Colonized Oromia and Collaborators with Colonizers

Failure to learn from history (ayyaantuu.com)
By Leenjiso Horo
February, 2012

It is important to note that for centuries the Oromo lived in the Horn of Africa as a free, independent, and sovereign nation.

During those centuries, they developed a democratic republican form of political system known as Gadaa system. It was a system of political and military collective leadership. For centuries, they lived under this system in unity. Under this system, they drew their national power from their democratic governance, their unity, their collective Gadaa leadership, their natural and human resources, their defense army and art of war and their determination live as a free and independent nation. However, by the beginning of the 19th century internal change began to take place within Oromo society. This was a period in which the nation began undergoing a state of political commotion. This commotion was created by the emerging of a new political system that was alien to the existing social and political order and to the institution of Gadaa system. This was a time when various kingdoms evolved by breaking away from the collective leadership and abandoning the Gadaa democratic system and its institutions. Hence at this particular time in history two rivalry systems were in operation side by side; the Gadaa democratic system on one hand, and feudal system of kingdom on the other. From the central Oromiyaa to the south and east Oromiyaa
Gadaa system was in operation, while in Oromiyaa’s southwest, west and north various kingdoms evolved. For instance, there were two states in western Oromiyaa, in Wallaga, five states in southwest in Gibe region, and six states in the north in Wollo. Altogether, there were thirteen petty states. This change weakened the Oromo society and their institutions. Consequently, the Gadaa collective political and military leadership declined and the Oromo people for the first time entered their weakest point in their history. This decline was followed with tragic history. With this as a background, let us proceed to understand the role of collaborators in this tragic history.
Menelik II’s conquest and empire formation, 1880s – 1930
An overview of old and new collaborators
It was this weakness that encouraged King Menelik of Shawa to attack Oromiyaa, specifically the regions adjacent to Shawa. Not only this, Oromo weakness also inspired him to conquer the whole Oromiyaa. In order to conquer the whole Oromiyaa, however, Menelik needed two things: material resources and manpower. For this, he needed collaboration from prominent Oromo personalities and found the ablest and a willing collaborator in Gobana Daacce. With Gobana’s collaboration, Menelik was able to get the human and material resources he needed for conquest including slaves, coffee, marble, gold, ivory, and other commodities to pay for the importation of modern firearms from Europe to fight against the Oromo nation. This changed the balance of force in favor of Menelik and his collaborators. Hence, at this historical junction of Oromo weakness, Gobana Daccee, collaborated with Menelik and became his instrument in the campaign of conquest, occupation, and colonization of Oromiyaa and in the destruction and slaughter of over five million of his own people. The introduction of modern firearms in the war, the Oromo resources, and the Oromo collaborators changed the whole history of the Oromo people for a century to come. In conjunction with these, the absence of a unified Oromo leadership to put up a united resistance also helped Menelik to conquer every region of Oromiyaa, one by one. No Oromo region came to help the other. Consequently, they were conquered one by one. With the conquest, the Oromo people lost everything. They lost their country, their land, their sovereignty, their independence, their human rights, and their human dignity. After military occupation, Menelik turned to the affairs of administering the conquered land through his military leaders. First, he confiscated the Oromo lands and gave to his soldiers. In addition, he encouraged Abyssinians to move to the conquered land for land and other benefits. Hundreds of thousands of Abyssinians flocked to Oromiyaa for
settlement. Settlement was a colonial land policy. The settlers were armed, and given lands and legal protections. The goal of encouraging them to move to conquered territory was to serve the newly conquered territory as governors, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, policemen and tax collectors and to perform many other functions. After occupation of Oromiyaa, his first priority was to stabilize his rapid and bloody military conquest and occupation. In order to stabilize it, he turned to his collaborators Gobana Daaccee and his cohorts. In addition, his regime also created new collaborators. The expanding colonial regime’s goal was and always has been not only to conquer the people and their natural resources, but also to stabilize, maintain and strengthen the occupation itself, as the TPLF is doing today. For this, the new regime needed to build networks of support and alliances with Oromo nationals. This had a critical importance for the imposition of colonial rule. Along with these, armed settlers’ outpost sites were established as a center for extending colonial power across the conquered land. These outpost which later came to be known as “Ketema” or urban centers are connected to Finfinnee/Addis Ababa the social, cultural, economic and political hub of colonial empire. This set the base for the continuity of Abyssinian rule of land and people he conquered and colonized. Professor Harold Marcus put it well: “As king of Shoa, Menelik had exploited the south and south-west to purchase weapons; as emperor, he used its wealth to bolster the north’s sagging economy, and to ensure the continuation of Amhara-Tigrean political and cultural hegemony.” And in fact, since then the Amhara-Tigrean identity and
culture have been and is presented as the national culture of the peoples in the empire.

 Haile Selassie rule and the centralization of imperial state, 1930s – 1974

Emperor Haile Selassie for the first time established constitution for the empire. The constitution was meant ‘to ensure the continuation of Amhara-Tigrean political and cultural hegemony’. Along with the constitution, his regime created hereditary local landlords in Oromiyaa as subordinates to implement the colonial policy. Using the constitution, his regime legally expropriated the Oromo people of the ownership of their land and other natural resources. Their land and natural resources were transferred to the members of royal family, the soldiers, provincial governors, the Church, and to its local Oromo collaborators: the balabbats and other subordinates. The Oromo people became landless tenants. Hence in all regions of Oromiyaa, Emperor Haile Selassie’s regime created a series of hereditary local landlords known as balabbats, for every “tribe” to rule itself as a subordinate to the center. Through these localized political hierarchies, that is the system of balabbats, the colonial
center meaning the colonial administration in Finfinnee controlled the political, economic, and social system of the Oromo people and maintained the stability of the empire Menelik established. This regime also systematically launched a policy of not only the exploitation of human and material resources, but also the policy of oppression, alienation, and dehumanization of Oromo people and their subjection to humiliation. Their culture, identity, names, their traditional religion, and language were despised. And education was denied to most of the Oromo children. This long-standing policy of denying education to the Oromo children was communicated by Prime Minister Aklilu Habtewold to General Tadesse Birru, an Oromo and the president of literacy campaign known as “Fidel Serawit” by mistaking him for an Amhara. He cautioned him in these words, “We are leading the country by leaving behind the Oromo at least by a century. If you think you can educate them, they are ocean can engulf you” indicating the size of the Oromo population. Moreover, in 1958 UNESCO also documented that it is against Ethiopian law to write or provide any reading material in any language others than Amharic. And indeed, it was illegal to write, publish, teach or broadcast in Oromo language from the time of Menelik until Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed.
The rule of the Military regime, 1974 – 1991

