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The following are bilingual Facebook posts of Obboo Ibsaa Guutama, the veteran Oromo political leader and author of “Prison of Conscience,” a book that narrates the politician’s decade-long life behind the Ethiopian maximum-security prison known as Maikelawi in the 1980’s as a Prisoner of Conscience. The posts speak about the elections of Jaal Galaasaa Dilboo and Jaal Mulugeetaa Moosisaa as leaders of the “true OLF” (using Obboo Ibsaa’s term to denote the OLF led by Jaal Galaasaa Dilboo). Obboo Ibsaa also shunned criticisms targeting the ages of the leaders.
Ramaddii yeroon fedhu: Yeroon rakkoo jabaa warraaqxota jajjaboo feesisa. Maqaa jaalbiyyoota lamaanii, Galaasaa Dilboo fi Mulugeetaa Moosisaa hogganoota ABO isa dhugaa tahanii filamuu dhagahuun aaga guddaa dha. Goototi qabsichaa kun, irbuu ummataa fi jaallewwan saanii kufaniif galan utuu hin ganinii; utuu gara hin gaggalinii fi qabsoo Oromoo irraa hin dheessiin hamma hardhaatt jiraatan. Jaallan, kabajaan “Ishoo!” isiniin jedhaa, bara hamtuu baraarammi sabichaa danqama keessa jirtu kana akka milkiin hulluuqxanin hawwaa. Qabsoo keenya akka jalqabnett injifannoon xumurra! Oromiyaan ni bilisoomti!
Jarmoti sochii bilisummaa bulcha Gadaa irraa addaa. Gadaan bulcha dhaabbataa fi tasgabaawaan jiraachuu heda. Jaarmoti bilisummaa dhaabota fedhaan hiriiraniiti. Isa jalqabaa keessatt angoon kan qabaatamuu namoota dhaloota tokkoonii. Isa lammaffaaf miseensoti hanga biyya ofiif aarsaa baasuuf fedhaanitt dhaloota kam irraayyuu galmaawuu dandahu. Tahus jarri kunis eegalee demokraasii akka seeraan bulmaataa, walqixxummaa miseensotaa, kennata hoggansaa, yeroon aangoo irra turamu murtaawuu, keessaanlaalummaa fi shakala demokraasii keessaa ulfeessuu qabu. Waggaa dhalootaa kan fedhaan itt seenanii murteessuun rakkisaa dha. Bobbaan kan tolfamu miseensota fedhaan galmaawan qofaan waan taheef filmaati hedduun hin jiru.
Timely assignment: Hard times require hardened revolutionaries. It is great to hear two names of Oromo patriots Galaasaa Dilboo and Mulugeetaa Moosisaa elected to lead the true OLF once again. These heroes of the struggle had never gone back on their promises for the nation and their fallen comrades, nor neither flip-flopped nor quit the Oromo struggle for so long. I salute you comrades and wish you all the best during this hard time when survival of the nation is in jeopardy. The Struggle we started we shall take to the finish victoriously! Oromiyaa shall bee free!
Shortcomings of liberation movements: Liberation movement organizations are different from Gadaa government. Gadaa Government assumes established stable administration run by same generation. Liberation organizations are formed by volunteers registered from all ages to sacrifice for freedom of their country. But, even these must adopt some elements of the Gadaa, like rule of law, equality of members, leadership by election, and limited terms of office, transparency, and internal democratic practices. As to age of actors no limit can be put on volunteers joining it. Because operations are done only by registered volunteers there is no much choice
For inspiring and moving the world with their disciplined courage and bravery in the face of relentless state brutality, for bringing the dream of freedom ever closer to being realized, for their bold commitment to a cause greater than self, for finally forcing the world to pay attention to the plight of Oromo people and for rejuvenating and energizing the Oromo movement and bringing it to the cusp of victory, the Qubee Generation is OPride’s Oromo Person (s) of the year 2016.
For over a year, Ethiopia teetered and tottered to contain protests roiling the Oromia state, home to the Oromo people, the country’s largest ethnic group. The grim year not only tested the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, EPRDF’s, quarter-century stranglehold over the country but also the limits of human perseverance against determined state action.
Although similar demonstrations have taken place in the Amhara state, Oromia remained the epicenter of the widespread and sustained anti-government protests throughout 2016. Few, if any, of Oromia’s 560 towns and 180 districts, escaped the growing anger and revolt of ordinary citizens against the central state.
From Ginchi to Ajje, Guliso to Nekemte, Awaday to Dallo Mana, and anywhere in between, students, parents and teachers as townsfolk and farmers fought side by side to challenge the social, economic and political marginalization of the Oromo people in Ethiopia. The Oromo constitute nearly half of Ethiopia’s 100 million people, but they remain marginalized.
For the first 10 months of 2016, millions across Oromia took to the streets, demanding an end to forceful dispossession of their ancestral land, the land grab, the release of political prisoners, and the rule of law as opposed to the rule by the gun and prison. Ethiopian security forces responded to peaceful protesters as they always do: Using an excessive and disproportionate force, including live bullets as a standard crowd-control tool. But the state’s extraordinary measures only engendered more anger and inspired more street protests.
