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UNPO: Oromo: Violent Oppression and Disregard for Human Rights Continue as State of Emergency Gets Prolonged April 4, 2017

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Oromo: Violent Oppression and Disregard for Human Rights Continue as State of Emergency Gets Prolonged

Photo courtesy of J. Pandolfo/Flickr

 

On 30 March 2017, the Ethiopian Parliament voted to extend the state of emergency it had first declared in October 2016. The decision made by the parliament – which is fully controlled by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic front (EPRDF) – paves the way for further state-sponsored oppression of the Oromo people as it empowers the Council of Ministers to “suspend such political and democratic rights guaranteed by the constitution.” The Tigray-dominated government abuses the state of emergency for political purposes, conveniently neglecting the fact that the suspension of political and democratic rights allowed under a state of emergency does not absolve the Ethiopian government from its human rights obligations.  Although Oromo protests have virtually disappeared as the region is now a de-facto military state, the Ethiopian government justifies the prolongation of the state of emergency with the alleged necessity to assure a “point of no return” for Oromo protests. This decision illustrates the Ethiopian government’s increasing disrespect for human rights and its abuse of political instruments to quench any form of dissent. 

 

Below is an article published by OPride:

The Ethiopian parliament on March 30, 2017 voted to extend by four months the state of emergency it declared in October 2016 to suppress the unprecedented Oromo protests that engulfed the country for a year and a half. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) controls every seat in the legislature after claiming 100 percent victory in the May 2015 elections.

Ethiopia adopted the emergency law under the pretext that ‘foreign elements’ are threatening the country’s peace and security. The draconian decree was drawing closer to its sixth month end, when on Thursday, Siraj Fegessa, Ethiopia’s Minister of Defense and Head of the Command Post – a body established to oversee the decree – told lawmakers, despite relative peace and security in the country, a prolongation is required to ensure that the repression of Oromo protests reaches “a point of no return.”

Even before the declaration of the martial law, Ethiopian security forces have summarily killed over 1,000 peaceful protesters and committed a range of serious human rights violations. By declaring the state of emergency, authorities sought to intensify the crackdown on Oromo uprising. One particular phrase in the constitution’s state of emergency clause ((Art 93(4)(b)) especially appealed to Ethiopia’s authoritarian government. It empowers the Council of Ministers to ‘suspend such political and democratic rights’ guaranteed under the constitution.

Not every disturbance warrants the declaration of an emergency decree. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Ethiopia ratified in 1993, stipulates that the “situation must amount to a public emergency which threatens the life of the nation” for member states to proclaim a state of emergency. The treaty emphasizes the paramount importance of human rights safeguards even during the exercise of such “temporary and exceptional” decree.

In other words, the power to ‘suspend political and democratic rights’ does not absolve Ethiopia from its human rights obligations. Yet since the declaration of the state of emergency, the already dismal human rights condition in Oromia took a turn for the worst. The emergency measures empowered the Command Post to conduct arbitrary arrests and searches without a warrant, impose curfews and suspend basic human rights guaranteed both under the 1993 treaty and the Ethiopian constitution.

In fact, the Constitution limits the scope of the Council of Ministers power to suspend rights guaranteed under the law in the same provision that confers such powers on it. Accordingly, the law stipulates that the suspension shall be ‘to the extent necessary to avert the conditions that required the declaration of the state of emergency.’ In addition, ICCPR states that measures taken during the state of emergency should be limited to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.

The Ethiopian Constitution and other international instruments that Ethiopia ratified, particularly the ICCPR, provide for non-derogable rights that cannot be suspended even during a state of emergency. Notably, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights has no derogation clause obligating Ethiopia to uphold all the provisions of the Charter even during a state of emergency.

Ethiopia’s constitution explicitly states provisions dealing with the federal state structure and some basic individual and collective human rights as non-derogable rights. As such the government cannot derogate from individual rights against inhuman treatment or punishment, right to equality and nation, nationalities and people’s right to self-determination including the right to secession. The constitutional requirement to interpret the human rights chapter of the Ethiopian constitution in conformity with the ICCPR also makes the Right to Life a non-derogable right. In the absence of a derogation clause, the African Charter goes one step further and obligates Ethiopia to uphold all the rights guaranteed under the Charter.

In declaring a nationwide state of emergency, Ethiopian authorities tried to legitimize the extrajudicial killings and other heinous crimes committed through direct act or omission of its security forces most notably during the grand Oromo protests across Oromia, the Irreechaa massacre, the Qilinto prison fire and killings in Amhara region during protests against the incorporation of Wolkait region into the state of Tigray.

During the last five months, under the cover of the state of emergency, Ethiopia resorted to yet more repression and violent use of government power to crush peaceful Oromo dissent rather than addressing legitimate Oromo demands. Even by government’s own account, authorities detained  , hoarding detainees into overcrowded ‘rehabilitation camps’ under terrible conditions.

Ethiopian authorities have now arrested and charged most of the senior leadership of the sole legally registered Oromo political party, the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). Prominent advocates of nonviolent struggle, including Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa, and other defendants, were charged under the sweeping anti-terrorism proclamation for allegedly inciting the Oromo protests.

The chairman of OFC, Dr. Merera Gudina, was also arrested in December upon his return from testifying before the European Parliament in Brussels by the invitation by EU Parliamentarian, Ana Gomez. In a letter addressed to the Ethiopian Prime Minister, the President of European Parliament, Martin Schultz, raised concerns about Merera’s arrest noting that he took part ‘in meetings in the European Parliament’ which he said is “a House of Democracy where different voices can be heard from foreign governments and representatives of opposition groups.”

On February 23 [2017], prosecutors brought four counts of criminal charges against Merera, alleging that he violated the State of Emergency regulation, the country’s Penal Code and Anti-terrorism proclamation provisions. These politically motivated charges include an attempt to disrupt constitutional order by instigating Oromo protests, meeting individuals designated as ‘terrorists’ during his EU visit and giving interviews critical of the government to the Voice of America radio.

The state of emergency has been used together with the anti-terrorism law to intensify government crackdown on Oromo dissent. Since its adoption in 2009, the Anti-terrorism proclamation has been instrumentalized to clamp down on Oromo dissent. In 2011, the EPRDF controlled parliament proscribed the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) as a terrorist organization. Since then, Ethiopia has heavily relied on vague and broad provisions of the terrorism law to criminalize what the government deems “encourages or provides moral support’ for the OLF.

Ethiopia uses various mechanisms to restrict and maintain its stranglehold on the free flow of information including censorship, intimidation and arrest of journalists and bloggers. The emergency regulation and a provision of the terrorism law bans reporting on Oromo protests and other events that the government says constitutes providing moral support for the OLF. This has made an already embattled Oromo media even more vulnerable. The chilling effect forced independent publishers, including the Addis Standard, which reported extensively on the Oromo protests, to suspend their print magazines.

Notwithstanding its obligations under the Constitution and international instruments it ratified, Ethiopia has been trampling over the non-derogable individual and collective rights of the Oromo. As stated in ICCPR General Comment 29, government measures with regard to rights from which these instruments permit derogation were not tailored to the exigencies of the situation for the duration, geographical coverage, and material scope.

On March 15 [2017], the Command Post had lifted some of the emergency restrictions, including arbitrary arrests and search without warrant, curfews, and bans on the media citing the relative calm in Oromia. Fegessa told reporters that “the situation for which the restrictions were imposed could now be treated on a regular law enforcement processes.”

Given the relative calm in Oromia today, the exigencies that authorities cited to declare the state of emergency do not justify its extension. Instead, Ethiopia has now put Oromia under a de facto military rule, leaving little room for nonviolent Oromo dissent. The sustained protests that drew international attention to the plight of the Oromo people shattering the make-believe ‘Ethiopia rising’ narrative were unprecedented but the Oromo quest for freedom and self-determination did not start in 2015. It’s been going on in the background during the entirety of EPRDF’s dictatorial reign, often withstanding persistent crackdown on nonviolent Oromo dissent.

Prior to his arrest, Merera warned that Ethiopia will descend into an armed conflict if EPRDF does not address the demand of the Oromo people. The state of emergency might enable the government to intensify repression in the short term but it certainly will not crush the Oromo dissent to “a point of no return.” On the contrary, continued official repression is hardening public grievances and making the Oromo people ever more skeptical of nonviolent resistance as a way to achieve their freedom.

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Ethiopia’s increasing outmigration highlights wider economic and security problems March 31, 2017

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89% of Ethiopians who migrated to Yemen in January 2017 identified themselves as Oromo


The current domestic tensions and political repression plaguing the country are other key factors driving Ethiopian migration. They stem from the ongoing tensions between the majority Oromo ethnic population and the ruling Tigrayans, which boiled over into major protests in November 2015 over the Oromo’s perceived political and economic marginalisation. The government responded by cracking down on protesters and anyone believed to be involved. Since the initial clampdown, Human Rights Watch has recorded the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces and the arbitrary detention of tens of thousands more. The state of emergency imposed by the government in October 2016 has also led to further restrictions on the media and political opposition parties.
The government is unwilling to engage in serious dialogue with opposition groups, so these tensions will likely continue to propel migration from the country. The ethnicity of these migrants tellingly reflects Ethiopia’s domestic politics: for example, 89% of Ethiopians who migrated to Yemen in January 2017 identified themselves as Oromo. This speaks to the influence of internal tensions on outward migration flows and reflects an ongoing trend, as Oromo comprise a growing proportion of the Ethiopians migrating.

 

Ethiopia’s domestic issues must be addressed in order to stem the increasing flow of people out of the country.


The IISS Voices blog features timely comment and analysis on international affairs and security

Ethiopian migrants

By Anastasia Voronkova, Editor, Armed Conflict Survey; Research Fellow for Armed Conflict and Armed Conflict Database, and Caitlin Vito, Coordinator, Office of the Director of Studies


Ethiopia is a major source country of migrants. A lack of economic opportunities, demographic challenges, food insecurity and rising domestic tensions are all contributing to significant numbers of Ethiopians being on the move.

Although the country has been one of Africa’s top-performing economies for the past ten years and a regular recipient of foreign aid and investment, the general population still faces widespread unemployment and a lack of economic opportunities. Around 20 million Ethiopians live below the poverty line, so economic opportunity abroad continues to be a major driving force for migration. Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population of just over 100 million – of which more than 60% are under the age of 24 – exacerbates the difficulty of securing sustainable livelihoods, leading many to seek opportunity elsewhere. Compounding these economic and demographic challenges are the current drought and famine devastating parts of the Horn of Africa. The resulting severe food insecurity is forcing many Ethiopians to uproot themselves to find subsistence.

The current domestic tensions and political repression plaguing the country are other key factors driving Ethiopian migration. They stem from the ongoing tensions between the majority Oromo ethnic population and the ruling Tigrayans, which boiled over into major protests in November 2015 over the Oromo’s perceived political and economic marginalisation. The government responded by cracking down on protesters and anyone believed to be involved. Since the initial clampdown, Human Rights Watch has recorded the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces and the arbitrary detention of tens of thousands more. The state of emergency imposed by the government in October 2016 has also led to further restrictions on the media and political opposition parties.

