He is an Oromo son whose bravery cannot be denied; it may be said he followed an erroneous policy but no one can belame him for betraying his people. At this juncture when Oromummaa is being looked down with contempt and is being humiliated, it is only Oromiyaans that can make it feared and respected. That is why Oromo children are paying the ultimate sacrifice. It is not the time one can stand aside and let an adversary harm ones own. All Oromo are obliged to rescue Baqqwala and comrades in distress. They like all of us have family and dreams. Whatever befall on him and his comrades have to be a challenge to us all.

Though some elders are stumbling, the principal objective started fifty years ago are being continued by present day youth. At this time when the struggle is heating up there is no visible difference of outlook between revolutionaries. Thanks to Wayyaanee’s push even those in doubt are being dictated by their conscience. The present condition seems that at least theoretically they have drawn a minimum program between them. Since beseeching is not helping for own survival for all to fend off the enemy has become a must. Blood has flown, such a grand people is humiliated, elderlies are slashed together all values Oromo revered are smashed. An alien without safuu or ethical values occupied them. Therefore they refused submit and kneel for inevitable death.

Be it for any cause to allow an alien build its enemy nest in Oromiyaa amounts to putting a noose around ones neck. Oromiyaans that chose to become tools for enemy force are responsible for the danger that befalls them as consequence. Traditionally Oromo respect those that come in peace and give them essential protection. Oromo had never discriminated any one for one’s identity. For this reason, to maintain the respect and benefit provided them is up to the beneficiary. Oromummaa is not a matter of blood; it is independence, equality and democratic Gadaa outlook. Let all who do not know, know and those that knowingly distort will have what they deserve. As a people that have national sovereignty, the Oromo have no alternatives to strengthening their unity more. For them to determine the level of unity they are going to have with Ethiopia and other neighbors, they have to be liberated first. It is only an independent country that can negotiate with other countries on equal terms. Unity that might be created with aliens could be viable only if based on treaty signed properly with free will of participants. Viva Oromo unity! The struggle shall not stop short of victory!!

Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty, equality and freedom for the living and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our forefathers!

Ibsaa Guutama
February 2016

http://www.gubirmans.com/The%20New%20Agenda%20for%20Oromo%20Struggle.html

#OromoProtests (Oromia):More to be done by the international community to stop the continuing violations of human rights in Ethiopia February 7, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooCIVICUS

Hanna doja. Oromo child, 1st grade student in Kombolcha, Horroo Guduruu, Oromia. Attacked  by Ethiopian regime fascist  forces on 31st December  2015

MORE ACTION NEEDED TO STOP HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN ETHIOPIA

 


 

CIVICUS spoke to Yared Hailemariam, the director of Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), concerning the recent killing of protesters in the country. AHRE is an NGO initiative of Ethiopian human rights activists that fled the country and is dedicated to the advancement of human rights protection in Ethiopia.


 

1. Can you detail the main causes of the current protests in Ethiopia?

The current protest in Ethiopia’s Oromia region began in November 2015. The first and main cause of the protests was the controversial government proposal of a Master Plan for the capital, Addis Ababa, which aims to expand the city by taking over several Oromia towns surrounding the capital. Protestors say the implementation of the plan will result in the displacement of thousands of local farmers who settled in the area many years back. The protest was started by students in Oromia region and then farmers and other members of the Oromo ethnic group joined the demonstrations.

2. The government has now said that it has halted the Master Plan. What are the implications of this on the current protests?

This Master Plan which is known as the “Addis Ababa Integrated Regional Development Plan” was announced by the government in April 2014. That announcement was followed by bloody protests in April and May 2014 after government forces used excessive force to stop peaceful Oromo protesters who opposed the plan. As a result, dozens were killed, hundreds of students were arrested, and many charged under the anti-terrorism law, and many others left the country. After the 2014 bloody events, the government promised to settle the disputes raised concerning the Master Plan by holding inclusive and transparent dialogue with all stakeholders especially the local residents, opposition parties, civil society representatives and local officials. However, the promises were not adhered to hence the current protest is due to those unfulfilled promises on lack of consultations.

Since the current protest started in mid-November 2015 a large number of causalities and mass arrests have been reported. These are unlawful, brutal and irresponsible acts of the government aim to dismantle the protests. The intensity of the response of the armed forces in the Oromia region exacerbated the situation. Even after the government announced its decision to halt the implementation of the Master Plan, a number of casualties were still being recorded.

In the last few weeks the protestors were also raising other serious issues such as lack of the rule of law, accountability of the state, corruption, justice problems, inequality, lack of democracy, and non-respect for basic rights of citizens.

3. It has been reported that approximately 160 people have already been killed during the protests. Can you describe the extent of the violations committed during the protests?

The current protest started on 12 November 2015 in a small town called Ginchi, which is about 80 kilometres south-west of Addis Ababa. After a week, the protests spread throughout the Oromia region. In most places the protests were peaceful including at universities, high schools and elementary students. But the response of the army and police was disproportionate to the protests as they attacked protestors killing more than 160 people and wounding many others.

On 1 December 2015 the Federal Police killed Gazahany Oliiqaa, a Haromaya University student. Some of those killed included young students and children between the ages of seven and 15 years old.

Thousands of protestors, including opposition leaders, journalists and activists were also arrested. In December 2015, prominent opposition leader Bekele Gerba, two journalists Getachew Shiferaw and Fikadu Mirkana, online activist Yonatan Teressa and four other Blue Party members were arrested. The Ethiopian authority labelled them as terrorists. In two of the main universities in the Oromia Region, including Harromaya University there were explosions in which a number of students sustained serious injuries.

4. In light of the multitude of restrictions imposed on the media and civil society in Ethiopia, to what extent has civil society been able to document and report on the protests?

Ethiopia has for a long time severely restricted press freedom and the work of civil society. It is one of the top countries when it comes to jailing journalists, many of whom it charges under the 2009 anti-terrorism law. The space for civil society to carry out their work has also been narrowed since the adoption the 2009 Charity and Societies Proclamation. This law has crippled the ability of many local NGOs especially those who work in the area of human rights. The restrictions imposed on media and civil society have a significant impact on the monitoring, documentation and reporting of the situation of human rights in Ethiopia.

As far as I am aware the current protest in Oromia region have not been well documented or investigated by the independent media or human rights organisations. Only a few foreign journalists tried to report the protest. The rest of the information has been gathered by local amateur social media activists who reported most of the incidents from the scene. Together with the foreign media, local journalists are not allowed to carry out investigations on the protest. The only local human rights organisation, the Human Rights Council (HRCO) has expressed its concern on the protest and asked the government to stop the killings and targeting of peaceful protestors. However, it was unable to conduct its investigation or reporting because of restrictions and budget constraints that hinder it from covering the whole country.

5. Has the response of the international community been adequate?

I could say that in the last two months the response of the international community has not been adequate especially when the number of causalities were rising daily. There has not been any strong pressure on the Ethiopian government to stop the excessive use of force against protesters. Perhaps the first response from the international community is the motion of the European Parliament for a resolution on the current situation in Ethiopia which has adopted on 21 January 2016.  There is still more to be done by the international community to stop the continuing violations of human rights in Ethiopia before the situation gets out of control and leads to political instability in the country.

6. What can international and regional civil society groups do to support activists in the country?

Activists in the country have faced numerous challenges and many restrictions as they perform their day to day activities. They are also subject to direct attack by government authorities. The Ethiopian government is labelling activists who criticise its policies as terrorists. As a result, the participation and visibility of Ethiopian activists in international and regional human rights mechanisms is very low and limited. This gap can be closed with a strong commitment and efforts of the international and regional civil society who have better access to advocate on the situation of Ethiopia at all levels. They could also support the work of local activists through capacity building, financing their work, consulting, supporting their research work and providing technical and security support.


 

http://www.civicus.org/index.php/en/media-centre-129/news-and-resources-127/2354-more-action-needed-to-stop-human-rights-violations-in-ethiopia

Solidarity Message to the Oromo People: Ergaa Tokkummaa Saba Keenya Hundaaf: የአንድነት መልዕክት February 6, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Oromia.
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Odaa OromooSolidarity message to Oromo People and #OromoProtests#OromoProtests Global Solidarity Rally, South Africa, 1st Feb. 2016Bilisummaa (Freedom Function)

 


 

A solidarity message to the Oromo people from the following U.S.-based Oromo organizations (listed alphabetically): Bet’el Oromo Evangelical Church of Minnesota; Bilal Oromo Dawa Center of Minnesota; Macha Tulama Association; Northern California Oromo Community; OFC International Support Group; Oromia Media Network Board; Oromo American Citizens Council; Oromo Community of Minnesota; Oromo Community of Portland; Oromo Members of the Orthodox Church in the U.S.; Oromo Studies Association; Our Redeemer Oromo Evangelical Church of Minnesota; Tawfiq Islamic Center of Minnesota; Tawhid Islamic Center of Minnesota; and TUMSA.

The message is delivered in three languages: Afaan Oromoo, English and Amharic:-


 

ERGAA TOKKUMMAA SABA KEENYA HUNDAAF

Nuti, warri gaditti mallatteessine, Oromootni bakka buutota dhaabbilee Siivikii, dhaabbilee amantaa, barnootaa, hawwaasaa fi dhaabbilee sabquunnamtii adda addaa taane, warra miseensa maatii isaanii du’aan dhaban hundumaaf gadda nutti dhaga’ame sagalee tokkoon dhageessifna. Akkasumas uummata keenya warra miidhaa mootummaan Itoophiyaa saba keenya irraan ga’aa jiru gara kuteenyaan mormaa jirtaniif deggersaa fi ergaa tokkummaa jabaa ta’e isiniif ergina.

Sabni Oromoo mootummoota Itoophiyaa wal jijjiiraa turan jalatti waggaa 120 oliif hacuuccaadhaan gidirfameera. Haa ta’u malee wanti mootummaan gara jabeessa ta’e kan isin amma jala jirtan EPRDF/TPLF torbanoota muraasa darban kana keessa raawwate kun kan dhiyootti ta’eera jennee yaadachuu dandeenyu hundumaan ol hammaataadha.

Magaalaa fi baadiyyaan isin keessa jiraattan hundi humna waraanaatiin qabamee waan jiruuf sodaa guddaa fi qabatamaa keessa akka jirtan ni hubanna. Weerarri gara jabinaa humni waraanaa biyyoolessaa Aga’azii Oromiyaa irratti geggeesse nu keessaa baduu hin danda’u. Barattoota umurii mana barumsaa keessa jiran kan humni waraanaa mootummaa Itoophiyaa ajjeeseef onneen keenya gaddaan cabee jira. Oduu dirqisiifamanii gudeedamuu dubartoota keenyaa dhaga’uudhaan onneen keenya madaa’eera. Isa mootummaan Itoophiyaa sochii isin gootan kanaan shororkeessitummaadha jedhe nuti morminee jirra. Kana irratti eenyutu shororkeessituudha? Barattoota hidhannoo hin qabne warra karaa nagaadhaan mormii isaanii dhageessifatan moo waraana hidhatee isaan ajjeesaa jirudha? Dhugaan ofii isaatii haa dubbatu.

