Will Ethiopia’s Year-Long Crackdown End?

Report by Human Rights Watch

See the Original here.

When I met 15-year-old “Meti” (not her real name), she felt her dream of becoming a nurse was over. In February, Meti and her classmates joined a protest in East Hararghe, in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, against the government’s displacement of farmers around Addis Ababa, security force abuses, and the repression of opposition voices. When security forces started shooting, she and her classmates ran; she turned to see her brother shot dead. Later that night, security forces arrested her father and two of her brothers. Then school officials informed her they were suspending her from school for her participation in the protest.

Now she is trying to leave Ethiopia for South Africa. “I have no future,” she told me. “The government will not hear our voices. They will keep killing and arresting until we stop our protest.”

This week marks one year since protests in Ethiopia began and, sadly, Meti’s words have come true.

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016.

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016.© 2016 Reuters

 

Security forces have killed hundreds, detained tens of thousands, and shattered the lives of countless families over the last year. Protester anger boiled over following October’s Irreecha cultural festival, when security forces’ mishandling of the massive crowd caused a stampede, resulting in many deaths. In response, angry mobs destroyed private and government property, particularly in the Oromia region. On October 9, the government announced a country-wide state of emergency, signaling an increase in the militarized response to protesters’ demands for reform. So far, the announced measuresappear to codify many of the security forces’ abuses thus far, including arbitrary detention.

The government’s blocking of mobile internet, restrictions on social media, and bans on communication with foreign groups mean little information has gotten out since October 9. Government limitations on free expression and access to information undermine the potential for the inclusive political dialogue needed to understand protesters’ grievances, let alone address them.

Ethiopia’s government has shown little willingness to engage in meaningful reforms over the last year, choosing brutal force over discussion. It’s clear this approach hasn’t worked – as the brutality of security forces increased, so too has the intensity of protests and the calls for reform. Moderate voices have been jailed, and outlets for peaceful expression of grievances shuttered.

The government says it is responding to the needs of the people, and has removed key regional government officials from their posts, shuffled cabinet positions, and stated a commitment to proportional representation. But these changes fall dramatically short of the protesters’ demands for reform. Meti and all Ethiopians have a right to criticize government policies without fear of reprisals, but justice and accountability for people like Meti’s family aren’t even talking points on the agenda yet.

The Ethiopian government and its international allies should refocus attention on the need for justice, accountability, and meaningful reform – or next year’s anniversary will be even less hopeful.

OSA’s Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry

 

RE: Political prisoners in Ethiopia, Bekele Gerba, et.al on tenth day of hunger strike

Dear Mr. Secretary:

On behalf of the Oromo Studies Association, the Board of Directors, Executive Committee and the membership of our scholarly organization, we are sending this urgent request that the U.S. Department of State, under your able leadership, use its significant influence with the government of Ethiopia to save the lives of Bekele Gerba, Deputy Chairman of Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), other senior members of that organization and their fellow prisoners at Qilinto prison near Addis Ababa. These are entering the tenth day of a hunger strike joined to bring to light the deplorable conditions at the prison and the excruciating injustice inflicted upon the prisoners. Several of them including Bekele Gerba collapsed into unconsciousness on July 26, 2016. Today it is reported that those political prisoners, who were already in a very fragile condition are dangerously weak and deteriorating.
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We ask that you use the good offices of the US State Department to gain access to Bekele and the others directly or through the Red Cross, to investigate the prisoners’ condition, interview them and to witness the conditions that have driven them to take this compelling coordinated action.
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Bekele Gerba himself is highly respected and greatly loved among the Oromo and Ethiopian peoples as a humble man of courage and devotion to the plight of the oppressed. He is deeply committed to nonviolence and has translated the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. into the Oromo language. As keynote speaker at the last OSA conference, held at Howard University, August 1-2, 2015, Bekele Gerba left a lasting impression on our members with an inspiring and memorable message. A focus of the conference were the ongoing forms of resistance emerging in direct response to the ruling party’s policy of removing millions of Oromo farmers from their ancestral lands without their participation, agreement or compensation. Bekele Gerba urged the Oromo people to follow a course of nonviolence in response to the injustices they experience at the hands of the Ethiopian authorities. This address was the highlight of that event.
His presence and his message concerning the paths to peaceful democratic change in Ethiopia had an impact beyond our expectation and provided a historic and lasting contribution to our scholarly organization. We remain committed to find ways to sustain the development of knowledge that makes it possible to create understanding and ensure the wellbeing of the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Bekele Gerba upheld his commitment to nonviolent peaceful protest and worked with members to open doors of cooperation between groups fully devoted to developing forms of mutual support in the region.
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Upon the completion of the conference Bekele Gerba traveled to several US cities at the invitation of members of the Oromo and other Ethiopian diaspora and American communities. He inspired his audiences with a consistent message of nonviolent struggle for promoting respect for human rights and democratic governance in Ethiopia. He gave interviews in a wide range of media – in English, Amharic and Oromo languages. His interviews (including to Michele Keleman of National Public Radio and Periscope program of Al Jazeera American TV) stressed the importance of consolidating democratic governance in Ethiopia. It became clear that Bekele is loved and respected by millions of Oromo and other Ethiopians around the world as a man of vision, integrity and courage.
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Many of us who admire Bekele Gerba’s leadership in advocating nonviolence in Ethiopia are deeply concerned about his well-being and the fate of others who are imprisoned there. OSA members are apprehensive about whether Bekele Gerba and his colleagues will receive adequate care either in prison or in a hospital, and horrified at the thought that harm might befall him and his colleagues.
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Under the circumstance, we request you to take the following practical measures to spare the lives of political prisoners who have been on this hunger strike for ten days now.

We request that the United States urge the leaders of the Ethiopia government to provide immediate relief for the conditions that drive them to this point and offer life-saving medical care for Bekele Gerba, his colleagues and the other prisoners at Qilinto.
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We ask that the U.S. Department of State under your leadership apply its enormous political, economic and diplomatic influence on Ethiopia to effect the release Bekele Gerba and his colleagues.
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We request that the State Department urge Ethiopian government leaders to respects their own constitution, release all political prisons currently in detention and bring an immediate halt to extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests of innocent people who face prolonged detention without trial.
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Finally, we appeal to the US State Department to employ its considerable influence and diplomatic prowess to encourage a political environment conducive to respect for of the rule of law and inclusive government in Ethiopia. We earnestly believe that as America’s top diplomat and principal voice on international issues, you have an extraordinary opportunity to encourage policies that alleviate the incredible suffering of the Oromo and other people in Ethiopia in the long term. In the current moment, the most effective action to that end is to highlight the plight of Bekele Gerba, man of peace whose life and legacy is precious to us, and the plight of his fellow prisoners, and to intervene on their behalf with those who hold Bekele in custody. We appreciate your interest in their well-being.
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Sincerely,

Henok Gabisa, President.
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Bonnie Holcomb, Chair, Board of Directors

289.4 Billion in Ten years for Addis Ababa master plan?

By  Biyya Oromiyaa

Abyssinians want to replicate the British and French model of social development which based itself on London and Paris respectively. Addis Ababa cannot be London or Paris.
But it can grow and prosper as Finfinnee, just like London has as an English city. Addis Ababa cannot continue to be an Amhara city with Tigre buildings and Oromo guards.
Over the years, London and Paris grew and the rest of the country melted and depended on them. Greater London population is now 8.5 million while Paris has 12 million inhabitants. The second largest city in the UK, Birmingham, is only 1 million while Marseille, second largest city in France, has only 850000 inhabitants.