Mengistu Haile Mariam’s and his military leaders after having overthrown Emperor Haile Selassie, created collaborators known as cadres at all levels in Oromiyaa. The cadres became the administrators, spies, informers and infiltrators. Along with these, his regime created the resettlement of people into designated village centers known as villagization as a means to control and supervise the movement of population believed to harbor disloyalty. As its predecessors, this regime also kept on expanding the colonial settlements from the north to Oromiyaa, in the name of building “New Ethiopia.” Indeed, it is to the same “New Ethiopia”, today the new Oromo collaborators with Ginbot-7 have added a new label “republic”rephrasing it as the “New Republic of Ethiopia.”Using these cadres the Dergue regime murdered so many peasants, men and women, intellectuals, elders and youths. Thousands of intellectuals were dragged into jails and tortured and some even disappeared. Dergue regime nationalized the land. The land that belonged to the Monarch and the aristocracy, now transferred to the state. The people were still kept landless.
The rule of the Neo-fascist Tigrean regime, 1991 – 2000s
Interestingly, as the fall of Mengistu’s regime approached, Meles Zenawi organized new collaborators into an organization known as OPDO (Oromo people’s Democratic Organization) even before setting his foot in Oromiyaa. His army, the TPLF, came to Oromiyaa with the guidance of OPDO. TPLF came to the land it never set its foot on before and the people it had never met or knew before. But its collaborator, the OPDO carried it into Oromiyaa and served it as a liaison and it is still serving TPLF as its eyes, its ears and its foot soldier on Oromiyaa’s soil. Later, this TPLF regime turned into a deadly and dangerous regime to the Oromo people and their land. Of all Abyssinian regimes, the Tigran regime of Meles Zenawi specifically targeted the Oromo people as a people. It is a regime that came to power primarily for economic plunder of the conquered lands. For this, to control the population and pillage the resources, it turned the empire’s institutions into webs of spy rings of informers and infiltrators of social organizations such as churches, mosques, organized sports, family, communities, professional organizations, and opposition groups. TPLF is a
terrorist colonial regime. Since it came to power, it has been engaged in devaluing, diminishing, debasing, and degrading Oromo nationals including highly respected Oromo personalities and elders. It extended its spy rings from domestic to diasporas. In Oromiyaa, OPDO serves this purpose. Under this regime, Oromiyaa is turned into land of concentration camps. The concentration camps are and have been filled with Oromo youth, children, women and men, intellectuals, and elders. In addition, it has also created detention, rape, torture and killing centers of Oromo and others across the empire. It has extended its infiltration of communities and sport club and others in the diaspora. In the diaspora, most of its informers and infiltrators operate in secrecy.
As previously stated, TPLF has been brutalizing, persecuting and terrorizing the Oromo people to silence them from speaking out against the sale and lease of their land. Under this regime, lands are legally made a private property. The whole land is exclusively owned by TPLF regime and so it can sale or lease at will to any who can afford. Because of this, thousands of international land-grabbers and commercial farmers have been flocking to Oromiyaa. It is a regime with an aggressive political culture, a culture oriented towards consuming everything today, leaves nothing for tomorrow. In expressing such a culture, Aristotle once said that a barbaric culture consumes all of its resources to support itself in the present, whereas a civilized culture preserves them for later generations. This is a great contrast between Abyssinian political culture and Oromo political culture. In Oromo culture, everything is sacred and to be preserved. The land and its rivers, its lacks, its forests, its trees and all its wild habitats are sacred. It is for this, all these have been flourishing in Oromiyaa
for centuries and for the time immemorial, while the Abyssinians consumed away their own and exposed their next generations to danger. The coming of Meles Zenawi regime to Oromiyaa has changed this for the worst. It has been engaged in destroying what the Oromo people have been preserving for centuries. It is destroying everything sacred in the Oromo culture: lands, its natural resources and its environments. Consequently, today environmental degradation is underway resulting in desertification of Oromiyaa. In general, it was because of collaborators that all the successive Abyssinian rulers undertook and are still undertaking the deliberate and systematic destruction of political, economic, cultural, and religious institutions of the Oromo people. The occupation targeted the Gadaa system, Oromo religion (Waqqeffannaa) and Oromo history. No Oromo generation born in the colonial system is taught the Oromo history, the Oromo heroes and heroines and yet every Oromo who went to school taught Abyssinian history, names of their heroes and heroines. The Oromo children were taught Abyssinian history; the war they fought in, the battle they lost and the battle they won. In Oromiyaa, the schools were named after their heroes and
heroines. In Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) in the heart of Oromiyaa the monuments and statues of Abyssinian heroes and heroines flourish. The streets names, and the places names were all named after Abyssinian personalities. At the same time, Oromo people were presented as a people who came from outside as invaders. And hence, they claim that the Oromo have no a tangible and knowable history. In this way, the Abyssinians removed Oromo people from their own history. This campaign is and has been to disorient a new Oromo generation. As it is oftentimes said history establishes the linkage and continuity of a nation over generations: between those generations who were dead, those generations who are living, and those generation yet to be born. By removing Oromo from their history, the Abyssinian attempt was and still is to disconnect the interconnectedness of Oromo history over generations. This is outcome of the conquest. On the contrary to the Abyssinian distortion of history, Oromiyaa is a country with a rich past with defined borders. It has a defined geographical location with a long-settled Oromo people in it from the time immemorial, long before the Abyssinians appeared in this region of Africa.
Ginbot7 and its new Oromo collaborators
Now let us understand Oromo collaborators with Abyssinians in its historical context. The origin of collaborators lies at the time of Oromo conquest it did not appear overnight. It is a continuation of past history. It began with Gobana Daaccee. What Gobana Daaccee created a century ago is still following us. For this, we have to link the past and the present in our attempt to go forward. While the debate has been about how the “Agenda for peace”, the “Bergen Conference”, and the “Political Program of 2004” devastated and weakened the national struggle and fragmented the nationalists, B/G Kemal Gelchu et al made a new coup d’etat and joined Ginbot 7. Ginbot 7 was able to recruit new Oromo collaborators in order to fight the OLF and Oromo national movement. It recruited apolitical Oromo nationals who were the former members of OPDO and later joined the OLF. Among the recruited are found the disgruntled members of OLF to join the ranks of Ginbot7. Indeed, Ginbot7 has successfully created new collaborators in the name of OLF.
Who are the collaborators?
The collaborators are those who have lost faith in the struggle for liberation of Oromiyaa. It is those who have abandoned Oromumma (Oromoness). It is difficult to understand their rationalization for flocking to Abyssinian political organization whose purpose is and always has been against the Oromo struggle. But one thing must be understood that throughout history of colonization the colonizer always recruit those individuals with low self-confidence in their ability and opinion. Such individuals who do not trust themselves and their ability is always likely to obey and take orders from others with a little question. These are individuals with extremely knowledge of political issues who came to OLF with doubt, hesitation, uncertainty, and ambivalence in their minds as to what the Oromo struggle is all about. Because of this, they have become the fertile ground for Ginbot7 recruitment into its ranks. The slogan of these new collaborators is the establishment of a united ‘New Republic of Ethiopia’. This is an illusionary fiction rather than a reality. It is only meant for detraction. It is time to remind this group the Abyssinian saying “Gallan maaman kamootee bohala
naw.” Which means to trust Oromo is after his/her death. Galla is a derogatory name Abyssinians used to humiliate Oromo which is equivalent to nigger/. For this, before collaborating and before it is too late, the collaborators should ask themselves whether they do not run the risk of destroying themselves in the process. The unavoidable fact is this: Ginbot 7 will destroy its collaborators as Menelik destroyed Goobanaa Daaccee who delivered Oromiyaa to him. On what basis did Kemal Gelchu et al become collaborator with Ginbot 7? To find this out that one needs to listen to journalist Sisay Agena’s interview with Mr. Andargachew Tsige of G7 on ESAT (Feb 13, 2012). The fist question was on compromise. The question was asked in Amharic as: “Ka Onag gar diriddir laay nawu aallachutti. Badiriddir laay maasxaatina maqqabbal aalle. Innasuu Itoophiyaa wusxi, ba Itoophiyaa, ye Itoophyaa hideti wusxi akaal lamahon ka rajjime gizee, jamiroo betalayaayye mangadi siyaanasuu yenabbarree nager alle. Ok, innaasuu yaannin Itoophiya wusxi, ba Itoophiyaa, ye Itoophiyaa yihidatuu akaal innihonaalleen siluu, bannaantee bakkul yemmittisaxuu nager mindinaw?” Roughly translated as “You are in negotiation with OLF, in negotiation there is give and take. They have been saying for a long time and in different ways that they are in Ethiopia, that they are for Ethiopia, and they want to be a part of Ethiopia. If they say these, in negotiation in your part what do you give, you Ginbot 7?” Mr. Tsige’s answered in Amharic, ” Baxaam yemigarmi agar, izzii nager laay yemmissaxom, sattowu yemmittiqabbal nager yellem.” In English, it roughly says this, “A very surprising thing, here on this issue, there is nothing to give, nothing you give and ake.” It simply means, ‘Just surrender, no compromise.’Ginbot 7 on federation Again here is what Mr. Tsige said in Amharic “Ka Onag gaar ba ahunuu ba killil astedaadar format, woynim ba anqatse 39, woyinim leelaa aynati federation yinooraal yemmibal inquwaan niggiggir maadirag annichilim.” Roughly translated it means with OLF in regard to current administrative format, or article 39, or to say other types of federation exist, we even cannot negotiation on it. The position of Ginbot 7 is clear, “No federation.” Ginbot 7 on right to self-determination, referendum and Oromiyaa Again here is what Mr. Andargachew Tsige has to say in Amharic, “Oromiyaa yemibal natsa gizat temasarritoo, ba Ikonomii iyyabalatsagee; ba quanquwaa iyyatexaqamee, ba hiiluun iyyaasadagee yemihedi andi ager; natsa ager mamasarat nager ba Itoophiyaa teccabbaacci hunetaa limaxaa emaaychil naw.” Roughly translated as, establishing a selfadministrating Oromiyaa whereby its people continues developing their economy, using their language, and developing their culture as a free country is impossible in the objective condition of Ethiopia (translation mine). In regard to self-determination, this is what he has to say in Amharic, “Referendum yemibal teyyiizoo, gabtoo yemmissarraa nager yellem. Ba federation yemimaxaa negar aallee bileen iminati yellenim.” Roughly translated as, nothing can be done with the so called referendum. We do not believe anything will come from referendum. The whole point is this as ESAT put it up on its screen “No right to selfdetermination”, “No referendum”, and “No Oromiyaa”. These are exactly what Mr. Andargachew Tsige, the number two officer of Ginbot 7 said in his interview with ESAT. No one can understand the political position the Oromo collaborators accepted in joining Ginbot-7.
In an interview with journalist Sisay Agena on ESAT(January 30, 2012), Obbo Kasim Abanesha, a head of foreign relation of “OLF” group, the group that recently collaborated with Ginbot 7 responded to the question asked in this words: “Inyaa ba Itoophiyaa xilaa sir, YeItoophiyaa li’uulaawwinati xabiqeen, lehulum Itoophiyaa hizibi innitaaggalaalleen.” Roughly Translated, “We struggle for all Ethiopian people under Ethiopian umbrella, accepting the unity and territorial integrity of Ethiopia.” Hence to make this change he said, his group has changed the political objective of the Oromo Liberation Front. Another question posed to him was this: “You said you changed your political program and the political objective and you said you are an independent political organization, then why don’t you have another name instead of the OLF name? It is possible a legality question can be raised”, the interviewer asked. Kasim Abanesha responded, in Amharic “miknaatuum simuu baxaam qonjoo nawu. Yebizuhan dem fasowletali, ‘scarifies’ tekafilobatal. Silasii naw yihin sim yeminigaara”- translated in English: “Because the name is a very beautiful one. Many shed blood for it; many paid scarify for it. It is for this we share this name.” Here the irony is the group only interested in the name of OLF because it is a popular name but not in what it symbolizes and stands for. This should not come to us as a surprise. Because, opportunists whenever an organization is at its weak point, always raise their heads up so high to take advantage of opportunity as it arises, when it arises and if it arises, regardless of the principle.
As one can see from the above interviews, both Andargachew Tsige and Kasim Abanesha expressed the basis of their political unity. Their political unity is based on the unity of the Ethiopian empire, the empire Menelik established and against the struggle for the independence of Oromiyaa. It can be simply put that such an alliance on the part of the Oromo new collaborators with Ginbot 7 is a shameful capitulation and an abdication of national responsibility. The new collaborators followed Gobana Dacce’s exemplary by abandoning the Oromo organizations and allying themselves with the organization that opposes the struggle for the independence of Oromiyaa. This unity epitomizes the history of Oromo betrayal repeating itself all over again. A failure to learn from history In this struggle of ours, it seems we have forgotten the reasons that led to the conquest of Oromiyaa. We forget that it was the Oromo internal fragmentation of collective leadership and the decline that exposed the nation to conquest. And we tend to forget the crimes committed on the Oromo people and their land by the successive Abyssinian regimes from Menelik to Meles Zenawi. In the words of Mr. Winston Churchill, “A nation that forgets its past is doomed to repeat it.” Indeed, it seem that we are unable to recall the tragic history that our people have been going through since the occupation of their land and why they failed to overcome it. Again a Russian medieval historian Vassily Kluchevsky has to say this: “History teaches nothing; it only punishes for not learning its lessons.” Every nation has its past; the past has its stories and lessons. As Oromo we need to learn our past stories and lessons. But, the Oromo nationals failed to learn from stories and lessons of their history, history that brought the nation to this tragic stage. Consequently, since our occupation history has been punishing us unforgivably, because we have failed to learn from it. Today, because of this failure, the nationals that once prided themselves on carrying the torch for nationalist tradition, the torch for the liberation of Oromiyaa and the torch for the unity of their people have ignominiously degenerated into regionalism, abandoning the Kaayyoo which is bilisummaa, and some even joined the very group they were fighting against. This internal fragmentation into small groups and subgroups led the Oromo struggle to a low level of visible resistance. This in turn gave rise to the TPLF colonial regime to successfully control and exploit Oromiyaa and enjoy legitimacy of world community. Now this generation is at the crossroads. The question is whether to cross or not to cross. The reason why this generation is at the crossroads is because there are members of the generation who have refused to cross and other members who want to cross. It is at this junction the struggle turned inward among Oromo nationals since 2001. Here to cross means to liberate and declare the independence of Oromiyaa and not to cross means to remain integral part of the empire of Ethiopia. The “Agenda for Peace”, “Bergen Conference”, and “political program of 2004” all call for not to cross the crossroads. It is this confrontation that
weakened the national struggle and brought internal fragmentation which is similar to the fragmentation and decline of 19th century that encouraged Gobana Daaccee to collaborate with Menelik II and became his instrument of conquest, occupation and colonization of Oromiyaa. Today’s condition is similar with that of 19th century. The nationalists are fragmented, divided, and weakened and consequently, the Oromo liberation struggle is weakened and the struggle has entered into a state of stagnation. By being divided ourselves, we have become our own worst enemy. Our internal fragmentations opened up a door of opportunity for the agents of Abyssinians to infiltrate and divide us more than ever before. Because of this nonstop division, we are consistently causing ourselves to fail in this struggle and exposing our people to the more and more danger and doing more harm to the Oromo struggle than even the ardent enemy is doing. It was such as division in the last quarter of 19th century that encouraged Gobana Daaccee to collaborate with Menelik. And similarly today, in 21st century, it is the division among the nationalists that gave an opportunity to the Oromo generals such as B/G Kemal Gelchu and B/G Hailu Gonfa and their associates to become the second wave of collaborators after a century, this time with Ginbot 7 in order to undermine the struggle for independence of Oromiyaa and to stabilize and maintain the old dying Ethiopian empire, the empire Menelik built a century ago.In conclusion, because of Oromo collaborators with the Abyssinian colonizers our people lost their liberty, their dignity, and their rights in their land, on their soil. In the above paragraphs, an attempt is made to show that collaborators are snakes in the Oromiyaa gardens. They aided the conquest of Oromiyaa. And since the conquest, successive generations of these snakes have been working on the behalf of Ethiopian empire in poisoning the Oromo nationals, the Oromo people and their struggle. Nationalists and the patriots need to combat collaborators as well as the colonizer. Nationalists cannot afford standing at the crossroads. To cross or not cross is the question. In order to cross the crossroads, the conflict between Oromiyaa and Ethiopia has to be clearly understood by all. That is Oromiyaa is a colony. It has to be independent. Ethiopia is a colonizer. It has to leave Oromiyaa. Hence, the fundamental goal of the Oromo struggle is the same today as it was a century ago: the independence of Oromiyaa. William James, the twentieth century American philosopher, wrote in opposing the American war against Cubans’ resistance for independence in these words: “Here was a people toward whom we felt no ill will….Here were the precious beginnings of an indigenous national life…we are now openly engaged in crushing out the sacredest thing in this great human world-the attempt of a people long enslaved to attain the possession of itself, to organize its laws and government, to be free to follow its internal destinies, according to its own ideals…. We are destroying the lives of these islanders by thousands…. We are destroying down to the roots every germ of a healthy national life…for one generation at least their faith in God and man.”The quote summarizes the goal of Oromo people in this struggle and the Abyssinian colonial regimes’ military campaign to destroy it. The sacred goal of Oromo people is and always has been the establishment of People’s Democratic Republic of Oromiyaa which is a sovereign independent state, but the Abyssinian rulers’ attempt is and has been to crush it out. For this, nationalists need to be organized themselves militantly and mobilize their population in order to dismantle the colonial occupation and liberate Oromiyaa. It is time to learn from the past mistakes and the tragedies that followed and the current mistakes and their tragedies so as not to repeat them all over again. The time is in demand of the unity of Oromo nationalists and patriots to take this struggle to its final conclusion.
Oromiyaa Shall BE Free!

Summary of Qeerroo Movment and Human Right Violation

Mar 18 2012

Compiled in English from Qeerroo News by Daandii Qajeelaa*

Sources: Gadaa.com, erigazette.org

The following is Qeerroo’s report covering the Movement’s activities as well the human rights violations of the TPLF regime, which has been militarily controlling Oromiyaa since 1991. The report covers events from February 9 through March 9, 2012.

 

Compiled in English from Qeerroo News by Daandii Qajeelaa*

February 9, 2012
A Chinese man and an investor, who conspired with the current regime in the eviction of Oromo farmers from their land and whose company was responsible for environmental pollution, was killed in Oromia by an unknown angry resident of Western Shawa zone, Ada’a Berga County [Woreda]. The Chinese man was the holder of the largest shares in Dangote Cement FactoryRead More

February 10, 2012
About 15,000 hectares of sugarcane farmland owned by a Pakistani investor located in Wesern Oromia, Ilu Aba Bora zone, in a village called Bedelle Alabash, was burnt to the ground. The Pakistani investor is one of several individuals, who participated in the current land grab in Oromia, forcefully evicting some 1,200 Oromos. Read More

February 11, 2012
Oromo students in Jimma University, Western Oromia, staged a peaceful protest in their campus. A large number of so-called Federal Police of the regime was dispatched to the area to quash the protest, and has been terrorizing the students. Read More

Gadaa.com

February 12, 2012
Chala Hailu, a 2nd-Year Law student of Adama University, Eastern Shawa zone, and the author of an Afan Oromo literature book, known as Burqaa Jaalalaa, was abducted and his whereabouts were unknown. The student is believed to have been suspected of involvement in the Oromian youth movement led by QeerrooRead More

February 12, 2012
The following three students of Jimma University have been abducted by the forces of the Woyane-Ethiopian regime, and their whereabouts are unknown. Read More

1. Ebbisa
2. Mengistu Hayilu
3. Hussein Umar
4. Danno

February 13, 2012
Several Oromo students of Jimma University, including the following female students, have been abducted by the Woyane-Ethiopian regime and disappeared. Read More

1. Ketim Efrem, Afan Oromo 2nd-Year
2. Dinknesh, Afan Oromo 1st-Year

February 15, 2012
The following 6 students of Jimma University were completely dismissed from school; they were accused of taking part in the student-peaceful protest at the university campus. Read More

1. Mo’era Lamma, complete dismissal
2. Nuradin Hunda, complete dismissal
3. Tesfaye Berhanu, complete dismissal
4. Wubishet Zelalem, complete dismissal
5. Tekalign Kinde, suspended for two years
6. Mekonnen Dabale Tola, suspended for two years

A later report indicated that all of the above dismissed students were arrested and denied any right to bail. Read More

February 16, 2012
About 40 hectares of sugarcane farm, owned by a Pakistani investor named Al-Beshi, was burnt for the second time in Ilu Aba Bora zone. Read More

February 17, 2012
The following two students have been dismissed from a school in Western Shawa zone, Gindeberet County [Woreda], for allegedly participating in the Oromian youth movement led by Qeerroo – that has broken out in several secondary and elementary schools of the zone. Read More

1. Raggasaa Taddasa, 8th grade
2. Gutu Sori, 8th grade.

February 19, 2012
It is reported that several Oromo students have been arrested from different parts of Oromia. The following are among those arrested. Read More.

