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The Foreign Desk: Horn of Africa: a country in a state of emergency: Ethiopia. Protests have put the government under pressure and hundreds have been killed. So what’s next? June 3, 2017

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New World Health Organization Director Accused Of “Genocide” In Ethiopia. #OromoProtests June 3, 2017

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New World Health Organization Director Accused Of “Genocide” In Ethiopia.



Find out why some Ethiopians are not pleased with the new Director-General of World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.


Bipartisan Resolution Calling on Ethiopia to Respect Human Rights, Open Democratic Space May 25, 2017

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) today introduced a Senate resolution condemning excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces that led to hundreds of deaths last year, and calling on the Ethiopian government to release all political opposition, dissidents, activists, and journalists and to respect the rights enshrined in its constitution.

“As the Ethiopian government continues to stall on making progress on human rights and democratic reform, it is critical that the United States remains vocal in condemning Ethiopia’s human rights abuses against its own people,” said Rubio, chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on human rights and civilian security. “I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to urge the Ethiopian government to respect the rule of law and prioritize human rights and political reforms.”

“The Ethiopian government must make progress on respecting human rights and democratic freedoms.  I am deeply troubled by the arrest and ongoing detention of a number of prominent opposition political figures.  The fact that we have partnered with the Ethiopian government on counterterrorism does not mean that we will stay silent when it abuses its own people,” said Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “On the contrary, our partnership means that we must speak out when innocent people are detained, and laws are used to stifle legitimate political dissent.”

The resolution notes that hundreds of people have been killed and thousands were arrested during the course of the protests in Ethiopia. To date, there has not been a credible accounting for security forces’ excesses.

Joining Rubio and Cardin as original cosponsors of the resolution are Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).


USA on Ethiopia, senate resolution

Wixineen Seeraa Haaraan Seenaateroonni US Dhiheessan Qaamota Lammiiwwan Itoophiyaa Irratti Dhiitaa Mirgaa Hamaa Geechisan Irra Qoqqobbin Akka Kaayamu Gaafata.


OMN: Oduu (Caamsaa 18, 2017)

 

TV Link: Why the Oromo People Are Fleeing Ethiopia April 28, 2017

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 Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

 Ethiopian demonstrators

Ethiopians Fleeing Human Rights Violations Sparked by Land Use Conflict


Tristan MartinSally Hayden TV Link, April 26, 2017

When marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa crossed the finish line at the Rio Olympics, he crossed his arms above his head in an “X”, a sign of protest against the Ethiopian government’s treatment of his people, the ethnic Oromo.

The champion runner did not return home after the Olympics, fearing for his safety even though the government said he would not be punished.

Feyisa Lilesa
Feyisa Lilesa crosses the finish line of the Men’s Marathon athletics event during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 21, 2016. Lilesa crossed his arms above his head as a protest against the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on political dissent. | ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

“[I knew] I would be jailed or killed if not, I would [never be allowed] out of that country and allowed to participate in any international competition or race at all,” Lilesa told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I am quite sure those things would happen to me,” he said in a Skype interview from Rio where he has been staying since Monday when the rest of his team mates returned to Ethiopia.

The Oromia region, home to more than 25 million Oromos, has been riven by unrest for months over land rights and allegations of human rights violations.

Lilesa, 26, is one of thousands of Ethiopians estimated by activists to have left the country amid a security crackdown on demonstrations sparked by a conflict over land use policies.

City of Addis Ababa's proposed expansion plan
Map of municipal plans to expand city limits and include some parts of the Oromiya region within the capital city Addis Ababa.

Human Rights Watch estimated 400 demonstrators were killed by security forces between November 2015 and June 2016 during protests triggered by government plans to include some parts of Oromiya within the capital Addis Ababa’s limits.

Victim shot down during protests
Victim shot down during protests. | Oromia Media Network

Up to 100 people were shot in a single weekend in August when security forces also shut down the internet for 48 hours, according to activists.

Thousands more have been arrested, including the prominent Oromo activist Bekele Gerba, who was taken from his home in December.

The government, which disputes the death toll and says the protests are being staged illegally, stoked by rebel groups and overseas-based dissidents, did not respond to several requests by the Thomson Reuters Foundation for a comment.

Lilesa’s fear of being jailed upon his return home reflects the experiences of other Ethiopians who have spoken out against the government.

In the Greek capital Athens, 26-year-old Muaz Mahmud Ayimoo is staying in a cramped apartment with five other Oromo friends who are traveling with him.

A student from Haro Dumal city in Oromiya, Ayimoo was arrested by authorities and imprisoned for a month last November after he attended several non-violent protests along with fellow students.

Conditions for those detained were wretched and abuse was regular, Ayimoo said.

“They used to take us out one by one, torture us with electricity and beat us badly,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Muaz Mahmud Ayimoo
Muaz Mahmud Ayimoo, a 26-year-old Ethiopian refugee is staying in a cramped apartment in Athens with five other Oromo friends who are traveling with him. | Thomson Reuters Foundation

Ayimoo’s family in Ethiopia paid a bribe for his release, later selling everything they had to get him to Europe.

“I can’t go back because I would lose my life,” he said.

Those in Athens are the lucky ones: Ayimoo’s wife and baby girl drowned in April after the boat they were on crossing the Mediterranean from Libya sank, killing hundreds, according to survivors.

“I could hear the screaming of my baby as I fell. I couldn’t save my family,” he said.

Muaz Mahmud Ayimoo shows photograph of his family
Muaz Mahmud Ayimoo shows photograph of his wife and daugther before their boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea. | Thomson Reuters Foundation

Other Ethiopians now following the unrest from abroad include the journalists of the Oromia Media Network, a dissident satellite TV channel broadcasting into Ethiopia in the Oromo language from Minneapolis in the United States, a city home to around 40,000 Oromo.

Jawar Mohammed
Jawar Mohammed, executive director of the Oromia Media Network in Minneapolis. | Thomson Reuters Foundation

“We became part of the whole protester story,” said Jawar Mohammed, executive director of the network, which he said is watched by more than 11 million people in the Middle East and Africa at peak times.

Mohammed also regularly posts updates on his Facebook page, with more than 800,000 followers, about the unrest in his homeland.

Abel Wabella, 30, an activist who wrote for Zone9, a blog which focused on social and civic issues in Ethiopia, was imprisoned between April 2014 and October 2015 in what critics say was an attack on press freedom.

“I think the government is not ready for real reform the people are demanding right now. The people are tired of their false promises and will escalate their resistance,” he said.

 

Top image: Like many Ethiopian protesters across the world, women cross their hands during a protest against human rights violations in Ethiophia’s Oromia region, in front of United Nation’s information center in Pretoria, South Africa. | Ihsaan Haffejee/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images


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Human Rights violations in Ethiopia must be investigated by independent body, rights group April 27, 2017

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ETHIOPIA: How Long the International Community Should Entreat the Rejection of an Independent Investigation into Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia

HRLHA Press Release

April 23, 2017

The international community finally realized that the Ethiopian government was using democracy as a facade to dehumanize its citizens. Since the current government of Ethiopia came to power in 1991, six international treaties have been signed and ratified by the government, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – at which the Ethiopian government’s security is mostly accused more than any dictator country in the world. This means, from a total of thirteen international treaties, Ethiopia had ratified eight, out of which two were signed during the Military Derg era.

It has not been easy for the international community to accept that a country, such as Ethiopia – which signed and ratified a number of international human rights treaties – has the moral to breach the norms of each treaty and commits massacres against its citizens. The ingenuity of the Ethiopian government has become to be known to the international community very lately, beginning from the land-grab-related human rights violations of the 2010’s in Gambela, Oromia, Benishangul – as reported by human rights organizations, such as HRW, AI and HRLHA and the Oakland Institute … thanks to the outcry of national, regional and international human rights organizations to expose the hidden agenda of the Ethiopian government. Though, reports on Ethiopia’s human rights violations spread all over, Ethiopia was elected as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011 for a three-year term. After the completion of the first three-year term, it was also reelected on October 28, 2015 for another three-year term. To be legible for the election, the candidate State’s contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights are considered.