Miidhamni, hacuuccaa fi murtiin dalgaa lafuma ofii keessanii irratti hidhamtoota isin haa taasisu iyyuu malee haala ulfaataa akkasii keessatti iyyuu gara kuteenyaa fi gootummaadhaan qabsoo keessan itti fuftanii jirtu. Dargaggootni Oromoo, naamusni keessan, booreen keessan, jaalalli isin biliisummaaf qabdan, ciminnii fi diddaan isin qorumsa jabaa kana keessatti agarsiiftan, nu boonsee jira. Uummata Itoophiyaa fi kan biroofis burqaa kaka’umsaa fi jabinaa taataniittu. Gumaacha keessaniif dhalootni Oromoo kan isin galateeffatu yeroo ta’u, aarsaa keessan seenaan ni yaadata.

Wal’aansoon saba Oromoo sadarkaa hadha’aa irra ga’ee jira. Amma boodatti deebi’uun hin jiru. Amma dhumaatti fuula duratti tarkaanfachuu malee filannoo biraa hin qabnu. Aarsaa baafame akka waan waa’ee hin baafneetti lakkoofsisuu hin qabnu. Mo’icha as dhiyaate kana adda kutuun balaa guddaa qaba.

Kanaafuu, qabsoo itti fufuu keessatti akka cimtanii fi jabaattan isin jajjabeessuu barbaadna. Karaa fincila adda addaa mootummaan kun uummata Oromoo irratti lola labsee jira. Mootummaan uummata isaa irratti lola labsu itti fufee bulchuudhaaf ga’umsa hin qabu. Kanaaf, Mootummaa Hacuucaa kana jalaa uummata keenya biliisa baasuudhaaf qabsoon jabaatee itti fufuu qaba.

Seenaa keenya keessatti yeroo murteessaa ta’e kanatti, yeroo ergaa tokkummaa kana isiniiferginu, nageenya uummata keenyaaf kadhachaa wal’aansoo kana keessatti waan gochuudandeenyu hundumaan isin cina dhaabannee isin deggeruudhaaf irra deebinee waadaa seenna.

Hafuurri Oromoon Biliisummaaf qabu kana booda waanjoo garbummaa fi hacuuccaa waan baachuu hin dandeenyeef, tures dhiyaates haqni jali’na irratti akka mo’uu fi uummatni keenya akka mo’icha argatu shakkii hin qabnu. Sabni Oromoo guddichi deebi’ee akka biliisomu ni amanna!


SOLIDARITY MESSAGE TO OUR COMPATRIOTS

We, the undersigned, representatives of Oromo civic, religious, academic, community and media organizations, hereby in unison convey our heartfelt condolences to those who have lost family members. We also send our unflinching support and message of solidarity to you, our people, who are valiantly resisting the repression by the Ethiopian government.

The Oromo nation has suffered over 120 years of indignity under successive Ethiopian regimes, but the cruelty and viciousness you have been subject to by the EPRDF/TPLF regime in the last few weeks surpasses anything that we have witnessed in recent memory.

We understand that today you are living under a significant amount of fear and duress as a result of the military occupation of your towns and villages. The outrage we feel at the brutality the TPLF Agazi force has unleashed in Oromia is immeasurable. We are heartbroken by the number of school age children the Ethiopian security forces have killed. We are repulsed and outraged by the news of women raped. We reject the Ethiopian government’s characterization of your movement as an act of terrorism. Who is the terrorist here? Are they the unarmed school children demonstrating peacefully or those who are armed and killing them? Let the truth speak for itself.

In spite of all the violence, repression and systemic abuse that has made you prisoners in your own land, you have persevered and heroically continued the struggle under the most difficult of conditions. And to the Oromo youth, your discipline, tenacity, love of liberty, courage and defiance in the face of an adversity, has made us all proud. You are a source of inspiration and strength for all peoples in Ethiopia and beyond. Generations of Oromos will remain indebted to you for your contributions, and history will remember your sacrifice.

The Oromo nation has reached a critical stage in its struggle. At this point, there is no turning back. We have no choice, but to march to the very end. We cannot allow the sacrifices made to be in vain. The consequences of stopping short of ultimate victory will be disastrous.

Therefore, we want to encourage you to remain resolute and courageous as you sustain the struggle. Through its various agents of violence, this government has declared war on the Oromo people. And a government that declares war on the very people it seeks to rule has no moral authority or legitimacy to remain as such. Thus, the struggle to liberate our people from this repressive regime should continue undeterred.

At this critical juncture in our history, as we send you this message of solidarity, we pray for the safety and well-being of our people and recommit ourselves to stand with you and support the struggle with everything at our disposal. As the free Oromo spirit can no longer bear the yoke of bondage and indignity, there is no doubt in our minds that sooner or later justice will prevail over evil and our people will be victorious. We are confident that the great Oromo nation shall once again be free!


የአንድነት መልዕክት ለህዝባችን በሙሉ

እኛ ከታች የፈረምን ሰዎች፣ የኦሮሞ የሲቪክ ተቋማት፣ የሀይማኖት፣ የት/ት ቤቶች፣ የማህበረሰብ እና የመገናኛ ብዙሃን ተወካዮች የሆንን፣ የቤተሰብ አባላቶቻቸውን በሞት ላጡት በሙሉ የተሰማንን ጥልቅ ሀዘን በአንድ ድምጽ እናሰማለን፡፡ እንደዚሁም የኢትዮጵያ መንግስት በህዝባችን ላይ እያደረሰ ያለውን ጥቃት በጀግንነት እየታገሉ ላሉት ወገኖቻችን የአንድነት እና የድጋፍ መልዕክት እንልካለን፡፡

የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ስፈራረቁ በነበሩት የኢትዮጵያ ነገስታት ከ120 ዓመታት በላይ ስጨቆን መቆየቱ ይታወቃል፡፡ ይሁን እንጂ አሁን እየገዛችሁ ያለው ጨካኝ የኢትዮጵያ መንግስት ባሳለፍናቸው ጥቂት ሳምንታት ውስጥ በእናንቴ ላይ የፈጸመው ታላቅ ጥቃት በቅርቡ ከደረሱት እና ማስታወስ ከምንችለው በደሎች ሁሉ የከፋ ነው፡፡

ያላችሁበት ከተማ እና መንደር በሙሉ በወታደር ስለተወረረ እጅግ አስፈሪ አና ተጨባጭ ፍርሃት ውስጥ መሆናችሁን እንረዳለን፡፡ የአገዓዚ ወታደር በኦሮሚያ ላይ ያደረሰው በጭካኔ የተሞላ እርምጃ ከውስጣችን ልጠፋ አይችልም፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ መንግስት ወታደሮች በትምህርት ዕድሜ ውስጥ ያሉት ተማሪዎችን በጭካኔ ከመግደሉ የተነሳ ልባችን በሃዘን ተሰብረዋል፡፡ ሴቶቻችን በወታደሮች የመደፈራቸውን ዜና ሰምተን ልባችን ቆስለዋል፡፡ የኢትዮጵያ መንግስት የእናንቴን የነጻነት ጥያቄ ሽብርተኝነት ነው ብሎ የፈረጀውን እኛ አልተቀበልነውም፡፡ በዚህ ላይ ማነው አሸባሪ? ያለምንም ትጥቅ በሰላማዊ መንገድ ጥያቄያቸውን ያቀረቡ ተማሪዎች ወይስ ተማሪዎቹን የሚገድሉ የታጠቁ ሀይላት? እውነት ራሱ ይናገር፡፡

ጥቃት፣ ጭቆና እና ኢፍታዊነት በገዛ መሬታችሁ ላይ እስረኞች ብያደርጓችሁም በዚህ አስቸጋሪ ጊዜ እንኳ በቁርጠኝነት እና በጀግንነት ትግላችሁን በመቀጠል ላይ ናችሁ፡፡ የኦሮሞ ወጣቶች፣ ሥርዓታችሁ፣ ወኔያችሁ፣ ለነጻነት ያላችሁ ፍቅር፣ ጥንካሬያችሁ እና በዚህ አስቸጋሪ ወቅት ያሳያችሁት ተቃውሞ አኩርተውናል፡፡ ለኢትዮጵያ ህዝብና ለሌሎችም የብርታት እና የተነሳሽነት ምንጭ ሆናችኋል፡፡ ላደረጋችሁት አስተዋጽኦ የኦሮሞ ትውልድ የሚያመሰግናችሁ ሲሆን የከፈላችሁትን መስዋዕትነት ታርክ ይዘክራል፡፡

የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ትግል በአስከፊ ደረጃ ላይ ደርሰዋል፡፡ በዚህ ጊዜ ወደኋላ መመለስ የለም፡፡ እስከፍጻሜ ከመገስገስ ውጪ ሌላ አማራጭ የለም፡፡ የተከፈለውን መስዋዕትነት ከንቱ ማድርግ አይኖርብንም፡፡ የተቃረበውን ድል ማቋረጥ የከፋ አደጋ ያስከትላል፡፡

ስለዚህ የጀመራችሁን ትግል በብርታት እንድትቀጥሉ ልናደፋፍራችሁ እንወዳለን፡፡ በተለያየ መንገድ ይህ መንግስት በኦሮሞ ህዝብ ላይ ጦርነት አውጇል፡፡ በራሱ ህዝብ ላይ ጦርነት የሚያውጅ መንግስት በስልጣን ልቀጥል አይገባውም፡፡ በመሆኑም ከዚህ ጨቋኝ መሪ ህዝባችንን ነጻ ለማውጣት ትግሉ ተጠናክሮ ልቀጥል ይገባል፡፡

በኦሮሞ ህዝብ ታርክ ውስጥ ወሳኝ በሆነው በዚህ ጊዜ ይህንን የአንድነት መልዕክት እያስተላለፍንላችሁ ለህዝባችን ደህንነት እየጸለይን በዝህ ትግል ውስጥ ማድረግ በምንችለው ሁሉ ከጎናችሁ ሆነን ለመደገፍ ደግመን ቃል እንገባለን፡፡ የኦሮሞ የነጻነት መንፈስ ከዚህ በኋላ የጭቆና እና የባርነት ቀንበር መሸከም ስለማይችል፣ ራቀም ቀረበም ፍትህ በክፉ ላይ ድል እንደምቀዳጅ እና ህዝባችን ድል እንደሚያደርግ አንጠራጠርም፡፡ ታላቁ የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ተመልሶ ነጻ እንደሚሆን እናምናለን!