1. Lamma Tasfaye, from Finfinne (Addis Ababa)
2. Milkessa Midhaga, a teacher in Dire Dhawa University
3. Girma Nagasa , a 1st-Year student at Jimma University
4. Magarsa Waqjira, a 3rd-Year student at Hawasa University
5. Darara Abdisa, from Jaldu County [Woreda], West Shawa zone
6. Birru Galata, from Ada’a Barga County [Woreda], West Shawa zone
7. Abdalla Alamu, from Gidda Ayyana County [Woreda], East Wollega zone
8. Phawulos Tasfaye, from Sabata town, Western Shawa zone
9. Lellisa Oliqa, from Nekemte town, Eastern Wollega zone
10. Ayyansa Mul’ata, a 5th-Year Law student from Jimma University

February 20, 2012
Several Oromo students of Jimma University were dismissed from school and/or suspended. Read More

1. Misganaw Jalata, 2nd-Year, Nursing
2. Nuyanis Muleta, 2nd-Year, Law
3. Tahir Umer, 2nd-Year, Afan Oromo
4. Abdissa Kabeto, 2nd-Year, Afan Oromo
5. Husen Umer, 1st-Year, Computer Science
6. Adem Amano, 3rd-Year, Afan Oromo
7. Mengistu Hailu, 2nd-Year, Water Technology
8. Geneti Tarekenyi, 1st-Year, Physical Education
9. Danno Dabtara, 1st-Year, Water Technology
10. Girma Bekana, Employee (Oromo)
11. Ebissa Ragassa, 1st-Year, Statistics
12. Abdissa Dabas
13. Lalisa Oljirra, 2nd-Year, Mechanical Engineering

February 21, 2012
Oromo students dismissed or suspended from Jimma University were arrested, taken to the Woyane court under the controversial so-called “anti-terrorism law,” and were denied the right to bail. From among 13 Oromo students dismissed from school and then charged by the anti-terrorism law, the names of 7 students are as follows. Read More

1. Mo’era Lamma, 2nd-Year, Psychology
2. Nuraddin Hamda, 2nd-Year, Psychology
3. Danno Dabtara, 1st-Year, Water Technology
4. Eebbisa, 1st-Year, Statistics
5. Mokonnin Dabale
6. Wubisheet Zalaalam
7. Dargaggo Girma, employee of the cafeteria of the university

February 23, 2012
Several Oromo students of Finfinne University have been arrested for raising legitimate questions through peaceful way. Among them, the names of 14 students are as follows. Read More.

1. Mahdii Ahmad, 2nd-Year, Health
2. Najib Aliyyi, 3rd-Year, Engineering
3. Abdi Mahammad, 2nd-Year, Law
4. Mahammad Abdi, 2nd-Year, Economy
5. Ayub Asfaw, 2nd-Year, Law
6. Jamal Yusuf, 3rd-Year, Health
7. Konjit Aklilu, 3rd-Year, Accounting
8. Fathiya Jamal, 2nd-Year, Afan Oromo
9. Zalalam Dame, 2nd-Year, Health
10. Halima Shamil, 3rd-Year, Law
11. Jannal Mahammad, 2nd-Year, Citizenship
12. Caltu Hassan, 2nd-Year, Health
13. Abbush Katama, 3rd-Year, Citizenship
14. Almaz Yitina, 2nd-Year, Afan Oromo

February 23, 2012
Additional list of Oromo students of Jimma University – who have been apprehended and tortured in prison under the charge of participating and organizing student protests. Read More

Gadaa.comGadaa.com
(Students Nuraddin Ahmed and Wubishet Zalalam)

Name Department
Year
Zone of Birth County [Woreda] of Birth Age
Mokonnin Dabalee Toloo Psychology
2nd-Year
Finfinnee Sulultaa 24
Eebbisaa Raggaasaa Statistics
1st-Year
West Shawa Gindabarat 21
Daannoo Dabtraa Bayyanaa Water Tech
1st-Year
West Shawa Mana sibuu 21
Tasfaayee Biraanuu Bari’ee Psychology
2nd-Year
Harargee Abaadir 21
Nuuraddiin Ahmed Barisoo Psychology
2nd-Year
Arsi Shaashimannee 21
Girmaa Bokonaa Hundee Employee of University Cafe Jimma Geeraa 29
Misgaanuu Jaallataa Gamtaa Nursing
2nd-Year
East Wallagga Nuunnuu qumbaa 20
Abdiisaa Qabatoo Afan Oromo
2nd-Year
West Arsi Shaashimannee 21

February 24, 2012
Oromo student Lammi Tesfaye, and 10 more Oromo students and other nationalists arested. Their names and other complete information can be found here.

Gadaa.com
(Student Lammi Tesfaye)

February 28, 2012
Brave Oromo students and other Oromo nationalists hung the OLF flag at several places in Oromia. Among the places the flag was hung included Ambo and Finfinne universities, schools, health centers, hotels, and even on buses. It is to be recalled that the current government has labled the OLF as a “terrorist” organization, and hence, hanging the flag of such an organization is a major defiance of the authority of the current regime. Few pictures of these flags are shown below. Read More

Gadaa.com

 

March 03, 2012
Two Oromo youth, Samuel Fekadu and Adunya Edossa, were apprehended from Ambo town of Western Shawa zone and their whereabouts were unknown. Read More

Gadaa.com
(Adunya Edossa)

March 08, 2012
A Political Science Lecturer and dozens of students at Dire Dawa University imprisoned. Mr. Milkessa Midhegssa, a Political Science Lecturer at Dire Dawa University, was reportedly taken to custody after security agents accused him of fueling the students uprising that is shaking many Universities and Secondary schools in Ethiopia, specially that of Dire Dawa University. Mr Midhegsa, who is popular among the Oromo students in the campus, was targeted several times before he got his subsequent release. Currently, it was said that he is kept in a very brutal and notorious prison of Ma’ikelawi, where traditionally political dissidents are kept and tortured, and mistreatment is regular.

Gadaa.comGadaa.comGadaa.com
(Lecturer Milkessa Midhegssa, Student Magarsa Waqjira, Student Waqjira Gutama)

In similar news, kidnappings of students by government security agents continued unabated. In Adama University, students were denied admission to University, even if they are finally free from custody in a rarely functioning judicial system. Waqjira Gutama is one of those whose whereabouts remain unknown after making his way from prison.

Last month, a student named Magarsa Waqjira, who disappeared from Hawaasa University in February, was finally found in the custody of the notorious Ma’ikelawi prison. Although the regime in Ethiopia continued harassing students and civilians without any evidence of crime or wrong doing, the organizedQeerroo Movement is shaping its movement in all directions, and the support of the public is rising enormously. Read More

March 08, 2012
The property of an Habesha investor located in Kuruftu, Eastern Shawa zone, a multimillion hotel known as Kuruftu Resort, was burnt to the ground by an unknown force. The burning of the hotel is believed to be a sign of protest against alien investors, who have evicted Oromo farmers from their ancestors land forcefully and without compensation. Read More

———-
* Daandii Qajeelaa is a regular chronicler of the Oromian Youth Movement’s (Qeerroo’s) Peaceful Revolt Against Subjugation (Fincila Diddaa Gabrummaa – FDG). To read the full accounts of the Oromian Students Movement since 2005, please click here.

A Quest for a Clear Vision for the Future of Oromia: Declaring our Preferences

Source: (ayyaantuu.com) By Mekuria Bulcha*  | March 23, 2012

Many concepts, theories, and stories have been used to explain the relationship between the Oromo people and the Ethiopian state. However, none of them sheds any light on the nature of the relationship they purport to explain because they distort the reality on which the relationship was established and maintained—conquest and colonialism. They propagate the impossibility of Oromo independence and the unreality of Oromo nationhood. The stories are often told by the Abyssinian ruling elites and the concepts and theories are coined by internal and external scholars.

The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the misconceptions used against Oromo national liberation and the establishment of an independent Oromo state. Overall, the issues I will revisit and critically evaluate are not new to many readers. However, recent developments make the recasting and re-articulation of the issues necessary. The article builds on the arguments I raised in an article published on this website on February 1, 2012. The points I will emphasize here will include the following: (1) unless we know our own history, we cannot make our own preferences, and (2) unless we make our choices based on our experience as a nation, we cannot attain political freedom. I will also argue that until the Oromo are free and live under an umbrella of their own independent state, they cannot achieve a meaningful cultural and economic development. As stated by the social philosopher Martha Nussbaum, there are two ways in which people make their preferences. They often adjust their preferences to what they think they can achieve, but some of them “adopt what others tell them is suitable for them. Women and other deprived people frequently exhibit such ‘adoptive preferences,’ formed under unjust background conditions. These preferences will typically validate the status quo.” In this article, I will argue that critical thinking and freedom of thought are sources for sound decisions and clear vision in the course of our struggle for freedom. I will also underscore the urgency for a strong Oromo organization while strongly stressing the criticality of self-reliance for the survival the Oromo nation.

Free minds bring about freedom

The Oromo struggle for independence is hampered because many of us tend to listen to those who tell us what is good for us and is achievable or unachievable by our people. We listen not only to stories invented by the Abyssinian ruling elites and spread by sympathetic external Ethiopianist scholars, but often adopt them without a critical examination of the evidence on which they are based as well as the intentions and values which they reflect. I have nothing against learning from others, including the Abyssinians. I am against the wholesale adoption of concepts, theories and stories from them and others. I will argue that the adoption of stories concocted by Abyssinian rulers and intellectuals as the history of the Oromo people without critical appraisals is harmful to Oromo national interests.

I will start the discourse with the Oromo relationship to the Ethiopian state, its effects on some Oromos, and by extension its consequences for Oromo struggle for national liberation. The discourse pertains to Ethiopian historiography which argues that the Abyssinian conquest of Oromia was an act of unification of Ethiopia and that they have fared better within the framework of the Ethiopian state compared to the chaotic state prior to conquest. However, most of us know the reality: the relationship between the Ethiopian state and the Oromo people has been colonial and that the policies and actions of the Ethiopian regimes have been anti-Oromo: Menelik committed genocide against the Oromo people through his wars of conquest; and he confiscated Oromo property turning the Oromo majority into serfs (gabbars). Although Haile Selassie suppressed the slave trade which had flourished and was a major source of revenue for the Abyssinian rulers, serfdom which was considered to be as bad as slavery continued during his rule as under his predecessor. His policy of Amharization by suppressing the Oromo culture and language and imposition the Amhara culture and language on the Oromo people was deemed by many scholars as an attempted act of ethnocide (the destruction of the identity of an ethnic group or nationality through the suppression of its language and culture). Mengistu Haile Mariam’s regime began by improving some of the inequities that existed under the preceding regimes to garner acceptance before it turned into a regime of terror. It abolished the gabbar system and was commended for that. But the reform failed to benefit the peasants as his regime extracted vast resources, both human and material from them to build up dictatorial military rule and maintain a highly centralized state structure. Moreover, the heaviest burden of his 17-year long wars against the different national liberation forces fell on the shoulders of Oromo peasants in terms of forcible conscription to the regime’s militia forces which consisted about half a million men in the late 1980s, in the form of forced contribution of resources to its war efforts and in terms of those who were the main war casualties and thousands of disabled ex-conscripts who returned home without any state support only to be burden of their poor families.

Notwithstanding the fact of conquest and the well-known oppressive treatment of the Oromo by consecutive Ethiopian rulers described above, those who oppose Oromo claims for national identity give a long list of explanations such as “Oromo participation in the creation of the Ethiopian Empire,” “intermarriage,” the “unreality Oromo nationhood” “globalization,” and the “non-Oromos who reside in the Oromo territory” to undermine Oromo aspirations for independence. We are told and expected to think as “Ethiopians” and continue to live as “Ethiopians”, not as Oromos. In other words, we are told to wear an imposed identity.

Ironically, these false assumptions about Oromo identity and the proposition about what is “suitable” for or “achievable and unachievable” by the Oromo are coming not always directly from external sources, but also from Oromo “middlemen” who subscribe to external sources to define and determine Oromo affairs. These Oromo “middlemen” tend not to take into account Oromo history and collective memory to reflect on what is good for their people; they depend on external opinion as the source of information and adopt what it says is real, possible, or desirable. The problem does not stop at the personal knowledge level. As I have indicated above, the middlemen will also “guide” the Oromo people based on distorted information they receive/d from external sources. In this article, I will discuss only some of the arguments which are adopted by Oromo and have been obstructing the Oromo struggle for national liberation by creating doubts in the minds of Oromos about the legitimacy of its claims and the achievability of its goals. I will point out also how the arguments fade away as the Oromo struggle for independence gains ground and become louder when it faces serious drawbacks.

I will start with the assumed “unreality” of Oromo nationality. I remember an incident in the early 1980s in one of the annual congresses which the Oromo Students Union in Europe (UOSE) used to organize. Some of the topics which the particular congress discussed were the “national question” and Lenin’s theory on “the question of the state.” Papers which were prepared on the topics and presented by the study circles of the different branches of UOSE were commented by the audience. Having listened to one of the commentators who used frequently phrases such as “Marx akka jedheeti, Lenin akka jedheetiMaon akka nu barsiisetti, etc.” which means “As Marx said, as Lenin said”, as Mao has taught us, etc. a reflective participant in the audience asked the commentator with unconcealed sarcasm: Yee obboleessaa, Oromoo-noo maal jedhee? My brother, what do the Oromo say about that? What did our forefathers teach us?” The commentator did not have any answer which reflects the Oromo view on the subject except what the Marxist literature says in general about the superiority of class struggle over the struggle waged in the name of “narrow” nationalism. In fact many of us did not have answers to these reflective questions at that stage. We learnt a lot in the course of the struggle later on.

