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Oromia (Ethiopia): Exiled Olympic runner Feyisa Lilesa returns home. #Qeerroo #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution October 22, 2018

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Ethiopia: Exiled Olympic runner Feyisa Lilesa returns home

Marathoner who sought exile after making protest gesture at 2016 Olympic Games returns amid political reforms at home.

Feyisa: 'I knew this day was coming because I know the blood spilled by all these people was not going be in vain' [File: Athit Perawongmetha/ Reuters]
Feyisa: ‘I knew this day was coming because I know the blood spilled by all these people was not going be in vain’ [File: Athit Perawongmetha/ Reuters]

An Ethiopian marathon runner who made global headlines with an anti-government gesture at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics finish line has returned from exile.

Feyisa Lilesa’s return on Sunday came several months after Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy took officein the East African nation and announced sweeping political reforms.

The runner held his arms over his head, wrists crossed, as he finished second in the 2016 Olympicsin solidarity with protesters in his home region, Oromia.

He sought asylum in the United States, saying he feared he would be imprisoned or killed if he returned home.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu received Feyisa at Addis Ababa’s airport, where relatives – clad in traditional attire from the Oromia region – and fans had also gathered.

OPINION

Why I run

Feyisa Lilesa
by Feyisa Lilesa

Feyisa said the new government is “a result of the struggle by the people” and he hopes it will address concerns after years of repression.

“I knew this day was coming because I know the blood spilled by all these people was not going be in vain,” the medal-winning runner told the Reuters news agency upon arrival.

‘Loved by my people’

The unrest in Ethiopia was originally triggered by protests over a government development plan for Addis Ababa, which critics said would lead to expropriation of farmland in the surrounding Oromia region.

Hundreds were subsequently killed by security forces as the demonstrations evolved into rallies against perceived political and economic marginalisation of ethnic Oromos.

In April, the EPRDF coalition which has ruled the country since 1991, elected Abiy – a 42-year old ethnic Oromo – as prime minister.

“I knew the dictatorship would eventually fall down,” Feyisa said. “I was expecting this day, but I did not know if it would be today or tomorrow, but it has been clear in my mind that I would go back to my father’s land alive.”

As well as making peace with neighbour Eritrea, Abiy has pursued a reconciliation strategy, extending an olive branch to dissidents and rebel groups, although the changes have not stopped bouts of ethnically charged violence.

After Rio, 28-year old Feyisa competed in a number of marathons, winning some. He told reporters he planned to focus on training for his sport.

“I can still bring good results for my country in my field,” he said. “I was loved by my people because I am a sportsman not because I am a politician. I only brought their suffering to global attention by using my profession.”


More from Oromia Economist sources:-

 

Olimpikii Riyoo irratti mallattoo mormii mootummaa irratti agarsiiseen waggoota lamaaf biyya ambaa kan ture atileet Fayyisaa Leellisaa biyyatti deebi’eera.

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DW: Ethiopian anti-government protests set to continue. #OromoProtests August 18, 2016

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#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#OromoProtests, #GrandOromiaProtests, 6 August 2016, all over Oromia. Dhaadannoo. p4#OromoProtests iconic picture


Ethiopian anti-government protests set to continue


DW, 18 August 2016


Since November 2015, Ethiopia has been experiencing a wave of anti-government protests unleashed by fears by the Oromo people that the government was planning to seize their land. Hundreds of people have been killed.

Oromo protesters in Addis Ababa

In early August, anti-government demonstrations rocked the Oromia and Amhara regional states of Ethiopia. Thousands of demonstrators went on to the streets calling on the government to stop killing protesters, release those arrested, implement political reform, and respect justice and the rule of law. However, the response from government security forces, which used live ammunition against protesters, led to the death of about 100 unarmed people.

Although the government security apparatus reported that the demonstrations had been contained, “the current political situation has become volatile. Things are fast changing and developments have become increasingly unpredictable,” according to analyst Tsegaye R. Ararssa. Activists are said to be busy devising alternative methods of protest that range from weakening government institutions through staying at home and not operating businesses to organizing a Diaspora-based “grand solidarity rally.”

Change of tactics

In the town of Gondar in the state of Amhara, where the first demonstration took place, residents resorted to a new mode of protest – staying at home. A resident of the town, talking on condition of anonymity, told Deutsche Welle that from last Sunday to Tuesday the streets were deserted. Workers stayed at home and stores remained closed.

Asked why the public had opted for this type of protest, the man said “it is clear that society has demanded an answer from the government, but the response was one of bullets in return, so the public decided to launch a stay-at-home strike.”

For Tsegaye, this peaceful method of protest demonstrates “a complete rejection of the regime by the people. It also blunts the regime’s false claims that the protests were violent. The stay-at-home protest is an indication of the increasing maturity of civil disobedience in Ethiopia.”