This is what Abyssinians want fast forward 40 years from now. A metropolitan Addis Ababa with 6 to 8 million people, a melting pot and cultural genocidal machine, to continue to morph the Abyssianian Ethiopia the Amharas and Tigres have been building. No, this cannot happen. Finfinnee will happen, Addis Ababa should be dead and buried, with the tri-colour flag.


For a country of cultural and social diversity and political adversities, urbanization and social development must be decentralized and regional cities and towns must be stimulated to prosper. For this, the government must start to take a note and change Addis Ababa fundamentally.


A contrast to the British and French model is Germany’s one. By design, Germany has federal arrangement and its economy is fairly distributed across the country, where its urban centers are also fairly distributed across the country. The largest city Berlin has 3.2 million people while the second largest Hamburg has 1.6 million, fair margin between the two. Each city has its own economic powerhouse and footprint in the country. Frankfurt is the Financial hub, Berlin the political capital, and Munich the motor industry’s heartland.
Regional cities in Ethiopia are completely dwarfed by Addis Ababa. The city has 3.3 million inhabitants without including the satellite towns around that are more or less an extension of its social and economic structure. Regional capitals and towns such as Mekelle, Bahirdar and Adama has less than half a million inhabitants. Their economies represent fraction of what Addis Ababa’s neighborhood.


Now, tell me, how is 289.4 billion in ten years any different that a London and Paris model? You want to emulate the French and the British? You want to continue to create an Abyssinian empire melted on Addis Ababa? NO. Not gone happen. Brace for impact, Addis Ababa must die, it will dissolve.”

Ethiopia Activist Charged After Anti-govt Facebook Posts

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, May 5 (AFP) — The ex-spokesman for Ethiopia’s main opposition Blue Party has been charged with inciting violence and being a “ring leader” of a banned rebel group after he criticized the government on Facebook.

The ex-spokesman for Ethiopia’s main opposition Blue Party has been charged with inciting violence and being a “ring leader” of a banned rebel group after he criticized the government on Facebook.  It has its own language, Oromo, distinct from Amharic, the language of Ethiopia’s government.

Authorities consider Tesfaye’s writings as a call to rise up against the government and given the country’s tough anti-terror law he could face up to 15 years behind bars if convicted. Tesfaye was until recently the Blue Party’s spokesman and comes from a generation of young activists determined to challenge the authoritarian regime that has ruled the nation for 25 years.

Yonatan Tesfaye, who has been jailed since December 2015, in one message accused the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) of using “force against the people instead of using peaceful discussion with the public.”

He was referring to the authorities’ response to protests that have rocked the Oromia region in Africa’s second-most populous nation. Home to some 27 million people, Oromia encircles Addis Ababa and stretches over large parts of the rest of the country. It has its own language, Oromo, distinct from Amharic, the language of Ethiopia’s government.

The demonstrations began in November against a government plan to expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa into Oromia.According to court records, Tesfaye was charged Wednesday with 11 counts including inciting violence “to disrupt the social, economic and political stability of the country.”

He is also accused of being a “ring leader of the far-left Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) to inflame demonstrations,” the court records said. OLF is a banned separatist movement opposed to the Ethiopian government which police routinely blame for “terrorist” acts.

Authorities consider Tesfaye’s writings as a call to rise up against the government and given the country’s tough anti-terror law he could face up to 15 years behind bars if convicted.

Tesfaye was until recently the Blue Party’s spokesman and comes from a generation of young activists determined to challenge the authoritarian regime that has ruled the nation for 25 years.

“When people become popular and give a voice to the voiceless, (the government) charge them with fabricated charges and put them in jail,” Blue Party head Yilkal Getnet told AFP.

“This is what happened to Yonatan,” he added.

Since the overthrow of a Marxist junta in 1991, Ethiopia’s political and economic situation has stabilized, although rights groups have criticized the government for suppressing opposition.

 

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Yonatan Tesfaye, politician & human right activist

THE SPECIAL INTEREST: THE AFFIRMATION OF DENIAL

 

Radio Afuura Biyyaa's photo.
By Tsegaye R Ararssa (PhD)

1. Introduction
As a response to the comprehensive Oromia-wide resistance to the Master Plan, the officials of the Federal and the State governments have, rather inconsistently and half-heartedly, indicated that the implementation of the Master Plan is now stopped. The Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Federal Parliament, the Government Spokesperson, the Oromia State President, and the Spokesperson of the Oromia Government have all remarked that the Master Plan is not going to be implemented without the consent of the people. In what seems to be the production of consent, the government has now engaged in a “discussion” with the public to condemn the protests, hunt down the active protestors, and force a vow of commitment to the government’s “development plans” (which implicitly includes the Master Plan as well). In the meantime, massive arrest of protestors, even shootings and killings are still continuing. The resistance is also continuing rather sporadically. The Command Post chaired by the Prime Minister and the Joint Counter-Terror Task Force are taking what the Prime Minister and all the officials called a “definitive measure” on the protestors. In doing so, they have completely rendered the State Government superfluous. They didn’t even try to seek a formal Federal Intervention Order or Emergency Declaration as per the requirements of the Constitutions. They didn’t even consider the option to use the law as a mode of disavowal of responsibility and depersonalization of power, which makes them easy targets for those considering taking these officials to account before various international tribunals. While all this is going on, the otherwise invisible Government of Oromia has issued a statement that they have established a task force to define the Constitutional Special Interest of Oromia over Addis Ababa. This has redirected attention from the Master Plan to exactly what the task force is going to do in its attempt to enunciate the content of the Special interest.

This is not surprising given the fact that one of the reasons for the resistance to the Master Plan was that it overwhelms and eliminates the Special Interest thereby violating the clause in Article 49 of the FDRE constitution. But the question in the minds of the public and all interested observers remains: just what is this special interest?

In this piece, I consider this question from a legal point of view. In so doing, I will first try to offer the context within which this ‘Special Interest’ clause of the constitution came about. I will then examine the provisions in art 49(5) of the constitution with a view to indicating, suggestively, what exactly the content could be. I will also try to trace the Special Interest in the Context of the Master Plan that rendered it invisible and/or irrelevant.

Finally, I will reflect on the fear and the tragedy of the violence in relation to Addis Ababa by linking it to its genealogical antecedents rooted in its foundational moments, the moments of inaugural violence. Here, I will make few assertions about the burden of imperial history, the curse of illegitimacy that was never overcome, the irredeemable failure of state- and nation-building that keeps bleeding a people whose wounds never healed, whose hopes have always been deferred, and whose voice is being denied expression and a hearing. Throughout this piece, I argue that the move to articulate the special interest by the Task Force, while long overdue and therefore an appropriate political gesture in the right direction, might be just another move to align the contents of the ‘special interest’ clause with the objectives of the Master Plan and legally water it down or erase it altogether.