The current Ethiopian government began destabilizing the nations and nationalities in the country as it seized power in 1991. The two biggest nations, the Oromo and the Amhara – were the most targeted. Over the course of the first twenty-three years (1991-2014), hundreds of thousands of prominent citizens, political party leaders, members and supporters, journalists, union leaders and members have been killed, forced to disappear, imprisoned and forced to exile. The undisclosed tragedy in the country for so long has started to attract the international attention only in March 2014 when Oromo university students protested against the “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” – which had continually taken place for over four months at which Oromos of all walks of life participated. During the crackdowns on the protests, over 81 Oromos of age 7-81 had been brutally murdered by Ethiopian government’s murderers. The so-called “Addis Ababa Master Plan” was designed to annex 36 Oromo towns evicting an estimated of over three-million Oromo farmers without consultation and compensation. The “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” dispute reignited in November 2015 throughout Oromia and lasted for almost a year until the October 2, 2016 massacre – the incident which changed the peaceful protests to violent. During the protests – which had taken place for almost a year (November 2015 – October 2016) in Oromia Regional State, over 2000 Oromos had been killed by the Ethiopian government’s killing squad known as the Agazi force.

October 2, 2016 was the Oromo Irreecha/Thanksgiving day in which over four-million Oromos had come to gather from all corners of the Oromia Regional State to celebrate at Bishoftu where the government’s Agazi killing squad massacred peaceful people – at which over 700 people were killed through stampede and gunshots from the ground – and supported by air attack. October 2, 2016 was the game changer in the history of the Oromo struggle for self-determination, democracy and justice. The peaceful protest was changed into violent all over the Oromia Regional State. Several government-owned and government-linked properties were destroyed.

The Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Dessalegn gave a permission to its killers – deployed all over the Oromia Regional State – to take all necessary actions against the uprising, and several thousand Oromos were killed, imprisoned and forcefully disappeared. To calm down the violent actions in the region, the government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency on October 8, 2016. After the State of Emergency was declared, many expected the situation could improve. However, the government’s killing squads deployed deep into Oromia villages used the opportunity to kill more Oromos at their homes, at their neighborhoods during day and night times, raped women and girls in front of their families, and looted valuable properties.

For example,

(1) Hailu Ephrem , the sixteen-year-old boy and Ibsa Runde, seventeen-year-old boy, had been killed, simply in their daily routine like any other playing in their area. They had been killed for no apparent reason except the psychopathic killing machines called Agazi had to kill Oromos to satisfy their masters’ order. The mother of Hailu Ephrem, Mrs Tadelu Tamama, a mother from Dembidolo, Welega (Oromia region of Ethiopia) told VOA Afaan Oromo service radio, “After the soldiers shot and killed my son in front of me ‘They told me to sit down on my dead son’s body’.”

(2) On November 6, 2016 at 5:00am, three brothers – Marabu Jamalo, Abdissa Jamalo and Tola Jamalo – were shot dead by the TPLF killing squad (Agazi force) in their home in Easter Arsi Zone in Shirka district. Their father Mr. Jamalo Hussein said “my children have been killed by the fascist government killing squad, Agazi, not because they stole or did anything wrong, but only because they are Oromos ” – told to HRLHA reporter in the area.

Such crimes are widespread all over Oromia and Amhara regional states, especially at night, and are being perpetrated on an ever-increasing scale and as part of the State of Emergency policy. There is also evidence of the government targeting special groups, such as youth, educated citizens and journalists in those regions. With such criminal records for over two decades, Ethiopia was elected to the other UN subsidiary organization , UN Security Council, on June 28, 2016. This was a period when the Ethiopian government had massacred several Oromos simply because they expressed their grievances in peaceful protest. Regarding this unfair election, the HRLHA expressed its concerns to the President of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft in its press release “THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE REWARDED FOR MASSACRING ITS PEOPLE.”

Ethiopia, a country with high human rights violations – has been allowed to be elected to both the United Nations Human Rights Council and United Nations Security Council positions, the positions which require respect/protect and promote human rights at the global level, and maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations and cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights.

In the past two years, non-governmental organizations, government agencies and some government offices requested the Ethiopian government to allow access to independent investigations to assess the human rights violations in the country. Requests for independent investigations of the human rights violations in Ethiopia came from the following agencies:

# Agencies Date
Europe an Parliament resolution on Ethiopia (2016/2520(RSP)) 19.1.2016
UN experts call for international commission to help investigate systematic violence … GENEVA (10 October2016)
UN rights office urges Ethiopia to ensure independent probe of reported violations in Oromia region 19 August 2016
Press Statement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Human Rights Situation in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Date: 02 September 2016

However, the Ethiopian government has rejected the call of the international community for independent investigations into Ethiopia human rights crises in the past two years. The Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Elena Valenciano (S&D, ES), who visited Ethiopia recently also released a statement calling for an independent investigation into 2 October 2016 killings that claimed the lives of at least 52 people, according to the government media, or over 700 people, according to HRLHA and other reports.

However, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn again rejected the call for external investigations by saying “Ethiopia’s sovereignty should be respected,” according the BBC report on April 18, 2016. PM Hailemariam pointed out that the Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission is an independent institution in the country with whom his government must relay and could be strengthened. He clearly underlined his government’s position for peace, democracy and fundamental rights of the Ethiopians. In his interview with BBC, the PM of Ethiopia said “Ethiopia does not need independent investigator as far as Ethiopia is an independent country.” The government of Ethiopia is committed to continue suppressing all kinds of freedom and democracy in the country. It is unfortunate that Ethiopians could not detach themselves from dictatorial regimes for over a century, “History repeats itself,” again and again.

Therefore, the HRLHA would like to call upon donor governments and international government agencies to take all necessary and decisive measures against the Ethiopian government to respect international human rights and humanitarian laws, and all human rights treats it signed and ratified.

HRLHA Press Release

April 23, 2017

The international community finally realized that the Ethiopian government was using democracy as a facade to dehumanize its citizens. Since the current government of Ethiopia came to power in 1991, six international treaties have been signed and ratified by the government, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – at which the Ethiopian government’s security is mostly accused more than any dictator country in the world. This means, from a total of thirteen international treaties, Ethiopia had ratified eight, out of which two were signed during the Military Derg era.

It has not been easy for the international community to accept that a country, such as Ethiopia – which signed and ratified a number of international human rights treaties – has the moral to breach the norms of each treaty and commits massacres against its citizens. The ingenuity of the Ethiopian government has become to be known to the international community very lately, beginning from the land-grab-related human rights violations of the 2010’s in Gambela, Oromia, Benishangul – as reported by human rights organizations, such as HRW, AI and HRLHA and the Oakland Institute … thanks to the outcry of national, regional and international human rights organizations to expose the hidden agenda of the Ethiopian government. Though, reports on Ethiopia’s human rights violations spread all over, Ethiopia was elected as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011 for a three-year term. After the completion of the first three-year term, it was also reelected on October 28, 2015 for another three-year term. To be legible for the election, the candidate State’s contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights are considered.

The current Ethiopian government began destabilizing the nations and nationalities in the country as it seized power in 1991. The two biggest nations, the Oromo and the Amhara – were the most targeted. Over the course of the first twenty-three years (1991-2014), hundreds of thousands of prominent citizens, political party leaders, members and supporters, journalists, union leaders and members have been killed, forced to disappear, imprisoned and forced to exile. The undisclosed tragedy in the country for so long has started to attract the international attention only in March 2014 when Oromo university students protested against the “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” – which had continually taken place for over four months at which Oromos of all walks of life participated. During the crackdowns on the protests, over 81 Oromos of age 7-81 had been brutally murdered by Ethiopian government’s murderers. The so-called “Addis Ababa Master Plan” was designed to annex 36 Oromo towns evicting an estimated of over three-million Oromo farmers without consultation and compensation. The “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” dispute reignited in November 2015 throughout Oromia and lasted for almost a year until the October 2, 2016 massacre – the incident which changed the peaceful protests to violent. During the protests – which had taken place for almost a year (November 2015 – October 2016) in Oromia Regional State, over 2000 Oromos had been killed by the Ethiopian government’s killing squad known as the Agazi force.

October 2, 2016 was the Oromo Irreecha/Thanksgiving day in which over four-million Oromos had come to gather from all corners of the Oromia Regional State to celebrate at Bishoftu where the government’s Agazi killing squad massacred peaceful people – at which over 700 people were killed through stampede and gunshots from the ground – and supported by air attack. October 2, 2016 was the game changer in the history of the Oromo struggle for self-determination, democracy and justice. The peaceful protest was changed into violent all over the Oromia Regional State. Several government-owned and government-linked properties were destroyed.

The Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Dessalegn gave a permission to its killers – deployed all over the Oromia Regional State – to take all necessary actions against the uprising, and several thousand Oromos were killed, imprisoned and forcefully disappeared. To calm down the violent actions in the region, the government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency on October 8, 2016. After the State of Emergency was declared, many expected the situation could improve. However, the government’s killing squads deployed deep into Oromia villages used the opportunity to kill more Oromos at their homes, at their neighborhoods during day and night times, raped women and girls in front of their families, and looted valuable properties.