An angry man leading a group of protestersProtesters are now leaving the streets and staying at home

Internet restrictions

Residents in both the Oromia and Amhara regions say that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get an internet connection and access to social media tools has been blocked. “The only way to get through is by using proxy servers,” one resident of Gondar told DW.

In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Ethiopia’s Communications Affairs Minister Getachew Reda claimed that that social media had been used “to churn out false information after false information, mostly seditious remarks, trying to agitate people against security forces and also against fellow brothers and sisters.” The administration therefore decided to gag “the kind of vitriol running over social media,” he said.

However, political pundits argue that the state move to censor the internet places a strain on political discourse and the sharing of information. Despite the fact that the country has less than three percent of internet access, there are growing numbers of news and opposition websites which the regime is notorious for blocking.

Aid from the West

The Ethiopian government receives some 3.5 billion dollars (3 billion euros) annually from international donors and has remained a key strategic partner of the West, particularly the US and the EU, in the ‘war against terror.’ However, analysts argue this financial support has been toughening the regime’s resolve to silence dissenting voices. The western approach of tiptoeing around human right violations in the country and its continued support for the regime has been stirring up anger among sections of the public.

Tsegaye says that US and EU “support of the regime – which they know is clearly undemocratic – is the very cause of the state terrorism we observe in the region.”

A recent editorial in The Washington Post argues that the Obama administration, beyond releasing their “deeply concerned” statements, should put pressure on the regime to allow for “credible investigation into the killings.” Following the demonstrations in the two regions, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, urged the Ethiopian government to “give access to international observers in the affected areas to establish what really happened.”

In an interview with DW, Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the commissioner, said restrictions on internet access, the blocking of social media and lack of civil society organizations in the country have made it difficult to verify reports of deaths and casualties.

a group of Oromo activists demonstrating in BerlinOromo activists took to the streets of Berlin in November 2015

Mohammed Said, public relations officer with Ethiopia’s Communications Affairs Office, told DW that the government had its own system of checks and balances and the country’s own Human Rights Commission was doing its job in investigating and publicizing the human rights situation in the country.

For analyst Tsegaye, this shows that the regime “is still in denial of the injustice its policies have resulted in.” The Ethiopian government now has the opportunity to change its approach – otherwise, Ravina said, “if the situation is left to fester, there will be more outbursts, more unrest, more protests and perhaps more violence.”


Read more at:- Ethiopian anti-government protests set to continue


 

Grand #OromoProtests Global Solidarity Rally Held in Johannesburg South Africa, 18 August 2016 August 18, 2016

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#OromoProtests #AmharaProtests #OgadeniaProtests joint global solidarity rally in Johannesburg, South Africa.


Grand #OromoProtests Global solidarity joint Ethiopians Rally Held in South Africa on 18 August 2016 p2

 

Grand #OromoProtests Global solidarity joint Ethiopians Rally Held in South Africa on 18 August 2016 p1

 

Grand #OromoProtests Global solidarity joint Ethiopians Rally Held in South Africa on 18 August 2016

 

Seattle Weekly: Grand #OromoProtests Global Solidarity Rally Held in Sheattle, 16 August 2016 August 18, 2016

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Grand #OromoProtests Global solidarity joint Ethiopians Rally Held in Sheattle, USA on 16 August 2016

Ethiopian Immigrants March Against Brutal Regime


Seattle Weekly, 16 August 2016


The government has recently killed and disappeared hundreds of people.

 

A couple hundred members of Seattle’s Ethiopian immigrant community marched through downtown’s streets Tuesday afternoon in protest against U.S. support for the brutal Ethiopian regime.

“Back in Ethiopia, we have a dictatorial regime which has committed mass crimes against its own people,” said attorney Daniel Ajema, a marcher who identified himself as an organizer. “We’re here in solidarity with the people back home, and would like to support them and show our support.”

He’s not exaggerating. In their “Democracy Index” last year, the Economistgave Ethiopia’s government their lowest classification: an authoritarian regime, with an “Electoral Process and Pluralism” score of zero out of ten. Since November, according to the Human Rights Watch, government forces have killed hundreds of largely peaceful protesters and “disappeared” hundreds more.

Ajema said that the protest was specifically aimed at urging President Obama and philanthropist Bill Gates to try to lean on Ethiopia’s national government to do better on human rights and democracy. “We are here to voice our concern and our anger against the enablers of the regime,” he said. The Gates foundation currently has 150 projects worth more than $500 million in Ethiopia, according to the South African Broadcasting Service. The official U.S. relationship with Ethiopia is a friendly one: Ethiopian troops have battled the terrorist army al-Shabaab in neighboring Somolia, and last year our government sent theirs more than half a billion dollars in aid.

Ajema says both the U.S.’s and Gates Foundation’s money helps finance the regime, and he says both Gates and the president should insist on putting human rights ahead of political expediency.