 


 

– Bet’el Oromo Evangelical Church of Minnesota
– Bilal Oromo Dawa Center of Minnesota
– Macha Tulama Association
– Northern California Oromo Community
– OFC International Support Group
– Oromia Media Network Board
– Oromo American Citizens Council
– Oromo Community of Minnesota
– Oromo Community of Portland
– Oromo Members of the Orthodox Church in the U.S.
– Oromo Studies Association
– Our Redeemer Oromo Evangelical Church of Minnesota
– Tawfiq Islamic Center of Minnesota
– Tawhid Islamic Center of Minnesota
– TUMSA

Three members of the US Congress urge Secretary of State, John Kerry, to take action against Ethiopian regime. #OromoProtests February 6, 2016

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Odaa OromooThree members of the US Congress urge Secretary of State, John Kerry, to take action against Ethiopian regime. p1

 

 

 

Three members of the US Congress urge Secretary of State, John Kerry, to take action against Ethiopian regime

#OromoProtests: Comparative Analysis February 4, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in EthiopiaDeath toll climbs as #OromoProtests still rage in Oromia state ( Ethiopia); schools remain closed. As of 30 january 2016. Fascist Ethiopian regime conducts genocide against Oromo people.agazi-fascist-tplf-ethiopias-forces-attacking-unarmed-and-peaceful-oromoprotests-in-baabichaa-town-central-oromia-w-shawa-december-10-20151

South Africa: Bloody Repression in Ethiopia and Why #FeesMustFall Should Take Notice

ANALYSIS

By Addis Alem,  All Africa, 4 February 2016

Over the past few months, students, in solidarity with farmers resisting land grabs in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, faced off with security forces in some of the biggest protests the country has ever seen. The protests against the “Addis Ababa Master Plan” were repelled by Ethiopian troops, resulting in mass arrests and deaths of protestors.ADDIS ALEM describes the current situation in the Oromia region, and how it can be compared to the #FeesMustFall protests in South African universities.

The Oromo community, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, began protesting in November against the “Addis Ababa Master Plan”, which, the government said, aimed to develop areas surrounding the capital. Protesters said the plan would only evict farmers and leave them dispossessed and impoverished.

While the protests were about the plan, it also was an opportunity for the Oromo people who feel marginalised economically and culturally by the government, to be heard. And the struggle over the plan is part of a bigger accusation leveled against the state: the forcible removal of removing tens of thousands of people from their homes to make way for large-scale, commercial ventures (mostly foreign).

Of course it is a problem: eighty percent of Ethiopians still live in rural areas and land remains a contentious issue in this East African country.

The protests

Students – from high schools and primary schools – led the protests against land grabs. Doctors, nurses, teachers and bank workers stood in solidarity with them, and boycotts, sit-ins and silent marches were held throughout the country.

The response from the Ethiopian government has been brutal. The police and army in Ethiopia responded with live ammunition, teargas and mass arrests, resulting in scores dying – including children.

Independent reporting on what is happening in the country is almost nonexistent due to government censorship. There is also no way to independently verify the death toll, but activists have put the number at at least 150.

Hundreds more are said to have been arrested, joining tens of thousands of political prisoners in Ethiopian jails.

Journalists, bloggers, Muslim advocates for religious freedom, non-governmental organisations, opposition groups and other dissenting voices have long been repressed with Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation 652/2009. According to Amnesty International, the law permits the government to use unrestrained force against suspected terrorists, including pre-trial detention of up to four months.

Those involved in the current wave of protests have been labelled as “terrorists”, with the military being sent in to clamp down on them. Journalists, bloggers and other dissenting voices have already been prosecuted on the basis of Anti-Terrorism Laws.

Take the story of Hora Banti Irena, a 4th year Food Science student at Walaga University. On January 4th, he was arrested on campus. Two days later, his body was found in the Hadiyya river. In another incident, Reuters reported that two students were killed and six others were injured when a hand grenade was thrown at them in Dilla University.

Meanwhile, others have simply disappeared. In one case, Kenna Shiferaw, a 10th-grade student at Ambo Secondary school was kidnapped by soldiers. Her pictures, along with many others, have flooded social media.

#OromoProtests Kenna Shiferaw a 10th grade student at Ambo secondary school was kidnapped by soldiers this morning. pic.twitter.com/hYkzzr6zSS

— Addisgazetta (@addisgazetta) December 29, 2015

The army was deployed onto some university campuses and schools, and some students – including high school and primary school students – boycotted class, demanding the release of their classmates and arrest of those who killed protestors.

As a result of the protests, the government’s plan was shelved. But the protests have continued. Though calls have been made for independent investigations into the killings and arrests, nothing has been done. The protests over the land have triggered protests against the dispossession of thousands of smallholder farmers, destruction of livelihoods and erosion of cultural rights.

#Ethiopea.Powerful cover from @addisstandard on #OromoProtests. pic.twitter.com/zAKywcSlkb

— Revi Mfizi (@revimfizi) January 11, 2016

“The government should desist from using draconian anti-terrorism measures to quell protests and instead protect its citizen’s right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, was quoted as having said.

Last year, in Ambo, about 125km west of the Addis Ababa, about 47 were reported to have been killed by security forces [Editor’s note: the Ethiopian government said nine people were killed] after university students led a protest against the land grabbing.

In many ways, the wave of protests over land is a resumption of student-led protests 2014, and they have re-emerged at a time of immense desperation: the country faces one of the worst droughts since the 1980s. Despite the much lauded double-digit growth, some ten million people are already in desperate need of food aid as a result of the drought.

The link to South Africa

The student-led struggle in solidarity with smallholder farmers in Ethiopia is similar to the campaign for better working conditions for cleaning staff in South African universities. The campaign in South Africa has forged a unity between students and mainly black women workers, who endure insecure working conditions and earn a poverty wage.

To this end, it is impossible to talk of #FeesMustFall without bringing in the struggles of students and the Oromo people in Ethiopia. They are in many ways the same struggle: for dignity, justice and better access for the black body. Moreover, #FeesMustFall is perhaps the first stop en route the land question in South Africa.

Besides, the story has certainly reached South Africa.

Ethiopians protest at #UN offices in #Pretoria demanding UN interves in rights abuses in #Ethiopia #OromoProtests pic.twitter.com/HBDhVOmlCU

— Hassan Isilow (@hisilow) February 1, 2016

This places an urgent responsibility into the hands of students and other progressives organising in universities and other political formations in South Africa and beyond against this brutal repression of students fighting a similar cause.

The use of live ammunition by the security forces must cease, and thorough and transparent investigations into the extra-judicial killings and other violence against protestors in Ethiopia must begin immediately. Likewise, there must also be investigations into violence of police and private security in protests in South Africa. All political prisoners in Ethiopia must be released. The Anti-Terrorism laws must also be scrapped.

We anticipate that there will be more protests at South African universities against financial exclusion and against outsourcing in 2016. In fact, mobilisations have long begun. The promise to contain protests by any means has also been made repeatedly as universities doggedly insist they will continue to block students burdened with debt and insist on upfront payment.

A firm stand against any form of repression and urgent solidarity is needed to protect the right to protest in South Africa. In the same light, solidarity with the Oromo student-led protests against land grabbing is also an important step which speaks to the struggle of African people to decide on their own material wellbeing in their collective interests and not that of a narrow political and economic elite.

Addis Alem (not his real name) is a member of the October 6 movement, a collective of progressive students, workers and academics in the University of Johannesburg and Witwatersrand.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201602041524.html

Minnesota: Two U.S Senators from the state of Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken sent to States Secretary John Kerry their strong legislative support to the ongoing #OromoProtests February 3, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooDeath toll climbs as #OromoProtests still rage in Oromia state ( Ethiopia); schools remain closed. As of 30 january 2016. Fascist Ethiopian regime conducts genocide against Oromo people.U.S. Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar write to US State Department and John Kerry asking for recommendations on U.S. actions to address violence against #OromoProtests.

 

 

 

The two U.S Senators from the state of Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken sent to States Secretary John Kerry their strong legislative support to the ongoing #OromoProtests by issuing the letters below.
They condemning the authoritarian regime of Ethiopia. ” The United States has a compelling interest in ensuring U.S. resources provided to Ethiopia are not being used to violate human rights.”


 

February 2, 2016
The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State United States
Department of State

Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry,

We write to request that the State Department provide recommendations for actions the United States can take to address the escalating violence against civilians in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. In November 2015, farmers and students in the Oromia region began protests in response to the Ethiopian government’s Master Plan to expand Addis Ababa into surrounding farmland. We are deeply concerned by reports from Human Rights Watch and the media that indicate at least 140 protesters have been killed by Ethiopian security forces.

Minnesota is home to the largest Oromo population in the United States, and our constituents are concerned about the reports of violence and intimidation protesters have faced from government security forces. We want to thank you for condemning the recent killings and violence against peaceful Oromo protesters. However, we believe stronger action is required. Reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Committee to Protect Journalists have alleged that government security forces are using arbitrary arrests and prosecution to silence journalists and Ethiopian citizens who are exercising freedom of expression.

Ethiopia’s restrictions on freedom of the press and independent civil society groups mean those monitoring human rights in Ethiopia increasingly rely on social media reports from protesters and contacts on the ground. There is widespread fear that violence will escalate and that the government is taking steps to isolate the Oromia region. Reports indicate that authorities have recently cut mobile phone coverage in areas where there is a heavy military presence, further escalating fears about the potential for increased violence.

The United States Congress sent a strong message to Ethiopia regarding the government’s Master Plan and harsh crackdown on peaceful protestors by passing a provision in the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill to ensure U.S. aid to Ethiopia cannot be used to support the forced evictions of farmers. The United States has a compelling interest in ensuring U.S. resources provided to Ethiopia are not being used to violate human rights. We would like more information regarding the alleged actions by the Ethiopian government and how the United States can ensure that basic human rights are not being violated.

We respectfully ask you to conduct a full, thorough review of this ongoing situation and report to Congress on immediate actions that can be taken to protect innocent civilians in Ethiopia.

Thank you for your attention to this important human rights manner.

Sincerely,

Amy Klobuchar
United States Senator

Al Franken
United States Senator


U.S. Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar write to US State Department and John Kerry asking for recommendations on U.S. actions to address violence against #OromoProtests. p1


 

 

US Department of State responds to Congressman Keith Ellison’s letter written on behalf the Oromo people, #OromoProtests


 

 

US Department of State responds to Congressman Keith Ellison's letter written on behalf the Oromo people, #OromoProtests.

#OromoProtests: Unrest in Ethiopia: The Ultimate Warning Shot? February 2, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Oromia.
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 Unrest in Ethiopia: The Ultimate Warning Shot?

The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), the strongest component of the ruling coalition, from the middle of 2014 has faced the highest level of Tigrean popular discontent since its inception 40 years ago. That came first. Now the unrest in the most populated region of Ethiopia has sent to the regime as a whole the most shattering warning shot since its arrival in power in 1991.