In general, in the 1970s and 1980s, the struggle of peoples such as the Oromo, Sidama, and Afar for an independent state was seen as backward-looking and their aspiration for independence was labeled “narrow nationalism”. The source of these nationalisms was described as “false consciousness” or a belief without tangible material basis and the argument was that they will disappear as soon as the working class takes power. I have presented papers at conferences on the Horn of Africa in many countries in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s and remember the many “grimacing” and ashamed Oromo faces I saw in the audience in reaction to my use of the word “Oromia.” I could almost read the question “kanammoo eessaa fide?”— “from where did he get that name?” on those faces. Some of them laughed lauder than the Amharas sitting beside them to show their rejection of the term. To these Oromos both the name Oromia and the territory it designates “did not exist”. To use Nussbaum’s terminology, these were victims of “adoptive preferences”. Those who used Marxism to ridicule or demonize Oromo nationalism were those who did not make their own interpretation of the theory but had adopted interpretations made by the “Greater Ethiopia Marxists” in the late 1960s and 1970s. The “Greater Ethiopia” discourse in general—conducted by both Marxists and non-Marxists—denies the colonial characteristics of the Ethiopian state. It reduces the history of the Ethiopian to the history of Abyssinian rulers rendering not only the history of the Oromo and all the conquered peoples invisible, but also the territories they inhabited unrecognizable. I do not mean everything is wrong with Marxism. But, to be useful as a theory it should be read, critically assessed, and reflected upon and made to serve the cause of freedomBy rejecting genuine Oromo self-definition those Oromo who adopted “Greater Ethiopia Marxism” were indirectly contributing in the preservation of the Ethiopian Empire and the marginalization of Oromo national and territorial identity.

The “Greater Ethiopia Marxists” emphasized the supremacy of class struggle subordinating the national question which was often seen as regional problem or even a ‘tribal’ trivia. That being the case, and since the name Oromia or Oromoland was not accepted by the “Greater Ethiopia Marxist” elite, Oromos who used the name to designate their homeland were ridiculed even by some “progressive” or “internationalist” Oromo men and women. Since it was believed that the Oromo lived scattered in different provinces interspersed with different peoples, even the possibility of a contiguous Oromo territory was questioned. It is interesting, however, to note that after the name Oromia was accepted widely by mass media in 1991 some of Oromo who were reluctant to pronounce the word “Oromia” in the 1970s and 1980s were on the stage at every Oromo political meeting singing Oromiyaa, biyya abbaa keenyaa (“Oromia, our fatherland)” championing the Oromo struggle for independence. Even though many of them left the scene after the OLF withdrew from the Transitional Government in June 1992, this showed the success of the Oromo national struggle over colonialism.

There are at least two lessons we can learn from these incidents. The first is that the “adoptive preference” which these Oromos were making before 1991 was opportunistic. Behind the pro-Ethiopia masks they were wearing, most of them were individuals who, apparently, had wished they were free from Abyssinian domination every time they felt slighted because of their ethnic background.  The “grimacing faces” and laughter reflected lack of historical knowledge and the doubt infused in their minds by Abyssinian colonialism. They lacked self-confidence to take off their pro-Ethiopia masks and join those who struggled for their rights against all odds. They also lacked confidence in the Oromo nation’s ability to cast of the yoke of Abyssinian colonial domination. Overwhelmed by the fairy tale of the “three thousand old Abyssinian-cum-Ethiopian nation, state and culture” on which the “Greater Ethiopia” thesis is based, they accepted the Abyssinian elites’ argument that negates Oromo national and territorial identity. To paraphrase Frantz Fanon’s famous conceptualization of colonialist ideology and its effects on the colonized and apply to our case, every effort was made by the Abyssinian ruling elites to make their Oromo subjects admit the inferiority of their culture and to recognize the unreality of their nationhood. Particularly, some of the school-educated Oromo elites succumbed to that.

The second point pertains to the need for a strong organization that can enhance Oromo self-confidence. Although the appearance of the OLF on the political stage in 1991 had given that self-confidence to the Oromo people it left the scene too soon before the self-pride of those who were affected by colonialist anti-Oromo propaganda was sufficiently strengthened. That the OLF became weaker militarily during the last ten years seems to have led to a relapse of self-doubt among some of our people.  I will hasten to point out here that this is particularly the case in the diaspora. Notwithstanding the odds which the Oromo struggle is facing, there is a growing political consciousness among the qubee generation youth as reflected in the militancy of Qeerroo Oromoo, the activities of university students, and of the Oromo masses throughout the country.

To go back to the main point, it is absolutely wrong to subscribe to the idea that the situation of our people was better under any of the Abyssinian regimes that have ruled Ethiopia hitherto, or will be better under future ones. The situation will become better only when our nation is free from domination by an incorrigible political culture. We know that the enemies are not just the Amhara elites who dominated the Ethiopian government in the past or the Tigrayan elites who are dominant toady. The enemy is the system, the political culture, and the mind-set which all of them had inherited from the past, and which will remain to be there when Meles Zenawi and his regime are gone. We cannot change all of that for them even if we want, but we can and must free ourselves from it.

The mistake that many Oromo intellectuals and politicians tend to make repeatedly concerns the belief that the Oromo situation “will be better” if we join this or that Ethiopian political group, adopted this, or that ideology, and fight against the present regime. As I have indicated above, in the past, regime change did not change the Oromo situation for the better: the rulers of the Ethiopian state have remained basically hostile against anything that stood for Oromo identity; they are prejudiced against Oromo history and culture. In the absence of change in the political culture of the Abyssinian elites, the formation of a democratic Ethiopian state through the alliance between Oromo and Abyssinians political organizations and elites cannot be anticipated. Oromo-Tigrayan elite alliance has failed miserably. It may not be different with the Amhara elites if they manage to recapture political power in Finfinnee tomorrow in co-operation with the Oromo. The possibility of building a democratic system given the tenacity of political culture mentioned above is doubtful.

Questioning the wisdom of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) which was forged by Shanee Gumii-OLF with the Amhara elite in 2006, the Norwegian sociologist and longtime expert on Ethiopian affairs, Sigfried Pausewang stated in a paper he presented at the Oromo Studies Annual Conference of 2007 that the Amhara elites have “adopted pan-Ethiopian nationalism built on a vision of a strong central state with Amharic as an integrating language and urban culture.” He noted that they are absolutely convinced about the sanctity of Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and the inviolability of the Ethiopian national identity and will not see the reason why their politics and image of Ethiopia is not accepted by other groups. He argued that their political programs reflect the belief that the solution to Ethiopia’s problems can only be found in the political heritage, which values the domination of the center and has been passed down from Abyssinian rulers. I agree with his views. To understand what that means, it suffices to listen to Ginbot-7’s Secretary General, Mr. Andargachew Tsige (ESAT, October 27, 2011) who says “Izaa akabaabi Oromiyaa yemibaal netsaa yehone gizat temesirito be-ekonomi iyebeletsegee qwanqwawun iyetexeqeme, bahilun iyaasadege yemihed netsa ager memesiret be-awunu ye-Etiyopiya techebaach huneta aychaalim. Translated freely this means “It is ‘impossible’ to establish in that region (Ethiopia) a free country called Oromia which will be prosperous economically, use its language and develop its culture.” In addition, he stresses that, as far Ginbot-7 is concerned, any discussion with the OLF on federation or referendum is out of the question. Although the attitude of the Amhara elites is well-known, given the stage which Oromo nationalism has reached now and the question mark under which we find Ethiopian identity, the type of arrogance expressed by Mr. Andargachew was not expected by many people. But if one reads and listens to what is being said in Amhara media, his views are not just that ofGinbot-7; it reflects the views of the Amhara elites at large.

However, what is surprising most is not Mr. Andargachew’s condescending attitude or dismissal of Oromo autonomy in any shape, but that his party’s politics is considered “too liberal” and “dangerous to the unity and territorial integrity of Ethiopia” by other Amhara political organizations such as Andnet (“Unity”). Here, a debate between Lt. Ayalsew Desse of Andnet Party and Mr. Andargachew Tsige (ESAT, August 9, 2011) is a case in point. Both Lt. Ayalsew and Mr. Andargachew are dedicated Amhara-cum-Ethiopian nationalists. They have similar aims—both will destroy the OLF which they see not only as the custodian of Oromo nationalism but also an enemy of Ethiopia. But, they differ in their approaches to the Oromo “problem.” Lt. Ayalsew will not conceal his arrogance when talking about the OLF whom he calls “anti-Ethiopia elements” to be ignored and rendered nonexistent. He maintains that they will disappear by themselves and talking with them or about them is giving free advertisement to “tribal” organizations that exist only in name. Criticizing Ginbot-7, he argues that, to talk to the OLF leaders is tantamount to encouraging them to continue with their crimes against Ethiopia. But according to Mr. Andargachew, the leaders and members of the OLF are misguided Ethiopians who should be persuaded to drop their idea of independence. He believes that the Oromo nationalists should be talked to and rehabilitated and not ignored. He assures his audience that Ginbot-7’s listening to the Oromo nationalists does not mean accepting their claims for national autonomy; it is to convince them to “abandon narrow nationalism” and “repent” their sins. As we have been hearing and reading from the media since January 1 this year,Ginbot-7’s policy seems to have succeeded with General Kamal Galchu and some of the Jijjiirama members who have “dropped” the question of independence and even denied committing the “sin” of opting for Oromo independence in the first place.

However, what we should note here is that there is nothing new about either Ginbot-7’s, or Andnet’s policy on the Oromo: the former is paralleled by the “Greater Ethiopia Marxists” debate of the 1960s and 1970s on the question which applied the notion of “narrow nationalism” to vilify the struggle waged by the Oromo and other peoples subjugated by Abyssinian rulers for national liberation. The latter, which is a mixture of the policies of the Haile Selassie and Dergue regimes, criminalizes Oromo claim for recognition and struggle for independence. Haile Selassie even showed clemency; he bribed Oromo leaders who opposed his rule and bought them to change their position.

Judged by the attitude of its representative, Andnet seems to be less tolerant to its adversaries than the imperial regime and more like the Dergue and the present regime. The Dergue punished “narrow nationalism” not only with long terms of imprisonment and torture, but also death sentence. The current regime has made Oromo nationalism a collective crime: its punishment is directed not only against individual Oromo nationalists, but as we have seen with its concentration camps and in other cases, it is also against the Oromo people collectively. The Amhara elites, who are now in opposition, seem to have the intention to go beyond what the present regime is doing in order to destroy Oromo nationalism, of course, if they ever get the chance and come to power in Finfinnee.

Oromo roles in the making of the Ethiopian state: then and now

There are two stories that are advanced by Oromos who are pro-Ethiopia regarding the relationship of the Oromo people to the Ethiopian state. The first story posits that the Oromo have built the Ethiopian Empire together with the Abyssinians, and therefore, they are stake-holders in parity with the Amhara elite who boast “abbatoochaachin yaaqoyyulin hager” (“the land we inherited from our forefathers”) they will preserve the Ethiopian Empire built by Menelik. The second view maintains that the Oromo constitute the majority of the Ethiopian population and that they have not only the capacity to take over power, but also the responsibility to democratize the Ethiopian state. The first story is built on historical distortion while second one is a result of political naivety or lack of critical thinking. Both stories work against internal and external support for the struggle for national liberation. The first argues against the colonial nature of the Ethiopian empire and state and will present the Oromo struggle as an act of secession and not a liberation; the second one gives the false hope that democracy is just in the corner and that the Oromo people will not only become free citizens, but also stakeholders with the Abyssinians and other peoples in the democratic state that Ethiopia will become in the near future.

Fallacies with the participation argument

One of the arguments that is persistently used by both the Abyssinian elites and Oromos who are pro-Ethiopia is the so-called Ormo collaboration in the Abyssinian conquest and colonization of the south. The argument, which posits that the conquest is mutually beneficial to both peoples, is a post-colonial Ethiopianist propaganda and pertains to the role of individuals such as Ras Gobanaa, Fitawrari Habte Giyorgis Dinagdee and Dajjach Balcha Safo who committed crimes against the Oromo people on behalf of the Abyssinian conquerors, and the acts of three Oromo Mootis Moroda Bakare of Leeqaa Naqamtee and Abba Jifar II of Jimma and Jootee Tulluu of Leeqaa Qellem who submitted to Menelik peacefully. The argument presents the three men and others who participated in the Abyssinian conquest of the south and the three Oromo Mootiis, who submitted to Menelik because of lack of firearms, as representatives of the Oromo people at large. The confusion which the collaboration story is creating about the Oromo-Ethiopia relation must be clarified

To start with, the first three men were not independent actors: Habte Giyorgis and Balcha were ex-slaves whose loyalty was to their master and not to the Oromo nation. They had the bad luck of falling into the hands of Amhara raiding parties in their youth, and brought up in Menelik’s royal household as servants decades before the conquest of Oromia. Gobanaa was not a captive, but was not a free man. The historical record says that, born in 1819 from Oromo parents, he was in the service of the rulers of Manz since his youth. The three men were competent military commanders who used their skills in fighting the Oromo people: not in defense of Oromo interests; they excelled as commanders of Abyssinian forces. They were rewarded with high posts for their service in the Abyssinian army that committed atrocities on the Oromo as the servants of the Amhara emperor Menelik and his successors.

To be fair, the three Oromo Mootis did not enter their “relationship” with Menelik voluntarily. Their acts were not even accepted by most of the Oromos they ruled both in Leeqa Naqamte and Leeqaa Qellem who fought while and after Moroda Bakare and Joote Tuluu submitted to Menelik. Let alone being partners and beneficiaries of the Ethiopian Empire, the modicum of autonomy which the three Mootis negotiated with Menelik did not last long. Joote was imprisoned and died in prison in 1920. An Amhara governor was appointed in his place. Jimma’s autonomy was withdrawn in 1932 and Haile Selassie’s son-in-law became its governor. The autonomy of Leeqaa Naqamtee was successively undermined and revoked in 1941.

Although story that suggests that the Ethiopian Empire in the creation of which the six men and other Oromos were involved had served or is serving the interest of the Oromo people is a historical distortion, there are some Oromo politicians and scholars who will accept that role played by these men as binding links between the Oromo people and the Ethiopian Empire overlooking the fact that the empire was created ruining Oromo gadaa republics and kingdoms. They ignore the fact that the maintenance of the empire is the major cause of the abject poverty we see in Oromia today.

The discourse about Oromo participation in the creation of the Ethiopian Empire which has been endorsed by some Oromos came about for the first time in the late 1960s and was meant to be used as an argument against the application of the notion of colonialism to the Abyssinian conquest of the south. It arose as a reaction to the then on-going decolonization of Africa and the birth of Oromo nationalism. It was argued then that since some Oromos were participants, the conquest of the south was a joint Oromo-Amhara undertaking, and that the creation of the Ethiopian empire was an Amhara-Oromo joint affair. Consequently, the conclusion was that Oromo independence was a question that cannot be raised. Although over-zealous Oromo converts of the ideology of the supremacy of class struggle over nationalist concerns joined the Abyssinian elite in condemning the Oromo quest for independence as “narrow” nationalism and its proponents as “narrow” nationalists in the ensuing years, that argument did not discourage Oromo scholars and nationalists from defining the conquest as a colonial undertaking and struggling for an independent Oromo state.