In fact, both the protests and the official brutality were unprecedented, even by EPRDF’s checkered history of violence. Security forces killed more than 1,000 people in Oromia alone in 2016. Hundreds were wounded. And the besieged state saw record levels of arrests with legions disappearing in the maze of military training facilities acting as a concentration-like prisoner holding camps. Tens of thousands, including nearly all top leaders of the only “legal” Oromo opposition party, the Oromo Federalist Congress, remain incarcerated on dubious terrorism charges.
The protests began in November 2015, initially over opposition to an urban master plan that sought to expand the boundaries of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, gobbling up Oromo towns, farmlands, and villages.
The year’s biggest tragedy took place on the sacred grounds of Hora Arsadi, in Bishoftu, about 25 miles southeast of Addis Ababa. On Sunday, October 2, an estimated 2 million people made the annual pilgrimage to Bishoftu’s ancient crater lake to observe Irreechaa, a premier Oromo thanksgiving holiday that has become the symbol and celebration of Oromummaa (the Oromo identity) itself.
On the millennia-old Irreecha celebration, the Oromo give thanks to their creator (Waaqa) for the bountiful harvests of Birra (spring) and to renew their hopes and aspirations for future after a dark, rainy winter season.
But 2016 was not an ordinary year for the Oromo. The mood ahead of this year’s Irreechaa was predictably tense. Staying true to tradition, the youth arrived in Bishoftu from across Oromia fervently singing resistance songs and chanting anti-government slogans. The protesters’ impatience was palpable even the night before Irreechaa. While there were no major incidents for much of the morning, it was clear that the sea of youth came to Arsadi to make a stand — a statement. Early in the afternoon, as the chorus of protests grew louder, a standoff ensued near the main stage where officials give speeches and traditional leaders offer blessings.
Image: The Guardian
What happened next was tragic beyond words: sheer horror ensued as security forces fired tear gas and live bullets into millions gathered in a confined space. The crowd was surrounded by heavily armed security forces, a lake, deep gorges and ditches. As shots began to ring out from above the crater, festival goers ran for their lives. But they had no way out, encircled as they were by gun-toting officers from the left and shrub-covered ditches on the right side, and a deep lake from below.
At least 678 people died in the ensuing stampede, according to OFC officials and hospital sources. It’s the darkest hour in contemporary Oromo history. Innocent lives were lost on a day they came to celebrate their culture and heritage. The day will forever be remembered as the “Irreechaa massacre,” an extraordinarily savage and horrific tragedy in which the Ethiopian security forces caused the death of hundreds of Oromos.
The bravest act at the Rio Olympic
Unsurprisingly, the turmoil in Ethiopia received marginal media coverage for much of the year. That changed in August. No other event — not even the Irreechaa massacre — had the effect of mainstreaming and raising global awareness about the repression of the Oromo people than Feyisa Lilesa’s defiantly heroic Olympic protest.
On Sunday, August 21, as he approached the finish line, winning a silver medal in the men’s marathon, Feyisa crossed his wrists over his head, forming an X, a popular gesture of protest used by the Oromo youth in Ethiopia. With that simple protest, dubbed “the bravest act at the 2016 Olympics,” which he repeated at the post-race press conference, Feyisa both inspired and implored the world to pay attention to the horrific tragedy taking place in Ethiopia.
Feyisa faced a potential loss of his medal and a grave danger to his life as well as family. But he gave no hoot. “I don’t want to look at my children any different from the children of other people in my country who are being killed,” he later told reporters. “They face the same fate and the same destiny like all other children in Ethiopia.”
Feyisa, 26, was born in West Shewa, Jaldu District in 1990, a year before the EPRDF regime took power in Ethiopia. Growing up in Jaldu about 120km west of Addis Ababa near the border of Macha and Tulama, Feyisa witnessed the injustices and indignities faced by Oromo people. As an elite athlete, he faced a significant dilemma. “I could not join my peers in the streets if I were going to have the chance to compete at all,” he told reporters in September. “I had to leave the country a lot in order to compete overseas, so I knew that if I protested with the ordinary citizens, I would be blocked from ever leaving the country again.”
But the country’s political troubles and blatant violations of human rights affected him deeply for a long time. He recalls visiting friends, former classmates, and acquaintances in prisons. In Addis Ababa, he helps young people from Jaldu and other places who run away from home to escape arrest and have become homeless. This is why his Olympic protest did not come as a spur of the moment decision. It was informed by his own lived experiences. He quietly but meticulously planned and prepared for it months in advance. “I made the decision to protest in Rio three months before the Olympics,” he said. “As soon as the Ethiopian Athletics Federation selected me for the marathon, I decided to work hard and make a stand if I won and got a good result.” The rest, as they say, is history.
The fact that the Oromo, a nation that gave birth to some of the finest long-distance runners in the world, including the great Abebe Bikila, Mammo Wolde, Darartu Tulu, Almaz Ayana and what not, had to wait until 2016 to savor such a demonstration by one of its sons speaks volumes that the current generation had it enough with the marginalization of the Oromo in the Ethiopian state.