For example,

(1) Hailu Ephrem , the sixteen-year-old boy and Ibsa Runde, seventeen-year-old boy, had been killed, simply in their daily routine like any other playing in their area. They had been killed for no apparent reason except the psychopathic killing machines called Agazi had to kill Oromos to satisfy their masters’ order. The mother of Hailu Ephrem, Mrs Tadelu Tamama, a mother from Dembidolo, Welega (Oromia region of Ethiopia) told VOA Afaan Oromo service radio, “After the soldiers shot and killed my son in front of me ‘They told me to sit down on my dead son’s body’.”

(2) On November 6, 2016 at 5:00am, three brothers – Marabu Jamalo, Abdissa Jamalo and Tola Jamalo – were shot dead by the TPLF killing squad (Agazi force) in their home in Easter Arsi Zone in Shirka district. Their father Mr. Jamalo Hussein said “my children have been killed by the fascist government killing squad, Agazi, not because they stole or did anything wrong, but only because they are Oromos ” – told to HRLHA reporter in the area.

Such crimes are widespread all over Oromia and Amhara regional states, especially at night, and are being perpetrated on an ever-increasing scale and as part of the State of Emergency policy. There is also evidence of the government targeting special groups, such as youth, educated citizens and journalists in those regions. With such criminal records for over two decades, Ethiopia was elected to the other UN subsidiary organization , UN Security Council, on June 28, 2016. This was a period when the Ethiopian government had massacred several Oromos simply because they expressed their grievances in peaceful protest. Regarding this unfair election, the HRLHA expressed its concerns to the President of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft in its press release “THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE REWARDED FOR MASSACRING ITS PEOPLE.”

Ethiopia, a country with high human rights violations – has been allowed to be elected to both the United Nations Human Rights Council and United Nations Security Council positions, the positions which require respect/protect and promote human rights at the global level, and maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations and cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights.

In the past two years, non-governmental organizations, government agencies and some government offices requested the Ethiopian government to allow access to independent investigations to assess the human rights violations in the country. Requests for independent investigations of the human rights violations in Ethiopia came from the following agencies:

# Agencies Date
Europe an Parliament resolution on Ethiopia (2016/2520(RSP)) 19.1.2016
UN experts call for international commission to help investigate systematic violence … GENEVA (10 October2016)
UN rights office urges Ethiopia to ensure independent probe of reported violations in Oromia region 19 August 2016
Press Statement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Human Rights Situation in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Date: 02 September 2016

However, the Ethiopian government has rejected the call of the international community for independent investigations into Ethiopia human rights crises in the past two years. The Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Elena Valenciano (S&D, ES), who visited Ethiopia recently also released a statement calling for an independent investigation into 2 October 2016 killings that claimed the lives of at least 52 people, according to the government media, or over 700 people, according to HRLHA and other reports.

However, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn again rejected the call for external investigations by saying “Ethiopia’s sovereignty should be respected,” according the BBC report on April 18, 2016. PM Hailemariam pointed out that the Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission is an independent institution in the country with whom his government must relay and could be strengthened. He clearly underlined his government’s position for peace, democracy and fundamental rights of the Ethiopians. In his interview with BBC, the PM of Ethiopia said “Ethiopia does not need independent investigator as far as Ethiopia is an independent country.” The government of Ethiopia is committed to continue suppressing all kinds of freedom and democracy in the country. It is unfortunate that Ethiopians could not detach themselves from dictatorial regimes for over a century, “History repeats itself,” again and again.

Therefore, the HRLHA would like to call upon donor governments and international government agencies to take all necessary and decisive measures against the Ethiopian government to respect international human rights and humanitarian laws, and all human rights treats it signed and ratified.

The Economist: Africa’s house of cards: Ethiopia enters its seventh month of emergency rule April 24, 2017

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House of cards

 


Its response to the crisis has, therefore, been primarily an economic one. Its top priority is to reduce youth unemployment, of at least 30% in urban areas. It hopes to do so through promoting industrial parks such as the one in the southern town of Awassa, which opened in 2016. It is Africa’s largest and is expected to provide 60,000 jobs. But even the largest industrial parks are still a drop in an ocean of unemployment. And since most of the jobs they provide are low-skilled, they will do little to help the hundreds of thousands of university graduates entering the job market each year. “I’m a graduate in accounting but I work as a hotel cashier,” laments one exasperated Ambo resident.
Alexis de Tocqueville, a 19th-century French historian, argued that the most dangerous time for a bad government is when it begins to reform itself. The EPRDF is not the ancien regime of pre-revolutionary France. But it has taken de Tocqueville’s lesson to heart. It views Ethiopia as a house of cards that might easily topple. So the old model persists: development now, democracy later. 

Africa’s house of cards: Ethiopia enters its seventh month of emergency rule

Development now, democracy later

The Economist

THE three-hour bus-ride to Ambo from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, offers a glimpse into the country’s future. The road is well paved; irrigation ditches and polytunnels criss-cross commercial farmland; electricity lines leap over forested hills. The signal granting access to mobile internet is clear and constant. As the bus pulls into Ambo, a trading centre in Oromia, the largest and most populous of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based regions, the street is bustling.

But there are signs, too, that not all is well. An army truck rolls down the main road. Federal police surround the entrance to the local university. Unemployed young men playing snooker in bar point at a building across the road: it used to be a bank, but it was burnt down. Three years ago 17 local boys were shot dead by security guards as they protested on the doorstep, the young men say.

Ambo has a reputation for dissent. It was on these streets that protests against authoritarian rule started in 2014 before sweeping across the country. They culminated in the declaration of a six-month state of emergency on October 9th last year.

Students from Ambo University led the charge in opposing a since-shelved plan to expand the capital city into surrounding farmland. Oromo identity is especially powerful here: locals speak angrily about being pushed aside by ethnic Tigrayans, who they say dominate the government despite making up less than 6% of the population.

The country’s leading opposition politician, Merera Gudina—who was charged with inciting terrorism in February and was scheduled to appear in the dock on April 24th—comes from this area. When the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) extended the emergency law for another four months (albeit after watering down its most draconian provisions) on March 30th, it was because of places like Ambo. Hundreds of its citizens have been arrested and subjected to months of “re-education” in military camps. Although stability has more or less returned to Ethiopia there are still young men across Oromia and Amhara, the second-largest region, who talk of protesting once more when the state of emergency is eventually lifted.

Not everyone feels this way. There may have been plenty of raised eyebrows when the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, told Parliament on March 15th that 82% of Ethiopians wanted the state of emergency extended. But few want a return to disorder, and many admit that further emergency rule might not be so bad. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners in particular recall that businesses—as well as schools—were closed for months during the unrest. “Peace and security is more valuable than anything,” says a weary pharmacist.

Yet the challenge of addressing both the frustrations of angry youngsters and the concerns of anxious property owners is one the EPRDF is struggling to solve. Ethiopia’s economy is still growing at a healthy 7% a year, one of the fastest rates in Africa, even though drought has again hit large parts of the country. Foreign investment, which the government is promoting energetically, has held up surprisingly well. But with political freedom now a thing of the past, the government’s legitimacy rests on it delivering the prosperity it has long promised to all its citizens.

Its response to the crisis has, therefore, been primarily an economic one. Its top priority is to reduce youth unemployment, of at least 30% in urban areas. It hopes to do so through promoting industrial parks such as the one in the southern town of Awassa, which opened in 2016. It is Africa’s largest and is expected to provide 60,000 jobs. But even the largest industrial parks are still a drop in an ocean of unemployment. And since most of the jobs they provide are low-skilled, they will do little to help the hundreds of thousands of university graduates entering the job market each year. “I’m a graduate in accounting but I work as a hotel cashier,” laments one exasperated Ambo resident.

Political reform has been much less of a priority. Only one regional president has lost his job, though many ought to shoulder quite a bit of the blame for the unrest because of poor governance. A cabinet reshuffle in November included some high-profile changes: an Oromo controls the foreign ministry for the first time, for instance. But dialogue with opposition parties has made little progress. They must still ask permission to give a press conference or hold a public meeting. And an expansive anti-terrorism law, which has crimped their activities since 2009, will still be in place even when the last of the emergency provisions are lifted. The government has long promised to tackle corruption, which is the cause of much unhappiness. But there have been no high level prosecutions since October, even though tens of thousands of low-level officials have been sacked.

Alexis de Tocqueville, a 19th-century French historian, argued that the most dangerous time for a bad government is when it begins to reform itself. The EPRDF is not the ancien regime of pre-revolutionary France. But it has taken de Tocqueville’s lesson to heart. It views Ethiopia as a house of cards that might easily topple. So the old model persists: development now, democracy later.