Problems with the democratization argument

The idea of taking power to democratize the Ethiopian state and improve the Oromo situation has been circulating since the1970s among some Oromo intellectuals and politicians.  Those who propagate the democratization approach argue that instead of sitting idle and criticizing the Abyssinian ruling elite or defining the Oromo-Ethiopian relationship as colonial, the Oromo elite must snatch power from them and reshape Ethiopia as they wish. They posit that since the Oromo are the largest population group in Ethiopia they are not only capable of taking political power but also able to democratize the country. In short they are advising us to “conquer” our conquerors. The idea may sound heroic in the ears of some Oromos but its feasibility is not convincing. It is a costly project. What the proponents of this idea have overlooked is the complexities which the “conquest of our conquerors” and the “democratization of Ethiopia” would involve and how much the “project” could cost the Oromo people.

To start with the complexity of the project, there are many roadblocks which make the democratization of the Ethiopian state which the pro-unity Oromos are aspiring for an unachievable dream. I will mention two of the roadblocks which I see as the major ones here. First, the democratization of Ethiopian requires a reconstruction of the state. Today, the Amhara opposition, from the most conservative to those who present themselves as liberal democrats, speak one language: they reject the idea of restructuring the Ethiopian state with ethnicity and language as criteria (for example listen to a debate between Ginbot-7’s Andargachew Tsige and Ayalsew Desse of Andnet on ESAT, August 9, 2011). In short, they do not accept the principles which promise the Oromo and other peoples a basis for a democratic future within the framework of the Ethiopian state. Consequently, there is no room for practicing the idea of “self-rule and shared-rule” which the proponents of a democratic united Ethiopia, whether they are members of General Kamal Galchu’s Jijjiirama group, leaders and members of the Oromo National Congress (ONC) or Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), have in mind. It is said politics is the art of the possible. That means politics deals with what can be done in the benefit of citizens, or is exercised in the service of humanity. Based on historical knowledge and what is said above concerning the attitude of Amhara political elites about the Oromo question as reflected in the debates of the two representatives of Ginbot-7 and Andnet, in my opinion, it is difficult to see a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous future for the Oromo people within the framework of a united Ethiopia to be created through an Oromo-Abyssinian elites’ alliance. Not in the foreseeable future, however.

The second obstacle is the sceptical Oromo attitude. It is remarkable that during the last 20 years, the majority of Oromos with higher education have been persistently reluctant to work with the so-called Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), the Oromo are sceptical about the possibility of genuine unity with the Abyssinian political elites, and hence are reluctant to support Oromo organizations that would ally with Abyssinian political parties and regimes. The causes of Oromo scepticism are obvious: they include failed attempts of democratization and unfulfilled promises made by the Abyssinian ruling elite in the past; the practices of the present Tigrayan rulers; and the position held by the Amhara elites and political organizations which are currently in opposition.

There is lack of clarity about the purpose of keeping Oromia within the framework of the Ethiopian state as suggested by pro-Ethiopia Oromo individuals and organizations. We know that the Abyssinians conquered the Oromo country for its natural resources. Why should the Oromo control Abyssinia?  How is that to be conducted? What and whose interests will the Oromo protect in Abyssinia? Why should it be our business to democratize Ethiopia? Did South Sudan try to democratize the Sudan or extricate itself? Is not Scotland asking independence from democratic Britain?

The point I want to make here is also that an attempt to capture military and political power and impose democracy over Ethiopia can be a costly affair for the Oromo in many ways. First, it will lead to the loss of human lives. In the absence of democratic elections, it is difficult to imagine a peaceful transfer of power to the Oromo. The problem is that democracy cannot be imposed. Secondly, even if it is materialized through the use of violence it should also be consolidated with the use of force. Consequently such a transfer of power may not lead to democracy, but to dictatorship which is a contradiction of the vision of the Oromo struggle—emancipation from dictatorship. The end result could be an adoption of authoritarian political culture by a ruling Oromo elites and not the implementation of the gadaa democratic tradition. In the face of this reality, will the pro-Ethiopia Oromo politicians have the appetite to choose the democratization of as a viable answer to the Oromo question? Do they really think that the Oromo people can benefit from such a solution? How?

In the final analysis, the arguments of Oromo politicians and intellectuals who hold the two overlapping views described above will promote the survival of Ethiopia as a state and not the aspirations of the Oromo people for nationhood, justice and democracy. The type of urgent reform needed to end the Oromo-Ethiopian conflict cannot be implemented in alliance with Ethiopianist organizations that are opposed to even the current demarcation of the country into federal regional states to give a modicum of autonomy to the different peoples. The “pro-Ethiopia” individuals and organizations have taken the unenviable position of a jurist who defends an incorrigible offender in the court of justice. They may wish for and also advocate the moral reform of the Abyssinian ruling elites, but the latter are not open to ideas on which democracy can be built. Unfortunately for the proponents of the “democratization” project, it appears that the Oromo people will not see any reason to wait in their present situation until the Abyssinian elite are redeemed from their authoritarian political culture. Just listen to the voices of Oromo youth and Oromo artists (Gadaa.com; Ayyaantuu Oromia.com) who are tired of the vicious treatment they are receiving from the present regime. Although the decision is theirs, to me, it seems advisable if the pro-Ethiopia “democrats” discard their misguided conviction that the Oromo can only survive as “Ethiopians” in a state called Ethiopia, and make contributions to the Oromo liberation. I am sure most of them care about their people.

The Oromo nation has invested much in the struggle for independence. Many, including those whom we condemn or criticize, or whose names some of us vilify today, for diverting from the goal—kaayyoo, have made great personal sacrifices that must neither be underestimated, nor forgotten. It is an investment that should not be wasted, not for its sake but for the goal it is aimed to achieve—freedom. In a speech he made in 1862, the anti-slavery activist Fredrick Douglas, described the injustice perpetrated against the African Americans for about two hundred years, and putting forward their claims for justice he argued, “We have worked without wages, lived without hope, wept without sympathy, and bled without mercy. Now, in the name of common humanity, we simply ask the right to bear the responsibility of our existence.” That is also what the Oromo are saying.

Resistance to slavery and colonialism may not be exactly the same, but they overlap in many ways. It is not difficult to see that Oromo resistance to Abyssinian colonialism and their claims for justice have certain similarities to the plight and claims of African Americans before the abolition of slavery in 1863. The plight and claims of both is underpinned by lack of freedom and the quest for it. The socio-economic situation of Oromo gabbars who handed over 50 to 75 per cent of their produce to naftanya landlords in the past had many similarities to the condition of the African Americans who worked on the plantations owned by white people without wages; those Oromos who are imprisoned, tortured, killed or made to “disappear” by the present regime are “bleeding” and being killed by their tormentors “without mercy” because of their lack of freedom. One cannot deny that tens of thousands of Oromos are “weeping without sympathy” every day now. These include families whose members are imprisoned or made to disappear suspected of being OLF members, sympathizers or just for being Oromos. They include Oromos whose families are disintegrated and communities dispersed as their land, the only source of their livelihood is sold by the present regime to international land grabbers. Oromo refugees, who are exposed to all the hardships I have described in my article of February 1, 2012, are also in the same situation. Tens of thousands of political and “economic” refugees in northeast Africa and in the Middle East, who often fall into the grips of human-traffickers, ‘organ harvesters,’ and rapists, are literally “weeping without sympathy.” The inhumanity which is faced by thousands of Oromo and other refugee women in this group is reflected in the fate of Alem Dachaasaa who was mishandled by Lebanese men in broad day light on the street in Beirut, and died recently in a hospital in the same city.

While it is needless to stress the outrage one feels when witnessing the inhumanity which is beingencountered by refugees who are fleeing today from the atrocities of a regime that is representing Ethiopia in UN, what I want to point out is that what the Oromo people want is to have ‘the right to bear the responsibility of their existence.’ As a people, the emancipation we are aspiring for is more than freedom from chattel labor and denigration of humanity which the abolition of slavery was meant to bring about in America or elsewhere in the past. The Oromo claim for recognition has an additional element—national sovereignty which is the goal of our struggle. We are claiming recognition as a nation in accordance with international law, and the status and rights which go with being a nation—the right to build an independent state of Oromia that can protect the rights of its citizens.

My emphasis on the need for a clear stand on the Oromo question, and the quest for independence as the best option out of our present predicament were criticized and my views about other approaches to the solution of Oromo-Ethiopian conflict as “arrogant” by those who prefer the “democratization of Ethiopia” over blisummaa, and other Oromos. To make my position clear, I am not denying anybody the right to advocate for a state model he/she wants Oromia to adopt; what I am saying is that the advocated model should be clearly stated in order to give our people correct information about what is being advocated and help them make their own choice.

Those who have read my previous article have also criticized me for not giving value to the middle position between those who are pro-Oromo independence and pro-Ethiopia.  However, the nature and structure of the middle position is not clear to me. What will those who chose the middle option achieve? Are they aiming to establish a common Ethiopian home, an independent state of Oromia, or both at the same time? I suggest that political organizations, which are using the OLF as their names in particular, should not be ambiguous about their political objectives or what they will achieve on behalf of the Oromo people. To take the Jijjiirama as an example, one has to remember that its leaders had promised that they will speed up the liberation of Oromia when they split from Shanee Gumii-OLF in 2008. Many Oromos believed them. With several high ranking military officers in their leadership, a press communique from the war front in the mountains of Oromia that describes their success against the TPLF occupation forces was expected. Obviously, these expectations were the reason behind the generosity of Oromos in the diaspora to them. According to one of their representatives (Ethio-Current Affairs Paltalk: January 7, 2012) they contributed US$250,000 within a short time to support General Kamal’s group. We know now what had happened; since the contributions were made to support the liberation of Oromia and not the “democratization” of Ethiopia, many of the freedom seeking contributors must have felt cheated when they heard one of the Jijjiirama leaders answering a question put to him by an ESAT journalist about dropping independence from his faction’s political program: “durownim megenxel almachiin alneberem”(secession has never been our plan) as an explanation on an Amharic radio program on January 1, 2012. This sort of behavior will affect negatively not only the trust which our people have for Oromo political organizations, but will also frustrate their hope for freedom.

Fortunately, however, the incident and the overall drawbacks of the last 10-15 years do not seem to have disheartened our people as one may think. There is plenty of evidence indicating that it is absolutely clear to most Oromos that the only way of out of the century old misery of subordination imposed by the Ethiopian state and its Abyssinian rulers is building their own independent state. Oromo websites, public debates, and music reflect the prevalence of supportive opinion for an independent Oromo state in the popular mind. The OLF remains a symbol of freedom in the hearts and minds of the Oromo people. As a sympathetic and knowledgeable external observer has noted, the “liberation of Oromia from Ethiopian colonialism is not only desirable but is also an attainable goal.”

Unrealistic expectations from the international community

There is an orthodox and almost naïve belief among the Oromo about the international community’s role in the protection human rights worldwide. The belief that the international community will put pressure on an incumbent regime and bring justice and democracy to Ethiopia is not a plausible idea, at least now. The Oromo belief that there is some sort of moral order that guides the community of states and governs humanity is not true. For sure there are many good Samaritans in our world. It suffices to mention the many men and women who are engaged in the work of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Green Peace, etc.  But the belief that the world is also led by people and organizations with similar intentions is naïve. The survival of the fittest is a fact, albeit seldom openly acknowledged, even today as it was in the past. Therefore, we have to struggle, overcome our oppressors, and restore justice and freedom to our people. Mankind has changed in many respects, but remains static in other important areas. Self-interest overweighs morality in shaping the behavior and actions of both individuals and collectivities. Although the methods used by antagonists may not be the same, and antagonists are no more “savages” who depend solely on courage and raw strength, the instinct-driven primal battle of the jungle for survival is still around in different shapes. What is remarkable is that, generally, human values and attitudes have changed little irrespective of all the pretentions of the followers of the different religions of the world, or the material welfare attained through the development of technology. The world still applauds the winner and despises the loser. Even the Oromo subscribe to this attitude when they sayhaatiyyuu dabeessa hinjaallattu, which means ‘even a mother despises a cowardly son’. A coward is a despicable forfeiter; he loses a battle in advance because of lack of moral courage. It seems that this primal feeling about “heroes” and “cowards” evolved as self-defense mechanism among the hunting bands and tribal groups in the early societies. Brave men and women who protect their families, and defend their bands and tribes were respected and admired, and the attitude toward those who lack courage to meet those norms was the opposite.

I will argue that a mixture of instinctual disposition and social norms even resonate in our minds determining the way we often perceive relations between states and peoples. A people’s struggle in self-defense and for freedom with unwavering determination will pay dividends in moral, material, and diplomatic support. My point is that the world will listen to us only when we convert our demographic weight into political and military strength. We should not wait until the UN, United States of America, or the European Union brings justice to our doors. It is unlikely that they will pay attention to our pleas. Oromia is not Kuwait, or Libya. It has some natural resources, but not the much coveted oil. Obviously, the Americans and the Europeans will not come to chase out Meles Zenawi and his TPLF forces as they chased out Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, or arm and advice the Oromo to get rid of Meles Zenawi and his cronies as they armed and advised the opposition in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi. As a Human Rights Watch researcher reported in 2010, “business is as usual” between the Ethiopian regime and the democratic nations of the West, and as well as rest of the world. Meles Zenawi is a man whose security forces gunned down 197 men and women in the street of Finfinnee in front of TV cameras during the Ethiopian parliamentary elections of 2005, and he yet rubs shoulders with political leaders and business magnates in the West as well as in the East.