Feyisa knew it would be the biggest moment of his life. He anticipated it to be one of the most-watched sporting events in the world. But, he admits, he did not expect the outpouring of the global support he received and the remarkable impact his gesture had in creating awareness. Feyisa’s protest in Rio and his subsequent press conference in Washington, DC, where he spoke to more than 30 journalists from 25 media organizations, generated far more press coverage than the year-long protests in which over 1,000 innocent lives were savagely cut short.
His name will forever be mentioned alongside two legendary African-American athletes —Tommie Smith and John Carlos — who made history by raising the black power salute during the U.S. national anthem at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Other notable comparisons include Muhammad Ali, who famously denounced the Vietnam War, and Billie Jean King, who championed women’s equality long before it was in vogue.
Feyisa has already won international recognition for his defiant protest. Earlier this month, the Foreign Policy magazine named him among the 2016 top 100 global thinkers. He was recognized as a challenger, “for breaking the rules of the games in order to call attention to the brutal actions of his country’s security forces.” Feyisa was also included in the Huffington Post’s list of “athletes who inspired off the field in 2016.” Deutsche Welle featured him in its top ten stories that moved Africa in 2016.
Down, Down Wayane
Feyisa’s was not the only uncommon act of courage by an Oromo in 2016. The defiant protest at Irreechaa in October was the clearest evidence yet of a generation that’s determined to end the Oromo people’s marginalization. As if Feyisa’s wasn’t enough, the generation’s resolve and defiance of authoritarianism were illustrated in one courageous act by Gemeda Wario Wotiye.
Gemeda, 20, came to Bishoftu the morning of the Irreechaa festival with his friends from Shashamane. He was angry, like all of his peers, about the killings of peaceful protesters, the endless arrests of Oromo leaders, the hegemonic domination of ethnic Tigrayans over the country and EPRDF’s deepening authoritarianism. But Gemeda had no special plans other than being part of the Irreechaa festivity and the protests. It was his first time attending the annual event.
The native of Siinqillee town in the restive West Arsi zone grew up in Shashamane. He helped organize protests at his preparatory school. He was detained and held at Sanqallee military camp for more than a month. But until then he was still like any ordinary 11th-grader. Nothing, except his uncommon courage, could have prepared him for what transpired next. As the standoff between the protesters and the attending officialdom heated up that afternoon, Gemeda made a spur-of-the-moment decision and jumped onto the stage. Video footage from the scene shows Gemeda snatching a microphone from one of the emcees who was unsuccessfully pleading with the protesters for calm.
Microphone in hand, Gemeda stretched out his arms toward the sea of protesters gathered below, and started shouting, “down, down Woyane, down, down TPLF.” (Woyane is a moniker for the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the kingmakers in the hodgepodge EPRDF coalition.) Gemeda’s neck veins bulged as he led the crowd in the now famous chant. The crowd went wild with jubilation responding to his chant with earth shattering chants of their own and by repeating it numerous times over, with wrists crossed above their head, and finally breaking out into a pandemonium of cheers and jeers.
Gemeda was quickly booted off the stage but his extraordinarily brave act boosted the protesters’ morale, much to the chagrin of the officials and security forces. This provoked the trigger-happy federal security forces to unleash their brutal massacre. Gemeda’s chant, which he blurted out almost accidentally, and the resounding response by the protesters made one thing unmistakably clear: that the only remaining source of legitimacy for the EPRDF government was its monopoly of the forces of violence.
Gemeda’s courageous act quickly gained attention on social media, becoming the most widely shared rallying cry of protesters in the aftermath of that tragic day. The regime simply stepped up its repression. In retaliation, protesters began torching government buildings and gutting foreign-owned business installations. Among the casualties was an American researcher.
The changes in the protesters’ tactics made the region virtually ungovernable, prompting EPRDF to declare a six-month state of emergency on October 9. Following a massive manhunt, Gemeda fled to Egypt after weeks of hiding. He crossed the Sahara desert on foot, retracing a treacherous route increasingly being used by hundreds of young Oromos looking for a safe haven and better opportunities. It is worth noting here that, for the Oromo, the calamity at home in the past year was compounded by the loss of more young lives at the high waters of the Mediterranean, where in one April boat tragedy alone some 180 Oromos perished.
Our rationale: #OromoProtests is a generational revolt
Without a doubt, both Feyisa and Gemeda qualify to be OPride’s Oromo Persons of the Year. They were disruptive to unjust power; they challenged both our assumptions and the status quo, and they became instant heroes to millions of young Ethiopians by defying the odds and gods. Praise songs have been written to extol their bravery and honor their courage.
All told, we initially set out to write an individual profile of Feyisa and honor his once-in-a-generation protest. But a common thread emerged as we researched our much-anticipated, year-end feature story. It was a difficult decision indeed, but in recent years we have also made a tradition of honoring those whose names and selfless deeds are known only unto God. 2016 gave us too many such unsung heroes. The list includes Mustefa Hussein, Adam Dima, Haji Guye Dula, and countless others. But, in the end, we settled on Qubee generation because the Oromo protest is, by and large, a generational revolt.
“If you suffocate people and they don’t have any other options but to protest, it breaks out,” Ambo University lecturer and now certified torture survivor, Seyoum Teshome, told the New York Times in August. “The whole youth is protesting. A generation is protesting.”