Although major protests seem to have subsided for now, grievances over disputed land and a lack of political freedom persist. The government is unwilling to engage in serious dialogue with opposition groups, so these tensions will likely continue to propel migration from the country. The ethnicity of these migrants tellingly reflects Ethiopia’s domestic politics: for example, 89% of Ethiopians who migrated to Yemen in January 2017 identified themselves as Oromo. This speaks to the influence of internal tensions on outward migration flows and reflects an ongoing trend, as Oromo comprise a growing proportion of the Ethiopians migrating.

Many Ethiopians, especially younger generations, transit primarily through Yemen but also Djibouti, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan and Kenya in search of economic opportunities in the Middle East. A recent report published by the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat highlights that around 15,000 people a year, mostly Ethiopians, use the so-called ‘southern’ migration route from the Horn of Africa to South Africa, which is regarded as relatively economically prosperous. The research also notes that migrant smuggling along the southern route is consistently high. Most Ethiopian migrants, particularly those travelling via Kenya and Tanzania, use a smuggler or broker to facilitate parts of their journey. Such smuggling activities are reported to be frequently accompanied by violence, kidnappings and exploitation.

Children and women workers in Ethiopia

Although Ethiopia is a key participant in the EU’s Migration Partnership Framework – aimed at addressing the challenges of managing migration along the Central Mediterranean Route (via Libya to Europe), as well as supporting returns and better border management – major obstacles remain in terms of improving security, and solving the political and economic crises in the region that are contributing to unprecedented flows of irregular migrants. As the experience of regional neighbours, Mali and Libya in particular, demonstrates, ‘breaking the business model of smugglers’ – one of the goals of the Migration Partnership Framework – can be especially difficult when state weakness, a near absence of central government and the resulting spaces with limited governance – foment insecurity, making it easier for smuggling, criminal and armed networks to operate with greater power and determination, on a larger scale and to their advantage. More economic opportunities must be created for the growing youth populations in Ethiopia and beyond. Enabling them to engage more directly in economic life and developing employment opportunities, while also helping to address underlying political tensions, would reduce the incentive to leave and the risk of being lured into illegal networks.

This will be a hugely difficult task, the implementation of which is likely to proceed at a very slow pace. While the government is making efforts to increase employment, through programmes such as its Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II 2015–16 to 2019–20), which injects funding into major infrastructure projects, it must ensure that the fruits of these projects trickle down and are not held by government elites. Donor aid to increase employment must also be used more effectively. This will require better governance at the national level and the empowerment of local authorities to ensure that robust mechanisms are in place to hold officials accountable.


This post originally appeared in the Armed Conflict Database (ACD), which provides monitoring, data and analysis on armed conflicts worldwide, ranging from rebellions and insurgencies to civil wars and inter-state conflicts.

Oromo-American Citizen Council (OACC): Extension of the State of Emergency-All is Not Well in Oromia March 31, 2017

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Press Release: Oromo-American Citizen Council (OACC)

For immediate release: March 30, 2017


Extension of the State of Emergency-All is Not Well in Oromia


On October 8, 2016, in the wake of the 2016 October Irrecha Massacre, the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency for a period of six months. Today, by a unanimous vote, the pseudo-parliament has extended the declaration for 4 months. This is a clear indication that all is not well in Ethiopia.

Following the state of Emergency, most areas of Oromia and some areas in the Amhara state were virtually put under a military rule called a Command Post. Under the rule of the Command Post, the previous serious human rights violations in Oromia were further intensified and caused an alarming and untold misery on the people.

Today, by and large, Oromia is turned into one big prison camp. State structures are overtaken by a military rule, and special paramilitary Agazi force comprising mainly of Tigrean are terrorizing the population. Anybody could be jailed and tortured at any time for just being born an Oromo. Schools, public services, Commerce, farms, and all other trades and vocations were disrupted. People lived in the last six months under a constant fear of imprisonment, torture and execution.

It is this state of affairs that the Ethiopian pseudo parliament today prolonged for six more months. Even before the declaration of the state of emergency, Ethiopia was not by any stretch of imagination a democratic state where the rights of the population were respected. With the introduction of the State of Emergency, however, things just went from bad to worse. Furthermore, the extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, tortures and imprisonment were simply normalized and legalized.

In today’s Ethiopia, the state of emergency has become the new normal. The prolonging of this perverse repression and torturous situation will have its toll and a long lasting consequence. In order to normalize its brutal repression, the government tries to dismiss the Oromo Protest as triggered by outside forces, and itself as efficient enforcer of law and order. Additionally, it tries to normalize it by portraying the state of emergency as a needed temporary measure.

However much the government tries to justify its brute actions and normalize its violence, the Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopia will not accept this state of affair and live in their own land as animals in a cage. What exists in Ethiopia today is not normal, and it is the moral obligation of everyone to resist and bring an end to it.

Oromo-American Citizens Council (OACC) is a Minnesota non-profit organization established and functioning since 2002. We are made up of Oromo-Americans and others who are concerned about Oromo issues. Among others, we advocate for equal rights of Oromos in Ethiopia, expose human rights violations, and help initiate dialogue and reconciliation among various Ethiopian groups.

Fascist Ethiopia’s regime (TPLF) extends its state of emergency by four months March 30, 2017

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Al Jazeera : Ethiopia extends state of emergency by four months

Opposition parties complain that the emergency is being used to clamp down on their members and activities.


The country’s ruling coalition is controlled primarily by the Tigray ethnic group, who accounts for only 6 percent of the population [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]
The country’s ruling coalition is controlled primarily by the Tigray ethnic group, who accounts for only 6 percent of the population [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

The Ethiopian parliament has extended by four months a state of emergency it declared six months ago after almost a year of often violent anti-government demonstrations.

The widely expected extension comes amid reports of continued violence and anti-government activities in some rural areas.

At least 500 people were killed by security forces during the year of protests, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch group – a figure the government later echoed.

“We still have some anti-peace elements that are active and want to capitalise on disputes that arise among regional states in the country,” Ethiopia’s defence minister, Siraj Fegessa, told MPs when he called on them to approve the extension on Thursday.

“In addition, some leaders of the violent acts that we witnessed before are still at large and are disseminating wrong information to incite violence.”

Opposition parties complain that the emergency powers are being used to clamp down on their members and activities, especially in rural regions far from the capital, Addis Ababa.

The state of emergency, declared on October 9, was a reaction to protests that were especially persistent in the Oromia region. Many members of the Oromo ethnic group say they are marginalised and that they do not have access to political power, something the government denies.

OPINION: The Oromo protests have changed Ethiopia

A wave of anger was triggered by a development scheme for Addis Ababa, which would have seen its boundaries extended into Oromia. Demonstrators saw it as a land grab that would force farmers off their land.

The protests soon spread to the Amhara region in the north, where locals argued that decades-old federal boundaries had cut off many ethnic Amharas from the region.

Crushed to death

Map of Oromia region in Ethiopia [Al Jazeera]

The Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups together make up about 60 percent of Ethiopia’s population.

The country’s ruling coalition, which has been in power for a quarter of a century, is controlled primarily by the Tigray ethnic group, who make up six percent of the population.

Tensions reached an all-time high after a stampede in which at least 52 people were crushed to death fleeing security forces at a protest that grew out of a religious festival in the town of Bishoftu on October 2nd.

In the following days, rioters torched several mostly foreign-owned factories and other buildings that they claimed were built on seized land.

The government, though, blamed rebel groups and foreign-based dissidents for stoking the violence.

The state of emergency initially included curfews, social media blocks, restrictions on opposition party activity and a ban on diplomats traveling more than 40 kilometres outside the capital without approval.

Authorities arrested over 11,000 people during its first month.

Some provisions of the state of emergency were relaxed on March 15th, two weeks prior to Thursday’s announced extension. Arrests and searches without court orders were stopped, and restrictions on radio, television and theatre were dropped.

Protesters run from tear gas being fired by police during Irreecha, the religious festival in Bishoftu where at least 52 people died [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

AI: ETHIOPIA TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT: License to torture March 29, 2017

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A license to torture

Seyoum Teshome is a professor at a university in Ethiopia and writes to fight the spread of fear that has engulfed his country as a result of an increasingly repressive administration. In September 2016, Seyoum was arrested and charged with incitement to violence against the state. In this blog, he describes the treatment of prisoners in one of Ethiopia’s rehabilitation centres, where he was detained further to his arrest. Thousands of Ethiopians like Seyoum have been arrested and tortured in rehabilitation centres since the state of emergency was imposed in October 2016.

It was around 6:30 am on 30 September 2016 when I was rudely awakened by loud knocks on my door and someone shouting out my name. Peeping through the keyhole, I saw around 10 local police officers. Some of them were staring at the door while others were guarding the corridor.

I said to myself, “Yap! At last…here you go, they have come for you!”

One of them asked if I was Mr Seyoum Teshome to which I replied in the affirmative. They said they wanted to talk to me for a moment, so I opened the door. They showed me a court warrant which gave them permission to search my house. The warrant indicated that I had illegal weapons and pamphlets to incite violence against the government.

Accused without evidence

After searching my entire house and despite finding no signs of the said items, they arrested and took me to a local police station. They also carried off my laptop, smartphone, notebooks and some papers. Confident that they hadn’t found the items mentioned in the court warrant, I was certain of my release. However, three hours later, I found myself being interrogated by a local public prosecutor and two police investigators. The interrogation eventually led to the commencement of a legal charge.

I was scheduled to sit a PhD entry exam on 2 October 2017 at Addis Ababa University, something I had been working towards for a very long time. Throughout the interrogation, my pleas for the case to be hastened so that I wouldn’t miss the rare opportunity to pursue a PhD course fell on deaf ears. My colleagues had provided a car and allowance fee for a police officer to go with me to the university so that I could sit the exam. This is a standard procedure. Yet on that day, they were not willing to lend me a hand. I was stuck in pre-trial detention due to Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and missed my chance.

Little did I know that, in just 12 hours, I would be the state’s guest for merely expressing my opinion.
Seyoum Teshome

The day before my arrest, I had given an interview to Deutche Welle-Amharic radio station about the nation-wide teachers meeting where I commented that, in Ethiopia, expressing one’s own opinion could lead to arrest, exile or possibly death. Little did I know that, in just 12 hours, I would be the state’s guest for merely expressing my opinion.

On 3 October 2016, I was presented in court. I was accused of writing articles and posts on social media sites aiming to incite violence against the government. In addition to the two notebooks and papers they had taken from my house, the investigator had also printed 61 pages of the 58 articles I posted on the Horn Affairs website that year. In total, they brought more than 200 pages of written and printed writings as evidence to support their allegations. I denied all the charges.

Another court session was scheduled in 10 days to allow the police to conclude their investigations. The 10 days lapsed and the police requested an additional seven days to complete their investigations on me while denying me bail.

On 20 October 2016, a jury found there was no evidence to support the police department’s claims. I thought the matter was over but I was immediately accused of contravening the State of Emergency that had been declared on 9 October 2017. A piece of paper with some writing on it was presented as evidence to support the charge.

