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Why Is Western media ignoring ongoing atrocity in Ethiopia? April 7, 2017

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Ethnic Oromo students rally together as they demand the end of foreign land grabs marching with placards on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2014. Image: FlickrCC

She spoke to me with tears in her eyes describing the calculated execution of her own people. Even though Atsede Kazachew feels relatively safe as an Ethnic Amharic Ethiopian woman living inside the United States, she is grieving for all her fellow ethnic Ethiopians both Amharic and Omoro who have been mercilessly killed inside her own country.

“There is no one in the United States who understands,” outlined Atsede. “Why? Why?” she asked as her shaking hands were brought close to her face to hide her eyes.

The Irreecha Holy Festival is a hallowed annual celebration for North East Africa’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo people. Bringing together what has been counted as up to two million people, who live near and far away from the city of Bishoftu, the Irreecha Festival is a annual gathering of spiritual, social and religious significance. It is also a time to appreciate life itself as well as a celebration for the upcoming harvest in the rural regions.

Tragically on Sunday October 2, 2016 the event ended in what Ethiopia’s government said was 55 deaths but what locals described as up to 700 deaths and casualties.

“The Ethiopian government is engaged in its bloodiest crackdown in a decade, but the scale of this crisis has barely registered internationally…,” outlined UK Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) David Mepham in a June 16, 2016 media release published by the International Business Times.

“For the past seven months, security forces have fired live ammunition into crowds and carried out summary executions…” added Mepham.

So what has the U.S. been doing about the present crisis situation in Ethiopia?

With a long relationship of diplomacy that spans over 100 years beginning in 1903, that builds up the U.S. to consider Ethiopia as an ‘anchor nation’ on the African continent, corrupt politics and long range U.S. investors in the region are an integral part of the problem. All of it works a head in the sand policies that pander to the status of the ‘’quid pro quo’.

Spurred on by what locals described as Ethiopia military members who disrupted the gathering by threatening those who came to attend the holiday event; the then makeshift military threw tear gas and gun shots into the crowd. The voices of many of those who were present described a “massive stampede” ending in numerous deaths.

“This has all been so hard for me to watch,” Atseda outlined as she described what she witnessed on a variety of videos that captured the ongoing government militarization and violence in the region. “And there’s been little to no coverage on this,” she added. “Western media has been ignoring the situation with way too little news stories.”

“Do you think this is also an attempt by the Ethiopian military to commit genocide against the ethnic Omoro people?” I asked.

“Yes,” she answered. The Amharic and the Omoro people have suffered so very much over many years, outlined Atsede. Much of it lately has been about government land grabs, on land that has belonged to the same families for generations, Atsede continued.

The details on the topic of apparent land grabs wasn’t something I knew very much about in the region, even though I’ve been covering international news and land grabs in Asia Pacific and China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region along with the plight of global women and human rights cases for over a decade.

One lone woman stands out surrounded by men during her march with Ethiopia’a Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a national self-determination organization that has worked to stop atrocity against rural ethnics inside Ethiopia beginning as far back as 1973. Today the Ethiopian government continues to classify the OLF as a terrorist organization. In this image the look on this unnamed woman’s face says “a-thousand-words.” Image: Jonathan Alpeyrie/Wikimedia Commons

Numerous ethnic women living inside Ethiopia today in 2017 are attempting to work toward peace in the northern and southern regions of Ethiopia as they continue to witness the destructive crackdown of the government against rural farming communities.

Under conditions of internal national and border conflict, ethnic Ethiopian women can often face increased stress under forced relocation, personal contact with unwanted violence including domestic abuse and rape, and discriminatory conditions for their family and children that can also affect conditions causing food insecurity and loss.

Increasing land grabs play an integral part of high levels of stress for women who normally want to live with their family in peace without struggle. But corruption on the leadership levels inside Ethiopia are encouraging land acquisitions that ignore the needs of families who have lived on the same land for centuries.

As Ethiopia’s high level business interests continue to be strongly affected by insider deals under both local and global politics the way back to peace is becoming more and more difficult.

Even foreign government advocacy agencies like the World Bank, DFID, as well as members of the European Union, have suffered from ongoing accusations of political pandering and corrupt practices with business interests inside Ethiopia.

With the release of the film ‘Dead Donkeys / Fear No Hyenas’ by Swedish film director Joakim Demmer the global public eye is beginning to open widely in understanding how land grab corruption works inside East Africa. With a story that took seven years to complete the film is now working to expand its audience through an April 2017 Kickstarter campaign.

