Amnesty International’s Report: “Because I Am Oromo”: A Sweeping Repression in Oromia

OFILE - Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest against the Ethiopian regime.

AmnestyFullReport2014

“Because I am Oromo”: A Sweeping Repression in Oromia… full report @:http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR25/006/2014/en

SUMMARY: REPRESSION OF DISSENT IN OROMIA
“I was arrested for about eight months. Some school students had been arrested, so their  classmates had a demonstration to ask where they were and for them to be released. I was accused of organising the demonstration because the government said my father supported the OLF so I did too and therefore I must be the one who is  organising the students.”
Young man from Dodola Woreda, Bale Zone1

The anticipation and repression of dissent in Oromia manifests in many ways. The below are some of  the numerous and varied individual stories contained in this report:
A student told Amnesty International how he was detained and tortured in Maikelawi Federal Police detention centre because a business plan he had prepared for a competition was alleged to be underpinned by political motivations. A singer told how he had been detained, tortured and forced to agree to only sing in praise of the government in the future. A school girl told Amnesty International how she was detained because she refused to give false testimony against someone else. A former teacher showed Amnesty International where he had been stabbed and blinded in one eye with a bayonet during torture in detention because he had refused to ‘teach’ his students propaganda about the achievements of the ruling political party as he had been ordered
to do. A midwife was arrested for delivering the baby of a woman who was married to an alleged member of  the Oromo Liberation Front. A young girl told Amnesty International how she had successively lost both parents  and four brothers through death in detention, arrest or disappearance until, aged 16, she was left alone caring  for two young siblings. An agricultural expert employed by the government told how he was arrested on the  accusation he had incited a series of demonstrations staged by hundreds of farmers in his area, because his  job involved presenting the grievances of the farmers to the government.

In April and May 2014, protests broke out across Oromia against a proposed ‘Integrated Master Plan’ to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia regional territory. The protests were led by students, though many other people participated. Security services, comprised of  federal police and the military special forces, responded to the protests with unnecessary and excessive force, firing live ammunition on peaceful protestors in a number of locations and  beating hundreds of peaceful protestors and bystanders, resulting in dozens of deaths and  scores of injuries. In the wake of the protests, thousands of people were arrested.
These incidents were far from being unprecedented in Oromia. They were the latest and  bloodiest in a long pattern of the suppression – sometimes pre-emptive and often brutal – of even suggestions of dissent in the region.  The Government of Ethiopia is hostile to dissent, wherever and however it manifests, and also shows hostility to influential individuals or groups not affiliated to the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) political party. The government has used arbitrary arrest and detention, often without charge, to suppress suggestions of dissent in many parts of the country. But this hostility, and the resulting acts of suppression, have  manifested often and at scale in Oromia.  A number of former detainees, as well as former officials, have observed that Oromos make up  a high proportion of the prison population in federal prisons and in the Federal Police Crime  Investigation and Forensic Sector, commonly known as Maikelawi, in Addis Ababa, where  prisoners of conscience and others subject to politically-motivated detention are often detained when first arrested. Oromos also constitute a high proportion of Ethiopian refugees.  According to a 2012 Inter-Censal Population Survey, the Oromo constituted 35.3% of  Ethiopia’s population. However, this numerical size alone does not account for the high  proportion of Oromos in the country’s prisons, or the proportion of Oromos among Ethiopians  fleeing the country. Oromia and the Oromo have long been subject to repression based on a widespread imputed opposition to the EPRDF which, in conjunction with the size of the  population, is taken as posing a potential political threat to the government. Between 2011 and 2014, at least 5,000 Oromos have been arrested as a result of their actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government, based on their manifestation of  dissenting opinions, exercise of freedom of expression or their imputed political opinion. These included thousands of peaceful protestors and hundreds of political opposition members, but also hundreds of other individuals from all walks of life – students,  pharmacists, civil servants, singers, business people and people expressing their Oromo cultural heritage – arrested based on the expression of dissenting opinions or their suspected opposition to the government. Due to restrictions on human rights reporting, independent journalism and information exchange in Ethiopia, as well as a lack of transparency on detention practices, it is possible there are many additional cases that have not been reported or documented. In the cases known to Amnesty International, the majority of those arrested were detained without charge or trial for some or all of their detention, for weeks,
months or years – a system apparently intended to warn, punish punish or silence them, from which justice is often absent.
Openly dissenting individuals have been arrested in large numbers. Thousands of Oromos have been arrested for participating in peaceful protests on a range of issues. Large-scale arrests were seen during the protests against the ‘Master Plan’ in 2014 and during a series of  protests staged in 2012-13 by the Muslim community   in Oromia and other parts of the  country against alleged government interference in Islamic affairs. In addition, Oromos have  been arrested for participation in peaceful protests over job opportunities, forced evictions,  the price of fertilizer, students’ rights, the teaching of the Oromo language and the arrest or extra-judicial executions of farmers, students, children and others targeted for expressing  dissent, participation in peaceful protests or based on their imputed political opinion. Between 2011 and 2014, peaceful protests have witnessed several incidents of the alleged use of unnecessary and excessive force by security services against unarmed protestors. 
  Hundreds of members of legally-registered opposition political parties have also been arrested in large sweeps that took place in 2011 and in 2014, as well as in individual incidents. 

In addition to targeting openly dissenting groups, the government also anticipates dissent  amongst certain groups and individuals, and interprets certain actions as signs of dissent.  Students in Oromia report that there are high levels of surveillance for signs of dissent or political activity among the student body in schools and universities. Students have been  arrested based on their actual or suspected political opinion, for refusing to join the ruling party or their participation in student societies, which are treated with hostility on the  suspicion that they are underpinned by political motivations. Hundreds of students have also been arrested for participation in peaceful protests.

Expressions of Oromo culture and heritage have been interpreted as manifestations of  dissent, and the government has also shown signs of fearing cultural expression as a potential catalyst for opposition to the government. Oromo singers, writers and poets have been arrested for allegedly criticising the government and/or inciting people through their work. People wearing traditional Oromo clothing have been arrested on the accusation that this demonstrated a political agenda. Hundreds of people have been arrested at Oromo traditional festivals.

Members of these groups – opposition political parties, student groups, peaceful protestors, people promoting Oromo culture and people in positions the government believes could have influence on their communities – are treated with hostility not only due to their own actual or perceived dissenting behaviour, but also due to their perceived potential to act as a conduit  or catalyst for further dissent. A number of people arrested for actual or suspected dissent  told Amnesty International they were accused of the ‘incitement’ of others to oppose the government.

The majority of actual or suspected dissenters who had been arrested in Oromia interviewed  by Amnesty International were accused of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) – the armed group that has fought a long-term low-level insurgency in the region, which was proscribed as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian parliament in June 2011. The accusation of OLF support has often been used as a pretext to silence individuals openly  exercising dissenting behaviour such as membership of an opposition political party or  participation in a peaceful protest. However, in addition to targeting demonstrators, students,members of opposition political parties and people celebrating Oromo culture based on their  actual or imputed political opinion, the government frequently demonstrates that it  anticipates dissenting political opinion widely among the population of Oromia. People from all walks of life are regularly arrested based only on their suspected political opinion – on the  accusation they support the OLF. Amnesty International interviewed medical professionals, business owners, farmers, teachers, employees of international NGOs and many others who  had been arrested based on this accusation in recent years. These arrests were often based on suspicion alone, with little or no supporting evidence.

Certain behaviour arouses suspicion, such as refusal to join the ruling political party or  movement around or in and out of the region. Some people ‘inherit’ suspicion from their  parents or other family members. Expressions of dissenting opinions within the Oromo party  in the ruling coalition – the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) – have also been responded to with the accusation that the dissenter supports the OLF. Family members have also been arrested in lieu of somebody else wanted for actual or suspected dissenting behaviour, a form of collective punishment illegal under international law. 

In some of these cases too, the accusation of OLF support and arrest on that basis appears to be a pretext used to warn, control or punish signs of ‘political disobedience’ and people who have influence over others and are not members of the ruling political party. But the constant  repetition of the allegation suggests the government continues to anticipate a level of  sympathy for the OLF amongst the Oromo population writ large. Further, the government  appears to also believe that the OLF is behind many signs of peaceful dissent in the region.

However, in numerous cases, the accusation of supporting the OLF and the resulting arrest  do not ever translate into a criminal charge. The majority of all people interviewed by  Amnesty International who had been arrested for their actual or suspected dissenting behaviour or political opinion said that they were detained without being charged, tried or  going to court to review the legality of their detention, in some cases for months or years. Frequently, therefore, the alleged support for the OLF  remains unsubstantiated and unproven. Often, it is merely an informal allegation made during the course of interrogation. Further, questions asked of actual or suspected dissenters by interrogators in detention also suggest that the exercise of certain legal rights  –for example, participation in a peaceful protest – is taken as evidence of OLF support.  A number of people interviewed by Amnesty International had been subjected to repeated arrest on the  same allegation of  of being  anti-government or   of OLF support, without ever being charged. 

Amnesty International interviewed around 150 Oromos who were targeted for actual or  suspected dissent. Of those who were arrested on these bases, the majority said they were subjected to arbitrary detention without judicial review, charge or trial, for some or all of the period of their detention, for periods ranging from several days to several years. In the majority of those cases, the individual said they were arbitrarily detained for the entire duration of their detention. In fewer cases, though still reported by a notable number of interviewees, the detainee was held arbitrarily – without charge or being brought before a court – during an initial period that again ranged from a number of weeks to a number of  years, before the detainee was eventually brought before a court.

A high proportion of people interviewed by Amnesty International were also held  incommunicado – denied access to legal representation and family members and contact with the outside world – for some or all of their period of detention. In many of these cases, the detention amounted to enforced disappearance, such as where lack of access to legal counsel and family members and lack of information on the detainee’s fate or whereabouts placed a detainee outside the protection of the law. them again. The family continued to be ignorant of their fate and did not know whether they  were alive or dead.Many people reported to Amnesty International that, after their family members had been arrested, they had never heard from.

Arrests of actual or suspected dissenters in Oromia reported to Amnesty International were  made by local and federal police, the federal military and intelligence officers, often without  a warrant. Detainees were held in Kebele, Woreda and Zonal3 detention centres, police stations, regional and federal prisons. However, a large proportion of former detainees interviewed by Amnesty International were detained in unofficial places of detention, mostly  in military camps throughout the region. In some cases apparently considered more serious, detainees were transferred to Maikelawi in Addis Ababa. Arbitrary detention without charge or trial was reported in all of these places of detention.