2. The Context
The notion of Oromia’s ‘Special Interest’ entered the Ethiopian legal universe in 1992 through the instrumentality of the Proclamation that established National/Regional Self Governments (Proclamation No. 7/ 1992). This is the proclamation that set the blue print for what came later to be the constituent units of the Ethiopian Federation. Adopted to give effect to the decentralization that was envisaged in the Transitional Charter—and to valorize the right of ethno-national groups to self-determination—it established 14 self-governing national regions. Accordingly, Oromia became one of the 14 self-governing States. Addis Ababa, like the City of Harar, was also a region in its own right. Oromia’s ‘special interest’ over both cities was first recognized in this piece of legislation. In Article 3 (4), it is provided that the special interests and political right of the Oromo over Region Thirteen [Harari] and Region Fourteen [Addis Ababa] are reserved. These Regions shall be accountable to the Central Transitional Government and the relations of these Self-Governments with the Central Transitional Government shall be prescribed in detail by a special law.


Very much like the provision in Art 49 (5) of the Constitution that came later, it envisaged a ‘special law’ (meant to clarify the relation of accountability to the Central Government), but such a law was never promulgated. It is interesting to observe that, unlike in the constitution, in this transitional period law, the Oromo has not just a “special interest” but also a political right over the two self-government regions. It is also important to observe that there is no attempt to delimit the boundary of the city. As a result, it was not clear as to where exactly the jurisdiction of the government of Addis Ababa ends and that of Oromia commences.


While it looked like a city state in a federation, Addis Ababa was also seen as a city within a larger state, i.e., Oromia. In other words, administratively, it was an enclave falling outside of Oromia while also housing the Government of Oromia as its capital. In a sense, Addis Ababa is in Oromia, but not of Oromia. Oromia was a State governing from Addis Ababa without, however, governing Addis Ababa itself. While the meaning of ‘special interest’ was understood to mean much more than having a seat for the Oromia government in the city, for the entire period of the transitional times, this remained to be the only ‘interest’ Oromia could obtain.


The concept of Oromia’s special interest was thus injected into the language of public law in the country accompanying the shift away from a formerly unitary state to what was subsequently to become a ‘multinational federation’. Acutely sensitive to the rights of sub-national groups (called ‘Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’) in Ethiopia, this ‘ethno-federalization’ was a reaction, and a push back, to the goings-on in history. We can thus see its immense historical import in its potency to speak both to the past and to the future. The ‘special’ in the ‘special interest’ phrase hails not only from the mere fact of geographic location of Addis Ababa in Oromia but also from the implicit recognition of the essentially Oromo identity of the city. Historians have routinely described the fact that, until it was violently raided and occupied by the forces of the Shoan Kingdom in the 19th century, the city was inhabited by the Oromo.

When it was ‘founded’ as the capital of the modern Ethiopian Empire in 1888, it was set as a launching pad for the campaigns of imperial conquest on the peoples of the Southern, South-Eastern, and South-Western peripheries. With a violent beginning marked by conquest and occupation of the land; raid, massacre, and displacement of the population; and transformation of the cultural and environmental terrain by the soldiers, it started as a garrison town. A cursory glance at writings by William Harris, Alexander Bulatovich, and even Evelyn Waugh, indicates that the State operated in Addis Ababa as an occupying force of settler colonialists bent on pushing out and displacing the indigenous Oromo peoples. Because the settlers generally spoke Amharic and confessed the Ethiopian Orthodox faith and because of the disproportionate concentration of modern urban facilities in Addis Ababa, it became increasingly different culturally from its surroundings.

Consequently, it projected a cultural life that is different from that of the Oromo. The culture, identity, and language of the Oromo became the constitutive outside of the cultural life in the city. In time, the Oromo were effectively marginalized and otherized. For most of the 20th century, the Oromo, although historically the host, was forced to live like the alien and the guest in what was their own homeland. Informed by this memory and propelled by years of national liberation struggles, the politicians that negotiated the Transitional Charter (Proc. 1/1991) and made the law (Proc. 7/1992) sought to emphasize the need to acknowledge the Oromo presence in the city’s affair through the ‘special interest’. The ‘special interest’ package was thus a way of making up for the artificial (created or intentionally produced) absence of the Oromo. In other words, it was a method of presenting the absent, a way of bringing back the Oromo to its own.


3. The Law
When the constitution of FDRE was finally adopted in 1995, the ‘special interest’ clause was more or less carried over into art 49(5). To understand the full textual context of the special interest package in art 49 (5), it is important for us to reproduce the entirety of article 49 in full. Accordingly, the provision in art 49 reads as follows:
49(1) Addis Ababa shall be the capital city of the Federal State.
49(2) The residents of Addis Ababa shall have a full measure of self-government. Particulars shall be determined by law.
49(3) The Administration of Addis Ababa shall be responsible for the Federal Government.
49 (4) Residents of Addis Ababa shall in accordance with the provisions of this constitution, be represented in the House of Peoples’ Representatives.
49(5) The special Interest of the State of Oromia in Addis Ababa, regarding the provision of social services or the utilization of natural resources and other similar matters, as well as joint administrative matters arising from the location of Addis Ababa within the State of Oromia, shall be respected. Particulars shall be determined by law.