“Dead Donkeys / Fear No Hyenas was triggered by a seemingly trivial scene at the airport in Addis Ababa, six years back. Waiting for my flight late at night, I happened to see some tired workers at the tarmac who were loading food products on an airplane destined for Europe. At the same time, another team was busy unloading sacks with food aid from a second plane. It took some time to realize the real meaning of it – that this famine struck country, where millions are dependent on food aid, is actually exporting food to the western world,” outlined film director Demmer.

It’s no wonder that anger has spread among Ethiopia’s ethnic farming region.

“The anger also came over the ignorance, cynicism and sometimes pure stupidity of international societies like the EU, DFID, World Bank etc., whose intentions might mostly be good, but in this case, ends up supporting a dictatorship and a disastrous development with our tax money, instead of helping the people…,” continued Demmer in his recent Kickstarter campaign.

“What I found was that lives were being destroyed,” added Demmer in another recent March 28, 2017 interview with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute. ”I discovered that the World Bank and other development institutions, financed by tax money, were contributing to these developments in the region. I was ashamed, also ashamed that European and American companies were involved in this.”

“Yes. And yes again,” concurred Atsede in her discussion with me as we talked about big money, vested interests and U.S. investors inside Ethiopia, including other interests coming from the UK, China, Canada and more.

As regional farmers are pushed from generational land against their will, in what has been expressed as “long term and hard to understand foreign leasing agreements”, ongoing street protests have met numerous times with severe and lethal violence from government sanctioned security officers.

Ironically some U.S. foreign oil investments in the region vamped up purchasing as former U.S. State Department Deputy Secretary Antony Blinken showed approval of the Dijbouti-Ethiopia pipeline project during a press meeting in Ethiopia in February 2016.

In April 2017, as anger with the region’s ethnic population expands, Ethiopia has opted to run its government with a four month extension as President Mulatu Teshome Wirtu announced a continuation of the “State of Emergency.”

“How long can Ethiopia’s State of Emergency keep the lid on anger?” asks a recent headline in The Guardian News. Land rights, land grabs and the growing anger of the Oromo people is not predicted to stop anytime soon.

The ongoing situation could cost additional lives and heightened violence say numerous human rights and land rights experts.

“The government needs to rein in the security forces, free anyone being held wrongfully, and hold accountable soldiers and police who used excessive force,” said Human Rights Watch Deputy Regional Africa Director Leslie Lefko.

“How can you breathe if you aren’t able to say what you want to say,” echoed Atsede Kazachew. “Instead you get killed.”



Huntington Post: The Blog: What Is Going On In Ethiopia? #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution October 23, 2016

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What Is Going On In Ethiopia?

By Charlotte Allan,  , Lawyer, Blogger, Hyper-Activist, Huntington Post, 20 October 2016



(Huntington Post) — The athlete looked up at the sky when he crossed the finish line, and made an X shape above his head with his wrists. The stadium cheered, a new moment in history was made. Later when he took to the podium with ‘Ethiopia’ written across his top to collect a medal for the marathon he had run, he made the gesture again.

Two months after the 2016 Olympics, this protest salute made by runner Feyisa Lilesa before a TV audience of millions, is still the most audacious red flag on what was a largely ignored iceberg. The iceberg being the Ethiopian state’s deadly crackdown on its Oromo people. His protest was in support of the struggles of an estimated forty million Oromo in Ethiopia’s Oromia region against an authoritarian rule historically committed to keeping them in their place. In a month that has seen Ethiopia call a State of Emergency in an attempt to stop the massive Oromo protests from spreading, Lilesa’s daring stand and thewill he-or-won’t he question of whether he will return to Ethiopia continues to force the subject onto the global news agenda and encourages people to ask: who are the Oromo and why are they protesting?

The answers lie in the history of the Oromo. The Oromia region was once made up of autonomous sultanates with distinct cultural traditions. Its people lived on the land for over five hundred years before the Abyssinian Empire moved in and established its new capital of Addis Ababa in the centre of Oromia at the end of the 1800s. What followed was a mass eviction of the Oromo, and then a state waged campaign against them, continued to this day by the modern Ethiopian government, which has previously sought to extinguish Oromo traditions, ban the language of Oromiffa in schools, and prevent Oromo civil and political status.

For the last year, the Oromo have been protesting the Ethiopian government’s plans to extend the capital into Oromia further still, however in recent months the protests have turned into a broader call for a multi-ethnic government, justice and the application of the rule of law. The Amhara ethnic group, their number estimated at 20 million, have now begun their own protests in the Amhara region and voiced their concern at a repressive government made up of one ethnic group. However since the protests began, at least 500 deaths have been confirmed, reports of torture and forced disappearances are widespread and an additional one thousand people have been detained so far in October alone.