Barely survived

The Police initially took me to Tolay Military Camp and later transferred me, together with others arrested, to Woliso Woreda Police Station in central Ethiopia, outside Addis Ababa.  We were shoved into a 3×5 metres squared detention room where we joined more than 45 other people already there. It was very hard to find a place to sit. I survived suffocation by breathing through a hole beneath the door. After that terrible night, I was taken back to Tolay where I stayed until 21 December, 2016 – 56 days after my arrest.

Access to food in the first 20 days was limited. We were made to walk while crouching with our hands behind our heads. We also walked barefoot to and from the toilet and dining areas. Due to this treatment, three of my fellow detainees suffered cardiac arrest. I don’t know whether or not they survived. I also heard that a woman’s pregnancy was terminated.

Every day, a police officer came to our room and called out the names of detainees to be taken for the so-called “investigation.”  When they returned, the detainees had downtrodden faces and horrible wounds on their backs and legs.  Waiting for one’s name to be called was agony.

The healing wound on the back of Seyoum’s leg after being beaten with wood and plastic sticks while in detention.

It took eight days before my name was finally called. I sat in front of five investigators flanked on either side by two others. While I was being interrogated, detainees in another room were being beaten. I could hear them crying and begging their torturers to stop.

Moved by what I had witnessed, I decided to secretly gather the detainees’ information. It didn’t take long before I was discovered by the authorities. On a hot afternoon, they came to my room and called my name. A group of investigators ruthlessly began beating me, to the point where I fainted three times. The beatings were unbearable so I finally confessed to collecting information in the camp. The chief investigator was then called in so that I could also confess to him.

Undeterred

By then, I had gained enough strength to renounce my earlier confessions which angered   the Chief Investigator very much. He drew a pistol and threatened to kill me for making a fool out of them. I stretched turned around and spread my arms wide.  Then, I said, “Fear of death doesn’t make me confess against myself! Go ahead, shoot!”

Amazingly, the commander ordered me to go to my room and take a shower. I didn’t believe it. I still don’t. I quickly ran off. I was released a little over two weeks later.

Though I finally left Tolay, those memories and emotions are still with me. Though I am still afraid of another arbitrary arrest and being sent back to prison, what I fear more is the totalitarian state that complete denies freedom. . While there, I told myself that, if I made it out, I would raise international awareness on the government’s outrageous treatment of prisoners.

I will continue to do so as long as Tolay exists.

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Human Rights League: ETHIOPIA: The Ethiopian Government is Plotting a War Among the Nations and Nationalities in Ethiopia February 28, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistHuman rights League of the Horn of Africatplf-ethiopias-federal-army-abbay-tsehaye-and-samora-yunus-are-architects-of-the-ongoing-ethnic-cleansing-against-oromo-in-south-and-eastern-oromia

ETHIOPIA:  The Ethiopian Government is Plotting a War Among  the Nations and Nationalities in Ethiopia

 

HRLHA Press Release


HRLHAFebruary 26, 2017

The  Ethiopian Somali Liyu Police led by the Ethiopian Federal government’s killing squad have been engaged in a cruel war for the past six months against the Oromo nation in fifteen districts of Oromia.   The Oromia districts that have been invaded by the two aforementioned forces are in east and east- west Hararge Zone, Eastern Oromia,  Guji,  Borana and  Bale, South Oromia zones, Southern Oromia of Oromia Regional State.

Nations

Somali Liyu Police Invading Southern Oromia

The Ethiopian Federal government, which in theory has a state duty and a responsibility to bring peace and harmony among the nations and nationalities in the country, is actually engaged in instigating a war between the Ethiopian Somali and Oromo nations. High casualties have been registered on both sides in the past six months.  Hundreds of Ethiopian Somali Liyu Police led by the Federal government’s killing squad have entered into Oromia villages, attacked and killed and abducted hundreds of Oromos and looted properties; over 750 goats, ships,  and camels were taken.

According to the HRLHA informants, the Oromia Regional State nominal administrative leaders, including Lema Megersa- the president- turned a blind eye while the citizens they claimed to be governing have been killed,  abducted, and displaced from their lands and villages  and dehumanized by the warriors of the  Ethiopian Somali Liyu Police led by the Federal government of Ethiopa’s killing squad.

Recently, the invasion into Oromia has expanded into the western part of Oromia Regional State. The Federal government force in Gambela crossed into West Wallaga, Oromia Regional State villages and displaced thousands of Oromos in Qelem Zone of Anfillo and Yatii districts. The HRLHA informants also disclosed that the Ethiopian Killing squad force is on intensive training on the western side of Oromia regional state boundary in Benshangul regional state preparing to invade Oromo villages in the western part of Wallaga zone of Oromia Regional State.

During the recent skirmish between Liyu  Police and Oromo people on February 23, 2017, in  Bale, Sawena district at Qilessa village Southern Oromia,  19 Oromos were killed and 13 wounded. In the same fight,  35 were killed and 50 wounded from the Ethiopian Somali Liyu  Police invaders by Oromo civilian resistance force.

According to the HRLHA informants, the total casualties in connection with the invasion by the  Ethiopian -Somali Liyu Police led by the Federal government’s killing squad in Oromia Zones of Guji, Borana, Bale and east and west Hararge zones caused the deaths of over 200 Oromos and injured over 150 and many were abducted and taken to Somali Region. The report from our informants also confirmed  Oromo self-defense civilians killed over 260 invaders,  members of  Liyu police and Ethiopian Federal Killing squads, and injured many others.

This meaningless and reckless action by the Ethiopian Federal government will destabilize the region in general and Ethiopia in particular.

It is clear that the  Ethiopian Federal government is demonstrating its hidden agenda- to eliminate the Oromo nation under the pretext of boundary conflict between nations and nationalities. During the  Oromo self-defense attack against Somali  Liyu Police, many invaders were killed and others injured. This shows that the plan to invade  Oromia in all directions may lead to a  civil war, which suggests that the Federal  Government of Ethiopia is deliberately plotting to cause a war among nations and nationalities in the country.

Background

Ethiopians have been under extreme repression ever since  October 8, 2016- a State of Emergency in fact.  The Ethiopian government has used a state of emergency in order to kill, imprison and abduct citizens from their homes and workplaces in Oromia and Amhara regional states. During the past four months- under the State of Emergency- over  70,000 Oromos,  including pregnant women, seniors and underage children have been taken to concentration camps in Xolay, Zubway, Didessa, Huriso and other places. There, they have been tortured, exposed to communicable diseases and malnutrition from which hundreds have died.

 

The cause of the civilian unrest in Ethiopia during the past two years was the marginalization of the citizens from the political and fair distribution of their economic resources; they have also been evicted from their ancestral lands without consultation and compensation. Evictions from the land around the city of Addis Ababa after the declaration of ” The Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan”- evictions which have confronted by the Oromo nation from all walks of lives and have caused the deaths of over 2000 Oromos by the federal government sniper force Agazi- still continue. In the Month of February over 200 People have been displaced by the government and their lands have been taken.  Every day a number of people are detained all over Oromia and Amhara regional States and tortured.

Today, over ten million Ethiopians are daily exposed to hunger and poverty while the Ethiopian government has invested billions of dollars of foreign aid in training killing squads to kill its own people, claiming that Ethiopians were not dying from hunger and poverty.

A call on International Communities:

  • The HRLHA once again renews its calls to the international community to act collectively in a timely and decisive manner to request the Ethiopian government to stop instigating war among the Nations and nationalities in Ethiopia, a situation that could easily lead to civil war.
  • The HRLHA further requests that members of the UN Human Rights Council urge the Ethiopian government to allow the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteurs to visit the country to assess the human rights situations of political prisoners and others in detention centers all over the country
  • The HRLHA calls upon major donor governments, including the USA, UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Australia to make sure that their aid money is not used to train the Ethiopian Government’s killing squads to dehumanize the citizens of Ethiopia

Copied To:

  • UN Human Rights Council
    OHCHR address: 
    Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
    Palais Wilson
    52 rue des Pâquis
    CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Africa Union (AU)
    African Union Headquarters
    P.O. Box 3243 | Roosevelt Street (Old Airport Area) | W21K19 | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    Tel: (251) 11 551 77 00 | Fax: (251) 11 551 78 44
    Webmaster: webmaster@africa-union.org
  • The US Department of State
    WASHINGTON, D.C. HEADQUARTERS
    (202) 895-3500
    OFMInfo@state.gov
    Office of Foreign Missions
    2201 C Street NW
    Room 2236
    Washington, D.C. 20520
    Customer Service Center
    3507 International Place NW
    Washington, D.C. 20522-3303

 

Ethiopia in Crisis: What is going on now in Oromia is a massacre in the name of emergency, terrorising civilian populations January 31, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistun-copyNo To Fascist TPLF Ethiopia's genocidal militarism and mass killings in Oromia, Ethiopia

 

Ethiopia in crisis, closes down news

By Ismail Einashe, sage Journals


oromo-people


ETHIOPIA HAS BEEN in lockdown for months. There has been a state of emergency declared and there is little news coming in and out of the country.  Social media and the internet have been outlawed, religious and cultural events banned, curfews imposed. Thousands of soldiers are roaming the streets.

It escalated after security services started killing people at the annual Irreechaa festival for the Oromos in Bishoftu in October 2016 This thanksgiving celebration of the Oromos is attended by millions from across Ethiopia and the diaspora. They wear traditional clothes and sing songs of resistance. As Ethiopia declares a state of emergency, Ismail Einashe explains some of the history to the current situation

For Oromos, Irreechaa is their most significant cultural event, and even though they are evenly split between Christians and Muslims, they all share ties to the original Oromo faith, Waaqefanna.

But at this year’s festival there was a stampede and attack by the Ethiopian police. The numbers killed are disputed – the government said 52 were killed, but activists from the Oromo Federalist Congress claim 678 people died.

And since pictures of the festival goers who were killed were published internationally, the state has shut down all access to the outside world. Behind the tragedy at Irreechaa is a long history of the Ethiopian state repressing Oromos, said Dr Awol Kassim Allo, an Ethiopian lecturer at the UK’s Keele University. “What is going on now in Oromia is a massacre in the name of emergency, terrorising civilian populations to force them into capitulation,” he said.

What is going on now in Oromia is a massacre in the name of emergency, terrorising civilian populations

He added: “The massacre at Irreechaa occurred before the state of emergency, although Ethiopia has always been under a state of emergency, the official declaration of emergency was a conclusive evidence that the state was losing control and that a large segment of the society has rejected the government’s authority to govern”.

Celebrating their traditions and wearing traditional dress, as the Oromos were doing at Irreechaa, has historically been part of the resistance to the government in Ethiopia, according to Mohammed Ademo, founder and editor of OPride.com, a multimedia news site focused on Ethiopia’s Oromo community, and now based in the USA.

Recently, many Oromos have begun to eschew Western attire completely and wear Oromo clothes. Oromo clothing has been more visible on the streets. This way of dressing is becoming a cornerstone of their identity and self- expression.

Traditional Oromo clothes consist of woya for men, which are toga-like robes, usually white, and a skirt called a wandabo for women. Oromo women also wear qollo and sadetta, cotton cloths traditionally hand-spun and hand-woven, and sometimes other garments are worn such as leather or animal skin robes.