 

Fear of Investigation: What Does Ethiopia’s Government Have to Hide? April 21, 2017

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Fear of Investigation: What Does Ethiopia’s Government Have to Hide?

 

In February 2016, an 18-year-old student who I will call Tolessa and two friends took part in their first protest, in Oromia’s East Hararghe zone. As the crowd moved forward, they were met by a line of regional police, federal police and the army. Shortly thereafter and without warning, security forces fired live ammunition into the crowd hitting Tolessa four times. Miraculously he survived. But his two friends were not so lucky.

I first interviewed him in April 2016 for the Human Rights Watch June 2016 report on abuses during the first six months of the Oromo protests. Several days ago, Tolessa got in touch with me again to update me on his condition.

I spoke to him around the time that Ethiopia’s national Human Rights Commission submitted an oral report to parliament on the protests. This was the Commission’s second report to parliament, covering the protests between June and September in parts of Oromia, Amhara, and SNNPR regions. The Commission found that 669 people were killed, including 63 members of the security forces, and concluded – once again – that security forces had taken “proportionate measures in most areas.”

While many will focus on the death toll, the commission’s conclusion that the use of force was mostly proportionate and appropriate is in stark contrast to the descriptions of victims like Tolessa, and at odds with the findings of other independent investigators. At this stage, the grounds for the commission’s conclusion are unclear, since no written report has yet been published.

In its first oral report to parliament, in June, the commission similarly concluded that the level of force used by federal security forces in Oromia was proportionate. The written version of this report was only made public this week, 10 months later. In the 92 page English version [134 pages in Amharic] there is no mention of security forces firing on protesters, mass arrests, torture in detention, or any one of a slew of other abuses that have been widely reported.

Instead, the commission largely describes violence committed by protesters as described to the commission members by local government officials, security forces, and elders. It parrots the government’s narrative, making many references to Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) involvement, but never provides any evidence for this allegation. It references interviews with detainees, but otherwise fails to describe the commission’s methodology, including how many protesters, victims, and witnesses its members interviewed.

It’s quite possible that many protesters and victims of security force abuses would not speak to the commission because of the widespread perception that it has no independence from the government. Independence is crucial for any successful national human rights commission, and the Ethiopian institution has failed to meet this bar for many years. I know first-hand that it is not difficult to find protesters willing to share their experiences.

Armed security officials watch as protesters stage a protest against government during the Irreechaa cultural festival in Bishoftu, Ethiopia on October 02, 2016.

Armed security officials watch as protesters stage a protest against government during the Irreechaa cultural festival in Bishoftu, Ethiopia on October 02, 2016.

Aside from the commission’s activities, there is no domestic scrutiny of security force abuses. The members of parliament are all from the ruling party and affiliates. The judiciary lacks independence on politically motivated cases. Various courts have consistently refused to investigate mounting allegations of torture from detainees. Harassment, prosecutions, and swathes of restrictions have stifled independent media and nongovernmental organizations. In this situation, the commission and other “independent” institutions like the ombudsmen could play a vital role in scrutinizing abuse by Ethiopia’s security forces, but they too are apparently hamstrung by government influence.

The government consistently tries to frame the protests as the result of lack of “good governance” and youth unemployment. Yet one of the most common slogans heard on the streets of Oromia and Amhara, particularly in the later months of the protests, was a call to respect human rights, stop shooting protesters, and stop imprisoning students. The patterns of abuse documented by several human rights groups in Oromia  during various periods, including the 2005 pre-election period and between 2011-2014 are strikingly similar.  In each case, the government ignored calls for independent investigations, denied the allegations, and claimed they were politically motivated. These longstanding patterns of abuse against those who challenge the government, committed with complete impunity, are key to understanding the levels of anger fueling protests in the streets of Oromia over the last 18 months. And Oromia isn’t the only place in Ethiopia that has experienced serious rights violations by security forces – sometimes repeatedly – without meaningful investigations.

In Gambella, Human Rights Watch documented possible crimes against humanity by the Ethiopian army in 2003 and 2004, including extrajudicial executions, rape, and torture. In the Somali Regional State (SRS), the Ethiopian military committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity between mid-2007 and 2008 during their counterinsurgency campaign against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The government-allied Liyu police have subsequently committed numerous extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and other attacks on civilians in SRS. Instead of permitting independent investigators to come in, the Ethiopian government consistently shuts the door and insists that Ethiopian institutions, such as the Human Rights Commission, can do the job.

I asked Tolessa his view of the commission. He said it’s “just another arm of the government,” and noted that the its head, Dr Addisu Gebregziabher, was previously chair of the National Electoral Board, another body with questionable independence. While the commission’s lack of independence is hardly newsworthy, it does underscore the need for independent, international scrutiny of Ethiopia’s rights record, especially given the government’s dubious claims that the commission’s investigations are credible. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn reiterated this claim during an April 18 interview with the BBC, rejecting calls for a UN investigation into the protests by stating that Ethiopia is “an independent country that can investigate its own cases.” Yet these repeated refusals beg the question: if the security forces acted appropriately, then what is the government trying to hide?

Ethiopia is currently a member of both the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council, which requires it to uphold the “highest standards of human rights.” Yet the government repeatedly rejects efforts to hold it to account, refusing entry to all UN special rapporteurs since 2007, except the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea. There are many outstanding requests from these UN monitors – on torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and peaceful assembly, among others. Recent calls by the United Nations top human rights official, the African Commission, the European parliament, and some members of United States Congress, for international investigations have all been dismissed. The government also avoids judicial scrutiny at the highest level as it is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ethiopia is certainly not alone in disliking international scrutiny of its rights record, yet many countries recognize that there are benefits to cooperation, particularly if there is genuine commitment to transparency, accountability, and improving human rights. Ethiopia’s continuous refusals call into question all of these commitments, instead making clear that it is not willing to stop using excessive force against protesters or torturing dissenters into silence.

Human Rights Watch research in many countries has demonstrated that a decision to ignore atrocities and reinforce a culture of impunity carries a high price, and merely encourages future abuses, which  should concern investors, diplomats, and others concerned about the long-term stability of Ethiopia following almost 18 months of bloody turmoil. An international investigation would be a first important step in ending Ethiopia’s culture of impunity and would send a powerful and overdue message to the Ethiopian government that its security forces cannot shoot and kill peaceful protesters with impunity. And it would send an important message to victims like Tolessa that their pleas for justice are being heard.


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ethiopia: List of Fascsit TPLF Military and Intelligence officers involved in planning and commanding the Somali region Liyu Police mercenary paramilitary conducting genocide against the Oromo People March 19, 2017

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List of TPLF Military and Intelligence officers involved in planning and commanding the Somali region Liyu Police mercenary paramilitary


1. Col. Gebremedihin Gebre, Shhinelle Zone Coordinator and deputy commander of Somali Special Forces
2 Col. Fiseha, chief of intelligence of somali regional government, specializing particularly in Oromos and Oromia issue, also heads and supervises Fefem zone security
3. Col. Gitet Tesfaye , coordinates and leads disputed borders issue and security
4. Major Desalegn Haddish, Babile front intelligence chief
5 Major Abraha Sisay, heads training of mercenaries and somali recruits at Bobas training center
6 Brigadier General Hadgu Belay, advisor to the president of Somali region on security and organizational affairs on security at regional government level
7 Col. Gebretensae, heads and coordinates Somali militias organization Oromo mercenaries working with the TPLF officials
1. Lieutenant Hassan Ali, former member of defense forces of Ethiopia, now commands a Liyu Police unit consisting 120 members at attacking Erer district( wereda)
2. Captain Mohammed Ibrahim, with a unit of 120 members at Babile front( WEREDA)
3 Sergeant Usman Mohammed, Garalencha district
4 Sergeant Jibril Ahmed spies on Oromo militia in Gursum district, to Fafam direction
5 Sergeant Mohamed Usman, Raqe, Meyu Muluke areas military operations
6 Sergeant Fuad Aliyi, Chinaksen district
* The Liyu Police and Somali region militia are organized in 26 regiment each consisting up to 500 personnel.