Seyoum was right. Gemeda’s defiant protest at Irreechaa 2016 and Feyisa’s brave act at the Rio Olympics epitomize the valor and gallantry of a generation revolting.
Even in a grim year that saw such an unspeakable tragedy, the remarkable Qubee Generation provided hope, to young and old, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”Even in a grim year that saw such an unspeakable tragedy — from a mother in Burayu who, after losing her newborn child, had to bury alone because the father was detained in Qilinto prison and she couldn’t rally her neighbors because of the state of emergency; to a wedding party in Ajje that was shot at for simply playing a music that authorities did not approve of; to the devastated parents in Sirka, East Arsi, whose three children were lost to a senseless and random execution by the Agazi force — the remarkable Qubee Generation provided hope, to young and old, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
Who are the Qubee Generations?
There is no standardized age range to define this generation, but the term generally refers to those born in the early 1980s onward. In terms of age, the Qubee generation is what a millennial is in the United States. It takes the prefix Qubee from the Latin alphabet that’s adopted in the 1990s for writing in Afaan Oromo. In 1991, when Qubee was formally adopted and Afaan Oromo became the official language of Oromia, the 80s kids were entering middle school, becoming the first generation of Oromos to go to school and learn in their native language.
The Qubee generation now consists of college students, recent graduates, and students in high school and middle schools. Unlike their parent’s generation, the Qubee generation studied in their mother tongue, Afaan Oromo. They are keenly aware of Oromia’s boundaries. This is true in Oromia as it is elsewhere in Ethiopia’s nine linguistic-based pseudo-federal states. This generation grew up singing their respective region’s anthems as opposed to the national anthem. Few, if any, can actually recite Ethiopia’s national anthem by heart. In Oromia, informed by long-standing national grievances toward the central state, the Qubee generation exhibits a pure and unadulterated allegiance to the Oromo question, a demand for the end of Oromo people’s marginalization in the Ethiopian state.
An estimated 71 percent of the Ethiopian population is under the age of 30. In 2014, Ethiopia had a total of 19,382,000 pupils enrolled in primary and secondary education. In the 2013/14 school year, some 627,452 students were enrolled in Ethiopia’s higher education system. More than half a million students enroll in public secondary schools across Oromia every year. This means that the overwhelming majority of today’s protesters are members of the fierce and fearless Qubee generation.
This generation is also acutely aware of their basic rights, as enshrined in the country’s little-practiced constitution — rights that are so callously trampled upon by the EPRDF regime. This is in part because they were taught civic education at an early age. The Qubee generation is by far the most connected thanks to the proliferation of mobile phones.
The adoption of Qubee is one of the enduring legacies of the struggle and sacrifices of the preceding generations. They blazed the trail with blood, literally, so that the Qubee generation can, even with the absence of the full freedoms they fought for, can proudly and unapologetically proclaim, I am Oromo first and I am proud of it. The pioneer generation should also be celebrating as this is in away the fruits of their hard labor. Waqo Gutu, Tadesse Birru, Elemo Qilxu and their contemporaries must all be smiling, even from beyond the clouds.
The soundtrack of the revolution
Artists and singers have long been the vanguard of Oromo nationalism. However, the indomitable spirit of the Qubee generation is best gleaned from the plethora of music singles released over the past year. The incumbent regime has exiled more Oromo singers and artists than any other professional group, including journalists, for which it is often censured. Until recently, there were more professional Oromo singers in the diaspora than inside the country. Oromo singers are known for embracing the principle that, in the words of Toni Cade Bambara, “the role of the revolutionary artist is to make the revolution irresistible.”
The Oromo singer is at once a provocateur, social critic and an inspiration and outlet to a generation suffocated by a deep state hell-bent on clinging to power through the barrel of the gun.Oromo musicians released more than 100 #OromoProtest singles in the past year alone. One common thread that runs through all of these songs: A disdain and nonexistent fear for authority and a call for an end to Oromo people’s marginal status. The Oromo singer is at once a provocateur, social critic and an inspiration and outlet to a generation suffocated by a deep state hell-bent on clinging to power through the barrel of the gun.
It’s worth noting here that female singers had been at the forefront of this lyrical fight, bucking established norms that deem Geerarsa is the sole domain of male artists, which in and of itself is a form of protest. The list is long but it includes moving clips by Hawi Tezera, Seenaa Solomon, Mulu Bekele, and Keeyeroon Darajjee to mention only a few. These and many other artists, including Haacaalu Hundessa, Caalaa Bultume, Jafar Yusuf, Galaana Garoomsaa, Jireenya Shiferaw, Ittiqa Tafarii, Teferi Mokonnen and Jambo Jote, provided the soundtrack for the revolution.
Hawi, Seenaa, Jireenya, Teferi and many other artists, too many to list here, have been in and out of prison. Caalaa Bultume and a handful of other artists including Shukri Jamal, Kadir Martu, Zerihun Wodajo, Addisu Karrayyu and Yanet Dinku were forced into exile.
