Tax Payers’ Money is Funding Terrorists in the Horn of Africa
by Denebo Dekeba
UK saw the brightest summer in years and everyone seemed to have been quite busy going on holiday and having fun. For the Oromo in the UK and elsewhere in the world, however, August 2013 turned out to be less shining as it was a season when the torment back home has exacerbated. Even though the nation had already been suffering a great deal of socio-economic, political and cultural injustices, last month was a moment of mourning the death of more than twenty seven innocent people including children who were slaughtered by the Ethiopian government army in broad day light at Kofale in South Central Oromia. It was also the period when the UN Convention 1951 Relating to the Status of Refugees was proved to have practically failed to protect the Oromo seeking sanctuary in other countries. This was revealed by kidnapping and subsequent killings of Oromo refugees by the Ethiopian security forces. Despite such gruesome violations of human rights, some of the Western governments kept on providing the dictatorial regime, to the detriment of the oppressed, with technical and financial support. These simmering bitter groanings have drawn thousands of Oromo men and women to the streets throughout Europe and North America since August 2013.
One of those mass demonstrations occurred in the UK. Disgruntled by the recent massacre of innocent people and continuous violations of human rights, the Oromo gathered by the Houses of Parliament in London on 13th September 2013 and vented peremptorily:
UK tax payers’ money is funding Genocide in Oromia!
Ethiopian government is terrorizing the Oromo!
The Oromo are counting on the British People!
Stop assisting despots in Ethiopia!
Oromo, the largest nation in East Africa has gone through one ordeal of suppression after another since the last quarter of the 19th Century. Supported, unfortunately, by the Anglo-Franch and Italian colonizers, the Abyssinian emperors had committed horrendous atrocities against the Oromo nation since 1882. For instance, more than 13,000 innocent people were killed over night at a district called Annole in Arsi province1886 during the conquest of Menelik II that was attended by the use of biological weapons and claimed the life of nearly half of the nation’s population. In those days, there were no global human rights organisations, the United Nations was not born, and the Universal Declarations of Human Rights was many years away from being conceived. Ever since, nonetheless, the world has gone through a great deal of structural and institutional changes in terms of human rights protection. Some dictators seem to have received a mounting persuasion and, sometimes, coercion from the “democratic” governments in the West with the intention to promote human rights. Unluckily, life for the Oromo under the Ethiopia regime, however, has remained the same, dare I say it, even worse!
Following the footsteps of its predecessors, the current Ethiopian government has gone to extreme lengths in Human Rights violations. A hundred and twenty seven years after the Annole Holocaust, a tragic event where blameless Oromo children, older men and women were massacred by the Ethiopian troops at Kofale, in the same province of Arsi on 3 August 2013. Six decades after the promulgation and enforcement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, more than five thousand Oromo men and women have been tortured to death and more than 20,000 have languished in prisons and concentration camps only because of their opinion. More than half a century after the UN Convention 1951 Relating to the Status of Refugees, Oromo refugees in the neighboring countries have been abducted and murdered by the Ethiopian undercover security. One of such pernicious examples is the murder of engineer Tesfahun Chemda.
Murdering innocent civilians should, I strongly believe, be considered despicable acts of terrorism and supporting such killers definitely equates funding terrorism. Even though the people butchered by the Ethiopian security forces were innocent civilians as those killed during the terrorists’ attack of the West Gate Shopping Mall in Nairobi-Kenya, the ordeal of the former remained hidden from the world. The Ethiopian government’s ruthlessness did not trigger anger in the White House nor in Downing Street. I am not entirely sure the UK government, which provides the Ethiopian government with financial aid of £500,000,000 each year, condemned the Kofale massacre of August 2013 as “sickening and despicable and appalling brutality”. Neither did the US lambaste the massacre as horrifying acts of human rights violation.
Well, you might wonder why such dreadful violations of human rights seemed to have remained concealed from the world. There are combinations of different reasons in my opinion. First of all, the sufferings of the Oromo are not mesmerizing enough to make news in the BBC and the CNN these days because the Ethiopian authorities are so subtle that they use conventional weapons, not chemical ones, to kill the Oromo.
The victims are just shot dead, not suffocated by nerve gas or saran gas as in the case of Syria that has dominated the global media. Second, the Oromo do not do suicide bombings in response to the government’s violations of basic rights. Make no mistake; it is not because we are submissive to the injustice, but because we have strong sentimental respect and value or human life, especially of innocent civilians, that are seeped deep into our psyche.
It is very unfortunate that we happen to be living in the world where politeness and respect for human dignity fail to payoff. Thus, the atrocities and genocide committed by the dictatorial regime does not easily bewitch the attention of global media giants. As a matter of fact, it has been more than a decade since all free electronic and print media were banned. Hundreds of national journalists who dared to expose the situation have worked their ways to jail and threatened to flee the country. Foreign media are not allowed to operate in the country and attempts to report undercover might result in severe ramifications. No one knows this fact better than Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, the Swedish journalists who were jailed in Ethiopia for more than 400 days in an Ethiopian prison from between 2011 and 2012.
It is such a pity to see the western democratic countries funding the Ethiopian government. Many of us are a bit annoyed that countries like the UK and the USA are so wedded to providing the Ethiopian dictatorial regime turning a deaf ear and blind eye to the genocide and other gross violations of Human Rights. Isn’t this a shocking state of affairs and a horrendous way to spend the UK and the USA taxpayers’ money? Please do not get me wrong, I am not against the generosity of these blessed nations however the aid should not be given to and /or used as an instrument of oppression. The Western governments bestowing the money ought to, at least, make sure that the donation is spent against measurable benchmarks of human rights and the will of the subject. This should be augmented by some form of retributive measurers without whom growing disaffection with the west might mature to another, perhaps, more costly phase that could exacerbate the worsening instability in the Horn of Africa.