Despite Tigray’s marginality in terms of geography, population – 6% of Ethiopians – and its economy, the TPLF had the strength to impose its hegemony after its victory over the Derg military-socialist junta in 1991. This dominance has recently declined, but it remains the driving force of the coalition between the four ethnic forces constituting the near-single party – the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) – with the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM).

It is also the only party that the population sees as its authentic and legitimate representative. However, since the spring of 2014, it has been shaken by a rising tide of popular discontent. “Give us back our TPLF!” cry the Tigrayans, a Front that is righteous, disinterested, devoted as it was during the armed struggle, ready to listen and to serve, but now accused of having succumbed to an unholy trinity: corruption, bad governance, unaccountability.

“We have acted as if it was pointless to listen to people because we are building roads and opening schools”, admits one former TPLF leader off the record. It is the “old guard”, sidelined during the second half of the reign of the omnipotent Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012, which sounded the alarm and then led the charge. Meles had promoted a new generation of leaders – the “Melesites”. Some young party members, mostly ambitious intellectuals, enraged by the degeneration of the Front, rushed into the breach opened up by the old timers. If it doesn’t regain its old strength, they are convinced, it will not be able to maintain its influence, and the Tigrayans would be exposed to a quasi existential risk of ceasing even to be masters in their own house, thereby losing the main asset of a 40 year struggle. Their goal: to revitalise the Front through “democratisation” and thereby regain popular support. Their target: the existing leadership, which they see as populated with incompetent “yes-men”.

However, the most disturbing warning signal came from Oromya, the region that accounts for 37% of the total population and is the economic heart of the country. Since mid-November, its northern half at least has been in a ferment of dissent. Demonstrations were followed by riots so intense and extensive as to be described as a “slide into a security crisis”: the authorities lost control of entire areas abandoned or deserted by the security forces.[1] Half the high schools and universities had to close their doors.[2] In their wake, as always happens in a power vacuum, came looters and vandals. While official government figures continue to strain credulity, other sources report more than a hundred dead.[3] Two months on, things have only partially returned to normal.

The trigger was an ordinary land expropriation in favour of private investors in a small town a hundred or so kilometres west of Addis Ababa. However, the focal point of the grievances was the so-called Master Plan for the expansion of Addis Ababa. The city has its own administrative government, but is located far inside Oromya. This territory was conquered by the Northeners at the end of the nineteenth century, and has grown by eating into the surrounding areas, still a trauma for many Oromo. The Plan covered an area 20 times larger than the existing capital, and would impact millions of Oromo. It possessed all the deficiencies of large development operations in Ethiopia: opacity and confusion, with documents of uncertain status released in dribs and drabs, thus a lack of clarity even about the respective roles of Addis Ababa municipality and the Oromya authorities in the area concerned; a centralising, top-down approach, with no consultation of the people. Oromo opinion once again rose up against what it perceives as a further drive to truncate its territory, exacerbated by a swathe of ruthless land grabbing, like that already experienced by tens of thousands of Oromo farmers around the capital or elsewhere, to the benefit of investors, whether foreign or Ethiopian, Oromo or otherwise.

The authorities began by reacting reflexively in their usual way: if it moves, hit it. To show their peaceful intentions, the demonstrators raised crossed arms or sat with bowed heads. The security forces’ disproportionate violence fuelled the protests. “Killing is not an answer to our grievances”, was the cry. For the first time on this scale, protest extended outside the “intellectual” milieu – students and teachers – to encompass not just high school and even primary school pupils, but even the lower classes, including simple farmers, who constitute three quarters of the population.

The straw that broke the camel’s back

The Master Plan was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back, the culmination of a much wider and more long-standing conflict. This is evidenced by the protesters’ targets: people and property with links – however tenuous – to the authorities, regional and federal. The officials, despite their being almost all Oromo; their symbols, their facilities (offices, cars, prisons, even medical centres and unemployment support agencies); companies owned by foreigners, non Oromo, and even by Oromo, if they have been imposed despite the peoples wishes.

Even local “model farmers” were targeted, a group who receive special government support to “modernise” their farms, on condition that they then show their fellow peasants the path to follow. Too often, they are selected by nepotism, with the result that an informal alliance has formed between local government and a new class of “kulaks”, accused of exploiting this patronage for underhand purposes, via renting or share cropping on land held by poorer farmers who have fallen into a spiral of debt. Worse still: in some places neighbours were killed, their houses burned, simply for being non Oromo.[4]

The target of unrest in Oromya was not just the unholy trinity, as in Tigray, though it is even more devastating there, but also harassment by the security apparatus, with its thousands of political prisoners, often held for years without trial. “There is no democracy, there is no justice”, complained some demonstrators. The centralisation of power, in contradiction with authentic federalism, is exacerbated by the general perception of Tigrean hegemony and the marginalisation and dispossession of Oromya.

“We want genuine self-rule”, ran one of the slogans. The attendant centralisation of development, and its relative liberalisation, initiated at the start of the 2000s, favours an “entrepreneurial” economic elite, covering a range of beneficiaries stretching from the big foreign investor to the rich peasant or Ethiopian businessman, whether Oromo or not. The ascendancy of this elite is consubstantial with the high positions it almost automatically occupies in the ruling party. Its behaviour is seen as predatory, primarily in respect of land.

“Oromya is not for sale”, demonstrators chanted. Their political opposition thus coincides with, and is reinforced by, an economic and cultural conflict around the resource that is the most precious, and quasi sacred, to the vast majority, land — which still acts as the cement of the social contract. Between this majority and this heterogeneous elite, but also within a peasantry that had previously remained largely homogeneous since the agrarian reform of 1975, class antagonisms have deepened. Moreover, plans in an increasingly sensitive sphere — the economy — could harden them.

First, there is the hidden aspect of the economy. Mystery surrounds the real situation of whole sectors controlled, directly or indirectly, by the state, i.e. two thirds of the economy outside traditional agriculture, their profitability, and above all their indebtedness, the key to their recent growth. One suspects that the alarmist rhetoric around the urgent need for a change of direction owes much to this black hole.

Moreover, the current version of the leading public impulse for economic growth — the “developmental state” — is coming to the end of the line. Its objective was to accomplish a shift from agriculture to industry. However, shares of the economy held by the industrial and manufacturing sectors remain at a similar level as at the end of Haile Selassie’s reign: respectively 11% and 5% of GDP then, 13% and 5% today.[5]

Growth on a downward path

“The 10-years perspective is a transition where manufacturing will lead the economy”, asserts Arkebe Oqubay, mastermind of this transformation.[6] Without it, there is no chance of absorbing the 2 to 2.5 million young people arriving on the labour market every year, of becoming competitive by increasing productivity, thereby reducing a growing trade deficit and turning round an increasingly negative balance of payments — the possibility of a foreign exchange crunch is increasingly raised [7] — and ultimately no chance of maintaining a high growth rate, the core of the regime’s legitimacy. For him, the worst scenario would be the combination of an economic slowdown with bad governance and assertions of nationalist feeling.

This growth rate is on a downward path, officially declining from 12% per annum in 2005 to 8% today.[8] The World Bank suggests that this fall is likely to continue.[9] Public investment, the driver of growth, has reached its ceiling at a third of GDP. Further growth therefore demands a massive inflow of private capital, mainly from abroad, bringing jobs and higher productivity, and carrying local capital in its wake, initially in subcontracting activities. However, “many of the foreign investors in Ethiopia fail because the environment is difficult”, Arkebe judges[10]. “Ethiopia lags behind Sub-Saharan African peers in most reform dimensions”.[11] Hence the intention to introduce greater ‘liberalisation’ in order to give business an attractive, stable and predictable framework, and even to open up new sectors such as banking to foreigners.

These reforms will also need to tackle another blind spot. Moving from archaic agriculture to a competitive manufacturing sector requires an army of skilled professionals with free rein to apply their knowledge. Ethiopia’s 34 universities hold almost 700,000 students and have issued more than 500,000 degrees in the last five years alone.[12] However, this increase in quantity has been accomplished to the detriment of quality. Above all, the centuries-old codes of power, whatever the domain, remain largely in place: implacable hierarchy, top-down administration, blind obedience. They are even reinforced by the near obligation of party membership in the public sector: party loyalty takes precedence over public service. The professional capacities of this new class of “intellectuals” are therefore held in check.

This lost potential hinders economic growth. Moreover, the gap between this “Internet generation” and the excessively authoritarian, fossilised and infantilising practice of power, at every level, is generating growing frustration.

gapWhile some of the new generation are satisfied with the advantages – legal and illegal – associated with their positions, others want to make their voices heard.

Haile Selassie created an intellectual elite to run a state machinery subordinate to his rule alone. Held in subjection, it rebelled, especially when — as today — graduate unemployment exploded. By contrast with the past, however, even the most anti-establishment of the present generation are not looking for a change of regime, but primarily for a role commensurate with their qualifications, and then, for some, a genuine application of the constitution, primarily with regard to federalism, particularly in Oromya.

Drought and war

Finally, there are two other challenges. After an exceptional drought, almost 20 million Ethiopians are in need of emergency or long-term food aid.[13] The authorities have responded vigorously, especially as they are haunted by the correlation between the overthrow of Haile Selassie and then the Derg and the famines that preceded them. But they themselves acknowledge failures in the distribution of aid and that the worst is yet to come.

An end to the state of phony peace with Eritrea is a growing demand in Tigray. Previously, they wanted it so that investors would finally come and rescue the region from its economic stagnation. Now it is demanded on the grounds that the military facilities that Asmara is providing to the Saudi-led coalition show that Eritrea is a bridgehead for an “Arab-Muslim encirclement”. For example, onepro-TPLF website writes:

Ethiopia is surrounded by (Arab) strategic enemies… working to disintegrate and dismantle Ethiopia… Most of the Arab countries think Ethiopia is the gate of Africa, if they can convert the Ethiopian Christians to the Muslim faith, they can control Africa and its resources.”[14] “As the end justifies the means, Ethiopia has to use everything at its disposal to take a swift military action againstEritrea; get rid of its hostile government; annex Assab”.

What is not known is how far the leadership of the Front is listening to this demand.

Faced with these challenges, sticking to the “Meles line”, as the ruling power has up to now, i.e. maintaining the status quo, has become untenable. However, the structure of power that he left behind is vacillating in its readiness to tackle this. Two power systems are in conflict with each other, though both managed by almost the same people.