Space won’t allow a full length analysis of the first four sub-articles. Consequently, I will concentrate only on art 49(5) in this piece. Owing to the unclarity of the clause in art 49 (5), coupled with the lack, to date, of the law constitutionally envisaged to enunciate the content, it became imperative for people to ask “just what is the ‘special interest’?” In this section, we make a close reading of the provision to explore what could be in the package.
Let me make a couple of preliminary points before I go into the content of the ‘special interests.’ First off, it is important to underscore that Addis Ababa is a Federal capital city within a State. In this it is more like Berne (of Switzerland) or Ottawa (of Canada). Once that is admitted, i.e., that Addis Ababa is a city in Oromia, one should have an explicit discussion and mutual understanding about what it means to be a federal capital because that automatically indicates that the Federal Government doesn’t have a ‘natural’ right to be in the city. That discussion didn’t happen. That is a historical blunder about a city mired in several historical misdeeds and mistakes. That it was made accountable solely to the Federal Government was the second big blunder at the time of adopting the constitution. Given the fact that the city is in Oromia and that it is also a ‘natural’ capital of the government of Oromia, it should have been made accountable to Oromia. Or at the very least, it should have dual accountability to both the Federal and Oromia Government. That didn’t happen. Commanding exclusive say on the administration of the city (in the name of ultimate accountability), the federal government ‘banished’ the Oromia government at will in 2003 and allowed it back in the city in 2005. In this, the federal government expanded and re-enacted the original violence of dispossession and displacement of Oromos from the city thereby perpetrating a new wound before the historical wounds could heal. Had it not been for this constitutive mistake, this ‘original sin’ of constitutional drafting in 1995, there wouldn’t have been anything special about the special interest of Oromia. If there would be ‘special interest’, it would have been that of the Federal Government or the non-Oromo residents of the city. These twin mistakes of recent history led to events of dire consequence that claim lives and limbs to date.
Having made a guest out of the host through the legal fiction of excision, i.e., by excising the city out of the political and administrative jurisdiction of Oromia, it became necessary for Ethiopia, almost as an afterthought, to ‘concede’ a lame ‘special interest’ to Oromia in Art 49(5). Over the years, the government of Oromia and Oromos in general hung on this provision more as a symbolic rallying point to interrogate Ethiopia for what is actually beyond the interest in the city. To the Oromo public, the city became the metaphor for what Ethiopia has made of the Oromo in general: an invisible, non-speaking, non-acting other who inhabits the interior of the territory but the exterior of the polity. It became the concentrated expression of the ‘life’ and the agony of the Oromo in the Ethiopian polity: the present-absence and the absent presence at a time. Today, the Federal State presided over by TPLF/EPRDF became the new empire in a federal form, and the leaders became the new emperors in a democratic-republican garb. This forced the quip ‘plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose’ (‘the more it changes, the more it remains the same’) from many an Oromo politician.
Hence, the wide Oromo discontent over the whole arrangement with regards to Addis Ababa. Taking advantage of the historic asymmetry in power, the city administration, mostly prompted by the federal government, has consistently acted in complete neglect or wilful defiance of the interests of Oromia and Oromos. Taking advantage of the undefined territorial boundary of the city, the administration continued to expand its competence over the suburbs surrounding Addis Ababa. Routinely, the Federal and the City Governments exploited the legal silence on the matter of special interest. Thus, the Addis Ababa Land Administration office often acted as the authority in charge of land administration in areas such as Labbuu, the Laga Tafo-Marii continuum, Bole-Bulbula, Buraayyuu, Sabbata, Sululta, and districts beyond the Akaki-Qalittii corridor. The Federal Government continued to implement its industrialization policy by reserving Industrial Zones, Recreation Parks, and designated investment sites (much like Special Economic Zones). In doing all these things, the Federal Government cum the city never took the trouble to consult with Oromia, much less the Oromo people. Evictions of farmers with little or no compensation became a routine practice.
Pollutions from industrial emissions were sustained with no sense of accountability from the part of the city. Waste was dumped recklessly causing massive health risks. Deforestation and soil degradation was intensified in the neighbouring districts, especially after the rise of investment in flower farms, dairy farms, and poultry farms. Homelessness of the evicted farmers and residents started to be felt among the people. The response from the Government of Oromia was late, but it did come in the form of a 2009 Caffee Oromia proclamation that established a Special Zone of 17 districts and 36 towns in the area. Its attempt at legislative articulation of the ‘Constitutional Special Interest of Oromia over Addis Ababa’ remained a draft to date.
Also, Oromo residents of the inner city resented the absence of Schools and cultural centres that operate in Afaan Oromo. The fact that the city has become anything but Oromo over the years made Oromo residents lament the complete cultural insensitivity to the needs of the Oromo in the city. Increasingly, the demand for schools in Afaan Oromo and cultural centres began to be vocally expressed in the last decade or two (resulting in efforts to construct an Oromo Cultural Centre and to open public schools that operate in Afaan Oromo).
While such demands were gaining momentum steadily over the years, the Integrated Regional Development Plan (alias the Master Plan) was announced to the public in 2014. Immediately, it provoked a resistance in all corners of the Oromia region. The day-to-day encroachment of Oromia’s jurisdiction with the informal expansion of the city; the general spill over effects of the city; its becoming the dumping ground for Addis Ababa waste for no gain; the pollution of the rivers, the soil, and the general environment of the surrounding districts and towns; the evictions with ‘compensations’ whose lower limits are legally left unregulated; the insensitivity to the cultural and linguistic needs of Oromo residents; the temperamental behaviour the Federal Government showed vis-à-vis Oromia’s claim to Addis Ababa as its capital city; these and other resentments fed the anger that emerged in the wake of the revelation of the Master Plan. Apart from its violation of the principles of federalism and a healthy intergovernmental relations that should exist in a working federation, one of the reasons given for resisting the Master Plan was that it liquidates the ‘special interest’ of Oromia. As was noted above, the particulars envisaged to ‘be determined by law’ were never determined. The recent move on the part of the Oromia government to establish a Task Force on the Special interest seems to be a response to that concern.
According to art 49 (5), the articulation of the content of the ‘special interest’ is hoped to revolve around the meaning of four broad phrases:
a. ‘Provision of social services’
b. ‘Utilization of natural resources’
c. ‘Joint administrative matters’
d. ‘Other matters’ similar to provision of social services or utilization of natural resources.
The Task Force is expected to interpret these phrases in a judicious manner that can also satisfy the popular discontent that was ignited into full manifestation in the protest to the Master Plan. In particular, it must identify the kind of social services that Addis Ababa should provide to Oromia. Normally, ‘social services’ connote services such as access to housing, education, health, water, transport, and other matters needed for achieving adequate living standards. From experience, we know that one of the unmet needs of Oromia in Addis Ababa is access to public buildings and properties for their offices and residential places for their officials and civil servants. And the need for designated plots of land on which to build houses for the employees of the state.
Organizing public schools that operate in Afaan Oromo is another kind of social service seen as a pressing need. Related but not often articulated is the need for building or making spaces for public libraries run in Afaan Oromo, exhibition centres, concert halls, theatres, museums, galleries, cinema halls, printing presses dedicated to the nurture and development of Oromo cultural lives, shows, performances, plays, memories, arts/paintings, movies, books, etc. This need to give attention to culture also requires the need for memorializing personalities and historical moments of the Oromo through naming streets, places, squares; and erecting statues. In addition, subsidizing Oromo arts and printing and publications as part of making the Oromo presence felt to anyone who comes to and inhabits the city is an important aspect of social service. In other words, the provision of social services also extends to the cultural representation of the Oromo in the life of the wider city.
Similarly, health facilities and other utilities such as public transport services that operate in Afaan Oromo should be considered part of the social services to be provided to Oromos. One way of addressing this could be making Afaan Oromo the co-equal working language of the City Government. The move to make Afaan Oromo and other languages to become working languages of the Federal Government will also help curb part of the problem of access to social services and facilities such as public transport, celebration and registration of vital events (birth, marriage, death, certification, authentication, licensing, etc).
Secondly, it must clarify the type of ‘natural resources’ Addis Ababa has that Oromia uses and the modes in which it continues to use them. Giving content to this phrase becomes amusing when we note the fact that there is hardly any natural resource that the city offers to Oromia. Anything ‘natural’ in the city is ipso facto that of Oromia because the city itself is of Oromia anyway. The city actually is dependent on the natural resources of Oromia. Water, forest products, hydroelectric supply, minerals, sand, cement products, precious stones, food products, and everything else that Ethiopia (beyond and above Addis Ababa) needs come from outside of the city, Oromia and the other regions. In the course of articulating this interest, one needs to consider the benefits Oromia should get from the delivery of these resources. One way of doing this is to agree on the percentage of income that should go back to Oromia’s revenue based on what is often called the principle of derivation in federal countries. If the federalism was properly functioning, this would have been handled through a negotiated channel of financial intergovernmental relations.
Thirdly, the law to be prepared by the Task Force must determine the scope and method of exercise of the envisaged ‘joint administration’. For this, we will first need to identify what tasks are matters for joint administration. Secondly, we need to decide who is responsible for what aspect of the administration. In the area of inter-jurisdictional roads (say maintenance); border management; managing trans-boundary forests, rivers, etc.; inter-jurisdictional legal cooperation (whose police takes responsibility for cross-border criminal activities); these and some such activities need to be spelt out. One obvious area of joint administration is management of land. Because legislative power over land issues is a matter for the federal government and administration is for the States, issues such as town planning, mapping, cadastre, land redistribution among residents, designing construction regulations, etc should have been a matter for states, districts, and local/municipality governments. And in these areas, local governments could find some collaboration. Accordingly, the government of the state of Oromia and the government of the Addis Ababa City could coordinate their activities as they have overlapping jurisdictions (i.e., Oromia has a territorial jurisdiction while the city has a self-administrative jurisdiction).
Ideally, ‘joint administration’ could have happened if the city was made accountable to the Government of Oromia rather than to the Federal Government. In the very least, joint administration could have been achieved through making the City government accountable to both the Federal and the Oromia governments. Settling on one of these options would mitigate the injustice of the original constitutional arrangement that: a) made Addis Ababa the capital city of the Federal government without the consent of the Oromos; and b) made the city’s self-government accountable exclusively to the Federal Government. If there was an inclusive participatory constitutional moment that acknowledges the presence of the Oromo in the polis-to-be between 1992 and 1994, one or more of the following scenarios might have been negotiated: a) find a (new) site that is commonly agreed upon by all the constituent members of the Federation to be the Federal District Territory; b) designate another city in another State or in Oromia as the seat of the federal government accountable to that state; c) designate different cities for different branches of the Federal Government; d) agree to have a roving capital city for the federal government every decade or so; e) designate Addis Ababa as the capital city with a self-governing council ultimately accountable to Oromia—a city of Oromia where the federal government may have some form of ‘special interest’; f) designate Addis Ababa as a federal capital city whose self-governing council will be accountable to both the federal and the Oromia governments.