Again and again, a thread that binds these disparate protests — on the streets, at the Olympic stage, on social media, and through music — is their membership in the fierce and fearless Qubee Generation. They share a universal disdain and mistrust for authority, a desire to be free, respect for their basic rights and an acute ethnic self-awareness.
To be sure, as with young people all across Africa, the Qubee generation also has real and everyday economic grievances. Youth unemployment continues to run high. The lowest paying public service job requires party membership or deep connections to those in power. Even the lucky few who are employed lack avenues for upward mobility. The hundreds of thousands of yearly college graduates lack well-paying quality jobs. The gap between the rich and the poor keeps widening. The cost of living continues to soar amid persistent inflation. The youth loathe EPRDF’s suffocating Orwellian model of surveillance — known as one to five — which has made life unbearable, reaching down to the village level.
Endemic corruption, cronyism and a heightened focus on ramping up school enrollment to meet global millennial development goals, rather than improving instructional quality, has wrecked the educational system. This is evident in Ethiopia going from having only a handful of universities two decades ago to now boasting more than three dozen public universities. The effects of the plummeting quality of education may not be apparent just yet. But as Ethiopia looks to become a regional manufacturing hub and amid continental efforts toward more regional integration, Ethiopian students are likely to have difficulty competing for jobs and other opportunities. The signs are beginning to show already. Recent college graduates report growing stigma for having spent 16 years going through the school system to only end up working in road construction, breaking cobblestones for Chinese investors.
The way forward: ‘Organize, organize, organize’
Ethiopia’s main challenge today is not corruption or the lack of good governance as the regime often alleges, but its inability to meet the aspirations and grievances of an increasing assertive generation and a new breed of youth, made up mostly of middle and secondary school students, who are determined to decide their fate and shape the destiny of their communities.
The Oromo protests have proved far more disruptive than anything done in the past to address longstanding Oromo grievances. Using social media as an outlet, in a nation where only 4 percent of the population is online, no less, Oromo activists forced the cancellation or postponement of Ethiopia’s secondary school exit exams by leaking test answers to diaspora-based agitators. Official meetings have been recorded and leaked to the media, creating mistrust at the highest levels of government to a point where authorities felt compelled to mandate government ministers, parliamentarians, and regional officials to turn off their cell phones during important meetings.
In spite of all these developments, the EPRDF regime continues to ignore the writing on the wall, instead choosing to play an embarrassing game of cat and mouse with an unpredictable and a horizontally organized movement. The cosmetic changes at the top of the pyramid, including the recent cabinet shuffle, and promises of “deep reform” continue to sidestep the very real issues that are pushing an entire generation toward the edge.
Every day that the EPRDF regime tries to explain away popular, grassroots revolt as machinations of few bad actors from abroad, the tide continues to turn against its brutal and repressive rule. For every athlete or activist that’s forced into exile, there are hundreds more determined to expose the regime’s excesses, promising to keep the story in the media limelight. It will only be a matter of time until rank and file Oromo bureaucrats, the Oromia police, merchants and Oromo members of the armed forces join the budding revolution — for they too belong to the gallant Qubee Generation. Ethiopia’s history suggests that that would herald the end of EPRDF and yet another bloody transition in a country that has never seen a single peaceful transfer of power.
Ethiopia continues to run headlong into the abyss at a fast pace. Its phony federalism, promises of self-governance, and claims of economic miracle have been exposed as a sham from beginning to end. The state of emergency may have temporarily quelled the street protests but the deeper discontents remain. The Qubee generation appears ready to fight on until, in the words of Oromo leader Bekele Gerba, either all Oromos are jailed, killed and exiled, or until everyone is free.
Global trends such as the shocking Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president suggest that the establishment in Addis Ababa will have a hard time prevailing against Oromo protesters. But in our view, much remains to be done to dislodge the entrenched EPRDF regime. The loose coalition appears shaky. It is badly wounded from within and without. But it is still the biggest and even formidable obstacle blocking the winds of change in Ethiopia.
One thing is for sure: Unlike previous generations of Oromo revolutionaries, the Qube Generation has outwitted the ruling party time after time. Thanks to its resourcefulness and resilience, the regime had to retool itself from time to time simply to catch up with the speed and creativity of the protesters. It is not doubted that Oromo activists are using the remaining months of the state of emergency to ponder next steps.
This holiday season, as we celebrate the visions and victories of Feyisa’s generation, both big and small, we must remain mindful of the incessant need for a broad-based and multi-prolonged campaign to create a durable peace in Ethiopia. Beyond individual acts of heroism, transformative change comes communally from the ground up. Diaspora activism has been key in echoing and amplifying the voices of the protests. But our storytelling — in words, songs and art — must continue to be grounded not in our grandiose political ambitions or positionings, but in the real, everyday grievances of those at home who are staring down the barrel of a gun.
In his keynote address at the 2016 Oromo Studies Association annual conference in August, imprisoned veteran Oromo leader, Merera Gudina, recalled a popular slogan from his student days. At the inauguration of the last leadership of the University Students Union of Addis Ababa, Eshetu Chole, veteran student activist and later professor of Economics there, now deceased, shouted out three slogans to the roaring sound of thousands of university staff and students:
In Merera’s words, “in this regard, there is a clear gap we (the Oromo) should fill.”