Two institutions have never played their statutory role: the legal system and the legislative assemblies. With the rise of Meles Zenawi in the early 2000s, the others became empty shells: the TPLF itself, the three other components of the EPRDF, the cabinet, the regional governments. They were reduced to mere communication channels for orders delivered from the top. Pyramidal and interpersonal, this structure of authority had little regard for institutions. Simultaneously, a constellation of mini-fiefs formed, each at the node of a network built on relationships of different kinds — family, friendship, and fundamentally regional and/or sub-regional, as well as business — all beneficiaries of the “developmental state”. After victory over the Derg, the revolutionary elite used its positions in the party-state to monopolise the management of public and para-public companies, and then to launch itself into the private sector on the back of public contracts. Thus was born an oligarchical constellation formed inside the highest party-state circles, with one foot in these circles, the other in business. These practices spread like lightning down to the lowest levels, hence the sharpness of the tensions generated by corruption, bad governance and unaccountability. But with one fundamental difference compared to essentially predatory regimes: it continued to deliver. Even though the official growth rate is undoubtedly overstated, and its social distribution problematic, progress is unquestionable. With peace and security – until recently – it has been the basis of the regime’s legitimacy.

A crumbling pyramid

When Meles Zenawi died suddenly in August 2012, this pyramid crumbled. It left a system of power that was diffuse — disseminated between multiple centres, whether individual or institutional, and riven with ferocious personal rivalries — and lacking direction. A common front was maintained to settle the succession in terms of individuals, notably with the appointment of Haile Mariam Dessalegn as Prime Minister.

Nevertheless, although their workings remain riddled by these personal networks, “now, institutions start to matter”, stresses one well-informed observer: thus, the Executive Committee of the EPRDF, cabinet, starting with the Prime Minister is increasingly assertive, and regional governments follow on through a centrifugal effect. The security forces and army, however, remain a bastion apart, and interrelations between all these power centres are still vague and unstable. The reconstruction of a solid and consensual system is still on the agenda. At the same time, the situation it faces on all fronts is becoming increasingly problematic. Too many officials remain too rigid, arrogant and disconnected to see the urgency of the situation; too unstable and fragmented. The leadership can hardly agree on the changes needed, let alone implement them.

lawQuestioned about the existence of a “wider consensus within the ruling party” on greater economic openness, Arkebe Oqubay replied evasively: “I cannot say 100%.”[15] The opposition is of three kinds: the Ethiopian economic elite is highly disparate, divided between the most powerful groups who hope to be able to piggyback on the influx of foreign investors, and small businesses which consider themselves too weak to withstand international competition. An old “socialistic” ideological current persists. And finally, the nationalistic strain remains strong: no Ethiopian leadership has ever allowed a foreign presence, of whatever kind, to acquire sufficient influence as to potentially escape its control. Yet a massive influx of foreign investors inevitably requires compromises that will one way or another dent that sovereignty.

Moreover, this greater economic openness is likely to exacerbate the antagonisms described above, by fuelling bad governance and corruption, which exploded with the ‘liberal’ turn of the early 2000s. And the reforms currently under way or on the drawing board are purely technical. Indispensable as it is, an alteration in the ‘culture of power’ is not a priority in the economy.

Gimgema – ግምገማ

According to the official media, the combat against the unholy trinity is in full sway. The last TPLF Congress and its Central Committee saw a swathe of criticism and self-criticism, reviving one of the Font’s strongest traditions – the “gimgema” – which had become stripped of its original function in recent years. However, this merely resulted in a compromise between ‘reformists’ and ‘conservatives’, between ‘urgentists’ and ‘wait and seers’. In accordance with the traditional practice of ‘democratic centralism’, the Central Committee overruled the Congress. Two “reformers” joined the Executive Committee, the remaining “Melesites” stayed, including the chairman, Abay Woldu, who was the focus of the critiques. They will be closely monitored by newcomers to the Central Committee. The reforms were approved, but they had already been formulated in virtually the same terms at the previous congress.

Nonetheless, gimgema spread throughout Tigray. The leaders are touring the state, holding public meetings. Local officials are required to account for their behaviour to the inhabitants. In these people’s courts, judgement is rapid, the defence insignificant. Hundreds of low and medium ranking officials have been sacked, thousands warned. But we have no way of knowing whether the authorities took into account the voices of the participants before immediately appointing their replacements, or whether — as usual — they simply named them and left it to the people to formally endorse them.

In contrast, it doesn’t appear that the same purge is taking place elsewhere, or at least not with the same intensity, except in Addis Ababa.[16] Not that the unholy trinity is any less rampant, quite the contrary. But the reformist drive emanating from part of the TPLF and a few influential individual allies in the other parties, is having little impact outside, when it is not met with concealed opposition. ANDM and particularly OPDO, already so fragile when the TPLF launched its reforms and its purges, do not seem capable of handling the shock of such a challenge. The ANDM Congress was a quiet affair, OPDO’s was virtually a non-event. The same leadership teams were reappointed with no significant changes.

Above all, the exercise is limited in its very conception. The idea is that the party-state should correct itself, without any intervention by an external and independent body. The only involvement eagerly sought is that of the “public”, a fetish word, meaning de facto a fluctuating collection of individuals, by definition unorganised and unstructured. Nothing can or should undermine the monolithism of the ruling power.

The reactions to the events in Oromya reveal shock and confusion. First, in the intensity of the repression, with thousands of arrests, including senior cadres from the Oromo legal opposition parties, journalists, intellectuals. Then in its desire to silence discordant media voices, including the two TV networks run by opponents in the diaspora, to the point that the security forces even wrecked satellite dishes.

And in the cacophony emanating from the leadership. At one extreme, denial of the obvious. “There is a fair power sharing system between the federal government and the regional states which has enabled the regions to decide by themselves on issues that are specific to them”, the government spokesman maintained. “We know the protests are based on false claims.” The protesters are demonised, driven by “the conspiracies of destructive forces… of evil forces”, of “anti-peace elements”, including opposition parties which are, for good measure, “the proxies of the Eritrean regime”, and “are now organizing armed gangs”.[17]

At the other extreme, Abadulla Gemada, speaker of the House, a long-standing leader of OPDO but a man with the Prime Minister’s ear and one of the few leaders whose position in the traditional Oromo hierarchy attracts a certain popularity, declared in essence that the Oromos were smart enough not to let themselves be manipulated and to demonstrate for good reasons.[18] Between the two extremes, a convoluted acknowledgement, even from the Prime Minister, that “the recent question raised by the people of Oromia is a legitimate one”, that the Master Plan should have been drawn up in consultation “with the people of Oromia”, but also that “merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilising the area” is required.[19]

Finally, The Plan has been abandoned”.[20] For Abay Tsehaye, one of top ideas men and a political adviser to the Prime Minister, the sole culprits are corrupt OPDO officials and shady businessmen who “created all the mess… to capitalize on chaos” so as “to preempt the good governance drive… using the Master Plan as a smokescreen”[21]. So the whole problem comes down to black sheep who are manipulating Oromo to escape the punishment they deserve. Only part of the press dared to go further. For example, the Addis Standard, with a front page showing two raised crossed arms in red on a black background, carried the headline “Why is Ethiopia killing its people again?” subtitled “Oromo protests; not just about the ‘Master Plan’… Marking the next Ethiopian Political Chapter”.[22]

Federalism and hyper-centralised reality

The regime is now paying the price for the accumulated mistakes of its ethnic policy. Both ANDM and OPDO were created by the TPLF. They have never broken free of its oversight, at least to the extent of being considered legitimate representatives by the Amhara and the Oromo, with the capacity to voice their aspirations and grievances at federal level. This original fault line undermines the whole federal construct. Federalism is at the heart of the constitution and institutions, but the reality is hyper-centralised, the primacy of the Tigryan elite, even if increasingly under stress, undeniable in the political, economic and even more so the military and security spheres.

The “national question” boomerangs back on those who claim to have settled it once and for all: constantly emphasising national identities and proclaiming that they now all have the right to assert themselves, equally and entirely; in reality, keeping them ranked and constrained. Meles Zenawi’s iron fist had contained this contradiction. It could not but break loose after his death. In the absence of strong and inclusive political structures to handle it, it inevitably overflowed into the street.

One of the most illuminating evidences of these accumulated mistakes is the vacuity of the OPDO. It won 100% on the seats during the May elections, but it proved incapable of maintaining law and order, incapable of channelling discontent: it disintegrated. Most of its top leadership further discredited themselves by adopting the government line. As for the rest of its officials, very many joined the protests, others quite simply faded away. Oromya lives under a de facto state of security/military siege directed from Addis Ababa.

A Copernican revolution?

Would simple reforms resolve all these profoundly interdependent pitfalls, or do they demand a complete overhaul of the regime? Surprisingly as it may seem, part of the TPLF and some high level officials beyond believe this is the case. They have in recent months undergone a Copernican revolution, breaking with everything they have thought and done since their beginnings, 40 years ago now, as with all Ethiopian leaders since the dawn of time: ruling by force.

They underline that throughout the country’s history, all regime changes have come through armed conflict. “We want to leave future generations an Ethiopia that is not only prosperous, but also sustainably stable and peaceful”, they say. The only solution would be to let the institutions work as the constitution stipulates. In other words, deliberative assemblies that actually control the executive, from federal level down through the 17,000 municipalities; an independent legal system; a recognition of the positive role that the opposition parties and media could play. Sincere conversion or a pragmatic acceptance of reality? For their Tigrayan proponents, given the arch-minority status of the Tigreans, the clinching argument is that only genuine federalism could give them the vital long-term guarantee of remaining at least masters in their own homeland.

In the immediate, the management of the unrest in Oromya contradicts these intentions. However, the shock has been too sudden and too violent for the regime not to be out of its depth and to revert to its traditional repressive habits. But its history also shows that it only changes after a very long period of internal maturation. There is nothing to say that a period of deep reflection has not begun, albeit as ever behind double locked doors.

doorsThe obstacles are huge: the whole culture of power would be turned upside down, along two axes.

This culture is one of centralisation. But real federalism couldn’t be beyond reach. Oromya shows that it is becoming an absolute requirement. The foreign investment influx requires long term stability. Decentralisation is not conditional on the establishment of the ‘rule of law’ in every other sphere. In particular, oligarchical power could adapt to, and even prosper alongside genuine decentralisation. However, it would entail at least a full reconstruction of OPDO, and probably ANDM as well. Otherwise, it is to be feared that the inter-nation relationship would become even more critical, with young Oromo activists in particular deciding that the only choice is armed struggle because nothing could be achieved by political means.

It is also an authoritarian culture. Since the student movement of the 1970s, this authority has been vested in a small self-proclaimed vanguard elite, whose legitimacy is founded on the claim to supreme knowledge. It might adopt the argument of the early Soviet leadership: “We alone know what should be done to make you prosperous and happy, and so we have the right and the duty to do it if necessary by force and against your will.” In essence, therefore, this power is vertical and monolithic: any dissent could only come from misguided individuals or from ‘anti-peace’ and ‘anti-development’ elements. Criticism can be accepted only if levelled at failures in the execution of a policy, but not at the policy itself. That is precisely the limitation of the current campaign against the unholy trinity.