On Facebook there are numerous groups now dedicated to dissecting the latest fashion styles of Oromo dress and there are popular style blogs that enjoy a huge following. Latest pop hits by Oromo artists heavily feature Oromo clothes – along with dances.

 

Peri Klemm, a professor in African history of art at the University of California at San Diego and expert on Oromo dress, said: “At times when identity is threatened, dress, particularly that of Oromo women who have always been the carriers of culture, becomes a way in which the Oromo maintain a sense of who they are.”


click-here-to-read-in-pdf-sage-journals-ethiopia-in-crisis

 

WP: Ethiopia targets opposition who met with European lawmakers January 10, 2017

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January 9, 2017
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia said Monday it will not release a leading opposition figure detained under the country’s state of emergency after meeting with European lawmakers in Belgium.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told reporters that Merara Gudina of the Oromo Federalist Congress party instead will face justice.

“Individuals in the European Parliament who are harboring anti-peace elements cannot save those who trespass the law of the country,” the prime minister said.

Merara is one of 22,000 people the prime minister said were detained under the state of emergency declared in October after widespread, sometimes deadly anti-government protests. The government has said several thousand have since been released.

Merara was arrested immediately after he returned from Belgium, where he met with the lawmakers about the state of emergency. He was accused of meeting with members of an armed Ethiopian opposition group in Brussels, an act banned under the emergency law.

Photos posted on social media show him sitting next to Birhanu Nega, leader of the armed opposition group called Ginbot 7 that mainly operates from Eritrea, and Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian marathon runner who crossed his wrists in a sign of protest while crossing the finish line at the Rio Olympic Games.

The Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia said the state of emergency’s wide-ranging restrictions have severely affected freedoms of expression and assembly. “Tens of thousands of individuals have been arrested arbitrarily” and dissent and independent reporting have been quashed, it said.

The state of emergency is set to end in May. The prime minister did not indicate it would be extended, but he told reporters that “as far as the date of lifting the state of emergency is concerned, it should be seen in the perspective that we have to consolidate the gains that we have made so far.”


 Fox News: Ethiopia targets opposition who met with European lawmakers

Ethiopia says it will not release a leading opposition figure detained under the country’s state of emergency after meeting with European lawmakers in Belgium.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told reporters on Monday that Merara Gudina of the Oromo Federalist Congress party instead will face justice.

The prime minister says “individuals in the European Parliament who are harboring anti-peace elements cannot save those who trespass the law of the country.”

Merara is one of 22,000 people the prime minister says were detained under the state of emergency declared in October after widespread anti-government protests.

Merara was arrested immediately after he returned from Belgium. He was accused of meeting with members of an armed Ethiopian opposition group in Brussels, an act banned under the emergency law.


 

NO TO IMPUNITY! The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is not an independent institution and that it is incapable of doing human rights monitoring has long been admitted by the regime itself. So, no report it presents is a result of an independent inquiry June 14, 2016

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Odaa OromooSay no to the master killer. Addis Ababa master plan is genocidal plan against Oromo people. Say no.#OromoProtests, Qabosoon itti fufa jedhu aayyoleen#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


NO TO IMPUNITY!!!

By Tsegaye Ararssa)


That the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is not an independent institution and that it is incapable of doing human rights monitoring has long been admitted by the regime itself. So, no report it presents is a result of an independent inquiry. No statement it makes is an impartial statement. What we heard yesterday is not even close to the admission of guilt on the part of the regime made by the Prime Minister and the Spokesperson earlier in the year.
We have yet to see its report, the methods it used, and the personnel it mobilized to conduct its investigation. We have yet to see whom they identified as these “other forces who sought to take advantage of the people”. We have yet to see how “these other forces” are implicated. We have yet to see a full description of who did what so that we can make them responsible. To blame indefinite (and invisible) forces for the people killed (over 500 now), for the people injured (in thousands), and for the people arbitrarily arrested (estimated to be over 50,000), for the destruction of property (through vandalizing and burning of university campuses), for the suspension and dismissal of Oromia’s civil administration unconstitutionally (without even a semblance of legality that could be seen if there were an emergency declaration or a “federal intervention”) is a farce of incredible proportion. And we reject that completely, and we say NO!

Referring to “these other forces” as the responsible bodies without clearly identifying them and without establishing the mode of their involvement is only deflecting responsibility from the regime that acted completely lawlessly (illegally and unconstitutionally) to take “merciless and definitive measures” on protestors and to subject the entire region to military rule. This is simply unacceptable. And we say NO to impunity!

The report claims that the federal army, special forces, federal police, and the entire intelligence personnel was unleashed on Oromia to kill, injure, arrest, and terrorize the people [totally in accordance with the order of the Prime Minister to take “merciless and definitive measures”] on the invitation of the region. However, it doesn’t even care to tell us when was it requested, how it was requested, and according to which rules of procedure (apart from that put in place for a legitimate Federal Intervention in the regions). This is completely illegal and unacceptable. We reject this, and mercilessly and conclusively say NO to that, too!
The report claims that the crisis was caused, among other things, by a misunderstanding of the Master Plan. This suggests that the Master Plan is an appropriate plan. This is utterly unacceptable. We say NO!

By issuing this statement by the EHRC, the regime is now suppressing and displacing the truth of the atrocities it perpetrated on innocent protestors.
We say NO to this suppression of the truth, our truth, just as we say NO to the repression of the protest, and the wider systematic oppression of the Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopia by a regime that has rendered itself not just undemocratic but utterly anti-democratic.
The modest road we suggested from the start remains to be the only road the regime has to take in order to restore peace (and survive this crisis as a regime).
We state it to them again:
1. Rescind the Master Plan unequivocally (both in Addis and in the adjacent Oromia Zones). Take a clear, public stance by issuing a Parliamentary Resolution against the Master Plan.

2. Stop the violence and remove the Army, the Special Force, the Federal Police, and the intelligence personnel from all civilian life in Oromia.

3. Release all the political prisoners arrested in relation to the protest, including political dissidents arbitrarily taken captive in the wake of the re-eruption of the protest.

4. Set up a genuinely independent commission with members and/or observers from international organizations to conduct a proper investigation to the crisis and to make efforts to establish responsibility (political, administrative, legal, and moral) for the harm caused in the process.

5. Take political responsibility as a government, apologize to the public officially (with a clear statement written and delivered in a proper forum fully transparently to the media), and take all appropriate measures to restore the dignity of the victims and pay reparations to the same.

6. Remove all officials who are at the forefront of political and administrative responsibilities, for by being implicated in the bloodbath that they caused in the course of the crisis, they have totally lost the moral legitimacy, the legal competence, and the public credibility to govern.

7. Ensure that those who did and caused the killings, injuries, rapes, tortures, and arbitrary arrests be held legally accountable (in accordance with the criminal law of the country) before an independent court of law. Allow a forensic determination of guilt and punishment in proportion to the degree of their participation. Fail to do this, the regime will be haunted by the possibility of being brought before international justice institutions (or at least they will face the inconvenience of having to defend themselves).

8. The Government in Oromia has lost all the credibility and all the legitimacy (which it never had anyway!) to govern the region. It is imperative that the Caffee Oromia dismiss itself and call for an election before the next parliamentary year (leaving the day to day administration of matters to a care taker government of the old cabinet).

9. Stop all acts of eviction of farmers from their land which, to most of them, is their only means of livelihood. Work towards a better (possessory) tenure security over the plots of land they now have. Stop all activities of land grab and consequent displacement of people everywhere (in Oromia and beyond) even in the name of “development.” Work towards a more legally entrenched, fair, just, and consultative mode of development planning where necessary expropriation is done with due, effective, and adequate compensation.

10. Ensure that the ‘Special Interest’ clause of the constitution is implemented urgently. In the determination of the content of the Special Interest, Oromia’s voice must be properly listened to as well as that of the city government of Addis Ababa. Start a comprehensive, inclusive, open, and genuinely participatory discussion with all the peoples of Ethiopia about where to place the federal Capital city. In an act of bona fide cooperation, the Oromia government should take steps towards suggesting another options and modes for relocating the capital city within or outside of Oromia (and its own contribution, as the largest State in the Federation, towards building the new capital–if this be the option).

These things are doable things. These things are easier things to do for the regime. Anything short of this will only provoke a more vehement and persistent resistance. To do anything less, or anything other than these modest suggestions, is an invitation for further crisis.

We will do everything at our disposal to resist this. We keep saying NO!
We keep saying NO to justification and rationalization of State terror.
We keep saying NO to all forms of impunity for the gross violation of human rights in Oromia and beyond.
We keep saying NO to all forms of eviction from land including through the Master Plan.

https://yerooblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/2587/

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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Ethiopian-land-giveaway#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


Ethiopia: Land – the Perpetual Flashpoint of Ethiopia’s Political Crisis


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OROMO PROTESTS SIGN OF ETHIOPIA’S FAILURE TO ATTAIN SOCIAL PROGRESS

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

The Ethiopian Regime Is Destabilizing the Horn of Africa Region November 12, 2015

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???????????Zenawi the tyrant still rules after death

Ethiopia and Somalia have a long history of mutual distrust and acrimony roughly similar to the history of India and Pakistan. Somalia has border dispute with both Ethiopia and Kenya whose roots are in colonial impositions. It would be just as cynical and foolish for Ethiopia to send troops to Somalia as for India to send troops to Waziristan intending to stabilize its relation with Pakistan.

Regarding democratic elections in Ethiopia, Susan Rice could not contain herself fromchuckling cynically about the regime’s 100% claim of victory. How she could reconcile her sarcasm with her impassioned speech during the mourning for the late Prime Minster, Meles Zenawi, is puzzling. She called those who oppose Meles fools and idiots. After the violence and rigged election of 2005, hopes for any democratic transfer of power in the country have been dashed.

There are also questions raised on the sustainability of the much publicized double- digit economic
growth of Ethiopia, despite the current dramatic makeover of Addis Ababa: the government seems oblivious to the fact that 80% of Ethiopians are peasants even asfamine now threatens 15 million Ethiopians. The impact on the country of the foreignland grab, with its environmental cost and human displacement and the destruction of the pastoralist life style, has received wide coverage. A fertile area the size of Belgium has been leased cheaply to Indian and Saudi investors in the name of development. Along with the environmental costs, the displacement of indigenous pastoralists is enormous.

Mary Harper in her report says that inequality gap in Ethiopia is one of the narrowest in the world. However, a quick search shows that inequality in Ethiopia is one of the highest in the world. Ethiopia’s positioning in UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) is 173rd of 187 countries for the 2013 data. Transparency index ranks Ethiopia 111th of 177 countries for corruption, “with a score of 33 on a scale where 100 means very clean and 0 means highly corrupt.” The country suffers from high levels of bribery and those with access to state power act in brutally self-interested and exploitative ways. By most accounts, polarized ethnic divisions in the country have led to winner-take-all situations.