Media attention on the protests therefore couldn’t come at a more important time. Since Lilesa’s salute and following a horrific stampede at an Oromo thanksgiving festival at the start of October, killing between 52 and 300 people (concrete figures are difficult to come by in Ethiopia) after police used teargas, rubber bullets and batons on protesters, the Ethiopian government has ordered a six month state of emergency. It has also continued to blame the violence and deaths at protests on banded opposition groups and gangs funded by Ethiopia and Eritrea, the former of which has already denied the claim and the latter of which has maintained a frosty silence. Human Rights groups however implicate the security forces in the deaths.

As a result of the state of emergency, Ethiopia is on lock down. Foreign diplomats have been banned from travelling more than 40kms outside the capital, protests in schools, universities and other higher education institutions are forbidden, there are country-wide curfews, security services are barred from resigning, satellite TV, pro-opposition news and foreign news are banned and posting links on social media a criminal activity. In short, there is a total news black-out of anything that is not state sponsored.

On the African continent, condemnation of Ethiopia’s actions by African governments has been very quiet. However, the protests have been well covered by African media and civil society organizations particularly in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa, while protests supporting the Oromo have taken place in South Africa and Egypt.

Although it is disappointing that African governments have not spoken out, it is important that the Ethiopian diaspora, along with African and global civil society continue to call loudly for an independent investigation into the deaths and violence occurring and that wealthy Western governments continue to evaluate their support for the increasingly authoritarian Ethiopian state.

Indeed an independent investigation is key and not without precedent. The Burundian government vowed to cooperate with an African Union investigation into state abuses only this week. However, the Ethiopian government should also be pressed to pass inclusive multi-ethnic state reforms as quickly as possible before this crisis escalates. The Oromo and Amhara are 65% of the Ethiopian population so it is suggested the Ethiopian government tread more thoughtfully and less violently because as precedents on the continent show, mismanagement can lead to devastating losses in any numbers game.

Lawyer, Blogger, Hyper-Activist

Charlotte Allan is a lawyer and human rights activist from the UK. She has lived in Egypt, Switzerland, France and Tanzania, and is currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa as the Policy & Advocacy Officer for CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. She has previously worked as a Protection Advisor for UNHCR and as a Legal Advisor for African Middle Eastern Refugee Assistance (AMERA). Her specialisms are refugee law, women’s rights and global protest movements while her other passion is using pop culture to engage youth in politics and activism. You may tweet with Charlotte at twitter

The Huffington Post: The Ethiopian Intifada is a Response to extreme Internal Repression September 10, 2016

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Quebec City Marathon winner, Oromo athlete, Ebisa Ejigu,   replicates Rio Olympic medallist’s #OromoProtests. p2Athlete Fraol Ebissa Won the Germany 10Km race and shows his solidarity with #OromoProtests. 4 September 2016. p2#OromoProtests iconic picture

Boycott the  fascist TPLF and its business. #OromoProtests  at  Naqamte  6 September 2016

The Ethiopian Intifada is a Response to extreme Internal Repression

By Yohannes Woldemariam  The Huffington Post, 15 August 2016

Ethiopians cite disputes over land, ethnicity and indiscriminate killings of protestors as the real causes of the Ethiopian “intifada”. But if one believes the Ethiopian spokesman, Mr.Getachew Reda, the protests in Gondar and Oromia are somehow remotely orchestrated and stage managed from Eritrea. Mr. Reda, with his outrageous claims, is increasingly sounding as clownish as the late Saddam’s information minister, comical Ali. He rarely addresses the real causes of the protests: the forceful incorporation of Wolkayt region into Tigray or the daylight land robbery in Oromia― all in the name of “development”. The government spokesman attributes the Oromo, Muslim, and the Wolkayt protests to infiltration from Eritrea, Saudi Arabia or Egypt. This false claim is another example of utter contempt and disrespect for the people by an arrogant government official who is out of touch with the heartbeat of the people.

It is true that there is no love lost between the ruling regimes in Eritrea and Ethiopia but it is absurd to believe that Eritrea, even it so desires can stir up the kind of uprising occurring in Ethiopia. It simply has no such power to do so. The border between the two countries is one of the most militarized borders in the world and one under heavy surveillance. An uprising of this scale cannot be initiated by an outside force. Such a claim is an insult to the pride and intelligence of the Ethiopian people.