Almost all people interviewed by Amnesty International who had been detained in military camps or other unofficial places of detention said their detention was not subject to any form of judicial review. All detainees in military camps in Oromia nterviewed by Amnesty International experienced some violations of the rights and protections of due process and a high proportion of all interviewees who had been detained in a military camp reported torture, including rape, and other ill-treatment.
Actual or suspected dissenters have been subjected to torture in federal and regional detention centres and prisons, police stations, including Maikelawi, military camps and other  unofficial places of detention. The majority of former detainees interviewed by Amnesty  International, arrested based on their actual or imputed political opinion, reported that they had been subjected to treatment amounting to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in most cases repeatedly, while in detention or had been subjected to treatment that amounts to torture or ill-treatment in and around their homes. Frequently reported methods of torture were beating, particularly with fists, rubber batons, wooden or metal sticks or gun butts, kicking, tying in contorted stress positions often in conjunction with beating on the soles of the feet, electric shocks, mock execution or death threats involving a gun, beating with electric wire, burning, including with heated metal or molten plastic, chaining or tying hands or ankles together for extended periods (up to several months), rape, including gang rape, and extended solitary confinement. Former detainees repeatedly said that they  were coerced, in many cases under torture or the threat of torture, to provide a statement or confession or incriminating evidence against others.
Accounts of former detainees interviewed by Amnesty International consistently demonstrate that conditions in detention in regional and federal police stations, regional and federal prisons, military camps and other unofficial places of detention, violate international law and  national and international standards. Cases of death in detention were reported to Amnesty  International by former fellow detainees or family members of detainees. These deaths were  reported to result from torture, poor detention conditions and lack of medical assistance.  Some of these cases may amount to extra-judicial executions, where the detainees died as a result of torture or the intentional deprivation of food or medical assistance. 

There is no transparency or oversight of this system of arbitrary detention, and no independent investigation of allegations of torture and other violations in detention. No independent human rights organizations that monitor and publically document violations have access to detention centres in Ethiopia.

In numerous cases, former detainees interviewed by Amnesty International also said their release from arbitrary detention was premised on their agreement to a set of arbitrary  conditions unlawfully imposed by their captors rather than by any judicial procedure, and  many of which entailed foregoing the exercise of other human rights, such as those to the freedoms of expression, association and movement. Failure to uphold the conditions, detainees were told, could lead to re-arrest or worse. Regularly cited conditions included: not participating in demonstrations or other gatherings, political meetings or student activities; not meeting with more than two or three individuals at one time; not having any contact with certain people, including spouses or family members wanted by the authorities for alleged dissenting behaviour; or not leaving the area where they lived without seeking permission from local authorities. For a number of people interviewed by Amnesty International, it was the difficulty of complying with these conditions and the restricting impact they had on their  lives, or fear of the consequences if they failed to comply, intentionally or unintentionally, that caused them to flee the country.
The testimonies of people interviewed by Amnesty International, as well as information received from a number of other sources and legal documents seen by the organization, indicate a number of fair trial rights are regularly violated in cases of actual or suspected  Oromo dissenters that have gone to court, including the rights to a public hearing, to not be  compelled to incriminate oneself, to be tried without undue delay and the right to presumption of innocence. Amnesty International has also documented cases in which the lawful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, or other protected human rights, is cited as evidence of illegal support for the OLF in trials. Amnesty International also received dozens of reports of actual or suspected dissenters being
killed by security services, in the context of security services’ response to protests, during the  arrests of actual or suspected dissidents, and while in detention. Some of these killings may  amount to extra-judicial executions. A multiplicity of both regional and federal actors are involved in committing human rights violations against actual or suspected dissenters in Oromia, including civilian administrative  officials, local police, federal police, local militia, federal military and intelligence services,
with cooperation between the different entities, including between the regional and federal levels.
Because of the many restrictions on human rights organizations and on the freedoms of  association and expression in Ethiopia, arrests and detentions are under-reported and almost no sources exist to assist detainees and their families in accessing justice and pressing for  remedies and accountability for human rights violations.

The violations documented in this report take place in an environment of almost complete impunity for the perpetrators. Interviewees regularly told Amnesty International that it was either not possible or that there was no point in trying to complain, seek answers or seek justice in cases of enforced disappearance, torture, possible extra-judicial execution or other violations. Many feared repercussions for asking. Some were arrested when they did ask about a relative’s fate or whereabouts.
As Ethiopia heads towards general elections in 2015, it is likely that the government’s efforts to suppress dissent, including through the use of arbitrary arrest and detention and other  violations, will continue unabated and may even increase. The Ethiopian government must take a number of urgent and substantial measures to ensure no-one is arrested, detained, charged, tried, convicted or sentenced on account of the peaceful exercise of their rights to the freedoms of expression, association and assembly, including the right to peacefully assemble to protest, or based on their imputed political opinion; to end unlawful practices of arbitrary detention without charge or trial, incommunicado detention without access to the outside world, detention in unofficial detention centres, and enforced disappearance; and to address the prevalence of torture and other ill-treatment in Ethiopia’s detention centres. All allegations of torture, incidents involving allegations of the unnecessary or excessive use of force by security services against peaceful protestors, and all suspected cases of extra-judicial executions must be urgently and
properly investigated. Access to all prisons and other places of detention and to all prisoners should be extended to appropriate independent, non-governmental bodies, including international human rights bodies.
Donors with existing funding programmes working with federal and regional police, with the military or with the prison system, should carry out thorough and impartial investigations into allegations of human rights violations within those institutions, to ensure their funding is not contributing to the commission of human rights violations. Further, the international community should accord the situation in Ethiopia the highest possible level of scrutiny. Existing domestic investigative and accountability mechanisms have proved not capable of carrying out investigations that are independent, adequate, prompt, open to public scrutiny and which sufficiently involve victims. Therefore, due to the  apparent existence of an entrenched pattern of violations in Ethiopia and due to concerns over the impartiality of established domestic investigative procedures, there is a substantial
and urgent need for intervention by regional and international human rights bodies to conduct independent investigations into allegations of widespread human rights violations in Oromia, as well as the rest of Ethiopia. Investigations should be pursued through the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry, fact-finding mission or comparable procedure, comprised of independent international experts, under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council or the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. 

See full report @http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR25/006/2014/en/539616af-0dc6-43dd-8a4f-34e77ffb461c/afr250062014en.pdf

Amnesty International’s report titled, “‘Because I Am Oromo’: A Sweeping Repression in Oromia …” can be accessed here.

Read also other media sources reporting:

http://www.voaafaanoromoo.com/content/article/2499696.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook

http://http://unpo.org/article.php?id=17650

http://http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/28/ethiopia-torture-oromo-group-amnestry-rape-killings

http://http://m.voanews.com/a/amnesty-ethiopia-systematically-repressing-oromo/2498866.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29799484

http://finfinnetribune.com/Gadaa/2014/10/full-report-amnesty-internationals-because-i-am-oromo-a-sweeping-repression-in-oromia/

http://www.tesfanews.net/amnesty-says-ethiopia-detains-5000-oromos-illegally-since-2011/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-27/amnesty-says-ethiopia-detains-5-000-oromos-illegally-since-2011.html

http://ayyaantuu.com/human-rights/amnesty-ethiopia-systematically-repressing-oromo/

http://www.elwatannews.com/news/details/586125

http://mobi.iafrica.com/world-news/2014/10/28/ethiopia-torturing-ethnic-group/

http://www.warscapes.com/opinion/oromoprotests-perspective

http://news.yahoo.com/ethiopia-torturing-opposition-ethnic-group-amnesty-100724983.html

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/10/28/ethiopia-oromo-amnesty.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2812850/Thousands-Ethiopians-tortured-brutal-government-security-forces-Britain-hands-1-BILLION-aid-money.html

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article4250755.ece

http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article52880

http://www.noticiasaominuto.com/mundo/297457/etiopia-acusada-de-perseguir-a-etnia-oromo

http://www.afriqueexpansion.com/depeches-afp/17872-lethiopie-torture-et-execute-les-oromo-accuses-dopposition-au-gouvernement-amnesty.html

http://lepersoneeladignita.corriere.it/2014/10/28/etiopia-persecuzione-senza-fine-ai-da

http://maliactu.net/lethiopie-torture-les-oromo-les-accusant-dopposition-au-gouvernement/

http://www.kleinezeitung.at/nachrichten/politik/3783541/aethiopien-geht-gnadenlos-gegen-o

https://www.es.amnesty.org/noticias/noticias/articulo/el-estado-detiene-tortura-y-mata-a-personas-de-etnia-oromo-en-su-implacable-represion-de-la-diside/

http://www.caracol.com.co/noticias/internacionales/amnistia-internacional-denuncia-la-persecucion-de-la-etnia-oromo-en-etiopia/20141028/nota/2481622.aspx

http://www.tribune.com.ng/news/world-news/item/19982-ethiopia-targets-largest-ethnic-group-for-link-to-rebels-amnesty-says

Does British aid to Africa help the powerful more than the poor?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/ethiopia/11198471/Does-British-aid-to-Africa-help-the-powerful-more-than-the-poor.html

Oromia: Enhanced Master Plan to Continue Committing the Crimes of Genocide

 

 

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Oromia: Enhanced Master Plan to Continue Committing the Crimes of Genocide
The actions taken were aimed at destroying Oromo farmers or at rendering them extinct.

~Ermias Legesse, Ethiopia’s exiled EPRDF Minister

August 30, 2014 (Oromo Press) — The announcement of the implementation of the Addis Ababa Master Plan (AAMP) was just an extension of an attempt by EPRDF government at legalizing its plans of ridding the Oromo people from in and around Finfinne by grabbing Oromo land for its party leaders and real estate developers from the Tigrean community. The act of destroying Oromo farmers by taking away their only means of survival—the land—precedes the current master plan by decades. Ermias Legesse, exiled EPRDF Deputy Minister of Communication Affairs, acknowledged his own complicity in the destruction of 150,000[1] Oromo farmers in the Oromia region immediately adjacent to Finfinne. He testifies that high-level TPLF/EPRDF officials are responsible for planning and coordinating massive land-grab campaigns without any consideration of the people atop the land. Ermia’s testimony is important because it contains both the actus reus and dolus specials of the mass evictions[2]:

Once while in a meeting in 1998 (2006, Gregorian),the Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi , we (ERPDF wings) used to go to his office every week, said. Meles led the general party work in Addis Ababa. We went to his office to set the direction/goal for the year. When a question about how should we continue leading was asked, Meles said something that many people may not believe. ‘Whether we like it or not nationality agenda is dead in Addis Ababa.’ He spoke this word for word. ‘A nationality question in Addis Ababa is the a minority agenda.’ If anyone were to be held accountable for the crimes, everyone of us have a share in it according to our ranks, but mainly Abay Tsehaye is responsible. The actions taken were aimed at destroying Oromo farmers or at rendering them extinct. 29 rural counties were destroyed in this way. In each county there are more or less about 1000 families. About 5000 people live in each Kebele (ganda) and if you multiply 5000 by 30, then the whereabouts of 150,000 farmers is unknown.

Zenawi’s statement “the question of nationality is a dead agenda in Addis Ababa” implies that the Prime Minister planned the genocide of the Oromo in and around Finfinne and others EPRDF officials followed suit with the plan in a more aggressive and formal fashion.

Announcement of the Addis Ababa Master Plan and Massacres and Mass Detentions

AAMP was secretly in the making for at least three years before its official announcement in April 2014.[3] The government promoted on local semi-independent and state controlled media the sinister plan that already evicted 2 million Oromo farmers and aims at evicting 8-10 million and at dividing Oromia into east and west Oromia as a benevolent development plan meant to extend social and economic services to surrounding Oromia’s towns and rural districts. Notwithstanding the logical contradiction of claiming to connect Oromia towns and rural aanaalee (districts) to “economic and social” benefits by depopulating the area itself, the plan was met with strong peaceful opposition across universities, schools and high schools in Oromia. Starting with the Ambo massacre that claimed the lives of 47 people in one day[4], Ethiopia’s army and police killed over 200 Oromo students, jailed over 2000 students, maimed and disappeared countless others over a five-month period from April-August 2014.

Read the full text @ OromoPress:http://oromopress.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/enhanced-master-plan-to-continue.html

 

 

 

More references:

http://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/widespread-brutalities-of-the-ethiopian-government-in-handling-protests-in-different-parts-of-the-state-of-oromia-by-peaceful-demonstrators/

 

http://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/ethiopias-new-master-plan-of-ethnic-cleansing-against-the-oromo-in-the-name-of-development-expansion-of-finfinnee-addis-ababa/

 

 

http://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/oromo-diaspora-mobilizes-to-shine-spotlight-on-student-protests-in-ethiopia/

 

Land Grabbing and the Threat to Local Land Rights

 

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Video:Land grab in Oromia, displacement of Oromo People in Ethiopia and environmental disaster

See also  http://freedomfororomo.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/deforestation-and-land-grabbing-by-the-neo-neftegna-tplf-in-the-unesco-registered-yayu-coffee-forest-biosphere-reserve-illuu-abbaa-booraa-western-oromia/

 

Land grabbing increased in 2008, when price shocks in the food market alerted the world to the finite limits of food production. From this came a rush to acquire farmland all over the globe and a dramatic increase in the value of arable land. “Land acquisitions,” as they are termed by their proponents, are the latest weapon in the arsenal of conventional development. Although it is claimed that they alleviate poverty and increase technological transfer, employment, and food security, the “grabs” have a range of other motives. Some are politically driven, some provide new markets for corporations, others provide food security for far-off nations. The “grabbers” range from elite businessmen to governments to multinational corporations and are not defined by any one particular demographic.

In Tanzania, the wild Serengeti Desert, home to elephants, lions and a host of other magnificent wildlife, is being carved up as Middle Eastern businessmen purchase huge parcels of land for private hunting rights. The Serengeti is home to the pastoral Masai people, who are now restricted to smaller and smaller territories. As a result they are not only being criminalized for trespassing on their ancestral lands, they are accused of over-grazing and degrading ecosystems as their herds no longer have enough room to graze without impacting grasslands.

In nearby Ethiopia, the government of the Gambela region has enacted a “Villagization” program that promises new schools, wells, medical facilities, and general infrastructure to relocated communities. Unfortunately, these promises have rarely materialized and more often than not the “villagization” process has resembled the violent forcing of communities into state-designated camps, in a process that is clearing the way for foreign agribusiness. Those that stay put in their ancestral homes often find themselves surrounded by new plantations. Two concessions of 25,000 acres and 250,000 acres are currently under development by a Saudi oil billionaire and an Indian flower agribusiness for 60 and 50 years, respectively. The latter, Karuturi Global, is growing oil palm, corn, sorghum, rice, and sugarcane for export back to India, using a labor pool comprised primarily of Indians or Ethiopians from other regions. Karuturi Global pays a measly $2.50 per acre annually – little to none of which is seen by local residents. A few local tribespeople now work for the company, although this is usually because they were left with no choice, their own land having been taken or degraded. These tribespeople used to earn their livelihoods by hunting, fishing, and making honey. When the company began cutting down the forest the bees and the animals vanished; now that the company has started draining the wetlands, the fish will soon be gone too. http://theeconomicsofhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/land-grabbing-and-the-threat-to-local-land-rights/

 

Land Grabbing and the Threat to Local Land Rights

By Sophie Weiss*

 

In recent years, foreign governments and multinational corporations have bought or leased huge tracts of sovereign land in the developing world, converting much of it to industrialized agriculture for export. This “land grabbing” – now widespread across Africa and Asia – is most common in nations with the least secure land tenure systems. Usually the land transfers involve land occupied by indigenous communities; often they are not legally registered as landholders and can be easily evicted. In terms of both ecological and cultural impacts, land grabbing has emerged as one of the most painful manifestations of the globalized economy in the 21stCentury.

Land grabbing increased in 2008, when price shocks in the food market alerted the world to the finite limits of food production. From this came a rush to acquire farmland all over the globe and a dramatic increase in the value of arable land. “Land acquisitions,” as they are termed by their proponents, are the latest weapon in the arsenal of conventional development. Although it is claimed that they alleviate poverty and increase technological transfer, employment, and food security, the “grabs” have a range of other motives. Some are politically driven, some provide new markets for corporations, others provide food security for far-off nations. The “grabbers” range from elite businessmen to governments to multinational corporations and are not defined by any one particular demographic. Many organizations have attempted to estimate how many acres are involved, though there is no central registry and little transparency. The World Bank claimed 120 million acres were transferred in 2010, while Oxfam gave a figure of 560 million acres*.

In Tanzania, the wild Serengeti Desert, home to elephants, lions and a host of other magnificent wildlife, is being carved up as Middle Eastern businessmen purchase huge parcels of land for private hunting rights. The Serengeti is home to the pastoral Masai people, who are now restricted to smaller and smaller territories. As a result they are not only being criminalized for trespassing on their ancestral lands, they are accused of over-grazing and degrading ecosystems as their herds no longer have enough room to graze without impacting grasslands.

In nearby Ethiopia, the government of the Gambela region has enacted a “Villagization” program that promises new schools, wells, medical facilities, and general infrastructure to relocated communities. Unfortunately, these promises have rarely materialized and more often than not the “villagization” process has resembled the violent forcing of communities into state-designated camps, in a process that is clearing the way for foreign agribusiness. Those that stay put in their ancestral homes often find themselves surrounded by new plantations. Two concessions of 25,000 acres and 250,000 acres are currently under development by a Saudi oil billionaire and an Indian flower agribusiness for 60 and 50 years, respectively. The latter, Karuturi Global, is growing oil palm, corn, sorghum, rice, and sugarcane for export back to India, using a labor pool comprised primarily of Indians or Ethiopians from other regions. Karuturi Global pays a measly $2.50 per acre annually – little to none of which is seen by local residents. A few local tribespeople now work for the company, although this is usually because they were left with no choice, their own land having been taken or degraded. These tribespeople used to earn their livelihoods by hunting, fishing, and making honey. When the company began cutting down the forest the bees and the animals vanished; now that the company has started draining the wetlands, the fish will soon be gone too.

In Sri Lanka, instability has given land grabbers the advantage as the country transitions out of a bloody 30-year civil war. During the conflict, the Sinhala Buddhist government claimed several large pieces of land as High Security Zones (HSZ), conveniently located in Tamil territories. In these seizures, local families were evicted from their lands in the name of security. Now that the war is over, the validity of the HSZs has come into question, but instead of returning the land to its original tenders, the government is converting many of the HSZs into Economic Processing Zones and Special Economic Zones, commonly contracting them out to large Chinese and Vietnamese corporations. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils are relegated to “displaced person camps” with little or no access to resources.

These are only a few of the heart-wrenching examples of land deals across the globe. Large-scale land transfers like these remove all human connection from land management. If the land grabbing trend continues, we could be witnessing the true end of the commons everywhere.

While proponents claim that these land acquisitions provide development to needy regions in the form of technology transfer and employment, these lofty claims require scrutiny. Is this kind of “employment” what is needed or desired among local people? How will technology transfer help them and what kind of technology is needed? In a region thriving on small-scale farming, are large tractors and bulldozers really of any benefit?

First and foremost, what local peoClare-Douglas-A-Young-Gardener-Tanzaniaple need to prosper are secure land rights. Then they can make choices about the technologies they want to adopt, and about how their land can be managed for the benefit of the local communities, economies and ecosystems. To this end, we need an international legal framework that restricts and regulates the ability of foreign businesses to acquire land. Regulations need to limit the size of land deals, ensuring accountability and justice for the communities and ecosystems impacted.

It speaks to the disconnection between governments and indigenous/rural peoples that the land grabbing trend continues to grow; and it speaks to the cruelty of a deregulated global economy that it allows massive industrialized food production for export from the lands of those who are already hungry. Land grabbing may seem a distant problem for those of us outside the regions where it is taking place, but we also have a role to play. Often we don’t know what we are supporting when we buy mass-produced products from global corporations. By keeping our purchases within our local communities, we are keeping our money where we can see it – supporting businesses and communities in our own backyard, rather than enabling corporations to steal someone else’s on the other side of the world. This kind of localization – at the policy and grassroots levels – empowers communities everywhere to defend their relationship to their land, and honors the deep connection and intimate dialogue between cultures and ecosystems. Read more @http://theeconomicsofhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/land-grabbing-and-the-threat-to-local-land-rights/

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*Sophie Weiss is an intern with Local Futures. She graduated with a BA concentration in Geography/International Development Studies from Sarah Lawrence College. She is a printmaker, designer, and critical geography researcher, focusing on indigenous land rights and anti-land grab advocacy for the Oakland Institute, a policy think tank based in Oakland, California.

The Conflict between the Ethiopian State and the Oromo People, by Dr. Alemayehu Kumsa

 

 

 

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 “What is important to consider is the significance of the fact that the people who control TPLF (Tigrai People’s Liberation Front) and Government are very parochial minded and appalling arrogant charlatans. They are extremely violent, insanely suspicious … With twin character flaws of excessive love of consumer goods and obsession with status and hierarchy… Fear, blackmail, intrigue, deception, suspicion, and brutality are its defining characteristics. It is absolutely insane for anyone to expect democracy from a secretive and tyrannical organization as such the TPLF and its spawn” (Hagos 1999:66)71. This study proves the observation of Prof. Gellner (1983) “the Amhara Empire was a prison house of nations if ever was one”72. The contemporary government of Ethiopia controlled by Tigrians is worse than all previous governments economically, politically, militarily and in human rights violation of Oromo and other nations which means, it is one of the worst prison houses of nations in Africa.

 

The Conflict between the Ethiopian State and the Oromo People

Published: Centro de Estudos Internacionais do Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL) (5th European Conference on African Studies/ECAS – June 27-29, 2013)
Keywords: Colonialism, Abyssinia, Oromo, Ethiopia, Liberation Movement

Abstract:
Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another. The etymology of the term from Latin word colonus, meaning farmer. This root reminds us that the practice of colonialism usually involves the transfer of population to new territory, where the arrivals lived as permanent settlers while maintaining political allegiance to the country of origin. Colonialism is a characteristic of all known civilizations. Books on African history teaches us that Ethiopia and Liberia are the only countries, which were not colonized by West European states, but the paper argues that Ethiopia was created by Abyssinian state colonizing its neighbouring nations during the scramble for Africa. Using comparative colonial history of Africa, the paper tries to show that Abyssinian colonialism is the worst of conquest and colonial rule of all territories in Africa, according to the number of people killed during the conquest war, brutal colonial rule, political oppression, poverty, lack of education, diseases, and contemporary land grabbing only in the colonial territories. In its arguments, the paper discusses why the Oromo were defeated at the end of 19th century whereas we do have full historical documents starting from 13th century in which the Oromo defended their own territory against Abyssinian expansion. Finally the paper will elucidate the development of Oromo national struggle for regaining their lost independence.

Article in PDF format   ……   Alternatively, On Gadaa.com

Ethiopia is rated Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2014: Descent into hell continues in the Horn of Africa

Ocouverture classement 2014logo RSF 
DESCENT INTO HELL CONTINUES IN THE HORN OF AFRICA

The levels of poverty and authoritarianism are higher in the Horn of Africa than anywhere else in the continent. Civil liberties are collateral victims. http://rsf.org/index2014/en-africa.php

World Press Index 2014: Ethiopia ranked 143/ 180

According to related index by freedom House, Ethiopia ranked 176/197

Ethiopia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2014, Freedom of the Press 2014, and Freedom on the Net 2013.
http://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press-2014/press-freedom-rankings#.U-xp-tJDvyt

http://www.freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FOTP_2014.pdf

 

 

The 2014 World Press Freedom Index spotlights the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information and its protagonists. The ranking of some countries has also been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed. This trend constitutes a growing threat worldwide and is even endangering freedom of information in countries regarded as democracies. Finland tops the index for the fourth year running, closely followed by Netherlands and Norway, like last year.

The 2014 index underscores the negative correlation between freedom of information and conflicts, both open conflicts and undeclared ones. In an unstable environment, the media become strategic goals and targets for groups or individuals whose attempts to control news and information violate the guarantees enshrined in international law, in particular, article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Protocols Additional 1 and 2 to the Geneva Conventions. Tyrannic  countries such as Ethiopia, Turkmenistan and North Korea where freedom of information is non-existent continue to be news and information black holes and living hells for the journalists who inhabit them.

 

Post-Zenawi Ethiopia – a missed chance to liberalize

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s death in August 2012 and his replacement by Hailemariam Desalegn raised hopes of political and social reforms that would benefit freedom of information. Sadly, these hopes have been dashed. The repressive anti-terrorism law adopted in 2009 is a threat that continues to hang over journalists, forcing them to censor themselves. Media that dare to violate the code of silence, especially as regards government corruption, are systematically intimidated.

Five journalists are currently detained in Kality prison on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Two of them, Woubeshet Taye, the deputy editor of the Amharic-language weekly Awramba Times, and Reyot Alemu, a columnist with the national weekly Fitih, have been held for two and a half years, since their arrest in June 2011 on terrorism charges. There is no sign of any loosening of the vice that grips the Ethiopian media and the regime is unlikely to tolerate criticism before the elections in 2015.

Djibouti – unable to hear the voice of those without a voice

Djibouti is a highly strategic regional crossroads. Because of its economic and geopolitical advantages, it is easy to turn a blind eye to the dictatorial methods used by Ismail Omar Guelleh, who has ruled since 1999. Under Guelleh, Djibouti has steadily cut itself off from the outside world and suppressed criticism. The list of journalists who have been jailed and tortured gets longer and longer. Releases are only ever provisional. The journalist and Guelleh opponent Daher Ahmed Farah is a case in point. He has been jailed five times and arrested a dozen times since returning to Djibouti in January 2013.

The concept of independent media is completely alien to Djibouti. The only national broadcaster, Radio-Télévision Djibouti, is the government’s mouthpiece. The few opposition newspapers have disappeared over the years. There is an independent radio station based in Europe – La Voix de Djibouti. Two of its journalists have been jailed in the past 12 months.

Eritrea – Africa’s biggest prison for journalists

Ever since President Issayas Afeworki closed down all the privately-owned media and jailed 11 journalists in 2001, of which seven are reported to have died while in detention, Eritrea has been Africa’s biggest prison for the media. A total of 28 journalists are currently detained.

There are no longer any privately-owned media, and the state media are subject to such close surveillance that they have to conceal entire swathes of contemporary history such as the Arab Spring. Accessing reliable information is impossible in the absence of satellite and Internet connections. A few independent radio stations, such as Radio Erena, manage to broadcast from abroad.

Somalia – danger and authoritarianism

Those who had seen some improvement in Somalia were quickly disabused. Journalists still trying to provide objective news coverage are targeted by both terrorists and security-driven government officials. In 2013, seven journalists were the victims of terrorist attacks blamed with varying degrees of certainty onthe Islamist militia Al-Shabaab. In November, Al-Shabaab deprived an entire region of television by seizing satellite dishes on the grounds they carried images that did not respect Islam. Information is seen as threat.

Unfortunately, the Somali government does not help. On the interior minister’s orders, police evicted Radio Shabelle, winner of the 2010 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Prize, from its building and seized its equipment in October 2013 after a series of reports criticizing the upsurge in violence in Mogadishu. It was a double blow because the station also used the building to house its journalists, for whom moving about the city is very dangerous. When the equipment was returned a few weeks later, it was so badly damaged as to be unusable. Not that the station is authorized to broadcast anyway, because the communication ministry refuses to give it a permit.

 

Read more @ http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php#

 

http://rsf.org/index2014/en-africa.php

Oromo: “For a people facing complete erasure, survival itself is a revolutionary act”, IOYA’s Former President Ayantu Tibeso at the Macha-Tulama Association’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

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The fact that we are gathered here today to honor the founding of Macha Tulama 50 years ago speaks to the fact that despite all odds, we, as a people are survivors. Ethiopian history is full of attempts to annihilate the Oromo—culturally, politically, socially, economically, in all and every ways possible.Oromos — cast as foreign, aliens to their own lands, have been the targets of the entire infrastructure of the Ethiopian state since their violent incorporation. Our identity, primarily language, religion and belief systems and cultural heritage have been the main targets of wanton destruction.   Oromo and its personhood were already demonized, characterized as embodiments of all that is inferior, shameful and subhuman from the beginning. Oromo people were economically and politically exploited, dominated and alienated.

Ayantu Tibeso

Africa’s Slide Toward Disaster 

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Africa’s Slide Toward Disaster

AUG. 1, 2014

A specter is haunting Africa — the specter of impunity. Many countries the United States considers allies are in the grip of corrupt, repressive tyrants; others are mired in endless conflict. As Washington prepares to host the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit next week, American policy makers must acknowledge their contributions to this dismal situation. By lavishing billions of dollars in military and development aid on African states while failing to promote justice, democracy and the rule of law, American policies have fostered a culture of abuse and rebellion. This must change before the continent is so steeped in blood that there’s no way back.

The summit seeks to highlight Africa’s development successes and promote trade and investment on a continent rich in oil and natural resources. Justice and the rule of law aren’t on the agenda. But they should be, unless American C.E.O.s want to see their investments evaporate.

Read interesting comments @ http://ayyaantuu.com/africa/africas-slide-toward-disaster/#respond

Read more @http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/02/opinion/africas-slide-toward-disaster.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

Listening to Ethiopia’s South: Music, Musicians, and the Performance of Oromo Nationalism

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Listening to Ethiopia’s South: Music, Musicians, and the Performance of Oromo Nationalism

By Harvard  University Professor Kay Kaufman Shelemay

Oromo Studies Collection

 

 Harvard University’s African Studies Workshop Featuring Kay Kaufman Shelemay: “Listening to Ethiopia’s South: Music, Musicians, and the Performance of Oromo Nationalism”

Title: Listening to Ethiopia’s South: Music, Musicians, and the Performance of Oromo Nationalism
Author: Kay Kaufman Shelemay (Professor of Music and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University)
Published: Seminar Presentation, African Studies Workshop at Harvard University
Language: English
Keywords: Ethnography, Ethnomusicology, Music, Oromo Nationalism

On March 3, 2014, Kay Kaufman Shelemay, G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, presented, “Listening to Ethiopia’s South: Music, Musicians, and the Performance of Oromo Nationalism.” Ingrid Monson, Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music at Harvard University, was the discussant.

Original Source: African Studies at Harvard University

 

Ethiopia: UK Aid Should Respect Rights

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A UK High Court ruling allowing judicial review of the UK aid agency’s compliance with its own human rights policies in Ethiopia is an important step toward greater accountability in development assistance.

 

Ethiopia: UK Aid Should Respect Rights

By Human Rights Watch,  14th July 2014

(London) – A UK High Court ruling allowing judicial review of the UK aid agency’s compliance with its own human rights policies in Ethiopia is an important step toward greater accountability in development assistance.

In its decision of July 14, 2014, the High Court ruled that allegations that the UK Department for International Development (DFID) did not adequately assess evidence of human rights violations in Ethiopia deserve a full judicial review.

“The UK high court ruling is just a first step, but it should be a wake-up call for the government and other donors that they need rigorous monitoring to make sure their development programs are upholding their commitments to human rights,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “UK development aid to Ethiopia can help reduce poverty, but serious rights abuses should never be ignored.”

The case involves Mr. O (not his real name), a farmer from Gambella in western Ethiopia, who alleges that DFID violated its own human rights policy by failing to properly investigate and respond to human rights violations linked to an Ethiopian government resettlement program known as “villagization.” Mr. O is now a refugee in a neighboring country.

Human Rights Watch has documented serious human rights violations in connection with the first year of the villagization program in Gambella in 2011 and in other regions of Ethiopia in recent years.

A January 2012 Human Rights Watch report based on more than 100 interviews with Gambella residents, including site visits to 16 villages, concluded that villagization had been marked by forced displacement, arbitrary detentions, mistreatment, and inadequate consultation, and that villagers had not been compensated for their losses in the relocation process.

People resettled in new villages often found the land infertile and frequently had to clear the land and build their own huts under military supervision. Services they had been promised, such as schools, clinics, and water pumps, were not in place when they arrived. In many cases villagers had to abandon their crops, and pledges of food aid in the new villages never materialized.

The UK, along with the World Bank and other donors, fund a nationwide development program in Ethiopia called the Promotion of Basic Services program (PBS). The program started after the UK and other donors cut direct budget support to Ethiopia after the country’s controversial 2005 elections.

The PBS program is intended to improve access to education, health care, and other services by providing block grants to regional governments. Donors do not directly fund the villagization program, but through PBS, donors pay a portion of the salaries of government officials who are carrying out the villagization policy.

The UK development agency’s monitoring systems and its response to these serious allegations of abuse have been inadequate and complacent, Human Rights Watch said. While the agency and other donors to the Promotion of Basic Services program have visited Gambella and conducted assessments, villagers told Human Rights Watch that government officials sometimes visited communities in Gambella in advance of donor visits to warn them not to voice complaints over villagization, or threatened them after the visits. The result has been that local people were reluctant to speak out for fear of reprisals.

The UK development agency has apparently made little or no effort to interview villagers from Gambella who have fled the abuses and are now refugees in neighboring countries, where they can speak about their experiences in a more secure environment. The Ethiopian government’s increasing repression of independent media and human rights reporting, and denials of any serious human rights violations, have had a profoundly chilling effect on freedom of speech among rural villagers.

“The UK is providing more than £300 million a year in aid to Ethiopia while the country’s human rights record is steadily deteriorating,” Lefkow said. “If DFID is serious about supporting rights-respecting development, it needs to overhaul its monitoring processes and use its influence and the UK’s to press for an end to serious rights abuses in the villagization program – and elsewhere.” Read @http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/07/14/ethiopia-uk-aid-should-respect-rights

 

Tyranny: What does democracy mean for TPLF/EPRDF?

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What does democracy mean for TPLF/EPRDF?

by Alemu Hurissa 

Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) minority led regime has ruled Ethiopia for 23 years. During the years TPLF has been in power, they have used various methods to control everything in the country. One of these methods was false accusations against individuals or groups of sympathizing with the Oromo Liberation Front although the question of these individuals or groups has been based on the constitution of the country.

At the beginning when they came to power after overthrowing the Derg regime they promised to democratize the country, however they didn’t take time before they started targeting those who didn’t support their ideas as dissenters were subjected to torture and terrible sufferings in mass detention centres across the country. Over the last 23 years they have been in power, they have carried out unimaginable destruction against human life and natural resources in the country particularly in Oromia region. For instance destruction of Oromia forests and other natural resources as well as the killing of Oromo students, farmers and Oromo intellectuals in all parts of the region.

In December 2003 the government security forces massacred more than 400 Anuak Civilians in Gambella region as reported on January 8, 2004 by Genocide Watch, a US based Human Rights group. Police violence in Tepi and Awassa in the Southern Nations-Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP) regional state, resulted in the death of more than one hundred civilians and the arrest of hundreds. The Human Rights Watch report 14 January 2003 termed it as Collective Punishment.

War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State, June 2008 and 19 October 2006, the Ethiopian police massacred 193 protesters in violence following last year’s disputed elections, an independent report says. These are very few among many such incidents that I have elected to mention as an example of TPLF security forces’ atrocious acts against innocent people in different parts of the country. The victim of these brutal acts range from very young children to the elderly people by age categories. For example, there was a report that an eight years old child was killed by federal police in Gudar in May 2014.

If any individual does not agree and support their agenda, automatically that person is a member of OLF, according to Woyane regime’s definition. For example, Bekele Gerba, who was a lecturer at Addis Ababa University was arrested in 2010 by the TPLF-led regime simply because he clearly depicted the true evil nature and behavior of TPLF and its members. He said the land inOromia is a private property of the ruling party members. If they want they will sell it or they will give it to the people who support them and these are people who got rich in a way that cannot be reasonably explained. Many Oromo prisoners testified about Oromo people suffering in jail after they have been released or escaped from prison. To name some of them, Ashenafi Adugna and Morkaa Hamdee are among the victims who suffered at the hands of Woyane security forces while they were in prison. Many innocent Oromo people sentenced to life term and death without any evidence that shows their involvement in any criminal act. What happened in the Oromia region against Oromo University and high school students by federal police as reported by the BBC and other mass media is evident to mention as an example.

In general, the brutal acts against Oromo people by TPLF security forces have never been witnessed anywhere in the world. This clearly depicts what the TPLF government and its party members stand for and lack of their perception about personal worth, and the contempt they have for a human being. One can be quite sure that oppression cannot continue forever, and the dark time for Oromo people shall be replaced with justice and freedom.

In a democratic country, the people have right to express themselves freely in accordance with the constitution and the laws of the country; but in Oromia, there is no freedom of speech. No one in Oromia can freely express him/herself. In oromia, the will of the people has been replaced by the will of the TPLF regime. What has been unfolding for the last 23 years in Oromia region is that the TPLF regime is busy fabricating false documents that are used by the brutal regime’s security forces to incriminate, intimidate, persecute, harass, arrest, torture and kill the innocent Oromo people. So for Woyane democracy means not to allow people their freedom of expression, intimidating, persecution, harassment, arresting, torture and killing innocents in cold blood.

Generally, woyane is a tyrant regime which uses power oppressively and unjustly in a harsh and cruel manner against Oromo people to keep itself in power as long as they could, but I strongly believe that the crimes woyane carried out against Oromo people as a part of its lust for wealth and power will not keep them in power rather it shall hasten the time the Oromo people will achieve freedom. It would be wrong to say woyane will stay in power while using excessive force of power and committing crimes against innocent Oromo people in horrible and oppressive character. What the government is doing now by the name of development is meaningless and inhuman; how one can bring development while exposing people to suffering and death is beyond anyone’s imagination.

Playing game with human life to gain wealth and acquire luxurious life in modern time by robbing and plundering the Oromo people’s wealth is simply unacceptable. The TPLF regime should have been grateful to the Oromo people instead of making Oromo people live a horrible life; because the better life enjoyed by the TPLF politicians came as a result of Oromia’s natural resources. Instead of displacing Oromo farmers, dismissing, arresting and killing Oromo students and dismissing Oromo workers from their job, would have given more respect and value for all Oromos. The problem is that the TPLF regime and itsSatellites parties like OPDO never understand the importance of Oromo people and Oromia region in Ethiopia. Oromia is bleeding since woyane has come to power, because woyane governed Oromia by using excessive force and violence.

All countries that have diplomatic relationships with Ethiopia have also played a major role in keeping woyane in power, because woyane has received too much money from these developed countries under the name of humanitarian assistance which woyane uses to buy weapons to brutally crackdown Oromo students, farmers and scholars. Under woyane’s political system there is no legal and moral right, in general, no rule of laws and justice.

On May 2, 2014, BBC reported that the security forces of the regime in Ethiopia had massacred at least 47 University and high school students in the town of Ambo in Oromia region. Human rights watch and other Non- governmental organizations also reported how the Ethiopian government abuses its own citizens for the benefit of the ruling party members.

The inhuman acts of TPLF regime against the Oromo students shows that it does not only kill students but also TPLF wants to kill the whole young generation psychologically which is their evil strategy and tactics in fact became in vain as Oromo students have continued their struggle for justice in Oromia region. We, Oromo should stand together to bring the perpetrators of massacre in Ambo town and other Universities to justice. It is true that as long as Woyane keep getting money and other facilities from developed countries; as developed countries also give priority for strategic interest than human right, it will be like climbing the top of a mountain; however, we should not let them to continue their inhuman action. What we have to know is that those students who have been massacred by woyane security forces could have been mine, our relatives or children. These students are hope of their family, Oromo society and the Oromia region in general.

TPLF-led regime in Ethiopia never understand the value of human being, what democracy and freedom of speech means because since they came to power, they have never learned from their mistakes rather than its political system goes from bad to the worst. Atrocities against our people have to continue because of just addressing the human right issue and the question of justice and freedom. So, to change the woyane’s oppressive and horrible political system in Oromia, all people who believe in justice and who know the value of human being should stand with the Oromo people and say no to the fascist and terrorist government of Ethiopia. Killing Oromo University and high school students in April and May 2014, beating and arresting students and local people, when the students and local people protested peacefully against the expansion of Finfinne and the eviction of Oromo farmers from their indigenous land is a proof that the regime in Ethiopia is being the fascist and terrorist regime. Woyane is always looking for a scapegoat for their evil actions and behaviors, but it is only woyane and its members who are responsible and will be held accountable for the crimes they committed against innocent Oromo people.

Fake leadership in Ethiopia have destroyed the Oromo people, and the constitution and the law of the country is always in favour of the TPLF regime, not the Oromo people. The TPLF regime is simply the worst government I have ever seen in the modern era.

At the end of my piece of writing, I challenge all Oromos to unite, as unity is strength and to contribute whatever we can to bring down woyane and its members from power and to bring justice and freedom to Oromia and I challenge and hope developed countries also will stop financial and technical support to terrorist regime in Ethiopia.
Read more@

http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/oromia/what-does-democracy-mean-for-tplfeprdf/

 

Related articles and references:

Widespread brutalities of the Ethiopian Government in handling protests in different parts of the state of Oromia by peaceful demonstrators

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/widespread-brutalities-of-the-ethiopian-government-in-handling-protests-in-different-parts-of-the-state-of-oromia-by-peaceful-demonstrators/

Pre 2015 Election and The Fate of The Opposition In Ethiopia

By Firehiwot Guluma Tezera

When we talk about election in Ethiopia, the 2005 national election has become foremost as previous elections under both Derg and EPRDF were fake. The national election of 2005 has shown a hint of democracy until election date in Addis Ababa but in regions it was until one month before the voting date. The ruling party has been harassing the opposition and has killed strong opposition candidates. In Addis Ababa the hint of democracy disappeared after the ruling party diverted the election results.

Having no other option than forcefully suppressing the anger of the people caused by its altering of election results, the ruling party intensified the harassment and killing. So the outcome for the opposition was either to go to prison or follow the path given by EPRDF.  Election 2005 ended in this manner.

The plan of the ruling party to give a quarter of the 540 parliamentary seats to the opposition and to minimize outside pressure and to restart the flow of foreign aid was unsuccessful. The election has made the party to assess itself. Even though it was widely accepted that EPRDF had altered the outcome of the 2005 election and had not anticipated the outcome, many have expected that the party will correct its mistakes. But the party says it has learnt from its mistakes but it made the following strategies:

Measures taken post 2005 election

  1. To harass print medias and to formulate and implement harassing press legislatures
  2. The government is the main American ally in east Africa in the anti-terrorist campaign. Through this it gets significant military and financial aid. Using this as a pretext the government formulated and implemented anti-terror laws and used it to harass and imprison parties that struggle peacefully. And through this to weaken peacefull struggle.
  3. Labeling jobless youth as dangerous and discriminating against the educated was identified as mistake during the election. To correct it they tried to share benefits by replacement and to appoint to political positions and making them members
  4. Letting jobless youth to organize and allowing them to get loans but making party membership a precondition and to stop youth joining the opposition by means of benefit
  5. To organize the rest of the people in groups of five and to disperse security personnel among the people and make difficult for the opposition to work with the people
  6. To change the roads built by aid organizations by cobble stone by employing unemployed youth. Employing the youth was good but they request exaggerated amount from the people. By doing this they are hitting two birds with one stone, to make its members beneficiaries and increase their numbers.

EPRDF used the above strategies for the preparation of 2010 elections. By implementing the strategies it has succeeded in increasing its members but they were not genuine supporters but they supported for benefits. When such kind of members increase, it becomes difficult to fulfill their benefits and at the end they become corruptionists. And they will become the ultimate enemies of the party.

The strategies mentioned above have enabled the party to claim to be winning 99% of the votes. Thenext day the then prime minister said” the people have given us 5 years contract believing that we have learnt from our past mistakes. This is a big warning for us. If we don’t live to their expectation they will take away their votes.” This was his scorning speech. But both the people and they know how they won and the 2010 election was declared error free.

Read more @http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/oromia/pre-2015-election-and-the-fate-of-the-opposition-in-ethiopia/

Decolonizing Development:The Political and Cultural Locations of Nationalism and National Self-determination (the Case of Oromia)

 

 

 

Decolonizing Development:The Political and Cultural Locations of Nationalism and National Self-determination (the Case of Oromia)

Several scholars have argued that national self-determination is a claim for cultural independence and that nationalism in general is based on the right to cultural autonomy, right to a culture. In the Oromo context, national self-determination is about the representation of collective identity and dignity. It is the demand of the Oromo people to govern themselves. Practically, this can be interpreted as let us be governed by people who are like us, people of our nationality or people who accept and respect our value system. For the last hundred years and so, the Oromo nation has suffered from Abyssinian expansionism, social, ecological and economic destruction and continuous and intensive cultural and physical genocide. The Abyssinians and Oromians connections have been the coloniser (refers to the former) and the colonised (refers to the latter) relationships. Contrary to the Ethiopianist discourse, they have not developed a common unifying identity, social and political system. While the Abyssinians feel a sense of glory of their kings, warlords and dictators, the Oromians feel victimisation to these rulers, so they have not emerged a common ancestry, culture and collective memory, which can result in common ‘Ethiopian’ identity. From the perspective of Oromo social construction, the present Ethiopian domination over Oromia is a continuation of what pervious generations of Oromo nation had experienced. Thus, the Oromo people, sees the present political arrangement as illegitimate because it is a rule by the people who have engaged in destroying them. So, they claim not only cultural but also political independence. Oromo nationalism is also very democratic. It follows the UN principles of self-determination for the citizens of Oromia, claiming independence from the tyranny of Ethiopian Empire. The latter has been constructed based on Amhara-Tigre nationalism. The Oromo nationalism also offers democratic solutions to the ethnic minorities in the Ethiopian Empire. Scholars of Oromo studies claim that there is fundamental behavioural, linguistic, ethnic and cultural differences between the Abyssinians (northern) and their subjects (Southern). The Oromo, Sidama, Afar and the Ogaden (Ogaden Somalians) nations, beyond their common Cushitic progeny, they have common experiences of victimisation and illegitimately absorbed by Abyssinian southward expansion. Their collective memory of past experiences and present victimisation are making common identity. This identity is a key to understand politics there and to work together for self-determination, to recover their lost humanity.

Man knows himself only insofar as he knows the world, and becomes aware of the world only in himself, and of himself only in it. Every new object, well observed, opens a new organ in ourselves.

Goethe, Maximen und Reflexionen, VI Build therefore your own world. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Introduction

The passions of national freedom and national interest are probably the strongest in the whole political spectrum that characterises the present world. Kellas (1998) holds that it is stronger than the passions aroused by religion, class, individual or group interest. This passion is not all futile, either. In Gellener’s (1983) understanding, nationalism has been considered as essential to the establishment of a modern industrial society. According to Smith (1991), it is ‘the sole vision and rationale of political solidarity.’ For Kellas (1998), it provides legitimacy to the state, and inspires its citizens to feel an emotional attachment towards it. It can be a source of creativity in the arts, and enterprise in the economy. Its power to mobilise political engagement is unrivalled, particularly in the vital activity of nation building. It is intimately linked with the operation of popular democracy. Indeed, the global pattern is a mosaic of political drives, economic interests, linguistic pride, cultural imperatives, psychological needs and nations seeking identity. These factors are manifesting as a powerful staying power in a modern Africa, either. As European colonialism and socialism melted away, the perpetual existence of the backlash against ‘neo-colonial’ colony colonialism and the reviving of national selfdom become more and more significant in social and political dynamics of contemporary multi-ethno-nation African societies. The African experience is motivated by the same aspirations as that of elsewhere. At its root is a need for freedom, dignity, for the right of people of distinct social communities to function freely and independently. In this regard, Oromia represents the case of rejuvenating claim for national freedom and the struggle against more than a century old Abyssinian Empire colonialism in Africa. Oromia is a homeland for an Oromo nation, a group of people with a common culture and value system (seera fi aadaa), language ( Afaan Oromo), political institutions (Gadaa), and historical memories and experiences. Oromia is the single largest, homogeneous and endogenous nation in Africa with a population of 40 to 45 million. Both in terms of territorial and population size, more than two-third’s today’s sovereign states that are making members of UN (United Nations) are smaller than Oromia. The Cushite (see Demie, 1998) Oromo people have inhibited their homeland, Oromia, since pre-history and in antiquity were the agents of humanity’s documented Cushitic civilisation in terms of science, technology, art, political and moral philosophy. The links between the Oromo and the ancient civilisations of Babylon, Cush and Egypt has been discussed in Asfaw Beyene (1992) and John Sorenson (1998) scholarly works. Utilising prodigious evidence from history, philosophy, archaeology and linguistics, Diop (1974 and 1991) confirms that the Cushite Egyptian civilisation was emerged from the Cushite civilisations of North East Africa, particularly, the present day Western Sudan and upper Nile Oromia (also known as Cush or Punt). Indeed, except the name of places, saints and prophets, many of the Old Testament and the Holy Koran moral texts are copies of the Oromo moral codes. The formers are written documents while the latter are orally transmitted. Since the late 1880s the Oromo people have disowned their sovereignty. They disowned their autonomous institutions of governance, culture, education, creativity, business, commerce, etc. Thus, they have been claiming for national self-determination, national-self government and the right to their own state and resist the Abyssinian Empire saver (supremacist’s) nationalism. The Oromians are not only against the quality of Ethiopian Empire governance but also against the philosophy on which it is based: domination, dehumanisation, inequality, double standard, hypocrisy, deceit, exclusion, chauvinism, war institution, rent-seeking, extractive state, conservatism, feudalism, Aste fundamentalism (Aste Tewodros, Aste Yohannis, Aste Menelik, Aste Haile Sellasie), etc. The political goal of national self-determination (national self-government) is asserted in the outlook and attitudes of the Oromo political and social organisations. Of course, the Oromo nationalism, which supports the interests and identity of the Oromo people, is a more subtle, complex and widespread phenomenon than common understanding and observation. It is within this context that we are going to discuss the Oromos’ politics of national self-determination and the search for the national homeland, the demand for reinventing a state of their own in the following sections.

Defining Nation, Nationalism and Self- determination

To define nation and nationalism is as Benjamin Akzin (1964, pp. 7-10) discussed five decades ago, to enter into a terminological jungle in which one easily gets lost. Different scholarly disciplines have their own more or less established and more or less peculiar ways of dealing with nation and nationalism. Ideally, our definition of nation and nationalism should be induced of elements of nationalist ideology. Getting at such a definition has confirmed phenomenally strenuous. Hugh Seton-Watson, an authority in this domain, has deduced that ‘no scientific definition’ of a nation can be concocted. All that we can find to say is that a nation exists when significant number of people in a community consider themselves to form a nation, or behave as if they formed one (Seton-Watson, 1982, p.5).Van den Berghe (1981) defines a nation as a politically conscious ethnic group. Several attempts have been made at making a cardinalist definition of the term, pointing out one or more key cultural variables as defining variables. Among those tried are language, religion, common history/descent, ethnicity/race, statehood and common territory (homeland). For a group of people to be termed a nation, its members typically have to share several of these characteristics, although historically, one criterion may have been predominant (for example, language in Germany, or culture and history in France). In the case of Oromo, common language (Afaan Oromo), common territory (Biyya Oromo, dangaa Oromiyaa or Oromia), common historical experiences (victimisation to Ethiopian Empire rules or Abyssinocracy) are particularly very significant. Stalin made his undertaking in 1913. His definition includes four criteria: the members of a nation live under the same economic conditions, on the same territory, speak the same language, and have similar culture and national character (Seton-Watson, 1982, p.14). Neither Ernest Gellner nor Eric Hobsbawn, two influencials, gave definite definitions of the nation in their major achievements. Indeed, they are very hostile towards what they define as nationalism. ‘…For ever single nationalism which has so far raised its ugly head…’ (Gellner, 1983, p.45), this is a Gellner’s conception and sees the world as naturally divided into nations, each with its own individuality. This implies an acceptance of the nationalist self-perception. There are also other conceptualisations. A social anthropologist, Thomas Hylland Eriksen (1992, p. 220) says ‘a nation is an ethnic group whose leaders have either achieved, or aspire to achieve, a state where its cultural group is hegemonic’, Anthony H. Birch (1989, p.6) considers that a nation is best defined as ‘a society which either governs itself today, or has done so in the past, or has a credible claim to do so in the not-too- distant future. Kellas (1998) defines the nation as a group of people who feel themselves to be a community bound together by ties of history, culture and common ancestry. Nations have ‘objective’ characteristics, which may include a territory, a language, a religion, or common descent, and ‘subjective’ characteristics, essentially a people’s awareness of its nationality and affection for it. In the last resort it is ‘the supreme loyalty’ for people who are prepared to die for their nation. The definition of ‘nation’ which we will make use of in the following is one suggested by Anthony D. Smith (1983,pp. 27-109, 1991, p. 14; 1995); a definition mastering well the ‘sounding board’ dimension. Smith here defines a nation as ‘a named human population sharing a historic territory, common myths and historical memories, a mass, public culture, a common economy and common legal rights and duties for all members. A recent definition of Smith holds nationalism, one manifestation of national-self-determination, as ‘an ideological movement for attaining and maintaining autonomy, unity and identity on behalf of a population deemed by some of its members to constitute an actual or potential ‘nation’ (Smith, 1991, p. 73; 1995). For Smith nationalism has a deep ethnic roots and rejuvenates itself in response to global and domestic impulses. While the phenomenon of globalisation and technocratic culture are there, nationalism is an eternal nature and nourishes and propels itself on technocratic innovations. In this context, national self-determination may be defined as many part aspirations of a nation: To be free to freely determine one’s own national identity, culture, including language, education, religion, and form of government, to be free of rule by another ‘nation’, that is to overcome social and political systems of domination and exclusion in which nations other than one’s own wield predominant power. To be free to select its own form of government; and those governed within it have the right of unflagging consent.

Culture and the Politics of Self-determination

Nation, nationalism and national self-determination are commanding attentions. One of the perennial issues within nationalism is whether national self-determination can stand alone, or whether it requires a ‘qualifier’ from within cultural or political ideas or both to clarify its precise cultural and political location. Several scholars have argued that national self-determination is a claim for cultural independence and that nationalism in general is based on the right to cultural independence and that nationalism is based on the right to a culture. Nielson, for example, peers a nation as groups of people whom ‘perceive themselves as having a distinct culture and traditions’, and Tamir presents that a nation is a community in which individuals develop their culture, and they therefore regard their place within a nation as membership in a cultural group. Indeed, she argues that ‘the right to national-self determination stakes a cultural rather than a political claim, namely, it is the right to preserve the existence of a nation as a distinct cultural entity.’ Will the people who demand national self-determination be satisfied with such an arrangement? Tamir gives credence to that the idea of basing the right to self-determination on the right to a culture is the one that has best conformity with a liberal internationalist viewpoint. That is thinkable, but international liberalism is incompetent on this particular matter. A nationalism, which is based on culture and cultural distinctions, was not very long a go. It is a concept that characteristic the thesis of right wing, or romantic theorists such as Herder. Indeed, Herder’s nationalism was not political, and it distrusted a state as something external, mechanical, not emerging spontaneously from the life of the people. Nevertheless, in the Oromo context the claim for national self-determination is a political rather than a cultural one. If we look at the distinction between the two, it would seem that the claim for national self-determination involves more than a demand to be tolerated while the cultural question is. For example, the Catalan’s and Quebecois’ culture and identity have been tolerated and respected to some extent, and yet many of them thought that this did not reflect a situation of self-determination. Indeed, meeting their claim would involve legislation and redefinition of institutions within the state, and perhaps even a new state. In the Oromo case the demand is actually the claim to have control over their lives. This does not mean over every individual’s private life, but over the public aspect of one’s existence, i.e. the system of mutual relationships, which reflect and sustain one’s membership of a certain collective. Here the self is conceptualised within the context of community, but one that has to be real, actual, and functioning and performing. Otherwise these communal ties are too abstract, which makes it impossible for the self to be defined by them. The statement of Cohen has to be recalled: ‘A person does not only need to develop and enjoy his powers. He needs to know who he is, and how his identity connects him with particular others. He must… find something outside himself which he did not create… He must be able to identify himself with some part of objective social reality’ (Cohen, 1988). Moreover, self-realisation, however, cannot be merely a mental situation; thus this community cannot be only cultural. It must be a political situation at least so that, in order for the Oromo people to realise themselves, they must not be dependent on the goodwill of a second party. They then must be certain that their self-realisation in all spheres of life will not be prevented by the Abyssinian government, the TPLF, the Orthodox Church, and so forth. They should therefore be politically active and watch such institutions carefully. In addition, they must participate in politics in order to decide collectively upon public matters, which influence their self-realisation. So the Oromos claim for national-self determination is about the realisation of their potential status, ability and collective character, which may be achieved only through participation in autonomous political institutions. But for more than a century Oromos have been denied access to these institutions, either officially or in practice. In other words, if Oromos as a nation achieve self-determination they will better able to participate, better represented, better able to deliberate, gain much more control over their life than formerly and more autonomous. The Oromos demand for national self-determination thus, aims at establishing those institutions, which are needed for the realisation of the self-determination. When an Oromo demands national self-determination, he/she is not asserting that he/she would like to control his/her private life, e.g. his/her job, his/her shopping activities, his/her love affairs. Many Oromos do not control these aspects of their lives and yet nevertheless demand national self-determination. But the same principle also applies to cultural life. The Oromos may be allowed more-or-less to use their language, have their own newspapers and theatre, and the freedom of worship, etc. which are making cultural freedom. Actually, these rights are hardly exist at present. But when they claim national self-determination they are not only referring to these aspects of life, as political community: they want to be able to form and choose among and vote for the Oromo political parties, to observe the Oromo constitutional laws, to pay taxes to an Oromo authority, and to have a history (and indeed, myth) of independent Oromo state, from which their identity and self-determination can derive. Thus, the Oromo’s Declaration for Independence will emphasise parliamentary participation and the need to form a constitution, rather than cultural activities. In general the Oromos demand for national self-determination entails that the individuals in this nation should be citizens, engaged in politics as members of a community committed to the realisation of certain (their own) common goods, rather than participating as individuals who seek their self-interests, as it is implied by the right- to- culture school of thought and Liberal Internationalists. Perhaps for this reason Margalit and Halbertal revise the right-to- culture argument, arguing that the right is to a certain culture rather than to culture. A certain culture, then, becomes a common good. And yet, this is not enough, because they still regard the common good in cultural rather than political terms: ‘shared values and symbols… are meant to serve as the focus for citizens’ identification with the state, as well as the sources of their willingness to defend it even at the risk of their lives (Margalit and Halbertal, 1994). Why, then, do theories adhere to the culture discourse? Of course, for most of the Western theorists, the term national self-determination is affiliated to the strive to become part of humanity, to regain the human condition of autonomy; it is adjoined to the struggle to be part of the free world, of the more progressive forces; it is seen as decolonisation, as civilisation, as an attempt made to become part of the world of liberty, rights, and justice. But, it is seen as part of centrifugal forces, from the centre to the global, universalism or what Lane (1974) calls as ‘total situation’ or citizenship based on individual freedom and social justice. These theorists, therefore, universalise the notion of national self-determination: they make it part of liberalism. The liberals’ universal approach tends to be uniformist. This makes a society rootless and a citizen far removed from those who control his/her destiny. On the other hand, the notion as it is put forward and used by the Oromos that the demand for national self-determination is also centripetal, from the global and the greater units to the smaller ones. These groups demand the disengagement from the ‘other’, the global, the colonist, even from other humanity, by asserting that ‘we are not merely the essential equal and part of humanity, but rather we are also different and distinct: we have our own political identity, which we want to preserve, sustain, and establish institutionally, like the Scottish vision in multi-nation state Europe. This is the language of liberation from colonisation. It is also the language of particularisation within the universal or the global, and it seems that the uniformist approach is not sensitive enough to the real Oromos problems. Thus, the Oromos quest for self-determination involves the ultimate goal of particularism (its own unique space), reinventing the Oromia State, owning the national homeland. Of course, in a heterogeneous society of the Ethiopian Empire, though uniformity may simplify system of control, social justice will not be attained in one vast monolithic block of oppressed by colonial legislation, bureaucrats and its armies. An important work of Professor Asafa Jalata, an authority in the study of Oromo nationalism kindly quoted as’ The Oromo question involves both colonialism and ethno nationalism. Ethiopian colonialism has been imposed by global capitalism on the Oromo nation. Ethiopians, both Amharas and Tigrayans, through establishing settler colonialism in Oromia, have systematically killed millions of Oromo and expropriated their lands and other resources from the last decades of the nineteenth century until today. Ethiopian colonialists already destroyed the people called Agaw by taking their lands, systematically killing them, and assimilating the survivors. They attempt to do the same thing to the Oromo by destroying the Oromo national movement, confiscating Oromo lands, and forcing the remaining Oromo into ‘settlement villages’ or (reservations). Many times, some Oromo organisations attempted to democratize Ethiopia so that the Oromo would achieve equal citizenship rights and maintain their ethno cultural identity. Determined to maintain their colonial domination and to destroy the Oromo cultural personality through ethnocide or assimilation, Ethiopian colonialists destroyed or suppressed those Oromo political forces that attempted to transform Ethiopia into a multinational democratic society. Therefore, most Oromos are convinced that their rights and freedom cannot be obtained and respected without creating their own state, or state that they can create as equal partners with other ethno national groups interested in forming a multinational democratic society to promote ethno cultural diversity and human freedom. Hence, Oromo nationalism is an ideology of the subjugated Oromo who seek human rights, freedom, justice, and democracy’ (Jalata, 1997). In fact social justice can be attained when and only when the oppressed majority able to rule its homeland. The Oromos work for national self-determination is the great humanist and historical task in terms of Freire (1993) argument ‘To liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both. Any ‘attempt to soften the power of the oppressor in difference to the weakness of the oppressed almost always manifest itself in the form of false generosity; indeed, the attempt never goes beyond this.’ In this context, for Oromos in order to have the continued opportunity to express their ‘generosity,’ the Habasha colonist must perpetuate injustice, too. Tyranny is the permanent fount of this ‘generosity,’ that sustains at the price of death, dehumanisation, despair and poverty. ‘True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity.’ (Freire, 1993). For further discussions on Oromo nationalism, universalism, globalism, Ethiopianist discourses and Oromo Nationalism, see Sorenson (1998) and Sisai Ibssa (1998).