Will the Qubee Generation finally bridge this gap?
A luta continua, vitória é certa. Happy Holidays to all!
Last year when the Agazii army from Tigrai killed hundreds of Oromo school children, the Oromians conducted worldwide protest and the effort was fruitful. As a result, human rights organizations and the state department of American acknowledged the suffering of the Oromo people. Now just one year later, the Tigre apartheid rule returned with it\’s brutality and the diaspora Oromians are calling for worldwide protest once again and it is set for december 10, 2015 and beyond. These protests will go on in America, in London, in Australia and elsewhere in the world. While the upcoming preparation to protest against Tigreans Agaazii army murder of school children is encouraging, it is important that the people of empire Ethiopia stage a campaign against Tigreans owned economic interest all over the empire.
We also call upon all freedom loving individuals, groups and organizations to identify individuals and groups who stand in solidarity with the minority Tigre rule and work against our people\’s struggle for freedom and corner these killing tools.
The Oromo Liberation Fronts, Oromo civic organizations, Maderek and other ethnic groups organizations based abroad and inside empire Ethiopia must join this effort and become symbol of resistance against the Tigre tribe apartheid policies.
In addition to identifying with the Oromo people struggle for freedom, we ask all Amhara political and civic organizations to recognize that oppression is bad no matter against whom it is applied.
Recognizing that the countries whom the Tigre tribe is selling our land to are important arms supplier to Apartheid Tigre rulers, protest against their interest in empire Ethiopia until they fully drop their support for apartheid TPLF.
Please call upon the United States government to stop it\’s loyalty to the minority racist tribe who clung onto power by force since 1991
Call upon all African countries who have signed agreements to buy electric power, Bishooftuu and Maqale assembled tanks and other military armors to stop buying these things from apartheid TPLF. They all need to understand that cooperating with the minority Tigre tribe is an act of inter-racist solidarity.
Clarify that the nature of the Tigre apartheid regime known as \”EPRDF\” helps the TPLF to hide it\’s racist nature and made it difficult to speak out against it\’s racist killing practices in Oromia, in Sidama, Benishangul, and against the Qimant people in Gondar.
The Looqee massacres that took place when the Sidaamaa people protested against the Tigre tribal rules was carried out by the current EPRDF prime minister, Haylemariyam Dasaleny. This man has a long history in the repression of the people of empire Ethiopia. This man may speak Amharic with Walayita accent, he is part of the killer Agaazii army from Tigrai. He is responsible for suffocating legitimate protests and campaigns in Sidaamaa and in Oromia. The same thing is true for the alcoholic dummy president of the empire.
We call upon the Amhara people to understand that the oppressed people\’s movement against the Tigre apartheid is a matter of seeking respect for human rights. If we understand that our collective activities are part of social movements that refuses racist agenda in Ethiopia, we can focus on the crimes that the few men from Tigrai carry on all over empire Ethiopia today. Hence, let our solidarity begin by standing for human rights issues. Lets work together on social justice and civil rights issues. Reflecting on our tensions only allows the notorious TPLF to continue it\’s brutal suppression by using unreformed branch of the police and military.
With the undeniable growing foreign investment and involvement in our country today, the TPLF will be awarded it\’s oppression by greedy commercial interests groups. Hence, lets not miscalculate our collective interest here. Only if we understand this when we see our betrayal that will come to haunt the upcoming generations. Rhetorically supporting national aspirations while wishing to suppress the legitimate rights of our people to resist apartheid is the same as turning a blind eye to injustice. Hence, lets stand firm against hypocrisy and double standards.
December 5, 2015 Human Rights, Oromia
(Human Rights Watch) — Student protests are spreading throughout Ethiopia’s Oromia region, as people demonstrate against the possibility that Oromo farmers and residents living near the capital, Addis Ababa, could be evicted from their lands without appropriate – or possibly any – compensation. Social media is filled with images of bloodied protesters; there are credible reports of injuries and arrests in a number of towns; and local police have publicly acknowledged that three students have died so far.
The current protests echo the bloody events of April and May 2014, when federal forces fired into groups of largely peaceful Oromo protesters, killing dozens. At least hundreds more students were arrested, and many remain behind bars. Both then and today, the demonstrators are ostensibly protesting the expansion of Addis Ababa’s municipal boundary into the surrounding Oromia region, which protesters fear will displace Oromo farmers from their land. But these protests are about much more: Many Oromos have felt marginalized and discriminated against by successive Ethiopian governments and have often felt unable to voice their concerns over government policies.
Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest against the Ethiopian regime outside the office of Malta’s Prime Minister in Valletta June 16, 2014. © 2014 Reuters
Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest against the Ethiopian regime outside the office of Malta’s Prime Minister in Valletta June 16, 2014. © 2014 Reuters
Of the student protesters detained in 2014, some have been released. Those I spoke with told me about the torture they endured as part of interrogations. But countless others remain in detention. Some have been charged under Ethiopia’s draconian counterterrorism law for their role in the protests; others languish without charge in unknown detention centers and military camps throughout Oromia. This week, five students were convicted of terrorism-related offenses for their role in the protests.