In an ideal scenario, the brotherly people of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia, whose fates are intertwined by geography and history, need cooperation and trade between and within themselves based on mutual respect for basic human rights and due regard for the health of the environment. Increased militarization and fragmentation will only entrench existing cycles of violence, death, displacement, environmental degradation and famine.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yohannes-woldemariam/the-ethiopian-regime-is-d_b_8507642.html

The Ethiopian Regime Is Destabilizing the Horn of Africa Region

huffingtonpost.com

By Associate Professor of International Relations and Environmental Studies at Fort Lewis College

The Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn claims Al-Shabab is diminishing with Ethiopian support to the Somali government. He also told BBC Africa editor, Mary Harper, that “Ethiopians are satisfied with the system of government in the country.”

During the interview, PM Desalegn painted a very rosy picture of the situation in Ethiopia and its dealings with the region. The regime seems to be on a charm offensive with the Western media. According to Mary Harper, PM Desalegn requested for the interview, which was conducted impromptu. After listening to the interview, I wished Ms. Harper had scrutinized the PM a bit more on Eritrea and Somalia as she did with his domestic human rights violations. For example, the PM was never confronted on the important issue of the boundary demarcation with Eritrea. He freely pontificated on the issue of refugees without being challenged about the role of the Ethiopian regime in refugee production.

One can easily make a case that in fact Ethiopia is destabilizing the region through its interventions in Somalia and its insidious refusal to implement the verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Ethiopia has chosen to blackmail Eritrea with impunity through a “no war, no peace” strategy assisted by successive U.S. administrations. As a result, Eritrean survival as a state is increasingly threatened, exacerbating the acute issue of refugee flows.

The Eritrean regime’s response of indefinite conscription of its population into the military is having disastrous consequences. Eritrea is hemorrhaging and experiencing unsustainable brain drain. A whole generation is being wasted in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan, and those who made it farther are suffering all the tragic consequences of life-in-exile. The Ethiopian regime, while claiming the moral high ground, appears to be enjoying humiliating Eritreans by every means available.

Mr. Girma Asmerom, who is the Eritrean envoy to the UN, dubiously claims that the reason for the exodus is economic and that the pull factor from Europe exerts a “pull factor” when it “freely” grants asylum to Eritreans. He also blames Eritrea’s suffering on a conspiracy by Western countries to weaken the regime. It is true, as Mr. Asmerom also asserts, that many African countries in addition to Ethiopia are experiencing unprecedented migrations of their own; neverthelsss, the Eritrean exodus is numerically more alarming and qualitatively different from other migrations in Africa.

To dismiss it as motivated primariy by economics is to wallow in a dangerous self-serving denial. Indeed, there can be no doubt that a major cause of the refugee exodus is the indefinite military conscription by the Eritrean regime and by the loss of even basic freedoms for the people. The Eritrean government has declared a self-defeating war on the Eritrean people while deceptively affording the same Ethiopian government the opportunity to play the magnanimity game.

It is also true that the U.S. continues to reward the Ethiopian government despite its intransigence in the face of accusations of human rights abuses and other flagrant violations of international law. The U.S. wrongly and stubbornly assumes that Ethiopia is a stabilizing force for the region.

Faced with isolation from the world community as well as by UN sanctions and Ethiopian belligerence, the Eritrean regime appears to be looking to strengthen its alliances with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. There are reports that Eritrea is “making available…its land, territorial waters and airspace to conduct military operations” against the Houthis in Yemen in exchange for fuel and monetary compensation. About 400 Eritreans are also said to be embedded with troops from the UAE/Saudi campaign in the Yemeni civil war.

If true, this is a dramatic turnaround after the rumors that Eritrea was serving as an Iranian conduit for the transfer of weapons to the Houthis. It appears that the latent Ethiopian ambition to snatch and annex the port of Assab, its refusal to demarcate the border between the two countries, and the effectiveness of Ethiopian campaign to isolate the Eritrean regime may have driven it to entangle itself in the Yemeni conflict. The Yemeni conflict started out as a local civil war but is increasingly a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The Ethiopian regime has been able to get away with its belligerent policies partially because it has powerful friends within the Clinton and Obama administrations in the person of Dr. Susan Rice. Her influence is quite depressing for any self-respecting African: Dr. Rice actually advised “the Clinton White House…to avoid any public recognition that actual genocide was being committed [in Rwanda], because to do so would legally require the United States to take action.”

According to Howard French, a keen observer of Africa, writing in The Atlantic and quoting Samantha Power, says that Rice has a “Cold War” approach to African politics, who supports African strong men whom she approves of — regardless of their human rights track record and complete disregard for international law. Salem Solomon, writing an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times articulates the destructive role that Susan Rice has played with the Eritrea Ethiopia dispute.

Decisions by the likes of Susan Rice impact the lives of so many like we witness with the youth exodus from Eritrea. It should be noted that Ethiopia has a population approaching 100 million while Eritrea’s population is approximately 5-6 million. I fear that increasing Ethiopian bravado over U.S. support may cause more states to collapse in the Horn of Africa.
U.S. military involvement in Africa is much deeper than is generally acknowledged. The U.S. has a base in Arba Minch, Ethiopia, which it uses to unleash drone operations in Somalia, in addition to camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

The U.S. encouraged Ethiopian intervention in Somalia in 2006 with disastrous implications. Any one with a cursory understanding of the region knows that Ethiopian intervention only strengthened the extremists in Somalia, resulting in the emergence of Al-Shabab. Even as PM Desalegn was claiming in his interview that Al Shabab is “diminished,” it struck with a suicide attack in Mogadishu against a well-fortified hotel which hosts foreign journalists and important Somali political and military figures. The violence shows no sign of abating. If anything, it has expanded into the neighboring countries of Kenya and Uganda.

Ethiopia and Somalia have a long history of mutual distrust and acrimony roughly similar to the history of India and Pakistan. Somalia has border dispute with both Ethiopia and Kenya whose roots are in colonial impositions. It would be just as cynical and foolish for Ethiopia to send troops to Somalia as for India to send troops to Waziristan intending to stabilize its relation with Pakistan.

Regarding democratic elections in Ethiopia, Susan Rice could not contain herself fromchuckling cynically about the regime’s 100% claim of victory. How she could reconcile her sarcasm with her impassioned speech during the mourning for the late Prime Minster, Meles Zenawi, is puzzling. She called those who oppose Meles fools and idiots. After the violence and rigged election of 2005, hopes for any democratic transfer of power in the country have been dashed.

There are also questions raised on the sustainability of the much publicized double- digit economic
growth of Ethiopia, despite the current dramatic makeover of Addis Ababa: the government seems oblivious to the fact that 80% of Ethiopians are peasants even asfamine now threatens 15 million Ethiopians. The impact on the country of the foreignland grab, with its environmental cost and human displacement and the destruction of the pastoralist life style, has received wide coverage. A fertile area the size of Belgium has been leased cheaply to Indian and Saudi investors in the name of development. Along with the environmental costs, the displacement of indigenous pastoralists is enormous.

Mary Harper in her report says that inequality gap in Ethiopia is one of the narrowest in the world. However, a quick search shows that inequality in Ethiopia is one of the highest in the world. Ethiopia’s positioning in UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) is 173rd of 187 countries for the 2013 data. Transparency index ranks Ethiopia 111th of 177 countries for corruption, “with a score of 33 on a scale where 100 means very clean and 0 means highly corrupt.” The country suffers from high levels of bribery and those with access to state power act in brutally self-interested and exploitative ways. By most accounts, polarized ethnic divisions in the country have led to winner-take-all situations.

In an ideal scenario, the brotherly people of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia, whose fates are intertwined by geography and history, need cooperation and trade between and within themselves based on mutual respect for basic human rights and due regard for the health of the environment. Increased militarization and fragmentation will only entrench existing cycles of violence, death, displacement, environmental degradation and famine. As it stands, the egoistic leaders are making the region dangerous and vulnerable to intensive neocolonialist extractive exploitation by the U.S., China, Canada, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others.

GAADDUUN WAYYAANEE SADDEET SAAXILAME November 5, 2015

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???????????Roobsan Falmataa Roorroo's photo.

(Oromedia, Finfinnee, 3 Sadaasa 2015) Mootummaan Wayyaanee karooraa Gaaduu (spy) haaraa Raawwii Saddeet biyya keessa, biyya ollaa fi biyya alaatti facaasuun beekame.

Odeessi nu gahe akak addeessetti, mootummaan Wayyaanee tasgabbii fi jabina moora qabsoo bilisummaa Oromoo keessatti uumamaa dhufetti yaaddaúun gaadduu haaraa bobbaasaa jirti.

“Walii galteen ABO fi jaarmiyooti bilisummaa sabootaa gidduu kana tolfatan naasuu fi yaaddoo itti uumee jira,” kan jedhu odeessi nu gahe kun, “naasuu fi sodaa itti bule kana keessaa bahuuf ijoolleen Tigiree karooraa haaraa saddeet qopheefatanii socho’aa jiran,”jedheera.

A. Ummatni biyyaa akka hin baqanne gochuu fi kan baqatellee tooftaa fi mala adda addaatiin biyyatti akka deebi’an gochuu,

B. ABO dadhabsiisuuf jecha, ilmaan Oromoo biyya ambaatti baqatan gara biyyaatti galchuu,

C. Miseensotaa fi qondaalota, akkasumas namoota sab-boonummaa fi dhageettii ummata biratti qaban ofitti qabuu,

E. ABO keessatti caasaa diriirsuuf waan barbaachisu qopheessuun jaarmayichaa diiguu,

F. Murna Gaadduu (tikaa) jabaa fi qaroo qopheessuun hawaasa fakkaatee hawaasa keessatti maadheffachuun murni kun hawaasa Oromoo akka laaffisu keessaan irratti hojjechuu,

G. Hoogganootaa ABO-jidduutti wal-shakkiin akka uumamu gochuu,

H. Namooti maqaa diyaasporaa jedhamuun biyyatti afeeramanii magaalaa Adaamaa turan biyya alaatti deebisuun akka isaan leenjii kennameef hojjaa irra oolchan gochuu, fi

I. Jaarmiyaa hawaasa Oromoo Oromummaa irratti hundaaée ijaaramee jiruu fi ijaaramaa jiru akka gosaan walqoodanii waldiigan irratti hojjachuun dha.
Odeessi kun dabalee akka adeessetti, miidiyaalee biyya alaa keessa jiran keessatti immoo odeeffannoon sobaa kan maqaa ABO xureessu facaasuun akka umamti Oromoo ABO irraa abdii dhabu taasisuuf karoorfamee jira.
Karoorri wayyaane biraa bahe kun dhuma irrattis, keessayyuu namootiin amma dura hooggana ABO-turanii wayyaanetti galan dirqama kana olaantummaan akka raawwataniif ramadamanii jiru.

Gareen gaadduu kun raawwii hojii kanaa hoggantoota humna tikaa wayyaaneef guyyuu kan gabaasu taúun hubatameera.

Yeroo ammaa kanas namni Biqilaa jedhamu, Lichoo Bukuraa fi Kumsaa Gadaa waliin icciitiin wal qunamuudhaan ABO diiguuf hojjachaa akka jiran odeessi kun dabalee saaxileera.