Rule of law?

This raises the question of what meaning these ‘reformers’ give to the ‘rule of law’: does it include the possibility that the country’s vital forces, whether driven by political, economic or social motives, including these new ‘intellectuals’, could organise themselves and make dissenting voices heard, not only about the form, but also about the substance of policy? This would require the end of monolithism, the acceptance of counter-forces, and therefore an end to the obsession with maintaining control over all organisations, whatever their nature.

criticsIt would also require an end to the wait for the supreme saviour, the ‘strong man’. Even within the TPLF, and even more so in the population of former Abyssinia, many are convinced that only such a figure could stabilise and preserve the structure of power, thus bring a lasting stability, as supposedly demonstrated throughout Ethiopian history.

Establishing the rule of law is above all about confronting oligarchical power. During a famous televised discussion about tackling the unholy trinity, attended by a gathering of the leadership and opened by a devastating report into the spread of its depredations right to the top of the party-state, Haile Mariam Dessalegn exclaimed: “Here, we talk, but once outside, we defend our different networks to ensure that they are not affected. That is the primary sickness!”[23] A confession of the limitations of self-correction.

The abandonment of the Master Plan is an unprecedented decision, but one that even the legal opposition considers a first step on a very long journey. It is calling for a significant gesture of appeasement, such as the freeing of the recent detainees, as proof that the government is sincerely ready to enter into dialogue with all the stakeholders concerned who possess recognised status, and with respected figures, for a complete rethink.[24] If it accepts, the opposition would have to concede that the process could only be gradual, extremely lengthy, that if the EPRDF agrees not to dictate its outcome, it will nevertheless insist on retaining control throughout the whole process, and that one line in the sand cannot for the moment be crossed: challenging federalism and the upper hand Tigreans hold over the security services and the army, which it sees for the time being as its ultimate shield.

“Where does all this lead us? To the beginning of the end? Let us hope not”, concludes a recent editorial in Addis Fortune.[25] In the absence of a credible alternative authority, only the existing regime can decide whether it ultimately wishes to change, or is prepared to risk the worst.

Read more at:-

Unrest in Ethiopia: The Ultimate Warning Shot?

https://www.opendemocracy.net/ren-lefort/unrest-in-ethiopia-ultimate-warning-shot

Oromia Insight: Prof Hamdesa Tuso on the Oromo land February 2, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Indigenous People, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia, Oromia.
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Odaa OromooLand grab inOromiaTigrean Neftengna's land grabbing and the Addis Ababa Master plan for Oormo genocideoromoprotests-tweet-and-share11

 

Part One

Will Expressing Concern Prevent State-Led Mass Murder in Oromia, Ethiopia? February 1, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley.
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Odaa OromooDeath toll climbs as #OromoProtests still rage in Oromia state ( Ethiopia); schools remain closed. As of 30 january 2016. Fascist Ethiopian regime conducts genocide against Oromo people.Oromo youth and families in Ginchi paused to remember Aschalew Worku. 24 january 2016

Will Expressing Concern Prevent State-Led Mass Murder in Oromia, Ethiopia?

By Habtamu Dugo*, Finfinne Tribune, 1st February 2016

 

The number of Oromo civilians killed, maimed, tortured, disappeared and raped by Ethiopian government forces has been increasing after Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom met with the European Union and US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers. Ignoring concerns by the EU and Ambassador Powers over Ethiopia’s government’s violent responses to peaceful Oromo protesters, Tedros’ government has continued with the killings and many other forms of atrocities against the Oromo people, including killing children.

The number of state-led killings has now increased to 185, according Abiyi Atomsa, an Oromo activist who provided the “minimum death tolls”. Another source, Ethiopia Crisis, a group that monitors the crisis and provides updates on the violence, reported on January 29, 2015 that the number of people killed for peacefully protesting against the government over land grabbing “exceeds 200.” A month ago, Human Rights Watch reported that 140 members of the ethnic Oromo were killed for protesting a government plan to expand the boundary of Addis Ababa city into Oromia regional state by evicting Oromo farmers. HRW stated “arrest of respected politician” Bekele Gerba, Deputy Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress, marked the escalation of the crisis.

The European Union Parliament, which correctly assessed the crisis and debated on it and passed a 15-point “resolution on the situation in Ethiopia”, is the only international actor with concrete plans to curb massive rights abuses by the Ethiopian government in Oromia if and when this monumental resolution is translated into actions. Not only did the EU parliament condemn the excessive use of violence by government forces against peaceful protesters, it also called for impartial investigations into killings and other human rights violations and for the prosecution of responsible government actors. More importantly, the EU made it clear that aid to Ethiopia will be contingent upon the protection of human rights going forward. The resolution “stresses that financial support to Ethiopia from the EU should be measured attending to the country’s human rights record and the degree to which the Ethiopian government promotes reforms towards democratization, as the only way to ensure stability and sustainable development.”

Contemptuous of the EU and concerns of Western nations providing aid, $3 billion amounting to half of Ethiopia’s national budget, the Ethiopian regime has not taken any steps to de-escalate the situation. In fact, it’s escalating the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters in Oromia and Gambella regions.

The United States government has failed to follow the good example set by the EU parliament; the US does not yet have a concrete plan to curb the unfolding crimes against humanity against the Oromo population by the Ethiopian state. Despite a stark omission of violence against the Oromo protesters by Ethiopian government from a recent White House National Security Council statement, the State Department and some US diplomats have publically expressed increasing levels of concerns about the killings in Oromia, and urged the Ethiopian government to “allow peaceful protests” and called for “a meaningful dialogue about Oromo community [people’s] concerns.”

While increasing expressions of concern are welcome by the Oromo people, all these statements from the US government lack any concrete plans on how to stop the atrocities by the Ethiopian government. Having observed the reluctance by the United States, the Ethiopian government continued with massive atrocity crimes in the state of Oromia. These statements cleverly avoid the need for involving political actors in the said dialogue. It is very well known that the situation calls for more than a dialogue at this stage—a possible change of system or a comprehensive negotiation of a transitional order involving all political actors with opposing ethno-nationalist agenda. Activists on social media tweeted to the White House, the State Department and Ambassador Samantha Powers and demanded a more concrete action that would lead to holding the regime accountable.

Britain has also expressed concern through its member of parliament. James Duddridge, member of the UK Parliament, posted a message on Twitter saying that he, “raised concerns with Tedros Adhanom [Ethiopia’s MFA] about Oromo protests—important for authorities to exercise restraint and address the root causes.” This expression of concern on social media is welcome, but it raises a question as to whether the United Kingdom has any concrete plans to hold the government it helps finance accountable over killings and other forms of crimes against humanity in Oromia and all parts of Ethiopia. Social media activists pointed out to the UK MP that expressing concern will not alter the violent behavior of the Ethiopian government toward Oromo civilians. Activists cited that the killings continued after James Duddridge expressed concern. So, the concern did not have any impact on the behavior of the regime.

However, except for issuing foreign travel advice in Ethiopia to protect its citizens, the British Home Office has not issued a statement condemning the excessive use of force against Oromo civilians. Like the U.S., the U.K. has no publicly-available plan with which to hold its aid darling Ethiopia accountable over massive human rights abuses. The British Department for International Development has kept pumping aid into Ethiopia without accountability mechanism in place regarding how this aid would be used.

Although asking favors is not a bad thing, the Oromo people are not asking the West to do them a favor when they protest in Western cities such as Washington DC, Seattle, Minneapolis, Ottawa, London, Berlin, Melbourne and so on. They are asking for the withdrawal of foreign aid or the conditioning of aid on the protection of human rights because they believe currently the Ethiopian government is using foreign aid to finance its military campaigns in civilian quarters in Oromia and Ethiopia. Oromo demonstrators in the United States, Canada, and at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, demanded them to stop supporting “tyrannical Ethiopian government that is killing children in schools, colleges and universities across Oromia.”

The United States is not committed to democracy and human rights in Ethiopia despite decades of paying lip service. Nothing speaks louder about America’s lack of commitment to human rights and democracy in Ethiopia than US President Barack Obama infamously calling the current one-party totalitarian Ethiopian government “democratically elected,” during a visit to Ethiopia. The US government does not have a detailed plan with which to hold the autocrats in Ethiopia accountable. It is certain that expressing concern will not stop the ethno-partisan government of Ethiopia from carrying out its habitual and planned atrocities against the Oromo people.

In Oromia, none of the perennial questions raised by millions of Oromo marchers in hundreds of cities and villages have been answered so far. The Ethiopian government has not bowed to international laws, its own constitution, and toothless expressions of concern and condolences from Western diplomats and politicians over killings.

Since December 15, Oromia civilian administration has been illegally suspended in Oromia and Oromia has been brought under military rule. The Oromo people were declared “terrorists, witches and devils” by Prime Minister Hailemariam Deslagn and Information Minster Getechew Reda and centrally-coordinated merciless military actions were threatened and acted upon. Henok Gebissa, a visiting international law fellow at Washington Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia, writes about the military occupation of Oromia as follows: “The current military control in Oromiya exactly resembles the famous Nazi Law known as The Third Reich of 1933 that Nazified all German law in order to grant arbitrary power to Hitler to detain and convict Jews.” In this case, the military is giving arbitrary power to elites of Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front ruling Ethiopia. Gebissa also described growing humanitarian crises where, in addition to all schools in Oromia, the government has deployed the military to hospitals in order to prevent injured individuals from getting medical treatment. People are left to die in the streets from bleeding caused by gunshots.

The first step in finding solutions to questions of land ownership and self-rule raised by the Oromo protesters is to stop the killings. Stop firing live ammunition into crowds of innocent school children with backpacks. But so far international actors have not demonstrated the will to stop the killings, let alone find a solution to politico-survival questions raised by the Oromo people.

The Oromo people have not taken the government announcement that it’s going to cancel the master plan as credible because they know that there is no written document to prove that it has canceled the plan. They also don’t trust the ruling party which was ordered to make the statement to dampen the protests and to curtail international media interest in the ever-deepening crisis. The Oromo upgraded their question to the question of national self-government, democracy, justice and release of all political prisoners.

Making over 45 million people in Ethiopia, the Oromo in the homeland and in the diaspora are asking Western partners of the Ethiopian government to at least choke the flow of aid until they (international actors) come up with plans to end pervasive violence and to ensure the creation of a new democratic order that respects the will of the people. Cutting aid to Ethiopia is no simple action since aid accounts for a good half of Ethiopia’s budget and obviously a significant part of that budget is funding the military being used by one group to persecute non-coethnics with the current rulers of Ethiopia who do not represent the Oromo or the rest of the country.

The international community must also urge that journalists, media, human rights organizations, humanitarian organizations and independent observers have access to Ethiopia in general and to hotspots of unfolding crises such as Oromia, Ogaden, Gambella and other regions needing urgent humanitarian help in particular.