There has been no government investigation into the use of live ammunition and excessive force by security personnel last year.
Ethiopia’s tight restrictions on civil society and media make it difficult to corroborate the current, mounting allegations and the exact details of the ongoing protests emerging from towns like Haramaya, Jarso, Walliso, and Robe. The government may think this strategy of silencing bad news is succeeding. But while the fear of threats and harassment means it is often months before victims and witnesses come forward to reveal what happened in their communities, they eventually do, and the truth will emerge.
The government should ensure that the use of excessive force by its security personnel stops immediately. It should then support an independent and impartial inquiry into the conduct of security forces in the current protests – and last year’s as well. Those responsible for serious abuses should be fairly prosecuted. This would be the best way for the Ethiopian government to show its concern about the deaths and injuries inflicted on the students, that it does not condone the use of live ammunition against peaceful protesters, and that those who break the law are appropriately punished.
December 5, 2015 Human Rights, Oromia
HRLHA Urgent Action
December 05, 2015
For Immediate Release
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa expresses its grave concern at the continuation of gross human rights violations in Oromia Regional State, violations that have regularly occurred since 1991 when the TPLF/EPRDF came into power.
The most recent heinous crime was committed- and is still being committed- against defenseless school children protesting against the approval of “the Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” by the Oromia Regional State Parliament a month ago. The peaceful protest involved many elementary school, high school, university students and civilians. Among them were students in Western Oromia zones, Najo, Nekemt, Mandi high schools and in other towns, in Central Oromia in Ginchi, Ambo, Addis Ababa high schools and the surrounding towns, Eastern and Southern Oromia zones, in Haromaya , and Bule Hora Universities and many more schools and universities. In violation of the rights of the citizen to peaceful demonstration enshrined in the Ethiopian Constitution Chapter two, article 30 (1) states “Everyone has the right to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peaceably and unarmed, and to petition. Appropriate regulations may be made in the interest of public convenience relating to the location of open-air meetings and ‘the route of movement of demonstrators or, for the protection of democratic rights, public morality and peace during such a meeting or demonstration” students in all of these places were severely beaten, imprisoned or even killed.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa emphasizes that the ongoing violence and crimes committed in Oromia Regional State for over two and a half decades by the TPLF perpetrators against the Oromo Nation amount to war crimes, and crimes against humanity- a clear failure of the Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO) authorities, an organization claiming to represent the Oromo Nation. The members of this bogus political organization have proved to be not the Oromo peoples’ true representatives, but rather stand-ins for their real masters who have compromised the interests of the Oromo Nation. The Oromia Regional State authorities/OPDO did not resist the TPLF regime when Oromo children, farmers, intellectuals, members of political organizations were killed, abducted, imprisoned, tortured and evicted from their livelihoods by TPLF security agents in the past two and half decades. Instead, they helped the TPLF regime to control the political and economic resources of the Oromia Regional State. TPLF high officials and ordinary level cadres in Oromia Regional State engaged in enriching themselves and their family members by selling Oromo land, looting and embezzling public wealth and properties in the occupied areas of the Oromo Nation, and committing many other forms of corruption.
Committing atrocities and crimes against humanity are failures to comply with obligations under international law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the principles of proportionality and discrimination. With many civilians suffering from the crimes and serious violations of human rights, and by not taking any measures to ensure the accountability of those responsible for these crimes and violations, it has become clear that after all these years the so called Oromia Parliament (Caffee Oromiyaa) has betrayed the Oromo people by not protecting them. The OPDO members and the Oromia Parliament (Caffee Oromiyaa) members should not continue in silence while Oromo children are brutalized by Aga’azy squads deployed by the TPLF for ethnic cleansing. The Oromia Parliament (Caffee Oromiyaa) and OPDO have a moral obligation to dissolve their institutions and stand beside their people to resist the TPLF regime’s aggression.
The HRLHA believes that the gross human rights violations committed by the TPLF government in cooperation with OPDO in the past two and half decades against Oromo Nation have been pre-planned every time they have happened. TPLF regime security agents imprisoned, killed, tortured, kidnapped, disappeared, and evicted from their ancestral lands thousands of Oromo nationals, simply because of their ethnic backgrounds and to acquire their resources. The TPLF inhuman actions against Oromo civilians are clearly genocidal, a crime against humanity and an ethnic cleansing, which breach domestic and international laws, and all international treaties the government of Ethiopia signed and ratified.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) expresses its deep concern over the safety and well-being of these Oromo nationals who have been arrested without any court warrant and are being held in different police stations, military camps, “Maekelawi” compound, the main federal police investigation center, in Central Addis Ababa and in different unknown places.
Therefore, HRLHA calls upon governments of the West, all local, regional and international human rights agencies to join hands and demand an immediate halt to these extra-judicial actions, terrorizing civilians and the immediate unconditional release of the detainees.
The HRLHA also calls on all human- rights defender non-governmental, civic organizations, its members, supporters and sympathizers to stand beside the HRLHA and provide moral, professional and financial help to bring the dictatorial TPLF government and officials to international justice.