Oromia: The Agony of Oromo athletes under TPLF Ethiopia’s tyranny. #Africa September 27, 2015

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???????????Stop Torture

Running for their lives, Ethiopians seek a safer track in Washington

Many of the Ethiopian runners belong to the Oromo ethnic group, which accounts for more than one-third of the country’s population, according to the most recent census, making it by far the most populous ethnic group. “Oromo is no good to them,” explained one runner, who was detained three times but never faced charges. 

Oromos hold few positions of power in Ethiopia, and the EPRDF has governed the nation for more than two decades. In May, Ethiopia held its most recent national election, and the EPRDF and its allies swept every one of the 547 parliamentary seats.

“Most of the stories you hear now out of Ethiopia are about this sort of economic growth and development happening,” said Felix Horne, a researcher with the Human Rights Watch, the international watchdog and advocacy group. “But there are real stories about people who aren’t part of that success, who question the government and suffer pain and torture because of it.”

Fleeing persecution in their native country, Ethiopians such as 18-year-old Genet Lire put promising track careers on hold to take refuge in Washington

(The Washington Post) — Genet Lire locked herself in a bathroom stall at Dulles International Airport and hid. The clock was ticking. If she was found, she would have to get on the plane and eventually return home. She feared she surely would be locked up again, probably beaten, and her family terrorized.

The time passed slowly: five minutes, 10, 15, 20. Feet tapped on the tile floor. Doors opened and closed. Every noise and shuffle made Lire’s chest tighten.

This was supposed to be a quick layover. Lire was a 17-year-old sprinter from Ethi­o­pia, here to compete in the junior world championships in Eugene, Ore. But she had no intention of ever reaching the starting line. She and her teammates flew in from Addis Ababa. They rushed to their gate, watched their bags board the big jet, and that’s when Lire saw her chance, slipping away to the bathroom as the flight began to board.

Fleeing persecution in their native country, Ethiopians put promising track careers on hold to take refuge in Washington. Genet Lire cries while looking through an album containing photos of family and friends she left behind in Ethiopia. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

She didn’t know it at the time, but not far from Dulles, in and around the Washington area, there was an entire community of Ethiopian runners in similar situations. They were beaten and persecuted back home, almost all of them for political reasons. They feared for their lives and sought asylum in the United States, most putting their promising running careers on hold for the chance at stable and safe lives.

About three dozen Ethiopian runners have congregated in the Washington area, many in just the past three years, and 12 agreed to share their stories with The Post. Some requested their full names not be used, fearful that their families in Ethiopia would face retribution. The details vary, but some threads are consistent: They all had been imprisoned but never charged with crimes; most used visas they’d received through their track careers to flee; they were all beaten to some degree; and many have struggled to acclimate to a new life, far from family and lacking the time and resources to continue running competitively.

Ethiopian runner Genet Lire's father and mother, center, surrounded by her seven brothers and sisters in front of the family house. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

“They get here and they are physically and emotionally traumatized,” said Kate Sugarman, a Washington physician who has treated many of the runners. “Some of them can’t even run because of the injuries they suffered during their beatings. I think they’ve lost their confidence and arrive here without a lot of hope.”

The runners have varying skill levels, but most are long-distance specialists, having competed in marathons from New York to China. They’ve won big races in Europe and North America and claimed titles across Africa. One man in his mid-20s once completed a marathon in 2 hours 8 minutes. Only two American-born distance runners have ever run faster.

Genet Lire, right, says she misses her friends, seen here, and her family, but she feels that she will have a better life in the United States. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

Lire was a rising star back in Ethiopia, a promising sprinter in a nation of distance runners. Less than a month earlier, she had won the national title in the 400 meters, setting an Ethiopian record. A strong showing at the junior world championships last July would’ve been an important stepping stone to representing Ethiopia in the 2016 Olympics.

Instead she sat in the Dulles bathroom, half-scared she would be spotted and half-scared she wouldn’t. All she had were the clothes on her back and a red Adidas backpack. Inside were photos of her family, friends and the life she was escaping. Lire felt she had no choice. She had spent several weeks discussing the trip to America at length with her family, and they all urged her to flee at the first opportunity.

After 30 minutes, Lire cautiously opened the bathroom door. The plane was gone, with her teammates and coaches aboard. She looked around and approached a man with a friendly face.

Genet Lire, holding medal on the right, poses for a photo with her track club. Less than a month before fleeing Ethiopia, she set a national record in the 400 meters. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

In her native Amharic, she said, “Please help me.”

‘You’ll never go anywhere’

In Addis Ababa, Haile Mengasha refused to join the nation’s ruling political coalition — the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) — and said he was detained for a week in 2012. His interrogators repeatedly struck him in the head and held a flame to his feet. It took 11/2 years to raise enough money, but he finally was able to fly to the United States for a half-marathon with no intentions of returning home. The 25-year-old now works in a Washington liquor store and runs when his aching back allows. Mengasha said many days are “dark” and his future uncertain, but that it beats the alternative.

“I’d rather commit suicide in America than return to Ethiopia,” he said.

Lire smiles as she unpacks groceries delivered to her by another Ethiopian runner in Washington. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

Others share similar stories. Authorities accused them of spreading propaganda or conspiring against the EPRDF. Most of the runners now living in Washington say they were never politically active back in Ethiopia. They simply refused to join the EPRDF. In some cases, their biggest offense was having relatives who refused to join.

“I told them I don’t support any other government. I just wanted to live by myself,” said one runner who was imprisoned for a week in 2010. “I didn’t have any politics.”

Once detained, most were beaten for days on end. For Tesfaye Dube, it was 10.

“They were coming every single day, beating me, saying, ‘We know what you are doing. You are sabotaging, you’re helping the opposition parties. You have to stop doing that or we’ll kill you,’” Dube recalled.

Genet Lire stretches before training on the track at Sidwell Friends. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

For Taddase Hailu, it was seven.

“In the morning, they’d come to take me to a dark place to beat me,” he said. “I’m never sure I’d live the next day.”

Hailu suffered a stab wound in his lower back, was beaten with a baton and kicked with heavy boots. Worst of all, they targeted his back and Achilles’, which two years later still prevents him from running at peak form.

“They told me, ‘If you can’t run, you’ll never go anywhere,’ ” he said.

Most detainments lasted only a few days or weeks. There were never criminal charges, no due process, attorneys or visitors. Often families were unaware their loved ones had even been imprisoned at all.

Many of the Ethiopian runners belong to the Oromo ethnic group, which accounts for more than one-third of the country’s population, according to the most recent census, making it by far the most populous ethnic group. “Oromo is no good to them,” explained one runner, who was detained three times but never faced charges.

Geent Lire recently had to leave a room she was renting because she couldn’t afford the $400 monthly fee. She’s temporarily living on a pullout sofa in the apartment of her imigration lawyer. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

Oromos hold few positions of power in Ethiopia, and the EPRDF has governed the nation for more than two decades. In May, Ethiopia held its most recent national election, and the EPRDF and its allies swept every one of the 547 parliamentary seats.

“Most of the stories you hear now out of Ethiopia are about this sort of economic growth and development happening,” said Felix Horne, a researcher with the Human Rights Watch, the international watchdog and advocacy group. “But there are real stories about people who aren’t part of that success, who question the government and suffer pain and torture because of it.”

A new, and different, home

Lire left the airport with a sympathetic man, who happened to be from Botswana, and began trying to navigate her new life. She was quickly connected with some fellow Ethiopians, nonprofit organizations and a church that offered help.

Ethiopian runner Genet Lire fingers a scar left from a spear thrown by a policeman who had come to arrest her father when she was 8 years-old. Lire did not see a doctor after being hit, but was treated by her mom with herbal medicines. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

For Lire, Washington was nothing like her home, a rural farming community outside a city called Hosaena where her father grew rice and beans. He was part of an opposition party called the Southern Ethiopia Peoples’ Democratic Coalition and faced overt pressure and persecution for years.

Lire remembers one of the first times authorities came for her father. She was just 8, and the entire family was fleeing their home on foot. She sprinted, trying to keep up with her father, and remembers a sudden burst of pain shooting through her body. A spear barely missed her father but struck Lire in the right arm, where a decade later she still bears a scar the size of a tennis ball. She tumbled and became entangled in barbed wire, the metal spikes tearing into her scalp. Her father was carrying Lire’s 3-month-old brother when he tripped and fell. The baby was crushed and died. Lire’s father was taken into custody. He was released after one week but detained many more times in the ensuing years.

Genet Lire filed for asylum six months ago and is still waiting for a response. The process can take months, sometimes more than a year. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

That was around the time Lire started running. Always barefoot, she sprinted everywhere — to school, for chores, around the fields near her home. She won early races wearing flats and a dress and began catching the eyes of local running clubs.

Her running career began garnering attention, and last June, despite being younger than others in the starting blocks, Lire set a national record, running the 400 meters in 51.44 seconds. Her track career was taking off just as she was approaching voting age in Ethiopia. Because she would turn 18 before the national election, she’d been feeling pressure for several months to join the EPRDF. Just like her father, she refused.

“The party is not for the people,” she said.

About three dozen Ethiopian runners have congregated in the Washington area, many in just the past three years. Many ask that their full names not be used, fearful that their families in Ethiopia would face retribution. Here, EB runs in Rock Creek Park. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

She and her family decided that she’d flee Ethiopia at the first opportunity. She won $250 in prize money last May competing at the African Youth Games in Botswana, and she spent half of it on a camera, intent on capturing every facet of her life in Ethiopia. “My history,” she calls it.

Lire didn’t have much time. Last June, just two weeks before the junior world championships in Oregon, she was detained. She recalls a small room, packed with too many people to count — too crowded for everyone to lie down at the same time. Even as plain-clothes security officers made threats about her running career, she knew she was given preferential treatment because of her potential. She was allowed to train in the mornings but was locked up each night, never certain what the next day held, when she’d see her family again or whether she’d be allowed to compete.

Of the Ethiopian runners living in Washington, The Ethipian runners living in Washington have varying skill levels but most are long-distance specialists and have competed in marathons around the world. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

Lire made no promises and refused to pledge loyalty to any political party. After 10 days, she was finally released. Three days later, she said goodbye to her family, stuffed her photo album in the red backpack and boarded a plane for the United States.

‘Still happening in my mind’

The transition is never easy. Arriving in the United States might mitigate some fears, but many other issues quickly surface: a complicated legal system, housing, employment, separation from loved ones. It’s no wonder some runners say they dream of being back home.

“My heart is still always with my family,” said Hussen Betusa, 37, who left his wife in Ethiopia after authorities there detained him for 15 days in 2012. “I’d love to go back, but I cannot. They’d kill me.”

After leaving Ethiopia, EB received regular reports from back home that authorities were looking for him and were regularly harassing his family. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

The transplanted Ethiopian runners abscond to the United States for safety more than opportunity. When they arrive, many struggle to assimilate, often navigating a legal maze to seek asylum as they desperately search for day-to-day normalcy.