“They’re not doing a whole lot of checking on good governance and democratic rights,” Ajema said. “They’re just blindly giving money to the government.”

Click hear to read  more at Sheattle Weekly

 

Grand #OromoProtests Global Solidarity Rally Held in Melbourne, Australia, 18 August 2016 August 18, 2016

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Wayyaaneen haa dhabmtu!

Grand #OromoProtests Global solidarity Rally Held in Melbourne, Australia, 18 August 2016.

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OROMIA: OROMO PROTESTS: MARKING THE NEXT ETHIOPIAN POLITICAL CHAPTER January 25, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Oromia, Oromiyaa, 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#OromoProtests, Qabosoon itti fufa jedhu aayyoleenOromo students Protests, Western Oromia, Mandii, Najjoo, Jaarsoo,....

OPINION: OROMO PROTESTS: MARKING THE NEXT ETHIOPIAN POLITICAL CHAPTER

#OromoProtests Special coverage


 

By Henok Gabisa, Addis Standard,  25 January 2016


 

The current situation in Oromiya and wider Ethiopia is blusterous. In the words of an anonymous commentator on the ground, “Oromiya is a war zone; we are under effective military control.” From this characterization, I gather that the government security forces’ merciless firing of live ammunition at peaceful protestors has turned the situation into a popular civil rebellion in all of Oromiya. As a matter of fact, protest actions have taken place in more than 170 Oromo cities, towns and villages. As of this writing, Oromo activists have verified and documented the killing of over 100 Oromo persons, the majority of whom are students and farmers. The Associated Press reports that 80 Oromo protestors were killed. Oromo mothers and female students are being kidnapped and transported to unknown locations.

 

Effective December 15, the Oromo nation has fallen under the administrative jurisdiction of a “Command Post”, an entity chaired by the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. “Counter-Terrorism Task Force”, which is assembled for this particular purpose is also deployed. It remains a major legal question whether the “military administration” constitutes the same effect as declaration of emergency situation-executive decree which should have followed a procedure of its own as under article 93 of the constitution. However, as of now, what we know is that the inception of the “command post” already has obliterated any semblance of legality because it unconstitutionally suspended the bodies that administer (i.e., the State Parliament and the Executive) of the State of Oromiya and the nominal political party in charge there.
On December 16, the federal government released something very close to a national decree. It was read on a national TV during prime time broadcast service. A joint venture of the “Command Post” and “Anti-Terrorism Special Task Force”, the decree’s content was considered by many as amounting to a declaration of war against the Oromo in general. The following day, the communication minister, Getachew Reda, followed up the decree with a presser, in which he described Oromo protesters as “devils”, “demons”, “satanic”, “witches” and “terrorists”, who need special military operation “to be put back in their place”. In his cantankerous statements, Getachew cleared up what many observers already suspected: the deep-seated and systematized dehumanization project of the Oromo by the regime and beyond. Again, PM Hailemariam Dessalegn, in an exclusive interview with the national TV, menacingly vowed for a “merciless” national response against the Oromo protesters if they don’t stop protesting. Now, we are observing synchronized, condescending and patronizing melodrama being translated into collective punishment against the Oromo. Getachew’s sordidly loaded press communication in fact reminded me of Seif-Al Islam Gaddafi’s last taunting moment in one of the notorious TV broadcast in which he called the Libyan protestors “rats” who had to be annihilated. 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 a similar way, ours is also a regime that has unequivocally and arrogantly displayed that it is not only the enemy of the people, but also of itself.

 

Why the plan is the reincarnation of perennial Oromo question?
The protest, now turned into an unarmed popular uprising or movement, is a renewed call from Oromo people to object to and demand the unconditional and permanent termination of the implementation of the Addis Abeba Master Plan, which is designed to incorporate surrounding Oromo lands into the capital against the will of owner-operators. The complete absence, on the part of the government, to solicit public consultation or participation since the start of the plan’s preparation in 2009 did not only make it a surreptitious political scheme, but also flagged major questions as to the substantive intent and content of the plan itself. In fact, the plan was viewed among the Oromo as an existential threat to the people and their land. The Oromo see the plan as a danger to their identity, language, culture, environment, and most importantly, their right to property/land security and the right to a sustainable development.
The government’s initial attempt to foist the plan in 2014 faced a stiff resistance from Ambo University students and all corners of Oromiya, triggering a massive crackdown by the government that killed unknown number of Oromo students in April and May of the same year. No judicial investigation or commission of inquiry was established, nor did anyone government official was hold accountable.

