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UpFront Africa Show: Oromo visual artist Yaddi Bojia talks on using his art as a platform to speak on issues related to Oromo Culture,Social issues and Gadaa system August 7, 2017

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Oromo visual artist and activist Yaddi Bojia talks to Jackson Muneza M’vunganyi on using his art as a platform to speak on issues related to Oromo Culture,Social issues,Black Lives Movement etc.’Artists often see their place to provoke, to voice, to enlighten.’



VOA: Rights Activists in Ethiopia Report Obstacles at Every Turn. #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution October 29, 2016

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A man attends a prayer session at Biftu Bole Lutheran Church during a prayer and candle ceremony for protesters who died in the town of Bishoftu two weeks ago during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 16, 2016.

A man attends a prayer session at Biftu Bole Lutheran Church during a prayer and candle ceremony for protesters who died in the town of Bishoftu two weeks ago during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 16, 2016.

VOA: Ethiopia Protests Continue Despite Call for Calm. #OromoProtests #Bishoftu Massacre October 6, 2016

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#OromoProtests: “We want our own government and those in the current government don’t represent us. They are incompetent to administer us and we want them to leave power.”

Ethiopia Protests Continue Despite Call for Calm

 VOA, October 05, 2016  By Salem Solomon


FILE — Demonstrators chant slogans and flash the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is observing an official mourning period for more than 50 people killed during a crackdown and stampede at an ethnic cultural festival in the Oromia region Sunday.At the same time, the country is seeing a continuation, possibly an escalation, of the anti-government protests that sparked the violence.

Hundetu Biratu took part in a protest that turned deadly Monday in Dembidolo, a town in southwestern Ethiopia. She told VOA that her brother was shot and killed during the demonstration.

“We were taking my brother to the hospital. A bullet pierced his neck and exited through his ears. They fired tear gas and I fell. When I got up they shot me on my thighs and I fell,” she said.

Mulatu Gemechu, assistant deputy chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, said other protests took place Monday and Tuesday across eastern and western Oromia. He said clashes broke out in Sendefa, a town in central Ethiopia, as mourners returned from a funeral for a mother and a child who died in Sunday’s pandemonium.

The Oromia Police Commission deputy commissioner, Sori Dinqa, told reporters that protesters in the region are destroying property, burning cars and targeting government offices.


Demonstrators protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia. More than 50 people were killed in the violence.

“There are continued and sporadic efforts to block streets, disturb the peace and burn administrative buildings. Our police are continuing to prevent that. We want the people to condemn the uprising and discourage people from taking part in these acts,” he said.

But few people appear to be heeding his call.

A witness in Alem Gena, a town in central Ethiopia, said a funeral service for victims turned into an anti-government demonstration. He said no one was killed but anger in his area is running high.

“We want our own government and those in the current government don’t represent us. They are incompetent to administer us and we want them to leave power,” said the man, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons.

Questions about the stampede

Official tallies put the death toll from Monday’s violence at 52, while Desalegn Bayisa, general manager of the Bishoftu Hospital, told reporters 55 people had been killed. Opposition members and activists, however, place the number of people who died in the hundreds.

Bayisa said the hospital also treated more than 100 injured people.

Advocacy groups such as Freedom House blamed some of the deaths on security forces firing tear gas and live ammunition at festival attendees.

Questions about safety precautions are also being asked of the organizers of the festival, which drew hundreds of thousands of people to a location that includes a lake and deep ditches.

FILE -- People assist an injured protester during Irrechaa, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia.

FILE — People assist an injured protester during Irrechaa, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia.

“It’s amazing really. There seemed to be no preparation or planning about how to manage the flows of people,” said William Davison, a reporter for Bloomberg News who attended the event and said there were no barriers between the people and the ditches.

“To make those mistakes given the high likelihood of a protest and a government response just seems sort of criminally negligent to me,” Davison added.

Stifling dissent and criticism

Free speech advocates say the government was attempting to silence critical voices even before the festival.

Seyoum Teshome, a prominent Oromo blogger and lecturer at Ambo University, was arrested on October 1 in Wolisso, 110 kilometers from the capital of Addis Ababa. His house was searched and the police confiscated his computer according to local reports.

“My attempts to reach him via his phone ended unsuccessfully. May he stay safe,” wrote Befekadu Hailu, another blogger, on his Facebook page.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a group advocating for the safety of journalists, condemned the arrest and called on the government to release Teshome without delay or conditions.

It is “deeply disturbing as it comes against a backdrop of government moves to stifle protests and criticism,” CPJ’s deputy director Robert Mahoney said.

“We want to see any pending charges or charges they might try to pursue dropped,” Kerry Paterson, the senior advocacy officer for CPJ’s Africa program told VOA. “The chilling effect that occurs as a result of arresting people doesn’t just hurt the individual journalist who gets arrested. It hurts all Ethiopia.”

What’s next?

Analysts see no end in sight to the ethnic tensions roiling Ethiopia.

Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa Movement, a group that advocates for good governance, said protesters do not feel the promise of Ethiopian federalism, in which all regions are supposed to have a degree of self-governance, has been realized.

“I don’t see it ending anytime soon,” he said of the widespread anger. “I think a lot of this resentment and a lot of this discord that we are seeing is because the highly intrusive, highly repressive central government has not allowed those basic democratic avenues to be opened up. They have not allowed the Oromo people in particular to exercise and to demonstrate their basic rights that are enshrined in the country’s own constitution.”

Adane Tilahun, the chairman of the opposition All Ethiopian Unity Party, said that to begin the healing process from this week’s events, the government needs to recognize the killings were unjustified, apologize, and offer compensation to the families of the victims.

Tilahun also called on international actors and human rights groups to put pressure on the Ethiopian government in order to establish an independent investigation into the deaths.

VOA reporters Tujube Hora and Solomon Kifle contributed to this report.


VOA: U.S. Concern Over Ethiopia September 26, 2016

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The United States is very concerned over the situation in Ethiopia, particularly the instability in the Oromia and Amhara regions.

The United States is very concerned over the situation in Ethiopia, particularly the instability in the Oromia and Amhara regions, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in an interview. Speaking in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield called the response by the government to protests an “intense and somewhat harsh crackdown:”

“We have had discussions with the Ethiopian government encouraging that they have dialogue, and that they open the possibly for press freedom, civil society’s ability to function, and that many of the people who have been put in jail be released.”

In Oromia anti-government protests began in November 2015, and they have also occurred in the northern Amhara region.

Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield said the United States believes that the situation in the country could deteriorate and that the Ethiopian government is aware of that possibility as well.

“We’ve met with Prime Minister Hailemariam [Desalegn] in New York, and we have encouraged him to look at how the government is addressing this situation.”

“We think,” she said, “it could get worse if it’s not addressed – sooner rather than later.”

Oromia (#OromoProtests): VOA: Ethiopia Boundary Dispute Puts Human Rights Violations in Spotlight January 25, 2016

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

Global Solidalirty rally with #OromoProtests in Oromia@Seattle 29 December 2015
 Ethiopia Boundary Dispute Puts Human Rights Violations in Spotlight

After almost two months of clashes between Oromo protesters and security forces in Ethiopia, authorities have scrapped a “master plan” that would have expanded the boundaries of Addis Ababa and, according to protesters, would have displaced Oromo farmers.

However, observers are divided on the significance of the move by Ethiopia and whether it truly represents a change of policy or just a reaction to negative publicity.

Dr. Awol Allo, a fellow in human rights at the London School of Economics, said he believes the government will find other ways to take land it deems useful.

“I don’t actually believe that the practices of displacement and the eviction and the plunder would cease,” Allo told VOA. “Remember, the expansion of Addis began a very long time ago and it has intensified over the course of the last 10 years because of the influx of investment into the city, both foreign and domestic.”

Compiled by activists

Allo pointed to figures compiled by jailed Oromo activist and opposition leader Bekele Gerba, who said 150,000 Oromo farmers have had their land taken by the government over the past 10 years.

“The practices would continue. They just don’t call them a master plan,” Allo said. “The master plan was basically intended to sort of basically formalize and legalize the processes of annexation and expansion. It may not have that kind of name that gives it a broader mandate, sort of legitimacy and authority, but the practice would nevertheless continue.”

Earlier this week, the European Parliament adopted a 19-point resolution urging Ethiopia to respect the rights of peaceful protestors as well as to cease intimidation and imprisonment of journalists. During a recent visit to Ethiopia, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power urged the government to engage in dialogue with protesters.

Approximately 140 people were killed during the protests, according activists interviewed by Human Rights Watch.

“What we are urging is that the international community should not turn a blind eye to these gross violations of human rights that have taken place in Ethiopia,” said Mandeep Tiwana, head of policy and research at CIVICUS, a group that works to strengthen civil society and civilian participation in politics.