EB is one of several runners who’s fearful his family will face retribution if he revealed his full name. The 35-year-old was an accomplished runner who raced in the United States, Europe, plus all over Africa. He’d posted impressive wins over competitive fields and cracked 2:15 on his best marathon days. In 2013, EB had just finished a training run in Addis Ababa when he was stopped and beaten on the street. He went to a police station to file a complaint and that’s when he was arrested. He was detained for 10 days — hitting, slapping, yelling.

“The memories — it’s still happening in my mind,” he said.

EB was released and felt he had no choice: He had to leave Addis Ababa as quickly as possible. “If I stay there, maybe I don’t live much longer,” he said.

So he moved to the United States in the summer of 2013 and slowly started adjusting to his new life. He even entered — and won — an East Coast marathon later that year.

But EB felt like he was living in two places: his body in Washington, his heart and mind some 7,100 miles away. He received reports from back home that authorities were looking for him and were regularly harassing his family. They’d visit his younger sister at school, asking, Where is your brother? Are you talking to him? What is he doing?

This 31-year-old marathoner left his oldest child and wife in Ethiopia when he first fled and was able to bring them to the U.S. one year later. 'I get here, and everything is different. It’s not like what I wished in my mind,' he said. 'I thought it’d change my life. It’s not happening. The opportunity is not like that.' Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

In early 2014, he learned that his younger sister had hanged herself, and he blamed the political tormenters for her death. He also blamed himself. “If I was just man enough to face that,” he said, “my sister would still be alive. It was because of me being here.”

He stopped running. He stopped doing much of anything. EB felt hopeless and spent his days contemplating suicide.

EB met with psychologist Sheetal Patel, who specializes in working with torture survivors. He was barely a shadow then. Patel saw a man who wasn’t living and a runner who wasn’t running.

“There were just so many barriers,” Patel said. “He’d said he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t run. He could barely breathe.”

While the trauma is very real and still very present, Patel said some of EB’s wounds were somatic — his quiet voice became almost muted, the words unable to pass through his throat. Slowly, Patel and the physician Sugarman worked with him, encouraging him to talk, to open up, to lace up his running shoes. Sugarman invited him in January to join her running group for a five-kilometer fun run. And then he did 10k, followed by a half-marathon.

An Ethiopian marathoner helps his oldest child learn with his reading. The child, who spoke no English when he arrived, is now the most fluent in his family. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

It’s a slow, difficult process, EB said. He learned long ago something every good marathon runner must accept: there are points along the course where the pain seems unbearable, where every step feels like it’s surely the last. A marathon is about surviving, enduring agony and somehow finding the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

“Even if there’s pain, you learn to keep going,” EB said.

Saying goodbye to family is perhaps the toughest part for the Ethiopians runners. Many were married back home, some had children. One runner, a 31-year-old marathoner, for example, left behind a wife and 16-month-old son.

“I get here, and everything is different. It’s not like what I wished in my mind,” he said. “I thought it’d change my life. It’s not happening. The opportunity is not like that.”

As Ethiopian runners in D.C. learned, even after filing for asylum, a person must wait 150 days before applying for employment in the United States. That amounts to five months of scrounging for food and shelter. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

The distance from his family resulted in depression. He struggled finding work and steady housing. Like many of the runners, he found some assistance from a nonprofit called Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC), which provides transitional housing, legal assistance, health services, counseling and job placement. The organization serves over 300 survivors annually, about 80 percent of whom are Ethio­pian.

“Some people are literally coming to us straight from the shelter or from the street,” said Gizachew Emiru, TASSC’s executive director. “When they come, most of them come with just the clothes they’re wearing. So when they get here, they’re desperate for everything.”

Even after filing for asylum, a person must wait 150 days before applying for employment in the United States. That amounts to five months of scrounging for food, shelter and under-the-table work. The 31-year-old runner, who had competed in Poland, Germany, Austria and Greece, arrived here in 2010 and cleaned houses and worked in hotels.

His asylum was eventually granted, he was permitted to work legally and after three years apart, his family was allowed to join him in the United States. He’s now a line cook at a Marriott hotel and runs nearly six miles to and from his job each day. That 16-month-old baby is now 5 years old and last month attended his first day of kindergarten.

The path ahead

On a recent warm summer morning, Lire, EB and several other Ethiopian runners gathered in Northwest Washington for a short training session behind Coolidge High School. The Black Lion Athletics Club meets several times a week. Founded by Alan Parra, a local immigration attorney who has represented several of the runners, it operates on a shoestring budget and has become a refuge and meeting place for many of the transplanted Ethiopians.

Their coach stood inside the track with a stopwatch and after just a couple of laps, most of the seasoned runners broke into a sweat. As the others slowed, EB kept moving around the track, his gait smooth, graceful and long. He seemed to be smiling, too, looking every bit like a man who could run forever.

He still speaks just a half-notch above a whisper and is still worried about the harassment his family faces back home. But he’s running again and even has plans to compete in a marathon next spring, which would be his first in more than two years.

“Now I am doing okay,” he said.

Her hair tied in a ponytail, Lire was bent at the waist with hands on her knees as she looked down on her shadow and caught her breath. The sweat made the scar on her arm glisten under the sun.

She is now 18 and still adjusting to her new life. Those early days were difficult. Lire bounced among Ethiopian families and even spent a couple of nights sleeping outdoors. She recently had to leave a room she was renting because she couldn’t afford the $400 monthly fee. She’s now temporarily living with Parra, who’s handling her case, sleeping on a pullout sofa in his one-bedroom apartment.

Lire filed for asylum six months ago and is still waiting for a response. The process can take months, sometimes more than a year. Since 2010 the United States has granted asylum status to at least 8,500 immigrants each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. An average of 388 asylum cases were granted from Ethiopia each year, second only to China.

Lire is slowly piecing together her new life. She’s much younger than many of the other relocated torture survivors, so she has few friends here. She misses her family and tears up flipping through her photo album, her “history.” Lire is learning English by watching YouTube videos and listening to Christian radio. Back in Ethiopia, she’d finished the equivalent of the 10th grade, and Parra is trying to place her in school here. He hopes she might soon be able to run track in college, and beyond that, who knows?

“My goal is Olympics,” she said.

Many of the Ethiopian runners circling the Coolidge track have a similar dream — if not Lire’s talent and potential — but no country to represent. The International Association of Athletics Federation, the governing body for track and field, requires athletes to be citizens of a country in order to represent it in competition. If the athlete changes citizenship, there’s typically a one-year waiting period. The runners who’ve been granted asylum fall into a gray area and must wait for five years before they can apply for U.S. citizenship, a lifetime for an elite athlete.

For now, Lire continues training, her immediate and long-term future equally uncertain. She said she’s both grateful and sad to be here. She tries to chat on the telephone with her family once every couple of weeks but doesn’t know when — or if — she’ll see them again. For now, Lire figures, the best she can do is honor their wishes and keep running as fast as she can.

KPFA Weekend News: War on Terror? US proxies Ethiopia and Rwanda terrorize their own people August 25, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in US-Africa Summit.
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???????????Zenawi the tyrant still rules after death

(KPFA Weekend News,  22nd August 2015): Washington D.C.-based Ethiopian activist Obang Metho says that Ethiopian and Rwandan dictators have been allowed to terrorize their own people because they provide troops for the U.S, War on Terror.

KPFA Weekend News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: Two hundred delegates from African governments and institutions met in Kigali, Rwanda yesterday for a symposium on “democratization and development.” The symposium was organized by the Meles Zenawi Foundation and the African Development Bank. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s successor Hailemariam Desalegn joined Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali, where both spoke of the primacy of state power and African agency in development. Washington D.C.-based Ethiopian activist Obang Metho spoke to KPFA’s Ann Garrison about what was wrong with this picture.

Obang Metho: Thank you very much for giving this opportunity. The whole picture is wrong. The whole picture wrong being that Paul Kagame and then the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, these two gentlemen . . . we cannot talk about them and say that they can bring any new things to Africa.

Obang Metho, center, at the U.S. House Foreign Relations Subcommittee Hearing: Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights, June 20, 2013Why? Because these are two men who came to power, not by the ballot by the bullet. And if you look at it, these are people also who’ve been in power for long. Meles, he died in power. So the whole thing is wrong with the picture.
Like they were talking about development democracy. Where is the democracy? Ethiopia is a country that, in just the election they had in May this year, the government won by 100%..

KPFA/Ann Garrison: I remember that. They won every single seat in Parliament. Now, are you saying that both these governments are minority dictatorship, Rwanda, dictatorship by the 14 percent Tutsi minority, and Ethiopia dictatorship by the 6 percent Tigrean minority?.

OM: Yes, yes, in Ethiopia the 6 percent is the Tigrean ethnic group.

KPFA: It seems that the United States military partnerships with Rwanda and Ethiopia, based on Rwanda and Ethiopia’s willingness to cooperate with American forces insulates both regimes against criticism from the West.

OM: Correct. Correct. Yeah, because if you look at it now, Obama went to Ethiopia last month. When he was in Ethiopia, the speech he gave was that Ethiopia had the top soldiers. He went there for a specific reason. He said Ehtiopia had the top soldiers. So, in other words, instead of sending the Marines over to die in Somalie to fight Al-Shabab or to fight these which they call the terrorists, actually they send the Ethiopians there, pretty much like a contract. So, in the name of security, the Ethiopians work for the West for what they call War on Terror, but these people are actually known for terrorizing their own peoples.

So for that, the Ethiopian government, the ruling ethnic apartheid regime in Ethiopia that terrorizes their own people, they are not being criticized because they are the darling of the West. They’re pretty much that from Bush till Obama. Anything that the West will ask of them, they will do that.

And the hypocrisy, what Obama did when he went there! He called the Ethiopian government a democratically elected government. There’s no way – 100 percent – you know a group can’t win an election by 100 percent. There’s no way they can be democratic

And then Obama called Burundi, the election there, illegitimate, or not credible. Which one is that? The one that claims to win by 67 percent, or the one that claims to win 100 percent?

So my point is the Ethiopians, because of the so-called War on Terror, the regime has not been criticized in the West, not even by the media.

But in the long run, this thing will explode. So this kind of thing, where you side with a dictator and exclude the people, that will sooner or later haunt.. If violence erupts in Ethiopia, and Ethiopians kill each other, that will be the legacy of Obama. There’s no doubt about it, because he’s the one who has supported this group that has isolated itself from Ethiopians.

KPFA: That was Washington D.C.-based Ethiopian activist Obang Metho.

For Pacifica, KPFA, and ArobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

An Insult to the People and Democracy: On the Ethiopian General Election June 19, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Sham elections, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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???????????Deja vu in 2015 Ethiopian ElectionsEthiopia 2015 election in Finfinne volters were not allowed  their phones
An Insult to the People and Democracy

On the Ethiopian General Election

by GRAHAM PEEBLES,  Counterpunch

Every five years the Ethiopian people are invited by the ruling party to take part in a democratic pantomime called ‘General Elections’. Sunday 24th May saw the latest production take to the national stage.

With most opposition party leaders either in prison or abroad, the populace living under a suffocating blanket of fear, and the ruling party having total control over the media, the election result was a foregone conclusion. The European Union, which had observed the 2005 and 2010 elections, refused to send a delegation this time, maintaining their presence would legitimise the farce, and give credibility to the government.