The overwhelming narrative in the Western media portrays Ethiopia as a source of stability in a troubled region, as an economic powerhouse with a potential to surpass Kenya and join the club of countries like South Africa as well as a pacifying regional force and a bulwark against terrorism. There is little critical reporting on the country which means international readers have a skewed and partial picture at best. Unless one has the time and the motivation to dig deeper, one would not know that the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), the dominant group within the ruling coalition, has in fact destabilized the region, rules over a deeply divided and aggrieved populace, which in actual fact is responsible for worsening terrorism in Somalia. The core of the TPLF is an ideological group which behaves like a chameleon depending on the audience and responsible for the atmosphere of tension and the expensive militarization of the region.

The TPLF has carried out egregious human rights violations; the regime has become even more repressive with each year by systematically limiting political space, taking 100% parliamentary seats in the lower house, detaining members, discrimination and harassment of Amharas, Muslims and the Oromo; it has all but blocked legal political participation for these groups.

Ethiopians of all stripes and not just the Oromo, are sick and tired of the regime in Ethiopia and the suffering they must endure challenging it while Ethiopia enjoys impunity and protection from the powers that be. The ongoing protests in different parts of the country are not connected or coordinated and appear to be spontaneous protests. Participants in the protests embody resistance to their increasing marginalization, which are ongoing and spreading. More recently, the protesters in Gondar proclaimed solidarity with the Oromo uprising in the South. For a regime that thrives on divide and rule, this solidarity is a worrisome sign and perhaps signals the beginning of its dissolution.

It also seems the tired scapegoating of Eritrea for its own domestic woes is increasingly ineffective. Imaginary scapegoats and bogeymen had served the regime well but there are now indications that ordinary Ethiopians are beginning to see that Eritreans are not natural enemies of Ethiopians, as the regime has depicted. This is a good sign that the populations are beginning to recognize the essential brotherhood of all the peoples of the region: this could be the leap of faith which was missing due to the influence of intensive propaganda by dictatorial rulers for the last six plus decades. Recent headlines also give hope that the era of impunity may end sooner than later. Headlines like these from major newspapers:

(1) Ethiopia must allow in International observers after Killings

(2) Ethiopia’s regime has killed hundreds. Why is the West still giving it aid?

(3) ‘A Generation Is Protesting’ in Ethiopia, Long a U.S. Ally

(4) America’s complicity in Ethiopia’s horrors

are new. The massacre that occurred over the first weekend of August may have jarred the radar of the international media but their overall failure to register the pattern of it has been the norm for almost as long as the TPLF has been in power. The genocidal policies towards the Anuak in the Gambella region received little international publicity. Rioting Muslims were effectively and brutally silenced. The TPLF marginalized both the legal and the extra-legal opposition arresting prominent leaders like Professor Bekele Gerba, a prominent Oromo intellectual and human rights activist. Professor Bekele Gerba and other prominent leaders are protesting their treatment in detention by staging a hunger strike.

Resentment to TPLF rule extends to the movement’s home base of Tigray, where most of the population feel left out by the TPLF elites interested only in making money and investing it in the capital or abroad.

Despite a dishonest attempt to externalize the issue, Ethiopian Muslims, who number anywhere from 40% to 50% of the population, and the Oromo have historically been marginalized, and the protest is very much homegrown and rooted in a long list of grievances. When it comes to the thugs running Ethiopia today, whatever happened to the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect? Rewarding the TPLF with a non-permanent membership in both the Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council, despite its dismal human rights record, is cruel and cynical.

This tribalist regime must go and the criminals at the helm must answer for their crimes. A first step is investigation by aindependent observers as recommended by the UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein. Predictably and true to character, the TPLF regime is refusing to allow in neutral outside UN observers. The regime has a pattern of ignoring international norms and laws, when it doesn’t suit it.

The Ethiopian people desperately need relief and healing. The region needs to be spared from this dangerous and fanatical warmongers. Ethiopia deserves imaginative leaders who can prevent fragmentation and are cognizant of the complexity of the society, who can see beyond tribe, and discern and appreciate the mosaic of ethnicities that make the country beautiful and rich. The West should stop enabling this murderous thugs. China should stop bailing out this regime and other African dictators and begin to care about the human rights of Africans!

HP: Ethiopia’s Bloody Crackdown: The Case for International Justice. #OromoProtests August 18, 2016

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Grand #OromoProtests Global Solidarity Rally, 16 August 2016 Held in London 13

The Huffington Post

Ethiopia's Bloody Crackdown. The Case for International Justice

Click here to read: Ethiopia’s Bloody Crackdown: The Case for International Justice.