The HRLHA is a non-political organization that attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the people of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa. It works to defend fundamental human rights, including freedoms of thought, expression, movement and association. It also works to raise the awareness of individuals about their own basic human rights and those of others. It encourages respect for laws and due process. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies.
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Home › Horn of Africa › Ethiopia › Oromia › Three sudents killed in protests across Ethiopia’s Oromia state Three sudents killed in protests across Ethiopia’s Oromia state December 6, 2015 Ethiopia, Oromia
December 5, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) –Three university students were confirmed dead and many others injured following days of protests by students at Haramaya University and other towns in Ethiopia’s Oromia state.
The students were killed by federal police after protesters clashed with security personnel trying to disperse demonstrating students in and around campus.
Students staged the protests over the central government’s controversial plan known as the ‘Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan, which intends to expand the capital, Addis Ababa into parts of Oromia, the country’s largest regional state.
The Oromo protesters argue that the Addis Ababa master plan will lead to large scale evictions to Oromo population and mostly the farmers from its ancestral lands.
Some Oromos in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune that the plan was equivalent to land grabbing, which intended to grant local and foreign investors land to be leased or sold.
The government, however, has dismissed those allegations and instead says the expansion plan aims to provide a number of services to remote areas at the region.
According to right groups, the plan to expand the capital into territories of Oromia state breaches the constitutionally guaranteed protection of regions special interests.
Following the protests which began on Tuesday dozens of protesters are also reported to have been arrested. Police said it has taken control of the protests which also spread to a number of towns in western and central part of the region.
Protesters alleged that the security forces have responded with excessive force although the students were on peaceful protest.
An official of the main Oromo opposition party, the Oromo Federalist Congress, who preferred anonymity, called on the Ethiopian government to urgently probe the incident.
The official urged for suspected members of the security force behind the killings to be brought in to justice.
The opposition officials further called for an immediate release of all protesters who are being held in custody.
Last year similar protests that took place in the Oromia region over the unpopular master plan led to deaths of dozens of university students and other protesters.
The Oromos are the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia which make up over 40% of Ethiopia’s 95 million population. The Oromos have long felt being discriminated and marginalized by successive governments.
Meanwhile, the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) party warned that Ethiopia is at a state of risk of disintegration due to the violent polices of the central government.
HRLHA Urgent Action
October 12, 2015
Harassments and intimidations through arbitrary arrests, beatings, torture and rapes were committed in Ada’a Berga district Western Showa Zone of Oromia Regional State against young Oromo nationals on September 24 and 25, 2015. More than 30 young Oromos were picked up from their homes at night by an Oromia paramilitary force.
According to HRLHA informants in Ada’a Berga, the major targets of this most recent District Administration officials-sponsored violence were mostly young Oromos working in the Dangote Cement Factory and university students who were there to visit their families in the summer break. HRLHA informants from the area confirmed that this particular operation against young Oromo nationals in Ada’a Barga was led by the local government official obbo Tolera Anbasse.
In this incident more than 30 young Oromos (16-25 ages) were arrested; more than 20 were severely beaten by the Oromia Paramilitary and confined in the Ada’a Barga district Police station for three days in violation of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Article 19 (3) “Persons arrested have the right to be brought before a court within 48 hours of their arrest. Such time shall not include the time reasonably required for the journey from the place of arrest to the court. On appearing before a court, they have the right to be given prompt and specific explanation of the reasons for their arrest due to the alleged crime committed”.
Although it has been difficult to identify everyone by their names, HRLHA informants have confirmed that the following were among the arrestees:
1) Rabbirraa Gaarradoo
2) Fiqaaduu Amaaraa
3) Tasfaayee Dalasaa
4) Biraanuu siyyumee
8) Abbush Masfiin
9) Daniel Taarraqany
10) Fiqaaduu Tolasaa
11) Biraanuu Dabalaa
14) Kaasahun Baqqalaa
15) Alamuu Ajjabii
16) Nuwaay Tasfaayee
17) Lataa Taaddasaa
18) Tolasaa Guutamaa
19) Muluu Balaachoo
20) Alamuu G/mariyam
21) Katanga Baayyuu
22) Fayyisaa Raggaanee
All arrestees were accused of what the police referred to as “instigating the public against the government”.
When the arrestees were brought to court, one man explained to the court that he had been beaten severely in front of his family members and his wife and his sister age 16 were raped by one of the paramilitary members.
The arrestees showed their scarred backs to the court to indicate the torture inflicted on them by the Paramilitary. Even though the court released all the arrestees on bail the police refused the court order and took them to jail.The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) expresses its deep concern over the safety and well-being of these arrested Oromo nationals and urge the Oromia Regional State Government to make sure that the bail conditions granted by the court are respected and release the arrestees unconditionally. HRLHA also urges the Oromia Regional State to bring the torturers and rapists paramilitary members to justice.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to the Oromia Regional Government and its concerned officials as swiftly as possible, in English and Afaan Oromo:
* Muktar Kedir
Office of Oromiya National Regional State President Office
Telephone – 0115510455
* Ibrahim Haji,
Oromia Police Commissioner
Office Near to LANCIA & Co.
Tel. (251) 114 702 144 or 011-416 40 22 Or 011-416 22 61
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia