Oromo-Norwegians Views & Reflections on the Current Engagement of the Norwegian Development Policy in Ethiopia
By Buttaa Duuloo
The Oromo community in Oslo and its surroundings has a long tradition of boosting the Oromo identity(Oromummaa) that highly empowers the Oromo nationalism to its host and to the wider society.
This community probably is one of the oldest Diaspora based Oromo communities in Europe. From its inception back in the late 1980s, the community has been demonstrating for civil rights and Oromummaa– as one of the ancient folks with rich culture at different occasions on different forums.
Among others, demonstration of what is going on back home in Oromia, Ethiopia, on May Day – the Workers solidarity day, the community protest against any form of bilateral and partnership agreements between the Norwegian government and the successive rulers of Ethiopia. The protest has been one of the major events that have been used as a platform for airing off Oromia and its situation.
The Oromo community has again freshly made a significant move by protesting against the lobby from the TPLF-led government in order to recruit potential stakeholders in the so-called Abbay Dam construction investment project. The Oromo community together with other concerned individuals has abandoned the scheduled meeting; as a result, the TPLF consulate in Stockholm has forced to halt the program.
Recently, the Development Fund of Norway has arranged an Ethiopian Week where the socio-economic and severe political situation is under the minority TPLF-led government. The focus of the discussion was on social policy whereby the Norwegian government endorses the so-called double digit economic growth in Ethiopia.
Participants were His Excellency Ministry of the International Development, Heikki Holmås, from the Socialist left party, and Peter Gitmark from the right-wing conservative party of Norway. All participants of the seminar were sharing the same views of the government opponent thereby requesting the Norwegian Ministry of International Development to demand the fundamental prerequisites to be fulfilled by the Ethiopian authorities before launching any sort of development partnership with it.
His Excellence the Norwegian Ministry of International Development, Heikki Holmås, was so humble and extended his informal discussion after the seminar as well.
Members of the Oromo Community, including the current leader of the Community, Mr. Gudeta Boki, and the regime’s survivor of torture and human rights activist Mr. Hussien Ahmed, have also made their points explicit with regards to the ongoing Oromos socio-political problems.
In general, the community leaders have explained their concern about the escalating human rights violations, ongoing unconditional imprisonments of Oromos and dismissal of Oromo students from colleges and universities, thereby winning the attention of the Minister – Heikki Holmås.
Finally, despite the Ministry’s office willingness to aid the minority-led government in Ethiopia, he was also touched by the serious human rights situations in the country. He has the view that poverty reduction could pave the way to a democratic society, and added that Norway’s engagement and current take is only to alleviate the extreme poverty in Ethiopia.