 

Completely disrespecting the peoples’ persistent objection against the plan, as of November 2015, the government came back with an imperious determination to implement the infamous master plan. At this juncture, the Oromo people, indisputably, were convinced of the federal government’s long-term scheme to end the meager economic and political presence, of the Oromo in central Addis Abeba and its surroundings.
The Master Plan, which the regional government said was scarped all together, is an epitome of the major political and economic injustices that have lingered on unresolved for far too long. Political subordination and denial of self-governance, rising poverty and increasing unemployment rate among Oromo households because of the policy of land eviction and language discrimination, are some of the fundamental questions. The ongoing movement is an expression of demand for an international scrutiny towards the Ethiopian regime’s system of wealth distribution and economic regulation in the ethnically structured federal system of the country.

 

Over the last quarter of century, the Oromo people have been ruthlessly targeted for their identity, falling prey to one of the authoritarian regimes in the continent. For example, various reports indicate that about 90% of the political prisoners in Ethiopian prison are exclusively made up of the Oromo. Not only did this create a deep-seated grievance among the Oromo, but also displayed the inept political leadership of the incumbent, potentially risking long-term stability of the region. The condensed account of political and economic discrimination based on identity, language and culture, the widespread and systematic violation of fundamental rights to property, crumbling land security, complete non-existence of freedom of assembly and of the press are some of the rudiments that are heating up the recent Oromo civil movement. These questions are as old as the coming into power of the current regime itself, or well beyond. The surreptitiously designed Addis Master Plan is the latest iteration of the long-standing policy of dispossessing the Oromo from their property, this time under the shibboleth of “urbanization” and “development.”

 

Humanitarian Crises: regime’s breach of common Article 3 of Geneva Convention
With the civilian protestors facing a regime that has no hesitation to use the national military force, a humanitarian crises has unfolded at an alarming rate. In some cases the government has deployed military helicopters to transport military personnel to the protest sites. We have witnessed that the regime’s military response doesn’t have moral boundary. I suspect the regime is oblivious to the fact that the whole world is watching.
Material breach-by the regime’s military force-of humanitarian obligation also continues to take place in several other forms. For example, in Wallaga, reports indicate that medical professionals are being beaten and arrested for treating wounded protesters. In Najjo town, Ambo and Burayu, security forces have occupied hospital compounds and other medical facilities in order to detain, deny and refuse admittance of the fatally injured protesters. In fact, the same type of cruelty has been witnessed during the 2014 Oromo protest. Of course, this kind of material breach of international humanitarian duty could also be considered as a constitutive element of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 

Furthermore, the regime’s moral revulsion against the protestors is well indicated in the pervasive and horrifying acts of group rapes allegedly committed by members of the military  in a number of villages and university campuses. Some reports also reveal a disturbing account of a wife who was raped at night in front of her husband. It is clear that rape has always been used as a tool of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in different countries at different times. That is why International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) developed a legal theory under which an act of rape could give rise to a joint criminal conviction for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Any viable solution?
The movement is an expressed demand for sustainable peace, justice, democracy, equality and true development that had been lacking in the country over the last 25 years. Apparently, the existing model of governance couldn’t extend to the greater public beyond the elites and a few members of a group who are affiliated with the regime. In fact, that is why Ethiopia is on the brink of famine with over 20 million Ethiopian people in need of urgent food, the majority of the affected being the Oromo. The number of Ethiopian youths that very frequently perish in the Mediterranean Sea while running away from home should put the lie to the government’s claim of the double digit growth. The stories thousands of our sisters living in an almost slavery-like situation in the Middle East should be a sufficient indication of how the travesty of the assertion Ethiopia’s fast economic growth.

 

 

The recent movement filled with ultimate self-sacrifice is the latest episode in Oromo’s quest for a better future and legitimate self-governance. The movement understands that unchecked state power in Ethiopia has been the problem and not the solution to economic development. The movement is an ultimate negation of the regime’s grandiloquent declaration of the recent 100% parliamentary win. It is the movement that is guarding and protecting the constitution from the government that was supposed to defend it. At the end of the day, the movement is a demand for reconfiguration and restructuring of the politics of the country. Of all, the movement is a plea for the permanent removal of the metastasized political cancer that that has diminished the lives and existence of the Oromo.
So, it is possible that the movement will soon culminate in being a sole driving force for the emergence of a new Ethiopia that all can call home. Oromo children’s blood gushing like a river on every street of Oromo city is a timely proof for a well-deserved moral leadership in the country. Over the last two months, the incumbent regime has conveyed a message to the Oromo and all other Ethiopians that it cannot lead the country; that its moral integrity is already corrupted, busted and politically bankrupt. The regime didn’t cash in on the benefit of the doubt it was granted 25 years ago. Now, it is a prime time for the people to step up their games by owning and showing the right leadership. That is the only way out.


 

 

Ed’s Note: Henok Gabisa is Visiting International Law Fellow based at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia. He can be reached at GabisaH@wlu.edu. The opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect Addis Standard’s editorial guideline.

 

Opinion: Oromo Protests: Marking the next Ethiopian political chapter