As most of us know, elsewhere, let alone massacring participants of peaceful demonstration en masse, it is impossible to gun down even a single criminal and go free. Therefore, while exposing human rights violation by the Ethiopian regime is the duty of Oromo organizations and individuals, the prevalent belief that the United Nations, European Union or African Union will relieve our people from the crimes perpetrated against them by the present Ethiopian regime should be reconsidered.  Given the situation I have described above, it is our duty to protect ourselves in the first place. It is our responsibility to also make our position clear to the world, by acting in unison, that we are a people who are out to defend our rights and not to harm other peoples. We must prove that we are not victims waiting to be saved by outsiders, but that we are grateful to any government or organization that gives us assistance. It is time for us to take the bite in our teeth and build up our strength, put pressure on the oppressors of our people and win international sympathy at the same time. The urgency of national survival should prompt us to act in self-defense, just like a prey that is pressed by a predator from behind stops fleeing, turns back on its chaser showing its determination to survive. It is time to say enough is enough, Oromia shall be free and our nation shall survive.

The world does not and will not necessarily know our people until we rise up in unison, prove our existence as a nation, and declare our determination to regain the freedom which was taken from our forefathers by Abyssinian conquerors about a century ago. Most of us in the diaspora were chased out from our homeland and have been in flight for many years; uprooted and chased away from their homeland tens of thousands of Oromos have followed and are following our footpath every year. Our flight has resulted in our survival as individuals. But, as indicated above, survival for those who flee from the atrocities committed by the present Ethiopian regime in Oromia has come now under question.

Given the totality of the current situation in Oromia, it is the survival of the Oromo nation which is at risk if we continue to accept the Tigrayan rule passively.  For each and every Oromo, it is time to stop passive acceptance of repression and fight back. To fight back, we need a strong organization. To organize, or be organized does not mean only getting together, electing some leaders, go home and expect miracles which they will perform to bring about Oromo independence. Leaders are there to co-ordinate others; that means there must be followers who will be coordinated; convinced followers who are ready to be led. Leaders are not do all job by themselves; they show the way. Organization means, therefore, leading and following leaders, taking responsibility, chipping in contributions to the power pool of the liberation movement. To achieve independence, we should activate the dynamics of collective action without delay. The contribution of each of us should become a reliable cog in the gear that can thrust the national struggle to its goal.

To state the obvious, a struggle for national liberation demands collective action and responsibility. The life of Abyssinian domination over Oromia, which is the cause for Oromo suffering, can be shortened only through persistent struggle and an effective organization that coordinates our efforts, mobilizes our resources and galvanizes our commitments worldwide. As I have stated in my previous article published on February 1, 2012 on this website, it is not enough to sit on the fence and condemn leaders who have “failed” to liberate Oromia, or feel moral outrage about crimes committed against the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia. What is required is channeling our outrage into action and commitment. It means meeting our moral responsibility as members of an oppressed and tormented nation. Let us get down from our places on the fence, join those who struggle for national salvation, and stop lamenting as hopeless victims. Sitting on the fence and saying “I will remain neutral as long as the Oromo organizations keep on “bickering on petty issues” is not a proper patriotic position to take. To dismiss the differences between the organizations without a proper knowledge of their causes is an irresponsible and dishonest act. To my mind, the right thing to do is to approach the concerned groups, investigate the sources for their differences and find a solution, or join one of the groups and contribute to the struggle. After all, all of them are engaged in the national struggle in one way or another. Neutrality, I will argue, is an unpatriotic position to take; it does not advance the cause of our people. It will help only their oppressors.

It is common knowledge that the Oromo are one of the most persecuted peoples in the world today. However, this has not put their case on the agenda of the UN, the European Union, or the African Union for that matter.  Therefore, we have to be realistic, believe in self-reliance, and practice self-reliance persistently, but also inform the international community actively and routinely about violations of Oromo human rights. It is needless to stress here that we should not wait for the UN or a superpower to save us from the destruction being perpetrated by the present Ethiopian regime once again. It is good to believe that there are sympathetic fellow humans who will understand our situation and stretch us a helping hand but, we must also know that if we spend much time waiting for salvation from outside the Oromo nation may not survive until it arrives.

In short, we should not be bitter if the world of diplomacy goes on with “business as usual”. We cannot change that as we may wish.  I am sure that it will change in due time. What we can and should change now is the way we carry out our struggle for national liberation. The necessity to perpetuate our survival as a people must urge us to look at our commitment critically and make the sacrifices required from us as individuals and a nation. That entails rethinking, rectifying past mistakes, and preparation for what may come next.

Can the Oromo people get their rights by peaceful means?

Will the Oromo people get their rights by peaceful means? Yes, if the opportunity were available. I assume that it is the wish of every human being to lead a peaceful life. No one in his right mind will take up arms, leave his/her family behind and go to the bush to fight a government. The Oromo are not different in that respect. In fact, the nagaa philosophy that underpins Oromo thought and tradition shows the wish and appreciation which our people have for a peaceful life. As noted by scholars, it even characterizes their approach to conflict resolution. But Ethiopia is a country ruled by political elites who are aliens to the idea of solving political problems by peaceful means. That leaves the Oromo people with no other alternative, but to defend itself against aggression by all means necessary, including armed struggle.

Ironically, there are those who argue that the age of using arms in the struggle for political rights and interests is passé and that therefore the Oromo should denounce armed struggle. The argument distorts the logic of self-defense or the right to life. It ignores the fact that there are those who use arms to occupy and oppress others and those who are forced to raise arms to defend themselves against oppression. It ignores the fact that every state and government, big or small, uses arms to protect its citizens and interests even today. That the Oromo people lack a government that protects their human rights is obvious to all. That the TPLF regime has used and uses arms to occupy power in Finfinnee in the heart of Oromia and is oppressing the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia are well known facts. What is wrong if our people use arms to defend their lives and their property? In a world in which most member states of the UN are armed to the teeth to “defend their rights” and sovereignty, why is it wrong for the Oromo people to regain the sovereignty they lost due to conquest and colonization using arms?

Because of the talks about terrorism, there are also Oromos who entertain the fear that if we use firearms in our struggle for independence the international community will not listen to us. The question that must be asked is: Why did the international community “allow” the Southern Sudanese to use armed struggle and gain their independence?  What does using a peaceful means mean when dealing with a regime such as that of Ethiopia that rejects a just and peaceful settlement of conflict and uses state terrorism against our people? Ethiopia is not the British Empire that tolerates an Oromo Mahatma Gandhi who travels across Oromia openly propagating resistance against Abyssinian rule, or the United States of America that allows an Oromo Martin Luther King to organize a hundred thousand-man-march on Finfinnee and hold a fiery speech about liberty and freedom in Revolution Square. The Ethiopian regimes won’t even see an Oromo Mandela stay alive with dignity in a prison cell. Take the case of General Taddese Birru for example: as he told the Ethiopian court which gave him a death sentence in 1968, he was disgraced and tortured because of his nationality. Out of jail in 1974, he was assassinated in 1975 by the Dergue. An Oromo Desmond Tutu will end up in prison, will be tortured, killed and buried in unmarked spot in prison: most of us recollect the case of Reverend Gudina Tumsaa. To raise arms against a regime which treats a people and their leaders in the manner the Ethiopian regimes have been treating the Oromo people and their leaders, is not terrorism; it is a commendable act of self-defense: an act for survival.

My point in raising what is said above is to argue that it is not logical to condemn the use of arms and preach the Oromo who were and still are exposed to mass murder about the virtues of passive resistance. In a state run by a regime which meets peaceful demonstrators with bullets to renounce armed struggle is tantamount to committing suicide. An Oromo who condemns the use of arms in self-defense is one who has lost touch with reality. The impracticability of peaceful methods makes armed resistance the only option the Oromo have for self-defense. The alternative is perpetual domination and exploitation by an Abyssinian minority rule. We must remember the role of firearms in our subjugation. As the historian Richard Caulk pointed out, “the system of near serfdom imposed on wide areas of the south…could not have been maintained had the newcomers [naftanaya] not been so differently armed.” Before the mid-1930, in some of the Oromo provinces, the Oromo were not even allowed to carry spears for defence against wild animal. Since the sixteenth century the Abyssinian rulers were obsessed with firearms. A great deal of the 17th, 18th and 19th century-correspondence of Ethiopian kings which Richard Pankhurst examined in his study on the history of firearms in Ethiopia show the effort they have been making to acquire firearms from Europeans powers. The expenditure the Ethiopian regimes have been making on firearms shows that the ruling Abyssinian elites understood the power of firearm centuries before Chairman Mao reminded us that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” They have used it successfully against the Oromo for more than a century. They will continue to use until the Oromo stop them using the same means or give up the question of freedom.

Armed or not an Oromo who claims his or her rights is an enemy

The external “experts’” advice to the Oromo has been (see for example the proceedings of the Bergen Conference of 2004) to renounce armed struggle. But, armed or not any Oromo who demands his/her rights is seen as an enemy of Ethiopia and is met with regime violence. That was the case in the past and is also the case now. When asked why he fled from Ethiopia by a journalist (ESAT February 10, 2012) the artist Dawite Mekonnen replied “because I am an Oromo.” Explaining what he meant by that he added, “Oromo means enemy in Ethiopia.” He said that his songs were politicized and he was put in prison. Out of prison he was harassed and forced to leave Ethiopia and save his life. Otherwise his fate could have been the fate of other Oromo artists such as Eebisaa Adunyaa who were murdered by TPLF regime because of their Oromo music. As indicated by the now well-known observation made by Dr. Berhanu Nega in Qallitti, Oromos who sit in Ethiopia’s prison cells are saying the same thing. Dr Berhanu Nega said: “When I saw that more than 90 per cent of the prisoners in the Qallitti were Oromos and that some of them were very young while some are very old (over eighty years), I asked them why they were imprisoned. “Their unanimous answer,” he said was, “Because we are Oromos” (approximate translation from Amharic). That is exactly the impression one gathers when talking to an Oromo ex-businessman in the street of Nairobi, or Khartoum. A highly educated Oromo who is earning his/her livelihood employed as unskilled worker in Stockholm, Berlin, London or Washington D. C. will tell you the same.

There are also Amharas who fled from the same regime for political reasons. However, after just a little scratch one can find a great difference between the two groups. They contend political power with Tigrayan cousins. They do not have any problem with Ethiopia like the Oromo. In fact they will restore their beloved motherland Ethiopia back to her past glory. They surpass the TPLF regime in condemning the Oromo as the enemy of Ethiopia (see for example Lt. Ayalsew Desse’s interview with ESAT, August, 9, 2011). Whether it is dominated by Tigrayan or Amhara elites, the politics of the Ethiopian state will remain anti-Oromo. Therefore, the problem the Oromo will solve has a complex historical depth than the question of ruling Ethiopia on which the Abyssinian cousins are quarrelling; it is not created by the present regime. Meles Zenawi’s regime has “inherited” the problem and continued treating the Oromo people with impunity as its predecessors had done in the past. The method paid off well in terms of power and wealth in the past and it is also paying very well now.

Explaining why she had vacated her post of Speaker of the House of Federation, and is seeking asylum in the United States in a press release she made a few years ago, Mrs. Almaz Mako wrote “The EPRDF government has brought untold miseries and suffering on the Oromo people.  She added that the OPDO is “a rubber stamp for TPLF rule over Oromia,” and that the regime of Mr. Meles Zenawi is “categorically rejected by the entire Oromo nation and survives only on the back of its repressive security forces” which is comprised of almost only Tigrayans from the ordinary soldiers to the commanding officers at the top. The situation is the same or even worse today. For the last 20 years, the TPLF security forces have been an army of occupation in Oromia. It is the duty of the present generation of Oromos to free their land by all means necessary. Armed struggle is a normal method used by patriots to win freedom from oppressors throughout history. There is no reason for the Oromo to stop using arms until they restore their freedom, and there is reason to see them as terrorists if they struggle against forces which conduct the extra-judicial killing, cause the disappearance of thousands Oromos as reported by human rights organizations. The armed guards of the prisons and concentration camps where thousands of Oromos are imprisoned, humiliated, tortured, raped and killed can be removed only with the use of firearms.

Transform demographic weight into organizational and political power

As I have pointed out in a previous article mentioned above, there are many Oromos who love to talk about the demographic strength of our people and plead for democracy because we will have an advantage. I do not think this kind of talk is advantageous to our cause. It may even generate contempt and not sympathy, particularly when it is declared by Oromo politicians and scholars that we are the majority in the country and are being persecuted by a minority. The international community is not impressed by demographic size, but by military strength. When he heard that the OLF was not satisfied with the 12 seats it was allotted in the Transitional National Council in 1991, an ambassador of a European state to Ethiopia told the late Rev. Dr. Gunnar Hasselblatt that the Oromos should not complain; they did not fight enough; the TPLF did. Proportionality or the fact that the Oromo are the largest population group in the country did not matter to him. What mattered was the military strength of the OLF.

A new Ethiopian regime may be weak, but does not make it humane to the use of violence or accommodative to popular demands for rights and justice. It may open itself for democracy for a while to buy time, and then become meaner and murderous. We have seen that with the Dergue. The one-year democratic opening of 1991-1992, if it was that at all, helped the TPLF/EPDRF to do the same. Many times, the system has cracked, but it was able to regenerate, and dominate again because we have not been able to make use of the opportunity created by the break down in the system. There were various reasons for why we have missed the opportunity created by the crack to transform our demographic strength into full political and military power and get control over our natural resources. The opening created in 1974 by the Ethiopian revolution was not exploited because our people were not prepared both politically and organizationally. In 1991-1992, while we were very quick in exploiting the situation to introduce the qubee alphabet and establish school education, public administration and the conduct of the legal system in Afaan Oromoo, we were not quick enough in other vital areas: that allowed the TPLF to use the space and build self-confidence and strike at our forces. In general, the TPLF’s aggressive strategy paid dividends for the regime. It usurped not only political power, but it confiscated public property and military hardware imported for billions of dollars.