The Ethiopian government thrives on massive surveillance and information control whenever it engages in massive atrocities internally. Human Rights Watch’s Ethiopia researcher, Felix Horne writes profoundly that it is such monopolistic control over information by government that has rendered the “massive crisis” invisible to the world. Horne’s recommendation to Ethiopia’s partners: “But they should also be clear that Ethiopia needs to ensure access to information and stop disrupting telecommunications and targeting social media users. The world needs to know what is happening in Oromia—and Ethiopians have a right to know what is happening in their country.”

Simon Allison writes that “Ethiopia exploits AU role to suppress international criticism,” including surveillance on AU activities by the National Intelligence and Security Service of Ethiopia. As result, AU has been effectively prevented from saying anything on Oromo protests.

If the Ethiopian regime continues to deny access to affected regions, the world is correct to assume that Ethiopia is hiding crimes against humanity against the Oromo people and others. The denial of access to information has made it difficult to assess the real magnitude of the crisis although it’s clear the crisis is massive. Number of people being killed by the government is increasing, but the world does not know about it. Death tolls cited in this piece are minimum estimates and they are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the atrocities by government forces are concerned because the regime intentionally prevents any “negative news from coming out of Ethiopia.”

* Habtamu Dugo is Adjunct Professor of Journalism and Communications at Howard University, Washington DC. He is also member of the OSA Board of Directors. He can be reached at hab.dugo@gmail.com

 

Habtamu Dugo:- Will Expressing Concern Prevent State-Led Mass Murder in Oromia, Ethiopia?

 

OROMIA: #OROMOPROTESTS: THE US REMAINS VIGILANT, REQUESTS “TRANSPARENT AND SHARED” INVESTIGATION January 31, 2016

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#OromoProtests @ Abote, n. Shawa, Oromia, 29 January 2016

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#OROMOPROTESTS: THE US REMAINS VIGILANT, REQUESTS “TRANSPARENT AND SHARED” INVESTIGATION


 

In Ethiopia, a Mix of Regulations and Repression Silence Independent Voices January 30, 2016

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Odaa OromooEthiopia's scores in freedom in the world 2016, freedom House World Report, January 2016.
Journalist Fikadu Mirkana, Oromia TV and Radio

Two of the Zone 9 Bloggers at Irreecha in bishooftu, after their release from jail

(Resurgent Dictatorship) — After a tense year marked by widely-criticized elections in which Ethiopia’s ruling party won 100 percent of parliamentary seats, 2015 concluded with yet more repression in the East African nation. During the last weeks of December, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported the arrests of two journalists, while five Zone 9 bloggers who had been acquitted of terrorism charges in October were summoned back to court as state prosecutors appealed their earlier acquittal.

These detentions occurred amid widespread protests in Oromia state, Ethiopia’s largest region. Human Rights Watch reported that since the protests began in mid-November 2015, police and security forces had killed 140 protesters and wounded many others, while hundreds of demonstrators and activists have been jailed; Ethiopian government officials have only publicly acknowledged five deaths.

The trigger for this recent crisis was the Integrated Regional Development Plan for Addis Ababa. Commonly known as “The Addis Ababa Master Plan,” its implementation would have expanded the capital city into parts of the neighboring Oromia region, potentially displacing a large number of local farmers, threatening their constitutionally-protected right to livelihood, and eroding local authority. One Ethiopia analyst, Tsegaye R. Ararssa, noted that the Master Plan violated Articles 39 and 105(2) of Ethiopia’s Constitution, which authorize alterations to state boundaries only by a referendum of self-determination or a constitutional amendment. Although the government recently decided to scrap the Master Plan, the decision was made primarily to silence the protests and falls short of addressing the protestors’ underlying concerns about the lack of good governance, access to information, and freedom of expression in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government prides itself on having one of the world’s fastest growing economies (the International Monetary Fund ranks the country among the top five globally). But the authorities often promote growth at the expense of citizens’ basic human rights, and many citizens feel that they have not benefitted from the country’s economic growth. The United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index ranks Ethiopia 174 out of 187 countries, and despite the government’s growth plans, 29 percent of Ethiopia’s population lives below its national poverty line.

The recent Oromia protests are a clear indication of what happens when the population feels that development is being imposed. If the government genuinely believes in inclusive economic growth, its plans would benefit from better communication with the people. Instead, the authorities have closed most venues for two-way communication and use state media to control media narratives and disseminate propaganda about their development plans.

In my January 2016 Journal of Democracy article, I describe how Ethiopia’s authorities have used legal and economic methods to suppress civil society and independent media. Ethiopia’s criminal code and press law, which have long been highly restrictive, have tightened significantly in the years since Ethiopia’s 2005 general elections, when mass protests erupted over vote-rigging allegations. Media repression became even more organized and systematic in 2009 after Ethiopia adopted the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). Ostensibly intended to counter security threats, since its adoption the ATP has only ever been used to bring charges against political activists and members of independent media.

The Civil Society Proclamation (CSP), adopted in 2009 around the same time as the ATP, has also curtailed the efforts of most human rights organizations. Restrictions on foreign funding and regulations which limit how much a civil society organization (CSO) can dedicate toward its administrative and operations costs make it extremely difficult for CSOs to survive. According to onestudy, the number of federally-registered local and international CSOs in Ethiopia dropped by 45 percent (from 3,800 to 2,059) between 2009 and 2011. Ethiopia’s Charities and Societies Agency (CSA) claimed in 2014 that 3,174 CSOs were registered in Ethiopia, but a 2014 study by the joint European Union’s Civil Society Fund (EU-CSF II) found that of the total number of CSOs registered by Ethiopia’s Civil Society Agency, only 870 were actually operational. USAID’s 2014 CSO Sustainability Index for Sub-Saharan Africa noted that the impact of CSOs in Ethiopia is limited by national policies, funding restrictions, and a lack of government interest.

As a result of policies like these, platforms which normally serve to facilitate communication and feedback between government and citizens, such as media and civil society organizations, have been silenced by heavy government censorship and the criminalization of dissent. The lack of accountable communication channels makes the population feel alienated from the government, and the only remaining avenue for the public to express its concerns—peaceful demonstration—typically results in a harsh crackdown, as the last few months have shown.  In December, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn appeared on state television to defend the government’s use of physical repression against Oromia protestors, saying the government will take “merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilizing the area.”

These remarks betray the authorities’ insecurity. The increased intensity of repression against independent media, associations, and civil society organizations reflect a government that feels threatened by independent voices. Like most authoritarian regimes, Ethiopia’s government worries that the more informed and connected the people are, the more empowered they will be to hold the government to account. In other words, Ethiopia’s attempt to gag the media and choke civil society is not a sign of the government’s strength, but rather of its weakness.

Simegnish “Lily” Mengesha is a visiting fellow and former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies. A seasoned journalist, media consultant, and translator, she previously served as director of the Ethiopian Environment Journalists Association.

The views expressed in this post represent the opinions and analysis of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for Democracy or its staff.

http://www.resurgentdictatorship.org/in-ethiopia-a-mix-of-regulations-and-repression-silence-independent-voices/

http://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/JoD-Jan-2016-Ethiopia-Silencing-Dissent-Mengesha.pdf

 

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Oromia & Ethiopia: Land – the Perpetual Flashpoint of Ethiopia’s Political Crisis: #OromoProtests Special coverage January 28, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Oromia, Oromo.
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Ethiopia: Land – the Perpetual Flashpoint of Ethiopia’s Political Crisis


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Mancunian Matters: ‘We ran away from murder, torture and rape’: Oromians in Manchester UK ask Manchester to ‘stand with them’ in #OromoProtests global rally January 28, 2016

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Oromians in Manchester UK  ask Manchester to 'stand with them' in #OromoProtests global rally, 27 January 2016

‘We ran away from murder, torture and rape’: Oromo Ethiopians ask Manchester to ‘stand with them’ in protest

 


By Dominic Thomas, Mancunian Matters, 27 January 2016

Around a hundred protesters turned out to call on the UK Government to act on and stop supporting the killing of Oromo people in Ethiopia, in Albert Square yesterday.

The protest comes after Human Rights Watch reported at least 140 people had been killed and tens of thousands arrested by government forces in anti-government protests since November.

This took place in the Oromia region, where the Government had planned to expand the control of the country’s capital in what was known as the Master Plan of Addis Ababa.

The land-grabbing led to anger from the Oromo people, who claim the plans – which have since been scrapped – are part of systematic repression of their ethnic group, and is being supported by the UK Government, which provides Ethiopia with around £300million a year in aid.

Mohammed Tusa, Chairman of the Oromian Community which organised the protest in Manchester, told MM: “We ask the UK Government to stand with Oromo people, to stand against the Ethiopian Government and to speak out.

“So far many protests have taken place in the UK – in London and in Manchester several times –but nobody is listening to us. The BBC is not listening to us, and the Government is keeping quiet.

“We respect and we love British society, but the UK Government is not acting the way we expect them to.”

He described how he and his fellow protestors had been forced to flee to the UK because of the suppression and violence people of his ethnic group faced in Ethiopia.

“Everybody here who came to Britain was forced to flee their own country,” he said.

“We love our country and would love to live there but were forced to run away from there by violations of murder, torture and rape by the Government.”

One protester claimed that he believes around 40,000 Oromo people are currently in jail, and that most opposition leaders and intellectuals have been killed by military action.

“The opposition leaders are being arrested, so freedom of expression is not there,” said one.

“The British Government has been financing the Ethiopian Government to support the poor people, but they have misused that money.

“The British Government should stand up, should listen to our voice, listen to the people and they should act. They are a superpower of the world, so they have to tell them to stop killing innocent students, mothers and farmers.”

Ethiopia has been run by the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Revolutionary Democratic Front since 1995, with the party winning all 547 seats at the last election.

A statement from the European parliament earlier this week read: “The EU, as the single largest donor, should ensure that EU development assistance is not contributing to human rights violations in Ethiopia.

“It also calls on the Ethiopian authorities to stop suppressing the free flow of information, to guarantee the rights of local civil society and media and to facilitate access throughout Ethiopia for independent journalists and human rights monitors.”