Oromia: The Huffington Post: Ethiopia Is Brutally Cracking Down On Months Of #OromoProtests January 22, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo students movement, Say no to the expansions of Addis Ababa, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia.
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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 global solidarity rally, South Africa. 17 January 2016Agazi, fascist TPLF Ethiopia's forces attacking unarmed and peaceful #OromoProtests in Baabichaa town central Oromia (w. Shawa) , December 10, 2015

Ethiopia Is Brutally Cracking Down On Months Of Protests

Human rights groups say at least 140 people have been killed in protests over a land expansion plan.

January 22, 2016

A protest outside the United Nations in New York City. Human Rights Watch claims the Ethiopian government has killed over 140 protesters in demonstrations over the Addis Abba expansion plan.

Every week, we bring you one overlooked aspect of stories that made news in recent days. Did you notice the media forgot all about another story’s basic facts? Tweet @TheWorldPost or let us know on our Facebook page.

In Ethiopia, 2016 is off to a violent start. Authorities in the East African nation have killed at least 140 people in a brutal crackdown on protests over the last two-and-a-half months, according to human rights groups, amounting to the worst ethnic violence in years.

The violence has brought renewed attention to the struggle over land rights and political tensions in the country and it has highlighted rights abuses in a nation deemed an important U.S. ally in the fight against terror.

Anger Mounts In Oromia In The Fall Of 2015.

In November 2015, discontent intensified in Ethiopia’s Oromia region over a government plan to expand the borders of the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, into the surrounding rural areas.

Protesters marched to voice their opposition, fearing that the state’s Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan, as the proposal is called, would seize land from the Oromia region’s marginalized Oromo ethnic group, which makes up around 35 percent of Ethiopia’s population. The area of Oromia that the city seeks to incorporate is already home to two million people, according to Human Rights Watch.

The protesters’ fears were informed by years of deep discontent with the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front. Though the nation’s capital of Addis Ababa is surrounded by the ethnic Oromia region, the city was established by the Amhara people, The Washington Post notes. As the city expanded, there have been clashes over forcible evictions, as well as ethnic and linguistic identity. Furthermore, the authoritarian government has a history of attempting to stamp out dissent, especially among ethnic groups it views as being in opposition to its ruling coalition.

Over 5,000 Oromos have been arrested on charges relating to protests and dissent in the past five years, according to an Amnesty International report. Oromos who were detained were sometimes subject to horrific abuse, including rape, torture and beatings.

A map of Ethiopia, which shows the capital of Addis Ababa. The Oromia region makes up two-thirds of the country, and surrounds the capital.

Security Forces Respond Forcefully

Demonstrations spread throughout the Oromia region over the course of November, as groups including farmers and students rallied against the government.

Ethiopian authorities responded to the largely peaceful protests with force, seeking to quash the growing dissent. Police used live ammunition to disperse protesters at rallies, activists and rights groups say, killing dozens of people in separate incidents in the areas around Addis Ababa.

As the unrest continued through December, rights groups also reported widespread arrests, beatings and torture at the hands of security services. Even senior members of opposition parties, including Bekele Gerba, a prominent member of the Oromo Federalist Congress — the largest Oromo political party — did not escape the crackdown.


And The Protests Escalate. 

The security forces’ crackdown on demonstrators failed to prevent the protest movement from intensifying — it actually expanded its demands to also call for an end to police brutality. As of the end of December, over 140 people had been killed in the protests, according to Human Rights Watch — and the rising death toll began to attract international criticism.

The United States, which has collaborated with Ethiopia on anti-terror efforts and until last September operated a drone base out of the country, issued a statement of concern and called for the government to allow peaceful protests.

Instead of moving toward reconciliation, however, the government doubled down on its position. Authorities denied protesters’ requests to hold rallies in Addis Ababa and accused the Oromo protesters of committing terrorism in a bid to destabilize the government.

As demonstrations continued, the Ethiopian government finally caved to the months of pressure on Jan. 13, and scrapped its expansion plan.


What’s Next?

While the protests met their initial goal of stopping the urban expansion, demonstrators have been invigorated by the crackdown and have continued to rally against the government.

“The complaints of the protesters have now expanded to include the killing of peaceful protesters and decades of marginalization,” Human Rights Watch Horn of Africa researcher Felix Horne told The WorldPost over email.

What began as a protest over land rights is now representative of a number of grievances with the government and ruling EPRDF. Ethiopia has seen a period of rapid economic growth in the past 10 years, but its urban and industrial expansion has also resulted in land disputes, corruption and authoritarian crackdowns on opposition groups.

As demonstrators increasingly demand solutions for Ethiopia’s many social and political problems, rights groups worry that the unrest and violence will continue.

“Human Rights Watch continues to receive reports daily about excessive force being used by security forces in Oromia,” Horne said. “The death toll continues to rise and the arrests continue.”