The constitution-making process was less ideal than one would hope for. It was marked by lack of legitimacy on procedural and substantive accounts. The work that the Task Force does now will, while attending to the immediate needs of giving content to the ‘joint administrative issues’, identify potential areas of constitutional amendments that would overcome the problems caused by original flaws in the constitution. This will force the Task Force to engage in—and engage the public with–what I called, elsewhere, a ‘redemptive constitutional discourse,’ a discourse that overcomes the deficits in original legitimacy, a discourse that ‘corrects’ the imperfect beginnings of the constitution by also attending to the trauma caused by inaugural violence with which the city was incorporated into, and made the capital of, the modern imperial Ethiopian state.
While that is being done, the Task Force needs to be daring in searching for a long lasting solution to the violent Ethio-Oromia relations, especially regarding Addis Ababa. In particular, it needs to consider the possibility of relocating the Federal Government elsewhere. Removing the Federal government will help undo the trauma of the violent occupation at the moment of ‘founding’ and subsequent displacement of the Oromo through the ‘settlement’ of others. Until that is done through constitutional revision or amendment, it may be necessary to consider the shift of accountability of the city government from the Federal to the Oromia government. It may be imperative for the Federal Government to start paying rent to the Oromia government as a token of acknowledgement to their being hosted by Oromia.
Connected to this work of the Task Force to find a lasting solution is to identify unconstitutional laws and policies that violate Oromia’s rights and special interests. Laws such as the one that promulgated the Addis Ababa Charter of 2003 (Proc. 361/2003, especially its article 5), the Investment Amendment Proclamation of 2014 (Proc. 849/2014, especially its provisions regarding ‘Industrial Development Zones), and projects like the World Bank sponsored Industrial Zone Projects (such as the Resettlement Action Plan [of] the Kilinto Industrial Zone (April 2015) should all be rescinded. New laws may need to be issued. An example is a proclamation that governs the lowest threshold for rates and modes of compensation awarded to a farmer in the event of eviction from her/his land. To be sure, there was a 2005 Proclamation (Proc. 455/2005) that provides for expropriation of land holdings and compensation. However, this proclamation, apart from enhancing the dispossessive, regulatory and police powers of the Ministry of Federal Affairs, federal and local governments, and of several other agencies, it says little about the substance of the compensation, especially for collective landholdings (about which it says nothing). Needless, to say, as the actual practice of expropriation has routinely demonstrated, even the normative gesture in the law of providing a replacement remains to be more a legal rhetoric than an actual reality, more a juridical promise than a political practice.
By removing these and other similar roadblocks to joint administration proper, the Task Force may help both Ethiopia and Oromia imagine a more just relation through the instrumentality of the ‘special interest’.  The meaning of the ‘other issues’ over which Oromia has a special interest is to be decided contextually on the basis of issues that rear their head in the course of day-to-day life experience. One cannot be definitive about the list of things to be included in this category. However, twenty years of experience should have brought forth several such issues that may need to be specified while leaving others to the discretion of administrators subject to judicial review.
Having unpacked the meaning of these phrases, the other issue left for us to determine is who comes up with the law that “determines” the “particulars”: the Federal Government, the City Government, or the Government of Oromia? So far, the federal government had hesitated to legislate on the matter even in the face of a repeated demand by the government of the state of Oromia. That is of course because the federal government wants to exploit the ambiguity that remains because of the legal vacuum. Legal silence is strategically deployed to avoid their part of the obligation and to continue to enjoy what doesn’t rightfully belong to them in the absence of a law that proscribes it. Oromia’s attempt in the past (2006 et seq) to legislate on the matter could produce only a draft piece of legislation that couldn’t be presented to and passed by the Caffee Oromia.
4. The Burden of History: the Fear, the Curse, and the Tragic Consequence
Like everything else in Ethiopia, the city languishes under the heavy burden of history. As indicated in section two above, it had a bloody beginning. When it was ‘founded’ as the capital of the modern Ethiopian state, it was not planted in a terra nullius, an empty space that was masterless. The site which Empress Taitu chose as the place of settlement and named Addis Ababa had a name (Finfinne), a people (of the Galan, Gulele, and Abichu clans of the Oromo), and a life (natural and social). It has a story of a people who valiantly defended themselves against the barbaric raids directed at them from the north, including those by Haile Melekot and Sahleselassie of Shoa. The settlement of the imperial forces in the late 19th century was preceded by depopulation of the indigenous inhabitants of the place and deforestation of the area. It was then followed by the renaming of the place, erasure of its history, and degradation of cultures. Viewed as the pagan others (aremenie), the Oromo were effectively made the constitutive outside of the empire inhabiting, along with the other ‘others’ (in the wider South), the periphery of what was the Abyssinian core.