“They should diplomatically engage with Ethiopia, institute external inquiry into this matter and also bring to court those responsible for excessive force and it appears that security forces have used excessive force against peaceful protesters and in fact there are reports that even children as young as 12 have been killed,” Tiwana said.

Confirmed deaths

The government has confirmed that 13 security forces died in the clashes. VOA made repeated requests for comment from the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C., but has not yet received an official statement.

The protests come at a particularly difficult time for Ethiopia, as the worst drought to hit the area in 30 years has caused a famine that is particularly affecting the northeast region.

The aid group Save the Children says as many as 10 million people are in need of food aid and calls it one of the two worst humanitarian crises in the world, following only Syria.

But observers hope the desire by the international community to aid those affected by the drought will not prevent them from insisting that Ethiopia respect human rights as it pertains to the Oromo protests.

Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said her organization and others are calling for three additional measures following the cancellation of the master plan.

Release, investigation

First, they want the unconditional release of the people arrested during the protests. They also want an independent investigation of police conduct, and they are calling for a national dialogue about policing and demonstrations and what is appropriate during protests.

“It is a sign of good faith that the government canceled these immediate plans,” Wanyeki said. “I think the pressure from the community and from all of the people that put aid into Ethiopia’s much wanted development progress need to insist on standards around projects like this.”

Under Ethiopian law, all land belongs to the government and people who are relocated are entitled to compensation.

However, the constitution specifically protects the rights of pastoralists and their right not to be displaced from their land.

Allo said proper compensation and due process has not occurred in the Oromo region around Addis Ababa.

“Their entire livelihood is inextricably tied to the land and land means everything. Their property is a way of living for them so to deprive them of that possibility that prospect of leaving the land that they have known, in the ecologies that they have known, without proper consultation, without appropriate compensation, I think that is a huge injustice,” he said.

VOA: Several Killed in Ethiopia Oromia Protests. #OromoProtests December 11, 2015

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???????????OromoProtests @Finfinnee University  Dec. 7, 2015#OromoProtests of 7 December 2015

Several Killed in Ethiopia Oromia Protests

Clashes between police and protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia region have left several people dead, according to officials and regional opposition leaders.

Oromia has seen three weeks of protests over a government plan to integrate parts of the region with the capital, Addis Ababa. Critics say the plan will undermine local rule and cause local farmers to lose their land.

Witnesses say police have used force to contain or shut down protests, including one that took place Thursday in the town of Bako.

“Today in Bako city when the students came out to protest, people joined them and they started firing live rounds and hit some students,” a witness told VOA’s Horn of Africa Service. There was no word on whether anyone was killed.

Bloomberg news quotes a prominent opposition leader, Bekele Nega, as saying police have killed 10 students taking part in the ongoing protests.

Ethiopia’s communications minister, Getachew Reda, put the number of dead at four, and said security forces have been exercising restraint in the face of violence.

Widening protests

Oromia is one of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically-based states and holds the largest population at more than 27 million.

The protests started on November 20 in the Western Oromo region cities of Ambo, Ginchi and Western Welega, and they have since spread.

The tactics used to clamp down on these protests are reminiscent of the 2014 protests in the Oromia towns of Ambo, Nekemte and Jimma, according to Human Rights Watch, where security forces fired live rounds and beat people who were protesting peacefully.

Speaking to journalists in Ethiopia a few days ago, the police commissioner of the Oromia region, Ibrahim Hajj, blamed misinformation and propaganda for fueling hostilities among some in the Oromo community.

“Today the people are ensuring the rights and are beneficiaries in all sectors including, social, economic sectors. But there are some who are trying to make it seem as if the rights of the people have been violated and they take advantage of this situation behind the scenes,” he said.

Felix Horne, an Ethiopia and Eritrea researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the spread of the protests started slowly and gained momentum within schools and other educational institutions.

“Initially it was students in primary schools, secondary schools, some university students and now we are seeing farmers, workers beginning to take part in these protests in different ways — staging protests peaceful means, sit-ins to mourn the death of those who’ve lost their lives. So the protests definitely seem to be gaining momentum,” he said.

Horne said that while the government’s development for Addis sparked the protests, they are about much larger issues.

“Ostensibly these protests are about the Addis Ababa Master Plan but clearly the Oromos have been marginalized by successive governments and so it’s kind of an accumulation of different frustrations,” he said. “Throughout Oromia, arbitrary detention is common, mistreatment in detention is common and then Oromos just don’t have a voice in issues that impact them day-to-day.”