 

UNPO: A report on human rights in Ethiopia, shedding light on the worrying situation of the Oromo and Ogadeni peoples. March 16, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Those living in the Ogaden and Oromia regions are most vulnerable to the State-sponsored persecution. Protests in Oromia were violently repressed by the government since they started in April 2014, and continue to be. “Jail Ogaden” holds thousands of prisoners of conscience in overcrowding conditions and unhygienic facilities. Rape is systematically used as a weapon by the government and local polices such as the Liyu Police, combined with other forms of torture. And those are just a handful of examples. UNPO Report, Human Rights in Ethiopia


UNPO Releases Report on Human Rights in Ethiopia

Photo courtesy of Andrew Heavens @Flickr

UNPO has released a report on human rights in Ethiopia, shedding light on the worrying situation of the Oromo and Ogadeni peoples. While international partners tend to hail Ethiopia as an African democratic role model and a beacon of stability and hope in an otherwise troubled region, the fundamental rights of the country’s unrepresented continue to be violated on a daily basis. With the support of major international donors such as the European Union, Addis Ababa increasingly prioritises strong economic growth, development and a high degree of enforced political stability at the expense of human rights and civil liberties.

Ethiopia’s economy has been growing steadily in recent years, boasting a small emerging middle class and receiving continuously-increasing foreign investment. The country is seen as a key ally by Western powers in the fight against terrorism and the regulation of international migration. Meanwhile, Ethiopia remains one of the world’s poorest countries, with a third of the population living in abject poverty and the country’s regime is also one of the African continent’s most authoritarian in character, cracking down mercilessly on those who voice dissent.

Those living in the Ogaden and Oromia regions are most vulnerable to the State-sponsored persecution. Protests in Oromia were violently repressed by the government since they started in April 2014, and continue to be. “Jail Ogaden” holds thousands of prisoners of conscience in overcrowding conditions and unhygienic facilities. Rape is systematically used as a weapon by the government and local polices such as the Liyu Police, combined with other forms of torture. And those are just a handful of examples.

As of March 2017, 300 people have died of hunger and cholera in the Ogaden region, because of the restrictions imposed by the Ethiopian government. Limitations on freedom of movement bars access to healthcare facilities and the trade embargo causes critical food shortages. UNPO calls on the international community to play its role in safeguarding human rights by putting an end to the financial flows fueling the Ethiopian State’s oppression and intimidation of the most vulnerable among its population.

To view and download the report, please click hereUNPO Report, Human Rights in Ethiopia

Fascism: Genocide: TPLF Ethiopia: Prompting conflict among Neighboring Nations does not rescue the stumbling Fascist TPLF Ethiopia’s regime from defeat January 21, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Genocide, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

OMN: English News ( January 18, 2017)


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Prompting conflict among Neighboring Nations does not rescue the stumbling TPLF regime from defeat (OLF Statement)

Conflict

The Ethiopian empire was founded not based on the will of its nations and nationalities. It was formed by force by elites from the north with help of the European powers. Since its formation, Ethiopia has never respected the interests of other nationalities in the empire. Today, as in the past, the empire is serving only elites from the Tigray, particularly TPLF and members of its pseudo organizations, while majority of ordinary people from other nationalities, particularly the Oromos, are languishing under its tyranny. Subsequently, the economic, socio-cultural and political exploitations have continued unabated. Tired of such tyranny, the Oromo revolutionaries and the youth has stepped up an uprising that has engulfed the entire nation since 2014. Though the responses of the TPLF security forces were brutal, killing hundreds of peaceful protesters and detaining tens of thousands, the protest has continued and even expanded to the Amhara regional state and to the southern Nations and Nationalities regional state.

Desperate to control the people’s uprising, TPLF first declared a command post rule and then a state of emergency. However, neither of the command post nor the state of emergency has stopped the protest as TPLF hopes. Today, there is no political order in the country especially in Oromia and Amhara regional states. Failed to control the situation in the country, TPLF and its pseudo allies used various strategies to silence people’s quest for freedom and democracy. Since clinch on power, TPLF has been instigating a conflict along national and religion lines. Interestingly, after selfinstigating conflict using its undercover security agents, often it presents itself as a mediator while supporting one group with all sorts of logistics up to militarization. Subsequently, TPLF uses this self-instigated conflict as a propaganda on its statecontrol media to tell the people that TPLF is the best, perhaps the only, remedy for the state to continue as a nation. These are among the strategies that this minority group uses to stay on power. Contrary to this fact the TPLF and its dictatorial rule that are destroying the integrity of the country it claims to maintain.

In Oromia, there are countless instances where TPLF intentionally created a conflict between Oromos and other ethnic groups such as Somali. The current “Oromo -Somali conflict” in East and west Hararge, Bale, Borena and Guji zones seem unique in its nature from previous incidents. A well-trained special police forces (aka Liyu police) solely composed of ethnic Somalis are the fore front of the conflict. This conflict, perhaps a war, has been going on for now three weeks and hundreds of innocent Oromo people have been killed by this special police forces.

Although these special forces are composed of carefully selected ethnic Somalis, it is commanded by a TPLF general Abrhaa Qurater and is also enforced by TPLF Agazi Special Force. The Ethiopian government, as usual, is trying to divert this war as if it is just a conflict between Oromo and Somali farmers. Unlike previous conflicts, this is a large-scale war encompassing East and West Hararge, Bale, Borena and Gujii zones. It is also worth noting here that this Somali special forces are trained by Britain for a so called counter insurgency. The UK- and US-governments also finance the training and supported with all the logistics, which are now murdering innocent Oromo farmers in the East, south-east and southern Oromia bordering the Somali regional state. The TPLF government is using this special police forces, trained supposedly for counter insurgency, to raid just unarmed Oromo farmers. It not a simple conflict to ransack cattle and camels, as TPLF tried to present, however, it a war of ethnic cleansing by a well-trained police forces. Not only those directly involved in the war but also those who trained and armed them will be responsible for such atrocity on hundreds of innocent people.

Our people are fighting back with what they have, but one should note that these are a well-trained and armed forces. Thus, they need support from all Oromos in Oromia and across the globe. This is the time that we standup for the right cause, and show our support for those in dire need, putting aside our little differences. Thus, we call upon all Oromo in Oromia and in diaspora to stand with those who are facing the TPLF special forces with bare hand. The only ever lasting solution we have at stake now is to remove TPLF from power for once and for all. This is possible only when we all united and act as one people for one goal, remove TPLF, the killer of our people. We also call upon all Oromos who are currently serving at various posts in police and military camps of the TPLF to turn their weapons against the enemy of your people.

Those who supported the TPLF killing machinery financially as well as in logistics will not escape from accountability. Thus, we call upon the Western governments, specially the government of USA and UK who financially sponsored the training of such killing machinery should immediately withdraw their support and held the TPLF government accountable for all the killings and destruction. Finally, we would like to call upon all people in Ethiopian to stand together to bring an end to the TPLF tyranny.

Victory to the Oromo people!
Oromo Liberation Front
January 21, 2017

Read more in Amharic,  Afaan Oromoo and English


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Gaaddisa RAABAA DOORII (LIVE) Amajjii 17, 2017, Qabxiin Marii: Weerara Liyyuu Poolisii Oromoo Irratti Bane.

OMN: ODUU (Amajjii 18,2017)

OMN: ከቀድሞው የሶማሌ ክልል ፕሬዚዳንት ልዩ አማካሪ ከአቶ አብዱላሂ ሁሴን የተደረገ ቃለመጠይቅ


Abdi Illey’s recent attacks on Oromian territories with TPLF Generals

 

(Ayyaantuu News):There has been frequent, but in fact subsequent, attacks launched by what is called the Liyu Police Force of the Somali Regional State on different districts of Oromia along the South, South east and east particularly along the Hararghe, Bale and Borana lowlands. More than 200 people are estimated to have been killed so far. The Liyu Police, as commanded by the psychopath Abdi Illey did repeatedly commit war crimes and crimes against humanity on civilians in the Ogaden region. Most of the units of the Liyu police are said to have been recruited from Illey’s own clan. After he established the murderous militia group and took the command and control of it, Mr. Illey has literally turned himself into a war lord. He never gives sh* about what the officials at the federal gov’t had to say. It’s even with in the public domain that he spitted on the face of the puppet prime minister HMD in Jigjiga while he was there as a ‘guest of honor’ during the celebration day of what they call “nations and nationalities day” in 2013. While even most of the cabinet ministers of the federal government go on the routine per diem scales on trips to foreign countries, Abdi Illy makes it so differently. The man even contracts and commissions top security guards while reserving hotel rooms in some of the top hotels of the cities he goes for trip to.