So constituted by the Menelikan imperial dispensation, Addis Ababa was an unnatural town in which the Oromo was an unwanted presence. When it is seen for what is (which is rare), it comes as a relic of a regretted past that should be overcome through civilization (or modernization) which is to be deployed to integrate the Oromo and all the other ‘others’ into what Levine felicitously called ‘Greater Ethiopia’. The modernization wedded into nation-building through ‘civilization’ (alias known as hager maqnat) run on the imperative that the Oromo and the other peoples of Ethiopia make way for the progress towards the supposed ‘manifest destiny’ the empire hoped to achieve. In short, the moment of encounter with the Oromo in Addis Ababa was marked by the violence of conquest (raid), occupation, enslavement, depopulation, and displacement. The moment was also remembered by the Oromo as a moment of material and cultural loss, politico-military humiliation, dispossession of land, disorientation of one’s way of life, expropriation of the means of livelihood, and wanton destruction of the natural environment. Settled by soldiers of various nobles of the court, it was culturally ‘other’ to the indigenous peoples of the area.
This violent ‘beginning’ is not just a legacy of the past. It is with us now mirrored in the most recent barbarity foisted upon the Oromo in the name of expanding the jurisdictional scope of the city to the surrounding towns and rural districts. The rationale back then was nation-building and unification. The name used today to describe the same process is ‘development’ and the march to our ‘millennial renaissance.’ The process back then involved outright dispossession of the land and enslavement/enserfment of the population. The process today is expropriation or eviction and rendering the population placeless and homeless. The settlers in the garrison town it was then were culturally alien to the people but viewed themselves as the ‘civilized’ (Christian) other. Today’s city dwellers are culturally alien to Oromia and view themselves as more civilized (because they are exposed to modern education and infrastructure and monetized economy) than their counterparts in Oromia. Their encounter looks like a confrontation of the cosmopolitan, urbanite, post-ethnic Addis Ababan with his/her other, i.e., the parochial, ruralite, ethno-nationalist Oromo.
The legacy of the past and its contemporary parallels betray a common fear: fear of extermination (physical and cultural). In the past, this was a fear of immediate and overt genocide and ethnocide. Today, it is a fear of gradual and covert genocide that started a century ago. Just as the Menelikan modernization evoked a fear of dismemberment as a people, the Master Plan evoked the fear of disintegration as Oromos. The key common feature of the Ethio-Oromia relation then and now is the lack of trust. Reeling from the memory of inaugural violence that continued through the instrumentality of bureaucratic violence during Haileselassie, they didn’t trust that the empire of the late 19th and the early 20th century has the best in its heart for the Oromo. Informed by the memory of a century of being absent-while-present in the city and steadily increasing marginalization in a city that is excised from its ‘mother State’, today’s Oromia hardly trusts the Ethiopian state as having the best in its heart for Oromia.
Where is this deficit of trust coming from? Whence this curse of mutual mistrust? Two sources readily come to the mind. First, the incapacity of the Ethiopian state to rectify its fractured relationship with Oromia. This is easily notable in the failure to acknowledge: a) the presence of the Oromo in the city; b) the presence of the city in Oromia; c) that this is the natural home of the Oromo person and that they deserve to be in the city (and in the polis) rightfully; d) the originary violence with which it was wrested from Oromos; and e) the existence of wounds that have yet to heal. Secondly, the failure of the Ethiopian state to generate legitimacy, especially among the Oromo and the ‘other’ peoples of Ethiopia to date. The fact that traditional sources of legitimacy (force, genealogy, and religion) have collapsed even in the Abyssinian core after the 1974 revolution and the fact that rational-formal legitimacy has not been generated through consensual constitution-making processes has forced the state to remain extrinsic to the society.

In the South and among the Oromo and the other ‘others’, the state is merely predatory appearing almost as the incarnation of the proverbial evil that has come “to steal, kill, and destroy.” Seen in this light, the Master Plan is a re-enactment and expansion of the inaugural violence, the violence of dispossession and displacement by an intrinsically imperial state in a federal-republican garb. The protest to the Master Plan is derived from the trauma of a deep wound that has yet to heal. It assumes a moral high ground because of the fundamental deficit in legitimacy (both at the moment of incorporation into the Ethiopian state and at the moment of re-constitution of the state as a “federal democratic republic” through a formal-rational constitution in 1995). The barbaric repression of the protest by the state (that resembles an explicit act of state terror administered by a Command Post and a Joint Counter-Terror Task Force) deepens the wound from originary violence and entrenches the fracture in original legitimacy of the state thereby making redemption nigh impossible. Herein lies the bigger tragedy of the contemporary relation of the Ethiopian state to its peoples. It is this monumental tragedy that forecloses the hope of getting traction through the articulation of the ‘special interest’.
5. Conclusions
The articulation of the ‘Special Interest’ package through a task force may be a right moral gesture as well as an expedient political manoeuvre. However, having seen the restriction of press freedom through legislation purported to protect freedom of press and information (2009); having witnessed the elimination of civil society organizations in the name of strengthening the legal framework for charities and societies (2009); having seen a raft of legislative amendments to the electoral laws rationalized as broadening electoral rights but curtailing the scope of free and fair elections; having seen several other laws (such as the law on federal intervention [2003]; the laws to ‘consolidate the powers of the House of Federation [2001] and the Council of Constitutional Inquiry [2001])—all of which whittled down the rights and free sphere of action of independent institutions; one has little to hope for as an outcome of this new attempt to legally enunciate the content of the ‘special interest’. Seen in the light of the experience of the Ethiopian state’s effective deployment of the language of law to encourage lawless use of power, the affirmation of the importance of legal articulation of the special interest may actually lead to denial of the right to the said ‘special interest’. Alas, affirmation it may well be, but perhaps merely an affirmation of denial. Whatever the outcome, it may now be too little, too late.

Oromo Demonstration in Brussels Demands European Union to take a Firm Stand against Ethiopian Government

On 14 January 2016, Oromo communities based in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany staged a demonstration in front of the European Parliament to protest against the brutal crackdown on dissent in Oromia. In light of the harshest repression waged by the Ethiopian regime in the region since 2005, protestors urged the European Union to withhold financial aid to Addis Ababa until the Ethiopian government complies with its human rights obligations.  

Despite adverse weather conditions, more than a hundred demonstrators from the Oromo diaspora in Europe gathered at Place du Luxembourg, outside the European Parliament in Brussels, to express their condemnation of the most recent terror campaign launched by the Ethiopian regime against its own people. Since December 2015, massive anti-government peaceful demonstrations against the Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan erupted in towns across Oromia. Fearing land grabbing and further repression, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Oromo took the streets to protest against the urban plan that allegedly would integrate infrastructure development in the capital with that of surrounding towns in Oromia. Notwithstanding the legitimate and non-violent nature of the manifestations, the Ethiopian security forces responded with heinous atrocities to punish unarmed civilians.