With most ballots counted, the National Election Board of Ethiopia announced the incumbent party to have ‘won’ all “442 seats declared [from a total of 547], leaving the opposition empty-handed…the remaining 105 seats are yet to be announced.” ‘Won’ is not really an accurate description of the election result; as the chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress, Merera Gudina, put it, this “was not an election, it was an organised armed robbery”.

The days leading up to the election saw a regimented display of state arrogance and paranoia, as the government deployed huge numbers of camouflaged security personnel and tanks onto the streets of Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar. For months beforehand anyone suspected of political dissent had been arrested and imprisoned; fabricated charges drawn up with extreme sentencing for the courts, which operate as an extension of the government, to dutifully enforce.

Despite the ruling party’s claims to the contrary, this was not a democratic election and Ethiopia is not, nor has it ever been a democracy.

The country is governed by a brutal dictatorship in the form of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) that has been in power since 1991, when they violently overthrew the repressive Derg regime. The EPRDF speaks generously of democracy and freedom, but they act in violation of democratic principles, trample on universal human rights, ignore international law, and violently control the people.

Independent international bodies and financial donors, from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to the European Union and the US State Department, are well aware of the nature and methods of the EPRDF, which is one of the most repressive regimes in Africa. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Ethiopia is “the fourth most heavily censored country in the World”, with more journalists forced to leave the country last year than anywhere except Iran.

In the lead up to the recent election, CPJ found that, “the state systematically cracked down on the country’s remaining independent publications through the arrests of journalists and intimidation of printing and distribution companies. Filing lawsuits against editors and forcing publishers to cease production.” Various draconian laws are used to gag the media and stifle dissent, the Anti Terrorist Proclamation being the most common weapon deployed against anyone who dares speak out against the government, which rules through fear, and yet, riddled with guilt as they must surely be, seem themselves fearful.

Democracy and Development

The government proudly talks a great deal about economic development, which it believes to be more important than democracy, human rights and the rule of law, all of which are absent in the country. And yes, during the past decade the country has seen economic development, with between 4% and 9% (depending on who you believe) GDP growth per annum achieved, the CIA states “through government-led infrastructure expansion and commercial agriculture development.” It is growth, however, that depends, the Oakland Institute make clear, on “state force and the denial of human and civil rights.”

GDP figures are only one indicator of a country’s progress, and a very narrow one at that. The broader Ethiopian picture, beyond the debatable statistics, paints a less rosy image:
Around 50% of Ethiopia’s federal budget is met by various aid packages, totaling $3.5 billion annually. Making it “the world’s second-largest recipient of total external assistance, after Indonesia” (excluding war torn nations, Afghanistan and Iraq), Human Rights Watch states. The country remains 173rd (of 187 countries) in the UN Human Development Index and is one of the poorest nations in the world, with, the CIA says, over 39% of the population living below the low poverty line of $1.25 a day (the World Bank worldwide poverty line is $2 a day) – many Ethiopians question this figure and would put the number in dire need much higher.

Per capita income is among the lowest in the world and less than half the rest of sub-Sahara Africa, averaging, according to the World Bank, “$470 (£287)”. This statistic is also questionable, as Dr. Daniel Teferra (Professor of Economics, Emeritus at Ferris State University,) explains, “In 2008-2011 income per capita (after inflation), was only $131,” contrary to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) 2013 report, which put the figure at $320.

The cost of living has risen sharply (current inflation is around 8%) and, as The Guardian reports, “growing economic inequality threatens to undermine the political stability and popular legitimacy that a developmental state acutely needs. Who benefits from economic growth is a much-contested issue in contemporary Ethiopia.” Not amongst the majority of Ethiopians it isn’t: they know very well who the winners are. As ever it is the 1%, who sit in the seats of power, and have the education and the funds to capitalize on foreign investment and development opportunities.

Some of those suffering as a result of the government’s development policies are the 1.5 million threatened with ‘relocation’ as their land is taken – or ‘grabbed’ from them. Leveled and turned into industrial-sized farms by foreign multinationals which grow crops, not for local people, but for consumers in their home countries – India or China for example.
Indigenous people cleared from their land are violently herded into camps under the government’s universally criticised “Villagization” program, which is causing the erosion of ancient lifestyles, “increased food insecurity, destruction of livelihoods, and the loss of cultural heritage”, relates the Oakland Institute. Any resistance is met with a wooden baton or the butt or bullet of a rifle; reports of beatings, torture and rape by security forces are widespread. No compensation is paid to the affected people, who are abandoned in camps with no essential services, such as water, health care and education facilities – all of which are promised by the EPRDF in their hollow development rhetoric.

An Insult to the People

Economic development is not democracy, and whilst development is clearly essential to address the dire levels of poverty in Ethiopia, it needs to be democratic, sustainable development. First and foremost Human Rights must be observed, and there must be participation, and consultation, which – despite the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s duplicitous comments to Al Jazeera that, “we make our people to be part and parcel of all the [developmental] engagements,” – never happens.

The Prime Minister describes Ethiopia as a “fledgling democracy”, and says the government is “on the right track in democratizing the country”. Nonsense. Democracy is rooted in the observation of Human Rights, freedom of expression, the rule of law and social participation. None of these values are currently to be found in Ethiopia.

Not only is the EPRDF universally denying the people their fundamental human rights, in many areas they are committing acts of state terrorism (one thinks of the abuses taking place in the Ogaden region and the atrocities being committed against the Oromo people for example) that amount to crimes against humanity.

The recent election was an insult to the people of Ethiopia, who are being intimidated, abused and suppressed by a brutal, arrogant regime that talks the democratic talk, but acts in violation of all democratic ideals.

Graham Peebles is director of the Create Trust. He can be reached at: graham@thecreatetrust.org

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/06/19/on-the-ethiopian-general-election/

Oromia:Ethiopia crackdown on student protests taints higher education success May 22, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Aid to Africa, Corruption, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, Ethnic Cleansing, Finfinne is Oromia's land, Finfinnee, Finfinnee is the Capital City of Oromia, Finfinnee n Kan Oromoo ti, Free development vs authoritarian model, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights Violations Against Oromo People by TPLF Ethiopia, Janjaweed Style Liyu Police of Ethiopia, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure., Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure. African Heritage. The Genocide Against Oromo Nation, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, No to the Addis Ababa Master Plan, NO to the Evictions of Oromo Nationals from Finfinnee (Central Oromia), Oromia wide Oromo Universtiy students Protested Addis Ababa Expansion Master Plan, Oromian Voices, Oromians Protests, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Diaspora, Oromo Identity, Oromo Nation, Oromo Protests, Oromo Protests in Ambo, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, Oromo University students and their national demands, Say no to the expansions of Addis Ababa, State of Oromia, Stop evicting Oromo people from Cities, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, Tyranny.
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O

The Guardian

Any system which crushes its brightest should not be considered a success….The Ethiopian government likes to trumpet its higher education system to its western aid backers as a crowning success of its development policy. As billions in foreign aid are spent annually on Ethiopia, the west must be more cognisant of the fact that this money helps reinforce a government which cuts down those who dare to speak out against it.

Ethiopia crackdown on student protests taints higher education success

Western backers of the Ethiopian education system should not ignore reports of violent clashes on university campuses
MDG : Ethiopi : Student protest in Ambo

Oromia, Ethiopia, where at least three dozen people were reportedly shot dead by security forces during student protests

Over the past 15 years, Ethiopia has become home to one of the world’s fastest-growing higher education systems. Increasing the number of graduates in the country is a key component of the government’s industrialisation strategy and part of its ambitious plan to become a middle-income country by 2025. Since the 1990s, when there were just two public universities, almost 30 new institutions have sprung up.

 

On the face of it, this is good news for ordinary Ethiopians. But dig a little deeper and tales abound of students required to join one of the three government parties, with reports of restricted curricula, classroom spies and crackdowns on student protests commonplace at universities.The Ethiopian government likes to trumpet its higher education system to its western aid backers as a crowning success of its development policy. As billions in foreign aid are spent annually on Ethiopia, the west must be more cognisant of the fact that this money helps reinforce a government which cuts down those who dare to speak out against it.

 

Nowhere has this been more evident than in Ambo in Oromia state. On 25 April, protests against government plans to bring parts the town under the administrative jurisdiction of the capital, Addis Ababa, began at Ambo University. By the following Tuesday, as protests spread to the town and other areas of Oromia, dozens of demonstrators had been killed in clashes with government forces, according to witnesses.

 

As Ethiopia experiences rapid economic expansion, its government plans to grow the capital out rather than up, and this involves annexing parts of the surrounding Oromia state. An official communique from the government absolved it of all responsibility for the clashes, claiming that just eight people had been killed and alleging that the violence had been coordinated by a few rogue anti-peace forces. The government maintains that it is attempting to extend Addis Ababa’s services to Oromia through its expansion of the city limits.

 

However, Oromia opposition figures tell a different story. On 2 May, the nationalist organisation the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) issued a press release that condemned the “barbaric and egregious killing of innocent Oromo university students who have peacefully demanded the regime to halt the displacement of Oromo farmers from their ancestral land, and the inclusion of Oromo cities and surrounding localities under Finfinnee [Addis Ababa] administration under the pretext of development”. The Addis Ababa regime dismisses the OLA as a terrorist organisation.

 

While news of the killing of unarmed protesters has caused great concern among many Ethiopians, there has been little coverage overseas. The government maintains strict control over the domestic media; indeed, it frequently ranks as one of the world’s chief jailers of journalists, and it is not easy to come by independent reporting of events in the country.

 

Nevertheless, the government’s communique does run contrary to reports by the few international media that did cover the attacks in Ambo, which placed the blame firmly on government forces.

 

The BBC reported that a witness in Ambo saw more than 20 bodies on the street, while Voice of America (VOA) reported that at least 17 protesters were killed by “elite security forces” on three campuses in Oromia. Local residents maintain that the figure [of those killed] was much higher.

 

These reports, while difficult to corroborate, have been backed up by Human Rights Watch, which issued a statement saying that “security forces have responded [to the protests] by shooting at and beating peaceful protesters in Ambo, Nekemte, Jimma, and other towns with unconfirmed reports from witnesses of dozens of casualties”. One university lecturer said he had been “rescued from the live ammunition”, and that it was the “vampires – the so-called federal police” who fired on the crowds.

 

The Ethiopian government likes to trumpet its higher education system to its western aid backers as a crowning success of its development policy. As billions in foreign aid are spent annually on Ethiopia, the west must be more cognisant of the fact that this money helps reinforce a government which cuts down those who dare to speak out against it.

 

Inevitably, continued support for such an oppressive regime justifies its brutal silencing of dissent. Yes, the higher education system has grown exponentially over the past 15 years but the oppression and killing of innocent students cannot be considered an achievement. Any system which crushes its brightest should not be considered a success.

Paul O’Keeffe is a doctoral fellow at La Sapienza University of Rome, where he focuses on the higher education

system in Ethiopia

 

Read more @http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/may/22/ethiopia-crackdown-student-protest-education