 

http://www.mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/270175429-we-ran-away-murder-torture-and-rape-oromo-ethiopians-ask-manchester-stand-them

Oromia (#OromoProtests):The Movement that Caught all by Surprise January 27, 2016

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The Movement that Caught all by Surprise


 

By Ibsaa Guutama,  Gubirmans.com     January 2016


 

We are raising this matter repeatedly in order to remind each other now and then, so that we may not be caught off guard by daily sprouting distorters. The way Oromiyaa resistance of November 2015 took shape surprised not the incumbent colonial government and opposition organizations that aspire to replace it alone, but also confused Oromo organizations as well. Because it was unprecedented phenomenon the TPLF leaders seem to be at a loss on how to handle it. What they can do was only secretly declaring Marshal Law that led to genocide and unnecessary incarceration. Ethiopian opposition organizations that crave to replace TPLF jumped to support the movement unconditionally but cooled down when they found their unevenly developed constituencies of Nafxanyaa remnant extremists were not supportive. This exposed that they are not representing a people’s dreams but that of groups that aspire to control the colonies next. These guys are reactionaries blinded by greedy for power and cannot move with the new world order. The naïve are in cahoots with them for nothing. That there are those that started conspiracy crossing the line to overthrow Wayyaanee and mount the peoples is becoming an open secret.

The peace loving Habashaa people have no problem with their neighbors. They are not yet subjected to eviction Oromiyaa type or land grab, their language is still the king’s language and their green, yellow and red flag is flying far beyond their borders etc. so no reason to rebel now. Even Habasha students in Oromo universities are mostly said not involved in the uprising but stayed in campuses. That implies that they do not feel belongingness to the rebelling region. “Ethiopianism” politicians want to propagate is only their own wish.

Oromo politicians lived confused by multifaceted pressure for a long time. Unable to move forward they turned to defending their leadership turf from assumed internal descent. As a result sincerity and transparency to members and supporters is lost. They have weakened their own base denying themselves the advantage due to a great people. Members became first in the list of adversaries. While they are in this mood, the movement came and gave the politicians and individual activists their lives’ shock. That they were only façade is exposed. Since then their behavior has become incoherent and frenzy, trying to cling on any string they come by and at times whisper of being in control of the movement. And some also are fuming with ambitions for fame and fortune they expect as a result. In connection with this, lies released have no bounds. But they should not forget the saying, “To fool the wise is to seek hatred”. For the mute observer there are lots to be said.

The opposition later switched to asking Oromo resistance movement to be named “Ethiopian”. The Oromo struggle had been around in its organized manner for half a century. They still do not comprehend it differently from how they initially responded to it. Since then much was gained by Oromo revolution as a result of damage done to fabrics of colonialism. Oromo nationalism has since spread throughout the land and people are now politically more conscious of their interest and identity than their elites. So the same approach of 70s and 80s do not serve. Instead of responding to national demand, when it was only a drop, with contempt full of tirades and insults, had they given it necessary attention then, it could not have now turned into the uncontrollable great flood? Though different in presentation and tactics this movement is only extension of the first phase of movement started by Oromo youth of the 60s. However that the objective goal or Kaayyoo is the same can be seen from placards and slogans they are using.

Even now, the offer given them by stray Oromiyaan politicians, to stand with them as equals and fight the Wayyaanee did not sink well with them. They want to humiliate them further by asking them to accept all about Ethiopia unconditionally and work against Article 39 of Ethiopian Constitution. They also want them to condemn OLF for them. They do not lack the method of attracting tamed Oromo but how to cleanse “the poison” spread by OLF. Those that join them are those who can do that, not those demanding to seat on equal level. In their mind there is only one old Imperial Ethiopia that they head, no modification is acceptable to them.

Therefore those that are going crazy with her love have to take that anyways. For independence camp the national objective set by OLF can never be stopped from reaching its goal even if they go insane. OLF is like a mushroom; its spores are scattered everywhere ready to sprout when one mutates into Ethiopianist. It must be known that the nation is not proud of enemy “Askaries” who were defectors and captives however capable they may be, they died enemy soldiers. Our concern is with those that died fighting for independence of their nation our praise should go for them and them alone. No one can rehabilitate the Askaries except independent Oromiyaa.

For Oromo struggle there will be no negotiation with any one that does not accept Oromiyaa’s sovereignty. Habasha have to think how to live with their neighbors after the decline of the empire. Trying to scare us with civil war of the Somalia type, if Oromiyaa gets freedom is not realistic and productive. Unless wanting to be quoted after death for saying it, they are no more the types to venture into colonial war again. Oromiyaa is not Somalia; there will be no mess let alone civil war for the breakdown of the empire. It has the capacity and the culture for self-control. It is clear that the life of Ethiopian Opposition will be short without Oromiyaa or civil war. Even unity of what is now called Amaaraa Country could become doubtful. But it would be prudent if genuine representatives of all people that have stake in the empire sit around a peace and reconciliation table and liquidate the empire and give everyone the chance to decide on its destiny. By participating in that, they can overcome their fears but not by trying the impossible sabotaging of others freedom. Image of “Mother” presented by Afework Teklee serves no more; times have changed. Spit your “Hirmii”.

Oromo youth is finding its way to build Oromiyaa devoid of oppression and servitude imposed on it by aliens. Oromiyaa is for Oromiyaans. There is no force to defend non Oromo Oromiyaans or aliens living in it than Oromiyaa itself. Those that do not want can smoothly exit without much ado. Alien forces that want to take DNA of long abandoned relatives as excuse to disturb its peace have to think twice. Oromo nationals that are trying to jeopardize hard won victories of Oromo youth and farmers must know they are misfired cartridges; they cannot be effective now as they have not been in yester years. Therefore, for good or worse better repent for past mistakes and stick to their people’s struggle. One who does not hold fast on what one initiates and holds that, leaving this one is of no use to oneself or for anybody. Without showing perseverance there is nothing one can be trusted for. It is high time that we all Africans understand values our peoples attach to freedom and independence and act accordingly. Oromiyaa has now burst into existence thanks to the sacrifices of its heroes of the past, and its revolutionary youth of the present. No force can hide it anymore! Long live Oromiyaa, long live our patriots!

Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty, equality and freedom for the living and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our forefathers!

Ibsaa Guutama
January 2016


Felix Horne of HRW and Henok Gebissa of OSA talk to South African radio about Oromo Protests January 26, 2016

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Oromia (#OromoProtests): Bekele Gerba and other Oromo political prisoners on hunger strike in Ma’ekelawi January 26, 2016

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Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa, Desta Dinka, Addisu Bulala, Oromo political prisoners in hunger strike January 25, 2016

 

 

( Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com): According to media reports, Bekele Gerba, other imprisoned leaders of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), and other Oromo political prisoners are on a hunger strike in Ma’ekelawi, the notorious prison in Addis Ababa. The report said the political prisoners started their strike on Friday, January 22, 2016, and have vowed to continue the strike until their demands are met. Some of their demands, which they have communicated to the prison’s officials, include:

1) access to legal counsels and visitations by family as guaranteed by the Constitution and internationally accepted rights of prisoners;
2) cessation of torture of political prisoners in Ma’ekelawi;
3) access to proper medical care for all political prisoners.

It has not been possible to verify how many political prisoners are taking part in the strike. However, it has been confirmed that the following leaders of OFC are part of it: Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa, Desta Dinka, Addisu Bulala and others. Since November 2015, thousands of Oromos have been taken to Ma’ekelawi in connection with the ongoing ‪‎Oromo Protests against the lack of adequate self-rule for Oromia (of which the Master Plan is an example), and the decades-old marginalization of the Oromo people in the political, economic, social, linguistic and cultural spheres in Ethiopia as a whole. In addition to those thousands arrested in prisons and concentration camps across Oromia and Ethiopia, more than 160 Oromo persons were killed, and thousands of Oromo persons have been wounded by the Ethiopian Federal armed forces – including tens of Oromo children.

It is to be remembered that the Ethiopian government brought Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa, Addisu Bulala and others to a federal court in central Addis Ababa on January 22, 2016 (listen to the report in Amharic below) – this date is the same date on which the hunger strike reportedly began; many human rights organizations, such as the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, accuse the Ethiopian government of using draconian laws to prosecute peaceful and legitimate political dissidents in biased courts to silence voices critical of the government’s violations of human rights and unjust policies.

Oromo: UNPO: Civil Society and International Bodies Condemn Violence January 26, 2016

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Oromo: Civil Society and International Bodies Condemn Violence


 

UNPO, 25 January 2016


 

On 22 January 2016, the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa issued a statement, emphasising the recent attention accorded by the United States, European Union and United Nations to the human rights situation in Ethiopia. While The European Parliament, through a recent urgent resolution, calls for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the killings of at least 140 Oromo protesters and into other alleged human rights violations, the HRLHA condemns the state sponsored violence, calling on the Ethiopian government to “immediately withdraw its special force “Agazi” from the Oromia Regional State and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

 

Below is the statement published by the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa:

The tireless voices for the voiceless spoken by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) and others- for decades-about the gross human rights violations in Ethiopia have caught the attention of the world and finally the hard truth has been revealed.

The US Government, the EU parliament and UN experts condemn the killings, detentions and kidnappings in the Oromo Nation by Ethiopian Government forces. The Oromo nation demand and that their basic freedoms and fundamental rights be respected in their own country.

The USA Government in its statements of December 18, 2015″The United States, Calls for Meaningful Dialogue About Oromo Community Concerns” and 14 January 2016 ” The United States Concerned By Clashes in Oromia, Ethiopia “condemned the Ethiopian brutality against peaceful protestors and urged the government of Ethiopia to permit peaceful protest and commit to a constructive dialogue to address legitimate grievances.

The European Union in its debate on 21 January 2016 discussed the “Human Rights Situation in Ethiopia”. The EU Parliament strongly condemns the recent use of violence by the security forces and the increased number of cases of human rights violations in Ethiopia. It calls for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the killings of at least 140 protesters and into other alleged human rights violations in connection with the protest movement after the May 2015 federal elections in the country.

The UN Experts in their release of 21 Jan. 2016: “UN experts urge Ethiopia to halt a violent crackdown on Oromia protesters, ensure accountability for abuses“. They called on the Ethiopian authorities to end the ongoing crackdown on peaceful protests by the country’s security forces, who have reportedly killed more than 140 demonstrators and arrested scores more in the past nine weeks.

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa appreciates the statements coming out from different governmental agencies and governments exposing the ethnic persecutions and crimes against humanity in Oromia Regional State by Ethiopian Government forces in which over 180 Oromo nationals from all walks of life have been brutalized by the special force “Agazi” , over 8, 050 Oromo were arbitrarily detained and where large numbers were kidnapped and taken to an unknown destination.

To stop further human catastrophes in Oromia Regional State, the HRLHA urges the world community to continue putting pressure on the Ethiopian government:

To immediately withdraw its special force “Agazi” from the Oromia Regional State and bring the perpetrators to justice To unconditionally release the detainees To compensate, all casualties have been done by the government-sponsored criminals To abort the state of emergency declared in Oromia Regional State All authorities who were involved in the present political crisis in the Oromia Regional state, including the PMs special advisor AbayTseye and the PM of Ethiopia HailemariamDessalengn, should be stripped of their government responsibilities To allow independent investigators into the country to conduct an investigation into the present and past gross human rights violations in Oromia Regional State.


 

http://unpo.org/article/18864