The demonstrations on 14 January 2016 in Brussels echoed the growing despair of the Oromo community towards the lack of a firmer stand of the EU against the Ethiopian government. A representative of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), member of the UNPO and one of organizations involved in the demonstration, expressed the need to raise awareness of the gross human rights violations committed by the Ethiopian regime. Despite facing merciless killings, massive imprisonments, severe beatings and torture, the Oromo community remains committed to a peaceful struggle to achieve the full exercise of self-determination, democratic rights and peace for all the nations and peoples in Ethiopia.

While the death toll reached 160 only in the last eight weeks, Ethiopian security forces remain shamelessly engaged in terrorizing the civilians. Against this challenging backdrop, demonstrators demanded that the EU withhold aid money to Addis Ababa and send a monitoring mission to Oromo to freely investigate the human rights situation.

UNPO strongly condemns the actions of the Ethiopian regime and calls upon the EU to ensure that Addis Ababa is held accountable for its crimes in accordance with international law. UNPO will continue to support the peaceful actions of the Oromo in their struggle to end decades of systemic and structural marginalization in Ethiopia.

Source: Unrepresnted Nations and Peoples’ Organization (UNPO)

 

 

Jimma University Website Hacked

Jimma University’s website has been hacked by Oromo hacktivists to oppose the killings of Oromo protesters by the Ethiopian security forces. So far, 140 have been killed according to Human Rights Watch Report. Hundreds of people have been maimed and more than 5 thousand people have been arrested.

The Oromo Protests are protests against the government’s plan to incorporate the Oromo towns and counties into the capital city Addis Abeba in the name of development. The protests began by elementary and high school students in Ginci, a small town 80kms west of Addis Abeba and then swept the whole Oromia region like a wild fire.

The hackers are attacking the Ethiopian government institution’s website showing their solidarity with the Oromo people who are being killed in cold blood for demanding their constitutional rights.

We recall that the hacktivists attacked websites of Ethiopian National DefenseDire Dawa University & Oromia Radio and Television Organization a month ago. Jimma University

OPDO has no power to Cancel the Master PLan

The Oromo People’s Democratic Organization(OPDO) Central committee issued an statement saying that the Addis Ababa and Oromia Special Zone Integrated Development Plan (aka the Master Plan) is suspended. The centeral committee convened in Adama Galma Aba Gada Hall for three days (Jan 10-12/2016) to deliberate on the crisis in the Oromia region that has been going on for almost three months now.

OPDO’s statement has not convinced by the Oromos as many believe that the statement is mischievous. When Oromo students from primary to higher institutions went to the streets protesting against the Master Plan that will eventually evicts more than two million Oromo farmers, the government forces responded with heavy hands killing hundreds of students. OPDO as it is an arrogate of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the dominant party in EPRDF, it couldn’t answer the questions of the Oromo people regarding the Master Plan. Practically, the questions of the Oro people is not only limited to the Master Plan though it is the immediate cause of the protests.  Oromos have a multitude of questions that need answers such as self autonomy, control of own resources, developing one’s culture, and so on, however, the TPLF led EPRDF failed to address it for the last 25 years it has been on power.

OPDO, a pseudo Oromo polotical Organization,  is part of Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front (EPRDF), the Coalition that is ruling the country since 1991, after removing the military government that ruled the country for 17 years. The Oromo people don’t see OPDO as a genuine political organization that represents the interest of the Oromo people, the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia accounting 40% of the Ethiopian population.

The statement that OPDO has cancelled the Master Plan is only a joke as OPDO has no political power to do that as it has proved to us in the last 25 years. Their masters, who engineered the Master Plan, from the very beginning should come out and tell us in a plain language that the plan has been totally cancelled.

And that is not enough by itself though.They should apologize the Oromo people for the damages that has been done to them. They should also be willing to bring those who killed and maimed hundreds of the peaceful protesters to justice.They should also unconditionally release thousands of people who were arrested during the protests. Moreover, they should order Agazi and the regular army that is terrorizing the people, as we speak, to leave Oromia as quickly as possible. Unless otherwise, the Oromo people will keep on demanding their rights paying all the costs that is required of them.

Watch OPDO Centeral Committee’s Statement on the Cancellation of Addis Abeba & Oromia Specail Zone Integerated Master PLan on EBC

 

 

Finfinnee Belongs to the Oromo & It always will be!

By: Milkissa Ch.

Finfinnee is the true and authentic name of the capital of the Abyssinians colonial state that has been illegally changed by the habasha occupiers. The introduction of the name of Addis Ababa is part of the Oromo genocide that has been undertaken by the Amhara Tigrean Abyssinian occupying forces.

In his book entitled ‘Medelot’, Lidetu, the chairman of the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) attempts to explain why a considerable number of Oromos and the political parties that represent them use the name Finfinnee to call Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. He argues that there is a political motive that drives the Oromos to call Addis Ababa as Finfinnee. He says the Oromos use Finfinnee to call the capital deliberately to show that the city belongs to them. He argues that this kind of feeling among the Oromos is becoming a threat now to the habashas who are investing in Finfinnee. Therefore, he concludes asking the government of Ethiopia to make laws that urge the people, in particular, the Oromos to call the capital city only by one name-Addis Ababa, not Finfinnee.

Again Lidetu somewhere in this book argues that Finfinnee was the name given to the hot spring area (Filwuha), and therefore, it cannot be the name of the capital city which the Habashas call Addis Ababa. One of his reasons for not using the name Finfinnee to call the capital is that the name, that was once used to call a small village, cannot be the name of a city as big as the Abyssinians capital.

My question, however, is, if Finfinnee cannot be the name of the capital city, then how come Addis Ababa be the name of the city? Is it because Etege Tayitu coined that name? Is it because the name is in Amharic or what? Here the point is Etege Tayitu first gave the name Addis Ababa to the place called by the Oromos as Finfinnee. Then that village expanded and got its present appearance. Thus, as the habashas call the city that grew out of that small village Addis Ababa, the Oromos also have the right to call this city as Finfinnee. The habasha elites such as Lidetu have the desire to cleanse the Oromos out of the city, that Oromos always consider the heart of their country, Oromiyaa. Indeed, the habashas have invested in Finfinnee, but it should be noted that it was/is at the expense of hundred thousands of Oromos who were displaced as the city expanded.

I always wonder why the Habasha elites think they can always cheat the Oromos. Indeed, the habasha elites have deceived the Oromos for many years but now that has gone forever. The Oromos have got wiser than the habashas have ever thought. The Oromos have said goodbye to the habashas domination. Thanks to our beloved sons and daughter who gave us their souls to make us free from hundred years’ domination. We preserve the rights that we have won, and at the same time fight for the rest.

Before he started expanding southwards to the oromoland, Minlik made his seat at Ankober, north Shewa. As he succeeded conquering the oromoland, he moved his seat to Entoto (a hill located to the north of Finfinnee).He started ruling over the Ethiopian Empire from his new seat at Entoto.