2/3: “Liyu police” is an equivalent of the Janjaweed militia in the Sudan (Arabic: جنجويد) but armed by the TPLF to raid districts in Oromia

In this short commentary, I argue that Abdi Illey’s recent attack on the Oromo territories is part of his strategy to “take back” the land he lost during the backdoor deal with the TPLF Generals.
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The land dispute with Afar Regional State
It has been a matter of generic knowledge among the public that the Afar-Issa-Somali conflict over land was the cause for the dismissal for three-fourth of government cabinet members in the Somali regional State a couple of years back. At the heart of the conflict lies, as the Afar diaspora network claims, the Somali-Issa militia forces did expand their control into the heart of the Afar land reaching to the banks of the Awash River and the strategic highway linking Addis Ababa to the port cities of Assab and Djibouti. Apparently, the dispute was halted by TPLF’s interventionist deal that favored the position of the Afar. But insider informants had it that the TPLF-imposed decision to seal the deal favoring the position of the Afar asymmetrically divided the 12-membered cabinet of the Somali Regional State into a fiercely fighting group of 4 to 8 members. Accordingly, 8 of the 12 cabinet members including the then vice-president did reject the decision while 4 of them (including the president Abdi Illey) accepted the TPLF-imposed decision. But the whole saga then went astray so much so that the 8 cabinet members in the Somali Regional State who opposed the move had to be all fired out to implement the land dispute deal proposed by the TPLF, at the end of the day. Abdi Illey’s 4-membered group in the cabinet, a minority by any democratic sense, had to turn victorious by firing all the 8 others (including the vice-president) because Abdi Illey & co had the keen supported from TPLF Generals. What is more??
Why the TPLF wanted to favor the Afar in the tribal land dispute/conflict?
For the TPLF, the Afar region is just part of the greater Tigray it envisions. If article 39 of Ethiopia’s facade federalism is to be first invoked by the TPLF (the maker and its breaker) any time it reads greater risk in the wider Ethiopian politics, Tigreay will secede taking Afar along with it — we all know it and they all know it too. Tigreans have not only political and economic supremacy in the Afar areas but they even dominate the urban culture in there – much like the Amhara do in Oromia due to the lingering legacy of the imperial era and that of the derg. Most businesses in the Afar towns are owned by business men of Tigray origin who are affiliates of the TPLF, more often than not. So, for the TPLF, it’s a natural instinct choice for any land dispute deal between the Afar and the Somali being sealed in favor of the former. But more importantly, the TPLF can make sure that the later won’t lose the land it claimed or at least be compensated for it by what could possibly be paid by a party that had no involvement either in the conflict or in the deal to seal it at the end of the day. Here is where Abdi Illey’s attack on Oromia, as supported by the TPLF Generals comes in. He has already been declared as “the best person of the year” by the TPLF’s mouth piece called “Tigraionline.com”. Sooner or later, we will be told that some remote territories disputed among some tribal pastoralists of the Oromo and Somali have been given to the later. And that seals the backdoor deal between Abdi Illey and the TPLF Generals.

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So what?
It’s conceivable that the OPDO are neither aware of it nor capable of stopping this deal. They are created to contradict the Oromo in the very first place. While the Liyu police not only raids Oromo villages crossing borders but also killing their cadre sitting in office, the OPDO did nothing other than dialing on the old digits of the Arat kilo palace. The response was loud and clear though: ‘the number you calling doesn’t exist’. But they are still calling….so amazing…….
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So, the public should defend itself against these TPLF’s mercenary group called Liyu police by all means possible. We believe semi-organic bodies like the Oromia Police shall stand by the side of the public. We will overcome this dirty war of the TPLF too!
la luta continua vitoria e certa!!!

ETHIOPIA: A LEADERSHIP IN CRISIS UNVEILED BY PROTESTS December 9, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist#OromoProtests image, Addis Standard

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ETHIOPIA: A LEADERSHIP IN CRISIS UNVEILED BY PROTESTS

By Hamaa Loolaa, Addis Standard, 7  December 2016


It is now more than a year since the Oromo Protest for justice and democracy began in Ethiopia. It reverberated throughout Oromia and exposed the regime’s use of brutality to suppress and silence dissenting voices. But instead of waning, the struggle gained momentum when the Amhara youth in Gondar and Bahir Dar came out not only to demand justice for themselves but also carrying slogans asking the regime to stop the killings, arbitrary imprisonments, the torture and forced disappearances of  innocent Oromo civilians.

Such protest is not only the first of its kind to vehemently challenge the quarter century uncontested rule of the TPLF dominated EPRDF in Ethiopia, but also has significantly shifted the overall power balance, mindsets and political dynamics in the country.  It also inspired other peoples of Ethiopia to rise up for their rights and engaged all Oromo from east to west and from south to north irrespective of age, gender or religion. (The streets in Oromia were overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of protesters including a 77-year-old grandmother who went out with her stick in a brave act of defiance against the regime’s brutality.)

Because the protest has, beyond its initial call against land dispossession, evolved into a struggle for freedom, a resistance against injustice, and a longing for a dignified life, no amount of force or of coercion was able to suppress it, let alone stop it. A year on, it is now safe to conclude that this nationwide protest has already planted itself in the hearts and minds of millions of oppressed people as the most significant event of the year.

The protests and the public debates that followed have also impacted others’ views on the long-standing plights of the Oromo and the Amhara, the two largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Prior to these protests hardly anyone understood, much less publicly recognized, the sacrifices paid by the Oromo and the Amhara to live a dignified life in their own country. Above all, it exposed how successive regimes in Ethiopia have marginalized, denied and robbed these two groups of their ability to develop and flourish as human beings in their own country.

What a demanding public exposed

Inspired by these protests, currently, Ethiopians all over the country are asking their government to protect and respect their economic, social and cultural rights as well as their civil and political rights. But at the same time, the government’s response is helping the people of Ethiopia to realize that it has almost no leadership capacity to respond to their demands. Ethiopians now see that their government is dysfunctional and its leadership in crisis; what exists and functions is a dissonant leadership that exacerbates conflict, driving the society into a downward spiral from frustration to resentment, and perpetuates antagonism and hostility.

Throughout the year, the ruling party has demonstrated no notable leadership capacity; not one political leader has spoken authentically to the hearts and the minds of the people in order to solve the common problem amicably. Instead of making an effort to lead through this crisis and face the challenge by creating an accommodating environment for all Ethiopians, the ruling party cliques have remained empty demagogues who keep on sending divisive messages and wielding their power by fear-mongering techniques.

Beyond the call for freedom and justice, the Oromo and Amhara protests, as well as the defiance in various parts of the country including from the people of Konso in the south and Tigray in the north, have exposed the truth about EPRDF’s leadership capacity, which was mystified by ‘*seventeen years of relentless struggle and tested leadership to defeat the largest military in Africa*’. It is now clear that it is nothing more than an empty ideological rhetoric and a means to frighten, belittle and silence people who ask difficult questions and challenge the system. But that doesn not mean than the rest of Ethiopians do not recognize and appreciate the sacrifices and the agony the Tigray people have paid for seventeen years to oust the military dictatorship. However, it is not hard to see that the TPLF, which was born out of this struggle and had led this protracted war to victory, and the regime it dominates, have turned out to be an authoritarian regime.

There for good or bad

 Although the yearlong nationwide protests led by the Oromo and the Amhara, as well as others to various degrees, have exposed the regime’s inability to bring in meaningful political leadership, for good or bad, the TPLF dominated EPRDF is the government in power which, for now, will determine the course of actions to respond to the current struggle for justice and democracy.

There is a possibility that the TPLF dominated EPRDF might take one of the following two courses of actions. Both have a potential to direct or misdirect the current call for democracy and justice in two mutually exclusive directions.

First course of action: road to democratization and peace

The first direction and course of action the TPLF dominated EPRDF may consider is the road to democracy and sustainable peace. However, reversing the current dire political condition and responding to the needs of the people requires it to recognize and understand the need for change; it requires embracing the change and transformation the people want to realize through a democratic process.

Hard as it may be, the following course of actions should precede any other course of action to start the democratization process.

Restore the constitution – build trust and confidence of citizens around the constitution by making it a practical document. Arguably, this means the regime itself should begin respecting the constitution and lead by example.

Scrap laws and policies which are against the constitution and which prevent citizens from exercising their democratic rights enshrined in the constitution. These include, but not limited to, scrapping the Anti-Terrorism Law, which is so far mainly used to silence citizens and violate their rights than persecute suspected terrorists; amending the draconian press law, which is so far used to violate citizens’ right to freedom of expression and access to information; scrapping the Civil Society and Charities Law, which is prohibiting the growth of independent civil society organizations which are the pillars of non-state actors in the development of democracy and human rights in the country.

Release all political prisoners unconditionally.  Obviously, once the laws and procedures, which often undermine the constitution, are lifted there is no reason to keep people in prison.

Reform, among others, the justice system, the police, security forces and prison administrations as well as the election board, the anti-corruption commission, the human rights commission, and the state-controlled media.

