Reports are coming that the European Union (EU) will convene an emergency meeting on Monday (January 11/2016) to deliberate on the current issues in Ethiopia particularly the Oromo protests that have been going on for almost two months now. The representatives of the 28 member states will attend the meeting. However, the representatives of the TPLF led Ethiopian government have not been invited to participate in the meeting.
It appears that the EU is concerned about the unrest in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The Oromo students from primary school to universities have been protesting against the so called Addis Abeba and Oromia Special Zone Integrated Development, a government plan to expand the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Abeba, into areas in the Oromia regional state. Students are opposing the plan because they believe that the expansion of the city would evict more than two million Oromo farmers who live in the areas to be incorporated in the Master Plan. The Master Plan aims to cover more than 1.1million hectares of land with 36 towns and 17 woredas (counties) in the Oromia Regional state.
Addis Abeba, the capital city of Ethiopia, is located at the heart of Oromia, the largest of the nine regional sates in the country and it also serves as the seat of the government of the regional state. The city was founded in 1886 and since then it has been expanding at the expense of the indigenous Oromo people (the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia) who inhabited there before the city came into existence.
The Oromo people have benefited no or little from the growth of the city as they are systematically marginalized by the different regimes in Ethiopia. Oromos are not opposing development, but they are opposing injustices they are receiving on their on own land. The Master Plan is not for improving the lives of Oromo farmers, but it is a plan that aims to evict the Oromo farmers and make ways for the business people from the minority group that is ruling the country and for the foreign investors such China, India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The protest against the Master Plan that started on 2nd NOvember 2015 in Ginci, a small town 80kms west of Addis Abeba swept the whole region as a wild fire. Later, city residents and farmers joined the students against the Master Plan and the injustices and ill treatment that the Oromo people have gone through under the current regime. However, the government labelled the peaceful protesters ‘terrorists’ and ‘demonic’ and vowed to take merciless action. According to human rights activists, more than 150 people have been killed by the government forces; hundreds of people have been maimed, many more beaten up and more than ten thousand people have been arrested and they haven’t been on trial to date.
The meeting by the European Union in Brussels next Monday is expected to discuss on the Oromo Protest and the excessive measures that the government of Ethiopia has used to control the protest. Many believe that the European Union after assessing the extent of the problem it would influence the Ethiopian government to refrain from using excessive forces against peaceful protests and demand the release of all political prisons, journalists and bloggers.