However, in 1876, he moved his capital to Finfinnee which his wife changed its name to Addis Ababa. Minlik’s wife Etege Tayitu Butul was responsible for the founding of Addis Ababa as the capital of the Ethiopian Empire and she is often referred to as the founder of Addis Ababa. Tayitu used to travel to Finfinnee hot spring for bathing. She was impressed by the beauty of the hot spring scene and named it Addis Ababa (new flower).Then she convinced her husband to move their capital from Entoto to Finfinnee which she named Addis Ababa. They left Entoto and built their palace at caffee Tuma (now Sidist kilo).

The first palace built by Minlik in Finfinnee was changed into university by Emperor Haile Silassie in 1950.The university was named Haile Silassie First University College (the first university in Ethiopia). This university is now known as Addis Ababa University.

Before the habashas arrived, Finfinnee was inhabited by the Gulale, Galan, Abichu and Eka Oromos. The Oromos in Finfinnee used to grow crops such as xaafii (now stable food in Ethiopia), wheat, barely, peas and beans. They also raised cattle. They used to take their cattle for water to hora Finfinnee. Finfinnee got this name from the hot spring (hora) that naturally comes out from underground. Finfinnee means fountain. The Oromos use the name Finfinnee to call the capital city of the Ethiopian Empire which the Habashas call Addis Ababa.

After they arrived, the Habashas started expanding their new capital at the expense of thousands of Oromos who lived on Finfinnee. The Oromos were pushed to the corner leaving the land they inhabited for centuries by the habasha settlers. The Habashas denied the right the Oromo people have over Finfinnee. The Oromos were made to supply milk, butter, meat, honey, eggs and cereal crops such as xaafii, barely, wheat and oats to the habashas settled in Finfinnee.
As the town expanded, the Oromos were displaced and pushed to the corner. They lost their beautiful homeland to the habasha settlers. This trend has continued todate.Finfinnee is growing fast putting pressures on the Oromo farmers who live surrounding it. The land the Oromos have been farming is recently robbed by the habashas to build residential houses and factories. The Oromo farmers who are dislocated from their land are not getting enough compensation either in form of land or cash. This situation is affecting the lives of the family of Oromo farmers. These farmers have no choice but to move into the city that displaced them, to be a carrier or beggar.

The Habeshas are not happy about Oromo’s right over Finfinnee as the capital of Oromiyaa. They want Finfinnee only to be the capital of their old empire which the Oromos are always resisting. The Habashas do not want to hear their Addis Ababa called Finfinnee. The Habesha elites are calling upon the government to make laws to punish those Oromos who use Finfinnee to call Addis Ababa. They are looking for something that is infeasible. No government can stop the Oromos not to call their capital by the name Finfinnee.

The seat of the government of Oromiyaa is based in Finfinnee. The government of Oromiyaa officially calls Addis Ababa by the name Finfinnee. The Oromo people in every corner call the capital by the name Finfinnee. For the Oromos Finfinnee is Finfinnee, nothing else. The habasha elites should know that and recognize Oromos right to call the center of their land by this name.

One thing that shocked the Oromo people a decade ago was the decision made by OPDO, the party that is now ruling Oromiyaa, to move the seat of the government of Oromiyaa to Adaamaa. In 2004, the OPDO leaders ordered the Oromiyaa bureaus to move to Adama. The OPDO leaders reached this decision without discussing with the Oromo people whom they were ruling. Consequently, the Oromos severely opposed OPDO’s action. Oromo students bitterly opposed the action and took to the street asking OPDO leaders to keep the seat of Oromiyaa in Finfinnee.

The Oromos living in and around Finfinnee supported the students and participated in the demonstrations. However, the innocent Oromo students and elders were welcomed by bullets by the government police. The Oromo elders were beaten up brutally and taken to prisons. The Oromo students were dismissed from schools particularly from Addis Ababa University for good and some of them were imprisoned. Mecha-Tulama Oromo Self Help Association was also closed down for opposing OPDO’s action. Many members of the self help association including the president, Dirribi Damuse, were imprisoned. The decision made by OPDO to move the seat of the government of Oromiyaa from Finfinnee to Adama encountered strong opposition from Oromos all over the world. The OPDO leaders did not listen to the outcry of the Oromo people. They, instead, insisted on giving explanation why they moved to Adama. They said their decision was right and they had no regret for their decision.

However, one important event took place in 2005 that forced OPDO leaders change their mind-the third national election. The 2005 election was historical in the sense that the opposition parties particularly CUD or Kinjit (a political party composed of habasha elites) surprised EPRDF by winning all the 23 seats in Addis Ababa.CUD also won in major cities across the country. Other opposition parties representing the Oromos, the Oromo People’s Congress (OPC), DR. Merara’s party and The Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), Bulcha Demeksa’s party won considerable seats in Oromiyaa. The ruling party, EPRDF, suffered in most parts of the country. Though EPRDF leaders admitted their defeat in the capital to the opposition parties, they declared themselves the winner of the 2005 election and formed government to rule Ethiopia for the coming five years.

The rigging of the election result by the incumbent party disappointed the voters and they took to the street to challenge the government. However, the government soldiers shot down about 300 protesters in cold blood. This action moved university students to demonstrate and condemn the murder committed by the soldiers.

Likewise, in Oromiyaa students took to the street opposing OPDO and supporting the opposition parties, OPC and OFDM. Consequently, many people were killed and others were jailed. Many voters in Oromiyaa gave their vote to OPC, OFDM and CUD in 2005 election and OPDO suffered unusual defeat in Oromiyaa.

The opposition from the people could not stop EPRDF from ruling the country. The defeat OPDO suffered at the hands the Oromo people proved again that OPDO is not a genuine political organization that defend Oromo’s right and freedom. It also sent a signal to OPDO to think again about the decisions they made regarding Finfinnee.

The OPDO leaders though late realized that one of the reasons that made the Oromos vote the opposition parties such as Kinjit was the decision that they made to move the seat of the Government of Oromiyaa to Adama. In order to reconcile with Oromos, OPDO leaders shamefully decided to return the seat of the Government of Oromiyaa to Finfinnee. The other reason for OPDO to return the seat of the government of Oromiyaa to Finfinnee was the victory of Kinjit in Addis Ababa. They thought if Kinjit administered the City Government of Addis Ababa, the OPDO leaders themselves would lose their advantage in Finfinnee. It would also enforce the hatred the Oromos have to OPDO and leave them in terrible situation.

Currently, the EPRDF government has come up with a Master Plan for Integrated Development to expand Finfinnee/Addis Abeba into 17 Woredas and 36 towns in Oromiya. This plan purposely aims to evict more than four million Oromo farmers from their land and leave them in extreme poverty. The TPLF led government is very eager to give the Oromo land to other ethnic groups in the name of investment thereby destroying Oromo language, culture and values. In May 2014, Oromo students from different universities protested aginst the master plan, but they were shot dead in cold blood by the government army. During the protest, more than 100 Oromo students were killed.

The Habeshas are always working to cleanse the Oromos from Finfinnee/Addis Abeba and its surroundings, but the Oromos are always resisting them. Oromo youths are determined more than ever before to give up their lives for the causes of their people. The Habeshas must stop thier ambition to grab the Oromo land and get rich while the Oromos, the Owner of the land, are starving to death.