Concluding Thoughts

Man as a social animal always seeks his own territory and belongings to a social group in which his identity and sense of community is observed and respected. In the defence of the cause for social justice and social ecology, these are basic tenets to backlash against the danger of the rhetoric of universalism, polyarchy and false perspectives of social uniformity, which appear to appreciate the social problems from a single privileged point. Georg Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind ( New York, 1967 edition), in his famous philosophical discussion of the relationship between ‘lordship and bondage’ maintained that a single consciousness could know itself only through another, even in a condition of totally unequal power relationship. According to this philosophical model, the lord (the oppressor) is lord only through the relationship with a bondservant (the oppressed, the one whose humanity is stolen). In the relationship, however, the other is annulled. The self of the mastery, the lord, derives from the conquest and negation of the servant, the bond. Only recognition of the selfhood of the other permits for its annulations. Thus, lordship covertly recognises the separate identity of the dominated. They are normally equal selves locked into unequal hierarchy. Metaphorically, Hegel’s dialectics of lordship and bondage is very important to understand the Ethiopian domination over Oromia. However, in the Ethiopianist discourse, the essential equality of the selves has been escaped totally. Rather, the persisting hierarchy has taken for granted. According to Sorenson (1998), Ethiopianist scholars like Clapham, Sven Rubenson and Levine because of their attachment to one version of the Ethiopian past and present make them either or unwilling to engage with the full complexity of the problem. From this point of view, to accept the unchanging polarity of Ethiopia and Oromia in the lordship-bondage relationship is to succumb to a structure of Ethiopian aggression and colonialism. The Oromians demand for national self-determination is, however, the civilised step out of the polarity upon which the coercive hierarchy relies, it is the collective political demand, as its main purpose is to achieve the good of the social whole, humanisation, the essential liberation of the Oromo national identity, dignity and the reinvention of Oromia as a sovereign state. The Abyssinian occupation of Oromia, the existence of the Abyssinian Rule, war-lordism and their armies in Oromia and the making of Finfinnee their garrison station, the centre of their crowds is not only an act of conquest, aggression and colonialism but also, from Oromo perspective, such elements are symbols of bondage and slavery that negate the Oromo selfhood as equal essential. For the last over hundred years, the Oromo nation has disowned selfhood, its own state or administration, and lived as a bondage of Abyssinia. The Abyssinian administration which has undermined the Oromo national traditions, exploited it economically, and maintained order through mechanical and repressive means- such a nation actually must seek national self-determination to foster within its politics, to bring dignity, justice, freedom and democracy and to survival as essential equal, as a nation and as part of humanity and its civilisation. It is necessary for Oromians to build the world of their own, a world which make them capable to sustain as a group of human people. They must able to liberate themselves and the violent, the oppressor too. In this context, the Oromo issue is a test case to the deceptive ‘democracy world-wide’ which is being advocated in the USA foreign policy and manipulated by the neo-nafxanyas (see Ibssa, 1998). It is a challenge to contemporary theories of democracy and polyarchy (Robinson, 1997) and actors of post cold war Ethiopian politics who simply take for granted that the boundaries and powers of political community in the ‘Horn’ have already been settled. Thanks to the dedicated works of human rights activists, particularly the OSG (the Oromia Support Group) and its UK based publication, Sagalee Haaraa, we have been well informed on plights of human population and their environment in the entire region. We are interested to recommend this publication to all actors of the region. In this context, we are confident to say that Ethiopian democracy rhetoric or federalism sham politics is nothing more than a fig leaf, covering up the continuation of an extraction of the ‘politics of the belly’, in terms of Bayart (1993) from ‘prudish eye of the West.’ Its democratic rhetoric is a new type of rent seeking (extracting economic rent). By making believe, it enables the collection of international aid that includes diplomatic, military and humanitarian. It enables the seizure of the resources of the modern economy for the benefit of the Tigrayan elites. The situation is not in democracy’s favour, rather it is a situation that the Tyranny is retaining control over the security forces, economic rents and the support of the West. Such manipulation is not new for Africa. Menilik, Haile sellassie, Mengistu, Mobutu, Biya, Senghor and Diouf did the same thing either in Ethiopia or elsewhere in the continent at one time or another. The Quote from Bayart’s (1993) African analyis comes to our mind ‘…The support of western powers and multilateral institutions of Bretton Woods and the Vatcan, who despite having waved the flag of democratic conditionality and respect for human rights, have not dared to pursue such sentiments to their logical conclusion and have continued to think in terms of ‘Mobutu or Chaos’ where Gorbachev given up saying ‘Ceaucescu or chaos’…’. Indeed, very recently, we have read the deceptive descriptions to neo-Mobutu, neo-Mengistu, etc.: democratic, new generation, confident and pragmatic, etc. Sadly, everything changes so that everything stays the same. Nevertheless, the oppressed Oromos are not passive objects, either. They have not allowed themselves to be ‘captured’, as in the past they have demonstrated their historical ability to resist dehumanisation, despair and poverty, and predictably will continue to resist until the justice will come to them. An everyday Oromo coins the following: ‘Victory to the Oromo people! Oromia shall be free!’ We feel moral and social responsibility to support the just cause of fellow humanity.
http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/oromia/oromo-freedom-from-what-and-for-what-part-1/

http://gadaa.com/oduu/4613/2010/06/27/on-the-question-of-nationalities-in-ethiopia/

 

‘External self-determination, in particular, seems to carry dual meaning. On the one hand it is taken to mean full independent statehood, while on the other hand it is taken to mean external recognition by other states within the
international community.’

http://bemis.org.uk/docs/redefining-self-determination.pdf

 

‘Every individual/group possesses a moral right to secede. The burden of proof rests with the opponents of secession.’ 

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A Summary of Oromos Killed, Beaten and Detained by the TPLF Armed Forces during the 2014 Oromo Protest Against The Addis Ababa (Finfinne) Master Plan

Oqeerroo2
A Summary of Oromos Killed, Beaten and Detained by the TPLF Armed Forces during the 2014 Oromo Protest Against The Addis Ababa (Finfinne) Master Plan

Compiled by: National Youth Movement for Freedom and Democracy (NYMFD) aka Qeerroo Bilisummaa
July 05, 2014
QeerrooReportOromoProtestsFDG2

 

BackgroundIt is a well-documented and established fact that the Oromo people in general and Oromo students and youth in particular have been in constant and continuous protest ever since the current TPLF led Ethiopian government came to power. The current protest which started late April 2014 on a large scale in all universities and colleges in Oromia and also spread to several high schools and middle schools begun as opposition to the so called “Integrated Developmental Master Plan” or simply “the Master Plan”. The “Master Plan” was a starter of the protest, not a major cause. The major cause of the youth revolt is opposition to the unjust rule of the Ethiopian regime in general. The main issue is that there is no justice, freedom and democracy in the country. The said Master Plan in particular, would expand the current limits of the capital, Addis Ababa, or “Finfinne” as the Oromos prefer to call it, by 20 folds stretching to tens of Oromian towns surrounding the capital. The Plan is set to legalize eviction of an estimated 2 million Oromo farmers from their ancestral land and sell it to national and transnational investors. For the Oromo, an already oppressed and marginalised nation in that country, the incorporation of those Oromian cities into the capital Addis Ababa means once more a complete eradication of their identity, culture, and language. The official language will eventually be changed to Amharic. Essentially, it is a new form of subjugation and colonization. It was the Oromo university students who saw this danger, realized its far-reaching consequences and lit the torch of protest which eventually engulfed the whole Oromia regional state.

For the minority TPLF led Ethiopian regime, who has been already selling large area of land surrounding Addis Ababa even without the existence of the Master Plan, meeting the demands of the protesting Oromo students means losing 1.1 million of hectares of land which the regime planned to sell for a large sum of money. Therefore, the demand of the students and the Oromo people at large is not acceptable to the regime. It has therefore decided to squash the protest with its forces armed to the teeth. The regime ordered its troops to fire live ammunition to defenceless Oromo students at several places: Ambo, Gudar, Robe (Bale), Nekemte, Jimma, Haromaya, Adama, Najjo, Gulliso, Anfillo (Kellem Wollega), Gimbi, Bule Hora (University), to mention a few. Because the government denied access to any independent journalists it is hard to know exactly how many have been killed and how many have been detained and beaten. Simply put, it is too large of a number over a large area of land to enumerate. Children as young as 11 years old have been killed. The number of Oromos killed in Oromia during the current protest is believed to be in hundreds. Tens of thousands have been jailed and an unknown number have been abducted and disappeared. The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa, who has been constantly reporting the human rights abuses of the regime through informants from several parts of Oromia for over a decade, estimates the number of Oromos detained since April 2014 as high as 50, 000

In this report we present a list of 61 Oromos that are killed and 903 others that are detained and beaten (or beaten and then detained) during and after the Oromo students protest which begun in April 2014 and which we managed to collect and compile. The information we obtain so far indicates those detained are still in jail and still under torture. Figure 1 below shows the number of Oromos killed from different zones of Oromia included in this report. Figure 2 shows the number of Oromos detained and reportedly facing torture. It has to be noted that this number is only a small fraction of the widespread killings and arrest of Oromos carried out by the regime in Oromia regional state since April 2014 to date. Our Data Collection Team is operating in the region under tight and risky security conditions not to consider lack of logistic, financial and man power to carry the data collection over the vast region of Oromia.

 

 Read Full Report@

https://qeerroo.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/list-of-oromos-killed-and-detained-compiled-july-05-2014-compiled-by-qeerroo.pdf

http://gadaa.net/FinfinneTribune/2014/07/a-summary-of-oromos-killed-beaten-and-detained-by-the-tplf-armed-forces-during-the-2014-oromo-protest-against-the-addis-ababa-finfinne-master-plan/

 

Related References:

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/widespread-brutalities-of-the-ethiopian-government-in-handling-protests-in-different-parts-of-the-state-of-oromia-by-peaceful-demonstrators/