The consequence of our inability to make use of the 1991-1992 break-down of the Ethiopian political system is what we see today. As I have pointed out in my article of February 1, 2012, the TPLF/EPRDF has imprisoned more Oromos for political reasons than the Dergue did. It introduced concentration camps for the first time in Ethiopian history and those who were incarcerated in such camps were Oromos. So far concentration camps have been used only in Oromia. Given information gathered from torture survivors, the cruelty of TPLF torture methods seem to surpass the methods used have their parallels with those that were used by the Pinochet regime in Chile in 1970s. International human rights organizations have reported routinely the regime’s multi-dimensional violation of human rights. Amnesty International (AI) has adopted thousands Oromo prisoners of conscience during the last twenty years. Extra-judicial killings and “disappearance” (hidden assassination) of political activists induced by the Meles Zenawi administration surpass those which occurred under previous Ethiopian regimes. The atrocities are affecting the Oromo more than any other nationality in the country. Millions of hectares of the most fertile Oromo farm- and pasturelands are sold to international bidders displacing Oromo peasant families. How long are we going to tolerate the crimes being committed against Oromo people? The moral responsibility of answering this question concerns all of us: it concerns every Oromo political and community organizations; it concerns each and every Oromo family as well as each and every Oromo village and district. It is a national concern. Otherwise what is going to come after the demise of the present regime may not be better or pleasant.

We are seeking justice, not vengeance

The purpose of the Oromo struggle is justice. Hate speeches about the OLF and the Oromo people broadcast currently on media networks run by some Amhara elites in the diaspora cannot change that fact. We know, and must make it known, that the OLF is seeking justice for the Oromo people. The OLF exists not to commit injustice against others, including our enemies. In his famous speech, “I have a dream” delivered on 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King reminded the 200,000 men and women who participated in the famous March on Washington that “In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” This is also how the Oromo struggle has been conducted, is being conducted and will be conducted. Seeking vengeance will be committing crime against humanity, and injustice to our people and to future Oromo generations. Vengeance goes against the purpose of our struggle for national liberation. We are not seeking vengeance, but will bring those who committed atrocities against our people before justice. The aim of our national movement is to establish justice, not to spread war and chaos. That does not mean we will not respond to violence which others are committing or will commit against our people. It means we will not initiate violence that will affect others. We will always uphold safuu, the traditional ethics of Oromo ancestors which means respect for life which in a war situation is expressed in nagaa(peace) with the uninvolved civilian population, the aged, children and women who happen to find themselves in conflict zones.

Conclusion

The 130 years of Abyssinian occupation constitute the darkest hours in Oromo history. All of us have lived our lives during the dark years of Abyssinian colonial rule and many of us have even experienced its effects. I have had the opportunity to travel extensively within Ethiopia, before I left it at the end of 1977 and in the neighboring countries after that. During my travels I have seen the tormenting “faces of hunger” in “famine camps” called mexeleya in Amharic in Wallo, Afar, and Ogaden regions inside Ethiopia in the 1970s and the insecurity and woes of homeless Ethiopian refugees in camps in the Sudan in the 1980s. I have seen the insecure life of Oromo and other refugees from Ethiopia in the slums of Nairobi in the 1990s. I have seen despair among refugees stranded in no-man’s land in the remote border areas between Oromia and the Sudan. Mirrored in the innocent eyes of refugee children, I have seen the fear and insecurity that their parents felt. The plight of refugee children is exacerbated because they come from homes that are destroyed and families that are scattered by violence which means they are often separated from their siblings and are almost always without grandparents and the entire extend family system that was their haven of emotional security and social support. The cause of their agonies and deprivation is the political system into which they were born. It is an incorrigible system: the opportunity to redeem it has been missed many times by its leaders. Unfortunately it is missed by the present regime.

To survive, the Oromo have to free themselves from the Ethiopian political system. They must not waste more time and energy attempting to reform the Ethiopian state that has defied reform repeatedly. The colonial political culture on which it rests cannot be reformed. It is only when an Oromo state is rebuilt and Oromo independence is restored that the vestiges of Abyssinian colonial political culture that has been affecting the lives of millions of Oromos for more than a century will dissipate.

*Mekuria Bulcha, PhD and Professor of Sociology, is an author of widely read books and articles. His new book—Contours of the Emergent and Ancient Oromo Nation—is published by CASAS (Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society), Cape Town, South Africa in 2011. He was also the founder and publisher of The Oromo Commentary (1990-1999). He is an active member of the OLF and has served in the different branches of the national movement since the 1970s.

Dr. Mekuria Bulcha can be reached at mekuria.bulcha@mdh.se 

AFAAN OROMO CURRICULUM SHORT-CUT IN MAQII, BOTEE, BUSHOOFTUU

March 20, 2012 (ayyaantuu.com)

The Ethiopian government thorough its ministry of education reversed part of the constitutional rights of the Oromo people under its rule in many ways. Among these infringements on the democratic and human rights of the Oromo people as seen recently perpetrated on them by the regime is the infringements on the very gains of the constitution of the country that allows nations and nationalities to exercise the right to read and wright in their mother-tongue at least at elementary school education level. But those rights are daily abridged by cutting on curriculum in areas ceded to other nations and nationalities, and now being extended to even cities in Oromia regional state proper. The recent abridgements of rights are imposed on two cities in central Oromia: Mekii and Bishoftu.

Meki and Botee are the capital cities of Dugda and Bora districts of JIILLE Oromos mainly and JIDDA, SODDO, and ARSII Oromos.

BUSHOOFTUU is the capital city of ADAA district that is home to the ADAA, JIDDA, LIIBAN, GAJJA, ABBICHUU, and SOODDO Oromos mainly. These two/three cities are deprived of the AFAAN OROMOO classes by dividing the school system into three categories as a means of abridging the rights:

1. Public schools can offer Afaan Oromo only from 8:00 am -12:00 midday if teachers are available and students registered for classes as their preference, but NOT as a MANDATORY regional national state language of orientation;

2. Private schools including religious based schools do not offer Afaan Oromo classes as a subject as well as as a language of regional curricular language of instruction;

3. All public school classes are offered in Amharic from 2:00 pm -last hours including evening classes.

4. Never have been implemented is the “Oromo” (Oromo wereda) district located between Darraa and Tach Bete wereda of Marrehaa-Bete Awurajja. Residents of this district, who are Oromos but lost their mother tongue as a result of long years of repression have demanded their district be included to Darra and be able for their children to go to schools where Afaan Oromo is offered. Their demands have never received attention by the regional state of Amaaraa and the central government.

Other cities soon to be given a chartered city status, ADAAMAA and SHAASHAAMANNE are under threat.

The Oromia regional state plea to reinstate Afaan Oromo as a language of instruction to this cities has been turned down by the central government via its arm-the ministry of education. Furthermore, those who attend Afaan Oromo classes in the early morning classes are discouraged and bullied at schools and on their way to and back home from school.

Oromo Human Rights Advocates Presentation at George Mason University

March 8, 2012 (ayyaantuu.com) – We were invited by the George Mason University on February 28, 2012 to speak to students of Social Work that are working on their masters degree. They gave us adequate time to speak about our own experiences and we thank them for listening to us with respect. We do not want to go in to details about our personal issues. We were more interested in the issues that made us to get involved to defend our human dignity.

We also tried to connect them to what Oromo scholars and other experts have observed about the brutality of the TPLF regime in particular and Abyssinians in general.

“Are You Involved’? Yes, I am!

It was in 1988, the year I graduated from Finfinne/Addis Ababa University. I was walking from Sidist Kilo Campus towards Arat Kilo. Three university students were walking in front of me. They were not only walking and talking but they were also laughing and giggling. I got closer to them to listen to what makes them laugh like that. One of them was telling them about their King of Kings, Immiye Menilik II of Ethiopia. He was telling them about a bill (awaj) that was written into law by their favorite King. The bill was written into law when automobile was brought to Ethiopia for the first time. He was quoting from this bill to please his friends: “Sawu magdal kilkil nawu; Gaallam bihon”. It means it is illegal to kill a person even a Galla. To make us angry they also usually say, it is illegal to kill an animal even a Galla.

What was a pleasure to them was a very painful experience for a young Oromo college student. They almost took it as their absolute right and they never cared whether it hurts somebody’s feeling or not. Specially, what makes this a sad experience is when it comes out of the mouth of the so-called educated young people.

I directly went to the theology campus in Arat Kilo to tell this story to my friend who was studying for a master’s degree. My friend said, “Take it easy. Their pride will soon be deflated.” He knew one fact. He was certain change was coming. After few months, he gave me a book. I read it several times and while I was trying to return the book he said, “I want this book to be read by as many Oromo college students as possible. But, as you well know, it is very risky if we try to copy it.” I assured him to take the risk to duplicate the book. I gave him four additional photocopies of the book and I retained another two as my own to give to friends I trust to read it.

I lived in Finfinne/Addis Ababa for more than two decades and I am a testimony to Professor Asafa Jalata’s popular paper “Can Oromummaa and Ethiopianism be Reconciled”? I am not interested to repeat the verbal violence and piety indignities that were being directed against the Oromo people. Adding insult to injury, I have also been a victim of physical and psychological violence.

The title I have used for this piece is one of the many questions I was asked by the National Religious Campaign against Torture (NRCAT). When I was asked: “Are you involved”? I answered, yes, I did. Professor Asafa Jalata has recited the major ones out of the many verbal violence against the Oromo people on Ayyaantuu.com as follows:

The Impact of Ethiopianism on Oromos

Dr. Asafa Jalata (ajalata@utk.edu) is a Professor of Sociology, Global Studies, and Africana Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has published and edited eight books and authored sixty refereed articles in regional and international journals and several book chapters.

The popular discourse on Oromos is full of racist prejudices and stereotypes. When Habashas want to make a point of the alleged inferiority of Oromos on the racial/ethno-national hierarchy, or to deny them their humanity, they debase an Oromo and her or his nationality by asking, “sawu nawu Galla?” (Is he or she a human being or a Galla?) This query shows that Habashas consider Oromos as inferior human beings. Even Orthodox Christianity is used to promote racism in Ethiopia. For instance, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church publication denounced sexual relations between Habashas and Oromos by saying that Jesus would punish those who had sexual intercourse with “the cursed, the dumb, the Moslems, the Galla, the Shankilla, the Falasha, the horse, the donkey, the camel and all those who committed sodomy.” This religious tract was written in Geez (an old Abyssinian language) and translated into Amharic in 1968. While its original date of writing and authorship are unknown, the piece has been popular and widely recited by literate Habashas.

Oromos, Ethiopian Jews, Muslims, and various peoples were categorized with beasts, such as horses, donkeys, and camels. The implicit intention of the Orthodox Church was to draw a racial/ethno-national boundary between Habashas and non-Habashas to maintain the racial/ethno-national purity of the former. Habasha stereotypes depict Oromos as a dirty people: the expression “Galla na sagara eyadare yigamal” compares Oromos to feces and claims that Oromos continue to stink like feces with passing days. This expression warns that the closer you get to Oromos, the more you find how dirty they are. This racial insult is used to create tension between Oromos and Habashas. Another expression depicts Oromos as a rotten people (“timbi or bisbis Galla”). Yet another expression explains that Oromos cannot be clean even if they wash themselves again and again: “Galla na Shinfila ayitaram,” which literally means, “Even if you wash their stomach lining, a Galla will never come clean.”

Oromos have been depicted as barbarians and backward people in popular discourse. A Habasha expression claims that Oromos’ attempt to be civilized cannot be successful because Oromos are predestined to fail in civilization projects. The saying “Galla sisaltin bacharaqa jantila yizo yizoral” attempts to show that even if he or she is civilized, an Oromo does not know the true essence of civility. Literally this saying translates, “When an Oromo is civilized he/she stretches his/her umbrella in the moonlight and walks around so that he/she can be seen by others.” Simply put, because Oromos are stupid, they do not know how to behave in a civilized way. The expression “Ye Galla chawa, ye gomen choma yelewum” depicts Oromos as a society that does not have respected and notable individuals. The literal translation of this expression reads, “As there is no fat in vegetables or greens, there is no a gentlemen in the Galla community.” Generally, Oromos have been targeted by Habasha expressions and are seen by Habsashas as a useless people who do not deserve respect.

Oromos have been insulted for even trying to assimilate to Ethiopian culture by speaking an Ethiopian language. Habasha have expressed their anger toward Oromos who have mispronounced Amharic words by saying that “Afun yalfata Galla; tabitaba Galla” (an Oromo is someone who cannot express himself/herself clearly). To psychologically demoralize Oromos, the Habasha discourse also depicts Oromos as a cowardly person that cannot resist domination; the saying “and Amhara matto Galla yinadal” clearly shows the essence of this discourse. Literally, it translates, “One Amhara can force one hundred Oromos into submission or subordination.” However, historical evidence indicates that until they allied with Europeans and obtained modern weapons, Habashas saw Oromo fighters as their nightmare.

Even a poor Habasha or a leper claims that he or she is better than a Galla; the expressions “Even if I am poor, I am not a Galla,” and “Even if I am a leper, I am not a Galla” clearly show how most Habashas, including the sick and the poor, claim racial/ethno-national superiority. Generally speaking, Habashas have “looked upon and treated the indigenous people as backward, heathen, filthy, deceitful, lazy, and even stupid—stereotypes that European colonialists commonly ascribed their African subjects.” Furthermore, Habasha social institutions, such as family, school, media, government, and religion, reproduce and perpetuate these racist prejudices and stereotypes within Ethiopian society. The prejudices and stereotypes consciously or unconsciously have influenced Ethiopians and Ethiopian studies.

Ethiopians, and particularly those Ethiopian scholars and Ethiopianists who have been influenced by these racist assumptions, have never respected Oromo culture and have opposed the Oromo struggle for self-determination, social justice, democracy, and human rights under a variety of different pretexts. Some assert that because Oromos are dispersed among other peoples, the question of national self-determination is not applicable to their cause. Others argue that the assimilation of Oromos to Habashas both biologically and culturally prevent them from having a cultural identity that enables them to have national self-determination. Furthermore, because Oromos are considered “invaders” of Ethiopia, some Ethiopian elites argue that Oromos do not deserve self-determination because the region that they call Oromia does not belong to them. This assertion implicitly suggests that Oromos must accept their subjugation and second-class citizenship, or they must leave Ethiopia before they will be totally annihilated for continuing to demand self-determination and democracy.