Possible impact

 The ruling party would lose nothing for taking this revolutionary action. In fact, it would help it to breath; to objectively address its current leadership crisis and reemerge as a legitimate political force. It would also provide it with the opportunity to think strategically.

Change is a natural state, which we cannot completely control or make predictable.  It is overwhelming and chaotic, but rewarding at the end. The most important step to start the process of change is by being bold, letting go of the old and rigid ways of thinking and governing. The regime in Ethiopia has to come out of its fear of change and see the bigger picture; it should relax its grips on old practices, which did not contribute to its own growth or to that of the rest of the country for the last 25 years.

There is no question that by taking such bold actions, the TPLF dominated EPRDF has a comparative advantage over other political groupings currently operating in the country. As it has shown in the past it can rehabilitate itself quicker than others and appear as a viable political organization in the years to come.

Above all, this action ensures the continuity of the democratization processes by engaging citizens to determine their own future and relieves the existing state-citizen tensions. If this is done, the healing process, as well as the peace and reconciliation process will be relatively easier.  Ultimately, this approach also guarantees the existence and continuity of Ethiopia as a nation home to all its citizens.

Implications for a protesting nation

This peaceful democratization process can bring change and transformation to the people of Ethiopia in general and the Oromo in particular, who are the largest ethnic group in the country and have been the driving force of the nationwide protests. As a result, the Oromo struggle for democracy and justice might fall under one of the following two scenarios.

First is the scenario in which Oromo elites, by the virtue of being a middle class, by affiliation to any Oromo-related organization, or by their prior personal experience come together and create a consortium, a democratic front, or a party to lead a meaningful struggle. This may, in turn, render irrelevant disorganized struggles, which often hamper or even take hostage the Oromo struggle for freedom and justice.

The physical and emotional separation and distance of the Oromo elites from the struggle on the ground may at times prevent them from sensing and living the struggle itself. Unless the democratic process on the ground creates room to accommodate all dissenting voices both from within and abroad, those who have the leadership capacity and the necessary political know-how cannot provide adaptive leadership or have the empathetic capacity to connect to the mass, particularly with the young generation that is both leading and shouldering the brunt of the struggle.

The second is a scenario in which the need to phase out the old and replace it with the new thinking and political organization both within the country and abroad takes precedence.  The Oromo Protest and the current awakening is a painful form of labor to give birth to a new dynamic and profound political organization fit for the 21st century.

For this new Oromo organization to be born and to become the vanguard of the struggle, all old Oromo organizations, which were and still are trying to contribute under different names and ideologies, have to die a natural death and give way to new thinking and new possibilities. The new will have the energy and capacity to unify and transform the Oromo to a higher level and lead the struggle to victory. Like the TPLF, all Oromo organizations which existed for decades and have tried to contribute, albeit less successfully, have reached their maximum limit and are in need of reform.

The struggle between the old and the new is natural – even our cells are continually dying and being reborn. The Safuvalue, which is unique to Oromo culture and psyche, reaffirms this natural process, which urges the old to peacefully pass the scepter to the new.

Qeerro, the emboldened youth (as the name implies) is currently filling the leadership gap and taking the responsibility of leading the resistance against the current government, even as they are met with brutal responses. The Qeerro is successful in amplifying the struggle to all corners of Oromia and beyond, as well as inspiring all Oromos irrespective of age, religion, gender, class and locality. It has also unified the Oromo under the motto of ‘Tokkummaa’ (oneness or unity) and the ‘Say No’ or ‘Diidnee’ slogan.

Above all, by flying the resistance flag (not the OLF flag) the Qeerro demonstrated that the flag is the sign of freedom for which all revolutionary Oromos sacrificed their lives even long before OLF was created. It has raised this flag because it embodies hope and reminds all Oromos about those beautiful young people who died flying it.  Therefore, to lead the struggle to its final destination, the current Qeerro movement is in the stage of development to come out with the new leadership and organization from within its rank and file. Many think that Qeerro is just the network of youth from colleges, high schools, and elementary schools who are just driven by social media. But the fact is there are engineers, professors, medical doctors, businesspeople, and other professionals who are part of the rank and file of the Qeerro.

When the situation is ripe and there is a favorable political environment, the Qeerro can easily transform into a political organization. It is this organization and leadership of the Oromo which can navigate the ship towards freedom through the storm and onto its final destination. It is time this passion gets a new leadership it deserves.

Status quo: The second course of action for TPLF/EPRDF

The above scenario is in the event that the ruling party takes the course to democratize through reform. The second course of action is about maintaining the status quo. But it is a dangerous choice; a choice of war. It is about TPLF/EPRDF refusing to bring change from within itself and the country as a whole.

This is also a choice that looks for easy answers; but it is not the easy way out of the current quagmire. It is easy because it does not require critical thinking and having difficult conversations.  This course of action is a decision to repress and silence the current cry for democracy and human rights through the barrel of the gun. It is about war and involving its armed force, intelligence, federal police and militia in the internal issues of the country to brutally suppress the uprising. By doing so, it will only intensify the conflict to a higher level and bring human and property losses to the level the country and the people of Ethiopia can no longer endure.

Unfortunately, this is what we are witnessing today; military forces killing, arresting and torturing citizens on behalf of a regime in power. The impending consequence is that they will never be regarded as a national army delegated to protect the constitution, and will be labeled only as the enemy of the people.

In addition to its military solution to the conflict, TPLF/EPRDF is getting into its age-old habit of manipulating and drawing other nations and nationalities into a civil war; perpetuate religious conflict in different places by pitting one religion against the other; and create conflicts between rural people/farmers and urban dwellers. But it should be known that this will benefit no one, including the ruling party itself.

What is next?

Inspired by the yearlong Oromo and Amhara protests the rest of Ethiopians have made it loud and clear that they need a fundamental change; they have been saying so for 25 years, too. Ethiopians have tried with all their might and used every means possible to make their voices heard and have time and again proclaimed a moment of reckoning for a paradigm shift. Alas, instead of objectively and purposefully responding to this popular demand, the government is stuck into its old tactics of blaming, accusing, and intimidating people.

Now in a frantic act to quell and pacify the protests and silence the voices of the oppressed, in October this year the government declared a state of emergency for six months. However, the state of emergency is doing more harm than good and its implementation is driving millions to the edge of bitterness. The sooner the ruling party realizes that such techniques are only good to temporarily pacify rising public demands, the better. The only road to bring lasting solution is the road that begins by protecting the constitution and striving to build a democratic country with respect for human rights and the rule of law. This is also true for opposition political organizations, which are operating both in the country and abroad.

The underlying cause for the current protest and uprising is the struggle between the old and the new. The old is trying to do everything in its capacity to extend its life while the new is striving to shape and realize the new world it is envisioning.

For the good of all, the old (self and system) has to be courageous enough to accept and let go of its old organization, thinking, and power; it has to accept the inevitable.

The people of Ethiopia in general and the Oromo youth in particular, are determined to leave the past behind and move forward. They don’t want to be chained to and distracted by the past, which contributes less for the wellbeing of today and humanity of tomorrow.

Only when the old gives way to the new do citizens develop trust and confidence in a political system and themselves to take the responsibility of contributing to a democratic society and prosperous nation.

The National Interest: Ethiopia Opens a Pandora’s Box of Ethnic Tensions October 13, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist


The seizure of large tracts of land is a process of re-concentration and of the marginalization and disempowerment of Ethiopia’s (non-Tigray) ethnic groups.

The EPRDF’s governing ideology, “revolutionary democracy”—a curious concoction of Marxist, Maoist, and ethno-regionalist thought—demands Soviet-style submission to the Tigray-dominated state. It calls for communal collective participation and democratic centralism. Through gim gima, nationally publicized government evaluation sessions, the regime weeds out dissidents and indoctrinates citizens. Following the regime’s violent clampdown during the disputed 2005 elections, the EPRDF published a booklet entitled Democracy and Democratic Unity that it used nationwidegim gima to explain away its brutal response. The booklet gave Ethiopians a “clear choice between dependency and anti-democracy forces” (i.e. opposition parties) and “revolutionary democracy (peace and developmentalism).” Rather than participants in a liberal order, then, Ethiopian citizens are mobilizing apparatchiks for the vanguard party. And since 1991 they have been subject to the diktats of one ethnic (minority) group. Resistance has been met with imprisonment, or worse.

 


Ethiopia Opens a Pandora’s Box of Ethnic Tensions

At the heart of the protests is the fundamental question of how to build a modern nation-state on the back of ethnic fault lines that have been exploited over centuries.