The political agenda of the destruction of Oromo society is not a new phenomenon. The West has been supporting this political agenda. And now China, India and Arab countries support Ethiopianism and Tigrayan colonial policies. The massive killing of Oromos by Amhara-Tigrayans was never condemned as genocide. Just as genocide committed by Menelik and his followers escaped world condemnation, so is the ethno-national cleansing that is systematically committed by the Meles regime. Currently Ethiopianism hides the true nature of the Tigrayan-led minority regime in Ethiopia. Supported by the West, mainly the United States, and using political violence, this regime has dominated and controlled the Oromo people and others, denying them freedom of expression, association, or organization, as well as access to the media and related forms of communication and information networks.

The Meles regime has used various techniques of violence to terrorize Oromos who are engaged in the struggle for liberation and democracy. Just as successive Amhara-dominated regimes engaged in terrorism and genocide and exploited the resources of Oromos, Afars, Ogaden Somalis, Sidamas, and others, the Tigrayan-dominated regime is engaged in similar practices to suppress the national movements of these indigenous peoples in order to maintain a racial/ethno-national hierarchy and to continue subjugation. With the intensification of the national movements of these subjugated nations, the regime has been engaged in massive human rights violations, terrorism, and hidden genocide.

While engaging in state terrorism in the form of war, torture, rape, and hidden genocide to control the Oromo people and others and to loot their economic resources, Tigrayan state elites claim that they are promoting democracy, federalism, and national self-determination. These elites use Ethiopianism to claim the unity of the colonizer and the colonized population groups in the Ethiopian Empire while committing such serious crimes against humanity. For example, in 2003 and 2004, the Meles regime committed genocide against the Annuak people of Gambella. It is no wonder that all colonized population groups in Ethiopia reject the ideology of Ethiopianism. In particular, Oromos have developed Oromummaa (Oromo-centric worldview, culture, and nationalism) to oppose Ethiopianism and to dismantle the racial/ethno-national hierarchy and Ethiopian settler colonialism and its institutions. Oromo nationalists must fight and discredit those who have betrayed Oromummaa and the Oromo national interest by joining the Ethiopianist camp.

 

Preventing Genocide in Ethiopia

Talking to the American people has further connected us to the rest of the world. I was inspired by what Thomas Jefferson has written before 2oo years and he is a very amazing U.S. President, the second smartest, next to John Quincy Adams, according to the Wilson Quarterly.

February 15, 2012 (Ayyaantuu.com) – I have the moral obligation to bring the Ethiopian crisis to your attention because Maryland University has recently released a report that Ethiopia is on a high risk of genocide, instability, and politicide. World Genocide Watch, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and many human rights groups have also repeatedly warned the international community about the severe human rights abuses in Ethiopia. The Oromo Studies Association and Oromo Women’s Association have also written a letter of concern to President Barack Obama and the leaders of major Western countries and the UN High Commission for Human Rights and the World Genocide Watch, etc.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) also advised donor countries to take governance problems more seriously but the international community never paid attention to their advance warnings about the Ethiopian crisis. Synopsis of a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) dated September 4, 2009, Ethiopia: Ethnic Federalism and its Discontents, may help to understand how this minority group has created an ultra-big government to control the state and people by the funds it obtains from donor nations, the IMF and the World Bank.

 

It is very important to note how an elite group that claims it represents a minority ethnic group that accounts for about 6% of the Ethiopian population is controlling both state and people. The report was based on field research and it was highly credible and written by a group of high profile world experts.

 

Summary of the Report: Controlling State and People

While the elections attract international attention, everyday politics under the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front (EPRDF) are often ignored. They are marked by top-down policymaking. Popular participation is restricted, decisions are monopolized by the de facto one party state, and there is little local room for deviating from federally fixed policy priorities.

However, the EPRDF’s authority is neither complete nor uniform. There are three distinct political spaces, in the capital, rural areas, and periphery. Addis Ababa enjoys the most political pluralism and individual liberty. Concentration of an educated middle class and foreign presence helps explain the city administration’s greater accountability and scope for dissent…

A well-organized party network extends from the federal to the regional, from the regional to theWoreda (county), and from the Woreda to the kebele and sub-kebele levels.

Given the strong link between the state and EPRDF parties, it is no surprise Meles is at once prime minister and chairman of both the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and EPRDF. Power is concentrated and most strategic decisions are taken in the EPRDF executive committee and the prime minister’s office. Meles is surrounded by a small group of old TPLF confidantes. This inner circle consists of companions from the armed struggle era… Despite the federal government’s multi-ethnic composition, TPLF officers occupy the highest levels of all ministries. The party’s dominance is particularly evident in the armed forces and the National Intelligence and Security Office. Most senior military commanders were former TPLF fighters. This remained so when, in September 2008, Meles promoted a dozen senior military to lieutenant, brigadier and major general. Eight of those promoted are Tigrayans, as is the chief of staff, General Samora Yunis. The troops stationed across the country are thus another means by which the TPLF exerts control over regional and local constituencies. The federal security agenda overrides local institutions, and in unstable and politically sensitive areas, military commanders, federal police, and security organs operate largely independently of local authorities. For example, in Oromiya Tigrayan security and intelligence personnel are felt to operate like a “state within a state”.

Local opposition groups also reported that 57 of the 61 EPRDF generals are from Tigray region, the birthplace of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.

…The TPLF also created so-called gott and garee institutions… These institutions are an informal but highly effective mechanism by which the party hierarchy controls rural dwellers down to household level.

In this system, local party officials and “cadres” are assigned to monitor the everyday activities of their immediate neighbors. Kebeles are divided into sectors, which are sub-divided into 25 household then again into 5 house-hold units. Each unit is overseen by a party member, loyalist, or “cadre”, who reports relevant incidents to higher party officials and kebele administrators. Regular meetings are called by these sub-kebele party officials to lecture farmers on government policy…Those who refuse to attend or to make the contributions proposed by the government are branded as “anti-development”. Gott and garee officials also closely monitor opposition supporters.

Many Ethiopians perceive the TPLF’s obsession with surveiling opposition activities as deeply intrusive. Neighborhood-level “cadres” report minor occurrences to kebele officials, including residents’ whereabouts and visitors. According to many, “their main task is to monitor the people, spy on people and report to the kebele.” Barely visible to outsiders and foreigners, this party control discourages dissent and constantly reminds people who is in charge. It allows the TPLF to keep a tight grip on opposition supporters and reward its own. In situations of political unrest, sub-kebele party informant’s point kebele police and federal security forces to families and compounds where opposition is known or suspected.

A recurrent government method to silence critics is to accuse them of being the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the Oromo People’s Congress (OPC) formerly Oromo National Congress (ONC), or Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) members. Reporting OLF sympathizers buys favors from local administrators, including kebele court judgments in property disputes. Unsurprisingly, Oromiya has the country’s highest level of reported human rights violations. An atmosphere of suspicion, intimidation, and fear prevails.

 

Conclusion of the ICG

The international community has ignored or downplayed the problems. Some donors consider food security more important than democracy in Ethiopia. In view of the mounting ethnic awareness and political tensions created by the regionalization policy, however, external actors would be well advised to take the governance problems more seriously and adopt a more principled position towards the Meles Zenawi government.

Creating a state within a state, pouring billions of dollars in the form of foreign aid, and generously granting a huge amount of loans by the IMF and World Bank for the last two decades has significantly contributed to the empowerment of this minority group at the expense of the majority. I hope that the UN, EU, US and other Western countries must intervene to prevent another human crisis in the Horn of Africa and genocide in Ethiopia. I believe this is the right time to put international pressure and dismantle the apartheid policies of a racist and fascist regime of Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia. After foreign aid and loans from the IMF and the World Bank became scarce due to the financial crisis in the West, Meles Zenawi has put the whole country for sale – which is dubbed as “The Deal of the Century”. We will never let him sell our ancestral lands!

Note: I have summarized only the major points that I believed are relevant for this audience from the ICG report for the participants of a conference on Forensic Evidence in the Fight against Torture. This two days conference is organized as “2012 Founders Celebration” by American University – Washington College of Law (WCL), International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) with support from the European Commission. Speakers on this conference are: Claudio Grossman, WCL Dean and Professor of Law, and UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) Chairperson; Hans-Peter Hougen, Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and WCL Visiting Professor of Law; Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers, UK; Mostafa Hussein, El Nadim Center for Psychological Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, Egypt, etc.

We have reported the details of the Conference under a heading: “Breaking the Conspiracy of Silence”, on Ayyaantuu.com, a very relevant and timely message by Professor Mendez, a UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. Getting involved and creating awareness helped us to be a diplomat for our motherland – Oromiya.

As my friend predicted, the pride of those who thought their power was eternal, is definitely deflated. There is a proverb in my language. “Kan arrabni cabse, dhidhiibbaan hin fayyisu.” It literally means, “A broken bone can heal but a person who is broken by verbal assault can’t heal by massage” We are trying to heal these wounds plus the physical and psychological wounds inflicted on us by our torturers. That is why we speak against it. We need you to join this campaign to abolish torture, a crime against human dignity.

Finally, I would like to quote Sr. Diana Ortiz, one of the founders of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition – International: “At the core of the human spirit, there is a voice stronger than violence and fear.”

 

Kallacha W. Kune

A Torture survivor from Oromiya

Diddaan Qeerroo Bilisummaa daran hammaachuu irraan barsiisaan Political science University Dirree Daawaa fi barattoonni kaan Hidhaman.

 

March 6, 2012By in Oduu/News

Bitootessa 06,2012 Finfinnee

Barsiisaa Milkeessaa MiidhaqsaaUniversity Dirree Daawaa keessatti barsiisaa Political science kan tahee fi barattoota Oromoo biratti jaallatamaa kan ta’e Bar, Milkeessaa Miidhagsaan mootummaa Wayyaanee biratti yeroo adda addaatti ABO dha jechuun shakkamuun hidhaa turee gadhiifamuun beekama.Haala kanaan barattooti Oromoo naatoo fi jalala kan qabaniif barsiisaa Milkeessaa Midhagsaa, gaaffii Qeerroo Bilisummaaf kan barattoota kakaasu si ta’a jechuun shakkanii mana hidhaa Ma’ikalaawwii geessuun qeerroon gabaasa.

Kanuma waliin wal qabatee barattootni Oromoo mootummaa Wayyaaneedhaan ukkaamsamuun itti fufee jira.Mootummaan abbaa irree wayyaanee diddaa qeerroo irraa itti jabaate jala dhaabbachuuf jecha.Yuunivarsiitii Adaamaa keessatti barattootni Oromoo mana hidhaatii bahan barumsatti akka hin deebine galmee diduun rakkisuu irra darbee Barataa Waaqjiraa Guutamaa Kitilaa Barataa Agricultural Engineering waggaa 2ffaa tahe doormiidhaa qabanii ukkaamsuun bakka buuteen isaa dhabamee jira.Yeroo ammaa kana warri barataa Waaqjiraa Guutamaa ilmoo isaanii barbaacha irratti hedduu dadhabaa kan jiran yoommuu tahu bakka buutee isaa dhabanii mootummaa fi bakka itti iyyatan dhabuun dararamaa jiru.Barataa Waaqjiraa Guutamaa

Barataa  Magarsaa Waaqjiraa

Barataa Magarsaa Waaqjiraa

Torbaan darbe baaatii Gurraandhala 2012 keessa barataa Magarsaa Waaqjira jedhamu akkasuma mooraa Univrsity Hawaasaa keessaa sochii qeerroo waliin walitti hidhuun bakka buuteen isaa dhabamee yeroo ammaa kana akka mana hidhaa Ma’ikalaawwii jiru beekamee jira.

Qabsoon itti fufa! Gabrummaan ni kufa!

Ethiopia: Meles Zenawi to stay in power beyond 2015 election. Why?

March 3, 2012

In a secret meeting of TPLF’s big wigs last week, the question of Meles’ fate after 2015 was a topic of discussion. The group was divided into two camps- one advocating for Meles to stay in power until 2020 and others were pushing the idea of term limit and the importance of rotating the office of the Prime Minster to other personalities from different ethnic groups.

Meles’ group led by Tedros, Seyum and of course Azeb Gola were trying to make the point for their proposal that Meles cannot leave power until the millennium dam is finalized and also bring the Eritrean issue to conclusion. Seyum Mesfin who participated via secured video conference also sided with Meles. Seyum was noted saying that Meles’ clout in international arena is irreplaceable and all the credit channels will close if Meles stepped down. Seyum passionately argued that TPLF as a party cannot afford to change the horse in the middle of the stream. Seyum also spilled the beans saying that the much touted five years goal is not achievable by 2015, the party will need more time if it is going to see any of these lofty ideas implemented on the ground.

Sebhat Nega a devout TPLFite, proposed that Meles should hand power to another TPLF political elite member; however, no one in the TPLF circle was enthusiastic to take over meles’ office. The reason is obvious, Meles puts himself in such intractable position, and his office is not attractive anymore. All TPLF elites know that the power is sliding from their hand and they want to use meles’ evasive skills to buy time and find an opportune time to flee…the amazing thing is that Meles despite his public pronouncement that he had it enough and he would like to retire by 2015, he told his TPLF circles that he would like to stay in power until 2020 to see the fruition of his hard work….he told them that he is passionate about the millennium Dam and also he would like to bring the Eritrean issue to conclusion while he is in power. Meles also warned his party that- exhibiting any sign fracture within the party would pose dangerous threat to TPLF existence. Meles admitted that the TPLF dominance is unsustainable and he believes that gradual transfer of power would be beneficial to his party and people at the helm. Meles told them that Ethiopia is not immune from the Arab sprng style revolution- if that occurs, TPLF will be thrown in the dust bin of history. So he told them he can successfully lead a gradual transfer of power if he is allowed to stay until 2020.

After, lengthy discussions, Meles’ group seem to win the argument and Meles gladly agreed to stay in power until 2020. TPLF’s spin doctors will be busy to present Meles’ “change of mind “ in more palatable way to the public and international community including the Americans who were anticipating his departure…

source: Ayyaantuu

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