Since November 2015, Ethiopia has been beset by an unprecedented wave of protests. They began as a rebuke to a government plan to expand the municipal boundaries of the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia Region. They have since expanded to the neighboring Amhara Region, underscoring decades of grievances against ethnic marginalization and authoritarian rule by the governing Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The regime has responded aggressively. Human Rights Watch reports upwards of five hundred people have been so far killed in what the United States has decried as an “excessive use of force.” Tens of thousands more have been detained. An unexplained fire on September 3 in Kilinto prison in which hundreds of political prisoners are housed killed at least twenty-three. Rather than backing down, however, the protesters are gathering steam. The unrest has opened a pandora’s box of institutional and ideological contradictions that strike at the heart of contemporary Ethiopian statehood. Understanding these issues is essential for an understanding of the unrest now gripping the country.

“You cannot remove the ethnic issue from Ethiopian politics,” Eskinder Nega, a now-imprisoned Ethiopian journalist and democracy activist, told me in 2010. At the time I was an overeager doctoral student living in Addis Ababa and researching Chinese investments in the country. I had been introduced to Eskinder by a university professor, and he was kind enough to indulge (and endure) the inquisitive pepperings of a graduate student. Ethiopia is made up of nine dominant ethnic groups and approximately eighty others. Historically, the Amhara people—of which Eskinder is a member—were the country’s governing force. Emperor Haile Selassie, Emperor Menilek (1889–1913) before him, and Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Derg regime (1974–89) after him were all Amhara. Each sought to establish a unified Ethiopia with Amharic as the official language and the Amhara culture as the foundation of Ethiopian identity. All other identities were to be eliminated—either by way of assimilation, or by force. In this the Derg was especially merciless. It perceived ethnic diversity as a threat to state unity; through its Red Terror campaign, it brutally slaughtered over five hundred thousand people—all, in its eyes, enemies of the Amhara state. The policies of the Derg were especially damaging to the population of Tigray, a tiny region in the northernmost part of Ethiopia along the border with Eritrea. Today, the Tigray make up a mere six percent of the population. Government brutality, lack of economic opportunity, and prohibitions on labor migration left the Tigray ethnically and economically isolated.

Years of repression ultimately gave way to resentment of the Amhara and, by extension, the state. It also gave rise to what Ethiopian historian Gebru Tareke calls “dissent nationalism,” and the emergence of ethno-nationalist groups like the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). For the TPLF, the state was an oppressive and colonizing force from which the country’s ethnicities had to be liberated. In 1975 the group waged what amounted to a secessionist struggle: its 1976 manifesto established “the first task of the national struggle will be the establishment of an independent democratic republic of Tigray.” When in 1989 the TPLF, then already under the direction of Meles Zenawi, successfully overthrew the Derg and in 1991 merged with three other political factions to form the EPRDF, Ethiopia was subdivided into nine mostly ethnic regions, each with the right to independent lawmaking, executive, and judicial powers. Enshrined in Article 39.3 of the constitution is the right of all ethnicities to “self-government.” Ethnic communities ostensibly inherited Ethiopia. The catch, of course, is that the EPRDF believes the only mechanism capable of ensuring sovereignty for each of the country’s ethnicities is the EPRDF itself. Relations between the central government and the regions have over the years become so centralized, and local authority so emasculated, that the de jurepremise of the modern Ethiopian state—ethnic federalism—is meaningless. Contemporary Ethiopia is a shining example of the ancient dictum, repeated throughout the ages, dīvide et īmpera—divide and rule. Further complicating the narrative is the fact that the EPRDF—in which the TPLF remains the dominant force—has never fully surrendered its vision of an independent Tigray. The 1976 manifesto has never been revised.

In this way, decades of Amhara control have given way to decades of Tigray control. The presidential office, the parliament, central government ministries and agencies—including public enterprises—and financial institutions have since 1991 all been controlled by the TPLF. So too the military. 99 percent of Ethiopian National Defense Force officers are from Tigray; 97 percent are from the same village. Only the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, is not Tigray: he is Wolayta, an ethnic group that forms the majority of the population in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR). His historically close ties to Meles, first while President of SNNPR, then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, have, however, effectively rendered him Tigray by association.

The EPRDF’s governing ideology, “revolutionary democracy”—a curious concoction of Marxist, Maoist, and ethno-regionalist thought—demands Soviet-style submission to the Tigray-dominated state. It calls for communal collective participation and democratic centralism. Through gim gima, nationally publicized government evaluation sessions, the regime weeds out dissidents and indoctrinates citizens. Following the regime’s violent clampdown during the disputed 2005 elections, the EPRDF published a booklet entitled Democracy and Democratic Unity that it used nationwidegim gima to explain away its brutal response. The booklet gave Ethiopians a “clear choice between dependency and anti-democracy forces” (i.e. opposition parties) and “revolutionary democracy (peace and developmentalism).” Rather than participants in a liberal order, then, Ethiopian citizens are mobilizing apparatchiks for the vanguard party. And since 1991 they have been subject to the diktats of one ethnic (minority) group. Resistance has been met with imprisonment, or worse. If, as William Davidson writes, today’s protests “seem to be taking on a worrying ethnic tinge,” that is because they have been ethnic from the start. Politics in Ethiopia is inherently ethnic.

Of the EPRDF’s most beloved methods of centralizing control is through the centralization of land—land grabbing—which has become a rallying point in the current turmoil. While it is foreign firms in Ethiopia who are generally accused of expropriating land, the blame in fact lies with the EPRDF. A 2009 government regulation gives the EPRDF full control over all aspects of land investments over five thousand hectares (approximately 12,350 acres), including the right to expropriate land from the country’s regions and transfer it to investors. Under Ethiopian law all revenues, taxes, and associated infrastructure resulting from the investments now accrue to the EPRDF. Previously, real estate transactions had been handled by each of the country’s nine regional governments. As Chatham House, a London-based think tank, notes, “it is the state that stands to reap the most significant gains.” But the factors underpinning the government’s land grabs extend beyond simple economics: they are also a means for the TPLF-dominated EPRDF to realize some version of an independent Tigray. The seizure of large tracts of land is a process of re-concentration and of the marginalization and disempowerment of Ethiopia’s (non-Tigray) ethnic groups. Theoretically at least, it is intended to forge greater dependence on the central state and to render it increasingly difficult for rebel groups to emerge and operate in lowland areas. Most projects are concentrated in Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, SNNPR, and northern Amhara—remote regions of the country where government processes of assimilation and integration are ongoing. By commandeering the land, the EPRDF hopes to speed them up.

Violent attacks carried out by Ethiopian protesters on Dutch, Israeli, Indian and Belgian-owned farms in Amhara in early September therefore did not target foreign interests in the country per se, but EPRDF efforts to strip Ethiopians of land and identity. Foreign firms were the unfortunate middlemen.

For the better part of the last quarter century the EPRDF has attempted to whitewash its ethnic ambitions with its economic development agenda. Ethiopia is at the heart of the “Africa rising” narrative and has succeeded in lifting millions out of extreme poverty, cutting child mortality rates, and overseeing an impressive decline in HIV/AIDS-related deaths by 50 percent. Some argue that rather than ethnic tensions, the protests reflect mounting frustrations with an uneven distribution of the economic pie. This is undoubtedly part of the story. Yet as unrest engulfs places like the Amhara capital, Bahir Dar, and Adama, Oromia’s most vibrant city, which have benefitted from economic growth, it is clear that economic grievances are secondary. When in 2010 Eskinder told me, regrettably, that Ethiopia has become “the world’s star backslider,” he did not mean this economically. He meant in terms of governance and in terms of statehood. “Meles’ rule,” he said, “is not only that of the party but of the ethnicity. Meles’ relatives, friends, et cetera are putting pressure on him not to give up control because he would be giving up the control of the entire Tigray people.” This rings true of the TPLF today.

This is what makes the Ethiopian unrest so significant—and potentially dangerous. At the heart of the protests is the fundamental question of how to build a modern nation state on the back of ethnic fault lines that have been exploited over centuries. Through its formula of ethnic federalism and revolutionary democracy the EPRDF has merely succeeded in repeating the errors of its predecessors through different means. In many respects the state-building question has gone unresolved; Ethiopia’s crisis is largely an existential one. In the coming weeks Hailemariam Desalegn will likely attempt peace by announcing a redistribution of government investments. Most—if not all—political and economic power will remain vested in the TPLF. While this may quell the protests for a time, without genuine attention to the country’s conflicting institutional and ideological challenges—central to which is the dominance of the TPLF and the Tigray—the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. All that is at stake, is everything.

Aleksandra W. Gadzala is an independent political-risk consultant based out of Boca Raton, FL and an Africa contributor with Oxford Analytica. She holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Oxford.